Shut me up.

Image courtesy of Transforming Truth, the preaching ministry of Pastor Jeff Lyle

On their most cowardly day, the Roman Senators who abdicated to Caesar Augustus could not have outdone modern day Republicans.

The Left is scarcely better.

Trump’s boot-licking sycophants who earned their posts by profane loyalty more in the spirit of Sadam Hussein’s regime than anything remotely American, Trump himself, and the propagandists who pass themselves off as the Conservative Media employ the Big Lie, shameless misrepresentation, and 1984-speak to destroy our democracy so they can plunder and enslave the very people whom they have conned into voting for them.

Meanwhile, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat on the Left, with a Madamme Defarge on every street corner, seeks to control not only what we do, not only what we think, but what we might one day think and do.

Promising to return America to the values that once made it great, Trump feeds any man who finds himself hobbled, or any woman who has the temerity to speak her mind, to the bloodlust of his base, whom he has guided into becoming no better than a pack of wild dogs in a Jack London novel–

–while the GOP and their donors among the fortunate keep one eye on their stock tickers and the other on the gates of their community, too cowardly to confront America’s would-be dictator even as he blatantly tramples the values and the nation they proclaim to hold so dear.

Ostensibly to protect the less fortunate, the influencers on the Left rend their digital robes in public, using social media’s powers of distortion to incite marauding packs to lynch anyone whose words, thoughts, or deeds might, in any way, under any circumstance, be construed as offensive to anyone in any state of mind at any particular point in time.

Not to be outdone, mindless corporate bureaucrats use the HR Handbook of Inclusion to bludgeon into submission anyone who wanders near the invisible line of secular heresy.

Is it any wonder that we find so many of us walking around in a state of boiling, burbling, blistering, volcanic anger?

It really is this simple

Whatever Trump calls propaganda is the truth.

Whatever Trump calls the truth is propaganda.

Whatever Trump calls American is un-American.

Whatever Trump calls un-American is American.

Extend to infinity.

It’s a con artist’s technique we learned by the end of high school because back then George Orwell was required reading. George exposed this deceitful but powerfully effective form of rhetoric as a warning against totalitarianism.

Sad that nearly half of America today is not heeding it.

Bonus: while looking for a suitable image, I found this:

How ‘1984’ can decode Trump’s first 100 days.

Why Propaganda Works

It’s human nature.

First we become addicted to outrage.

Then we become addicted to condemnation.

Then we come to love hatred.

All propaganda has to do is give us a reason. First to be outraged. Then to condemn. Then to hate. We’ll take it from there.

Doesn’t have to be a good reason. We’ll take pretty much any damn excuse. Because we want to be outraged. We want to condemn. And we really, really, want to hate.

Sir, iceberg ahead

Somewhere in the North Atlantic.

“Sir, iceberg ahead.”

“Fake news. Full speed ahead.”

Later in the North Atlantic.

“Sir, radar shows multiple icebergs ahead. Recommend we reduce speed.”

“Turn off your radar. If you don’t look at your radar, there won’t be any icebergs.”

Impact.

“Sir, I believe we struck an iceberg.”

“Don’t worry about it. This ship is unsinkable.”

Water begins flooding into the ship.

“Sir, there is a 100 meter gash below the water line, compartments 4 and 5 are flooding.”

“The people in the communications office have not treated me right. Ignore them. Start the gala dinner. We need to give our guests what they paid for.”

On the main deck, two friends talking.

“Egbert, I believe this ship is sinking.”

“I believe you’re right, Theodore,”

“I’ve lost confidence in the captain.”

“Not me. He upgraded my stateroom. I’m cruising in the lap of luxury.”

Back on the bridge.

“Sir, we should send a distress signal.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. It will make us look bad.”

Ship is tilting more dramatically.

“Sir, we don’t have enough boats for all passengers on board.”

“Of course we do. We’re the Titanic. We’re the greatest ship ever built. I built this ship. This ship has everything it needs. But lock the gates to steerage.”

Ship sinks.

“Sir, what do we do about all the people swimming for their lives. They’re going to freeze to death.”

“Freeze to death? No, they’re going to swamp our boats. Row faster. Let’s get away from them.”

Wealthy passengers in life boats are rescued by other ship.

“My God, what happened?”

“Looters and thugs mutinied. Sank the ship. We had to abandon.”

“You’re lucky to be alive.”

“We are. Going forward, we need armed guards on our ships. Well armed.”

