September 17, 2017

Not lost in translation: A report from North Korea by a Lebanese journalist

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 4:26 pm

An Arab-speaking friend of mine just sent me his translation of an article in Al-Akhbar, written by a journalist who was actually in North Korea recently — unlike most American journalists who are basically arm-chair speculators who wouldn’t go near Pyongyang with a ten-foot pole and, instead, just want to make up negative stories.

The author was writing about celebrations of the 69th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea few days ago. She says, “North Koreans have not been able to relax and take a breath from hostilities since the end of World War II”. Good grief. That’s a hecka long time to live in fear. And also remember that in the two years after 1950, five million Koreans were slaughtered by American invaders. Think Iraq’s Shock and Awe — only on a much larger scale. Pyongyang, for instance, was totally flattened, all due to the same type of lies that started the U.S. “war” on Iraq.

The article’s author accompanies a Lebanese soccer team to the Hermit kingdom and here are the results.

“Months before my trip, I learned by chance that a soccer match would be bringing the Lebanese national football team to play the Korean team in Pyongyang, so I applied to accompany the team. ‘No kidding!’ was the first reaction of my colleagues, who admitted that no one ‘even thinks of escorting the sports teams there’.

“‘Why are you in Pyongyang anyway?’ is a question I’ve been asked constantly both before and during my five-day visit to the Korean capital, and before even reaching it.” She was given many warnings before she left. “Do you know that you will not be able to talk to anyone on the street over there? You do know that you won’t be able to write a political article when you get back, right? And after this trip, you will not be able to get any visa to any other country!” Interesting. Sounds more like the USA’s policy than North Korea’s. She was also warned that, “They will take away your books, pens, camera and phone.”

“It was a tiring journey and after long travel, we got to Beijing and from there to Pyongyang via Korean Airlines. The elegant flight attendants smiled, but nothing reduced our tension, enthusiasm and adrenaline as we entered Pyongyang airport, which was empty of any other passengers. The inspection was precise, automatic and manual, the security men and women checked our faces carefully. One of the security personnel at the entry window smiled and stamped my passport, giving me permission to enter. No one searched my larger suitcase, and the security men did not open my carry-on bag. They asked me very gently to hand over my phone and the camera. After a few seconds, they returned them to me without any question, request or condition.” TSA, eat your heart out!

“Tension gradually disappeared and the view of green fields along the road leading to the city helped to calm minds and souls. We entered Pyongyang at sunset. Workers and staff returning from their jobs, walking and biking, wide paved clean streets semi-empty of cars, and lots of trees on both sides of the road. Pyongyang welcomes its visitors with an amazing serenity. The calmness was even present inside the hotel’s huge lobby, until it was broken by the noise of the Lebanese soccer team complaining about not having wi-fi, only cable internet.

“Despite the weight of the boisterous Lebanese presence, the staff maintained permanent warm smiles, quick service and a helpful response to all demands. The female cleaning workers apologized shyly when they entered our rooms to perform their duties. They noted that I am the only woman in the Lebanese delegation. The next day, they replaced the blue bed sheets with others embroidered with pink flowers. Koreans do not pretend their kindnesses. They perform them every day, in their smiling greetings in the elevators, in the shop, and in the restaurant inside the hotel…. On the street, however, passers-by look at you directly in the eyes with a little surprise and a lot of seriousness.” Americans could use a few such lessons in politeness.

“The traffic of the passers-by does not get lighter until nightfall. Everyone is walking with fast steps, walking a long distance on their feet. No one has a private car, and the public transportation is very small compared with the population, so the buses and trams are always overcrowded. Women, as well as men, take part in cleaning the streets of the city, mowing its grass, arranging the squares’ gardens and paving their pavements. Hygiene and cleanliness are eye-catching in the main and secondary streets and even in the underground tunnels of the road. The beautiful and quiet city is lying between two rivers, with a constant human movement during the day. The atmosphere is polluted by the smoke of nearby factories, but the abundance of trees does not make you feel the smoke. The most striking aspect of the city are the green, pink, yellow and blue buildings, like huge Lego pieces, a beautiful childish feeling in a nuclear capital. The wide sidewalks include a restless bicycle line and very few passers-by talking on their cell phones, which most often takes place in the vicinity of the train station.”

Can you imagine Americans taking care of their cities with such pride? Or even putting their cell phones down long enough to enjoy the beauty of their cities? Nah.

“Thus, a visitor to Pyongyang is able to restore the pleasure of seeing the faces of the passersby and their features — their heads in their natural position, raised, exposed, not curved and attached to cell phones. Revolutionary posters and national emblems adorn some columns and walls and pictures of flowers are also spread across the city and on locally manufactured products. The magnolia flower is a national symbol of the country. There are public parks filled with them in the city. In the residential neighborhoods, there are public parks, playgrounds for children and others facilities for sports. In the afternoon, these playgrounds are filled with boys and young people who practice their various sports. Some families also stretched on the green gardens and rest from productive daytime labor.”

And there’s culture here too. “There is a huge People’s Library building, an Art Museum, the National Theater, the Cinema Hall, the Recreation Center, Hairdressing and Body Care. Here is an outdoor music band playing and practicing, and women in colorful traditional costumes practicing for the upcoming National Day celebrations.

“The silence of the city is enchanting, but it may sometimes feels sad and gloomy. People are calm and tired as well. Fatigue appears on faces and slim bodies — the hard work of a country under the harshest economic sanctions in the world, and in political isolation for decades. In fact, Koreans have not yet taken a safe breath since the end of the Second World War! After the Japanese occupation was disbanded in 1945, the Korean War between its northern and southern parts came only five years later, with much blood spilled and divisions within one people on a land no longer united.” That “war” on Korea was sad, sadistic and unnecessary in my humble opinion — even after watching too much MASH.

“The Americans had completely destroyed Pyongyang, and its people rebuilt it with their hands, but the truce that ended the Korean War in 1953 did not end the tragedies of the Koreans. While the country began to promote urbanization, industrialization and agriculture, it was also hit by floods that caused great famine, destruction of infrastructure and land between 1995 and 1998, and new floods within the last year. Despite all this, many today do not speak about what the Korean people have suffered and still suffer up to this moment. All that matters to Western and U.S. propaganda makers is to present an exaggerated, cynical and often unrealistic picture of the most anti-US radical regime in both word and deed since the collapse of the Soviet Union (USSR).

“But what about the citizens themselves and the rise of their country and the challenges they face daily due to sanctions? What about their achievements in sports and music despite everything? There is no mention of this in the Western daily media because it does not serve the cartoonish picture that the Western media seeks to circulate.

“During my stay in the Korean capital, I took 166 photos with my camera. The Korean attendant of the Lebanese team asked to see some of them but then deleted only two pictures because one of them had a slanted frame that had an impact on the image of the late Korean president’s face; and the other because it showed one of the slogans written on the walls in a truncated manner that diminished its meaning. The slogan, by the way, says, ‘The more crises … the more straight ahead we go.’

The main feeling in Pyongyang seems to be, “What does the West want from us? To surrender to their sanctions?”

Then the journalist had the same experience that I had when I was in North Korea a few years ago. “To provide visitors to Pyongyang with an accompanying person to go with them wherever they go outside the hotel, is known to anyone who wants to visit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and if the visitor is a journalist, the escort seems inevitable. The accompanying person of the Lebanese sport team in Pyongyang, named Sen, was joined by another accompanying person who serves as an interpreter (translator) for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), named Ree. Sen and Ree were two young men in their 20s. They committed no repressive behavior. They did not let us feel that there was any censorship or restraint in our movement. On the contrary, they eased our visit in more than one place. Sen, for example, organized tours of the Zuchei Tower, Kim Il Sung Square and the largest sports stadium in the world — while Ree, the interpreter, spoke to me about politics, the ‘nuclear subject’, life in general and the conditions of Lebanon and its region.”

Regarding the nuclear subject, Ree asked her, “Have you heard the news today? What do you think about what happened,” with regard to the test of the hydrogen bomb. The journalist had followed the news on TV in her hotel room, which received Chinese and Japanese TV channels, France 24, English Aljazeera and Russia Today (RT).

She answered, “From one side, I do not like the idea of a nuclear bomb, and it frightens me; but from the other side, you are telling the world that you are strong as well.” Ree smiled and said, “Do not be afraid, we will not throw the bomb at your country, it is only for the peace of our country.”

Ree learned his excellent English at the Pyongyang Institute of Languages. What? Not by watching Sesame Street?

“‘It is our right to protect the security of our country and our people,’ Ree explained regarding his view of possessing of nuclear weapons, and then asked, ‘How should we act, for example, toward the implementation of military drills on our borders by the United States and South Korea? Why can’t we address their constant threats?’ He paused a little then continued saying: ‘What do they want from us? To surrender and submit to their sanctions?’

“On one occasion, Ree gently invited me to taste Korean beer, Taedonggang, made locally from white rice. We sat in the lobby of the hotel more than once to continue our discussions on a variety of things. The young man was surprised when I told him that South Lebanon had been under Israeli occupation for years and he admired the popular and armed resistance that drove the Israeli enemy out of Lebanese territory. ‘Resistance and patriotism are the most important things I have learned in life,’ Ree said. This young Korean dreamed of visiting some of the world’s capitals that he hears about while accompanying tourists. His face changed positively when I told him that in Lebanon, there are many who saw Israel and the United States as enemies, and that I, too, hated U.S. imperialism.” Me too!

“‘I learned yesterday that the U.S. threw a bomb in Syria and killed many civilians, and that saddened my heart,’ he said seriously and honestly. Ree was shocked when he learned that in Lebanon we had to pay huge sums for medicine, education and sports — while they were all free in his country.

