Memory Lane

I rewrite this personal anecdote every few years, whenever it feels I might be able to improve it a bit at just a moment when I feel the seed may fall on fertile ground.

The scene: Me, alone, 1989, traveling by train through Italy, Czech Republic, Poland, East Germany before a semester abroad in Lille, France:

“Papers!”

The demand at every border, on both sides of the border, by intimidating uniformed men who could tell instantly I was a foreigner, well before my passport and visas were promptly presented. This is, for reference, even in the five miles it takes across ‘no man’s land’ from East Germany to West, between Germany and Italy, between Czech Republic and Slovakia, etc.

For reference, imagine traveling the equivalent of 3 states in New England and having to show your papers 6 times, even in the middle of the night in your sleeping car. Whether they chose to search your backpack or detain you for any number of unknown reasons depended more on the officials’ mood than anything you might say in the moment, so you learn quickly to keep your mouth shut, nod and smile, A LOT.

It was annoying and intimidating but especially, for me as a young, naive American, it was baffling. As was the constant currency exchanging, the shifting languages, the ghost-town Sundays when everything was closed. I was already used to being mobile across vast distances since my earliest memories without any of these inconveniences. It seemed primitive to me. Backwards, less advanced culturally, surviving from the Stone Age.

It was the first time I really considered a few of the advantages of my home country, since it was already trendy by that time at university to defile the uncouth, uneducated ‘ugly American abroad’.

When I went back again after grad school in the mid-90s I saw for the first time protestors against the European Union and heard for the first time the word “Globalism”. I considered those protestors as I did the other European inconveniences, that is, yet more survivors of the Stone Age. I’d bought the propaganda like the good student I was.

Please note—I was bold enough to travel through foreign countries alone as a ‘cute young thang’, foolish enough to roll my eyes at border officials (once), confident enough to crash on strangers’ couches or even on a bench of a train platform, desperate enough to work illegally, dumb enough to smoke hash in the loo, smart enough to learn a few foreign languages—but not nearly wise enough to recognize the mountain of propaganda I’d swallowed—hook, line and sinker.

No borders? Single currency? One GIANT happy Global family? What in carnation could be wrong with those protestors??

I saw the EU maneuvers as the continuation of a smooth skate in an ever-ascending flow toward cultural Enlightenment.

I was a front-row witness to an explosion of progress and those protestors were a visual menace to Europe’s peaceful transition. Thankfully for me, they were really easy to ignore. The politicians and media agreed with me, obviously, and slurred and minimized their pathetic attempts at being such bitter clingers to the past.

Ringing any bells yet?

It wasn’t for several more years that a few pinholes pierced through my blinders. First, it was non-stop celebration.

I lived on the Czech side of what was referred to as Sudetenland, just past the west German border and the goods were flowing, fast. The thrill of choosing between 3 kinds of toilet paper, the gratitude for non-fat yogurt, the convenience of plastic wrap and home phones and fancy new trains, all upstaged the coming onslaught, for a while.

Then the McDonalds came, and the ubiquitous candy and junk food and porn and the flood of advertising. And, once the EU was firmly established by the end of the decade throughout most of Europe, it became nearly impossible for an unconnected American to find legal work anymore.

And if that wasn’t all bad enough, then came the crowds.

Booming tourism, which I once believed would be a great thing, began invading all my favorite quiet haunts and deserted streets and the subtle, muted colors of old Europe went proverbially (and sometimes literally) neon.

And, finally, I questioned, “Uh-oh, what have I been blindly supporting through my ignorance and short-sidedness all this time?”

It had never occurred to me for a moment that I might be inviting in Tyranny through the back door. I’d considered myself an advocate of progress. But, I was not wise enough to ask: “Whose version of progress?”

The American Empire is on its last legs, but I never wanted, or asked, to be a part of any empire. Progress to me now means something very different than it did 3 decades ago. I wish we could go down more gracefully than the empires of the past, but there’s little hope of that.

So instead of hoping for a miracle I work, with growing awareness in ever-increasing ranks, toward piercing more pinholes in all those as unaware and propagandized as I once was—those who are still blinded by tyranny in its many guises and stuck in various roles of keeping it alive and thriving, while insanely badgering on about ‘progress’.

2+2=5 | Two & Two – [MUST SEE] Nominated as Best Short Film, Bafta Film Awards, 2012

(Hat tip to The New Abnormal for sharing this video and sending me down Memory Lane once again.)

Not So Wise Women

I did some travel writing during a decade of constant travel and my favorite part was having an excuse to talk to elderly ladies.  Someday I will dig up more of these photos and interviews.  It was sheer enjoyment and curiosity that drove me to them.

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I really had no agenda and I’d been advised to steer clear of politics, but sometimes I’d ask about the ‘communist’ takeover, quickly followed by the Soviet occupation, though it was probably still too early to discuss such recent wounds in polite company in the 1990s. So, sometimes I’d seek out un-polite company.

It always stuck with me how often I hear a lady say some version of: “We had no idea what they were capable of!”  I believed them.  “Of course, how could you possibly have known, so tragic,” is what I’d be thinking.

