CHOPAZ

I need a break from the insanity. The world is full-on cray-cray. Extremists have taken over a police precinct in Seattle and declared themselves to be an autonomous zone. It’s a move for a caliphate on our soil. Because our rules suck the CHOPAZ folk are going to make their own rules. The mob in control of the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone had a moment and decided that they wanted to be called CHOP. Autonomy has so much responsibility. And I mean, Starbucks on Pine Street is out of coconut milk.

Maybe this is the normal that I’ve been pretending isn’t normal. Maybe the world always was this cray-cray and I’ve just been in denial. Whatever. I need a timeout.

I know why they decided that they wanted to be called Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP). The utopian scorched earth, start over from nothing idea feels so awesome. Clearly everybody else in history was a complete idiot who was fucking clueless when it comes to running utopia. Nobody got it right so the best move is to start from nothing and build it properly.

Nats CHOPAZ

Clerical Nats for CHOPAZ

Once you do it there is a cloud of concerns buzzing about your head that demands attention. Suddenly stuff like a noise complaint becomes a huge thing because you kicked out the cops. You are bombarded with stupid shit you don’t normally worry about because somebody else takes care of that. Who the hell cares that CHOPAZ is out of baby formula!? Breastfeed! Seriously. So annoying!

These novel lefties who feel so good about themselves are making a classic yungin mistake. They forget that they/we are a node in a vast network of interrelated support. The world is profoundly relational. We need each other to make this shit show work. Throw everything out and decide to rebuild from nothing and you also lose the relationships that make your first world life possible. It’s not fair.

The vanguard of the new age isn’t just making the mistake that they don’t need anyone else. The other mistake is that history is bougie and bougie is evil. They don’t need no stinking history. What they need is to start from nothing and build their utopia the right way. Besides, those other Utopian Revolutions didn’t do it right. I mean, that thing about insanity being a rinse repeat of the past and expecting different results–that’s bullshit, right? Those other guys just didn’t try hard enough. They didn’t do the real Shining Path. These guys will get it right this time.

Next, some of these problems are timeless. God’s Eden before the fall wasn’t complete. His first couple was unable to understand the consequences of their actions. Everything was confusing. Adam couldn’t understand why shitting in the nest he slept in last night would piss off Eve. So, maybe what Eve did was evil. Maybe it disrupted an untenable life.

Free Will CHOPAZ

Free Will is Hard for CHOPAZ

We have had free will and the knowledge of good and evil since then. Did this obviate the possibility of evil? No. Two black men were shot by cops recently. Riots broke out worldwide in response,. Most of our news headlines tell the story of one more evil done. Yet CHOPAZ is led by folk who believe they can get it right this time.

Already in the short life of CHOPAZ the homeless folk they invited in as pets stole their food. A local gang leader assaulted them when one of the CHOPAZ residents decided to paint graffiti on a local business. CHOPAZ kicked out the cops so no help there.

CHOPAZ will not survive. These kids in charge don’t want the ugly work of running a village. Already they decided to change their name to CHOP. This way they can try to get municipal services while mugging evangelists. Village admin and ops work is ugly. This work will go unattended. The backlog of ugly work will become overwhelming.

CHOPAZ Wants to Have Fun

Once the misery gets bad enough CHOPAZ will collapse. It’s not fun being autonomous. CHOPAZ just wants to have fun.

So . . . yeah. I need a break from CHOPAZ, Black Lives S’matter, AntiFa(ke), Angry Creamsicle, Sleepy Joe, Mama Pelosi, Chuck You Schoomer, and all the rest. I need a vacation in Paradise.

There is an IRL Paradise Valley, NV. My Paradise isn’t that. It is, but like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it exists in a kind of augmented reality only possible if you have a key to it. Inger has a key. I have one. There are others in the hands of people loyal to its crime lord, Saito Genji (Gene).

