'A modern day journey through the wild western Balkans'

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Not another book

So i've been commissioned to write this book about Central Bosnia. That may sound exciting to some, but after four travel guide books -- all of them overdedicated to making heads or tails of this confusing corner of the planet, I just wanna blog. I've done my masters and PhD in Bosnian history writing these damn things.

I've locked myself in this little corner room of my home, exiting only to walk my massive Tornjak, an indigenous sheep dog from -- guess where, Central fucking Bosnia. But its not her fault that the ancient Bosnian kingdom was located on her mountain. How was she to know that Kotromanic Dynasty would collapse at the hands of the mighty Sultan way back when in 1463 when the Turkish army rolled through Bosnia. The dumb-ass king, what's his name, Tomas, thought the fortress at Bobovac would hold out for two years. SHIT! It fell in three days. The sassy Sultan had gotten a hold of canons, which the little Slavic seljak tribes hidden in the mountains couldn't even dream of -- guerilla warfare against a barrage of canons in the 15th century means only one thing -- you lose.

So thanks to Reilly, my Tornjak fury friend, i do get a breath of fresh air every now and then. When do i get to write the fun stuff though. Why doesn't the European Union commission me to sit here and bullshit to no one all day. I'll write a few sentences about the ancient handicrafts of the leather and coppersmiths -- if they'd just leave me alone.

And what kind of 'tourist guidebook' can i write when the only thing to see in these bloody places are slabs of stone that are supposed to represent a magnificent 14th century castle. There were no fucking glorious capitals. OK, it was made from stone....compared to shotgun shacks and prefabs it was probably quite beautiful, but these were communities about the size of average Albanian family for fucks sake. So a tourist goes to these glory day places and sees a bunch of old rocks, barely knee high and are supposed to be excited about it.

'You mean I paid for this?'

Half the book is dedicated to what was. Which is precisely the problem in the balkans today. What was. It's been distorted and contorted to such a ridiculous extent that the validity of almost anything here should be, must be, seriously questioned. Next thing you know they're going to prove the pyramid theory, then we're really in trouble.

So all this fuss about the Bosnian Kingdom -- whose greatest success was to really give a good century or two of 'fuck-off' to both the Catholic and Orthodox structures from the west and east. Sort of like the Doobie Brothers their philosophy was quite simple, don't drown me with your political shit, we think Jesus is alright so we're gonna go with it. But the thick forests and deep gorges couldn't keep the missionaries at bay. They came, one by one, waiving some stupid flag that these fuckers are still fighting over today. I can't even remember who my eighth grade teacher was let alone who one the battle at Kosovo Fields in 1389. Come to think of it, i don't give a rats ass who my eighth grade teacher was and even less about who did what in the fourteenth friggin century.

But, hey, everyone's gotta make a living. So back to the grind. I have a deadline tomorrow to tell the story of medieval central Bosna all the way to present day. It reminds of a fridge magnet i once read....

'the past is history, the future a mystery, this moment is a gift - that's why they call it present.'

Monday, February 27, 2006

All Aboard!!

The train station in pre-war sarajevo, according to local legend, was the chic place to hang and shop. I somehow find that hard to imagine. Let me tell you why. Although the building has been reconstructed after Serbian artillery laid into it for some 1,400 days - it strikes me as a place where KGB agents might sneak up on you and slip a note into your pocket looking for asylum in the west.
I know, I know...the KGB is long gone, but the feeling is not.

Then i turn around and there are dodgy immigrants from Sandzak and Kosovo running shitty coffee bars (and lord knows what else from behind the counter). I step up to the counter to buy my tickets and they are very kind. That, i noticed, wasn't old school Sarajevo.

The clerks were attentive and smiling, did they get laid last night or what?

There was an older grumpy looking woman next to me. I had to wait for her to buy her tickets first, for although she was at the next counter, she had piled her grocery bags so high in front of my counter that there was no way i was going to climb kupus mountain this morning. Kupus is bosnian and serbian and croatian for cabbage. And there was lots of it.

When my turn did finally come i asked for my four tickets. She asked me if we were all traveling together, which seemed a bit obvious to me, but what the hell ya know. She then asked if she could write up all four tickets on one -- which made me happy as a hen, three less peices of paper in the river is always a good deal to me. She could have written them on my hand and i'd been cool with it.