“Ree accompanied me at the Kim Il Sung Stadium during the enjoyable Korean-Lebanese match. He was enthusiastically encouraging his own country’s team yet delighted me by being the only person among the 29,000 spectators who encouraged the Lebanese team. Then he reassured me: ‘No one will bother you. People here are friendly.’

“He worked hard to convince the organizers to allow me to take pictures from the pitch, because I was not a certified press photographer. He succeeded and, thanks to him, I was able to take pictures of the Lebanese team and the match. In the break between the two halves, we talked about God and faith, and we agreed that faith in one’s own abilities is very important.

“When we left North Korea, Ree escorted us to the airport, to say farewell to us, and we shook hands with some team members with affection. ‘You are not alone,’ I finally told him. ‘We are with you and understand your suffering because we have lived wars and tested its horrors in Lebanon as well.’ Ree lowered his eyes and said, ‘Thank you.’

“Ree told me in an earlier meeting that he listens to Korean and Russian music because ‘music makes him feel calm and with tranquility,’ after long and hard work as an interpreter. So, I left him a Fayrouz Ziad Rahbani album as a gift, wishing him to have the best and the most elegant image of Lebanon.

In the Lebanese journalist’s next dispatch, she wrote, “Leave them in peace. They are the workers who go to their jobs and factories on foot every day. They are the children who learn in their schools that patriotism is like a mother’s love. They are the people of Pyongyang, so good and so shy. They are the tired ones of the injustice of the entire world. They are hard-working in order to remain in their world, which stands in the face of imperialism in all its forms.

“North Korea is the sun that shines on the impact of music and factory wheels.
She is the state that, despite the blockade, is keen on free medicine and education, green gardens, superior sport and early music education. They are the thin bodies and slim faces, their daily worries greater than the mountains. Leave them in peace, and do not increase their load more.”

Holy crap. North Koreans receive free “MediCare for all” and their government actually cares about them? Wow.

“You in the West talk about them with arrogance and irony, describing their world as ‘closed’, and treating them as ‘robotic’ — but for God sake, look in the mirror and in the images spread on your own ‘social’ networking sites. You are the robotic ones to the limit of boredom. You are robotic in your external shapes that don’t match your identities; in the way you speak; your clothes; your smiles; your jokes; your mainstream music; the absence of your wrinkles; the forms of your relationships even including the intimate ones; and the way you live in the smallest details. Look around you, your dominant culture isolates free thinkers, and your generalized ideas classify the different as ‘backward’. You are boasting of your freedom, but the more allegedly open-minded you become, the more racism increases. And your closed mindset builds up even more when borders are erased. You too are walled in, but while your wall is huge, the Korean wall is … Great!

“I will not pretend to know the truth about North Koreans’ lives, their mental state, and how they think. I did not ask them if they were happy, and I did not know whether their love for their leaders was real, but certainly, their love for their country is clear. They are tired and admit it, even in their songs. They are honest. I do not need to ask them this. A look in their eyes says enough. They teach you kindness and they are the most suffering people. They forgive us, although they are floundering in crises that they are not guilty of. They forgive us, we who stood watching them suffering and did nothing.

“I will not claim that the Koreans are perfect, and I will not speculate on what is best for them, but I will salute their productive daily fatigue. I will silence myself in particular, the tourist journalist who came from Lebanon. How can a visitor coming from Lebanon, a country of garbage and feces in food, sewage in fresh water, and poison in medicine, feel superior to any other country in the universe?

“We may deserve what the U.S. and the West have forced upon us by their excessive speed of culture and intellectual flattening, and we may also deserve nuclear missiles sent from oppressed peoples because we do not want to see their tragedies… But surely no one in the world deserves the kindness of the Korean people and their shy smiles. Therefore, let them alone, they do not want anything from us. Let them exist in peace and stop inflicting your misery on them. Perhaps, just then, you may also wake up to your lives, look into the eyes of your beloved ones, finally see the depth of your own tragedy — and also begin to resist.”

PS: But what does all this mean? If North Korea isn’t a Bad Guy after all, then why is the American media trying so hard to make it into one? Why? For money of course. Ka-ching.

Endless “war”? Cold War on Russia and China? War on Muslims? War on crime, war on drugs, war on American protestors? War on Black people, war on immigrants, war on kids, war on pets, war on climate, war on grandma — whatever.

As long as there’s a “war” going on somewhere, then there’s money to be made by people who are not us.


Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you’re at it, please buy my books — thus helping me support my addiction to Justice and Truth.


September 15, 2017

Zionists vs. Bedouins: Losers take all.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 6:25 pm

Over a century ago, a handful of wealthy Zionists got together and came up with a plan to beg, borrow or steal a “Jewish State” somewhere — but where? Their first three choices were South America, Africa and the Middle East.

They must have tossed a coin to make their decision and the Middle East must have won — or perhaps “lost” might be a better word to use. In any case, Lady Luck appears to have made a very big mistake here. Why? To find out you gotta look at history.

Thousands of years ago, wandering traders called Nabataeans pretty much controlled a whole bunch of the Middle East. Even King Solomon and Alexander the Great couldn’t get them to budge. They also built a legendary capital city — Petra. Nabataeans also served as the prototype for modern-day Bedouins.

Then along came the Brits and the French, and they used their superior military firepower to divide the Middle East into arbitrary “nations” — but the people there had been Bedouins for too long and the European late arrivals soon discovered that getting them to stay inside of these arbitrary “nations” was like herding cats.

And then the Zionists also invited themselves to the party. “This land is mine,” they declared, “and we have the nukes to prove it.”

But still even to this day, the Bedouins still just keep wandering around the Middle East like they have done for the last 4,000 years — even despite all those neo-colonialist carpet bombings, tanks, F-16s, napalm, DU, concentration camps, occupation, war crimes and torture. Even despite all these decades of neo-colonialist cruelty, the salt-of-the-earth Bedouins still have their horses, their camels, their trade routes, their tribes, their Ford 150s, their slingshots — and their will to survive.

Even after over a century of being invaded by Brits, Turks, Zionists, Saudis, Frogs and Americans, the Bedouin are still taking care of business. It’s like the old story of the tortoise and the hare. In the long run, my money is on the Bedouin. Still don’t believe me? Just ask the ancient Romans, Greeks, Israelites — and of course Ozymandias. “Boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away”.

And the biggest irony yet? According to Google, both the ancient Israelites (not to be confused with the current Israeli neo-colonialists of European origin BTW) and the ancient Nabataeans have all sprung from the very same people, all originated in the very same place. Where? Wait for it? YEMEN! Yes indeed. Both of these wandering tribes have their roots in the very same country that Israeli, American and Saudi neo-colonialists are currently working so very hard to destroy. Yemenis are their homies!

PS: Speaking of Bedouins, I just met one personally and he guided me all through the ancient Nabataean city of Petra — on his horse, in a genuine Bedouin outfit reminiscent of Captain Jack Sparrow or Indiana Jones (if nothing else Bedouins are flexible — and they too watch TV).

Ahmed, aka Captain Jack, was born in a cave, rides a white horse and guides tourists around Petra for a living. He taught me how to paint my eyes with kohl to prevent sun damage, showed me some awesome Roman ruins further up the road, demonstrated Bedouin hookahs, took me to a Byzantine monastery by donkey-back and introduced me to beautiful Petra at sunrise.

He also gave me a small glimpse into the hard and determined life of the Bedouin and their strong will to survive.

The Zionists may have nuclear weapons as well as America, banksters, industrialists and even “God” on their side — but I’m still gonna place my bets on the Bedouin. I’m gonna bet the farm that in another thousand years from now, long after the Zionists have moved back to Hollywood, Bedouins will still be following their historic trade routes all across the Middle East.

Zionists should have chosen South America or Africa instead.

PPS: If you ever find yourself to be a tourist in Petra any time soon, please be sure to ask for a guide named Captain Jack — and tell him that Jane sent you. Or else you can tell him yourself — like most Bedouins, he too has a FaceBook page

And also, while you are in Petra, please stay at the My Home Hotel — just 10 dinars a night (that’s the equivalent of 15 US dollars — dollars used to be worth a hecka lot more on the international monetary market before the RepubliDems screwed stuff all up).


September 8, 2017

Petra, Jordan: Yet another victim of 9-11

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 7:10 am

Of all the countries affected by 9-11, America has been hit the absolute worst — but not in the way that most Americans still think. According to David Ray Griffin’s new book “Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World,” It wasn’t the Twin Tower bombing that screwed us Americans royally. It was the war-mongering anti-democratic racist corporate-owned police state that we’ve been stuck with as a result.

I want my old pre-9-11 America back!

In any case, I am currently hanging out at one of the ultimate Seven Wonders of the modern world (according to UNESCO — honest, I didn’t make this stuff up!) Petra by moonlight? One of the most amazing sights you could ever see in your life. An adventure in esthetic fabulousness for sure. Bucket-list awesomeness!

Plus I got to ride horseback through it all and escorted by an extremely handsome Bedouin guide. Rudolph Valentino, eat your heart out.

There’s a blurb inside the Petra museum stating that the people who built Petra were lovers — not fighters. They believed in diplomacy above all. Well, not exactly above everything else. They believed in Art for Art’s Sake even more. “If it isn’t beautiful, then don’t waste our time,” appeared to be their motto. These were my kind of people!

America spends trillions of $$$ on weapons and war every year. The Nabataeans who built Petra would have been totally shocked. “What a waste of time and money,” they would have said, “when you could be painting or playing music or carving in stone instead.” I gotta agree with them there. After all, what have all its many nefarious, perfidious, immoral and downright slimy “wars” achieved for Americans today? Plus everyone all across the planet hates us and fears us — among other things (see above).

