Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)

Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)
"A curious and wonderful work of great human value by a Danish master." Sebastian Barry, Man Booker finalist (Click on the picture to go to the book's Amazon page)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Denmark for Dummies 2014 - A Superficial Guide to the World's Happiest Nation (Not For Giraffes Though)

Winner of www.Denmark.net's International Blog Contest, 2009. Updated version, April 2014.

All Danes are blond and gorgeous. And every single of us have a cabin with a view of a lake. No wonder the whole world wants to be Danish, but don't get your hopes up. We're very protective of our gene pool.


You're smart.

You're planning to go to Denmark.

You've always wanted to visit our country because you know that it's the most exciting nation in the world. You tell yourself, "Why would I want to go to Paris, New York or the Himalayas when I can go rock climbing on Lolland?"

"Yes, I'm trendy. I want to visit Denmark because the Danes are so eco-friendly with their bikes, cuisine, and wind mills. And most important, they're the happiest and most trusting people in the world, always making the news for positive reasons, like killing healthy giraffes in their Zoos and letting their kids watch them getting eaten by lions."

Yes, that's right. In 2008 and 2013 Denmark was named the happiest nation on the planet for humans. And I'm living proof of that. Right now this Danish novelist is sitting in cozy Copenhagen staring at the sleet, enjoying the 43 degrees of sloppy spring and his $10 latte.

Come and visit us, will you?

And please bring all your credit cards because God knows you're going to need them!


GUIDE TO DENMARK
Here's a superficial introduction to my Southern Scandinavian Paradise. Enjoy. 

Name: Denmark (Danmark)

Inhabitants: 5.6 million

Capital: Copenhagen (1.5 million)

Ranking: Most livable city in the world (Monocle, British Magazine, 2008)

Other Top Rankings in the World That We Take Pride In:
a) Most trusting people in the world (April 2011)
b) Best restaurant in the world (Noma, 2010, 2011, 2012)
c) Most Pork consumption per capita (not counting your neighborhood sheikh)
d) Best Government in the world (2014)

Language: Danish.

Government: Constitutional monarchy.

Currency: Kroner. (5.5 DKK to a US dollar)

Religion: No, thank you.

Name of Queen: Margrethe II.

Name of Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. As popular as chlamydia, but somewhat prettier.

Size: The 8th biggest country in the world if you count Greenland. (Always count Greenland).

Weather: Not really.




Unemployment Rate: Rising

Hospitality If You're Not White: Falling

Crime per Capita: Fourth lowest in the world.

Corruption: Second lowest in the world.

Average Consumption of Beer per Capita: Fourth highest in the world.

Best Selfie of the Year by Far: Helle Thorning-Schmidt with two unknown pals.



Famous Dead Danes: Hans Christian Andersen, Søren Kierkegaard (philosopher), King Canute (conquered England), Tycho Brahe (conquered the universe), Isak Dinesen (conquered Africa), Karen Blixen (conquered Meryl Streep), Vitus Bering (explorer), Niels Bohr (physicist), Georg Jensen (design), Carl Nielsen (composer), Carl  Dreyer (film director), Victor Borge (comedian), Hamlet (Shakespeare's boy toy)

Famous Living Danes: Caroline Wozniacki (fading tennis star, known for her Sienna Williams' impersonations), Lars Ulrich(founder of Metallica), Anders Fogh Rasmussen (General Secretary of NATO; he'll be happy to bomb any country America tells him to), Helena Christensen (model, unfortunately not in porn), Peter Høeg (author), Jussi Adler-Olsen (like Stieg Larsson, just alive), Michael Laudrup, Peter Schmeichel (soccer players), Nicklas Bendtner (underwear model), Kevin Magnussen (Formula One driver), Lars von Trier and Susanne Bier (film directors),René Redzepi (chef)

Danes Who Ought to Be Dead: Jante.

Famous Half Danes: Viggo Mortensen, Scarlett Johansson, Ludvig Holberg.


Best Mads Mikkelsen:  Mads Mikkelsen

Danish TV-Series That Have Conquered the World and Perhaps Mars, Too:  The Killing (Forbrydelsen), The Castle (Borgen), The Bridge (Broen, co-production with Sweden)


Most Popular Danish Children Song of All Time: Barbie Girl by Aqua

Most Famous Danish Building: The Opera House in Sydney (Jørn Utzon)

Danish Imperialism: Lego, Maersk, Ecco, Vesta, Bang and Olufsen, Carlsberg, Tuborg.