‘Cuz I Need a Break

Gene in Paradise

The town is too small to need much in the way of municipal services. Most of the buildings run on wells and septic tanks. The most common internet connection is a jailbroken Hughes Satellite. Nobody pays for cable tv. They steal it. The town is too far from Winnemucca to make laying copper lines cost-effective. Cell service connects by a microwave tower to Winnemucca. One of Gene’s grandkids moderates the cell phone and internet connections.

No, you don’t have a right to free speech in Paradise Valley. Not for free. Gene’s friends enforce the law as they see fit. There is a magistrate that comes from Winnemucca once a month. Gene sees to it that the magistrate’s biggest decision is the size of the steak he’ll eat while in town and which girl will take care of him.

Gene is simple. Behave, pay him a bribe, or die. His definition of criminal assault is hurting any of his people at all. His sentence usually results in a 90-minute ride to Winnemucca to get patched up. Or the same ride in a body bag. Criminal assault for anyone else is decided on whether you are bleeding or ambulatory. If you are not bleeding and you are ambulatory then it may have been assault but it isn’t criminal. He doesn’t care about the seven deadly sins as long as he can make money on it. With no real municipal authority, there are no local taxes. Gene does extort protection money from independent businesses. He keeps that fee down so it’s affordable. Unless you piss him off. Then the move is to fold your business and leave town–walking as a first choice but on a stretcher otherwise.

Paradise Valley, Nevada CHOPAZ

We Don’t Need Cops

There is a volunteer fire company. Gene likes American Fire trucks so the town’s equipment is always less than 3 years old and top-notch. Ditto the ambulance. One of Saito’s friends has a cop car he uses to scare outsiders into paying a fine for “speeding” on the town’s only road. The friend is a lifelong BJJ and Hyoho Niten Ichi-Ryu disciple. This friend isn’t a cop. But this friend is also someone you want to respect and comply with.

Tsuba

The magical realist aspect of Paradise Valley comes in how you get there. If you take a road trip to the IRL Paradise Valley you won’t find Gene and his friends. To get to my Paradise Valley you need a special tsuba. This tsuba is a key that opens a portal to Paradise Valley. There is a portal in my living room closet and other places around the country and Japan. These tsubas are closely guarded by Gene. Thieves that steal one are hunted down and killed.

Paradise Valley is a refuge for outliers, criminals, adventurers, addicts, and crazies who just want to be left alone. Most everyone there has some sort of scarlet letter past that got them jail time and/or shunning. There is a Father Thomas, who is one of the priests accused of having sex with underage boys. He lives in a manse on the property of a former Baptist church. Father Thomas is guilty of publishing apologetics that ran cross to his cardinal. The cardinal was the one with a taste for young dick. No matter, Father Thomas needed to be gone so . . .

Would CHOPAZ folk be allowed in? Saito-san sells tsuba to tourists so they can come to get high, drink, gamble, fuck, and eat. These tsubas are tracked and once the money is gone or the reservation expires they go dark. Gene’s staff sees to it that the tourists make it home safe. Those that resist get a ride in the ambulance—sometimes in a body bag. So as long as CHOPAZ can pay and behave they would be allowed to visit.

By Chensiyuan - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70662680
Shangri La

Viva Paradise Valley

Paradise Valley is like a magical realism Yakuza Las Vegas. It exists to empty your wallet by offering you a walk on the wild side. There is no pretense of utopia in Paradise Valley. Saito-san cares about cleaning out your bank account. He needs the things that locating himself in Nevada brings him. He’d shoot anyone who suggested seceding from ‘merica. Saito-san has no problem sourcing coconut milk.

One more thing. Genji Saito (斉藤源次) is a graduate of Kyoto University. He is an accomplished calligrapher and bonsai (盆栽) practitioner. Paradise Valley is staffed by Japanese trained in hospitality and hotel management. If you have ever been to Japan you understand the level of obsession with artful attention to detail. Paradise Valley is gorgeous and runs like a beautiful Seiko watch. As long as you stick to your lane you’ll have an incredible vacation.