The American military-industrial complex seems to have mistaken anger and fear for beauty and love. Not the same thing, guys. Get real.

Anyway, here I am in beautiful Petra, hanging out with Bedouins and feeling very very very lucky. Are you also feeling that lucky too? Or just lied to, threatened and over-taxed? But I digress.

On September 11, 2001, we all know what happened (or at least we pretend that we do). And I’ve already mentioned some of the rotten stuff that has happened to us since then. Plus all those billionaires created by weapon sales, millions of people needlessly slaughtered in the Middle East and America’s economy in shreds. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria are in shreds too. But Petra, in Jordan, is also a victim of 9-11. Petra’s economy is in shreds as well.

“We used to have 5,000 people a day come and tour Petra,” one of the locals just told me, “but now we are lucky if 500 a day show up.” At one of the seven most beautiful sights in the world? Only a very few tourists are showing up?

Get a life, Americans. Stop being so fearful. Come to Petra! Jordan is perfectly safe. Get on over here and see for yourself. I recently met a man who moved back to Jordan within 48 hours after his convenience store in Chicago suffered its second armed robbery in a month.

And today at 5:00 am I walked down the main street of the town surrounding Petra. Safe as houses. Can you do that in your home town in America? I love Petra. Americans, please stop being such wimps and come visit.

Bottom line: America has never been the same since 9-11. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We need to get some art and beauty back in our lives — and Petra has enough to go around for all of us.

PS: “But just look what happened to the people of Petra,” you might say. “For all their love of art, they are no longer around.” All too true. But perhaps, like Texas and Florida, climate change also did them in.

Monestary 5

September 6, 2017

Grilled: My experience at the Israeli border

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 5:22 am

There are chickens outside my window right now — but they are not Israeli chickens. They aren’t even Palestinian chickens either. Long story. Bethlehem was my original destination. But then I got side-tracked for a while.

At the border between Jordan and Israel/Palestine the other day, I handed over my passport to a sweet-looking 20-something Israeli border guard. She did not give it back. I waited an hour. “Can I please have my passport back now?” I meekly asked a few times more — long after almost everybody and his brother who came on the bus with me had already passed through.

“It’s in the office.”

I waited another half-hour, asked a few more times and then finally went off to the freaking office myself. “The computer’s down,” they told me at the front desk. What? They want to run my name through a computer now? Now it’s beginning to sound a bit too much like Big Brother. But still, I bet they won’t have to search very far. I’ve been on some weird hyper-Zionist’s radar a lot lately and he’s been threatening to use his influence in Israel to get me banned there. Apparently Israel is a democratic country — just as long as you don’t practice free speech. But maybe he’s Netanyahu-The-Hater’s new BFF? If so, I’m screwed.

At that point, however, this really nice young woman and this really nice young man popped up from out of nowhere and started to lead me off into the bowels of the office’s inner sanctum, a warren of small interrogation rooms in the back. “This is bound to end badly,” I thought to myself, seriously considering grabbing onto a door frame, shouting “Attica!” and refusing to move. But I didn’t.

“Leave your purse and computer bag in this cupboard,” said the really nice young man. Yeah, right.

“How do I know they’ll be safe?”

“We’ll keep an eye on them.” I just bet that you will. But the really nice young man appeared to be non-threatening, friendly and having only my best interests at heart — plus did I really have any other choice?

Next they herded me into one of their many interrogation rooms where a friendly-looking detective-type was seated at a computer — maybe like that guy on CSI? And he started asking me questions. “Are you here to be in a demonstration?” Er, no.

“I’m here to go to Bethlehem and have a nice chit-chat with Jesus.”

“Have you ever been in any demonstrations before?” Well, sure. I’m from freaking Berkeley. What do you think. MLK, Vietnam, 1960s stuff. Homelessness, ICE, that illegal Syria invasion, neo-Nazi White supremacists, modern stuff.

“Do you know about ISM?” The International Solidarity Movement, Rachael Corrie’s group? If I say yes, will they run me over with a bulldozer too?

“Yes, I do,” I replied. “And I also know about AIPAC.” Couldn’t resist throwing that in. But then I noticed a tiny video camera on the desk that was pointed straight at me. Oh goodie! Now I’m gonna star in a IDF training film? Gave it a little finger-wave.

“Give us the names of any Palestinians you know.” Hmmm. Let’s see. There’s that guy who owned a grocery store back in Berkeley. I used to buy sandwiches there….

“What do you do for a living?” Now I was really starting to feel intimidated.

“What is this all about?” answering a question with a question. “Can I have my passport back so I can get to Bethlehem before dark? Know any cheap hotels in Bethlehem?”

“Why do you want to come to Israel? Do you know any Lefties here?” Hell, I myself am a freaking Lefty. “And I also know Righties too. Trump is a Righty. Netanyahu is a Righty. And he dresses funny too.”

“Give us some names of people you know.”

“My parents were Righties. That’s why I became a Lefty. And speaking of family, did my children put you up to this?” Then I told him the whole sad story about how my kids owed me money and then how I had worked as an actor in student films and how nobody loves me and my knees hurt and I was hungry and….

It was like pouring one’s heart out to a shrink. But the good part was that after a couple of hours spent grilling me, they did bring me lunch.

“Now. How many Palestinians do you know.” Asked and answered. “Can we see your Facebook page?” Sure. Who wouldn’t want Mossad to look at their FB page?

“There are some things that I really like about Israel — but I really do hate the neo-colonialism of its rulers,” I babbled on. The guy was a good listener. I’ll give him that.

Then he started telling me about my previous trip to Israel ten years ago — and that’s when I realized that he already knew everything about me already.

“Well, thanks for the lunch and everything but I really gotta get going. If you would just give me my passport back?” He smiled. I smiled. The really nice young woman smiled. The really nice young man smiled. We were all totally Kumbaya. “I’ll be sure to say hello to Jesus for you when I get to Bethlehem,” I said after gathering up my stuff. We practically kissed each other goodbye. It was definitely a moment.

But apparently they let an underling do their dirty work. “Sign here, please.” What’s this? “You have been denied entrance to Israel.” On what grounds? “You are a security risk.” And sure enough. “Entry Denied” had been stamped on my passport. Eight hours of my life that I will never get back.

Guess the moral of this story is “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

But if they had actually let me go on to Bethlehem, I would have been totally won over by them and maybe even re-thought my currently-low opinion of Israeli war-mongering, human-rights violating, bullying, neo-colonialism and general tyrannical behavior. Plus I would have helped grow their economy by spending money in Bethlehem too. As it was, however, they had just managed to piss me off.

They could have just ASKED me if I was a security risk instead of playing all those childish cat-and-mouse games. Or they could have just looked at me. Me, a 100-pound grandmother? A security risk to Israel? Did I in any way fit the profile? Not even close.

And now I’m going to go spend all my tourist dollars (such as they are) in Petra instead. Humph. I’ve already been to Bethlehem anyway. Jesus already knows how I stand on truth, justice and “do unto others.” But the trip wasn’t actually a total waste. I still had the remains of my lunch and ate them for dinner when I finally got back to Amman.

And since they already had a whole dossier on me, the interrogators surely must know that I am a writer — and that they have just handed me a great story. I coulda written about the wonders of Bethlehem as planned — but instead I’m gonna write about some dreary back-room interrogation of an American citizen in some dreary no-man’s-land border crossing at the Jordan/Palestine border.

Humph. I didn’t want to spend time with Israeli haters anyway. If I had actually wanted to spend time with haters, I coulda just stayed back home in America.


September 1, 2017

Middle East travel: S-o-o-o frustrating!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 10:10 pm

Here I am in Amman, Jordan — staying at a cheap hotel that only costs $21 a night. But it’s safe and has functioning plumbing, a bed, a card table, several electrical outlets, free breakfasts and an owner who is totally nice — plus the guy in the room next door appears to have a fabulous sex life.

And there are no bedbugs.

But being in Amman is also extremely frustrating from a tourist’s point of view. Why? I’ll tell you why. The ancient Roman city of Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that will totally knock your socks off, is only a three-hour car ride away.


The Syrian border is only 45 minutes away by car — but it might as well be on the moon thanks to ISIS and its BFFs in America, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

And the border between Jordan and Palestine is only 45 minutes away too — and once on the West Bank, it should only be an hour’s drive to Bethlehem or to Jenin, Ramallah, Jericho or wherever. Jerusalem itself is practically right around the corner from Amman as the crow flies. Hell, even Gaza is not all that far away from where I sit in my hotel room right now. It’s probably even closer than Petra.


But by the time one crosses a very stern border and goes through tons of checkpoints and deals with Israel’s all-pervasive Occupation bureaucracy and the IDF’s whole super-militarized tap dance, one coulda just hired an Uber and driven to Petra three times over — and with 87% less aggravation and at one-tenth the price.

Plus right over from Jordan in the other direction lies Iraq. There’s even a big green sign on the freeway from the airport that reads “Next Exit: Saudi Arabia and Iraq”. And Yemen isn’t that much farther away either. Even Lebanon and the Golan Heights are within driving range of my hotel.


The whole heart of the entire freaking Middle East is not much bigger than the greater San Francisco Bay Area, and it sometimes seems like the only real difference between the two is that the Bay Area doesn’t have colonialism, imperialism and the CIA to tie everything all up in knots. Yet.

PS: I’m still wallowing in the miry swamp of jet lag. Haven’t slept more than six hours in the past four days. Oh well. “Sleep when you’re dead”. Plus once I got past a certain tipping point, I don’t appear to need any sleep at all. But then neither do zombies. But I digress.

PPS: Yesterday I visited The Citadel, Amman’s most famous ruin. And located there, right next to each other, were ancient Neolithic ruins, ancient Roman ruins, ancient Byzantine Christian ruins and ancient Islamic ruins — all in one place.

