Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Sorry for the gap in coverage, but the scribe was actually on the highway this weekend.

Destination was Stockton, Calif., to see the mother-in-law, with wife riding shotgun and kid in tow. There are few things more dangerous than driving with a toddler hoisted upon his legally required throne in the back. Were the scribe confessing to having driven cars at different times under the influence of different controlled substances (and he’s NOT), he would have to say such (alleged) instances were safer than this last trip. Never mind Mothers Against Drunk Driving; there should be a Drunks Against Mothers Driving, because the peril is equal if not greater.

Prior to leaving, walking the streets of this blue city, the scribe had a moment of repugnance at the cool and aloof faces populating its cafes and sidewalk terraces in high fashion and fru-fru haircuts. “Maybe those red state people are right,” went the gist of his revery. “Maybe we urbanites are a bunch of self-involved so-and-so’s missing out on the greater values of family, God, and country.”

Needless-to-say, after three days out there in the hinterlands all such thoughts were put to rest. Perhaps it’s because the areas near freeways are typically rundown and peopled with wayfarers, but the heartland ain’t what it used to be, what with all those shaved heads, piercings, gang kids, and drifters asking for “any spare cash” (apparently they’ve moved beyond “spare change”).

It’s riddled with the awful sameness that terrifies we blue people and which causes us to pay such obscene rents to avoid it.

There’s nothing to eat but Jack in the Box, Burger King, In-N-Out, and of course the ubiquitous McDonalds (over and over and over).

We did see a Green Burrito along the way, but did not stop because burritos shouldn’t be green. Instead we chose a Wendy’s that made us wish we were eating a green burrito.

No wonder folks are so fat; once you leave L.A. County you can’t get a spring mixed green salad until you reach San Francisco. And they are fat, terribly so, by comparison to the svelte and vanity-ridden denizens of John Kerry country.

You get the same movies, too. Every single theater runs the same card. This week it was “Hostage,” “Robots,” “Man of the House,” “Million Dollar Baby,” (brought back because it won the Oscar) and two other pieces of drub so unremarkable that I forget their names.

The suburbs, Stockton at least, are as deserted and terrifying as ever. Where do 168,000 people hide all day and night? Do they “beam” themselves to work and back? Creepy.

The “W in O4" bumper sticker was ubiquitous. There was another one that proclaimed “Kerry is Scary.”

How so? Because he’s going to take away this lonely landscape of ticky-tack houses, isolated developments, factory outlets, Wal-Marts, and abandoned, beat-up people?

the scribe even found the homeless to be more threatening and desperate than the loose loons that infest his own neighborhood. “Folder Boy,” a very handsome guy who sits daily on our corner and placidly rifles through his neatly organized possessions was a welcome sight after some of the characters out there in pick-up truck Arcadia.

And another thing; the cities have no monopoly on gangs, either.

the scribe isn’t sure whether it was in Earlimart, Famoso, McFarland, Delano, Selma or any of the other agricultural hamlets we sped past on our sojourn through the San Joaquin Valley, but he was struck with the t-shirt worn by one of the countless shaved-head Latinos that ultimately make up the (quiet) bulk of this state. “In Loving Memory of Rooster, RIP - 1980-1999” it said and the scribe’s guessing “Rooster” didn’t die in a cockfight.

End of rant.

Congratulations to the Old Dominion University Monarchs for making the NCAA tournament.

And thanks to the American Society of Journalists and Authors for accepting the scribe’s membership application.

A fan e-mailed this submission (folks, apparently, are having trouble posting on highwayscribery).

“Taking Up the Leash" (that’s the headline)

"The duffel is packed, the ammo is loaded, but what about Fido? Many soldiers shipping out for duty, especially reservists with little advance warning have no choice but to give up their pets to shelters, abandon them or even have them put to sleep. Anne Dizicksa, an Army reservist now stationed in Germany, was forced to have three elderly cats euthanized before an earlier activation. This time she turned to Operation Noble Foster (operationnoblefoster.org) which matches called up cat owners with families willing to take in their pets. “Having my pets in foster care and knowing I am coming back to them is extremely calming,” says Dizicksa. Another organization, Military Pets Foster Project (netpets.org) offers the same service for cats, dogs, birds, fish, and even horses. The sites are free, though soldiers are asked to pick up food and vet bills (most families decline the food money). If you’re interested in signing up, visit the Web sites to fill out forms and provide references.”

The person who submitted the entry concluded with: “Mr. Bush opened a Pandora’s Box of misery that just keeps spreading. Parece el demonio (Seems like the devil)”.


Small things as victims. This has always been the scribe’s beef with war and institutions that profit from them. When the U.S. military announced its plan to “shock and awe” Iraqi armies into surrender (not too sure how well that worked out), it was the little girl playing with her cat in a courtyard somewhere in Baghdad that concerned him. That’s who we’re for here at highwayscribery, the regular folks getting run over by the grand historic designs of men like George W. Bush, who never do anything small, because they can’t rest until everyone knows what big shots they are.

National Public Radio recently did a story on how the children in Iraq pee their pants at the sound of breaking glass, thundering garbage trucks, firecrackers and other loud noises. A direct outgrowth of “shock and awe,” which never considered the people it would kill and destroy.

We are fragile.

If you detain and torture someone who turns out not to be a terrorist, you have ruined him and those who depend on him.

Fragile. That’s why we have habeas corpus, the right to make a phone call, and the right to an attorney. Because no institution is wrong quite so often as the government, whether you have terrorists (and you have always had them) or not.

Now the administration dispatches motor-mouth Karen Hughes to improve our image in the Middle East. Good Luck.

Italy’s pulling out, by the way.

And how about those reports of U.S. soldiers bringing digital video cameras into battle, shooting footage, and then editing-in their favorite pop tunes as soundtracks for Internet consumption? What’s the difference between that and the beheading videos of Al-Qaeda/Al-Zarqawi?

Wherein lies our moral superiority?

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