Daily Smokers: 10% of population. (All of them will be sitting on your lap when you go to an outdoor café)

Obesity Rate: 22% of population.

Best Danish Food: Moss, lichen, and soil mixed with bone marrow from an animal you don't want to eat. (Noma, world's best restaurant between 2009-2012)




Denmark's Claim to Fame in Spain, Greece & Cyprus: Blond girls with herpes.

Denmark's Claim to Fame in the Far East: Badminton.

Denmark's Claim to Fame in the Middle East: Cartoons.

Denmark's Claim to Fame in Great Britain: Bacon & The Killing (Forbrydelsen) starring Sofie Gråbøl and her sweater.



Most Important Danish Invention of All Time: The atomic bomb (Niels Bohr)

Denmark's Biggest Contribution to American Sports: Morten Andersen, the all-time leading scorer in the NFL.

Best Tourist Attraction If You're Into Knights in Shining Armour:  Frederiksborg castle, Hillerød and Kronborg, Helsingør  (Hamlet's castle) 



Best Tourist Attraction If You're Eight Years Old or Behaving Like It: Legoland.

Best Tourist Attraction If You're Eighty Years Old or Behaving Like It: Tivoli.

Most Overrated Tourist Attraction: The Little Mermaid.

This is the kind of abuse we Danes have to tolerate every day: Foreigners who fondle our national treasure. Shameless, that's what it is.


Time of Glory I: When the Danish vikings conquered England in the 11th century.

Time Of Glory II: When Denmark won the European Championship in football (soccer) in 1992 and the whole country behaved like a frat party.





Most Beautiful Cities in Denmark: Copenhagen, Helsingør (Elsinore), Ærøskøbing, Faaborg, Ribe, Skagen, Svaneke, and Christiania (if you still think that Che Guevara and bean bag chairs are cool)

Places to Avoid at All Costs Unless You Have A Secret Death Wish: Mørke, Ringsted, Brøndby, Fisketorvet.

Best Months to Visit the Land of the Danes: From late May to mid-September.

Best Month to Commit Suicide Because It's Dark, Dreary, and Everybody Wish They Were in Thailand: January.

Best Danish Traits: Tolerance, sense of humor, informality.

Worst Danish Traits: Intolerance, pettiness, self-satisfied grumpiness.

What You'll Miss the Most If You're an American Visiting Denmark: TV anchors with perfect teeth.

What You'll Miss the Most If You're Italian: Bread and Berlusconi.

What You'll Miss the Most If You're Norwegian: Norway

Most Beautiful Area of Denmark: The Silkeborg lake district in Jutland and the island of Bornholm.




Most Stupid Thing to Say to a Dane: Now, which part of Germany are you from again?

Second Most Stupid Thing to Say to a Dane: Sweden is my favorite Scandinavian country.


Enjoy your stay.  And tourists, please forgive Copenhagen for looking like Pompeii.  We're building a Metro that we don't really need ...


Copyright, Peter H. Fogtdal, Danish Accent, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Time-Share Muse (A Short Story For Geniuses)



I was thirty-three when I discovered I was God.

A late evening in August, I sat by the desk in my study, the moon hiding behind the clouds, the sound of tow trucks still in my ears. There was nothing on television that night, so I put my pen to the paper and words started to pour out of me—-words of indiscernible beauty, turning into sentences, pages, a narrative of unequaled genius.

None of this came from me, of course. The inspiration came from outside—-from my muse, gods, the spirit of Proust or Kafka, or a combination of both? A new channel had been installed to supply me with the insights and skills to write my own classic. As I sat there, I was taken over by a Light so strong it blinded me—and after a few minutes I was the Light. I kept on writing like a lunatic, the moon hiding behind the clouds, the sound of tow trucks still in my ears.

