“All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
America is a unique country in the history of the world. Founded on the concept of liberty and equality it is a beacon of hope to all. If you were born in this country at this time, you have pretty much won the lottery. What you do with your life is up to you, but the potential for greatness and the opportunity for success and happiness is here. People from all over the world want to come here.
Freedom is worth preserving and the cost of liberty is vigilance.
That is why the clown show in Washington is of such concern to me. The clowns and the jugglers like Trump, DeSantis, Matt Gaetz, Loren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, George Santos, and Kevin McCarthy present a clear and present danger to our freedom and democracy. They want to control what you read and what you say. What you study in school and whom you can marry. They want to control women’s bodies. They are like ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing.
They are snake oil salesmen who would sell their snake oil on a street corner in hell touting its medicinal effects on healing burns. They are lies and liars and should be called out at every opportunity. With a Republican-controlled House, things will only get worse before they get better. Stay vigilant.
Lots of cool human lizards slither at the El Chameleon – Best Dive Bar in Ajijic.
Did we go there? Can’t remember.
Yes, we did. You probably can’t remember because you were in deep conversation with Captain Morgan that night.
I remember you taking me home. Couldn’t remember the name of that bar. I didn’t think it was a dive. Kinda cute. And that hot little Mexican cutie thought you were cute. Did you ever find her again?
No. It’s a dive. A nice dive. But a dive.
Now I am embarrassed to show you, my dives. Hahaha. Lol! Why do you call it a dive bar? What kind of bar is it?
It’s the No Chance Saloon. It’s the Bedrock Bar, The End of the Line Cafe, The bottom of the Sea Rathskeller! Although they do try to keep up appearances with all their pipe dreams of yesterdays and tomorrows, as you will see for yourself if you are there very long.
I have now made my third foray onto this enchanted isle of beautiful sunsets, gorgeous senioritas, and delicious margaritas. I am talking of course, of the magical town of Ajijic, Mexico located on the shores of Lake Chapala nestled in the shadows of the Sierra Madre mountains.
Ajijic is an Indian name meaning the place where the water flows. In 2021 Ajijic was appointed Pueblo Magicio (Magic Town) by the Secretary of Tourism of Mexico for the work of this town in protecting and preserving its cultural heritage. It is a sight to behold and welcoming place to visit. While we are here we will be looking at property and seriously considering joining the already large expat community that currently lives here.
We already have friends who live here and we are making more every day. Many of our friends and acquaintances make regular pilgrimage here. It is a wonderful place to visit and I hope to live.
Yesterday we went to a musical event at a local hang out called El Bar Co. They had a rooftop band called The Romeos and it was packed. Here included are a few snaps from the event.
Buddha and I go back many years and I love him like a brother. But you know how I feel about my brother. And it’s because of this guy that I started coming down here in the first place.
Buddha brings a little chaos with him everywhere he goes. Like the other night. We went to a dive bar called El Chameleon. On the way there he was on a video call with a friend from Louisville and showing her the way. He was walking 20 paces ahead of me. I asked him where this place was and he said he knew how to find it. Is it past Colon, I asked. I don’t know, he answered. So he took a left on some street and we walked two blocks to a dead end. Oh! This is a dead end he says. Well, why did you turn down this street, I asked. Because I don’t know what I’m doing, he said. Then he took off again retracing his steps and gabbing to the woman in louisville the whole time while I am trailing along behind him and wondering why.
Finally we get to El Chameleon and I call him out on the video call and he tells the lady, I got to go. So we go in and have a couple of drinks and he settles down a bit and we have a nice conversation. Turns out he was in there the previous night with another friend of ours and he meets this beautiful Mexican Chick who tells him to ditch the blonde. That’s why I wanted to come back here tonight to see if she shows up again. The truth comes out.
The next day He tells me he has slowed down a lot and is not so much always in a hurry. Yes you are! I say, and I remind him of the events of the previous evening. He says, and I quote, “Fuck you! And for now on, The first thing I’m going to say to you when I see you is fuck you, just to save time.” Maureen is falling out her chair laughing. With that, Buddha gets up and walks over to a beautiful Mexican woman sitting at another table and whispers in her ear. She turns her head to look at him and smiles. Then Buddha exits the restaurant.
Take a deep dive with me to the bottom of The Gulf of Mexico as we explore along with Bobby Western the depths of the human consciousness.
Cormac McCarthy’s, The Passenger starts off with a mystery as Bobby Western, a deep sea salvage diver, explores a downed plane in the Gulf of Mexico off the Mississippi coastline. He and his friend Oiler find the plane submerged under 40 feet of water and all of the passengers onboard are dead and one is missing. Also missing is the black box. This missing passenger is the passenger from the title of the novel but we soon find that that is not what the book is about at all. Bobby is the actual passenger, as are we the readers, following along on Bobby’s journey into darkness.