I asked her if the trains were all on time and if everything was 'alright', as i buried my neck into my shoulders. I knew that the the day before the train had skipped the tracks just outside and wound up on the friggin street.

She acted totally oblivious to my concerns and answered 'pa da, sto da ne?' Translation...'well yes, why not?'

Fair enough, the train had certainly been lifted by a corps of massive bosnian men who LOVED working on the railroad. The company, half state and half private, seems semi-defunct, yet i haven't seen that kind of pride in southeastern Europe in quite some time -- unless it was some bad toothed mug of man who had just 'fucked the shit' out of his girlfriends cousin. So the finely dressed men of the railroad, with red caps and little whistles and hand flags stood almost at attention as we boarded the train.

The choice this morning was either a passenger carriage from 1972 Sweden or a later Eastern German version. The Swedish car, even though it was much older, was by far the best bet.

We sat just below the plaque that read ' A gift from the people of Sweden.'

Shit, they could have at least given us a train car that reclined or something. The lights flickered...and made a lot of noise doing so. We thought we might be in for a long ride.

So it was me, Bregje - my Dutch friend who i had met on my way from Lake Titicaca in Peru to La Paz, Bolivia last year. She was as easy-going as they come, and we hit it off on the long busride through the Andes and around the 4,000 meter above sea level lake. Oh yes, also traveling with us was Alex and Carly. Alex is a 1970 baby, former Seminole (he quickly abandoned us for the bulldogs of all things), and a great travel writer. He's also fucking hilarious and constantly sends me into deja vu with his tallahassee boy's sense of humour. His partner, a very cute, very Swedish looking southern bell from North Carolina is a great photographer and cooks a mean lemon cake. So the four of us decided to mingle on down to Mostar to check out the Oriental Mediterrenean jewel. I also had to pick up documents for my court case, but that's sort of irrelevant at the moment. The ride was smooth as we gently made our way down through the heart of the Central Dinaric Alps.

We stopped for a moment in Bradina. There he was, the bright eyed and bushy tailed station attendant. He was dressed in a blue suit, dawned his red had and hand flag and proudly waved us on from the bombed out station. This hole in the wall is only famous for one thing - Ante Pavelic, the fascist Croatian leader who aligned himself with Hilter, was born in this miserable place. No wonder he killed so many thousands. The only place where people got on was in Konjic. It must have been a workcrew or something that boarded, it certainly smelled as such. The ride down through Celebici and Jablanica was similar to that at Bradina. Proud men with barely any teeth waving us on as if Tito himself was watching over them. I liked it, I liked it very much. There they were in these run down, bombed out train stations where nobody got on and they couldn't have been happier. Maybe they still held onto the good ole days when the railroad workers unions were amongst the strongest in Yugoslavia and they enjoyed job security and helped people trek about that once beautiful socialist republic. Whatever is was, their smiles were contagious, and i too felt a slight tinge of their pride as the old swedish train pulled out of each station.

We reached Mostar by 9am. It was a decent morning, much warmer than Sarajevo. This train station had also seen better days. The Serbs bombed the shit out of it, the Croats did the same, and the Muslims do a horrendous job of taking care of what was reconstructed after the bang-bang, or boom-boom stopped. The floors are filthy and its an empty ghost-like place. In the lobby are about a half dozen cafe's, the rent must be cheap because its certainly not an ideal place to sip a nice hot cup of joe. In front we stumble across a memorial fountain for Jerrie Hume. Jerrie, a former royal navy admiral who was with the United Nations High Commission for Refugee's during the seige of Mostar, is single handedly responsible for bringing the conflict to the centre of political attention in 1993. The fountain, built in his honour for 'saving' the city of Mostar, is a black, mildewed, leaking pit now. So much for pride. No doubt we had arrived in Mostar -- the good, the bad, the ugly. Its all here.

Friday, February 17, 2006

All rise!