The moral here? Apparently we humans have all gotta be in ruins before we can finally learn to get along.


August 30, 2017

No body, never mind: 40 hours without sleep

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 1:28 am

We long-distance airplane travelers exist in a whole different world all of our own. Airplanes and airports become our new reality — a new city, a new state, a new nation that is only rooted within the parameters and perspectives of airplanes and airports.

There are completely different rules within this alternate-universe kingdom of air travel than there are for us in real life.

– Eat what is placed in front of you.

– Your flight attendant is boss.

– Make it from one terminal to the next as best you can.

– The passenger in the seat next to you becomes your sudden new family, your instant BFF.

And, most important of all, your body suddenly has more priority than your mind.

My mind races. I’ve gone 40 hours without sleep. I’m starting to feel like a victim of Hurricane Harvey. It all gets down to the basics. Ignore all that blather that your mind is telling you. Keep the body functioning at all costs.

Your family back home has betrayed you? Your country is ruled by greedy war-mongering egotists, bullies, bastards and fools? You hate your neighbor across the street because she hated you first? There is painful injustice in the world that you can’t seem to do anything about?

All that mental agitation pales when you travel by air — and the really important things stand out instead. Can you find room in the overhead bin for your rather large carry-on bag? Will you get enough legroom? Can you score an aisle seat?

After living in my alternative air-travel world for the past two days and after going for 40 hours without sleep (after all, who can sleep on an airplane?), I’ve started to move my priorities around like Legos — and preserving my body just became a whole lot more important to me than listening to whatever random thoughts that my brain can dig up.

PS: I finally arrived in Amman, Jordan, a city that appears to be very much like Los Angeles — sprawling, populous, with lots of freeways, one that really requires a car.

I’m going to sleep like a brick tonight and then tomorrow I’m going to go explore Annan’s wide wide world of public transportation (fingers crossed that it actually exists!)

Next stop after Amman? Hopefully Bethlehem — if the Israeli Defense Force doesn’t screw it all up.


August 24, 2017

Netroots Nation’s main message: Organize Organize Organize!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 12:01 pm

I’m one of the most disorganized people I know. So imagine my shock when I arrived at a recent Netroots Nation convention in Atlanta, Georgia, and found myself in an auditorium filled with over a thousand Progressives, all of whom just love to organize stuff — everything from national politics to sock drawers.

I almost fled in panic.

However, guilt and the idea that I might actually learn something forced me hang around. That — and the prospect of free hors d’oeuvres. “Let’s unify, focus and organize!” said the first speaker. “And stop trying to be Republican-lite. Make your argument and make it unapologetically. Include conservatives in your vision. Be honest about what you believe. We gotta emphasize the idea of creating a true Public Good for all. And we gotta organize!”

The next speaker talked about money — and how to organize it too of course. “Our banks are bullying us into using our own money to violate our moral values,” he said. “And three out of four Americans are currently not in a position to handle any emergency situation the costs more than $700.” Flat tire on the freeway? We’re screwed. “Economic uncertainty is the one experience that unites us Americans. We gotta organize around that.”

The mayor of Tallahassee spoke next. Andrew Gillum. He is running for governor of Florida. “If you are not sitting at the political table, then you are on the menu,” he said. I’d vote for him — but then I’d have to move to Florida. Too hot.

Stacey Abrams, a candidate for the governor of Georgia, spoke next. “We believe in the power of the government to do good. And we have to build on that power to do good — from the ground up!” Guess that means that we gotta organize? Yep. Abrams herself is responsible for registering something like 250,000 voters. How organized is that!

Then my very own Congressional representative Barbara Lee spoke next. I’m still kinda mad at her for voting to support sanctions against Russia. Who do they think they are in Congress? Gods? America has sanction plans for Iran, Russia, Venezuela and who the freak knows where all else. Will China, the EU, Latin America and Africa be next? Who the freak are we gonna have left to trade with? Ourselves? Plus how come everyone is so hot to sanction Russia but hates sanctioning those creepy Israeli neo-cons who are human-rights violators on a horrific level? Now BDS is a no-no? Why?

“We need to apply street heat,” said Rep. Lee. “We need to organize!” Big ovation. She is definitely preaching to the choir. “My grandmother was raped by a White man and the only reason they let my mother into a segregated hospital to have an emergency C-section was because she was half White. And that baby who almost died was me.”

And then my sweet little point-and-shoot camera got lost and/or stolen so you won’t be able to see my selfie with the next speaker — Elizabeth Warren. And, please, Elizabeth. Don’t tell me to organize! I can’t even get my own camera under control.

“We are not going back to the days when Democrats were too chicken to fight Wall Street. And it’s not just Trump that is causing this crisis. When he is gone, the crisis will still be there. Clean water, no wars, campaign reform, women’s rights. We need to lead the Democratic party back from the wilderness. We can care about the White working class and Black Lives Matter too. They both have something in common. Their rights are both being ripped away!”

And how do we stop this? “Organize! The system is rigged against us and has been for a long, long time. But there are more of us than there are of them. And it’s also time to say that Democrats are on the side of American values.” Not constantly siding with the immoral values of Wall Street and War Street.

Al Gore spoke next — and of course he told us that we gotta organize around climate change too. “Not only is this a moral issue,” he said, “but Mother Nature is our biggest ally.” Holy cow. Now I gotta organize Mother Nature as well?

Then word came down about the Charlottesville tragedy. And, boom, just like that — within five minutes, over a thousand (mostly White and middle-class) convention attendees had organized themselves, created improvised signs in protest against fascism and marched through the streets of Atlanta all the way to City Hall. I’m telling you. When it comes to organizing, these Netroots Nation attendees were awesome!

So what else did I learn from this convention? That each of us Americans has to make a very important choice in the coming days: Either we join these idealistic organizers and, like them, work for the good of all Americans — or we turn to the Dark Side of selfishness, greed, bigotry and hate and break our country into pieces. To paraphrase Jerry Lee Lewis, “There’s going to be a whole lot of grassroots organizing going on!” when these most excellent organizers return home. Will we be with them or against them?

PS: I was very disappointed that there were almost no panels or discussions regarding the subject of “war” at this convention — especially since over 60% of America’s budget is wasted on stuff like greedy contractors, supporting al Qaeda and slaughtering babies in the Middle East for fun and profit. Americans need to organize around stopping America’s many evil “wars” as well.

PPS: America claims to be a “Christian” nation and yet acts like it has never even heard of either the Golden Rule or the holy Philosopher King who told us about it 2000 years ago. But next week I actually have a chance to visit the birthplace of this great Philosopher King — Bethlehem! Will let you know how that goes.

“Dear Jesus,” I will tell him, “America’s leaders today have systematically organized my poor corporate-dominated country to go against every single thing that you stand for. Good God, will you please do something about that!”


August 22, 2017

Racial justice in Atlanta: Gone with the wind?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 11:38 am

While in Georgia at the Netroots Nation convention last week and while in search of the real Atlanta, I went on a tour of the Margaret Mitchell Museum. Mitchell was the author of “Gone With the Wind”.

“Margaret herself was not a bigot,” one of the docents there told me. “She was simply trying to tell a story from Scarlett O’Hara’s point of view — and even Scarlett’s views changed toward the end of the book as she finally discovered who her true friends really were. But what’s most important about this book is that it is a story of survival, being told back in the 1930s, at a time when most Americans were suffering from the Great Depression. And Scarlett’s famous line, ‘As God is my witness, I will never go hungry again,’ struck a chord with most of the world back then — especially in China and, surprisingly, even at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Nazis immediately outlawed the book.”

“Yeah but…” I replied. “Even today, over a hundred and fifty years after slavery was abolished, Black people are still having a really tough time surviving — so why don’t they too love this book?”

“Good point,” replied the docent.

And here’s another “Yeah, but…” to consider. What if the Confederate States of America had actually won the 1860 war? And taking that thought to its logical conclusion, what if, approximately 150 years later, human beings of African decent are still being hideously whipped and branded daily in the Confederacy and slave children are still being sold off like cattle? And the only jobs poor Whites can get now are as overseers, slave catchers, sharecroppers and whores? And the world war that America’s “Greatest Generation” fought against Hitler would have also been fought against the CSA too — because the Confederacy would have easily sided with the Nazis against our very own fathers and grandfathers who risked their own lives to save freedom.…–Becky-O-Malley-

And if the South had won the Civil War, then the bloody floggings, lynchings and rapes of slaves will have continued to this day and even become a highlight of the CSA evening news — and 80% of the population of the Confederacy would be legally forbidden to learn how to read.

And the Confederacy would also have built a Wall to keep its slaves in.

A logical extension of Scarlett’s antebellum world would be a dystopian nightmare — far worse than Nazi Germany. Most White Southerners today should be glad that Davis and Lee lost the Civil War! But the Deep South’s modern-day 1%, its plantation owners? If their ancestors had won the “War of Succession”? Today they would be as happy as pigs in mud.

PS: Oh crap. I just found out that Atlanta is the place to be if you wanna be a zombie extra on “Walking Dead” — which has always been the pinnacle aspiration for my acting career. “We are looking for extras who are skinny, have big eyes, long necks and good bone structure,” says the casting director. Hey, that’s me! Looks like I just missed my chance. Rats.

PPS: Actually, I finally did find the heart of the real Atlanta — at the Greyhound bus depot, when I took a day-trip up to Chattanooga to visit my dear friends Joe and Glenda Thompson. There were all kinds of different races and ethnicities at the depot, all mixed together there in peace, all just trying to get a bus home.