Paradise Valley is the setting for part of the murder story I’ve had in my head for about five years. It’s the one that is launched by the discovery of a human finger on the back seat of a Cadillac Escalade abandoned in front of my house. One of these days . . .

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Off the Estate

I had a visit from PUDFARB ICE (People’s United Democratic Free Anarchist Republik of Berkeley Immigration and Customs Enforcement). My Dad passed so the fact that I am off the estate living in the capital of racism is a renewed outrage. If I knew what was good for me I’d sign off on my inheritance and agree to live in Amistad House.

It is likely that I’ll inherit some money. It’s fast money, though. Fast money tends to go as quickly as it came. As you hold the check in your hand the legion of ways to spend it rave in your head. As an example, all those lottery winners who are broke within a few years of cashing the check. PUDFARB ICE had an answer they thought was awesome: give it to them.

A pretty girl was running point. She had a sheaf of papers I was supposed to sign. Somehow a rumor surfaced that I would take my windfall and start a business. Incredibly, PUDFARB ICE claimed that I was not free to do as I pleased with my own money. No, I had to sign it over to them.

✠ ✠ ✠

The potential crime was owning a business that PUDFARB ICE could not control. It was fine as long as their union goons could dictate how it would be run. In the small print was language that said my business would be taxed at 90% of the gross revenue. But that tax would pay for a free Cadillac and a new iPhone plus art classes and getting fast-tracked for Medicaid and Section 8.

What’s wrong with socialism?” My son asked this. Many things are wrong with socialism. Signing over my inheritance to PUDFARB ICE in exchange for being fast-tracked into Amistad ought to be a reasonable choice. It isn’t. Nor is spending the imagined amount on “reasonable” purchases that leave me destitute and unable to refuse commitment to Amistad House.

Pretty girl said I was getting old and I’d need someone to help me run the business. She offered to be office manager. There was an employment offer in my name for cab driver. PUDFARB ICE would own the business and Pretty girl wanted to run it. How about . . . no.

Not Silent Now

Because, tbh, it’s not about being down for the struggle.

I don’t like answering the phone because of PUDFARB ICE. They are like a corrupt collection agency. Except that the thing in collections is me. They call, e-mail, post to my FB wall, and generally try to intrude. I left in 1992 for Cal State EBay (Hayward). 25 years ago and they persist.

After 25 years they’d gone silent. Then my Dad passes and they found a way to interrogate me while I was working in Philly. Same thing as always, I need to understand that I didn’t belong out of PUDFARB. I had to come home. The room in Amistad was nice, they said. I could devote myself to writing propaganda and be taken care of.

Taken care of” to a guy who grew up with Greek Mafia neighbors has a bad ring to it. I don’t trust it. Nor do I trust the pretty girl from PUDFARB ICE who just wants me to sign my life away. First class flight to SFO if I would just sign my name to multiple forms. I’m not signing.


✠ ✠ ✠

I own a house on Lost Souls Road far, far off the estate. Sometimes when I go to the curb to get my mail I find bodies in the gutter. Some of the bodies are people who got disappeared by PUDFARB ICE. Others are SJW’s who knew what we ought to be doing instead of being a hot mess and didn’t get the hint. You can live a quiet life on Lost Souls Road if you make the right friends.

I mention my address because the pretty girl from PUDFARB ICE triggers memories of those bodies I sometimes find. This pisses ICE off. If I was a good man I’d just sign and make things easy for everybody. Come home and stop posting to the blog. Stop spewing hate. Pretty tells me that they have a special meal plan I’d really enjoy. Uh Huh.

Idea #2 is that they’d take the money coming to me and buy an annuity which would fund my retirement living in Amistad. Pretty girl could be my home care aid. Good idea but not happening.

On Bottom Everything Points Up

Then the threats come. They’ll ruin me financially. I’ll be eating dog food and living on the street. My adjudicated criminal cases will be re-opened and I’ll have to serve all the time. My reputation will be destroyed.