I must admit that there was a slight case of the butterflies when i walked into the Cantonal Court in Sarajevo yesterday. Bosnian courthouses are quite a phenomen to me. I first walk through the metal detector with a wide range of metal objects on my person. The machine rightly beeps and alarms the policemen observing me in a more than uninterested manner. He sort of looked at me like 'what the fuck are you doing here?' He decided not to check me, or any of the other potential bomb toting terrorists entering the courthouse. He was simply there to listen to the sounds of the beeps, beeps that proceded my entire wait in the courthouse lobby.
The walls were splatted with barely visible no smoking signs. Their visibility was blurred by the plumes of smoke rising from almost every sole in the lobby, sort of like a chain smoke-along. My lawyer finally enters - he is a young, blonde haired, blue eyed looking Slav. Although i had contacted him months earlier, this is the first time since my first de-breifing that we have met. Hopefully the other lawyer is less serious than mine, i thought. Thankfully, i was soon to find out, he was. A scruffy, messily dressed man in a Tito-era suit was sitting in front of the judges office. That would be my opponents lawyer. Luckily his rhetoric would be as poor as his dress as he immediately began to barrage the judge with irrelevant mumbo jumbo, as they say.

From the very beginning i was a tad concerned on how this slander case had been processed so quickly. Each civil suit judge has an approximate backlog of 1,500 cases. A week later, i am summoned. So i called to the mighty protectorate OHR for assistance. The OHR has a special unit for court observation -- which means that a young, talented and neutral legal expert will observe the case from beginning to end. After all, the man and his machine is well known for trying to buy his opponents -- and he mananged to persuade the entire parliament of the Federation of his victimhood. This move of mine could work for me or against me -- but the gamble goes a bit like this. There is always a chance of something really dodgy going down when it comes to the mighty businessmen of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They enjoy similar freedoms as the mobsters of New York and Chicago did in the 1920's. My request could piss the judge off, but then again, many of them are fully aware of the absolute lack of 'rule of law' that currently dominates Bosnian life. The court observation is quite simply a psychological boost for me....and even the judge. She must, of course, be more careful and thorough than usual i'm sure, but she is also rid of any pressure coming from the idiots corner.

So it was me, my young blonde lawyer, the scruffy opposing lawyer, the sharp dressed man from the OHR court observation unit, the kind judge and her clerk of the court. The room was blanketed in stacks of green folders. All cases long gone or yet to come...i could not decipher, however, which was which. The sharp dressed man kindly suggested that the judge request a shelving unit for the mess in her office, she nodded and claimed she hoped by the time we come back for the final hearing she would have sorted that out. I am willing to bet my left arm that the stacks of green folders will only be larger and wider spread in a months time, but who am i to judge? Anyway, off we went. The judge went around the room introducing everyone and making official statements for the court records (which were actually being typed into a computer!). It was long and boring, but i was glad to be there. I was not required by law to be present this time, but i felt that at least a tiny chunk of my future was at stake so what the hell.

I won't go into the long and boring bits....i shall spare you of the torture I had to endure. In the end, the opposing lawyer whined that he was being targeted by the eco-mafia (that's me of course) and that all the other ecological crisis' in the country were being ignored. He went on with even more irrelevant BS until the judge kindly intervened and inquired as to the relevance to the case. The scruffy man couldn't come up with an adequate answer and the judge asked him to move on, please.

What struck me more than anything was not the socialist style setting, the improvisation by almost everyone in the room, or the disorganization of the entire system, but rather the seemingly genuine gest of the scruffy man to make jokes and get to know me. He constantly made references to the talk shows for which i am being sued, playfully laughing at the duels me and his client had on national television. I, on the other hand, didn't find it amusing at all. Yet he kept on, and no one around really reacted. So i just sat there, slightly dumbfounded, realising that this is just a game to him....and whether he wins or loses is not really the point. The point became rather obvious -- we threatened and bribed you to shut up, you wouldn't. So now we will hassle and trouble you with this miserable bureacracy until you either give up or buy shares in the sand quarry that the man and his machine have become millionaires from. The stall tactic is by far the best one. Bury it in the sea of reforming and transitional public court system and my sand quarry is guaranteed to keep on truckin for at least another few years until this fun is over. Democracy, maybe. Speedy trial? No fucking way.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The man and his machine