And I also got to receive a blessing from a former meth-head born-again Christian on my trip back to Atlanta on the MegaBus. “I hold love in my heart for all races,” she told me — even though she no longer held any front teeth in her mouth. Bless her heart. I was impressed.


August 17, 2017

Gore, Carter & MLK: Moral giants of the Deep South

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 12:56 pm

Just when I had begun to think that the American Deep South had finally lost its moral compass completely, was contributing nothing to our culture except racists and neo-Nazis, was making a mockery of sacred Christian values and had stuck us with such modern-day carpetbaggers and moral mosquitoes as Nixon, Reagan, the Bushes, Clinton and Trump — then something monumental happened to change my mind. I took a trip to Atlanta, Georgia.

I’d gone there to attend the Netroots Nation’s annual convention, but also to have a little free time to look around and be a tourist.

First I visited the Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King Jr. first took his courageous and world-shaking moral stand. “Make America moral again!” he told us. And we did. We stopped segregation. We stopped the slaughter in Vietnam. We stopped economic injustice. And we also tried to make the world a better place.

Next I visited the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, thanks to the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s most excellent #16 bus. Carter is another American moral giant with a strong vision for a better world. And guess what? He too is a product of the American Deep South.

And then there is Al Gore, a truly moral man who has almost single-handedly taken on the gigantic task of saving the entire human race from extinction — and not only from industrial pollution but from moral pollution as well. I just heard Gore speak in Atlanta at the Netroots Nation convention. “We must stop industries from using our skies as sewers,” he said. And what was the result of him giving us this extremely crucial warning? After he began telling us this inconvenient truth, America’s modern-day carpetbaggers stripped him of his presidency and forced some moral cretin upon us instead.

So now whenever I get down in the dumps about how the Deep South just keeps grinding out its multitudes of neo-carpetbaggers and moral lepers, I’m also going to remember that the Deep South also gave us such moral giants as Carter, Gore and MLK. And then I’m going to pray that the Deep South can finally continue to give us even more of these shining examples of moral courage as well — instead of just producing disgusting sewers of bigotry and hate.

Now is the time for all Americans to also become moral giants too — all of us. Now more than ever. Before morality disappears entirely from the country that we hold so dear.

But right now, morality no longer appears to be self-evident in America — and “The Charlottesville Horror” also seems to be playing in all too many theaters down South.

PS: Oh crap. Looks like “The Charlottesville Horror” is also coming to my home town Berkeley again — on August 27. Those neo-Nazi creeps really do need to get a life. Their mothers need to send them back to Bible school at the very least. Jesus taught tolerance, justice and love, not bigotry, violence and hatred.

PPS: President Trump sez that General Lee is in the same class as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. No, he’s not. Lee is clearly in the same class as Aaron Burr. So where are all the Aaron Burr statues these days?


August 4, 2017

Stockholm Syndrome: Why Deep State carpetbaggers love the American South

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 6:51 pm

In less than a week I’ll be flying down to Atlanta, to spend a few days on Peachtree Street and attend a Netroots Nation convention there. Looks like I’m actually gonna be marching through Georgia too — but not as a carpetbagger. “And so they sang the chorus from Atlanta to the sea….”

It seems to me that if anyone in the world would be qualified to recognize a carpetbagger when they see one, you would think it would be someone from the American South. But no. Ever since Nixon developed his “Southern Strategy,” almost everyone south of the Mason-Dixon Line has been supporting Deep State carpetbaggers whenever they possibly can — and probably even hoping to become one of them too. It’s like Southerners were all suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome where victims begin to identify with their tormentors.

Or perhaps I am getting this all wrong?

Well, I’m about to find out.

If any of all y’all in any of the deep southern Red States want to stop by the convention and try to prove to me that Nixon wasn’t a carpetbagger, that Reagan wasn’t a carpetbagger, that both Bushes weren’t carpetbaggers, that Trump isn’t a carpetbagger — and that even Clinton and Obama weren’t carpetbagging their little hearts out for the Deep State as well, I’d be more than willing to listen to your side of the story.

Otherwise this is my side of the story and I’m sticking to it. Seems to me that the Deep State is joyfully singing the very same chorus from Atlanta to the sea that General Sherman did — as it and its local minions happily steal from the Southern salt of the earth in order to give to the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, Citbank, Monsanto, Raytheon, Halliburton and Lockheed.

According to journalist Robert Parry, however, there actually is a way that Trump can actually stop being just another sleazy Deep State carpetbagger and start becoming an actual good prez — believe it or not. “But how could such a thing possibly happen?” you might ask. By him actually telling us the freaking truth about stuff that goes on in the Beltway! Then Trump could actually become the freaking hero of the day and actually represent us little guys in DC like he said that he would — sort of like “Mr. Trump goes to Washington” instead of the current “Mr. Trump is terrified of the Deep State and is constantly licking their boots”. Is Trump already suffering from Stockholm Syndrome too? Looks like it.

“But do I think any of this will happen?” asks Parry (and the rest of us too!) “Not really. Far more likely, the Trump presidency will remain mired in its ‘reality-TV’ squabbles with the sort of coarse language that would normally be bleeped out of network TV; the Democrats will continue substituting the Russia-gate blame-game for any serious soul-searching; the Republicans will press on with more tax cuts for the rich; and the Great American Experiment with Democracy will continue to flounder into chaos.”

PS: Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! Every single year, southern Red States simply hold out their hands and holler “Poor me!” until the compassionate, liberal and progressive Blue States in the north and the west pour billions of $$$ into said outstretched hands. And then these very same Red States turn around and show their undying gratitude by bad-mouthing and disrespecting the very liberals and progressives who feed them, clothe them, put food on their tables, give them jobs and educate their children.

That’s just wrong. And impolite too.

If the Blue States ever wised up enough to let the Red States slide, the American South would become a Third World country faster than Winchester rifles disappear at a Walmart two-for-one sale.

PPS: Various Deep State carpetbaggers over the years have also convinced a majority of voters in the mostly-Christian Red States that it is in their very best interests to spend our country’s patrimony on playing Herod in the Middle East by murdering multitudes of beautiful babies from Afghanistan to Yemen; on sending the South’s precious sons and daughters into harm’s way so that filthy-rich carpetbagging corporations can act like Pharisees; and on helping oil billionaires slink through the eye of a needle.

How the freak does all this murdering and maiming of The Innocents by the Deep State stack up to what Jesus has taught us? It doesn’t. Must be the Stockholm Syndrome at work here too.


July 28, 2017

Cameras, iPhones & Instagrams: Reshaping our worldview

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 7:26 pm

Yesterday I went to see the new Dorthea Lange exhibit at the Oakland museum and was pretty much left speechless by the raw power of her photographs. “She would expose a roll of film, send it off to Washington DC to be developed, and then wait for it to come back. Sometimes it was months before she could see how her photos turned out.”

Today we can see within seconds how our photos have turned out — and, thanks to FaceBook, Instagram and SnapChat, half the world can see how our photos turned out too.

This new and sudden flood of millions of images that wash over us daily might be both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s bad because individual photos have now lost the intense power and magic that came with the exceptional and stark rarity of a great photo such as ones that Lange took.

The gut-wrenching reality of Lange’s photos moved an entire generation to take immediate action to stop the horrors of the Great Depression. And the stoic and tragic faces of children in her photos of Japanese-Americans being forcefully dragged off to concentration camps like so many cattle also made Americans realize just how vulnerable all of us are and to move us as a nation to apologize for this injustice. “First they came for the….” And now they could come for us too.

Back in the day, Lange made everyone who saw her photographs suddenly realize how vulnerable we all are, and this effect of her photos is true even now — because even now, despite all our totally cool scientific developments and technological inventions since then, we still are as vulnerable. Lose a house? Lose a job? We could be dead within weeks — perhaps even within days. Lange’s haunting images of women and children on the brink of starvation and ruin remind us of this — that even White Americans back then could be so easily and completely betrayed by Deep State banksters and carpetbaggers. And that this vulnerability that Lange forced Americans to confront in the 1930s is true for her photos even now, 70 years later.

But the good news is that now Dorthea Lange isn’t the only one out there who is exposing us to the intense vulnerability of mankind, a vulnerability to all kinds of natural disasters and human-created assaults on both our here-and-now and on our future — day after day, year after year.

Let’s hear it for Dorthea Lange of course — but let’s also hear it for all our modern iPhones, Instagram, FaceBook and digital camera users as well. Slowly but surely, we too are bringing a face to the troubles and woes assaulting human beings daily even now and, like Lange, we too are serving as the conscience of a nation, a nation of people who are just plain lucky to be as well-off as we are, a nation that needs to remember, “There but for fortune go you and I”.

PS: This September, I will be taking my trusty Canon PowerShot to the Middle East — and hope to capture some of the horrors of destabilization over there as a result of the American carpetbaggers and war-mongers who have turned that entire part of the globe into either a fiery inferno or a ravished hulk. Perhaps I too may in my own small way sway the American conscience into finally putting a stop to all the freaking bloody disasters that our very own Wall Street and War Street are causing over there — and that we, the American people, are ultimately responsible for and have paid for in blood money. “First they came for the Middle East…”

PPS: Photographers aren’t the only artists who force us to look at the vulnerability of humans. Writers do also — starting with those Biblical guys who wrote about the compassion of Jesus, something you really don’t see all that much in America any more, especially not in the Bible Belt.

During the Great Depression, John Steinbeck’s writings moved our parents and grandparents to tears. And now I am reading Jesmyn Ward’s tragic memoir “Men We Reaped” and my own eyes are filling with tears too. For many Americans, not all that much has changed since the Great Depression.


