Sunday, March 30, 2008

Versin' on th' Chain Gang

Mack Hall

A woman in California has started a company specializing in greeting cards for prisoners. Let us unlock the possibilities, and look beyond the bars to the stars:

From a Secret Pal:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue;
Big Sven in Block 34B
Is in love with you.

From a wife:

My dearest husband,

I promised that I would always be true,
That I loved you like I loved no other,
But now I’ve found someone new:
I’ve moved in with your brother.

From a pal:

Hey, dude!

Sorry you got caught, and are doing twenty.
Me, I’m in an unnamed location, and I’ve got plenty;
I bought a new Hummer with your share of the loot
I’ll see ya in 2028, ya big galoot!

To a Lifer:

I’m sorry you’re havin’ a real bad time,
Ya say your cell-mates are nothin’ but slime,
Ya say prison’s hard, ya say it’s a bore --
Well, it’s your fault ya ate that sophomore!

How about prison MeMeMeSpace blogs?

My fav movies:

The Great Escape
Stalag 17
Escape From Alcatraz
Machine Gun Kelly
The Sound of Music

More of my favs:

Long walks in the exercise yard with a couple of hundred of my best friends.
Kool-Aid on Friday’s menu.
The rancid smell of lowest-bidder mattresses.
The sun setting behind the sewage treatment plant.
Flinging feces at the guards.
Exchanging tattoo designs with my friends.
Making shanks in arts and crafts.

To a war criminal in Guantanamo:

Free lawyers, free Korans, three squares a day,
No work, no hassles, no taxes, no way,
A lovely room overlooking the sea:
Oh, please, Jihadist, trade places with me!

To a Recidivist:

Ya stupid clown,
Ya stupid louse,
Ya went and burned down
The halfway house!

From the Inside to the Outside:

Hey, citizens, ya think us prisoners is gorms,
And not at all worthy of prison reforms?
Well, you’d better not give reform a miss;
Stay cool, fool, and think about this:
Think about November, and discuss:
With a change of government,
You might be in here with us!


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Typical White Passport

Mack Hall

The typical American can only be deeply offended and hurt by the insensitivity of the State Department in snooping through the passport records only of the rich and famous and weird. This class-based apartheid must end! You and I, gentle reader, must demand that our government demonstrate genuine and relevant inclusiveness and openness to the audacious hopes and needs and aspirations of Jose’ Jamail Bubba Sixpack by snooping through the just plain workin’ folks’ records too.

Sometimes we typical Americans feel like former Boeing employees waiting for the employment office to open and seeing a French-built Airbus of the United States Air Force fly over.

A French-built Airbus of the United States Air Force would not be permitted to fly over France, of course, not even over those thousands of American graves in Normandy, Chateau-Thierry, Belleau Wood, and hundreds of other places where young Americans met death “at some disputed barricade.”

Passport (not required for visiting France in 1917 and 1944) applications contain such dangerous information as the applicant’s date of birth. Oooooooooooooooooooooooh! We wouldn’t want that to get out, would we?

And then when the typical American arrives in one of those funny little countries burdened by the curse of not being the USA he’s asked really intrusive questions such as “Are you visiting Canada for business or for pleasure, sir? Eh.” Who wants to know? Why? Why does the Canadian secret service (three retired Mounties, Neville, Clive, and Trevor, in a small office just behind The Department of Dog Sleds, or Bureau de Sleds de Pooches) keep a dossier on me?

Someone in Ottawa asked me if I were a Yank and I said “No, thank God, I’m from Texas.” I heard a camera shaped like a puffin click and a tape recorder hidden in a moose whir.

Americans post their exualsay peccadilloes, drug preferences, relationships, and thong pix on MeMeMeMeSpace and MeMeMeMeTube and then complain about privacy issues.

Recently I downloaded and printed my father’s 1941 Army enlistment, a record which is not supposed to be available even to relatives without a real letter and proof of kinship. Should someone apologize to me? Should I apologize to someone? I’m confused here. Whose turn is it to be the outraged victim?

The State Department is investigating three contract employees who were accused of snooping through the passport files of the weird and famous, and will even polygraph them (the employees, not the candidates). But why? The investigators should just look up the employees’ MeMeMeMeSpace ‘blogs; it’ll all be there.

Maybe someone doesn’t want to miss out on all the fun of waterboarding a gum-chewing, Days of Our Lives-watching GS-2 clerk named Heather-Mistee-Bree.

The contract employees were hired last summer to speed up passport applications. Obviously that went well. Perhaps the contract employees were former inspectors of construction cranes in New York.

Two of the three employees involved have been sacked; the only one who was not required to make fresh arrangements for his future works for a placement company owned, according to The Washington Times, by John Brennan, a former CIA agent – who outed him? – who is an advisor to Barack Fitzgerald Obama.

Hmmm. Outrage to order?

Senator Hillary Clinton, who dodged sniper fire to keep the world safe from fresh-baked cookies, was undoubtedly relieved to hear that someone had snooped into her super-secret passport file too. After all, during her tenure as co-President, snooping into secret files was one of her specialties.

In the meantime, I demand that the State Department report to me that someone has been snooping through my electronic passport file, and I demand a written apology. Money would be nice too. I want to be outraged just like the rich folks.