“I can certainly understand the need.”

“Do you have a ship-to-shore phone? I need to call my insurance company. File a claim.”

“Of course. Right away, sir. Is there anything else you need?”

“I could use a hot bath. Have one of your servants run me a hot bath, will you?

“Of course, sir. Right away, sir.”

Those who have no interest in history …

 

GeorgeWashingtonAccording to George Santayana, those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

In 1796 Washington gave a farewell address to the nation. In a History of the American People, Paul Johnson summarizes Washington’s first point:

He pleads at length, and passionately, against ‘the baleful effects of the Spirit of Party.’

Differences, arguments, and debates there must be. But a common devotion to the Union, as the source of ‘your collective and individual happiness,’ is the very foundation of the state.

The fact that the people have ‘the power and right to establish Government’ presupposed ‘the duty of every individual to obey it.’ Hence, ‘all obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency.’

This is a very strong statement of the moral obligations of all citizens to comply with the decisions of duly constituted government, enforcing the laws constitutionally enacted by Congress. It was a solemn reminder by Washington, as the result of eight years’ experience as chief executive, that America was a country under the rule of law.

You can read it at the Our Documents website.

God Bless Guffey

Guffey is one of those rare places where strange and wonderful things happen that you can’t quite explain but you know they happened because part of you keeps vibrating long after, like an aluminum bat that you whack against a light pole. And if you’re not convinced, stare for a while at the rocks around Guffey. Stare at those rocks long enough and you will start to believe that after the sun goes down druids come out from their secret entrances, gather in the open spaces, and howl like wolves during the full moon. Which is probably tonight.

GuffyRocks

Guffey is in the middle of nowhere, a plus for motorcycle rides because it takes a while to leave the city behind. And, to appreciate the kind and friendly people of Guffey, you need to make sure the city is way the hell behind you.

The Bull Moose has closed. On sunny Sunday afternoons Missus Fender Bunny and I sometimes danced among the locals on the big back deck. But the Coronas at Freshwater remains open, and the Guffey Garage always has a treasure or two lying around.

Truck

It was remarkably warm for March 7, but the high country was still in the 40’s when the usual suspects, Po Po Rada, Jace the Affable, Bad Ray and Andrea the Pillion, plus Steampunk Risk and BananaShana, led Missus Fender Bunny and me through the canyons and up into the mountains.

Missus Fender Bunny and I ride slow nowadays, so we were able to appreciate the iced-over river beside the road, and how a narrow stream of water slithered over the ice for a spell before sinking back under and rising again down the road a ways. River snakes. A tiny bit of the mountain magic you miss if you’re not paying attention.

One of the joys of stopping at Deckers, besides how warm the sun is, is listening to all the bikes ride past and hoping the cool ones pull in to the parking lot so you can talk to the owner. The first bike I noticed ride past was a KTM. Exactly which one, I dunno, but it sounded good, like most KTMs.

Then my heart stopped. Something else was behind the KTM. I couldn’t quite make it out in the sun, but if Phil Collins possessed a moto the way demons are ‘sposed to possess people, the bike Mister Collins possessed would sound like that. I was spellbound. As it passed I realized it was Moto Guzzi’s new V85TT.

Guzzi

Wow. That soulful pounding stayed with me until the Guzzi disappeared behind the next curve.  I glanced at my trusty but tame ’11 GSA that cooked my meals and washed my laundry without complaint and knew I had sinned in my heart the way happily married men sin in their hearts when Scarlet Johansen makes them think they make her laugh.

scarlett-johansson

“If you have already sinned in your heart, why don’t you just go ahead and sin in your pocket book?”

That was the Devil on my left shoulder. Yeah. No. But don’t let me stop you. If you want to sin in your pocket book, you can read all about Moto Guzzi’s TT on Motorcyclist.

After warming up in Deckers we rode on to Woodland Park. While we were gassing up in Woodland Park our motley crew decided that, instead of continuing on to Guffey, they would hit the Neiman Marcus sale on men’s rompers before all the cute colors were gone.

romper

They scrambled onto their bikes and hurried back to the city. Missus Fender Bunny and I pressed on toward Guffey.

The road to Guffey is best taken slow. A measured pace reveals cows eating hay on the pastures painted gold by the afternoon sun. Horses with their muscular necks stretched all the way down to reach the hay their owner had dumped on the warm side of the barn. And llamas looking around in their pens, wondering why nobody speaks Spanish around these parts.

Como? Que cosa?

The cows, the horses, the llamas, and the pretty hills all around have a way of restoring your soul to its God-given groove.

CoolNails2

If you don’t decide to stop right THEN, and not any later, as you crest the ridge above the town of Guffey, you miss the glorious view of the Sangre de Cristos, one of the most majestic mountain ranges in America. We managed to pull over, even though there wasn’t much of a shoulder.

SideOfTheRoad

 

Next time I’m taking my good camera, dangit. If you squint at this picture you can see the Sangres. Wish I could have pulled them in with a good telephoto lens.

 

HondaSangres

 

Once in town we skirted the Guffey Garage and took a Right. Then we took a Left on Cañon street, rode past the Post Office and the Rolling Thunder Grill and took another Left on 8th street. We stopped at The Corona’s at Freshwater, which is where the fun began.

Bikes2

While Laura went inside to freshen up, I walked toward the bikes and trikes parked across the street. As I was inspecting the heavy metal, a really big guy in a watch cap approached me and asked me what I was up to.

I can’t stop staring at Harleys.

He smiled. What are you riding? I pointed to our bikes parked around the corner all by their lonesome.

GS_CB

Oh hell no.

That just won’t do, he said. Then he put his big arm around my shoulder and invited me to follow him inside.

The Freshwater is a rustic place with a welcoming feel. Not too many of those around, any more. Some of the newer places try to imitate the real thing, but they can’t pull it off because they don’t have the right people inside.

About a dozen veterans had ridden over from Colorado Springs and taken over the joint. By the time I walked in Missus Fender Bunny had announced to the room that she needed a hug and the vets were lined up, giving her hugs one after the other, some getting in line twice, the waitress patiently winding around the embraces to deliver burgers and fries.

LauraInside

You know how with some people you don’t even need to be introduced, you’ve just known them all your life? That’s how it was with the veterans and their wives. In a matter of minutes they were informing me that I could sit in the backwards chair as my service in the Chair Force only counted for 2/3, and I was splainin’ them that somebody needed to be smart enough to save their grunt asses from the Taliban. Or, for some of them, the Viet Cong.

I’m not really sure whether we actually did stand on the tables and sing verses of our respective service songs at each other or whether I just imagined it, we’re talking about Guffey after all, but before we knew it, we were  swapping stories about life in the service like old friends and the grill had become twice as big as it had been when we first walked inside.

It was decided that Missus Fender Bunny and I were riding with them to Cañon City and the Springs, and that was that. Before we left, each of us took turns stapling a dollar bill to the ceiling. Accustomed to this mountain tradition, we obliged.

RickStaplingDollar

Kindly forgive the neck torque, but I need to make a note about Evos. I’ve owned two Evo Softails. The Evo is favorite sounding Harley motor. Something about the Evo’s lope is lovely and it tops even the Twin Cam’s lope. But the two I owned and every other Evo I have test ridden or sat on vibrated terribly. In 30 minutes my hands would invariably go numb.

I noticed that the 99 Heritage a veteran named George was riding had steel grips. Most Evo Softails, because they’re solid-mounted to the frame (instead of rubber-mounted), have rubber or leather grips with tons of foam or other material to dampen the vibration. George’s Evo had steel grips.

Either you are the world’s toughest biker, or you have one smooth Evo.

I said to George. Instead of responding, he sat on his bike, pulled out the choke, and fired it up. At idle it vibrated plenty, of course. That’s part of the charm. But I rolled on the throttle and at what between 2,000 and 3,000 RPM, that steel grip was as smooth as the chrome on my Street Glide. Unbelievable. I’ve got to build me one, I decided. An EVO-powered Softail Custom.

SoftailCustom3

Or maybe another Fat Boy.

FatBoy

Damn if he doesn’t look like my pal Darrin, from Cotopaxi!

Anyway, we rode with the vets into Cañon City along route 9. These guys were good riders. A mixed flock of Harleys, Gold Wings, Indians, trikes, and what not. Plus Missus Fender Bunny on her Honda and me on the betrayed GSA. I’m not a fan of riding in formation, but these guys knew how to do it right. And do it well. We kept a good pace and, when traffic separated us, they got everyone back together as smoothly as an experienced wrangler gets strays back in line on a cattle drive.

Which reminds me, if you haven’t seen Lonesome Dove, see it.

LonesomeDove

We hung out a bit in Cañon City, exchanged warm good-byes, and mounted up and headed toward the Springs through some back roads that were new to me. In the Springs we split off and went our own way, Missus Fender Bunny and me full of good feelings for the veterans and, once again, without fail, for Guffey.

GodBlessGuffey

Of anger rides and love songs

When I missed Laura I used to go on an Anger Ride. Jump on my Harley and roar on the I-way for a while.

TheDogs

 

 

 

 

The Don used to call it a rage ride. He loved doing it in the middle of the night, when it was just him and the truckers and the road.

 

 

 

 

 

rickdeuce.jpg

 

 

 

 

Best bike for an anger ride was my 2002 Deuce because it only had 5 gears and at 90 mph it was loud. A few hours of that would fix me right up. The V-twin version of electro-shock therapy.

 

 

 

Over the years I mellowed.

So tonight, as I lie awake in a hotel room in a small town outside Stockholm, instead of trying to find a way to rent a Harley for a rage-on through Sweden, I’m listening to music.

IMG_2269

 

 

 

 

 

I can imagine Laura saying “No! Rent the Harley! Go rent the Harley!”

 

 

 

 

 

One of the great romantic songs of the pop era is Unchained Melody. Its lyrics were written by Hy Zaret and put to music by Alex North. Sung by the Righteous Brothers, they’re spellbinding:

Turns out several artists, including Roy Orbison and U2 have tried to record it. Sorry. Great musicians that they were, they all failed compared to the Righteous Brothers. Here they are if you want to decide for yourself:

I looked up several lists of the best love songs of 2017, but I didn’t listen to any of them. I didn’t want to ruin the afterglow from Unchained Melody. We don’t express ourselves like we used to. We retreat from excellence as it were a rattler on the trail. Maybe we’re afraid of trying and failing. That’s not surprising, since social media never leaves our Left shoulder, a worse censor than the most ardent prude Hollywood ever had to endure.

I don’t care.

Give me eloquence. Give me beauty. Lend me expressions that warm my hear and make me take a long, slow breath or two.

Louis L’Amour’s America

Louis-LAmour

I’ve been scratching my head an awful lot, wondering where so many men I run into today get their their notion of this real America. They seem proud of their ignorance, disrespectful of knowledge, skill, or craft, contemptuous of women, and suspicious of anyone different. That’s not the America I know or have ever known. So I went looking for the source of their America.

Louis L’Amour is the quintessential writer of American stories since the 20th century. His stories are simple tales of good and evil. Of the American frontier. Self-reliance. Strength. Courage. Surely I would find the real America in his novels. So I read a few.

Here are some excerpts from The Warrior’s Path, the third novel in the Sackett series, narrated by Kin Ring Sackett, circa the 1620’s.

This one is about the value of intelligent women:

“Beautiful,” I said quickly. “And sensitive, but she thinks. She has a good mind, and excellent mind. And far beyond her years in good sense.”

He chuckled suddenly and I did not know why, but he glanced at me slyly. “It is not often I hear a young man comment on a woman’s mind.”

“She is worthy of comment for her beauty,” I replied stiffly, “but among us a woman’s mind is important. On the frontier a man and his wife are two. They work beside each other. To survive the two must work as one, sharing thoughts as well as work. It is not the same, I hear, in the cities of Europe.”

Page 78

This one is about religious tolerance:

It may have been my father’s easy way with folks, or perhaps my mother’s way or Lila’s or the teachings of Sakim, but I was not one for believing all who believed not as I to be therefore heathens. Many are the paths to righteousness, and ours, I think, is but one.

Page 90

This opinion of women is presented by a man one generation older than Kin Ring Sackett, a sea captain:

“Give me always a woman with pride, and pride of being a woman.”

Page 164

In the novel Flyboys, James Bradley describes the inhuman machismo of Japanese soldiers as a charade of traditional Bushido culture. That’s what we’re experiencing today, I believe, among some of our brothers: a charade of American culture. A parody of American values. A farce of American manhood.

We’re a free country. You have the right to be a fraud and a fake, but don’t hold yourself up as an example of a real American male.

Test of audio recordings

Testing these audio files for So Long John Wayne:

Light Peruvian accent

  • Chapter 1 – part 1

  • Prologue

American accent

  • Prologue

Terrible Boston accent (for Carol)

  • Prologue

Softer Boston accent like I imagine Danny from Lunenburg would read it

  • Prologue