July 22, 2017

The Strange Case of the Zany Zionist

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 12:43 pm

“Please imagine that you are a poor defenseless elderly women, slight of frame and weighing only 103 pounds,” writes Dr. Watson. Sorry, can’t do that. In my own mind’s eye, I’m still only 15 years old and in prime physical shape. But what else do you got? “Next try to imagine that some lumbering 300-pound oaf with a dyed-orange hairdo suddenly grabs your forearm and starts to tighten and tighten his grip….” Yikes!

“And then imagine that all this manhandling is taking place in a courtroom — and that suddenly all eyes are upon this elder-abusing bully and he is forced to loosen his grip.” Wait a minute. Now this story is beginning to sound uncomfortably familiar. Perhaps that little old lady might actually be me after all.

But assuming that this powerful and dramatic court scene is the climax of Dr. Watson’s story, then where exactly did this strange case actually begin? Stand down, Dr. Watson. I can take it from here.

It all began back around 2003, even before I had joined a small California branch of the International Solidarity Movement, a non-violent group devoted to bringing peace and justice to Israel and Palestine. And the lumbering oaf in Dr. Watson’s courtroom drama appears to be the exact same guy who has devoted the last two decades of his life to stalking ISM members, bullying us, acting shady and generally giving Zionism a bad name.

14 years ago, this guy first turned up at one of our meetings disguised as a Pakistani — that is until his pancake makeup began to run.

Then in 2006, this zany Zionist made an appearance on the Bill O’Reilly show, telling every kook and nut watching it that ISM supported terrorists (which we don’t!) And then when even Bill O’Reilly seemed to think that perhaps this hulking oaf might be a bit extreme even for his show, this guy just kept re-publishing that same tired segment over and over again on his blog — for the next eleven years.

And then this hulking stalker-for-Zionism began falsely accusing us of being members of Hezbollah and fraternizing with Hamas (totally untrue!) He even started publishing photos of us on his website as if we were wanted criminals (including a rather flattering mugshot of me).

Then our zany Zionist stalker started becoming even more obsessive and sent in an “undercover agent” to secretly videotape our meetings (and to eat up our refreshments too). Are all Zionists as weird as this one? Now that’s a scary thought.

So. “How does this story finally end?” you might ask. “What was the final courtroom decision and who finally won the case?” Unfortunately it wasn’t me — but it wasn’t him either! The judge just shrugged and threw up her hands. “This case is too complex for me to try in this court,” she said. Okay. I agree. The judge then indicated that it was time for this overzealous and zany Zionist to be tried in a higher court instead. But which court? The Supreme Court? The Court of Public Opinion? Or an even Higher Court than that — one involving pearly gates vs. the Fires of Hell?

As the ancient Hebrew prophet Micah was fond of saying, “Men will be judged by whether or not they love justice, and whether or not they show mercy”. Or words to that effect. ISM passes these criteria with flying colors. But, unfortunately, the Zany Zionist does not. Case closed.

Or is it?

Apparently, our very own U.S. Congress has also become a nest of zany Zionists too. Good grief, now Congress wants to pass a bill that will make it a felony if someone like me demands justice in Israel in the same manner that Nelson Mandela demanded justice in South Africa back in the 1980s. If I keep on insisting on justice in Israel, I could also get stalked by zany Zionists in Congress too. Yikes!

PS: Just found out that I (and hopefully Dr. Watson too) will be going to Israel in early September as an ISM volunteer in Palestine — hopefully in Jenin.

PPS: Dr. Watson is currently busy writing up his latest adventure, the fascinating “Case of the Missing Grandchildren”. And I also hear that Dr. Phil is helping him write it too.

Wailing wall - Copy (2)

July 15, 2017

Clear & Present: SaudiGate, IsraelGate, Nixon & Reagan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 12:47 pm

I’ve got some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that, for at least the next few months, several million Americans will live a little bit longer because they will still have affordable healthcare. Even though it’s not single-payer healthcare (which could save millions more American lives and cost billions of dollars less), it’s still better than Trump-Ryan-McConnell-Don’t-Care by a long shot. But then this isn’t really news at all, right? Just the same old story of our corporate-sponsored government vs. what Jesus would have done. Boring. Nothing to see here, folks. Let’s move on.

The bad news is that I just got into a big fight with a friend of mine over RussiaGate.

“The Trumps should be arrested,” my friend shouted at me, “for using Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election!”

“But what about the Clintons and their use of the Saudis and Israelis to influence the 2016 election?” I replied.

“But that’s completely different.”

Is it now? In exactly what way? Israelis have used the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to rule our elections with an iron hand for the past four decades, and the Saudis have used the Clinton Foundation to influence our elections by donating all kinds of $$$$ to it. But nobody appears to be whining their little hearts out about that kind of stuff.

“Yeah, but…” countered my friend. “Both AIPAC and the Clinton Foundation are run by Americans, not foreign nationals.” And that makes it okay? Americans who are unregistered agents of foreign countries are supposed to declare themselves according to the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Section 22 et seq. Or perhaps these Americans are just committing treason?

Is my friend really actually trying to tell me that, “Treason is okay — just as long as it doesn’t involve Russia….”

Then I replied, “But AIPAC and Israel have tried to influence the outcome of almost every single American federal election in the past 50 years — and in the past few decades, almost no politician has been sent to Washington without AIPAC’s stamp of approval. Just ask former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney about that one.” Not to mention Israel’s grim influence in attempting to sink the USS Liberty 50 years ago today.

“But what about Barbara Lee?” answered my friend. Geez Louise. Bad example. Rep. Lee is what we call a PEP — Progressive Except for Palestine. In America, PEPs are elected all the time. Even Al Franken and Bernie Sanders are PEPs. But you never ever hear of any PER (Progressive Except for Russia) getting elected. In fact, according to spell-check, that isn’t even a word.

Nobody on The Hill dares to cross Israel or the Saudis — for fear of not getting re-elected. And yet almost everybody on The Hill feels free to bad-mouth Russia. I rest my case.

PS: No, wait. I don’t rest my case either. Have you ever gotten yourself into a debate and then gone home and told yourself, “Good grief, I shoulda said this…” Well. Perhaps what I should have also said to my friend is, “Donald Jr. talked with some Russian attorney? HELL, REAGAN KEPT AMERICANS HOSTAGE IN TEHRAN for months in order to get elected — and later even illegally sold weapons to Iran during the Iran-Contra scandal when our ally Iraq was at ‘war’ with Iran. But nobody complained about that. You never heard of ReaganGate. Of course you didn’t.”

Not to mention that Nixon totally screwed the Paris peace talks with Vietnam in order to get elected, causing the grim and unnecessary deaths of hundreds of American soldiers. Where’s the anger about that? Plus the Bushes, the Clintons, Obama, etc. all regularly chatted it up with Saudi princes and Israeli neo-colonialists in order to get elected too. Hypocrites. All of them.” syria-a-civil-war-supported- by-washington-and-its-allies- us-wants-to-partition-and- reconfigure-the-middle-east/ 5598841

And, duh, I also should have told my friend about how I myself have lived through the grim and useless 1950s First Cold War, deliberately started by the Dulles brothers — and that it was a miserable, scary, McCarthyism-laden time that I wouldn’t wish on a dog. And that Putin is no Stalin. And that Trump, Netanyahu, Prince What’s-his-Name and Mitch McConnell are not John and Bobby Kennedy either.


Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you’re at it, please buy my books!

Plus here’s a sneak preview of my latest book, a thrilling murder mystery entitled “Road Trip to Damascus,” hopefully coming out by the end of 2017:

July 9, 2017

America supplies the Taliban’s weapons? What!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 3:28 pm

For the last 16 (sixteen) long miserable years, America has been at war with the Taliban in Afghanistan, right? And so I’m starting to feel rather foolish because, after all these 16 (sixteen) long miserable years, I’m only now just beginning to ask myself, “Who the freak is financing the Taliban? And who is supplying all their weapons?”

And don’t try to tell me that the Talibs are still using those rusty old guns and RPGs that the Soviets left lying around in the 1980s or the ones that the Americans used to arm bin Laden and al Qaeda back in the 1990s. That is so yesterday. Let’s move on.

Even an American fourth-grader could eventually have figured this out — that the Taliban have just got to be using sophisticated and up-to-date weaponry. Why? Because they are still in the mix — even after 16 (sixteen) long miserable years of battling America, Canada, Europe, NATO, the UN, whatever. The most weaponized countries in the world have skin in this game — and yet they are still losing this “war”.

For instance, just look at Palestine. Palestinians use rocks and stones and the occasional bottle-rocket in order to defend themselves from their brutal occupiers who use the most advanced arsenal there is. Plus the IDF now claims that Palestinians have also escalated their weapons arsenal to knives but those are probably just throw-downs. Perhaps the Palestinians use knives. Perhaps not. But see how far stone-age weaponry has gotten them — they basically live in concentration camps. Their rocks (and even knives) are a joke.

And don’t even get me started on the Yemenis — who appear to be fighting off the entire Saudi air force, army and killer drones only by the grace of slingshots and the willingness to become corpses rather than submit to tyranny. “Give me liberty or give me death!” they cry from behind their pea-shooters and BB guns.

So. I wrote to a friend of mine who works for the Afghan government and asked her, “Who finances the Taliban and supplies them with weapons? Surely they aren’t manufacturing RPGs inside their caves?” Here is her answer.

“Yes, you are correct to ask this. The continued persistence of the Taliban is really important, a question that has been sitting out there in plain sight that American media and scholars tend not to ask. This is not just a question of financing; but also the fact that Americans have probably killed more Taliban insurgents since 2001 than the total number of Taliban in 2001.

“Funding seems to come from two sources. First, the opium trade. Last I checked, Helmand Province had gone from negligible production before 2001 to producing 70% of the world’s opium by 2010.