We follow Bobby into the seedy bars on Bourbon Street in the City of New Orleans and meet a cadre of colorful characters from blue collar workers in the salvage business to street philosophers, transsexuals, race car drivers, mathematicians, physicists, and a Jewish private detective.
This is a novel of intrigue, paranoia, loss, grief and despair. It is also very funny with many moments of dark humor sprinkled throughout.
Bobby Western’s father worked with Oppenheimer on the atomic bomb for which he experiences generational guilt. His sister, Alicia, is a math wizard who is haunted by a crew of imaginary characters emanating from her schizophrenic mind. She is also a great beauty and Bobby is deeply in love with her.
The whole novel has a dreamlike quality to it but never fails to compel the reader to keep turning the pages to see what happens next.
This is perhaps McCarthys swan song and it echos much of his previous work. It is a tribute to a life well lived and a career well made. McCarthy has been compared to Melville, but I see traces of Beckett, and as another reviewer has pointed out, Kafka.
Much has been made of his signature style of no punctuation and a lack of tags for the dialogue. Sometimes one has to go back and reread a section to understand who it is talking. I found that to be true in this novel. But, I think the ambiguity is intentional on McCarthy’s part as it adds to the dreamlike quality of the work. Has written a prequel to this novel which acts as kind of a “coda” to The Passenger. I haven’t read Stella Maris as yet but when I do I expect it to give me a greater understanding of this one.
This book covers the waterfront on a variety of topics. Topics I am sure are McCarthys interests. He weaves them into the story in a very realistic, convincing and entertaining way. Here is a compendium of what his characters talk about or are involved in: Vietnam, the Kennedy assassination, a trans-woman, incest, food and wine, schizophrenia, philosophy, particle physics, mathematics, and paranoia.
McCarthy has a prose style that is incomparable to other modern day writers. His descriptions are sublime and memorable. Such as: “ The lamps had come on down Bourbon Street. It had rained earlier and the moon lay in the wet street like a platinum manhole cover.” Or: “…the tide pools stood like spills of blood.” Or: “ …sunrise. It sat swagged and red in the smoke like a matrix of molten iron swung wobbling up out of a furnace.”
All in all a fine read of a much anticipated novel that more than delivers on expectations.
Yes, indeed he is. And I think he owes us all an apology.
In fact, the Church has apologized. In the year of our Lord 2000, His Holiness Pope Paul II begged forgiveness for, among some other things, the crusades, the Inquisition, the persecution of the Jewish people, and injustice towards women, that’s half the human race, and the forced conversion of indigenous peoples, especially in South America, the African slave trade, the admission that Galileo was right, and for silence during Hitler’s Final Solution. And let us not forget the abomination that is known as limbo. A place where unbaptized babies were sent when they died.
And it doesn’t end there. There have been regrets, a few, for the rape and torture of orphans and other children in church-run schools in almost every country on Earth.
Am I angry? You bet I am. The Church should be roundly condemned for the mayhem it has perpetrated on the human race. Its walls should crumble and fall to the ground.
As far as “Ratso” Ratzinger is concerned, it is a matter of profound indifference to me whether he lives or dies.
I was at a hotel seminar led by former marine generals. The meeting was about turning a company around. I was one of the employees of the company that needed to be prepared to make a speech, but I was not called on to do so. The seminar was held in one of the large hotel conference rooms. Ballroom A? And there were about 100 people attending.
After the seminar was over, I was heading back to my room when I was approached by a short, plain, middle-aged woman who bore a remarkable resemblance to Madelaine Albright.
She came up to me and I looked down at her upcast eyes which seemed to be imploring me to do something. She begged me to come back to her room with her.
“I’m so all alone,” she said. It seemed as if we already knew each other and had had an affair in the past.
At the same time Madeleine and I were talking, I was approached by another individual who turned out to be Christopher Hitchens. He gave me a bear hug.
“I lost a dear friend last night old boy,” he said.
“Died?” I asked.
“No, he passed out with drink,” Christopher smiled.
“Where are you going now?” I asked his receding figure.
“I am going to the bar for a double scotch, old boy.”
“OK, I’ll meet you there later.”
“I hope you have more to say than you did at the meeting earlier tonight.” Then he was gone.
I looked back at Madeleine and told her I was very sorry, but I couldn’t be with her tonight. That I had to talk to Christopher.
I went to Pamplona to run with the bulls and catch a couple of bullfights. I had never been to a bullfight before and didn’t know what to expect. I had rather a detached and academic approach towards the whole affair but I must admit I was fascinated by what I saw and emotionally moved.
