December 19, 2012



 

Vamos

A lizard darts across the wall…I pour a glass of Cabernet…turn on the fan…light a fag…thinking about those inconsiderate bastards…the old Gringo Trail Gang  is here again…all talking the same lingo more or less…when there was nothing here except the thousands of years of buried civilization under their drinking holes…my sin of envy variegated with scorn…they’re either freeloaders or so rich in the States that six months in Mexico is a only another season  in a cheaper whorehouse…swinging in hammocks and surfing the waves and having long serious conversations swilling beer and wine and smoking anything around large tables of horns of plenty with seeming intelligence and maturity that they never show in public…and don’t even invite me for a beer?…how to be real and not give a damn?…I knew something was up when one said that I should consider myself “part of the family”…my guard went up like a cruise missile as I said sure, man…family…I get it…a family whose language I can barely negotiate…right.

 Nobody can do it to you like your family…I’m living proof…my lousy Lee family wishes me dead…well I’m still here motherfuckers and I remember everything like it happened yesterday…for me in fact it just did…that is one advantage (and disadvantage) of being a good writer…you live in the past so you never forget…I can remember almost every moment of my life because I wrote most of it down…it kept me awake for decades writing it down…it still keeps me up...it’s past midnight and I was up before dawn and I am not even nearly tired yet, you fat lazy bastards zonked in front of your hypnotic televisions with your lazy dogs and predatory cats and no higher purpose than masturbatory unconsciousness.
  
It is past time to split this shit-smelling town though…finally they appear to be putting a bridge over the “River of Shit”[1] that flows across the street into the lovely lagoon past the long-rusted “treatment facility”—a four foot pump…where people actually swim…now instead of climbing a four-foot concrete embankment to get past it people can walk and drive comfortably over it without splashing someone…after a hard rain in the mountains the beach is streaked in black that can only be interpreted as merde.

Locals tell me they swim in it all the time…they never get sick probably because they are immune…I doubt that any has had the temerity or initiative to scoop some of that black sand for analysis by an independent chemist though. It does not take a microscope to know on sight that it is e-coli, a deadly little germ which we have in trillions, which is meant to stay in your intestines in order to manufacture shit and never pollute your bloodstream...it is why if you get shot or stabbed in the intestines you are more likely to die of blood-poisoning [“septicemia”] than loss of blood.

If you drank of that effluence you probably would die…I asked some guy about it, a North American who was here before the Aztecs…oh, he said, they made a reservoir to collect it all…I went to look…someone had piled a few boulders up at the water’s edge to stop the flow, which then naturally sank into the sandy beach and out into the lagoon anyway…it’s gravity folks…sort of a final filter of slimy green sand…the “reservoir”.

Ah, what do I care?…I’m going to the mountains where the sweet dream flowers sprout in the black wet soil of silent revelation or instant jubilation beneath unrepentant jungles of living pines, making funny faces among the perfectly symmetrical pine needles…inviting you to join the fun…merrily laughing at your reluctance…waving whole trees at only you; but not  “pines; pitying”[2]; not at all; pines in fact amused by your derisible disconnectedness.

Lucky I brought my cold weather gear even though I wanted the hot Pacific Coast…up there the clouds approach like vast gray ships from the Pacific beneath you and then rise to cloak you and your mountaintop in an all-night pouring rain of barrels of water cold as Lake Superior…you couldn’t land a light plane in that downpour even if there was a flat spot to land it on…there isn’t…if you can see 30 feet through it you must be young.
 
There are some great people here too…here on “la costa” where fishing and tourism is almost all there is…some of these Mexican men and women have hearts bigger than dolphins…compassion is as commonplace in Puerto Angel as indifference in Los Angeles…this one guy that I didn’t even like nearly broke my heart telling me happy birthday, though he didn’t know how old I was, because he saw that I had been here four months, and  alone on my birthday…He remembered that I had told him it was my 72nd birthday August 23rd, after he had asked…I didn’t tell him that I could not remember a birthday when I was not alone…He felt sorry for me for being “solo”…for a half-minute I did too…and then I remembered: I chose this. This aloneness. This solitude. This derisible separateness. This form that I refuse to abandon out of pure pride and stubbornness and fate…what else can I call my own?...certainly not my antidepressants that the VA for some mysterious reason has never sent in the four months that I tried to ask them to…I must have surrendered my veterans benefits when I crossed a border…if I seem angry it is because I am not depressed any more…everybody knows by now that depression masks anger and anger hides behind depression…okay…I can deal with it without your damned drugs…I don’t mind being angry…in fact I am starting to like it.
You see, the chemical purpose of “anti-depressants” is actually only to help you live with depression…which is a disease like alcoholism or cancer…to cope, and certainly not to cure you of it…only therapy can attempt that…my own mood disorder probably began when my cradle mate Roy Chauvin at five knocked me cold with a bop on my forehead from a toy baseball bat…the forebrain is supposedly the seat of emotions…after that I would fly into sudden rages when I thought people were not listening to what I was telling them…I had dreadful nightmares that woke the whole neighborhood…I cried easily and didn’t mind shouting…but I never hit anybody…except my older sister once, for which I had my ass thrashed…and, well, I did throw a pillow at my grandmother once; missing, and 20 years later I threw one at my mother too; connecting…okay that’s enough of my interior.

When I first got here August 3rd  I was in a cheaper hotel on the next block…it had a second floor balcony overlooking a steeply rising street past a small market and some food stalls…I got to know all the dogs from watching them late into the night from a place in the corner behind a shrub where people seldom noticed me…I sat there smoking for three weeks and going in now and then to longhand some more into my book…my fragile book…one night long before dawn an old man came down the middle of the street carrying a bucket on a boat paddle…he was old…there was a one-legged woman who swept out the rooms and even washed a whole parking lot of a small cheaper motel across the street every night…even if it rained…working class drunks stayed there overnight sometimes for early morning jobs…she supported herself expertly with one crutch while she swept and threw water from a pan and some nights she would walk up the hill with two crutches and a pre-teen boy who might have been her son…she often slept behind a curtain in the first room and never knew I could see her…this old man like nearly everybody passing caused some dogs to bark a little…but they all knew him and the barks were more like helloes…by the time he reached her area, she called out for him to wait, and he did…out she came with a big cold drink and a straw…he must have walked a long way to get into the bay earlier than the  bigger motorboats to catch some fish to carry all the way back uphill home to his family…maybe he had a small canoe…he drank some gratefully and muttered a few words and taking it with him departed…she didn’t know that anybody saw…was it her father?...an uncle?...an older brother?...an old friend?…or just another poor old man trying to do the right thing?...there is real love in the world and if you never see it I almost feel sorry for you.
Ah, put on some Miles Davis…”In A Silent Way”…wish I had my music…it’s all stuck back on a hard drive in Brooklyn I probably never will see again…who cares?…the only thing I really miss is my Dylan…I gave it all away again…did you get that Bob?…I gave away so much of your music you ought to be paying me royalties…just kidding…I don’t mind spreading good vibes and wisdom around…you’ve been giving them away for years…I love your last 50 albums…wish I had some of  my own to spread around but I’m a bitter old man depressed by pride envy and wrath…I want to be Che…but I’m too old and all the new Che’s I’ve pretended to meet are hopeless effeminate students and educated Europeans who would never live in an unforgiving jungle with weapons and bugs and everybody in the world looking for them…they couldn’t kill a fly…me, I can kill a billion flies.
But actually I’d rather be a Ho…now there was a curious revolutionary…they still don’t get what he did to them…but some of us do and are still cracking up because no one deserved it more…the most-intellectual revolutionary since Tom Jefferson…of course I pay obeisance and honor due to the poor unfortunate U.S. servicemen and women and their foreign allies who were duped into dying and killing all those poor people of Southeast Asia for the Corporation…some were my friends…all the marines are my buddies…Semper Fucking Fi.
[If you are confused by my anti-Americanism here, please read, “Our War: What We Did to Vietnam and What Vietnam Did to Us,” by David Harris…it says it all…I don’t have the patience or the time to quote it anymore.]
And before I proceed to harangue you more, I want to add this little bit:
“We are not…approaching Socialism at all, but a very different state of society…in which the Capitalist class shall be even more powerful and far more secure…a society in which the proletarian mass…shall change their status, lose their present legal freedom, and be subject to compulsory labor.” Hillare Belloc; 1913.
                                                                         
