Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Orleans and the Wrath of God

It was originally thought that New Orleans had dodged the bullet with Hurricane Katrina, but with the light of day, it has appeared that the worst has happened. One of the levees has been breached, with water entering the city wetting parts of the city that had previously been dry. New Orleans is a poor city where most people who could get out did, but those remaining, about 20% of the city's population could not leave as they live from paycheck to paycheck and they rely on mass transportation to get around.

The situation is dire. Some parts of town are under as much as 20 feet of water. It will not drain out, nor can the sun dry it out. The place has degenerated into anarchy. There is no electricity and without that the pumps that the elaborate engineering system relies on will not work. There will be no electricity for as much as 2 months. No food, no refrigeration. While I do not condone looting, perhaps in this case it may be justified, for it is each man/woman/child fending for themselves. The whole city will need to be completely evacuated, including the 10,000 or so stranded at the Superdome. They have 'shelter', ie, a leaky roof and surrounded by water, but they are probably low on food, patience and good humor.

Add to this the water is contaminated with everything imaginable, chemicals, gas, human waste, dead animals as well as people and it is only a matter of time when the mosquitoes arrive bearing a whole host of disease. You have seen the good and bad in this situation - the rescue effort of the people stranded on rooftops as well as scenes of looting. If you want to see what an apocolyptic scene would look like, this is it. I hope the remainig residents of New Orleans have relatives who can take them in for the long haul. Biloxi residents have fared even worse.

I have been blessed to have visited some of America's greatest cities - New York, Boston, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Memphis to name a few, and I regret that I haven't been to either New Orleans or Biloxi, MS, although these two cities were on my list. I would have loved to walked the same streets that have inspired great Southern writers, like William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Anne Rice and Robert Penn Warren. But tou can't replace historical sites like antebellum houses, The Myrtles, St. Louis Cemetary and other landmarks. They can try to rebuild them, but something is permanently lost.

Now the question is not can New Orleans rebuild, but should it? Having a city built under sea level is tempting fate. Bourbon Street will come back, but something will be permanently destroyed and the Dixieland Jazz just will not be the same anymore. If you visit in two years, you'll be visiting the 'new' New Orleans, not the 'old'.

This is America's Tsunami. Let's see who are friends are and see who comes to our aid.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Daily Trailer - A Prowler

Retrospectives - Pre-Nevada Part III

Part 3 of an occasional series

January - September, 1989

visited Las Vegas as my personal vacation in January, 1989 and would make a few more trips there over the next year. I went during the last week of January and first week of February, again in May and a trip to Reno/Tahoe in September.

Back then, the Strip wasn't anything like it is today. Caesar's Palace was the only 'modern' casino there. Even the Excalibur, the first of the modern megaresorts, was not open yet. The Strop was a regular, two-way street. The only bus in town was the Strip bus for tourists. The 'bus system' back then was under the control of a private owner who rarely, if ever, ventured into the neighborhoods. The city would spend a year or two trying to get rid of him in order to make room for CAT (Citizens Area Transit) which was still years away. His argument was 'this is a car town, and even if you provided a bus, people would not use it anyway'. Not true, as there were plenty of poor people as well as elederly people who needed transportation to the doctor's, supermarket, etc.

The best way I could describe the Strip would be to steer you into the old TV show Vega$, starring Robert Urich, The Riv was there, the Desert Inn (gone), the Stardust, the Dunes (gone), Tropicana, Oasis (gone) Caesar's, no Mirage, TI, NY,NY or any of the Disnetworld-like attractions.

I used to spend a quarter of my time doing slots, another quarter, video poker, another quarter on craps and the last quarter of KENO, the game with the worse odds in the house, but the game I would make a few good jackpots from, nonetheless,

During my early days of trips to Nevada, I spent a lot of time being a tourista. During the May trip, I visited Laughlin (a disasterous day at craps) visiting the Colorado Belle and Harrah's, went to visit the Hoover Dam and even took a small plane ride over the Grand Canyon. That wasn't my intent, as I was bumped off the original plane/bus tour because the original plane had reached its weight capacity. So I 'settled' for a flyover. I was on the plane with a few college guys who got airsick and all one did was puke into a vomit bag. The plane reeked of puke.

During the January trip, I figured it would be a great time to avoid the coldest part of a New England winter and when I arrived in Vegas, it was a delightful 65 degrees. So, after a good night's rest and an Egg McMuffin at the McDonald's on the ground floor of the Barbary Coast, I set out from my rrom at Bugsy Siegal's Flamingo hotel and walked to the end of the north end of the Strip (at the time, the Riviera) and figured I'd 'gamble' my way back. I spent way too much time at that end of the Strip because I was still down at that end by 1 am. I had lost my daily allotment and I wasn't even in the mood for waiting or paying for a bus, so I walked back to the Flamingo. By now, the temperature has dropped to about 45 degrees and in an environment with no humidity, it felt like 25, plus it had gotten windy. On top of that, I was starting to come down with a cold. Back then, the Strip was loaded with empty lots and wide open spaces in between the casinos, so I had to deal with my first sandstorm. I got back to my room, stopped to play awhile and won a little money, thn I called it a night. And no, I didn't see Bugsy ghost, which is said to haunt the agrden area.