Now that I’ve grown I’ve gotten a different take on this well-worn phrase.  Now I think, well, why the hell not?  Had you not gotten the news of their atrocities in Poland and Hungary and East Germany and so on? These are your neighbors, after all. 

But, of course they had, these were not peasants in the countryside usually, they were worldly elderly women living in Prague, most of them still working into their 70s, because that’s what happens when the government ‘collectivizes’ all your family properties, businesses and homes.  That’s what they called it, collectivized, because it sounds so much nicer than confiscated.

They had a suspicion of ‘volunteers’ that was completely unknown to me previously and was actually the hardest thing for me to overcome in the beginning, since part of the time I was living there I was a Peace Corps volunteer.  Now I get it.  It’s the ‘Trojan Horse’ thing, and the fact that volunteering was forced on them by the government as part of their ‘civic duties’ along with voting in sham elections and showing up for cheesy government-sponsored parades and celebrations.

I would do dumb touristy things without a second thought, like photograph folks’ houses I found lovely.  One time a horrified middle-aged lady ran out of her front door in her robe to scream at me: “No taking pictures here!  Are you healthy?!”

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Me in Slovakia 1995

That line stuck with me for years.  “Are you healthy?”  What in the world did she mean by that, like, I looked sick or something?  I was very healthy indeed, her house was so beautiful and I so admired it I was doing what was completely natural for me to do, take a picture, duh!

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Belarus 1999

Then many years later I realized she must have meant ‘healthy in the head’ because the paranoia in these folks ran really deep.  Though apparently they adopted it too late to save themselves from the real enemy.

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The Soviet tanks rolling into other major Eastern European cities was in the papers.  They knew.  They just thought, “Oh, but that could never happen here!”

I would not have pressed further back then and I took these ladies at face value.  Now I would press, because what I think was really at play was what I see all around me today in this country: denial, suppression, wishful thinking, neglect, misdirected hostility, and so on.

They are showing you what they are capable of, right now, Americans: police state, mass surveillance, technocratic overlords, end of private property, mandatory vaccinations, end of free speech, and the very long list goes on.

Thanks very much to Decker, Dispatches from the Asylum for this brief sampling of the day on the capabilities and intentions of our current overlords:

“Check out the latest of these shitards and their latest, choicest f**kery:”
First wireless insect-size robot takes flight – via roboticsnews.com

That Sign Telling You How Fast You’re Driving May Be Spying – via technocracy.news

Your Volvo Will Soon Call The Cops On You If It Thinks You’ve Been Drinking – via zerohedge.com

Finger Vein Vending Machines And A Global Biometric Police Database – via activistpost.com

NYC subway denies using ‘real-time face recognition screens’ in Times Square – via theverge.com

Police in Canada Are Tracking People’s ‘Negative’ Behavior In a ‘Risk’ Database– via vice.com

MAIN CORE: GOVT “THREAT LIST” NAMES AT LEAST 8 MILLION AMERICANS WHO WILL BE DETAINED WHEN MARTIAL LAW IS IMPOSED – via amg-news.com

DARPA Seeks FAA Approval For Military Drones Over American Cities – via technocracy.news

AT&T Creates FirstNet For Law Enforcement Surveillance – viatechnocracy.news

Homeland Security To Scan Your Face At 20 Top Airports – via technocracy.news

Law enforcement taps Google’s Sensorvault for location data, report – viacnet.com

Snitch Switch: Smart Assistants With “Moral AI” Could Call Police on Owners Who Break Law – via thenewamerican.com

Take a good, hard look, because I really don’t want to have to say, “I told you so!”on my death bed.

But, of course, if it comes to that, I certainly will.

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Me in Prague, Czech Republic 1994

Peace Corps Remembrance (part 1)

Those days remain for me, over 20 years later, as poignant as Proust’s madeleines.

I often get too mushy or teary just trying to relate the lessons learned and the bitter sweetness that nostalgia just is.  On the negative side of the spectrum, trauma bonding and Stockholm syndrome come to mind. On the positive, a culture that inhabited me, with all the muddy in-betweens that this sort of parallel dysfunction conjures.

When we choose to throw ourselves into chaos, as controlled as that chaos might promise or originally appear to be, we make a statement and commitment we can never really disown afterward.  I f-ing volunteered.  I signed my name.   I was informed in advance of the reality of the program., at least to the degree it was divulged.  Whatever pain was suffered in consequence, I knew very well it was going to be “tough”.  That was the damn advertisement after all.  In hindsight, was it a mistake?  Did I overstate my enthusiasm, did I overestimate my commitment?

My father always said challenge, even to the point of pain, builds character. Maybe this is true, but it makes me question then why those who subject themselves to the most pain aren’t necessarily so strong in character. In fact, there would seem, as often as not, to be an inverse relationship.  How does the Golden Rule play out when what the other wants, what he expects and has been trained for, is manipulation.  My dad talked a lot about character, integrity, family values. He’s been married three times, so apparently he has a good base of experience from which to draw.