If you read the history of peace, and there are one or two, you will see that the headiest time in history for peace activists was the 20 years following the signing of the First Geneva Conventions in 1894 after a century of international struggle, outlawing some weapons and making up “rules for warfare.” They were so sure that peace was “at hand” before the millions perished in WW I…they were deliriously ecstatic about it, while the war factories were turning out cannons, tanks, bombs, battleships, submarines, bombers, machine guns, hand grenades, poison gas shells and chemical weapons and other profitable merchandise in anticipation of the coming feast of peace that obliterated so many people and towns and hundreds of priceless libraries.
It’s ironic how Fidel revised Marx by proving that personality can play an important role in revolution…Fidel kept the Cuban revolution alive through three generations with the sheer power and persuasiveness of his voice, personality, commitment and erudition…and how Ho proved that Lenin’s simple little formula is unbeatable for those who get it…that curious little man of so many names in a pure white suit who vanished for 30 years…reappearing in August 1945 with a Declaration of Independence and an ancient sage’s wispy beard and a child on each knee; that ultimately confounded them all…it still makes me laugh…he feels like my Uncle too…my own stupid uncle Sherman and Uncle Sam too don’t have a brainwave in their heads though…that’s what you get for working for Texas oil companies all your life…If anybody ever is credited with making the cruel  American Empire bend its knee for the first time it won’t be Fidel, but Ho Chi Minh…the greatest revolutionary of the 20th Century…Defender and Liberator of every Asian or Indian who ever lived and died below the white man’s lash…or the French guillotine…or the English noose…or the American electrodes…right up there with and surpassing Augusto Sandino…”the General of Free Men.”

Fidel sure did his bit all right…you should hear some of the shitty disinformation I hear about him in Mexico though…I see all these guys wearing Che shirts…Oh I am so impressed…what a revolutionary you must be…I bet you have a condo in the Bolivian jungle…the CIA must be making a fortune off those shirts…put on a Fidel shirt and then I will take you seriously and even take your picture just to record the incredulity of it…Che is dead…Fidel the revolutionary is still alive and powerful…He changed his country and his people and he defied more Presidents and CIAs than anybody ever…One poor rich capitalistic Mexican even told me that Fidel had ordered Che to be killed, and had called up the CIA to thank them for the job…that’s about the level here when it comes to politics…a story right out of the Counter-Intelligence Division of the Central Intelligence Agency…thank you Matt Damon for showing it like it is…(“The Good Shepherd”)…even better than the lie they tell about Danny Ortega “molesting” his own daughter…yeah, right…they even have her “testimony”…Hitler had syphilis too…tell it to the marines they are dumb enough…I ought to know because I was one.

In actuality when Fidel heard of Che’s death he locked himself in his office for hours and nearly wrecked it in a deadly cold raging fury.

“I like Fidel Castro and his beard…” (Dylan)





Show me some guts, people…get off your lazy coke-snorting asses and make them fix the sewage treatment plant…give the fish a break and attract more tourists…have pity on our noses…but what should I care?…freedom from desire that’s the ticket…neither praise nor blame…neither merit nor demerit…neither perfume nor shit…attachment that’s  the trap…but you men out there…most of you make me sick anyway…I got eight pairs of sunglasses so you can’t see my eyes…you want to smoke grass and hash and surf and play futbol and drink beer and lay around in a hammock all day, while your woman works her ass to the bone washing yours and the kids clothes and cleaning the rooms and cooking your meals while you play the Local Lord…stoned beyond caring without a callous on your hands…nor a screwdriver or a hammer to your name and some old toolbox rusting in the rain under 10 years of sand and mango leaves while the roofs leak and scorpions spiders and mosquitoes swarm through un-caulked windows and doors and dangerously exposed electrical wiring threatens the undoing of some uninstructed toddler or an unsuspecting old man with a bad heart someday, and you lying there on your increasingly-fat ass listening to stupid songs from stupid people who can’t even play the drums and would be dumbstruck by an intelligent lyric that didn’t begin with “Yo”...your brain is in your dick and just as small, from what I hear.

You poor ignorant macho closet cases hanging out with male drunk braggadocios  and screwing every puta around with such a good woman at home…that’s your business…but you ought to be ashamed…you’ll pay for it when you bring her home herpes or HIV and your kid becomes a paranoid-schizophrenic from snorting coke in school just like you…your only principle is self-interest and your sin is pride…I ought to know…you are boys!...muchachos!...boys play…men work…thank God that I had to work like the other niggers…you disgust me…I feel sorry for her…I feel nothing for you.

Or for myself either. ..I disgust myself too for letting them make me a slave with a big mouth and so much to say that I cannot write it down fast enough…but what good will it do and what good have I done?...who am I but a lonely old man with grandiose ideas and a 10th grade writing level?

I  want to buy a motorcycle that will make it to Patagonia.

My only regret of departure is that there is this one really fancy French gal here that I probably will never see again…she is a tightrope walker…a tall blonde with delicate braids who owns a fabulous restaurant in Zipolite right on the beach…she teaches little kids to walk the tightrope--they are amazing!-- and goes with a lifesaving board into the dangerous undertow to watch out for an old man like me who dares it to drown him…it almost did!---most beautiful woman I’ve seen since 2008…Absolutely heavenly...Beatrice is no competition.

Oh Good God why did you ever do this to me?... an eye for beauty but an angry critical mind…Did I want too much?...or too little?...or too late?...if I ever have another life please don’t do this again…no, no more, enough of humanity…I want to be a redwood tree next time or a killer whale... Ha, ha!...give me a view or give me some power…or extinguish my imperishable soul…”Lawd, I is so tard a dis”[3].

