The Year Of The Crow

My grandmother traveled by ship from Ireland to Boston at the age of 14.

Once on a visit up to Maine someone asked what was the year of her arrival and Nana responded, “The Year of the Crow.”

None of us knew what she meant by that.

My mother hazarded a guess.

“It refers to the Chinese Astrological signs.

“There’s no Year of the Crow in the Chinese Astrology,” commented my Aunt Gloria, who had graduated from a state university for teaching.

“There is a Rooster.” Her husband Jack had met enough Chinese troops in Korea as a Marine. “But all I ever heard was trumpets. Lots of trumpets.”

“What year was it?” My Aunt Helen worked as an operator for the New England Telephone Company. She liked a simple answer.

Nana wasn’t giving one.

“Is it Babd?” asked my Aunt Mary. She had gone to college too.

“Babd?” My father was stumped by this answer.

“Babd, the Irish battle goddess, was a crow. She sang a song to those about to die.”

“I shall not see a world that will be dear to me.
Summer without flowers,
Kine will be without milk,
Women without modesty,
Men without valour,
Captures without a king.”

The look on Nana’s face shined with pride. Her oldest daughter was a true daughter of Eire, but she shook her head.

“Maybe someday one of you will be smart enough to know the Year of the Crow.”

She patted my head and that of my older brother.

But none of discovered the truth and with last week’s passing of my Aunt Gloria I pass our ignorance onto the next generation.

And we are many.

ES TUT MIR LIED by Peter Nolan Smith

My high school German professor smoked cigarettes in the classroom. Ashes from his dying butts dropped onto his black cassock, as we read Kafta’s DAS URTEIL from a blue book.

“Du sprechet wie Arschloch.”

Bruder Karl’s cigarette ravaged voice grated the cinderblock wall.

“Jawohl, Bruder.”

Boston accents have no R and our class defiled the Teutonic language.

My 1st semester grade was an D-.

I was on academic scholarship.

The Principal and Vice-Principal suggested a change of language to Spanish.

I refused their offer.

My 2nd semester earned an F in German troubled by another F in religion.

The school withdrew my scholarship. My uncle was a lawyer. He persuaded them to reinstate half the scholarship and I remained at Xaverian to learn German.

My accent barely improved despite Bruder Karl’s tutorship and I graduated without any honors other than the annual delivery of Bruder Karl’s Christmas card.

“You were my star student.”

“Wahrheitsgemäß.” I doubted him.

“You were the only one who could speak Deutsch.”

“But you failed me.”

“Because you couldn’t read it.” He stubbed out his cigarette and clapped a hand on my shoulder. “One day you will speak German in Deutschland and maybe other countries too, for once you can speak one language you can speak them all, especially one as hard as German”

His prediction came true, when I took a job in Hamburg at the door of a pimp’s nightclub, BSIR.

“Es tut mir lied.”

I said that whenever I didn’t let in a nightclubber.

I said it in French more than once in Paris, but there I said, “Je m’excuse.” or ‘I excuse myself’.
I learned this phrase in Italian, Indonesian, Indian, and Chinese, because I have sinned around the world and I have been sorry for my transgressions, however I have never heard a Thai person say that they were sorry.

“Kor thod.”

The words do exist in Thai.

Your girlfriend can burn your house down with a burn-the-house-down smile.

No sorry.

Leave you for another man.

No sorry.

Say you don’t love them enough.

No sorry.

Their lack of contrition was a parody of the famous adage from the movie LOVE STORY.

“Being in love is never having to say sorry.”

Thais love everyone and we all know that Beauty never says sorry to the Beast.

Gut Gemacht Berliners

A white flag has symbolized a call for truce or surrender since the Eastern Han dynasty Any combatants under this flag considered themselves safe from attack, although at the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho elders, women, and children under the protection of a nearby fort were slaughtered by drunken US Calvary despite a white flag. Kit Carson, famed pioneer and Indian fighter, harshly criticized the action by saying, ” I tell you what, I don’t like a hostile red skin any more than you do. And when they are hostile, I’ve fought ‘em, hard as any man. But I never yet drew a bead on a squaw or papoose, and I despise the man who would.”

White flags have been ignored throughout history, but this year on July 22 unknown people exchanged the American flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge towers with two white flags. The NYPD and Homeland Security were embarrassed by the failure to protect the bridge after spending billions of dollars to lock-down New York against any threat of terrorism.

Police were equally perplexed by the lack of a letter or manifesto or video explaining the white flag, but promised to prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest measure of Law and Order.

The War of Terror

Fox News preached fear.

Mohammadans were at it again.

I thought the flags were a call for a truce.

The War of Terror versus peace.

Still no one said nothing until today’s admission by two German artists.

“We saw the bridge, which was designed by a German, trained in Berlin, who came to America because it was the place to fulfill his dreams, as the most beautiful expression of a great public space. That beauty was what we were trying to capture.”

Their clandestine feat was carried out well past midnight and said according the the Zionist NY Times that when they removed those flags, they ceremonially folded them, “following the United States flag code.”

Mr. Leinkauf, 37, and Mr. Wermke, 35 have pulled off similar stunts without such recognition and I applaud their effort, although they answered the question ‘why’ with “There is no why?”

A girlfriend had once said that leaving me.

“Sometimes you don’t to know why.”

I kicked her in the ass.

A brute.

Same as the NYPD will be, if these two artists venture back to NYC

A white flag is a call for peace.

And a call for peace is not nothing.

Time in our time.

Immer, mein jung Berliners.

Base Thoughts

Fuck Knowledge

The New York Public Library Rose Reading Room expands across two city blocks as a reminder of an elegant era before computers and iPads and cellphones. The lofty ceilings evoke a heaven of knowledge, while the quietude along the long oak tables fosters thought at a galactic pace contrary to the modern day’s 24/7 frenzied pursuit of 15 seconds of fame. A minute spend within these exquisite chambers calms the soul, while a day lingering over a lost tome can resonate like a tuning fork in the past, present, and future.

The old pneumatic tubes at the main desk once brought requests to the stacks underneath the library, however those shelves are now empty. Over three million books had been evacuated from the stacks to make room for a proposed renovation i.e. commercial takeover. Thankfully wiser heads overruled the library’s trustees and Mayor deBlasio cancelled the project.

The books are in New Jersey. The trustees are stalling in hopes of the people forget their anger and the restructuring of the library can proceed without a hitch.

Books ordered today take up to three days to arrive at the library.

Access to knowledge is key to research and not every book in the world is on the internet.

Become a member of the save the NYPL movement at

We might not read anymore, but some of us do.