In September of that year, I also made my first trip to the Reno/Tahoe area. I took a UScare flight and I made a side trip to Indianapolis to visit my sister and her family who were living in the suburbs at the time, Carmel, I think. I flew out from Boston and my ticket said Boston to Indianapolis, and I thought it was a direct flight, but surprise, surprise, it stopped in Washington, D.C. first. But I made it to Indianapolis for around 5:30 which was my planned arrival time. I visited the area and Indiana looks much the same as New England as the entire area east of the Mississippi looks pretty much the same from Maine to Georgia and Georgia to Mississippi. The only difference is the amount of humidity you have to endure.

We visited a train museum, we went by a large cemetary, that I was told was the second largest in the country after Arlington. I had a good time and left for Reno at about 5:30 pm and from the get go was a flight of delays and other horrors. First, it left an hout late, then, surprise, surprise, it was headed to San Francisco and I asked the flight attendent, like, aren't we overstepping Reno a bit. She basically told me to sit down and shut up.

On the approach to San Francisco, we were diverted to Oakland. Originally we were told not to get off the plane, as they were waiting for a crew change. Then they told us to get off. We finally arrived at Reno/Tahoe at about 2am, several hours late.

I stayed at a Motel 6 or something in downtown Reno and I was awaked by a major downpour, which I enjoyed because I love the sound of rain on the roof. At the time, the top of the news was hurricane Hugo was battering Charleston, S.C.

I visit Reno, Lake Tahoe and of course Virginia City, which remains one of my most favorite places to visit. Don't remember if I won or lost, it doesn't really matter because I always enjoy Northern Nevada.

I went to the airport with much time to spare, only to find that my flight to Boston had been cancelled. I asked what the hell am I supposed to do? The flight attendent said, 'Here, get on this flight, its going to Indianapolis. From there, it would go onto Cleveland, Dayton, Syracuse and I was so pissed, I asked it THIS flight was going to Boston, or is it going to Springfield first. The attendents were assholes. On top of that, it was one of the few times that I had checked my bag, in which was a camera I borrowed from my sister for the strip. They lost the luggage, as the camera went on to Dayton. It took two days to get my luggage returned and the camera was busted from the gorillas handling it. I have never been on another UScare flight ever since.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Scenes from Pemi

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Daily Trailer

More scenes from the Pemi Bluegrass Festival: The top picture is a converted bus, where people were jamming throughout the night and the bottom picture is of an airstream trailer. Sorta retro, isn't it? Looks like one of those 1950s diners. Here is a link to the Airstream website. Its a tough call as to which was my favorite camper, the Airstream or the more luxurios Montana line.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Mind of Pat Robertson

So, Pat Robertson, the fundamentalist wacko and head of the Christian Broadcasting Network is calling for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela. Why? Because Chavez is a leftist and according to Pat, will spread Communism throughout Latin America.

Let's think about this a moment. Chavez should be assassinated because he exporting an ideology although I haven't heard of any Venezuelan troops trying to subvert other governments.

If exporting an ideology is grounds for murder, isn't Bush guily of the same thing? After all, isn't that what he and the neocons are doing all over the world. Exporting democracy all over the world. Chavez was democractically elected, and although he presides over a devided country (just like Bush does) he has survived a recall attempt. Bush and Robertson may not like the outcome, but then not everyone is ecstatic over of the outcome of both the 2000 and 2004 US elections either. Does Venezuela have troops in Colombia like the US does? Did Venezuela send troops into Haiti?

Ask youself what would happen if a Muslim cleric called for the assassination of George Bush? If the cleric lived in the US, he would have been summarily arrested and locked up under the Patriot Act for promoting terrorism and advocating a violent overthrow of the US government.
If the cleric would have been in Iraq, he would have been called an insurgent - worthy of death at the hands of the US military. If he would have been living in a US backed Muslim country, like Egypt, pressure would have been put on the government to turn over or otherwise silence the cleric.

And if a liberal or Democratic candidate had called for the killing of Chavez, the GOP would have 'Swiftboated' the guy in the next election, calling him a member of the Radical Left, Far Left and if he would have been a movie producer like Michael Moore, his next movie would be banned from most public airwaves.

