Archive for the ‘Livin’ in the USA’ Category


Well, it’s finally happened. My favorite Mexican restaurant, El Torero, closed tonight and won’t reopen. By happenstance, I dropped in for some typically great Mexican chow and some beers with a few friends tonight, had one of the final meals El Torero served, and got to talking with the owner (and chef). He’s been threatening to close the place for a good five years, to which my attitude has always been, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll believe it when I see it.” Tonight, I believe it.

El Torero is a South Tucson institution, and has been around as a family place for over 60 years.

(South Tucson incorporated as a 100% Mexican, one-square-mile city in 1939 as a self-defense measure against the virulent racism in the City of Tucson. Things really didn’t begin to change here until the 1970s, and Tucson proper is now the most integrated city of over a million in the country, and the population within the city limits is currently close to 50% Mexican. Racism persists, but it’s a shadow of its former self; Tucson is at times referred to, with some justification [the arts and music scenes], as a “mini-Austin”; and the City of South Tucson [now entirely encircled by the City of Tucson, but still over 90% Mexican] persists as a poverty-stricken monument to resistance to racism.)

Enough with the history lesson.

El Torero is gloriously tacky with formica tables, a chewed-up linoleum floor, flame-throwing salsa, and a stuffed (or fiberglass) swordfish on one wall outlined with Christmas lights. It’s the only restaurant I know in Tucson where during slack periods the owner will sit down uninvited to shoot the shit with you, and during really slack periods the on-duty cook will come out of the kitchen and likewise sit down uninvited to shoot the shit. I love it.

As homey as it is, the food is (or was) great — every bit as good and a bit cheaper than the ultra-trendy Mi Nidito three blocks down the street (the food there is good and reasonably priced), which is the place to go for trendoids who don’t mind waiting an hour to be seated while there’s no waiting at El Torero. (Rigo’s, The Crossroads, Michas, and Guillermo’s are all at least close in quality and equivalent in price, within about a mile, and there’s never a wait at any of them. Mi Nidito became the place to go after Bill Clinton visited the place maybe 25 years ago, did his best impression of a human rotorooter, and consumed mass quantities.)

Anyway, El Torero is gone. When I spoke with him tonight, the owner (in the center in the photo at left) told me, “Just go to Lerua’s” (about two miles away on Broadway) — owned by the same family, with the same recipes. That’s good advice while it applies. Lerua’s will likely be axed when the Broadway “improvement” project kicks in sometime within the next few years.

Damn! but I’ll miss El Torero.

(P.S. For anyone in the area, my blues duo, Cholla Buds, will be playing two jobs downtown tomorrow, Dec. 1: from 1:00 to 4:00 at Crooked Tooth Brewery on 6th Street at Arizona Avenue, and from 5:30 to 6:00 or 6:15 at The Hut on 4th Avenue and 8th Street. Both shows are free. Please come on down and have some free fun.)


My cousin has been in and out of the hospital for the last year. She’s 75, not in good shape, and I have medical power of attorney (as the only nearby relative). It’s been wearing on me — a lot. I’ve been worrying about where she’ll go and what will happen to her after she runs out of money.

In contrast, and worse, what in hell happens to people who are under Medicare age? A very good friend of mine was tortured by cancer for the last decade (including — do not ever under any circumstances do this; it just ain’t worth it, and it doesn’t extend life — prostatectomy), and he and his wife spent probably half their life savings on experimental treatments before he died two months ago.

It was awful to watch.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief tonight when I (rather, the placement agent) found a good place for my cousin.

She’s on Medicare, has enough bucks for a few years, and is going to a place that won’t kick her out (will take Medicare) after her money runs out if she survives that long.

So, “socialized medicine,” Medicare, saved her ass.

For people under 65, it’s still a horror show — albeit a very profitable horror show. There are over one million personal bankruptcies annually due to medical bills in the U.S. In other words, over a million middle-class Americans lose everything they’ve got every year due to medical bills, and the insurance industry and big pharma reap the benefits.

And it gets worse. After giving away a fortune to the 1%, close to $2 trillion, in Trump’s tax scam, it’s virtually certain that the GOP will plead “fiscal responsibility” and try to kneecap both Medicare and Medicaid, driving up our costs, if not eliminating Medicare and Medicaid entirely.

This is all you really need to ask yourself when considering the GOP/corporado mantra justifying horrendous health costs (USA is by far the highest) and being at or near the bottom of health outcomes for industrialized countries):

They warn you against “nameless, faceless bureaucrats making your health decisions for you.”

But what in hell do they think is going on now? Nameless, faceless insurance-industry, profit-driven ‘bureaucrats making your healthcare decisions for you? For their corporate, profit-driven masters rather than you?

How could anything possibly be worse for you than nameless, faceless corporate bureaucrats searching for reasons to deny your claim, and doing their best to maximize profits by providing the minimum amount of healthcare they can possibly get away with? Think about it.

Forgive me, but somehow I’ll trust that non-interested government bureaucrat rather than an insurance company tool.

Count me in for “socialized medicine.”


THANKSGIVING, n. 1) A day on which thanks are given that one’s bloated, python-digesting-a-deer feeling will soon pass, and that the day will not recur for another year; 2) A five-course family feast consisting of tension, boredom, anger, recrimination, and guilt, held under the pretense of picking over the carcass of a murdered bird.

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— from The American Heretic’s Dictionary (revised & expanded), the 21st-century successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary. (The link goes to 50 sample definitions and illustrations.)

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover


Chris Mato Nunpaby Chris Mato Nunpa, PhD
retired Associate Professor of History at Southwest Minnesota State University and author of the upcoming (Sept. 2019) The Great Evil: Genocide, the Bible, and the Indigenous People of the United States

 

One hundred and fifty-six years ago, on November 07-13, 1862, 1,700 Dakota People, primarily women, children and elders, were force-marched 150 miles from the Morton & Redwood Falls area in southwestern Minnesota to a concentration camp at Ft. Snelling, near the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The cold weather that we [in Minnesota] have been experiencing during this November reminds us, the descendants of the survivors, of this act of Genocide perpetrated by the State of Minnesota, the military, and its Euro-Minnesotan citizenry.

Dozens upon dozens of Dakota People were murdered – shot and killed, or bayoneted, or frozen or starved to death on this march! One of my grandmothers was stabbed in the stomach by a saber-wielding white soldier on horseback. Her “sin” was not understanding an order given by a white soldier in a foreign language, English. A friend of mine (now deceased) had a grandmother who was shot and killed because her “sin” was needing to relieve herself, for modesty’s sake, in the woods, along the forced-march route. We know not how many of our women were raped and murdered along the way, and we know not how many of our elders and children who lagged behind because of age, sickness or physical weakness, were shot and killed.

The commander of the troops who enforced the march was a Colonel William Rainey Marshall, who later became a governor of Minnesota, and he has a street in St. Paul, a county in northwestern Minnesota, and a town in southwestern Minnesota, named after him – Marshall! Colonel William Rainey Marshall was a Genocidaire, a perpetrator of Genocide. Forced marches are what Genocidaires do. Forced Marches are genocide, as I learned this from other Genocide scholars when I belonged to the International Association of Genocide Scholars.

The savage cry of “Extermination or Removal” was uttered many times, publicly, even in a speech to the state legislature, by the then-Minnesota Governor, Alexander Ramsey. He was referring to the extermination of the Dakota People of Minnesota, and the removal of the Dakota People from our own Dakota homelands, Mini Sota Makoce, ”Land Where the Waters Reflect the Skies.” In an atrocity six months prior to the November forced march, on May 04, 1863, “Removal” was authorized by the Minnesota state legislature, and 1,300 Dakota women, children and elders were forced from our homelands.

The forced march of 150 miles and the forcible removal were just two of a number of genocidal acts, and various crimes against humanity, perpetrated by the State of Minnesota and its Euro-Minnesotan citizenry, on the Dakota People of Minnesota. However, the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Ghoul Society (aka the Minnesota Historical Society), and white academia continue to suppress the truth about what was done to the Dakota People of Minnesota and who did it.

We need the help of our white allies and supporters, and the help of other Indigenous Peoples, to help us Dakota People of Minnesota in our struggle to have the truth told! After 156 years (since 1862), it is time for truth-telling!! Namayahunpi kin he nina piwada! “Your listening to me is greatly appreciated!” Ho, he hecetu do! “Yes, it is so!”


“I should think judging by his ostentation, his absence of good taste [that obviously] he was eaten with vanity and ambition and his only measure of success was in terms of dollars and influence. . . . It must be a terrible thing to have to keep telling the world how great you are and to want so badly to achieve what is really impossible. We have much to fear from these people, but in a sense, I think, they are tragic.”

–Zina Worley, quoted by Pope Brock in his highly entertaining nonfiction book, Charlatan

Worley was not referring to Donald Trump, but rather to “Dr.” John Brinkley, a quack who exploited and and oft-times mutilated and killed the desperate and gullible who came to him for help. Brinkley became a multi-millionaire through sale of grossly overpriced ineffective (e.g., colored water) and outright harmful patent medicines, and through unnecessary, harmful operations intended mostly to restore male “virility.” Those operations included the implanting of goat testicles in human scrotums.

John R. Brinkley

Brinkley’s similarities with Donald Trump are striking: both preyed on the gullible and desperate; both were fascist sympathizers; both constantly bragged about themselves; both lied incessantly; both claimed to represent and be the voice of the common man — Brinkley nearly won the governorship of Kansas in 1930 and 1932; both had vulgar taste and indulged in ostentatious displays of wealth; both sometimes stiffed those who did work for them; and the one was brought down by a dogged, principled investigator, and, one hopes, the other soon will be. (There are other similarities, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind.)

The primary difference between the two men, other than working in different fields of fraud, was that Brinkley came from a very poor background and Trump was a trust-fund baby who received over $400 million from his slumlord dad.

 

 


"Hell" graphic by J.R. Swanson from "The Devil's Dictionaries"

HELL, n. A place of everlasting torment, much like the United States during an election year.

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— from The American Heretic’s Dictionary (revised & expanded), the 21st-century successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary. (The link goes to 50 sample definitions and illustrations.)


(From Twitter. And for once, no comment — the image speaks for itself.)