Somehow, I knew that I’d found my true home where everything was possible. I could write whatever I wanted: haiku poems, medieval sonnets, Swedish crime fiction —-I was, after all, the creator of the universe and every idea in the history of thought was available to me. When I finished writing, I let out a sigh. Outside, the morning was a lemony yellow, the sun shining indiscriminately on apple trees and lawn mowers. There was a raccoon in the garden munching on marigolds. I devoured a bagel with cream cheese, knowing that unknown worlds lived inside of me; eagles of beauty hibernated and laid their eggs inside of me.

Two days went by. I was sitting by my desk again, swallowed by the dark night; the moon was hiding behind the clouds, the sound of tow trucks still in my ears. I started to read the pages I’d written, with the humility you would expect from someone in the presence of Holy Writ—-and I kept on reading into the night, my mouth open and dry.

But when I finished, I knew one thing for sure: my pages were absolute shit! What I had written was childish, stupid, and predictable drivel! How could I have been so wrong? Why hadn’t the beauty I experienced been channeled to the page? I pondered this for a while, as I paced up and down the floor of my study, banging my head against radiators. I thought of those strange ghosts that lived inside of me, and I wanted to honor their genius—-I wanted to honor my own genius, which was so much larger than anyone else’s.

So, I sat down again, the moon hiding behind the clouds, the sound of tow trucks still in my ears: New letters grew out of my pen and turned into words of bellicose beauty; crisp paragraphs rose like shiny cathedrals; paragraphs were catapulted from outer space and into my soul. However, this time something magical did happen—-my hand moved by itself. The prose was thorny and twisted. My letters were huge as morgues; the g’s suicidal bombers in baggy pants; the t’s pornographers lusting for cheerleaders. The air got cold around me, as if an unknown entity sucked the warmth out of my text. A Higher Power was leading me and I continued for an eternity floating through space.

When I woke up, I had no idea where I had been. Then I looked at the twenty pages in front of me. To my surprise, I had repeated one line again and again:

    I want to kill you with an ice axe, 
       I want to kill you with an ice axe, 
             I want to kill you with an ice axe, 
                       I want to kill you with an ice axe. 


I stared at the pages in front of me, sweat pouring down my face. What was my muse trying to tell me – or was someone making fun of me? Or worse, did I have a muse at all? Perhaps I’d been forced to share my muse with much lesser writers. Could it be that she was a timeshare muse, a slut floating around space, waiting to download her “art” to the first hack she ran into? Or was I the victim of some cruel, cosmic hoax?

For days, I considered never writing a word again. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be the new Kafka or Murakami after all—–or not even an accessible Proust? But in a rare vision, I saw the greatness of my own writing. I want to kill you with an ice axe, was definitely a simple line but a clear a reference to the artist’s worst enemy, the ego—-an ode to man’s eternal struggle against icy and senseless ambitions.

So what my text said was: don’t strive for fame, just get rid of your ego and write! After that brilliant realization, I got back in the flow. I closed my eyes, trusting that the words coming to me would be from the right source—-not from demons or tramp souls but from the finest muses available in the Heavens.

Once more, I lost all sense of time and space. A cloud drifted into me, filling me up with prose. This work was going to be my gift to the world. This book wouldn’t just help my career; it would be my gift to humanity and coming generations … and I closed my eyes, tears flowing down my grateful cheeks. My muse had tested me before, but now I was the medium I’d always wanted to be. The prose came to me in significant spurts: Faith is acceptance of which we imagine to be true, that which we cannot proveLife is full of secrets. You can’t learn them all at once … and I went deeper into the zone, deeper into the chore of the collective unconscious where all art, philosophy, and memories are stored … When a question has no correct answer, there is only one honest response … and I stayed there for several days or weeks, lost in the world of literature I was a co-creator of.

When I came out again, four hundred pages were lying in front of me. I sent the script to my editor, knowing that I had accomplished something unique. Actually, my writing was so special that I didn’t even need to read it or edit it.

My editor, reeking of mouthwash, received me in her lavish office. “I read your script,” she said. “You have copied The Da Vinci Code from start to finish.”

 I went pale, “What?”

“You have sent me a word for word transcription of The Da Vinci Code.” My editor threw the script at me, while all colors left my face. Then I went out of the office, the moon hiding behind the clouds, the sound of tow trucks still in my ears.  


***

The Time-Share Muse was first published in India's Four Quarters Magazine in August 2013. 