It’s hilarious! All I ever wanted was a long hug and a good massage, and sitting around a fireside reading stories aloud with my wife and kid…anybody who thinks God isn’t a great joker doesn’t know much...but don’t ever worry about me because isolation is my ocean and faith can still move a mountain…”I still am not afraid of God.”[4]

¡Vamos a las montañas!

(Date stamps on all photos are wrong; all photos shot only since August.)



[1] Ed Sanders, The Fugs
[2] Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano
[3] Amiri Baraka
[4] Allen Ginsberg


[Because Blogger has changed its formatting in the four months since it denied me entrance into my own blog, I am unable to post photos at this time; sorry for the wordiness without a break to see the lovely scenes of Mexico]

Mexico Redux
The Typewriter and the Essence of Beauty

I spied my old portable Remington typewriter, circa 1940s, in the display window of Barnes & Noble bookstore on the corner of Eighth Street and Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village of New York City, earlier this year, in the summer of 2012. I know it was the same one, because it had a nick on the frame that I recalled from 1964, when I bought it from a Las Vegas pawnshop for what I considered an overcharge of $45.
I needed it to accompany me to Mexico City, where I intended to write.  To write what, I didn´t know, for, at 23, I had been writing with a ninth grade education in spiral notebooks for two years. It was my first typewriter.
I tried to recall when the Remington and I had parted company, but could not decide. Perhaps it was 1968, when professional burglars ripped off everything in my apartment on East 11th Street. Or maybe it disappeared earlier that year, when I was in California giving destitute hippies my winter coats, not realizing how cold it could be on Los Angeles beaches; and not predicting how soon I would be back in New York. Or maybe I had forgotten it in Hackensack, when I had left a good newspaper job to drive to California for rebellion and marijuana, and a disappointing involvement with the lovely but quarrelsome antiwar movement, and futile future Yippie-dom.
Seeing it made me nostalgic for a belief I had then in a dream of myself as a successful writer, actually making a living doing this, and ending a long, healthy life in comfort, overlooking the Pacific Ocean at sunset from my own stone cottage near Big Sur; still writing unto my last breath; read, acclaimed,  honored, renowned, loved, feted and well-paid for talent, with the proof of classical leather bound books on library shelves in 100 countries; and the Nobel Prize for Literature of course.
Naturally, the opposite has been my ration. I am the Great Unknown, a legend in my own mind. In fifty years I never have sent anything for publication, for I detest rejection and most of my writing, and now believe that I have only a trifling portion of talent.
I wanted the handsome old black portable with gold lettering back anyhow, and fought an urge to grab it and run. Then I remembered my ruined left knee and was thankful for it, because I never get away with anything wrong; I am living proof of “instant karma”. But I´m sure that it was mine, and thinking about it now, I believe that the burglars stole it. I wasn´t using it much then, and was more distressed over the loss of a hundred 33 1\3 long-playing records, and one of several good stereos which I have bought that somehow vanished. Barnes & Noble, regardless of how the colossal book capitalist had come by it, was displaying stolen property. But I couldn´t prove it of course, and possession is nine-tenths of property law.
I continued learning to write with it in Mexico City when the municipality was smaller and finer than now. There were fewer than a million residents, and numerous Europeans attended the renowned University of Mexico.  Sometimes I think it seems sad, that the computer generation does not know the use of typewriters with carbon paper copies. There was something solid and satisfying about the clacking of keys and the sliding slam of the carriage, now replaced by the silent Return button; and if keys stuck they usually could be fixed with a screwdriver or a pair of needle-nosed pliers, without paying a technician $80 an hour.
City buses then only slowed without stopping for most dismounting passengers. Mexico City was reputed to be disagreeable to infirm old people, due to the altitude and thinner air, and maybe the dangerous buses. I frankly never believed it or counted the old people, but jumped from decelerating buses like everyone else. Today, with a population of 25 or 30 million that no one has really counted, beneath contaminated atmospheres and heavens hidden by obscene pollution and the vexing luminosities of civilization, buses are trapped in traffic.
The world has changed so much. Walt Whitman might be discouraged, but Karl Marx would be encouraged to know that his ridiculed prediction of a world-around, self-conscious proletariat is being realized by the actuality of capitalist trade treaties, legislated by the power of indifferent money, and its exportation to poor places by contractual outsourcing, unintentionally-empowering needy millions with benefits of jobs, capital, the internet and cellphones;  the creation of new middle classes, and the hitherto impossible dream of political rights and individual freedom. Latin America for example is turning left at an amazing speed, a direction long foiled by conservative oligarchies, and taking care not to overturn on the dangerous curve.
The Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions were internet revolutions. Someone posted the right post at the right time, and millions of irate people coagulated central squares, panicking potentates into toppling two tyrants from their thrones.
The remarkable and seldom-noted aspect was how the military in both revolutions skilled, imprisoned and tortured only a relative few, considering the numbers, because soldiers and officers sympathized. They could have done much worse.
 Besides an elite core of dedicated, intelligent and humanistic leaders with a workable long-term strategy, and young, healthy cadres with creatively sane tactics, a revolution simultaneously must dilute resistance of the military, by proving to soldiers their commonality with the people and their objections. Forget about unarmed martyr-hungry people facing down tanks and helicopter gunships with insults and rocks. It doesn´t work. Palestinians have proved it. Most of the world observes their provocative sacrifices with false sympathy, cool indifference and total impotence.
I´m no armchair revolutionary, but an armchair reformer. I implore you from my abode of anonymous invisibility and inadequate skill to reform the systems, dumping only the all-bad and keeping the half-good, and to beware of utopian fantasies and dreams of adventurous heroism. Revolution after all is civil war. The warrior class, like the poor, will always be with us, because part of human nature is warlike. But nearly anyone can be improved, and defensive weapons can be aimed skyward to repel unwelcome Aliens or smash massive meteors.
I doubt that my imploration will be delivered, however, or heeded if it is.
Some of the people I know believe that things would be better for everybody if there were not so many people.  They say that most of our institutions work but are overloaded. Others believe that the science of eugenics got a bad rap. They point to the national football leagues, dominated by Africans, who as slaves were bred like animals for their strength; big men and women forced to bed to breed stronger animals, who one day declared that they were, indeed, people, who could play football as well as music; and could even pilot jet bombers to drop bombs and rockets on other people of color, to establish for white people their own, American identity.
The “black Irish savages” of my ancestry—Caucasians all-- had to do the same to assimilate into a racist society, though they derived from one of the most oppressed tribes.
I hear all kinds of things. I don´t know where I stand on all of it and don´t know why it would matter. I´ve had opinions about many things and most were wrong. But it does seem that people could be bred healthier, wiser and nicer. Culling the weak from the strong, strengthening natural abilities and passing them on, how can this be a bad thing? It works with other mammals, and even with reptiles and fish. But there must be consent and even consensus, and it must be a slow and long-term strategy with a definite, sustainable population level in mind. Because all this wild, impulsive, anarchic breeding, sexual license, and orgiastic, hedonistic sexual coupling breeds only unwanted children, unhappy marriages, mental illness, disease, selfishness, unproductivity,  and immorality, and a too-late awareness of the sensual squandering of life.