To prepare for my journey I brought with me to read, Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway. I have prepared some quotes from the book to accompany the pictures I took. No on can quite explain the experience of bullfighting like Ernest Hemingway. He is the master.
There are three acts to every bullfight. They are always the same. The first act is where the bull charges the picadors and the matador distracts the bull with his cape. The picador drives the steel of the pic into the neck muscles of the bull to weaken it.
Act two is the banderillas. They are a pair of sticks about three feet long tipped with a harpoon-like shaped steel point at on the end four centimeters long. They are placed two at a time in the humped muscles at the top of the bulls neck as the bull is charging the matador. They are designed to complete the work of slowing the bull down. Four pair are usually put in.
“So, I went to Spain to see bullfights and to try to write about them for myself. I thought they would be simple and barbarous and cruel and that I would not like them, but that I would see certain and definite action which would give me the feeling of life and death that I was working for. I found the definite action, but the bullfight was far from simple and I liked it so much that it was too complicated for my then equipment for writing to deal with, and aside from four very small sketches, I was not able to write anything about it for five years and I wish I would have waited ten.”
-Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon
The last act is the sword and the muleta. The muleta is a red cloth folded over a stick. With the muleta the matador masters the bull before going in for the kill. Finally the matador kills the bull by thrusting the sword high between the shoulder blades of the bull.
“The bullfight is not a sport, that is it is not an equal contest or an attempt at an equal contest between a man and a bull. Rather it is a tragedy, the death of the bull, which is played more or less well by the bull and the man involved, and in which there is danger for the man, but certain death for the bull.”
-Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon
“So far, about morals, I only know what is moral is what makes you feel good after, and what is immoral is what you feel bad after and judged by those moral standards, which I do not defend, the bullfight is very moral to me because I feel very fine while it is going on and have a feeling of life and death and mortality and immortality, and after it is over I feel very sad but very fine.”
-Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon
All photos by the author except the photos of himself which were taken by his wife, Maureen
I come from a long line of warriors. My grandfather, Samuel V. Bell Sr., served in WWI, my brother, Christopher Allen Bell, served in Viet-Nam, and my father, Samuel V. Bell Jr., served in Korea. This Veterans Day I pay special tribute to my father, Lt. Commander Samuel V. Bell Jr., who served in the United States Navy for 22 years.
According to his unpublished auto-biography, Commander Bell saw action as a young man on seas off the coast of Korea where he fought the North Koreans and the Chinese. He and his ship, the USS Zellars, provided support for General Douglas MacArthur’s 10th Army Corps which consisted of 50,000 troops. He also participated in the opening of Wonsan Harbor on the East Coast of Korea.
Lt. Commander Samuel V. Bell Jr. entered the U.S. Navy in 1943 when he was seventeen. He was accepted into an officers training programmed and became a commissioned officer 1945 just as WWII was drawing to a close. He was at the Navy Ship Yards in Philadelphia when I was born in 1948 in Louisville, Kentucky. Two years later, my brother Chris was born, while my father was fighting the Chinese in Korea. This information and what follows was gleaned from a family scrapbook which was lovingly put together by his daughters and his grand daughters, Susan Bell, Whitney Vale, Lisa Bell, and Summer Sneed.
Served on the following ships and duty Stations:
• 1945-1946 USS Tarawa – Aircraft Carrier
• 1947-1949 USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. – Destroyer
• 1950-1951 USS Zellars – Destroyer
• 1953-1956 USS Norton Sound – Experimental Missile Ship
• 1956-1957 China Lake, California – Guided Missile Unit 25
• 1958-1961 Norfolk, Virginia, Staff of Amphibious Group, Atlantic Fleet
• 1962-1963 USS Columbus, Guided Missile Cruiser
• 1963-1964 General Electric, Pittsfield, Mass. Technical Advisor on Navy’s Polaris Submarine Ballistic Missile program
Awarded the following Medals:
• American Campaign Medal
• WWII Victory Medal
• Commendation Medal with Combat
• Navy Occupation Medal
• China Service Medal
• Korean Service Medal with 4 Battle Stars
• United Nations Service Medal
• Korean Presidential Unit Citation
• American Defense Service Medal
In 1964 He retired from the Navy and began his second career at University of Louisville teaching electrical engineering. He retired from teaching in 1995 and lives in Louisville, Kentucky where he is cared for by his family.
As the saying goes, old soldiers never die, they just fade way. My father’s light is not burning as bright as it once was but still it burns. He will be remembered for his impact on his family’s lives, his service to his country, and for the values he always projected: Courage, honor, and duty. Raised during the so called Great Depression, he was a hard-working man who taught me the value of hard work and discipline. We salute you, Dad, on Veterans Day!