PS. A few months ago I finished my latest novel, a spiritual farce that takes place in India. It's my first novel in English but thirteenth overall. Needless to say it's a classic unless, of course, I stole it from someone else? (The Tsar's Dwarf  which is out in America is a translation from Danish)

***

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Course In Political Miracles: Marianne Williamson May Be High on Tofu But She Still Makes More Sense Than the Politicians on the Hill


1.
Marianne Williamson is running for Congress in California's District 33. 

If you have no idea who she is, it's probably because you need A Course in Political Miracles. Marianne wrote A Return to Love and is one of America's finest spiritual writers and teachers. One of her many homes is The New York Times bestseller list where she often stays for months. She is also Oprah's advisor in matters of the soul --- and surely you have heard of Oprah?

During a short trip to Southern California I went to a meeting for Marianne's many volunteers. (By the way, I'm allowed to call Marianne by her first name. Even her own website does: MarianneForCongress.com)

The volunteer meet-up took place in The Source, a beautiful spiritual center on Rose Avenue in Venice --- the kind of area where hippies wear Armani and order pizza with vegan crust. When I walked in, I was delighted to see mandalas, smiling Buddhas, and about 150 levitating volunteers who wanted to help Marianne get elected. I doubt Mitt Romney's headquarters looked like this. Romney never seemed like a man who would get Yogis excited about anything.

The Source is an old historical church with a saintly and serene atmosphere. (In America any structure built before 1980 is considered historical). Normally it's used for meditations, sacred chanting, and all those things that make Shirley Maclaine excited. The Source seemed like the perfect venue for a woman who is staring a movement that's based on the best four letter word of all, love. MONEY OUT, PEOPLE IN, as it said on a hand-out. Which downward dog wouldn't agree with that? 

2.
Since I'm a Dane from Portland who isn't allowed to vote in the U.S. (except for American Idol) I didn't know where to sit in the crowded church. All around me people were holding up signs, Santa Monica, South Bay, Marina del Rey etc, so I decided I belonged to Venice since I got drunk on their boardwalk once. Luckily I was graciously accepted into Venice's circle of volunteers, all of them sweet and enthusiastic.

When Marianne Williamson appeared, she impressed me. She was honest, passionate and didn't sound like any other politician. Instead of repeating the usual "Washington is broken" mantra, she talked about how WE are broken inside and how that affects the society we are part of. 

She also had a stern warning: "The American government is constantly chipping away at our democratic freedoms---one capitulation to moneyed interests at a time, one new gerrymandered district at a time, one government surveillance program at a time, one limiting of our voting rights at a time, one intimidation of journalists at the time, one Patriot Act at a time ... So at what point do we stand up to our own government and say, "hey, guys. Whose side are you on?"

This quote could easily have been used on Human Rights Day, December 10 when 562 writers from 83 countries (including Nobel prize winners like Umberto Eco, J.M. Coetzee, Orhan Pamuk, and little me) signed a petition called Writers Against Mass Surveillance that was printed in newspapers around the world, including The Guardian, Frankfurter Allgemeine, El Pais, La Repubblica, and Politiken. 

But Marianne Williamson went further at the meet-up in California. She promised to run an outer and an inner campaign, trying to raise consciousness everywhere, since we can't demand change from Washington if we don't change ourselves.

So from a spiritual  perspective we shouldn't just be angry with our government. We should see it as a frightened part of ourselves, obsessed with the fear of terrorism and love of control.
3.
Well, almost everything Williamson said that evening made sense to a spiritual airhead like me. She did NOT come across as if she had overdosed on soy milk. She was NOT a new age caricature but argued well. And thank God, she doesn't run for the Democrats but as an independent who wants love and dignity for everybody "instead of a sociopathic economic system that operates without a heart."

"I would be the happy if all my readers would donate as little as $5 to this campaign. In that case we would have more than enough money," Marianne said, finishing the evening with the kind of prayer you won't hear in Congress too often.

4.
But why should I go on about Williamson's Gandhi-like campaign? Go to her own website MarianneForCongress.com and see for yourself. Marianne Williamson is just one of many visionaries who knows that it's last call for humankind. Something has to be done about our fading democracy where money has such an obscene influence on what happens in Washington. Passing a decent law here and there isn't enough. We need a series of earthquakes to jolt us out of our self-absorbed empathy - you don't have to be Mamas & Papas to see that.