But little criticism will be levelled at Robertson or Falwell, for that matter, who said that 911 was caused by 'gays, lesbians, feminists and liberals'. Yup, God is a Republican. God's Own Party.

Its time to stop funding, stop watching and time to start condemning the radicalism of religious extremism. At least Robertson is of the same mindset as Al Queda, Maybe the CBN should be considered a terrorist outfit, after all, its leader is calling for the violent overthrow of another country's leader. And don't even try to use the argument that 'if we could have stopped Hitler' since this has no parallel. Wonder why Robertson didn't call for the assassination of Kim Jung Il, he's the guy with the WMD...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Scenes from Pemi and an interesting blog

Scenes from Pemi Bluegrass Festival.

I also started reading an interesting blog that I came across. It's Aaron the Truckdriver Blog.

It's always been said if you want to find good food on the road (or places to avoid) ask a truckdriver. Aaron tours the Western States mostly and on his blog you'll find interesting movies, such as the eruption of Mt. St. Helen's, and a dreamy, otherworldly movie of Burning Man 2003 held outside of Reno. If you stop by, tell him Pig sent you.

I took the pictures too far to tell which make and model of trailer these were. My two favorites were the Airstream, which looks like a 50s diner on wheels or a scene from John Water's Pink Flamingos. The other make was the Montana, which was the 'luxury' living by comparison.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Daily Trailer

The photo on the bottom is the Store/Office at Pemi. The photo on the top is the Daily Trailer, a Cherokee.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Daily Trailer

The top picture is the some of the crowd from Pemi. The is the daily trailer.

I have also linked Bruce's Bluegrass pages to the side bar. Or you can go here.

I am glad that blogger has added an 'add picture' function. It is so much easier than hello and picassa.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

What Comcast Thinks Of and Does To Its Customers

Friday, August 19, 2005

Another corporate insult

MSNBC reported today on 'Countdown' a story of a Chicago area woman who was having a problem with her DVR functionality of her cable company. She called Comcast repeatedly and they did not send anyone out. When she received her bill, her name on the bill was changed to 'Bitch Dog'. She did get an 'apology' from 'someone' in the company who did not give his or her name, rank and serial number. Officially, a Vice President from Comcast said that if that was 'not her real name, it shouldn't have been on her bill.' That's it.

People need to wake up. Unless people get really angry and stop dealing with companies that they support by buying its products this crap will continue. But all to often in this merger happy corporate world, consumers feel they have little choice but to accept it. Fewer computer companies, cellphone companies, hospital mergers and of course, in most communities, cable companies have a monopoly. This woman needs to switch to satellite or DEMAND an apology from Comcast. Until corporate profits begin to decline, they just don't care about customers. A Consumer Rights Board needs to be set up at all levels of government, because this is not the kind of complaint that the Better Business Bureau is set up for. Of course, the GOP will not go along with this idea. They are bought and paid for by corporate cronies and they think corporate America can do no wrong. That's why most legislation coming out of Washington is loaded with corporate giveaways. Besides, they'll just call the idea a 'radical left' idea that will cost jobs. I can't see how, unless Comcast actually makes an effort at finding out who did this to this woman and fires their sorry ass.

The woman has a job. Ironically, she works in Customer Service at a credit card company.

China's Dirty Little Secret

I've been meaning to write this for awhile, but everything else has been getting in the way.

In a cover story in Time called China's New Revolution, the article talked about China's impressive economic growth. Ever since Deng Xiaoping uttered the now famous words (and heretical for Communist China) 'to get rich is glorious', the Chinese nation has really taken those words to heart.

China's economy has been running at an extraodinary 9% annual clip, (the US is about half that) and as a result, China now leads the world in cellphone ownership, it is the world's largest producer of toys, textiles and furniture. In fact, Wal-mart is China's biggest customer. Wal-Mart does an estimated $18B worth of business there and 80% of the companies suppliers are from China. In fact, the drowing trade deficit with China is becoming a sensitive topic in Washington. (So is the deficit as a whole, but nobody seems to care).

A real sign how far China has come is this impressive statistic: Shaghai now boast 300 skyscrapers in its skyline. In 1985, there was just one! One reason why the price of gas today is at record levels is due to the fact that all these factories in China (and India, too) need electricity to run them and it was just a few scant years ago that China was a net exporter of oil, while today it is a major importer of oil. That's why the Chinese government has been uprooting towns, villages and even historic antiquities are being lost due to the enormous Three Gorges Dam Project in an effort to create more electricity. As the Chinese middle class grows there is a huge demand for cellphones, computers, DVD players (most of which are made there anyway) as well as automobile purchases. Most Westerners think of China as a 'bicycle' nation but that is changing. Can you say 'more greenhouse gas'?

