Saturday, April 28, 2007

The American Dream Book Tour #8

SWEETWATERS COFFEE SHOP THING, ANN ARBOR, MI —Indiana license plates have American flags and "In God We Trust."
Indiana also has more war memorials per square foot than any other state in the union. There is also Purple Heart Highway and Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway and probably twelve other war highways.In downtown Indianapolis there is this huge statue memorial: The Soldiers & SailorsStatue in The Circle.

I know because I was there, driving nine times around the circle trying to find my way north on West Street to find Spencer's Bar to meet with the Indianapolis Drinking Liberally group.

Meridian - Right
Right on South
Left on West
McCarty to Delaware, left
Left on East
Right on Washington.

You can't miss it.
I always miss it.

Some Indianans most likely believe that their license plates and the war memorials and church on Sunday and Jesus are somehow connected. Just like some folks believe we landed on the moon and Osama bin Laden made money on put options prior to 9-11, like the guy in Spencer's who gave me directions back to my hotel.

After leaving Spencer's and heading straight on McCarty I stopped at a red light and could see the construction zone for the new stadium for the Indianapolis Colts. There were lights all over and cranes and partial walls. It looked like a set from Waterworld.

It's supposed to bring a lot of business to Spencer's after it's completed.

Well, I have been to Indianapolis and Saginaw, now waiting to go over to The Planet bookstore on North Main Street in Ann Arbor, then it's over to Detroit [Oakland County] for another round of Drinking Liberally.

Ruth called me just as I arrived in Indianapolis, worried after hearing about an accident near South Bend that killed eight people.
"You're not mad about the Days Inn?"
I've been spending a lot of money on motels and gas. About half my stash is already gone.

Anyway. I had a bad time in Indianapolis. My own fault. I drank almost all of Mike Stanek's Czech dark beer gift in one night in Hillsdale, Michigan.

I don't really need to go back to Indianapolis again. Not in this lifetime. Is there a next lifetime? Sometimes I wonder. You wonder about that?

The sun is out. It's been rainy lately.

I peed forty-nine times yesterday. Ruth thinks maybe there's something wrong. You think?

But not once in the car. It was a good day.

In fact yesterday was a great day. I found Saginaw, found The Dawn of a New Day coffee shop and met Ellen, Dawn and Clif.

Clif pulled his Michigan map out of his pocket and showed me exactly where I was, where Bay City is, Ann Arbor and the UP. He showed me where Traverse City is, where he went looking for Bigfoot in the 1970s and found a print.

I also talked about Bigfoot with someone at my signing that evening at Barnes & Noble. I must be getting close to my people.

I really got to sit near the front door of a B&N, at a table, with my books, and a poster saying the author was in the store signing copies of "The American Dream."

I was sitting there for a while when this little girl walks right up to me, looks me in the eyes and says, "I'm a published author, too."

Awesome. What is your name?


What is your book about?

"My cat."

Are you writing another book?

"Yes, about my other cat."

Very cool person this Delaney.

After that I read at the 303 Collective, a progressive visual and performing arts space in Old Town, Saginaw. I walked in and it was kind of dark, candles every-effing-where, and somebody up on stage reading poetry — and there were people in the seats.

Afterward I met lots of great people, some fellow 9-11 Truthers, lots of young people. They shook my hand and smiled and that means a lot, just like meeting Delaney.

The 303 Collective — and particularly this talented guy named Marc Beaudin — is a bunch of people doing original, creative, timely art. It is great. Marc says there are groups doing this kind of work in Minneapolis and elsewhere, but I'm just really impressed. I guess the main thing is that it is original; these people really are putting themselves into this work, shaping their lives around their art, trying to make a difference, and actually doing it. Check out Marc's novel: "A Handful of Dust."

Hey. Did you hear that the Catholic Church took back Limbo. I guess it's a "never mind." I'm starting to wonder if there isn't a whole lot about the Catholic Church, about all organized religion that might turn out to be a "never mind."

And E. Howard Hunt says it was Lyndon Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover who organized the murder of John F. Kennedy.

This whole "land of the free" with killer jets flying over the stadium and everyone standing there with their hands over their hearts, tears in their eyes?

Never mind.