These are threats that would intimidate someone who believes they have something to lose. PUDFARB ICE pretty girl is a fool. I am one of Billary’s deplorables. I’ve been down, been homeless, convicted of crimes, broke and lost my reputation, thrown off the estate for being a WASP. Every threat they have is something I survived. I’d rather not start from the bottom at my age. But if I must I will.

Socialism asks us to surrender everything to the government and trust that they will be less corrupt than the rest of society. I should trust the pretty girl from PUDFARB ICE with the social work degree. Everything is taken care of, she says.

✠ ✠ ✠

Don’t care. I decided last summer that I wasn’t going back to work as a cube rat. It was cab driving even if that job ruined me. If I’m headed to bottom I’m going down fighting, king of my own sandbox.

And with that, they showed me a video of my sister reading a prepared statement. I was a disappointment to my father. I’d failed him. And now I’d broken my trust with her. All I had to do is sign the papers and come back to PUDFARB. Everything would be fine.

I don’t know what’s coming in the next year. 2019 is only a day old as I started this post. One thing it won’t bring is a docile me who behaves as my kin wishes. My sister wants me to conform to her norms. Be a good brother and live as she believes I should. The nice people at PUDFARB ICE told her that things would be good if only I would sign the papers.

Lipstick Isn’t Enough

She signed. They gave her a house in the Berkeley hills. Her daughter is in a private school for the deaf. Her husband works at an NGO. She got a job teaching school for PUDFARB. It’s lovely. I should visit some time.

Then I noticed something. She was quietly signing just with her hands over and over. bs, bs, bs, bs. Thought so.

The problem with socialism is us. Socialism needs perfect compliance. It tends to get into a destructive spiral where control is resisted so control is increased, rinse repeat. Ergo Nazi Germany. The other destructive spiral comes from the idea that those with ability will feed those with need. Very quickly those with ability figure out that survival means becoming one with need. In short order, there are no resources nor people with ability to feed on.

Sign the Contract

The pretty girl put the package of papers in front of me. I looked them over. and told her I could do better with the principle if I invested it and lived off the capital gains. I think it was the word capital. Anyhoo, she lost her shit. A stream of cuss words and crimes of old, fat WASP men spewed out of her mouth. I was every sin ever committed by ever man throughout time. It was an impressive tantrum. Capital is an evil word, it seems.

My Dad was given an offer he couldn’t refused. Take a pension buyout or get fired. He took the buyout. It was about two years worth of salary. He was a little younger than I am now. His two years of salary had to take care of him and my Mom until they died. It wasn’t enough.

It could be enough if he did what my family has done since we were landed gentry in England–invest and live off the profits of said investments. Pretty girl slapped me for saying that. Fuck her . . . no, asshole, not sex, shit. Right, so my Dad used his initial amount in the buyout to grow it into income that supported him for nearly thirty years and paid for my Mom’s care as she declined from dementia.

✠ ✠ ✠

Capital gains or passive income is the answer to the wish to drink Mai Tai’s under an umbrella on a tropical island beach. Somehow, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” is racist. Whatever. Read it if you want to escape a cube rat life.

His hard work and wise investments mean we are left with an inheritance that PUDFARB ICE wants. Sucks to be them. Free will is a problem for socialists. People might not fully comply. They might take a small pension buyout and get rich with it. I might do that.

So, PUDFARB ICE, do your worst. I’m not signing. I’m not agreeing to give you my inheritance for an annuity that you say will take care of me for the next forty years. Our family has survived retirement by remaining king of our own investment sandbox. Thanks for the offer but I’ll keep my faith in an absurd martyr from Nazareth who was crucified at the request of his church elders and the power of compound interest.

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It’s Eve’s Fault

My fellow blogger Aubrey Eicher posted an essay on Eve and the apple.” She writes, “When we love, we do not want to do anything to hurt the heart of the person, or in this case, God.” Which are fine words from a young Christian woman writing in 2015. So many have said it’s Eve’s fault without considering her predicament. We have at least five millennia of experience in what is and isn’t out of bounds behavior. If you doubt this, do something out of bounds to a woman and see what happens. Actually, don’t. There is enough out of bounds behavior without my encouraging it.