China is still a one-party dictatorship. While many of the Maoist slogans of the 50s and 60s have gone by the wayside, except in inner Party circles, most of China's 'new' class ignores the political rhetoric and just try to improve their lot and try to stay clear of the government's ever-reaching apparatus. (Like we try to avoid the wrath of the IRS). But the all-consuming rhetoric of the Party had to replaced with something, and that 'something' is nationalism. Just like here, where do you draw the line between 'national pride', 'patriotism' and 'nationalism' is often vague. One common activity for the Chinese is to go out and get the Guiness Book of World Records and try to break any record, no matter how obscure. One way this asserts itself is China's spending on its own military-industrial complex which spends a larger percentage of its GNP on the armed forces than the US does (and the US is the has the the world'slargest military expenditure). But why? Who threatens China? Are they doing this merely for national respect or are they gunning for the US's position as Number One? Are they threatened by Japan? Not really, but China's growing might does make Tokyo uneasy.

But neither the US or China can afford to go toe to toe, although friendly competitonj might not hurt either nation. China needs the US market to fund its expansion and the US needs China to fund our debt. But it might be wise for the US to diversify its manufacturing base, just in case. We don't want to be caught with all our computer chips being made in China and Taiwan should a military 'problem' arise.

But all this economic activity comes at a price. Political dissent is still forbidden; piracy of intellectual ideas is still rampant, in disregard of WTO rules and the other problem is China's poor record on the environment. Beijing has one of the most polluted air of any city in the world, so much so that acid rain comes down on Japan's rice fields. The air in Beijing that the livespan of an average traffic cop is 40 years and 300,000 Chinese die every year of premature respiratory ailments, according to the Time article. This poses a problem and an opportunity for Beijing to clean up its act for the 2008 Olympics to be held there. The Chinese certainly wouldn't want all those foreign tourists to go home and all they can remember of the experience would be the foul air.

But despite the lack of politcal criticism on the mainland, there are signs of political liberation here and there. In a similar article from the Associated Press after Time's cover story, was the story of how 'Chinese farmers halt production at factory' (July 24). In Shengzhou, farmers had complained about the runoff from a pharmaceutical factory. Because the area was experiencing a drought, the runoff was concentrated which caused crops to be stunted and the locals compalined that the red slime was the cause in a rise of cancer and birth defects. The farmers attacked the plant with rocks and farm tools, forcing it to suspend production.

"One senses a kind of abandonment of faith by the population in the local authorities." said Robin Munro, research director for the Hong Kong based activist group, China Labor Bulletin. "It seems to have reached a tipping point."

Often, the response by officials is indifference, leading to frustration and sometimes violence. According to the Public Security Ministry, some 70,000 such clashes have occurred all over China.

The farmers warned of furthur violent incidents in the plant resumed production. Violence broke out a second time for for days amid clashes with security police. But the violence paid off. Last month, the government announced the plant would be built elsewhere. No word on compensation, but it is a start, as both the Chinese nation and Chinese people stand up and assert themselves. This is a welcome development for the lower classes, as those in America who often fight against big corporate and governmental beauracracies.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Jason Yudoff

Rob, the Media Master from has a Podcast feed called Alley Cuts, where he showcases indie music talent primarily (but not limited to) the greater New York City metro area. Since I am a regular listener to Rob's podcasts, because his is the best one I have heard so far, I became a fan of the keyboardist and drummer, Jason Yudoff. I particularly like the cuts 'Pride', 'All Day' and 'No Such Thing' from his "Smoke, Sex, Water" CD.

For a good sampling of Jason's music I encourage readers (if there are any) of the Scorched Pig to check out Rob's site listed above, or on the links column, or to check out Jason's website at

Also, Itunes 4.7 now supports Podcasts, which isn't too surprising, but for now, I will continue to use Ipodder.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Bring back the Whigs (humor)

Velociworld wants to bring back the Whig Party.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Pemi (cont)

Rozz, Sapphire and the girls left early on Sunday and I took over while Bruce went back to camp to load Rozz's car. We shut down a tad early as were the other vendors. Nobody seemed to be making a killing other than Bill and Luella. We were completely down when the music stopped. All in all, it was a good show featuring Smokey Greene, the Gillis Brothers (my favorite), the Bluegrass Boys, Gopher Broke, Tater Hill, the Cow Tippers and making their last apeparance, the Foggy Bottom Cloggers.

When we returned to camp, I sat in the hammock and aid to Bruce "It's too made this doesn't rock back and forth". He said, 'That's what this is for", a rope tied to a nearby tree. He thinks of everything. As I ricked back and forth, I said "Bruce, why don't you call in sick tomorrow?" He thought about it a minute and called his backup saying he'd be in late tomorrow. There was no way we could have taken everything down and be home at a reasonable hour, so once that was done, we went for a refreshing swim in the Pemi River. The river is as clear as anything you'd see in the Caribbean, except for the fact that the Pemi is about 30 degrees colder.