But how could you dictate to each country how many people to breed? And what about immigration? Parts of Russia are so unpopulated that a sensible country could support millions more, and other areas of the undeveloped world are the same. Yet people are so crammed together in large cities, that they literally are ungovernable without a strong military presence, and a reservoir of poor workers. Certainly China would like to have fewer people, and that sensible nation is downsizing its population, inviting opprobrium from the satiated West and the anti-dog-eaters.
There then are the demands of capital and capitalism, which like a savage old man refuses to die or change his diet, despite the diagnoses of every doctor that he is rotten inside and bound for the bone yard. Bristling with spotless new weapons, he whips the world to feed Death with anybody´s body but his. Afraid to change or die, he lacks the courage to live and simply be nice. From his luxurious deathbed he issues warrants for war like an oligarch ordering oysters: Fry me five dozen more! The world is his oyster, but it is poisoned by his mercury factory. He is eating himself to death and good riddance, say the doctors; he´s outlived his time; a selfish, abusive, penny-pinching old man, who hates his family and rarely pays his bill.
I arrived in Zipolite August 3, after a four-day ride with six torturous bus changes and one expensive taxi,  a hassle with a racist ticket agent in Dallas, an in-your-face confrontation with minions of Homeland Security in Oaxaca, and a blister between the muscles of my butt, from the sadistic seat cushions now manufactured for buses. Imagine being jogged for two thousand miles with a hard foam lump exactly in the middle of the seat, running parallel between your legs like the spine of a donkey. Someone, who probably never rode a second-class bus in his life, earned money for that cruel design.
Some people fly. Those who can afford the gas and frequent tolls drive. But I arrived with about $200 and a near-empty bank account, so for several weeks I relied on the credit and generosity of Mexicans, who did not know me from Adam or Eve.  I didn´t know them, either; but after 10 dips into Mexico in nearly 50 years, I knew about the generosity and goodwill of Mexicans.
It burns me up, how some North Americans treat Mexicans in the U.S. I actually heard a white racist store clerk in Louisiana shout, “Speak English!” to a poor Mexican man, who probably was better educated and more intelligent, but poorer than her, and certainly was more courteous, yet minus the advantage English fluency. Never have I heard a Mexican shout, “Speak Spanish!” at a pathetically fat, rich, North American, too lazy, too superior or too stupid to learn 10 words of Spanish. Unheard of. Mexicans as a general rule stand tall among the most-courteous and tolerant people of Earth. The war up North? CIA, DEA and FBI drug profiteers in league with a worldwide Mafia are behind it, and many here thinks so, because “Fast and Furious” proved it; in fact was only the tip of the famous iceberg.
It would have done no good for me to inform her that 30,000 Mexicans at near-slave wages had  re-built most of New Orleans and South Louisiana, after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had wrecked the place, while the skinflint Federal and Louisiana governments had their heads buried  where the sun doesn´t shine but corruption stinks.
I arrived in Oaxaca with a full Marine Corps sea bag and a smaller carry-on suitcase, lugging only clothes, a few prosthetic devices for my back and knee, and as many books as I could manage. Everything else, tools, books, CDs, clothes, and this-and-that which I had collected in three years in Brooklyn, I gave to my wonderful landlord, Gary Davidson, the finest and noblest of men of New York in general, and Brooklyn in particular.
I had suddenly realized that if I died in New York City, there would be no one to bury me, and my moldering corpse would be buried by the City; laid to rest as a pauper (like Mozart), and stacked eight coffins deep with 3 million other anonymous skeletons of “Potter´s Field”, on Little Brother Island, to be unloaded from a barge, and laid to rot in an unmarked grave, by Riker´s Island prisoners, with cold cynical efficiency; and that no one, if one ever desired it, would be able to lay flowers on my grave. Good God, I thought, what a fate; worse than poor old Stephen Foster´s. Live alone, die alone, and disappear from history without an achievement. At least we know where the body of that sad, alcoholic, heartbreaking songwriter can be found.
But that was not why I came to Mexico, only to buy a cheap funeral and die.
For the first time in 50 years of compulsive writing, I saw a novel from beginning to end. The plot dawned on me like sunrise in a desert. The story was so good that it wrote itself in my head on the buses, where I lived on caffeine, snacks and an occasional cigarette, writing nothing. I came to Mexico to write it, mainly because I was sick of the deafening cacophony of New York City. I have literally lost almost 50% of my hearing in the past three years, due mostly to the hellish noise of that place.
 I mean that stupid intrusion of horns, trains, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, jets, motorcycles, clattering Elevated subways, helicopters,  boom boxes, car loudspeakers disturbing the peace by thumping low frequency  booms on your body for blocks, making you feel that your internal organs are grinding together, and the incredible BLAST of a fire truck, whose horns can deafen a mule, and the incessant yapping of people;  yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda, from dawn to dawn, all day and all night every day of the week without surcease; and of course the 24/7 sirens of the cops who will shoot you for a frown, and the ambulance capitalists, competing to haul the sick, wounded or dead.  If Americans could have one whole day of not talking their intelligence would ascend like a rocket to a cleaner atmosphere where there actually is intellect.
 I came to the right place. It is “tranquillo,” “sereno,” sane and affordable. Southern Mexico reminds me of the South of the late 1940s. It is so sensible. People are frugal and kind. Speed bumps on most roads replace traffic cops. Taxis are cheap and reliable, and since most Mexicans are socialized and family-oriented, they need no cats for companionship, so there are fewer cats and more birds. Great birds. There are big blackbirds that can peck out a cat´s eyes. The streets are clean and safe. Sane, self-sustaining but non-biting dogs laze on and guard every street and seem mostly to fend for themselves on scraps, but there is dog food in markets for people who feed their own. People throw rocks at them. Some of skinny and dying, while others prosper. But feeding good food to stray dogs in the second-poorest state of Mexico seems to me  an insult to people; only tourists seem to do it, at the risk of being followed by one for as long as they remain.
Though I´ve been here many times, I have never become fluent, so this time I hired a competent tutor to take me from the First Grade up in Spanish grammar. Meanwhile, the language barrier increases the isolation and peace that I sought. My computer died an honorable death last May, so I filled eight composition notebooks with longhand in three months, impossible to edit, until I finally could afford this laptop, which I purchased from a student at the ecological university nearby. Now I am laboriously transcribing that scribbling, re-writing all the way.  And it is going pretty well, but slowly, because I dare not re-read what I have re-written thrice, or I will re-write it again. I ruined a perfect first draft like that once in San Francisco, and never recovered it. It has waited in my Document files since then for me to remember how I had originally written it.
I keep coming across leftists from various Latin American and European countries. Students, mostly, on vacation in this happier land of easy mota, and the occasional oongos or hashish from Afghanistan, and “Mexico´s only nude beach,” here in Zipolite. Many are really into ecology, and are drawn to the ecological preserves, of which there are many; but many also are Che Guevera Marxists; “revolution” is such a great adventure you know. But eco-tourism is the bigger thing now.