The question is actually simple: What is going to win in the end?  Love and trust, or fear and surveillance?  Most of the media and the establishment will definitely laugh at Marianne Williamson. But no matter what you think of a movement like hers, independent candidates are on the rise. How could they not be when Congress and Obama are fighting like toddlers? 

But perhaps Marianne Williamson could lead the way in America. Now that would be A Course In Political Miracles indeed.


....


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Learning Italian in Lucca: Calvino, Puccini, Vaffanculo. It's All Poetry To Me


During a short stay in Italy last month, I passed through Lucca in Toscana where it all started for me.

In the nineties I decided to do something I wanted since I was a kid: learn Italian. I suffered from depressions back then and since wine wasn't the answer, Italian had to be. Luckily I was right. The second I started to speak the most beautiful language in the world, clouds would evaporate in my head, beauty filled every cell in my body, and I came instantly alive, helped by the sun, the mountains, the penne arrabbiata.

After half a year I could almost read Calvino and shout vaffanculo. My writing became more vibrant, my digestion improved - how could it not since I was surrounded by saints, gelato, and the healing of language? Sometimes I would break down in gratitude, munching on words like melanzane and abbastanza, while getting high om condizionale. There was so much LIFE in Italy, so much forbidden fruit passing me on noisy scooters, so much dirty linen hanging from lazy balconies, so many gorgeous signs: Campobasso, francobolli, caduta massi, all of them poetry to me.

At one point I dreamed of marrying Italy, but today I only want her as my mistress. I drop by as often as I can, my erections in check, knowing that all hilltowns, lemon orchards, and mountain lakes will be in my blood until the day I die.







Lucca is the prettiest town in Tuscany. Forget overrated Firenze. Forget crowded Siena. Pisa?  Give me a break. San Gimigniano?  Sure if you like Disneyland. Cortona? Not bad. Arezzo? Prettier than the rumors.  Viareggio?  Hahaha.

No, Lucca is the real deal. It's quiet, sleepy, stylish, and magical at night when all the tourists have gone back to their cruise ships and their five star hotels in Florence. The great thing about Lucca is that it doesn't have a single thing the snobs have to see, except for Le Mura, perhaps, the walls around the old city that may be the greatest place in the world to walk your Schnauzer or jog.



I started learning Italian at Koine in Via Mordini in 1994, came back several times the following years, continued my studies in Feltre in Veneto, then in Perugia where I survived the big earthquake and the chocolate, and finally, in Rome at a school close to Campo dei Fiori.

Around 2000 my Italian was really good; now it has deteriorated because I live in America and can't drop by as often as I would like. But literary as I am, I still read Corriere dello Sport once in a while. And Stefano Benni's short stories. I listen to Zucchero and Enrico Ruggieri, And I pray to Francesco d'Assisi and the odd Madonna. Italy is part of me and has given me so much inspiration. Four of my thirteen novels were partly written in one of the greatest countries on earth, the obscenely beautiful and delightfully dysfunctional Italia.


Back in those days where I only understood the football scores in the sports papers. *****

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Rescue of the Danish Jews in October 1943: My Grandfather Was One of Them


Seventy years ago today, my Jewish grandfather David Huda escaped to neutral Sweden in the bottom of a fishing boat. He went off from Gilleleje in Northern Seeland in the middle of the night with eight others. The rescue was beautifully organized, and seven thousands Danish Jews got away during October 1943. 
Denmark has always taken pride in the fact that we saved 92% of our Jewish citizens. However, one of many reasons we were so successful was actually because of the Germans. Most of them weren't interested in catching the Jews, since there wasn't much anti-semitism to play into in Denmark. So the Wehrmacht made the  calculation that prosecuting the local Jews only would create more trouble in a country that finally had started to fight back against the German occupation.
Two weeks after my grandfather escaped, my Christian grandmother, uncle, and mother followed from Kalkbrænderihavnen in Copenhagen. My half-Jewish Mom was ten years old in October 1943, deadly scared that Gestapo or the German soldiers were going to find them. But everything went smoothly. They met up with my grandfather in a refugee camp in Molle, Scania (Skåne) and stayed in seven different places in Sweden until Denmark was liberated in May, 1945 by British and  American soldiers.