Neither Adam nor Eve had knowledge of how you love, what love is/was, and what is and isn’t out of bounds behavior. *Everything* is new, a first, including what it means to be a partner to someone. Aubrey says, “Surely, myself included, we would love to go back to the garden and slap the fruit out of Eve’s hand, and give her a piece of our mind, ‘What ARE you doing, you dumb broad, didn’t you hear what God said?

Yes, Aubrey, she did. Eve didn’t have the benefit of a few thousand years of hindsight. Worse, not knowing of good and evil, she had no way to express nor process events and behavior that felt out of bounds. Adam could and probably did, do things that caused Eve duress. But it was all good (right?) because without knowledge of good and evil there is nothing that is out of bounds. Last, a word from us, the malcontents, we know, she knew and it wasn’t enough, isn’t enough.

Smoked Rattlesnake

it's eve's fault smoked rattlesnake

I find it beyond reason that the purported prior-fall Eden was entirely sunshine and lollipops. God created a world in which free will exists. This includes the freedom to use his creation for ill as well as good. C.S Lewis, in his, “Problem of Pain“, talks about a baseball bat being a tool for sport as well as a weapon.

God made the baseball bat. Man makes a choice and it is either used for sport or for a crime. He leaves it to us to decide what to do with His creation. I find it hard to believe that the lack of knowledge of good and evil would obviate the possibility of ill will. Either he made an Eden where free will was impossible and thus made a couple who were not completely in His image, or he made an Eden where they didn’t know what was and wasn’t in-bounds behavior but could, out of innocence, still behave in ways that were transgressive. You could slap the fruit out of Eve’s hand and she would still be stuck with an impossible to understand feeling that some of what Adam did was not right. Enter the serpent. Eve had her reasons.

To recap: the serpent tells Eve that if she defies God and eats of the forbidden fruit she will gain the knowledge of good and evil. She ate and fed some to Adam as well. In all the sermons I’ve heard and retellings of this tale I can’t remember any time spent in the run-up to her choice. It’s narrated as a series of disconnected events, the serpent talking to Eve, then Eve eating, then Eve feeding some of the fruit to Adam, then feeling shame at their nudity, then clothing themselves, then hiding from and being found by God, then banishment and consequences. It is beyond reason to me that Eve was not talking to Adam through all this. On many Sundays, in the sermon, I’m told that Eden before the fall was a paradise where evil was impossible. A paradise for whom?

it's eve's fault box of rocks

A Box of Rocks

The bible is conspicuously silent on what Eve was going through in her early days. Or that Eve wasn’t processing the events of her life and trying to figure out (a) what it all means and (b) what she should do about it. It was all new to Adam as well. He had no frame of reference, save what God had been telling him, of how to live on God’s good side. Not knowing of Good and Evil, without the law, he had a hard time with Eve, who was not as rebellious as Lilith but was still crazy-making. There was no one he could commiserate with, no parents to talk to, no fellow newlywed men to joke about married life with. He had to bootstrap all of this himself. Eve, younger than him, didn’t know either and for all it mattered, was dumber than a box of rocks.

There is another discredited narrative lurking about in Jewish folklore–Lilith. She, it is told, was the first woman, created of the same soil as Adam, and banished from Eden because the fight between her and Adam got so severe she fled to the desert, spewing threats and curses the whole way. One more element. We don’t have a story that connects Lilith to Eve. Lilith exists in Mesopotamian folklore and predates Judaism. If folk tales of Lilith and Eve exist they have not survived.

Suppose these two women were alive at similar times, are we sure they never spoke? We can’t say because we don’t have anything to connect the two. But . . . this space is the realm of the bard. This is not a limitation here. This blog can say it, taking the privilege of the storyteller, and proceed from there. We’ll say Lilith was able to fill in the details of the dispute over a salad of smoked rattlesnake, sunflower seed, and kale dressed in lime, cilantro, and peanut oil vinaigrette served with a nice Riesling. Eve would hear that she wasn’t the first, and why Lilith lived in the desert, shunned.