 Last night during a conversation with some ecology-minded Argentines, I remembered the words of Winston Churchill, who said, “A young man who isn´t a liberal has no heart, and an old man who isn´t a conservative has no brain.”
 I swore off “revolution” when I learned in Nicaragua that the word actually should mean, “civil war”; that is, with guns, bullets, artillery, helicopter gunships and all the neat new weapons; at that time I became a dedicated reformer. “Reform, Reform, Reform” is my slogan. A step at a time, and expect no perfection. I don´t want to shoot at anybody or be shot at. So I tell these guys that much and they humor an old man. Please, I say, don´t overthrow the United States Government; my Social Security is at stake.  Reform it, and don´t throw the baby out with the bathwater, leaving me breadless in Mexico.
But there is no getting around it. Latin America, after being restrained for decades from progressive reforms by various and nefarious CIA espionage and torture programs, has turned Left anyway. There are a few laggards like Colombia, Paraguay, Guatemala and Honduras, but dig this: Diego Riviera and Frieda Kahlo, two famous communists and bosom friends of Leon Trotsky, are back-to-back on Mexico´s 500-peso note.  Take that, cowardly capitalists at the US Treasury and Wall Street. Mexicans are not afraid of communists.  If as artists they loved Mexico, we put them on fifty-dollar bills. The United States is held in courteous disrespect but only rarely in open contempt down here; and no selfish, materialistic, racist, militaristic, greedy country ever deserved it as much; except perhaps Rome, Britain and Russia, other heartless Empires that bit the dust.
Anyway, I have been to Mexico enough to feel comfortable here. My first real visit, other than cross-border incursions with Marines into the fleshpots of Tijuana and Ensenada, was Mexico City, where I lived for two months trying to write like Hemingway in outdoor cafes. Alas, I had all the time in the world and nothing to say, and nobody can write like Hemingway. Now I have a lot to say and scant time to say it and don´t want to write like Hemingway.
I´ve been a political prisoner since Eisenhower´s first election in 1952; and predicted a year ago that President Obama would tromp Romney. But when he did I would not even have been aware of it, had I not finally relented and looked at a Yahoo headline, while checking my mail account. North Americans who live here, partly for affordability, and largely because Mexico is so beautiful, and also because they are disgusted by their own country, generally avoid one another. Can you see it?
Nobody wants to be seen with these ignorant rednecks and impatient dullards that have too much money, kiss their asses here but fear Mexicans In the United States, and support tougher immigration laws.
My line is, please, don´t tell me anything about what is going on back there. Talk about botany, or astronomy, or the weather, but please, don´t draw me into a conversation about the United States, or the difficulties of the poor little rich nation, or its mostly indolent, cowardly and badly educated people, or their economic and political plight, or their schoolhouse massacres and relentless executions, or especially about the present or the coming war with one of several prospective victims, or anything at all about the superior acting, self-pitying, destructive, alcoholic, drug-infested, class-conscious and hell bent government.
When I tell it to them like that, they lapse into tight-lipped silence, and I am no longer bothered by them.
I´m mightily tempted to give you an excerpt of the book. But it is so good I´m afraid someone will steal it. Believe it or not, the Godzilla movie was my idea—I had Ganzilla—Godzilla´s mate—by way of several accidents of nature, arriving knocked out and chained for a San Francisco circus at Seattle in an 1870s whaling ship, blown off course, and being buried when an earthquake and tsunami sinks the ship drowning all hands, and smashes the warehouse on the dock, where the whalers had chained her, only to be built-over, and  for her to emerge from the long burial on worldwide television through center field of the Kingdome, more than a hundred years later, after the last pitch of the last inning of the seventh game of a playoff between the Mariners and Yankees, when Ken Griffey slams a game winning home run and the crowd goes wild; but I talked about it too much in a certain bar where writers hung out. My story was better and deeper than the garbage they finally produced. It had ecological, ethical, feminist and militarist perspectives, and a hilarious Japanese narrative of the event.
Here in southern Mexico, where I have returned for the third time in order to write, there are many poor people who count every peso; but even those who are not poor are sensibly frugal. Life on these coasts and in mountains towering above clouds has thrived for thousands of years with inestimable permutations. Whole organized civilizations more complex and beautiful than Europe or China have come and gone. Evidence is everywhere, in an old wall, for instance, barely discernible beneath layers of vegetation on a mountainside, built centuries before modern Mexico laboriously chiseled the road from Oaxaca to the Pacific Coast, only decades past.
It is a good place to write, as good as many and better than most, if you don´t mind bugs and barking dogs and pre-dawn cockcrows.
Some people like John Updike and Woody Allen love to write. Updike reportedly went to an office five days a week for a normal eight-hour workday at a keyboard; Allen is said to love to shut himself up in a writing-room all day, where he delightfully fashions scripts and conceives his hilarious gags in a tragi-comic world of his own.
But the main reason I write is to dismiss loneliness and substitute for my first unrealized dream of being a musician. I am compelled not by a need to “create” anything, but by an obligation not to dive from a cliff to taste the tempting rocks of oblivion. It somehow seems cowardly, and my dear, feisty, Irish grandmother would disapprove.
I must express my gratitude to the United States Marine Corps for teaching me that I could endure more than I thought. After having finished upright my first 25-mile forced march with a 40-pound pack and a 10 1/2-pound rifle, I have always been aware of it. It is splendid, knowing that you can do more than you thought possible.
Conversely, I want to express my contempt for the romantic idiots who tried to persuade me that “anyone can be President.” It is an outright con, repudiated by history.
I don´t know if life is hard for everyone. Some people seem happy. But everyone has some sort of trouble.
I love it here in Mexico, for despite hardships; most Mexicans humbly respect God and love their families, and fearlessly mock death.
Everybody knows that many impatient and discourteous North Americans need to learn a lesson. So they teach it constantly, by simple courtesy, patience and mercy. Welcome to Mexico!
Muchas gracias! Glad to be here. It is the closest to contentment I ever have come.
What have I learned this time in Mexico? That life is not what I lived, but how I remember it in order to recount it. There is no past because it is ever-present in memory. We are a certain arrangement of organic and un-disconnect able atoms, precious, permeated and surrounded by Soul, swirling in an undulating atomic and geodesic, tetrahedral and nucleonic, boundless and electronic dance of intricate design and grace; an infinite net of indescribable complexity; indissoluble, unbreakable and beautiful, interconnected like pixels on a screen to every other thing in Universe.
Everything is simply there, simply here, already created perfect, and artists create nothing. It is already created, and an artist can only move matter or concepts about, rearranging, combining, selecting, rejecting, adorning or defacing with erasable graffiti a perfectly incorruptible design of plain existence and pure, unalloyed beauty; exhibiting finally only imitations of the imperishable Idea of Beauty.
The duty of artists is to expose beauty for the edification of poor souls who cannot see it. For if all could but see it, there would be no ugliness. There is no place or moment more beautiful than here and now. Observe and memorize. Keep seeking, and sooner or later, you will find it: the essence of beauty; intended to be found by every conscious, seeking soul.
 Now, if I could only retrieve my perfectly beautiful Remington portable typewriter…




