We then headed for Lincoln where we went for dinner, which was good and we saw yet another accident on the way up there. Four or five police cars. This one might have had a death and we saw one accident where a farm tractor and a truck. The tractor was on one side of the guardrail and the truck, overturned, was on the other. We saw another one where a guy was being helped by the highway patrol with a neck brace.

We got back to the site, had another fire and after Bruce called it a night, I stayed up and read my book by falshlight. Now we were relatively alone, but there were still a few hangers-on. A beautiful starry sky.

On Monday, we didn't have everything down until noon, so Bruce can just about forget about work for the day. Earlier, both Bruce and I heard an intruder outside the camper in the early morning, but I the windows were all zipped up to see anything. Nothing was taken, but a reminder for the mental note (next time, bring shotgun).

One idea I had throughout the weekend was to add a line of 'Scorched Pig' items for next year's repertoire, including, mugs, barbeque sauce, smoked bacon, pins and things. We need to work on a logo. The marshmallows were stale from the humidity, but Bruce had an idea. He gave me a drawer handle with a pigs head on it, and loaded with a marshmallow body and candle legs, we set about taking pictures of a 'scorched pig'.
The only problem is I want a 'scorched' pig, not an immoliated, cremated pig. The logo still needs work. Pig themes go over well with mountain folk.

On the way back, we stopped for lunch at Chicago Pizzeria and then at the LL Bean outlet store in Concord. I wanted to pick up catalogs without handing them my personal information and I picked up the Outdoor Guide and Fall Guide. Should have picked up the Men's Clothing one as well. LL Bean is one of the few catalog companies I'll shop from.

Almost into Braintree, we noticed a drunken woman, back out of an offramp, make a U-turnb on the highway as she weaved all over the road. She was rocking back and forth in her seat like she was ready to pass out. We called the State Police on her and we followed her into Quincy where she was found on a grass embankment. No sooner did we circle the block she was gone. Bruce later learned that a drunken woman was pulled over after hitting a light pole or something. Thankfully, no one was killed.

By the time we got back to Braintree, Rozz got back from work and they were nice enough to give me a lift back home. We stopped off at a Chines place were we got cheap chow mein sandwiches that my hometown is known for. I got home at about 9:30 Monday night, along with my purple chair and loaded with memories and already looking forward to next year.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Ben Shapiro, Porn Loser

From the Sadly No, Blog.

Ben Shapiro, a fundamentalist, wrote a book on the evils of porn affecting America's youth.

Quite funny.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Pemi Valley Bluegrass Festival

My friend Bruce invited me to go camping at the Pemi (short for Pemigewasset) Valley Bluegrass Festival. Having been born and raised a city boy, I've never enjoyed a true camping experience so I jumped at the chance. The closest I ever got to camping was sleeping out in a tent in the backyard with the neighborhood kids. Originally, I thought it was for 'the weekend' which I define as Friday afternoon until Sunday, so when I called to check he said it was from 'Thursday' until Sunday. Ok, fine.

On Tuesday, I called him to see if we were going to be staying in Braintree, (his house) and going up Thursday and he left me a voice mail saying that he and I would be going up to NH on Wednesday night, but he'd have to come back to Braintree to pick up 'stock'. Stock? As in bonds or cattle? Turns out that Bruce neglected to mention that this was his first year as a 'vendor' of official PVBGF merchandise. Ok, fine. Brucie is full of surprises. He thought he told me that.

I arrived in Braintree at about 2:30 PM carry my bag of stuff which included an airbed, as there was supposed to more people than who actually came up. So, the first order of business was to pack all the 'stuff' into Bruce's Toyota Wagon. Bruce is a master packer and I found out that it best to stand back and watch, hand him stuff and otherwise get out of the way. He had that thing packed to the rafters, and he put my 'stuff' in the roof container as well as having to tie down a few things. Its useful if you are going camping to make a list, such as tents, rope, coolers, food, marshmallows, firewood as well as his 'stock' of folding chairs, mugs, pins, cloth bags and 'all-in-one' mats as well as two mailboxes with seascapes on them. If I would have had Bruce with me when I left Vegas, he could have stuffed my entire house, including furniture into his car.

Then, when all is done, he backed out of the driveway and hooked up the camper, which at this pojnt, was a flatbed on wheels. We left for Campton at about 4:40 and of course, we hit Boston's rush hour traffic, which effectively adds an hour to the commute.

We stopped at a Wendy's for something quick to eat and we arrived at the campground at about 7PM. There, he unhooked the trailer, cranked it up and voila instant home for a few days. But that was only the beginning. He hung a hammock between two trees (ladders are another good item to bring), hung red, white and blue lights so the site would be easy to identify, although the campground was pretty vacant at this point. We enjoyed the starry skies of which there were numerous, and although astronomy was always one of my favorite subjects, don't ask me to identify any of them other than the Big Dipper. I just don't get it - I see no Archers, Scorpions or Orion's belt. To me, they are just 'a thousand points of light' to coin a phrase. Because the campsite was pretty vacant, they were showing a movie on the side of the camp office/store. After the movie, we lit a fire, toasted marshmallows, told ghost stories and called it a night.

We got up on Thursday morning and Bruce pitched a tent, and we put together the screen house covering for the picnic table. Although the individual poles were numbered, it was nevertheless akin to putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

Bruce gave me the option of returning to Braintree with him or staying at the campsite. As nice as it was up there, of course I would go back to Braintree to pick up more stock. But before we could leave, we had to take out all the stuff that was in Bruce's wagon and move them into the camper where we could look the stuff in for security. We left at about noon. On the way out, Bruce (the Moose, aka Mr. Moose) and I stopped at one of his favorite eateries nearby - the Michevious Moose. I had a tuna salad on white toast and he had a pastomi sandich.

When we arrived in Braintree, I took a quick shower at Bruce's since it was another hot and humid day. Bruce's philosophy toward camping is to take nothing but pictures, including showers. We packed more stuff into the now empty wagon, picked up the girls, his daughter Brandi and her friend Jesse and by the time we were ready to go, Rozz, his wife came home from work and we loaded her car up with stuff, too. We left for NH about 3:15, me, Bruce, the girls and his little dog, too, Sapphire, a Papillion, which I affectionly refer to as a PAP-ILON. Rozz followed in her car.

Despite the earlier departure, we still got caught in Boston traffic as there was a few accidents on the highway. We would encounter quite a few accidents throughout the weekend. We stopped at Wendy's again and then at BJ's for food. How all the crap fit in the wehicles was beyond me, but I assume Rozz's car had space available. We arrived at Campton, again, at about 7PM.

But, before we could relax, we now had to take all the stuff out of the camper and find space for it so we could sleep. Rozz's car came in handy for that, especially after the food and coolers were moved into the table tent. It was dark by the time we finished that, we built a fire. One of my chores was to find kindling to get the fire going and I found some good size sticks at a nearby vacant campsite. By now, we had a few new neighbors and when we went to bed, there were people already beginning to jam in their trailers until the wee hours. Rozz, Bruce and I slept in the camper and the girls in the tent. With the fresh crisp air, I slept like a log every night.

On Friday morning, it was up and atum so Bruce and I drove the wagon down to the Fairgrounds site, loaded with wares. We were given an excellent site (at least I thought so) where we could see the stage and hear the music. You could hear the music all over the campsite, actually. We then set up the tent, which was another jigsaw puzzle activity (same manufacturer). Bruce added lights, red, white and blue, to match the American Flag in the back, a clock and a thermometer so we could know how hot (or cold) it was. We set up the table and loaded it with the mailboxes, with lighthouse and seascape themes, and all the Pemi Valley logo items like mugs, bumper stickers, pins, mats and chairs and not one, but four types of baseball caps. Bruce wore a tan one and I had on the white with blue. I still wear mine.

The Festival got officially underway on Friday at 1PM. The Gillis Brothers, The Bluegrass Brothers, the Foggy Bottom Cloggers and the Cowtippers were some of the performers. Smokey Green started it off. While I have a very eclectic musical tastes, I must admit that country and western and bluegrass music is at the bottom of the list, but I did enjoy good banjo pickin. For a full schedule of events for the Pemi Bluegrass Festival 2005, go here.

So, for the rest of the weekend, and armed with my best Beverly Hillbillies accents, Bruce and I practiced our salesmenship. I'm not a salesman, but I played one at the festival. I didn't do too badly, if I do say so myself. Friday was pretty slow as things were just getting started and people were still arriving, but we pulled off a few sales, mostly the small stuff, like the stickers and pins. Bruce has a little thingie that can create custom made pins and he had a few requests for personal favorites. We had a few good ones in stock, in addition to the logos, such as "Ask me about my dulcimer" (which there weren't any), "Ask me about my banjo", "Acapella is Italian for no banjos" and "Eat, Sleep, Pick". I had a nice dulcimer, handmade in Pennsylvania that I got at an Eisteddfodd festival in college, that I had to put up for sale at my garage sale when I left Vegas.

Most people were lurkers and browsers, but I always tried to engage any passerby in conversation to make a sale. I would ask them if they were having a good time and if they were enthusiastic, I told them that we were peddling memories. We sold something of everything except the two mailboxes which were 'out of theme'.

One frequent visitor was Bob, a deejay for a bluegrass show on WUNH. After I check it out, I'll post the link here. Wonder if they are doing podcasts?

Bluegrass is for people with guts. And many of the people I saw had huge guts, both men and women. Some of the men looked like they had penguins under their bellies. Some guys look right of Deliverance with their long white beards down to their belts with yellowing ponytails. Some were clean, some not. Some looked like thaey haven't washed their beards in years. If they did, they might finally find the TV remote, the car keys or Jimmy Hoffa.

I really tried to sell some of our (Bruce's really, not mine) big ticket items like the chairs. They are collapsible, with a carrying case bag and were available in four separate colors - purple, navy, green and red. I really like the Purple one and Bruce gave me one as a parting gift. I can vouch for their comfortness, as I sat in it for most of the weekend with no backache or buttache. They are made of polyester, and whenever I saw a 'tree hugger' nature type, I told them it was made of '100% natural' polyester and that the polyester sheep were sheared humanely. We did sell 3 chairs, 2 to a woman who on about a half dozen as if it were shoes. She said she had a bad back and butt so she wanted a 'tight' one. Don't we all...

I don't think Rozz had that good of a time, since she had to spend most of the time dog-sitting Sapphire. Dogs are welcome at the campsite, but not at the fairgrounds where we were. I relieved her for awhile on Friday and again on Saturday and she locked the dog in the camper for brief periods. A stiff wind blew in on Friday and dried out the atmosphere, so the weather was nice on Friday afternoon and Saturday.

By Friday night, the 'free' area of the campsite was filled with campers, trailers and tents of all kinds and I spent took some pictures of some of the various makes and models. I really like the 'Montana'. There was also two Mountain Aire chrome round ones that look like a 1950s diner. I don't think they make those anymore. Ironically, someone suggested that I buy a mobile home some years back so I could easily travel to where I need to be, since I've had somewhat of a nomadic lifestyle of late. Looking back now, hindsight being what it is, that might not have been a ad idea. After I sold my house (reluctantly) in the beautiful Northwest part of the Las Vegas Valley, I could have bought a decent trailer, paid for in cash, had no mortgage and be done with it and could have parked in Wat,art's parkinglot across the country. Who knows, the Scorched Pig could be written in Montana instead of here in muggyland. But I found a house to rent in my neighborhood, which I loved and I was most concerned about finding a safe comfortable home for my late basenji, Tecopa, whose ashes I still talk to.

On Saturday, the vendor next door to us 'Frenchie' told us we might be asked to move because he wanted our space. Bruce said hell no, he had a RIGHT to be there and he PAID for the spot. There was no other discussion on the topic and we stayed put. I don't know why Frenchie put up such a fuss, I only saw him make one sale all weekend and I could see the customers browsing and not buying. (Mental note: Next year, bring shotgun.)

During lag times (of which there were many) I read the previous Sunday's Globe and my old college book Political Science Fiction. Its a good thing Bruce's campsite had electricity, which let me charge up my Ipod, which I listened to when I relieved Rozz of PAP-ILON sitting.

Bruce would give me a wad of cashb to make change with whenever he needed to step away, but on Sunday, after I made my first sale, I kept my first buck and decided to grow my own wad. I started with nothing and by the end of the day when we shut down, I handed over about $120. One of my first customers actually accused me a being a... a... salesman! Encyclopedias, anyone?

One tourist from Quebec bought some mugs for souvenirs on Saturday, and she came back on Sunday looking for a cap for herself. We had tan, white with blue, blue and yellow and black. Yellow and black? One guy actually thought about it awhile, came back, saying "I know exactly what I want." and he bought a yellow cap. The woman from Quebec came back on Sunday and asked to check it out in the car's rear view mirron. I told her women need color, so while she was trying on a white/blue and blue caps, I persuaded her to try on a yellow one. She took the yellow. They weren't really bad looking, its just, well, who wears yellow? She said she was enjoying herself and said she would remember me next year.

We sold at least one of everything. We had mats to lie on in the grass, which I absolutely ahd no use for, but they were colorful: Red, Blue, Green, Lemon Yellow and Orange Orange. I tried to get pwople to buy them as shower rugs, diaper changers and put them under back wheels when shoveliing snow. I even tried to get them to buy them as Labor Day gifts...

I didn't see many vendors doing any kind of brisk business, except for the food vendors. One guy was selling fried shrimp and scallop plates for $6 and $8 respectively, and they were delicious. I never got to try out his fried clams. We had plenty of food, but the heat and humidity were appetite killers. One vendor who was doing a brisk business was 'Bill and Luella' who where selling shave ice for $2.50. Now that's the way to make money - take frozen water, crush it and add syrup. Low overhead. I had a shave ice on Saturday, when the weather was moderately dry and the thing chilled me to the bone. Don't know if it was that, the fact that the temperature dropped sown to the 50s at night or my thermostat is still stuck in Vegas mode, but I could have used a shawl or sweater, I was that chilled.

The retired sisters who were vendors on the other side of us gave me a tour of their camper, a Coachman, old, a 36 foot, no wait, a 34- foot, no wait, a 26 foot camper vehicle. I could live in one, although a tad small, would like something a tad bigger. Their sales were down noticeably from last year, they said and they blamed it on the high price of gas. Not quite sure if that's the reason, since the director of the festival told me that they had to lock the gate on Saturday due to a full house, although he said the number of visitors from Chicago and Florida were down this year.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

U.S. and Mexicans

I was just reading an article about the large influx of Mexicans into the Northeastern US. Mexicans are now making up some of the largest immigrant groups in Massachusetts. Conecticut and New York. They also make up the largest immigrant group in Las Vegas and they are making large in-roads in Georgia and Alabama.

Some Mexicans have advantages that native Americans don't get. A Mexican can reach Arizona, plead 'asylum' and get medical care. I am one of the 46 million Americans who have NO health care.

When I last rented my house in Las Vegas, the terms of the lease that I could have only one other adult in the building. There are houses in Las Vegas that contain 6, 8 or 10 people, legally or not.

With 4000 people attempting to cross over the US/Mexican border every day, and not through legal border crossings, it seems to me we are not asking the right questions.

At the beginning of his term, George Bush talked in glowing terms about his friendship with President Vicente Fox, the former Coca Cola Executive, who became the first non PRI President in about 70 years.

Here are some questions I'd like to ask of the Mexican Government that the US government is not:

Why are there so many Mexicans leaving their homeland for better jobs in the US? Why aren't there any good paying ones down there? Mexico is an oil producing country, and with the price of a barrel of oil at record highs, why isn't the Mexican Treasury overflowing with cash? Why don't they use the excess cash from their oil reserves to create better paying jobs and improve the lot of the typical Mexican? And since so many jobs moved south as a result of NAFTA why haven't these jobs elevated living standards down there so they would want to stay?

Since our own government doesn't believe in taking care of its own citizens, but has no problem 'building infrastructure' in Irag (which insurgents blow up), doesn't it make more sense to spend US Taxpayer dollars building a sound infrastructure in Northern Mexico instead. Maybe if we can create enough jobs down there, Anglos can begin a reverse migration and look for jobs in Mexico.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Exodus Society

There was an article in this past Sunday's Boston Globe (hereinafter just the Globe) about the Exodus Society, a bunch of far out Evangelicals, who want to make northern South Carolina, their version of God's Kingdom On Earth. The idea is to have 6000 or so like minded thinkers more there so they can have enough political power to their members on school committees, city councils and such so they can eventually control the politics of South Carolina.

They take their cue from a Biblical verse that says 'separate yourself from them', ie non-believers and drop out from the society around them. They want to separate themselves from outside culture that they disdain like Hollywood, gays, liberals, and the evil teaching of evolution as well as the government in Washington. They want a government, by Evangelicals and for Evangelicals and they think that the Federal Government oversteps its bounds in too many areas.

The irony of all this is the Federal Government is made up of their kind of people: a conservative President, a conservative party controlling all three branches of government which wants to pack the Supreme Court with right-wing ideologues. Even funnier, South Carolina is one of the most conservative states in the Union, so what are hoping to change exactly? They want a theocracy that excludes gays and where government out of the way of their form of Christianity. And, if they don't get it, they'll seceed from the Union.

Their idea is not to co-exist with people who don't share their extrmist views, to simply wall themselves from ideas they don't like...

So why don't we ALL do that kind of thing? The United States is almost the size of the continent of Europe, made up of 50 individual countries. So why don't we all go our separate ways? Lets have a 'gay' state - where marriage will be legal, a 'womens' state with abortion on demand, a 'New Africa' state for blacks where they won't have to deal with white racism, a 'Mexican' state where Spanish only is spoken and a 'WASP' state where the only news is from Clear Channel, Fox and Sinclair Broadcasting. Should make everybody happy, right? Let's all go our individual ways, become our own little countries where no one will have to tolerate anybody else.

But all this has been tried before. If these people knew their history, other than Creationism. There was New Harmony, Indiana, George Pullman's Railroad Company Town, Moonies in Oregon and of course, the state of Utah, which was created to be a theocracy. It is because of Mormon unwillingness to deal with people who didn't share their views that led to the Mormon Wars with the US Army in the 1850s. And then there was the issue of secession in the 1860s and you know what that led to...