“The second major source of funding is charitable organizations in the Gulf, channeled through Pakistan and contributed to by Pakistan. Not sure of the proportion of this funding compared to the narcotics trade. Yep. Our ‘allies’ in the Gulf seem to be major supporters of the Taliban.”

What? The Taliban buys arms with money from opium sales? And who, exactly, buys up most of their opium? Americans do, yeah duh. But let’s move on. Again.

The Gulf States supply the Taliban’s weapons? And where exactly do the Saudis and them even get any weapons to supply the Taliban with? Hell, even I know the answer to that one. From America!

What the freak do you think that the Saudis are going to do with all the 130 billion dollars worth of weapons that America just contracted to sell them? Give them out as party favors at weddings? Yeah right.

PS: This constant river of weapons sales to both sides of the Afghan conflict is really working out well for US weapons manufacturers, ya think? They sell to the Taliban and they also sell to the Marines. What could be a better way to turn a profit? This is almost exactly the same deal that the weapons manufacturers had going for themselves during the Iran-Iraq “war”. They sold weapons to the Pentagon who sold or gave them to their buddy Saddam Hussein — and then American entrepreneurs turned around and sold weapons to Iran too. Remember Ollie North and the Iran-Contra scandal? “It’s just business.”

These weapons manufacturers really need to be put in check before even more US Marines get murdered.

PPS: America’s current fairy-tale-generating propaganda machine has just gotten even the freaking NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC involved in its evil schemes to swamp us with even more blatant advertisements for “war”. WMD consumerism? Exactly how many more deadly weapons do we need?

How many deadly weapons does it take to destroy the entire Earth? To slaughter all seven billion of us humans? Apparently we still don’t have enough WMDs. Apparently we gotta keep making (and using) even more and more! And as the flood of propaganda lies about Syria continue to drown us, even the freaking National Geographic has jumped into the lucrative business of lying. Yikes!

Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you’re at it, please buy my books!

Plus here’s a sneak preview of my latest book, a thrilling murder mystery entitled “Road Trip to Damascus,” hopefully coming out by the end of 2017:


July 3, 2017

Carpetbagger: What I resent most about Donald Trump

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 12:08 pm

Could it be Trump’s weird bad-hair-day approach to grooming that I resent most? No, not really. He’s actually been getting his hair to behave itself lately.

Is it that The Donald is an even worse president than George W. Bush? Nah, it’s not that — even though Trump seems to be trying really hard to be the absolute worst American president ev-ah. But at least DJT actually did get legally elected (sort of, if you ignore our country’s new Jim Crow voting laws, that electoral college nonsense, blatant electronic vote tampering and Citizens United). Bush definitely did not get elected. GWB bought the 2000 election straight up.

Is it because Trump (like Johnson, Bush, Clinton, Bush 2, Reagan and Obama) lied us into yet another phony act of “war”? Nope, that seems to be what American presidents do these days — make sure that weapons contractors (not us) get all the taxpayers’ money. It’s part of the job description as far as I can tell.

Is it because Trump lies through his teeth about almost everything else? No, almost all politicians lie through their teeth — with the exception of Senator Al Franken (please read his new book “Giant of the Senate”). I’ve come to expect constant waterfalls of lies from DC and try to work around them.

Is it because Trump kisses the arse of the evil Deep State? Nope, almost everyone in Washington does that (see below regarding HRC). Why just single out Trump?

Is it because Trump promised us that he would end the freaking illegal and criminal “war” on Syria? That he even pinky-swore that he would stop the Pentagon and CIA’s traitorous funneling of blood money to ISIS and al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq — but yet under Trump’s watch there are still blatant American ratlines to these disgusting terrorist groups who only Syria’s President Assad and the Russians are actually fighting against? No. Trump lied and I fell for it. That one’s on me.

Is it because Trump generates hate between Americans everywhere he goes, blaming immigrants and Blacks and Muslims for all the troubles that the Deep State has systematically caused? Uh-uh. Wall Street and War Street have been screwing Americans for decades, centuries even. If Americans are still falling for this shite, it’s not Trump’s fault. This one’s on the Americans who elected him. To get at the real truth, all Americans have to do is just occasionally read my blog!

Is it because Trump has shamelessly disrespected the skilled and vital immigrant labor force that is currently re-building America in the 21st century and doing it under almost slave-labor conditions — in the same manner that African slaves built America in the 18th century, and that 19th-century America was built by cheap labor supplied by Chinese coolies, immigrants from impoverished European serf classes and America’s own exploited and wage-enslaved white factory workers and miners? Well, that too — but this isn’t the main Trump yucky grossness that I resent.

No, what I really resent about Trump is that he’s always asking his grassroots base for money — sending out several lie-filled emails a day, trying to nickel-and-dime America’s poor sweet misguided grandmas and grandpas to death. Trump always makes it sound like a national emergency if Junior doesn’t cough up his lunch money for Trump.

That’s what irritates me most.

Isn’t it enough that Trump is stripping his grassroots base of their medical care, their jobs, their emergency back-up food supplies, their chance at a good education, their soldier-boy sons (who will now come back in a box after fighting his senseless “wars” for him), their chances of having a real home and all their hopes of becoming part of the middle-class American Dream? Now Trump’s going after their life-savings too?

Because so many of Trump’s supporters come from the Red-State South, one would think that his supporters in those states — with their intense love of dwelling on the past — would be able to immediately spot a Northern carpetbagger when they see one. But apparently not.

And speaking of Northerners, here’s the next episode of my recent adventure in New York City, wherein Hillary Clinton tells all. But what I don’t understand is why Red-State voters recognize Clinton as the carpetbagger that she is at heart — but don’t seem to catch on that Donald Trump is one too. Huh?

New York City, Day Three, Part Two: Here’s one of my favorite things to do in NYC — go eat rice pudding at B&H Dairy on Second Avenue. Met a friend there and we talked. The 14th Street cross-town bus took forever to get there. I could have walked faster. At B&H, I told my friend about all the latest soap opera back in Berkeley and she caught me up on Lower East Side news.

“There’s a lot of construction going on here in Manhattan right now,” she said, “and also all over the world. There’s a lot of money-laundering out there apparently and building construction is the best way to do it. Even in Ramallah, buildings are going up like crazy.” Even in Berkeley. 10,000 units of housing. They build it and then sell it off to the Saudis or else to the Chinese.” I just gotta write a blog post about that!

My friend looked great by the way. What’s her secret?

“There was a big explosion next to the B&H last year and B&H was shut down as a result. The whole neighborhood rallied, even started a Go-Fund-Me site and saved B&H!” So there I was, still eating B&H rice pudding thanks to my friend and the neighborhood. The owners needed the money to rewire their gas lines before they could reopen.

Then I dealt with the subway and transferred two times without getting lost. Boo-yah! Aster Place to 14th Street to 34th Street and Eighth Avenue.

Next? A panel discussion at the Book Expo on how to sell one’s book to Hollywood. I asked them, “How do I sell my book to Studio Ghibli in Japan?” Nobody on the panel even knew who Studio Ghibli was. Humph.

Now I’m waiting in line with the rest of the media to get into see Hillary Rodham Clinton. There are about 50 of us. We’ve already been sniffed by bomb-sniffing dogs. Now it’s just wait and see. There are hundreds of people here who actually came (and actually paid good money) to see Killery explain all those dead babies who were murdered on her watch. Gross. But I’m not going to say anything — at least not until I get home to blog my heart out. Trump may be hitting America over the head with a hammer — but Hillary and her Deep State friends would have us die slowly by a thousand (budget) cuts.

Someone just handed me a glass of white wine. I wonder if they will serve food. I wonder if there are any press people here that I know. Probably not. I wonder if the Secret Service is here too. And then the crowd starts moving and I’m inside the auditorium, in the front but off to the side. No food.

Tomorrow Senator Al Franken is going to speak. Should I get up early enough to go to the children’s authors’ breakfast too? Nah. No free food that I can eat.

Carolyn Reedy of Simon and Schuster was the introducer. “She’s a major best-selling author. She’s published all five of her books with us — and a new one is coming soon. Cheryl Strayed, an author in her own right, will interview her. Remember that 65,000,000 people voted for Hillary Clinton and if only a small percentage of those buy her book….”

HRC came out. She got an actual standing ovation — except for from me. “Do you know how much we love you?” Not me. Not after the slaughter in Libya and Syria. She talked about the re-publications of “It Takes a Village”.

“I never know what they are attacking me for,” regarding the Republicans. Her other new book is “a personal deep experience and catharsis”. It’s a book of sayings and quotations. “People shared their own stories with me. Moments when people grab your hand and tell you their stories. That was incredibly meaningful to me.” Did Kaddafi grab your hand and tell you his story before you murdered him? “The courage to get back up when you’ve been knocked down. It was incredibly painful.” The book doesn’t have a title yet.

“Writing it was cathartic. Resilience is a great gift.” Tell that to the Syrians, why don’t you? “Whatever gives you that faith to keep going. The extraordinary capacity to keep going.” Like the dead people in Libya, Ukraine, Syria, etc. all have?

“One person told me how he was struck down by the landing gear of the plane on 9-11.” And lived to tell about it? And why exactly was the landing gear down? “There are challenges every step of the way. A lot are rooted in family and friends but a lot is my own determination and resilience. One foot in front of another. For the part that is larger than myself. I work in the little farmhouse we have.” You mean the 5,600-square-foot 2.5 million-dollar cottage with the swimming pool and guest house on acres of land just outside of Brooklyn?

She’s going a lot farther in her new book than she had. “This is my truth, no matter what others say. How I saw it, felt and thought. You cannot make up what happened! This is how I experienced it. Pulling the curtain back on running for president. You will find out.” She also said something about America’s need to come to grips with the future. I definitely agree with her on that one.