Chaos is sometimes mistaken for passion.
Intensity is often mistaken for intimacy.

We are only human. There’s a reason the slogan at the time I pined for the Peace Corps was : “The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love”.  I longed for it for three years before I made it happen.

Love?  Tough?  Got it!  Know it!  Sign me up.

I got one of the easiest assignments possible. I’ve written about that too many times to repeat it here now. Before I was sent just a few hours from Prague, I craved to be sent to rural West Africa, that was my dream. I was to be learning Wolof half the month in a village as I taught French at a university in Dakar. It almost happened. Then, I was threatened to be sent to Armenia, OMG! A clerical error, I hope?

I really hated it at times. Did then, still do, the bureaucracy, what’s not to hate?  The jumping through hoops, the perpetual state of subservience and distancing and stonewalling, well it was just a precursor of all that was to come.  Many events stand out, but what stood out most then and still is to be labeled a complainer from the outset.  I was a huge idealist then;  I wanted to give my skills and capacities to the service of my country and its ideals, as they’d been presented to me, and then and indeed now, the hierarchy meant nothing to me personally.  Unless, as it stands, I can hardly maneuver myself from underneath its obvious and choking oppression.

The message is like a master to a slave: When I ask your opinion, what you are allowed to tell me is only what I want to hear. Or, consequences.

I completed the seemingly endless evaluations seriously and honestly. While others checked “fine” and “no comment” I filled them out for real. It still brings me to tears to remember this truth. This might be nationalistic brainwashing, I accept that, but my devotion was real. It wasn’t for America per se, because already at that time it was all plastic, I didn’t stand for McWorld, or I certainly never meant to, that’s for sure.

I really thought I could make a difference, that others, even those above me who said they wanted my opinions, really did want them, and the message I was getting on the outside was that I could make a difference if I tried, if I “applied” myself.

But on the inside, it was an entirely different game.  Subservience is the currency.  And that’s when I was introduced to the world of politics.

I know now one refers to this as naiveté. The rule is go along with the program, and if it’s too difficult, find another way to cope with your reality, like pain killers or anti-depressants or meditation or a new guru, or whatever. And if you can’t handle that, well, get out. Get out of the game. Good heavens, it’s not Afghanistan, you’re a teacher, not a soldier.

It wasn’t that hard, in hindsight. But, it was a lesson for life. It was a precarious political situation in some ways, and witnessing this was invaluable to me. There was a lot of propaganda, and little trust, and no one, systems, or people, I can honestly say, ‘needed us’ in any real and material way.  We did not help. In hindsight now I know, we only expedited their transition from Soviet dominance to Globalist dominance.  Some honest and more astute friends confided to me at the time:  “We are only trading one big brother for another.”  Intelligent, shrewd and industrious folk, those Slavs.

The level of distrust was at such a level that at the time it seemed absurd to me, at 26. How very foreign it felt to show my passport at every border, to have people question me when I snap a photo. I was so judgmental, but how I feel for them now!  Now that mistrust and hostility plague all of America.  What is happening to me now seeing our political tyranny and police state is so close to what I felt there, it’s like living Kafka.  In the West we think of 1984 and Orwell and Huxley, but there it was already old news.  Those dudes exalted the nightmare Kafka’s world was already living.

On one occasion I was innocently taking a photo of a garden in front of a large family home which I found particularly lovely nearby a friend’s house not far from the center of Prague when an irate woman stormed out and yelled, “What are you photographing here? Are you ill?

This spring at my home on a dirt road there was an unusualrecreational vehicle driving past during the two-month paranoia of “Jade Helm” and the parallel feeling was overwhelming.  Something was off.  These drivers were foreigners. This vehicle was not local or recreational.  What was up with this?  Was it me?  Enter the world of psy-ops. More on that, much more, in future posts.  The goal of the psy-op being always to trade ‘your’ freedom for ‘our’ security.

In those days, in just Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe once I stated myself to be American, instead of German or Russian, I got a better welcome from strangers. “Racism” was practiced openly, that is, if you were discovered to be Western and therfore “rich” you had a gravely augmented price ratio to almost everything. To cheat you, even if you were with other Czechs, was commonplace and expected. There was actually an accepted and stated price difference for foreigners. That was incentive to learn the language enough to fool them. It didn’t take that much really, because few were able to learn the Slavic languages all that well. Even with an accent, if you were lucky, you might be mistaken for Slovenian, or from the Baltics, because after all, what rich Westerners would try to learn your language.

Whatever, I digress. I love nostalgia and I’m wonderfully good at it.  The truth: I was terribly lonely.  In many ways it was an extension of adolescence, and the hallmark of all dysfunctional relationships—as long as you serve us, we will support you. Serve us means don’t ask questions, no personal boundaries allowed, don’t make waves, even when invited, walk the egg shells, and support “us” (we the institution or the personal ego) even when we’re wrong.

I haven’t seen any evidence that’s changed, politically or personally, though my tolerance of institutional coercion, and by default I hope, personal coercion, has consistently diminished to the point at present of, no f’ing tolerance.