Today is the day. Judgement day. It started several years back, during the war even. I think it was 1995 when i first visited the magical valley of Diva Grabovica, the natural border between the Mediterranean and Alpine climates. The valley is a garden of hundreds of endemic types of flora and flauna -- worthy of national park status anywhere on this good planet. The magnetic attraction to this place brought be wandering through its plush fields with a tent and a flashlight on several occassions. I just couldn't keep away. The towering peaks of Cvrsnica Mountain sprawl up over 1,800 metres from my lowlying tent, a mere 200 metres above the Adriatic Sea that is just thirty kilometres away. The stars always light the nights at Diva, and the starlight highlights the endemic Munika pine trees that somehow manage to take root in the massive rock faces. Veliki Kuk, the largest rock face on the Balkan Peninsula, is a climbers dream....or for some thier worst nightmare. Well over 1200 metres of sharp rock, many a seasoned, worldly climbers have failed on this face.

So i dreamt of buying a little house in the valley, writing and sipping Bosnian coffee. The thought of daily drinking fresh goats milk from the neighbours, having organic honey being produced in every one of the six tiny households in the valley, and the ridiculous abundance of figs and pomegranates, was all too enticing. Is all too enticing.

One day, not too long after the Dayton Accords starting to actually take roots, appeared a man and his machine. This man and his machine had picked my sacred valley as his location for a sand quarry. Being that the ancient dry riverbed delivered perfectly carved stones of all sizes, this quarry didn't even require much digging. All he had to do was clear the runway for the snowmelt runoff to trickle down into his lap. So he first embarked on eliminating all that bothersome vegetation that had coloured the dry valley. Underground aquifer systems were abundant in the area and a rich array of flora grew right in the middle of the runway. The man and his machine would take care of that, though.

Within a few months the man and his machine has cleared the valley, carved roads up the valley, set up his bright orange rock smashing unit, drilled into the aquifer systems and pumped it back towards his machine, which made a lovely shade of mud used to filter his rock turned sand. This mud, in turn, would run-off into the turquoise blue waters of the Neretva River just downstream. The man was so determined that he decided Diva Grabovica belonged to him, and nobody else but him (well, except for maybe his machine too). So when the government sought to see his permits, of course, he had none. He was the man, and this was his machine. What permits? But in the end, the man was forced to seek permits for his machine. The government said 'no, no'. And the man said 'yes, yes'. And this went back and forth for many years - whilst the man and his machine continued, on a daily basis, to turn rock to sand. The man was finally forced to go to court to justify the evil doings of his machine. Not one court, but two, said 'no, no.' In June 2000 the High Court ruled against the man and his machine and ordered him to cease activities immediately. He did nothing of the sort. For many years he ignored all he no-no's. That's when i reenter the picture.

Although it had pained me to see the man and his machine turn rock to sand and destroy the sacred valley, i didn't think this country nor its government had the will or the way to enforce any of its own decisions and/or laws. Sounds silly, but that is the reality of this central Balkan nation. But the people rose, and this time in large enough numbers to rock the boat...even if just a bit. So we went after the man and his machine via the 'proper channels.' Local governments and federal ministers recieved letters, petitions, and complaints. They all did nothing. So we then took it the Office of the High Representative. The OHR is a Dayton mandated 'protectorate' if you will. They have rather limitless powers to make decisions that the Bosnians simply cannot or do not want to make. They, of course, were not so interested in the environment. After all, how can a post-conflict transitional economy worry about the environment. We'll worry about that later, when the economy is better and our rivers are cesspools and our forests turned to grazing fields. So they passed the buck, and we moved to the Ombudsman's office. The Ombudsman, a quirky Swede, was very interested in our case -- particularly being that he had become so bored with all the human rights violations of returnees and refugees that dealing with a bunch of rocks, a man and his machine sounded like a nice gig.

They were persistent and professional. They nagged and threatened. And it actually worked, or so we thought. The Ministry of the Environment wrote two letters ordering the man and his machine to shut down or they would physically come to the sacred valley and dismantle it. They threatened to cut the electricity to the man's machine (little did they know that the men supplying the electricity were buying cement electricity poles from the rock turned sand produced by the man and his machine). We celebrated...rule of law. Respecting the decision by the high court! The man and his machine laid low, almost conceding defeat. But it was a ploy, and the standard way of avoiding the law is to just stick it out. Wait until the roar has dulled, people don't have patience and time. Once the noise dies down, the man and his machine would continue to turn rock to sand in the sacred valley. And so it was. He started again. And the government, as you can imagine, dropped the proverbial ball.

Back to square one. A few of us decided it was time to just make noise. So we kept making noise until one quiet evening I get a call from the man. At first, he was very nice and calm. He offered to 'work' with us, what is it that we really wanted? Hmmm? For you to leave with your machine I said. His voice seemed to crack and the next half hour was threat upon threat to what he would do to me and my mother (what does she have to do with this?) if i didn't stop harrassing his company. So what did i do? I went on two life talk shows and talked about the man and this machine...AND...his barrage of threats against me. This made him very angry. So we went on yet another talk show - FACE to FACE - where the man showed his real face. He screamed and barked at me like a neanderthal, while I sat rather calm (and secretly pleased) that he was finally starting to dig his own grave. I thought to myself, as many graves as he has dug in the sacred valley, it tickles me pink that he is finally digging his own. So he ranted and raved until the cameras went off. When they did he offered me to come to dinner to 'talk.' We could sort this thing out. If not, he warned, i would be summoned to court for slander. When we parted, we shook hands and he again invited me to 'talk'. 'See you in court,' were my last words. Several days later i was summoned to court. I am being sued for slander to the amount of $35,000.00. Maybe nothing to a corporate giant or even a Green Peace, but to me that is about $35,000 more than my total life savings.

So, after several months of waiting, today is the day. I go to my first round against the man and his machine in front of yet another man - the man. The man (the one with the machine) has publicly accused me of belonging to the eco-mafia. He has illegally exploited a strictly protected area for over nine years without a single permit and against a decision by the highest court in the land. If i ever needed mafia connections, today is the day. Lets hope my phantom eco-mafia godfather comes from above, or hell, even below, to finally put the man and his machine out of business.

Monday, February 13, 2006

White Mountain

We traveled deep into the heart of White Mountain just recently, revisiting the ancient highland settlements perched on the Rakitnica Canyon, which is perhaps the most unexplored canyon in southeast Europe. With meters of snow piled on either side of the road, one wonders how, if at all, these Dinaric Alps shepherds ever leave the area over the winter months. Muharem greets us with his herd of sheep with the traditional kiss on each cheek. And in fine highlander fashion, drops everything he does to invite us in for a coffee. But the angel snow is all to inviting and the group is anxious to strap on the snowshoes and trudge up to Gradina - a primitive summer settlement where the semi-nomadic shepherds stay in the summer months with their herds. Although the cold is biting, the reflection of the sun on the snow blinds me. Thanks to Sierra Trading Post bargain barn my new pair of Northface shades save the day. My Celtic eyes can barely handle a sunny day let alone the powerful reflection beaming off of the snow. As we begin the trek we stop at Izmir's place. His wife will prepare some traditional food for our return, and in turn make a little money for him and his family. His wife is expecting twins...so they soon must abandon their village due to lack of facilities and medical care.

Past the ancient Muslim cemetery we start ascension...the sky's clear blue and the rugged peaks of Visocica and Treskavica veer out to the east whilst the barren valley of Dugo Polje overwhelms us to the south. Our route was an old Illyrian trading caravan one. The extensive mountain routes, totally isolated from the valley civilization, are thousands of years old. The Romans, conquering this region in the first century from the fierce indigenous Illyrian tribes, greatly improved the roads system, still found today in many of the highland areas in the Central Dinaric Alps.

We soon reach the Red Rock Faces, which is the entrance to Studeni Fields. Legend has it that many centuries ago there was a fiery dragon that was attacking and scaring the shepherds and their flocks. The villagers asked the local holyman to go and fight this wicked dragon. He agreed to do so, on one condition. He asked the villagers to pray for him and his safety until he returned. The power of their prayers would enable the 'imam' to defeat the beast. Off he went into the canyon. For days there was no sound or word of him. Yet the villagers continued to pray. It is said that the dragon climbed up the rock face of the canyon, with his large tail swithering up Studeni Fields -- creating the present day serpentine stream. They met near Gradina, and with the power of the imams prayers, along with the faithful below, the holy man turned the dragon to stone. The tail, mouth and head can be clearly seen engraved into the Red Rocks. The village was henceforth named Umoljani, which means 'in prayer.'

Once we approach the ridge near Gradina the winds pick up and pierces even the best of winter gear. The valley below Obalj Mountain, geographically dividing Bosnia from Herzegovina, creates a wind tunnel that we choose to avoid. We stay high on the ridge until we reach Studeni Fields. From the ridge the views of Visocica's glacier peaks stuns us all. We have now left any remnants of the highland civilization behind and have entered the untethered territory of Pacha Mama. The untouched, wind frozen snow is enticing for a jaunt down the slopes. Off we go, one by one, galloping down towards the stream. We happily trek along the banks of the frozen stream, now completely dwarfed by the rising peaks all around us. After some deep snow trekking slows us down and tires a few of us we circle back round the valley and head back towards Gradina. Now driving into the wind, the cold quickly takes its toll, turning everything to ice - including my tears brought on by the intense wind. The energy of the group seems to transform, more concentrated on the trek and dealing with the elements than prancing like reindeer as we did on our way down. We finally reach Gradina, and the downhill hike to Umoljani is welcomed. The other side of the valley spares us from the wind as two approaching cloud systems close down on us. By the time we reach the village the clear blue skies have turned dark grey and windy snowfall blasts the village.

By then we are all sipping homemade tea in Izmir's place. Fresh herb tea of mint, wild thyme, and chamomile brings the group back to life. Then comes the pita from homegrown potatoes. Pita is sort of the equivalent to the greek spinakopita. That is followed by buttermilk, fresh cheese and wood stove baked potatoes.

We engage Izmir in chat about the future of his village. There are only 14 permanent members left compared to the prewar population of well over 70. The average age is close to its prewar population. Izmir's family is the only one in Umoljani with children. There is no school and the nearest is a fifteen mile hike through impossible terrain for a child. Umoljani was destroyed during the conflict in early 1992, one of the first victims in the Serbs quest to first conquer the highlands around the capital Sarajevo. As old military strategy puts it 'the ones who control the highlands, controls the lowlands.' The old style homes, built with stone and covered with wooden shingles has been replaced by cheap red block structures provided by the international community. Although the village maintains its traditional way of life, the architectural integrity has been forever sacrificed....yet another lost trace of these ancient highlanders. Izmir no longer believes in the survival of his home. He is more than convinced that with time, when the elders die out, Umoljani will only be a place for families to return with their flocks in the summer months. Winter here, too long and lonely, is no longer bearable with the collapse of all the social services provided in Yugoslavia days. We provoke him with other options. Eco-tourism and organic agriculture are two viable and sustainable alternatives that we have applied in similar regions in BiH. They have worked, and people have been able to maintain their ways of life - at least as much as possible given the current political, social and economic conditions that dominate present day Bosnian life. Again, Izmir is skeptical, and sure no one would return even if ideal conditions were possible. 'People have gotten a taste of the city...we were cleansed from here over thirteen years ago, our kids have grown up down in the valley where they have school and we can find work.'

This once again confirmed our notion -- the reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina, however noble and well-intended, has utterly failed in finding long term sustainable solutions for a country that is 65% rural. Without the social infrastructures to accompany their rebuilt homes, without exploring and introducing other options for the highlanders, the few remaining portals to Old World Europe will soon be dead. And with their death we lose the indigenous knowledge that is vital to our survival. Our quickly changing world will inevitably require us to simplify and harmonize our lifestyles. It is these cultures, whether the last remaining European highlanders or the Andean Quechua's that provide us with a door to our past. And perhaps more importantly, the key to our future.

Friday, February 10, 2006


After being barraged by 'fuck you's' in my first blog i was reminded of a silly game we played as college kids...well, ok, and even after. Slapwrist was basically an incessantly annoying game whereas anything that was picked up or held in the hands of your unexpecting pal was subsequently smashed out of ones hands, regardless of how much skin was caught in the slap or if the object in hand was shattered in a million pieces. We loved it. And it brought us to tears with laughter.
Then there was the throwing of live darts at one another after many bong hits, lounging in the acid chair and listen to Taco's beastie boys album for the twelth time that day. It was certainly much more of a psychological game to watch dear friends squirm and twist throughout Cafe Elvis, but nonetheless, we did it relentlessly.
The forehead slap game usually came after waaayyyy too many beers and bong rips, but usually it was the beers that inspired a whopping (and, of course, unexpected) wallop to the forehead. If the forehead for some reason was not reachable, we opted for the back of the neck and a nice raw set of fingerprints implanted on our beloved.
When Sidney dared to step on to the stage the real fun began. The heckling and hazing would become so intense that heavy flying objects were projected on stage towards the wild turkey drunks on stage. Sidney, as always, responded with more insults and homosexual insinuations, whilst the crowd got riled up enough that Chuck, the hairy PR, ran for cover behind the Mexican bean pole.
Each time the same subliminal messages reached our deepest senses. First and foremost, hey dude -- i love ya and the second, and maybe more obvious, -- but FUCK YOU!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Here's to you Johnny

I'm not entirely sure which news i should celebrate and/or pout about. In retrospect, i suppose the discovery of the Garden of Eden in the mountains of New Guinea should bring awe and excitement....and truthfully, at first, it did. The pouting has just set in though as I realize that what was just 'discovered' has now been officially opened to human handling. 'Just give us time, they said, and we shall inherit the earth.' Well shit, can't even a small chunk stay out of our greedy, needy reaches? First Galapagos, now the last remnants of the original south Pacific. But things could be worse. Halo ba!
The Christian right in America seem to be actually listening to the word of God - and are now confronting what GW has consistently called his 'base.' A loose coalition of righty repubs have called for immediate action against global warming? Mandatory emission cuts? Halo ba! Opposing baby bush's new corporate budget? And the Lord said, 'let there be light...and there was light!' Agnostics and Jehovahs unite!
Can you fucking believe it? A single parent, socialist, medical doctor, female as President of Chile. And we thought Hugo was a threat. Forget the twelve fighter planes (minus American parts, mind you) that Spain is selling to the Commandante Che-like rebel in Venezuela, and the indigenous, coca-farmer Presidente Evo Morales in Bolivia (Bechtel is still drying there eyes), how can Pennsylvania Avenue deal with a female socialist in South America's strongest growing economy. No wonder the Americans, even if just slightly, are abandoning ship and setting up shop for the final showdown -- Central Asia.
Don't think bombing Iran is out of the question. After all, if those Persian nutters decide to defy the American people and go EURO (just like Iraq had planned shortly before Bhagdad went up in flames) then America cannot simply let this became an example to other resource toting nations. Fortunately we've wrapped up our former friends and t-allies, the Talibani's, in Aghanistan and the pipeline is right on course and closely dotted by American bases. China, the brutal resource monger (how dare they challenge our consumption culture!) is being bullied by good ole Condoleeza to not invest in Africa just for their own resource needs but for the common good and sustainable development for the African people. Hmmm, just like the World Bank and our Bono converted buddy Wolfowitz do, huh? Halo ba!
But hey, who gives a shit about all this world politics rubbish when we have a new version of the pirates of the caribbean, in Somalia. The bandits in America abandoned Mogadishu are so sick of fighting for every bloody street corner that they have taken to the high seas. These mad fuckers are taking off some 80 odd nautical miles into the Red Sea to hijack large vessels for ransom. Is that fun or what? Africa, as our reliable disaster money area, on the verge of a few more 'picnics' for the international community to run to. Ethiopia and Eritrea are about to give it a go again and Congo, remember them, experiences the equivalent of a 9/11 just about weekly now. Halo ba! But hey, they don't call is the dark continent for nothing right?
So i wonder....and at times ponder, why on earth do i have to be so fucking 'heavy.' Why take so much of this to heart? Reading Johnny boys blog made me realize two things. One, don't forget to laugh at yourself and just take the piss more often than not. And two, one thing he said to me a long time ago -- 'if there is something we can do, we need to be asking ourselves 'what', and if there is nothing we can do, we need to be asking ourselves 'why not.' So here's to you Johnny from the crazy capital of the heart shaped land. Sarajevo, over and out ba.