The hardest part for HRC was understanding what she didn’t do well or what would have worked better. “The more you understand what happened, the more we understand what we need to know. Russia. Russia’s interference. I am worried about my country. The way this White House is behaving is deeply troubling. The lies. What happened that was totally unprecedented.” The foreign country that actually interfered in our elections? What about Israel and Saudi Arabia? Or the lies she told about Libya? Gag me with a spoon. If she hadn’t lied and murdered her way through the world as Secretary of State, then perhaps people would have voted for her instead of Bernie or The Donald or Jill Stein. But then that’s just me.

“I’m fine as a person after this election but I’m worried as an American. Being an American was important when I was growing up. It was an open time. The world was out there waiting for us.” She then names Kennedy, Eisenhower. “That’s how we were raised. And I always loved reading. Nancy Drew, a girl who thought for herself.” Literature as inspiration and also distraction. She likes murder mysteries too so she can’t be all bad.

Hope? Is she hopeful? Yes, but hope needs to be linked to strategy, kindness. She was deeply troubled by the white racist in Portland — breaking through the veneer of civilization. A level of behavior should be expected of everyone. To unleash a level of vitriol is dangerous — and yet that’s exactly what she did with regard to Russia, Syria, Ukraine, Libya, etc.

“As Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady, I’ve traveled and it doesn’t take much to rip off the level of civilization. I’ve seen it in Bosnia and Rwanda. Find your role. Get involved. People of reason — there’s been a deliberate assault on Truth and Reason.” God I wish she’d shut up.

Advice to the first woman president? “Read my book! Plus our system is the most difficult in the world. We don’t have a parliamentary system where peers, colleagues and constituents know you first. Here you have to raise a lot of money and run a gauntlet. It’s the hardest job in the world — at least it used to be.” Plus women also have the double standard. I’ve experienced it.”

She is now reading “Jersey Brothers” which has authentic dialogue. And she loves independent booksellers. Of course she does. She’s talking to an audience full of them. Then she made some snarky remarks about Trump and then asked “How can we be kinder?” Stop bombing countries all over the world? “We are now very divided in America, harder to cross over between each side, the Big Sort. Take it out of politics and put it in the realm of citizenship. Fund more opportunities for conversations like this one.”

Then she stated that she was going to do everything she could to support The Resistance, from the ground level up. School boards, county commissions, etc. “I’m going to be active. That’s who I am. That’s my DNA.” Standing ovation, Queen Elizabeth wave.

Then I had a nice walk home to The Jane hotel, ate take-away dinner at the corner deli, showered, popped into bed, watched TV and read some more of Colin Cotterill’s new book.


June 27, 2017

Urban Shield: Doing unto us what we did to Iraq, Syria, etc.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 9:30 pm

How many Americans even remember America’s brutal and unnecessary “war” on Vietnam? Even though 50,000 (fifty thousand) of our sons and daughters died in that conflict? And that said “war” went very badly for us when a bunch of determined farmers in black pajamas kicked our butts?

How many Americans even know that our military-industrial complex financed, encouraged and promoted Saddam Hussein’s “war” on Iran in the 1980s — even though that brutal and uncalled-for attack lasted ten long bloody years? And that Iraq, even though it was working hand-in-hand with both America and Israel and probably most of Europe too, couldn’t even manage to defeat puny Iran?

And journalist Steve Fournier also asks the same question about Russia. “Would you entrust a war to an army that couldn’t defeat some of the weakest nations on earth? The armed forces of the United States have been engaged for over a generation in warfare against governments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Syria. They have managed to destroy lives and property in abundance and have extinguished entire ancient cultures, but they have accomplished no discernible mission. Typically facing poorly-armed and undernourished enemies, they have been unable to record a victory since 1945. Should we trust them to take on Russia?”

And then there were all those bloody and unnecessary “wars” on Nicaragua, Guatemala, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Palestine (by proxy), Syria, Yemen, Chile, Korea (twice so far) and so on — all of them now conveniently forgotten.

Hell, Americans can’t even remember any of the centuries of “wars” on poorly-armed American Indians or even the three or four centuries of brutal and cowardly attacks on defenseless Black people, conveniently referred to as either “slavery” or “Jim Crow”.

And now the same folks who brought us all those stupid and shameful “wars” abroad are now trying to bring these same stupid and shameful “wars” home here too. Does your local police department really need a tank? Seriously? Urban Shield sounds pretty much like Iraqi Shield or Afghan Shield or Syrian Shield, all of which ended badly for the civilians of those countries. Bad news for them — and now almost certainly bad news for us too.

But great news for the military-industrial complex!

And speaking of urban stuff, here’s the next chapter of my recent adventures in New York City:

Day Three, Part 1: One would think that I would have fallen asleep easily last night after taking the red-eye from SFO — but no. Maybe I got a few hours of primo sleep. But whether or not sleep was involved, my wake-up call still came at 6:15 am.

And then I discovered Hudson Street Park. 20 blocks of lovely waterfront walkways going directly from The Jane hotel to the Javits Center. Birds actually sang!

Then I got in free to the Book Expo’s authors’ breakfast on my press pass. Karmic reward! Sweet. But shoulda known that the breakfast was not going to be gluten-free. Not even oatmeal or fruit cups were involved. Just orange juice and cream cheese for me.

Damn, there’s a lot of people here — and at $70 a pop. Who’s going to speak? Stephen King. Anyway, here I am, sitting right next to the Random House/Penguin VIP table. There must be at least a thousand people here. 150 tables of ten, plus a bunch of seating for groundlings in the back.

Oliver King, Stephen’s son, spoke first. “Our family sat around and pitched one-line story lines to each other at the dinner table. One of those story lines was about a world without women. Our new book ‘Sleeping Beauty’ resulted.”

Stephen King said, “I used to be a latchkey kid back before there were even latchkey kids — back in the 1950s. And my mom used to say, ‘If there’s no ring around the toilet bowl, you know that a woman is around’. Men just don’t do things like that. Women are the cooling factor in society when men run too hot.” Surely Stephen King didn’t just say that, that all women are good for is cleaning the toilet. I’m sure he meant something else. Will have to read the book to find out.

Whitney Cummings spoke next. “I wanted to write something that will last forever. Books are permanent. I’m an unapologetic book nerd. They don’t bombard you with visual chaos like social media does.” She’s funny as hell, is a screenwriter for “Two Broke Girls”.

“It’s totally hard to write a book. I thought it would be fun and sexy like when Cary Bradshaw did it on TV. But it was actually pretty frustrating. And then there’s fact-checkers. They should go over to Fox News. Fox News needs fact-checkers. Leave me alone!”

She used to be crazy. “You can’t just magically stop being crazy. I went into therapy. I was co-dependent, couldn’t say no. Busy but unfulfilled. Needing the approval of others.” She gave a really humorous presentation. Made all this terrible stuff sound laugh-out-loud funny. “Ambian and wine is not a sustainable combination.”

Her book is a manual about how to change your brain. “People only show their good sides on social media but a lot of people really are in pain. But people do want to change and grow. This book will hopefully provide healing laughs.”

Claire Messud spoke next. “My novel, The Burning Girl, is about two young girls and their close friendship as they pass through the storm of adolescence. We all remember middle school. When something doesn’t make sense just think, ‘Picture this as happening in middle school,’ and then it will make perfect sense. A week can contain a year’s worth of emotions.”

We all put together stories to make sense of our lives, Messud told us. “We fill in the blanks. Many elements are familiar, universal — what we give up to become adults, from only pieces of what actually goes on. But a state of uncertainty between knowing and unknowing is what makes us human.”

Scott Kelly spoke next. 520 days in space, 340 of them consecutively. He wrote a book called “Endurance”. When he was a kid, he read a book called “The Right Stuff” and immediately decided to become an astronaut. “It surprised even me that I did this, and my book is the story of how I got there. Today is a critical day in our nation’s future. I have looked at the earth from space. You don’t see a lot of rain forests down there anymore. You can actually see the pollution. Plus all the cooperation between people and countries regarding space programs shows that we can do anything if we have dreams.”

Then Jessmyn Ward spoke about her new book, “Sing, Unburied, Sing”. “Faulkner once said, ‘To understand the world you must first understand Mississippi’. My mother was a domestic and my father was a factory worker. I never thought I would become a writer. Mississippi will hug you before it smothers you.” Mississippi also has some of the best bookstores there is. Jackson, Tupelo, Oxford. “The past bears down especially hard on the present in Mississippi. Why? It was heavily invested in slavery and then later in Jim Crow and Parchman Farm. How does the past live in the present? That’s the question I constantly ask myself. Writing is my attempt to answer this question.”

She tells us that, “Mississippi is the foundation and walls. America is the roof. Your home fails you, murders you. There is terror — and there is hope.”

Pete Souza then spoke about his new book, “Obama”. He was the White House photographer during Obama’s presidency. “So. I miss this guy. I took two million photos in eight years.” A nice selection of his photos were projected onto a big screen, and that was the end of the authors’ breakfast.

Then it was off to the main exhibit hall to see who was giving away free pens. Nobody was! I only scored three or four pens. Bummer.

But at the Soho Press booth I scored the new Colin Cotterill book! And a pre-publication copy at that! Not to mention a new Timothy Hallinan book, “The Widows of Malabar Hill” and a few others as well.

I also got a copy of the new Joe Ide book, “Righteous,” and some free macadamia nuts — but paid three whole dollars for a tiny bag of potato chips. Had to. By that time I was starving.

Bought a deli salad after leaving Javits Center and then took the 9th Avenue bus back home to The Jane. Am going back tonight to attend the Hillary Clinton School of Lies but that will be about it for the BEA for today. I think.

To be continued…


Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress