When the president signed into law a bill depriving veterans of the medical benefits they were guaranteed at the time of induction, I wrote a letter to my congressman. When I discovered that our troops in Iraq were forced to wear body armor that did not meet specifications and that was produced under a no bid contract, I emailed my senator. When I found that our government was failing to provide adequate medical care for our wounded soldiers, I called the White House. (202) 456-1414 Supporting our troops is more than words of encouragement and praise. Saying that there is "no higher calling than service to one's country" and then relegating our soldiers who have been disabled in battle to the bottom of the economic scrap heap is hypocrisy of the highest order. So if I speak out against the war in Iraq, feel free to disagree with me, but don't accuse me of not supporting our troops. Our government does not support our troops and I'm doing what I can to change that. I wish I could do more.
Don Nolan had no illusions of his importance after receiving his master's degree in art from Ohio State University, and upon his graduation, his search for gainful employment led him to Rico's Craters. The interview with Rico Giordano was brief. "What's your name?" "Don Nolan" "You know how to use a hammer and a saw?" "Yes" "How about a measuring tape? You know how to read a measuring tape?" "Yes" "What's your level of education?" "I have a high school diploma." "Okay, you start tomorrow. Be here at eight o'clock. Bobby will show you what to do." Bobby was a transplanted hillbilly from Bluefield, West Virginia. He knew how to make crates and had the basic communication skills to explain the job. Having grown up on a carnival, and after spending four years on the wrestling team at Ohio State, manual labor was neither a stranger nor a life energy draining effort to Don. The working relationship went well for the first week. Then Don brought a small radio into the workplace so that he could listen to the opera station while on the clock. "Jesus, Don. Why don't you get some good music on that thing?" "This is the kind of music I like, Bobby." "That's a lot of crap. Change the station." "It's my radio, Bobby, so I get to pick the music." "Well, I ain't going to tolerate this." Bobby turned and walked directly to Rico's office. A minute later they came out through the door together. Rico stood in front of the radio, hands on his hips, and stared at it. A minute passed and he said, "Beniamino Gigli." He turned to Don, "That's from La Bohème, ain't it?" Don nodded. "When I was a kid in New York," Rico continued, "I never had any money. One night I snuck into the auditorium and saw Gigli perform. My God, he was great! I never had a chance to see Caruso, but my cousin in Chicago saw him once " Rico proceeded to ramble for the next five minutes, then walked back into his office and closed the door. The workday continued without further conversation. Beniamino Gigli
Robert James Fischer was born in Chicago in 1943 and brought up in Brooklyn where his mother moved after she was divorced in 1945. He learned to play chess at the age of 6. At the age of 13 he became the youngest national junior chess champion in the USA and at the age of 14 he became the youngest senior US Champion. In 1958, at the age of 15, he became the youngest Grandmaster in the history of chess. There were two major problems with Bobby, getting him to the chessboard and keeping him there. Fischer's career-long stubbornness about match and tournament conditions was again seen in the run-up to his world championship match with Boris Spassky. The match took place in Iceland, from July through September 1972. Fischer lost the first two games in strange fashion: the first when he played a risky pawn-grab in a dead-drawn endgame, the second by forfeit when he refused to play the game in a dispute over playing conditions. Fischer would likely have forfeited the entire match, but Spassky, not wanting to win by default, yielded to Fischer's demands. The rest of the match proceeded without incident. Fischer won seven of the next 19 games, losing only one and drawing eleven, to win the match and become the 11th World Chess Champion. Fischer was scheduled to defend his title against challenger Anatoly Karpov in 1975 and he laid down numerous conditions for the match. All but two were met and Bobby disappeared until 1982 when he published a pamphlet, "I Was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse!" detailing his experiences following his arrest in 1981 after being mistaken for a bank robber. Fischer alleged that the police treated him brutally. He was eventually charged with damaging prison property (a mattress). Ten years later in 1992, Fischer re-emerged to play Spassky again for a reported purse of five million dollars. This time the match was in Yugoslavia, in spite of a severe United Nations embargo that included sanctions on sporting events. Following the match, which Bobby won handily, the U.S. Department of the Treasury obtained an arrest warrant for him although some dispute the legality of the Department's claim and question why others who broke the embargo have not been prosecuted. Hours after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Fischer was interviewed live by Pablo Mercado on the Bombo Radyo network. Fischer commented on U.S and Israeli foreign policy that "nobody cares ... the US and Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians for years". Informed that "the White House and Pentagon have been attacked", he proclaimed, "This is all wonderful news. What goes around comes around even for the United States" and said that if the U.S. fails to change its foreign policy, it "has to be destroyed." After calling for the death of President Bush, Fischer also stated he hoped that a coup d' etat would take over power in the U.S. and execute hundreds of thousands of American Jewish leaders, arrest all the Jews and close all synagogues. Bobby was Jewish, a fact that he always denied. After years of evading arrest, in July of 2004 Fischer was arrested in Narita, Japan for allegedly using a revoked U.S. passport while trying to board an airplane. Fischer used a genuine passport that the United States Embassy issued to him in 1997. The passport was allegedly revoked in 2003, although Fischer asserts that it was valid. Seeking ways to evade deportation to the United States, Fischer wrote a letter to the government of Iceland in early January 2005 and requested an Icelandic citizenship. When Japanese authorities received confirmation of Fischer's new citizenship, they agreed to release him and allow him to fly to Iceland. Although Iceland has an extradition treaty with the United States, Icelandic law does not permit its own citizens to be extradited. Icelandic officials reiterated their belief that the United States government had singled Fischer out for his political statements. On Dec. 10, 2006, Fischer phoned a television station and pointed out a clever winning combination, which was missed in a chess game that was televised in Iceland. I spoke with William Lombardi, a grand master who was Bobby's Second in his world championship match with Spassky, and a close friend of Bobby. Actually, I played chess with him and got my ass kicked, but that's another story. I got the impression that Bobby was a brilliant man with the temperament and social skills of a six-year old child. Bobby was an easy target for the hooker who broke his heart and for radio preachers who put the touch on him for a tithe. Somewhere along the path of life, Bobby "lost it". Today, Bobby is revered by many as the greatest player ever to grace the game of chess. His fans tend to overlook his eccentricity and political views. I believe that a great man has never existed, only great speakers, artists, politicians, musicians, writers If you judge a man by his weaknesses, you will never understand his greatness, and Bobby Fischer was truly a genius a word that I use only on rare occasion.
Hazen lies about ten miles east of Fernley, Nevada and was named for William Babcock Hazen, who served under General Sherman in his "march to the sea." The town, established in 1903 to house laborers working on the Newlands Irrigation Project to the south, included hotels, saloons, brothels, churches and schools. As a tough town, it had no peer in the state. Nevada's last lynching occurred in Hazen when "Red" Wood was taken from the jail and hanged on February 28, 1905. William ''Red'' Wood claimed the dubious distinction in a state with a reputation for vigilante justice when a group of men busted him out of Hazen's wooden jail and strung him up from a telegraph pole along the railroad 40 miles east of Reno on Feb. 28, 1905. We probably should have some reverence for poor Red Wood, but he probably got what he deserved. The Reno Evening Gazette's account of the hanging the next day described Wood as a ''notorious thug and all around bad man.'' Wood was a morphine addict and saloon owner who had been suspected of killing his partner in the business. He was caught in the act of a robbery outside the Hazen depot the night before he was lynched. The mob worked quietly and it was not until the sun lighted up the country that the people of this place discovered the stiffened body swinging at the end of a rope in the heart of the city. Today the little town goes quietly about its business as if nothing had happened. As for the mob? Who composed it is a deep mystery as not a man can be found today who seems to know anything about its membership. The officials of the county said there would probably be no further inquiry and it looks like the matter has been dropped.
If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise don't even start. It could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives, jobs and maybe your mind. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery, isolation... Isolation is the gift, all the others are a test of your endurance. And you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is. Charles Bukowski - Factotum
I drove thirty miles into Sparks yesterday with the intention of picking up a couple of things from Michael's. The sign on the front door said, "Opening Soon." Okay, so there's a gallon of gas shot to hell. I walked next door to the electronics store thinking that I might pick up a video game or a new cell phone to replace the one that doesn't work, but after a few minutes of examining the options, I decided that I didn't want to part with the money and headed for the door. On the way out I noticed the dvd I'd been wanting to see since the movie was made - Factotum, from the world of acclaimed author, Charles Bukowski. Staring Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor and Marisa Tomei - seventeen ninety-nine plus tax - hell yeah. Ten minutes into the movie, I remembered that I had read the book. The plot was little more than a series of short stories tied together by the fact that they all were part of the life of Bukowski. He had a flair for gutteral eloquence and a penchant for self destruction. Dillon portrayed Bukowski perfectly. He had done his homework. He had studied his character. Lily Taylor was excellent, as usual. Tomei had only a small part. "Factotum is a riveting exploration of art, escapism, poetry and life itself." What matters most is how you walk through fire.