Before the war, my family lived in Kibæk in rural Jutland. My grandfather was the only Jew in the  area, and definitely the only Christian Jew since he had been forcibly converted when he arrived from Palestine in 1906. 
In early 1943, my grandfather joined a small resistance group that hid English agents in their barns. He also was crazy enough to befriend a soldier from Vienna at the same time. Call it intuition because the German-Austrian soldier ended up helping my grandfather escape in October 1943. 
In 1998 I told David Huda's amazing life story in Drømmeren fra Palæstina (The Dreamer From Palestine). It was my first best seller in Denmark and was later translated into French as Le Reveur de Palestine (Gaia Editions, 2005). One day I hope it will come out in English and in many other languages as well.
Needless to say, I miss my whole family like crazy these days. They all survived the Second World War, but one of them died in June 1945. That story you can read as well in Drømmeren fra Palæstina. You can download the ebook (ebog) here from Arnold Busck in Danish.
 
My novelized biography from 1998 (Lindhardt & Ringhof) came out in five editions. The book sold out a long time ago, but it was re-released as an audiobook last year. You can download the Danish audiobook here and listen to it immediately http://www.altfortalt.dk/17572-drommeren-fra-palastina.html

I presented the French edition at the book festival Litterature Europeenne Cognac in France in 2006. I still count that as one of my greatest moments as a novelist.  You can still buy the French edition on Amazon.




The French edition of my novel from 2006 (Gaia Editions). It's available on French Amazon as well.


 
 My mother Marie Søndergaard Huda in Dalarne, Sweden in late 1944. 
 
My grandmother Marie Angelique Søndergaard Huda and my mother half a year before the German occupation. 
 David Huda wrote his own life story in 1950. Funnily enough, my novelized biography from 1998 was much closer to the truth than his own autobiography, because my grandfather chose to leave out some of the most dramatic and painful events. I put them in which was important to my mother as well.
I partly based The Dreamer from Palestine on his book, my mother's  recollection, and most of all, my own imagination. There were so many holes and half-truths in my grandfather's story that I used it as a template to write an epic novel about one of 20th century Denmark's first immigrants. But I'm still loyal to what actually happened in Safed, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Kibæk, Herning, Copenhagen, and Sweden during my maternal granddad's 82 years on planet earth.
God bless you David, Erik, Marie, and Marie. I hope you read this blog wherever you are.
........

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Homage to Indie Book Stores Everywhere. What Would We Do Without You?



In a small town on Spanish Ibiza, there's a small book store called Libro Azul. Earlier this summer, I went there with a friend to buy her a small gift. My first choice going in was Siddharta by Hermann Hesse, followed by The Magus by John Fowles, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami (Arundhati Roi's The God of Small Things or Olga Tokarczuk's House of Day, House of Night would be great, too)

I knew it was a long shot that a small indie store would have those books in English. I expected a bland soup of Da Vinci Codes, 1001 Shades of Gray, and icy Swedish thrillers where even the prose has been viciously beheaded. My friend and I walked straight to the small English section that consisted of about three hundred books, and to my shock this small independent book store in sleepy Santa Gertrudis on Ibiza had the first three!

That's right. Out of three hundred books in English, Siddharta, The Magus, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle were all there!

"What a fantastic selection you have," I said to the owner, trying hard not to hug him to death and shower him with the kind of atrocious kisses you would expect from deranged novelists.

"I want people to read good stuff," he said with a shrug, "so when they ask for a bad book, I try to convince them to buy a good one." He picked up The Big Book of Pussy that was lying on the front desk for all kids to see. "With a few exceptions, of course," he added with a big smile.

A few minutes later we walked out of the store, with the firm belief that independent book stores will survive absolutely everything, including cockroaches and who knows, maybe even Amazon?



A young reader dreaming of Harry Potter and Pippi Longstocking?  What would she do in a world devoid of small indie book stores that prefer pulp from the sublime?  Even kids can't be online all the time. So I've been told, anyway.
******

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Falling In Love With Trees (Which Doesn't Necessarily Mean You Should Force Yourself on Them)


On my street in Portland lives a man who stares at trees. 