Micah True: A True Story



I met Micah True on the beach at Padre Island in 1979. It was winter but not too cold that far south, and he and me and two others, Angelica Richter and Bill Cody, camped on Mustang Island for a couple of months. Micah and Cody were traveling together in Micah's old blue pick-up with a canvas over the bed, and Cody had taken a chef's job in the motel-restaurant that still is there, but "upgraded" now. I'd met Angelica a week before, and she and I were in the restaurant having a bottomless cup of coffee, when we saw them dining, and somehow all got to talking, and later we ended up in their free motel room to smoke a jay and have a beer.

Micah was running 35 miles a day then with Truedog, a good-natured palamino-toned mutt that, like Micah, never seemed to tire, and always was calm and unmoved, always ready to eat and always ready to take off running down the beach in front of this guy, who was blessed with the most beautiful smile in the galaxy. Micah was a middleweight boxer then, and probably the only longhair in the ring. He could outlast opponents because his wind was superb and because his legs were strong. Most boxers, he told me, run only five miles a day. Whenever he had a match, Cody would sit in the audience and make wolf howls to signal his appearance, and periodically during the fight, he would let one loose. I think Micah billed himself as the Lone Wolf or something, was why.

Micah had according to one account a record of eight wins and nine losses. So he wasn't the greatest fighter in Colorado but he was quick and hard to hit, a dancer, but he could also take a punch and send it back. He had a fast and powerful left hook. I thought it was a tough part of San Jose where he grew up, but a
high school girl friend straightened me out on that by saying that Micah, known to her as Mike, had grown up in a nice part of town, in no way shabby or poor. She said he had the only car of their bunch, and remembered many nice days with him at the beach. He didn't talk much about his beginnings, just that he had a mother in California. She died at 82, only shortly before Micah True was found dead in New Mexico Saturday. He told me in a Facebook message that he was on his way to her memorial service. But he apparently died four days before it took place.

We had a great time on that beach. Mustang Island, a state park, charged $5 a year and a dollar a night to camp. Micah and Cody moved out of the motel and onto the beach for the company and fresh air. There was a big picnic table chained to a concrete pad with good benches and shaded by an overhead wood latticework, and porta-potties nearby. Above the dunes were two large brickhouse bathrooms that must have had 100-gallon water heaters, because on chilly days we could stand under a powerful stream of hot water to warm up, and never run out of it.

I was in a 1962 Chevy C-10 panel truck with a red primer paint job and a missing front fender, but with good tires and an engine that I had totally rebuilt, which I usually slept in; but for this occasion I pitched my tent on the beach and used the van to work as a carpenter, or whatever. Cody pitched another tent, and did his gig at the restaurant every day. Micah sometimes worked with me and slept in his truck. Angelica slept wherever she wanted.

Angelica, who was touring America in a rented station wagon, with a bed in it, had no money worries and didn't need to work, thanks to the generosity of the German government. Her parents had been killed in a plane crash in Istanbul, and the German government therefore was obligated to pay for her and her orphaned brother's education for as long as they wanted to attend school. Her brother was teaching in an Arkansas college, and she had all the time in the world to visit him or any place in the country. She wanted to see it all, and she liked us all. She was always learning English and trying to teach us to speak German, which was a lark. Angelica was as free as a bird, as serious as a student, as pretty as any European model, and a breath of fresh air in uptight Texas. She was well-educated at 23, and curious about everything. She did what she wanted, but always was home for dinner. We had a lot of laughs together, we happy and careless four.

I know. It astonished me even back then, to learn how generous Germany was, compared with our own stingy government.



It was all pretty laid-back. Sometimes I'd get up early and fish the surf. One morning I snagged an 11.5 lb. whiting, and gave it to Cody, who weighed and cooked it and brought it back wrapped in tin foil. We ate that incredible fish through half the night with a case of beer, a few joints, and with a fire blazing of course. It was the best of times. I can still taste that fish. Truedog got his share too. I just learned a few weeks ago and more than 30 years too late that I had caught the Texas record for whiting.



The wind blew hard on the beach, and sand could get in your food. So I tacked two pieces of plywood onto the wooden posts that supported the lattice sun shade, and as the wind changed direction, someone would get up with the hammer and move a piece of plywood to block it again. It increased our privacy, and the picnic bench became like an outdoor living room.

Everybody was smoking boo back then, even in Texas, but you had to be careful, because the law is nothing to openly flaunt in Texas, where deputies take it personally. The way it worked was this: I would come back bearing wasted fresh-cut lumber lengths for the fire from the job; Cody would bring surplus food from the restaurant; Angelica usually showed up with french bread and a bottle of wine, and Micah reliably produced the weed and the best of vibes.

Once some mouldy bales of marijuana washed up on the beach, and Micah found one on his daily run, which began about nine and ended about 4 p.m. It was stinking to smoke but it did the job, and soon the stuff was all over town. Micah would run so far that he was in the part of Padre Island where only four-wheel-drive vehicles could go. It is wilder and more desolate of people, and that is what he liked. I used to wonder what he thought about while running so far, because running on a beach is different than on the rugged trail in Gila National Park, where he died. Sounds made all the difference to me when I ran.



The best place to run is near the water, where the beach is hard but wet. As you run, the sound of the surf and the birds cancels out all other sounds except your own breath and the tread of your feet. Micah got me running again, which I had not done since the Marine Corps. I got up to 10 miles a day, after he told me how to get my second wind, by just hanging in there.

"I was running up a mountain on the island of Hawaii," he said, "And I had to stop because it was so hard. There was another runner, and I told him I was done. He said, "no heart." That taught me where the power is, and I became a more serious runner."

Once, Angelica had asked me, "Do you admire him?" I had to think about it, because I wasn't accustomed to that word in relation to a man; and had to answer yes. I admired him very much. There was something about Micah that you couldn't miss or help to appreciate for its uniqueness. His calm and intelligent personality shined through his eyes. He laughed easily, and was pretty well-read. And he was a writer; a better writer than me, which frankly made me a little jealous. How come the guy with the best looks is such a natural writer too? Every word was painful for me, every paragraph a chore then; I was all involved in trying to learn the rules (that I disregard now), and Micah seemed to just sit and write, and it came out exactly like he spoke. No re-writing. One night he read us a story about a fight he'd "lost" to a hometown boy, and what his Mexican trainer had told him after the fight.