If He Knew

This means that if she was to get along with Adam she could not merely defy him. She could not plant her flag on equal liberty with Adam and expect to gain his assent. There had been too many words between the angels, Adam and Lilith, too much done, to make that reasonable. Eve needed a new way to be with Adam. Could it be that if he knew what he’d done wrong, if he could be made to see the error of his ways, that there could be rapprochement in Eden and the strife of the past could remain in the past, leaving Eve safe?

Consider Eve’s position. She is newly made of Adam’s rib. She is physically a woman, fully capable of everything God expects of her. Adam has all these “should’s” and “spose-to’s” from his disastrous relationship to Lilith. He’s still seething at the mention of her. He feels entitled to being treated a certain way, full of rants about being respected and the proper place of a 妻. Though she is physically mature she is still young to this life and so much is hard to sort out. Knowing the right thing to do isn’t straightforward. She has no history to refer to, no older kin to speak with. Her only source of reference is God, who is at a turn loving and paternal in frustrating ways, and Adam, who isn’t helping.

Eve has no friends save for these two men, one her father, the other her husband. They are men. They try when she wants to talk. But . . . guys are not girls and though they mean well, it’s not the same talking to them. Lilith is banished so getting to speak with her is extremely difficult. Eve and Lilith had that lunch but since then God has had angels watching her so getting out hasn’t been possible. Adam and God have no clue what it’s like to be a woman in this paradise. Instead, there are legion expectations and pompous, chest puffed, chauvinist ideas about what an ideal woman should be. Into this comes the serpent, who is wise enough to know when to shut up and let Eve talk.

Hope for Change

God’s call to Eve was to be Adam’s helper. God keeps talking about children and that’s just disgusting. Adam has a lot to say about this, much of it conflicting with her conversations with God. God wants Adam to love him more dearly and wants Eve to help him with this. Adam seems to want sex (which, btw, could not have gone well at first, “You pee with that thing. You want to put it inside me and pee inside me? That is so not happening ever.” hot meals, a willing ear and someone to clean up after him.

No mention of loving God in that. No shortage of what God owes Adam, though. So, here she is, newly made, newly married, to this creature who is inconsiderate, stubborn, resentful, angry at his ex, loudly declaiming that God owes him, and demanding of her. The serpent says that if Adam knew the difference between right and wrong maybe he’d understand the error of his ways and stop being such a prick.

Keep things the same in the garden, tolerating Adam and his anger toward women, toward Lilith and by extension, Eve, trusting God to work it out, or . . . disrupt, defy, and in the defiance maybe get this lug head to come to his senses. Yes, the price was death but as in many of these broken relationships, physical death may be threatened but it is the spiritual death long ago initiated that has destroyed the souls of those involved and made physical death seem comforting. Plus, the serpent kept telling her that she would not physically die, not really. She would know from Lilith that the price was more probably divorce from Adam and banishment. So, it became a choice miseries.

Maybe Tomorrow is Better

Eve chose to eat of the apple and lived to suffer another day. Adam, it seems became a farmer and settled down enough to father Cain and Able. For Eve, good enough. She could live as a farmer’s wife and let the raucous early days of her life fade into fond family stories. For the rest of the story, you can read your Bible. It’s all there.

Eve’s sin is still the sin of hubris. Though, not the sort of pride I’ve heard in so many sermons on so many Sundays. No, the old lie the serpent tells us and that we still fall for that we are alone, that no one else understands our problem the way we do, and that we have to take care of it ourselves. It is a pride that comes from fear overtaking our trust in God and in turn letting Him open our eyes to the hidden love and solutions possible once we stop being so scared and proud. Eve was young, thought she had to figure it out for herself, and listened to the serpent as he talked her into feeling isolated and desperate. It doesn’t justify her sin. It’s maybe like Chris Rock said about OJ Simpson–it isn’t right but you can understand.

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