He walks around in his old white Francis of Assisi T-shirt, his fancy red shoes, and white shorts. Sometimes he stares up at birch trees; he is known to drool over maple trees, and he cries openly when he sees an oak.

That man happens to me.

I have fallen in love with trees. I think they are the greatest thing since Ibuprofen. Sometimes the beauty of trees is too much for me and I start to cry. How can people go to war in Syria when there are so many sycamore trees in this world? How can politicians send pictures of their penises to their constituency when there is so much real love on this planet?

This man on my street is not a tree hugger though. Why? Well, for one, TREES DON'T LIKE TO GET HUGGED! They get deeply embarrassed when some new age slut walks up to them, throws his or her arms around them as if they have known each other since the Stone Age. Nobody is supposed to bond with a chestnut tree or invite it out for Happy Hour. Acknowledging it's a force for good is plenty, thank you very much!


But trees are kind, they don't want to hurt people's feelings, so they remain standing, calm branches in place, while humans rub against them with their unbalanced chakras.

Trees have dignity. They remain sane when we don't. And I want them around me till the day I die.



****

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Election in Zimbabwe: Please Don't Be Cruel to Robert Mugabe. He Is Such a Sensitive Dictator


 1.
Please don't be cruel to Robert Mugabe.

Robert Mugabe is such a sensitive dictator. And as we all know, sensitive dictators don't have any sense of humor. They are too busy torturing poets and worrying about their stool.

So have a heart, have a little compassion for this aging dictator who may or may not become Dictator of the Century in Zimbabwe at this year's election.

To tell you the truth, no matter what happens I feel sorry for Robert Mugabe. I wouldn't want to swap lives with that man. Too many power hungry spirits are building nests in his short hairs. Too many viscious people are making fun of this proud leader who has never lost an election. Even when he has lost an election.


2.
Let me mention some of those people that humiliated him not that long ago: Raisedon Baya, Christopher Mlalazi, Aleck Zulu, Lionel Nkusi. These scoundrels had the audacity of writing and producing a play called The Crocodile of Zambezi. It premiered May 29, 2008; the writers and actors had worked on it for two years.

The play took place in a fictional country, depicting a weak 94 year old dictator in the middle of a crisis.

Robert Mugabe in crisis?

Don't these artists understand that Robert Mugabe was appointed by God? Does God have a crisis? Of course not. God takes care of business as He sees fit. God is in perfect control and if He doesn't win the elections, He still wins the elections. That's why He is so loved by His people.

By the way, Robert Mugabe didn't like that play back in 2008.

Actually, He never saw it. Dictators don't have time for the arts. Well, maybe they listen to Wagner or watch the odd rerun of The Sopranos, but satire, no, that's not their kind of thing. Adolf Hitler never laughed at Charles Chaplin, and Osama bin-Laden wasn't too fond of Jon Stewart, only American porn. These are facts!

So back in 2008, Robert Mugabe sent some of his boys from the secret police. They rounded up the actor Aleck Zulu and the production manager Lionel Nkosi and gave them a ride in their car. They tortured them and put a gun in their mouths. Maybe they broke a few limbs as well because you shouldn't insult the man who has given so much to his subjects .... sorry, co-patriots.

The play, by the way, was closed down after one performance.

That's totally understandable, because who in their right mind would want to see a play making fun of the Supreme Savior of Zimbabwe? Instead these artists should lavish Mugabe with praise. They should write pompous poems to glorify His strength, they should construct endless bridges in His name, they should create religious cults instead of telling lies about this Glorious Incarnation of Light.

3.
As I said, Robert Mugabe is a sensitive dictator. And maybe He sleeps a little better when plays like that close down. Maybe He's even proud that this election will be a little less rigged than the ones before?

So have a little compassion, have a little heart. Not for Zimbabwe but for Roberto Mugabe. The poor man had a difficult childhood. So why shouldn't the rest of his people?

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Rewritten blog from 2008. 

This entry is dedicated to the brave people of Zimbabwe who have the courage to laugh through tyranny, and to organizations like American and Danish PEN that tirelessly work for protecting the freedom of speech in countries like Zimbabwe. I'm proud to be a member of both. The brilliant cartoon above is all over the net, but I haven't been able to find out who the artist is.

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