"You beat the shit out of him, amigo, but they gave it to him because he's a local hombre. You don't have to worry. Look at him. You kicked his ass, compadre. He knows it." Micah's way of conveying the Mexican's dialogue was so unique that I can't reproduce the exact quality here, or fully make you appreciate how it set us all to laughing; and the story just got better. I can't remember the end of it though.

He was something else, Micah; like a lean Greek god in beachcomber garb with his skin all browned and his hair all gold and russet-colored and flying in the wind, smiling, interested, interesting, confident and helpful in every way; but distant, apart, self-contained but not selfish; and tough-enough; but no bully. No bully at all. Micah was a good boxer, but he was too strong to have to prove his worth anywhere outside the ring. He was a gentle man. He turned up his nose at street violence and macho posturing, and remained peaceable--even when he was so drunk we had to load him like a sack of potatoes in the back of my truck in Port Aransas. He never lost his cool, not that I ever saw or heard. I can't even imagine it.

One day everything fell apart for me. Despite appearances of conviviality, I was down deep an emotional wreck for old reasons. I had a present resentment too, not against Micah, and couldn't live with it. As usual, I decided to take off. I found them in the restaurant and told them that I was leaving and why. I shook hands all around and said goodbye with smiles and regret and went out the door and drove away. I hated to do it, hated to bust us up, we were talking about going to Mexico together in mine and Micah's vehicles, but I didn't want to stay and make it worse.

Next day in Corpus my van broke down. It took me a week to fix it, which consumed all my money. So I moved it under that high bridge to the mainland, camped out there, and looked for another job. I found one on a shrimp boat that paid just enough to get me back on down the road. A month had passed. Just before I headed back to Galveston, I went back to the restaurant for the first time, and the waitress told me that Micah had come back looking for me, only a week before. He, Cody and Angelica had split up in Dallas at Cody's brother's place, and Angelica had stayed with Cody who was going back to California.

Bill Cody was a tall, friendly, talkative, sandy-haired, mild-mannered guy, who loved to get high and read, and loved to cook, and Micah's longtime friend, though he did not run or box. He said he was actually a great-grandson of the Bill who hunted buffalo. He, and all of us, were pretty constant readers. We didn't spend every moment together, and sometimes in restaurants or bars one or more of us might pull out a book and withdraw.

I wrote to Cody a couple of years later when I was living in Greenwich Village, asking him to send me some seeds. He sent them, but they were crushed in the seed-crusher at the Post Office. His letter also said that he had gone on to California with Angelica, where he had been busted in San Jose for possession of pot. He told me that Micah had gone back to Padre Island. I remember that the letter said, "I was in jail for a week, and was really surprised that that chick waited around the whole time for me to get out."

I was sorry to lose track of Micah and never stopped looking for him. I knew about a place up near Big Sur where he and Cody had been before driving to Texas. They had worked in a restaurant. I had the address of the restaurant and of a couple of friends of his, including his Mexican trainer in San Diego, people that I was supposed to look up if I was ever in their area, and over the years, I wrote to them all, asking about Micah, but got no replies. Like me, they had probably moved on.


Like Dylan sang, "Everybody's got to move, somewhere."


Once in the 90s, I don't remember when or why, I was in the Big Sur region, and found the road by the ocean where the restaurant had been. While walking my dog, I ran into a man on the road who told me, yes, he was the guy who had owned the restaurant, named "John's," where Cody and Micah had worked part time, and he remembered them, but not the same way I did.

"You know that guy was crazy," he said. "He was running once with his eyes closed, and smashed into a plate glass window and broke his tooth!" I just laughed, because Micah had already told me the story of his broken front tooth. He'd said he had been feeling so good, that he just had to close his eyes and see what that felt like...

The broken tooth, a perfect imperfection, became part of the trademark of his fine smile, that we'll only see in pictures now.


Once, Micah told me, he had flown to Mexico, and at the Guadalahara airport, with Micah looking like a hippie, a man had approached and offered to sell him some grass. Micah had declined at first, but then the man said, "Purple bud, amigo." So Micah had cheerfully followed him into a field, where the man and two others in high weeds had jumped him. He was pinned on his knees and a man behind him had him in a choke hold, and they were hitting him in the head, but he had one hand free, and he could see the big balls of one of them, so he grabbed them and squeezed until the guy was screaming and out of the play. With his right hand squeezing balls, he got his left fist free and kept punching back until they saw he wasn't going to quit, so they gave up and left; but with his wallet.

"Man! You whipped three guys?" I exclaimed.

"Yeah, but they beat the shit out of me and took my money," Micah said. "My face was all beat up and I was broke. And I didn't get the weed."

It was about 2004 or five; I don't know. I was going through a cancer thing up in Maine, and after it all was over and done with, a friend had lent me his cabin in Windsor, NY, to recuperate. The cabin had an internet connection. One night I was on the net and decided to look for Micah. Within a minute there he was, mentioned in a news article in Denver, where he was rounding up a truckload of winter clothes to donate to the Rarímuri Indians ("Tarahumari") that he loved so well.

I called the reporter who had written the story, and she gave me a lead, which found me his e-mail address. I wrote and asked if he was the same guy I remembered from Padre Island. He wrote back simply, "Yup. That was me." He gave me his website and the next thing I knew I was looking at a picture of the face I remembered so well, and, to tell you the truth, I just sat there and wept for the longest time, because I was so happy to see him again. More than being a great guy, he represented one of the happiest times of my life.

We started writing and he told me that Cody had disappeared. He said that a few years later a detective that Cody's mother had hired had tracked him down to inquire, because Cody hadn't called or been home in a long time; but all Micah could tell him was about the last time that he had seen Cody somewhere.

I learned then that he'd moved to Mexico and about the Indians. He had followed them down there after five of them had beaten mostly the whole field of runners in the Colorado 100-mile marathon, wearing heavy huarachas and laughing across the finish line. They are some of the fastest runners in the world. He gave me his address and told me to look him up if I was ever around. He said that after we all had split up he had boxed more, and won eight straight fights in Denver.

"So they overmatched me with a black guy in California, and he beat the hell out of me. For the first time, I really took eight rounds of punishment. Afterward, I looked at my face and said that's enough. But I got a decent purse for it, so I came down here and built a little house."

As soon as I was stronger and had the money, I drove to Arizona. I saw my old friend Johnny Mo from the Marine Corps, stayed a week at his place in Wilcox, and sold my economical little pickup for $1,500 to some Mexicans, who got a bargain, and said goodbye and got on a bus. I went to San Miguel de Allende for a couple of months, merely waiting for Micah to return to Mexico from Boulder, where he did regular landscaping work when it was hotter than hell in Batopilas.

I didn't like San Miguel much. It was too rich, pretentious, and touristy for me. I was drinking vodka and grapefruit juice, writing in the quietest bars, and smoking cigarettes, after a radical esophogogastrictomy, with no idea of what I was doing to my stomach. One day, knowing that Micah was coming home, I split from San Miguel de Allende and took a bus north to Creel, where you have to pass before taking that long, dangerously-fast and bumpy ride down into the bottom of Copper Canyon.