Oh – and God BLESS America.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Saturday Morning Thoughts Over Coffee With Other Old Geezers

Mack Hall

Saturday Morning Thoughts Over Coffee With Other Old Geezers

If American money is so worthless, why does our government take it away from us under penalty of imprisonment? And why does our money go to people who don’t like us?…

So that’s what a thousand-dollars-an-hour, um, friend looks like. Yawn.…

Is the rebuilding of Iraq going any better than the eternal rebuilding of Interstate 10 between Orange and Beaumont?…

Tibet has risen in an unorganized but fierce rebellion against its Chinese occupiers. The streets of Lhasa are smoking with the fires of burnt cars and shops, people are hiding inside their houses, Tibetans are beating up and maybe killing Han Chinese, and Han Chinese are beating up and maybe killing Tibetans. The curious thing is that no one has yet blamed America. Well, maybe the Reverend Doctor Wright has.…

Some ministers are certainly tacking on the adjectives these days. Brother Noisy is now The Reverend Doctor Bishop Noisy. But just what university grants degrees in shouting at people?…

What, exactly, is a superdelegate? Does he leap tall voters in a single bound?…

Presidential candidate Senator / Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to control the evil, wicked, greedy oil companies who explore, drill, ship, and process oil despite increasing taxes, regulations, and criticism. The federal government’s record in regulating into oblivion passenger trains, hospitals, physicians, and our national borders suggests that this is probably not a good idea.…

Democrats in Florida and Michigan may get to vote for a second time in the Democratic Party primaries because the Democratic Party did not permit their votes to matter the first time. The Democratic Party in Texas held both primary elections and primary caucuses, so the old gag about Vote Early, Vote Often really is true. Even so, superdelegates can override the state primaries. So does anyone really know what’s going on?…

What is a subprime lender? What is a subprime anything? Is there a superprime?…

If a car can be pre-owned, does that mean it can also be post-owned?…

The very limited and highly-regulated sealing season is about to commence in Newfoundland, so expect the usual pictures of cute widdle iddy biddy baby seals, carnivorous varmints who are as about as cuddly as rabid raccoons on crack, being clubbed to death. Then in our profound sorrow we can all drive past the abortion clinic to the fast-food joint for some dead cow. It is a pity, though – a pity that the pelts of carnivore-rights activists aren’t worth anything.…

Why doesn’t anyone feel sorry for the cute little fishies and other marine life who die screaming in the greedy jaws of evil seals? Where are the eel-rights activists?…

Does progress mean that soon we will watch embarrassed husbands standing bravely by, shedding a tear or two, as their middle-aged wives confess to kinky, um, chess with 20-something boys and stealing public funds?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Change. Maybe

Mack Hall

Downtown Beaumont is a great place for photography. Many buildings there are survivors of a happier architectural age and display remarkable artistry in their brickwork, stonework, glass, and iron. Note, for instance, the detail work on and around the Hotel Beaumont and the Jefferson Theatre. Other structures, in a state of decay or repair, present their own transient appeal as they are adapted or bulldozed for Beaumont’s renascent prosperity. We’d better click before they’re replaced by fake new fronts advertising Data Solutions, Antique Solutions, Insurance Solutions, Coffee Solutions, and Sobriety Solutions (formerly known as the Kit-Kat Club).

Is there a new business without “Solutions” as part of its name? A shopper might want a coat, a cup of coffee, a book, or a cigar; he seldom wants a solution. Does one walk into a sporting goods store and ask for that great-looking solution he saw advertised? Does anyone sit down in a cafĂ©’ and ask for a cup of solution?

In front of the Hotel Beaumont, now a retirement home, I saw several folks taking the air and having a smoke and laughing merrily, wholly unimpressed that only a few hours before Senator If-You-Mention-My-Middle-Name-You’re-a-Meanie and his entourage had passed by. The chairman of this informal committee was a large-ish old gentleman with a cowboy hat, a prosperous waistline, and a big ol’ cigar, and he was enjoying life immensely. Some will sniff disapprovingly and maintain that this health-crime should have been stopped by the Don’t-You-Know-That’s-Bad-For-You Miz Grundy Police, but I say that if you’ve made it to eighty you’ve won, and have earned a cigar and a good laugh with friends on a soft evening.

On the east side of the Jefferson Theatre I spotted a blanket, a coat, and a few other trifles indicating that this was the world headquarters of someone whose world is now the streets. Atop this modest assemblage some kind soul had left a sandwich or a burger in a fast-foot bag, adding a smiley-face and “Enjoy!”

Before large audiences, perhaps in the Jefferson Theatre itself, a brick wall away from the coat, the blanket, and the sandwich, deeply concerned men and women in nice suits give speeches proposing solutions – solutions again -- for the homeless. Someone happily had a more immediate solution: give the homeless a fresh sandwich.

This solution would probably not occur to a bishop whose communications with poor people are pretty much limited to asking them to give him more money.

The secular government probably wouldn’t like this solution because the sandwich was not served inside an inspected establishment by a vaccinated person wearing a hair net and gloves.

The Diet Ogpu would demand to know if the sandwich was vegan, or if it consisted of parts of an animal that died unhappy and without a vision for the future.

If we wait on those folks, nothing will get done. Do we want change? Well, someone made a change one evening on a Beaumont street, real change, neatly packaged not in senate bills or proposals or speeches, but in a sandwich for someone who needed it.