I stayed overnight in that cold-assed town near the top of the canyon, which they say is 10 times the size of the Grand Canyon, though not as spectacular, and the next morning, with plenty of time for the bus, I went to Creel's only internet cafe. I was sitting at a console when I heard the guy beside me speak, and it was Micah! Ha ha ha ha! We laughed our butts off at the timing. He was as glad to see me as I was to see him. There are people who can bring joy to my heart, and all I can do is love them for it.

I wondered about Angelica from Regensburg.

"I don't know. But I hope she's happily married with a couple of kids," Micah said.

Then I saw him off on the train to Urique, and I took the bus to his place, and rented a concrete room in that thing that passes for a hotel next door, belonging to one Mario, who charged me two American dollars for a plastic cup, that I could have had for 50 cents anywhere in the US. I still have that damned cup, with my name on it, because I paid the equivalent of 20 bucks to Mario, who actually is a pretty good guy.

I stayed around a week or two, hobbling to keep up with Micah's pace, which he slowed for me. My running had ended in Seattle in the early 90s, after I tore out my left ACL. I wanted to at least hike the trail to Urique, but I couldn't even do that. My ankle kept swelling. It hurt like hell. I thought I had sprained it by falling into a hole in a dark courtyard back in San Miguel.



                                                      Micah at his desk in Batopilas.

Micah had built a stone and cinderblock house on a small hill about 40 feet above the main (and only) road in Batopilas. A river whose name I disremember flowed swiftly past. You could wade across the current though. On the opposite bank there were a few houses, dirt trails, and the ruins of an old, abandoned mill of some kind. It was silver country once, and the whole region is laced with old tunnels. It was quiet and peaceful, except when the moteros (local marijuana growers with cars) sped their SUVs up and down the one-mile street. They had gotten some Indians to grow for them, because the corn crops had failed in those years, and the Tarahumara had to do something in order to eat, Micah told me.

He had carried every sack of cement and each stone, cinderblock and bucket of water up the steep hill, and with a little help had constructed a one-room house with windows and two doors, one leading to a small side porch, where we sat and had coffee some mornings. It had a desk and a couple of chairs, a tiled floor, a bed and a place to hang a few clothes. Micah ate a simple Indian dish of plain cornmeal mixture in the morning, and usually drank water, before starting off on a run that could go from 10 to 25 miles. Sometimes, Tarahumari who were in town would call on him, and they would sit talking softly in the Rarimuri tongue, which Micah had learned. He had won their friendship and trust simply by being himself, and was a rare outsider in their midst. They are so gentle that they don't shake hands--considering it an intrusion to grasp someone's hand--and merely touch fingers as a greeting or welcome.

His sponsorship of the Ultramarathon in Copper Canyon, his devoted hard work, brought hundreds of good runners to the area over a too-brief span of years, who spent their money in the local economy, learned something that they didn't know about Mexico and Indians, and ran with Micah through the astounding landscape, each race providing tons of free seed corn and beans as donated or purchased prizes, valuable to them, whose traditional crops were dying in droughts. They also won money and even a pickup truck once, by racing against the gringos. Even the stingy Mexican government started sending aid. And Micah's fame began to grow. But he cared nothing for fame, power or wealth. I know this for a fact. He was surprised by the sudden and unsought fame which the book had given him; but then saw how it could further his cause, and accepted it with grace and humility.

Micah was apolitical; but he had political opinions that he sometimes voiced, but didn't argue about. He was against war, capitalism, and for peace and love and respect for nature. He didn't trust politicians or businessmen to do the right thing. He was going to stay out of their games and off their grid as much as possible. But, when he had to deal with them, as we all must, he was cautious and principled.

Once recently he told me about a demonstration at the Nevada Test Site, where he had protested about something. I forget the issue. Micah left the demo and intruded onto government property, which set the police to chasing him. He ran circles around them in the sagebrush desert, laughing and neighing like the white horse of his nickname, "Caballo Blanco." The whole demonstration laughed while he ran close to them neighing, and then galloped away. After several futile attempts to catch him, the deputies gave up. Then Micah ran up to the boundary, and after a brief negotiation filled with goodwill and even some laughs from the cops, they had let him back into the demonstration, without an arrest.

Ha, ha! They would have needed a helicopter or an ATV to catch Micah True!

His name wasn't really Micah True. It was Michael something else; I forget. (See Wikipedia.) He chose the name from the biblical prophet, and because he wanted his life and purpose to be true; to be rooted in truth. He will always be Micah True to us.

Micah was off loping to Urique again, when the pain got too bad to put up with, so I left him a letter and took a long bus ride to El Paso, and a long taxi ride to the Air Force-VA hospital there. When a doctor finally saw it seven hours later, she ordered me to "lie flat on that table and don't move." It was a big blood clot in my femoral area, a Deep Vein Thrombosis, as it goes. Oh well. It's all better now. It put an end to my Mexico dream though. I had wanted to find a cheap place on that long beach from Baja to Patagonia, and just write until I died, hopefully not in pain, while watching every sunset on the way.

But the visit with Micah, and getting caught up again, or simply having a beer with him in the evening at the small flower-shaded cantina there, or eating a good meal in what actually is a woman's home in Batopilas, whom he called "grandmother," and hearing him telling all present with a big happy grin in fractured Spanish, to answer a question why he wasn't married: that he was too macho for most women, who couldn't keep up with him; plus he liked to be alone in nature a lot, and anyway, he had a good girlfriend up north, and why should they ruin a good relationship by getting married? Those moments and others made the whole trip worth it. He was so good-natured and open, so honest and friendly, so unflinchingly faithful to his principles, and so strong and vital, that it makes you wonder why people like him have to leave us so soon. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, he must be a Buddha by now.



Somehow, after being in New Orleans for a couple of years, I ended up in Brooklyn. (I can't convey the irony here.) I was back to driving a yellow cab, when Micah came through on the tour that finally took him all over the country and to Europe, to promote the book, "Born to Run," in which he was a central character in a non-fiction format. I went to his talk at an athletic store on Madison Avenue, and we had a hug and a couple of laughs. I wanted to give him the tour of New York that only a taxi driver like me can give, but his schedule was tight, in the hands of tour managers, and anyway, it was just another big noisy city to him.



That was the last time I saw him.

It was a very successful tour. There is no telling where it might have gone. His fame was growing even against his will, runners all over the world had become aware of him, ultramarathons were becoming the thing, he had nearly 5,000 Facebook friends, and he was at the top of his game.

His game was helping the Indians and getting people of good will together. I don't know how anybody could see Micah talk or meet him and not like him. I just can't even imagine it. He was the most beautiful dude I ever met. Many runners and friends, who share his code, are weeping tonight.

I am crying my heart out that he's gone. I know that he died while "running free," the way he wanted it; and that he will never have to suffer the indignities of old age, but it is no consolation for me.