I stayed last night at the Jeannine Coallier Catholic Worker in Saginaw. Thanks to Ellen Garrett for organizing my stay. I met Tao this morning at the breakfast table. He took a break from watching his new robots movie to have some "crunch" toast. Another bright-eyed wonderful little kid.

Last night we had beers at Ewoldt's a block from the 303. Marc showed me the table where he sits and writes poetry. He's good. Must be a great spot.

The back of Ellen's black Saturn is plastered with bumper stickers: War Is Not The Answer, Save The Farmland—No Wal-Mart, Thou Shall Not Kill, Bob Marley. A few of them were recently keyed by someone, perhaps a disgruntled Wal-Mart greeter.

The Jeannine house has chickens in the yard.

Dawn of Dawn's coffee shop let us spend the afternoon drinking free coffee and peeing. She had to leave about five to go to a community event. She said she opened the coffee shop a couple of years ago, in an area of Saginaw not popular for businesses, "because of crime."

She came down here because ...?

"To save the world."

She checked her bank account before going out, fifty dollars. "Next week I'll make money. I think, someday it will come back to me. Which it will."

The sun is out.

George W. Bush is on the run, hiding from the truth, headed for a debacle that will put him in his historical prison cell for the rest of eternity.

You gotta love that.

It is indeed the dawn of a new day.


— Mike

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The American Dream Book Tour #7

" So fuck the FCC. Fuck the FBI. Fuck the CIA.
I'm livin' in the motherfucking U.S.A."

     — Steve Earle, "The Revolution Starts Now"

— "I was either going to fucking move or fucking change this town."
That is Richard Wunsch, the owner of Volume One Books of Hillsdale, Michigan. "And I haven't done either."
But he keeps trying.
Geezuz, that means ... everything.
Wunsch has been a first and second grade teacher in Chicago. He has been a block layer, factory worker. He is a radical, a member of the intelligentsia of the United States. There definitely is such a thing. I am finding that out.

Wunsch is wearing a union jacket while he sits in his bookstore and visits with me and Aimee England — who "runs everything" at the store -- as well as visitors strolling in and out of the busy place in downtown Hillsdale, in southern Michigan.

Wunsch talks Steven into sticking around and hearing the rest of my talk. Steven is a young comic, musician, writer. He works at a grocery store right now. He is an "Army brat", raised in Hawaii, Germany, etc.He has a wife. He is concerned about the world, aware. He bought a book.

And there was this young man over in Chicago, who stopped by to listen to me at Revolution Books. He is from Florida, graduated from high school eight months ago, came to Chicago, by himself, to be an actor. He asked me what I think about global warming.

These guys have guts, creativity, heart. I'm not shitting you, it is my absolute pleasure to be able to meet people like this. Wow.

I have met a lot of people like this in the month I have been on the road.
Anthony Rayson, also in Chicago, Lou Downey, Michael Stanek, and on and on. "Chicago Jim" from stopped by at Barbara's Books and gave me a care package for my journey. How great was that? That gesture is going to take me about four states just on its own. I probably won't even use any gas.

Many folks are concerned about what is going on in this country. Sometimes they are in the city, some are in the smaller towns.

They are smart, passionate, good people.

And when this war ends, when George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove are run out of the White House with a switch, it will be these people who will have done a good share of the workload. Most of us won't never-ever know them, but they are there, they dare, and they care.

I spent Monday and Tuesday in Chicago with Mike & Audrey Stanek. Mike took me out bike riding around town. I have not been on a bicycle since, well ... a long time. We took the Blue Line downtown, too.

Mike accompanied me at my readings at New World Resource Center, the Unitarian Church in Park Forest, Revolution Books, Barbara's Books. Thank you, Mike.

When Mike and I were walking around downtown I could not help but look for Gwen. She lives in Chicago, I think. She was my first girlfriend in ninth grade in Norfolk. We would walk home together and talk and really, the rest of the world did not exist. And now you don't even know where the other one is. How does that happen?

Oh, well, that's kind of how it goes.

Kind of how it's supposed to go.    I understand.

Of course I love my wife — Ruth. She is my life.

But still I think it is not extraordinary to walk around and wonder where Gwen from 1968 is, and how she is doing.

If that's wrong, I'm sorry. No I'm not.

After the reading Tuesday night at Barbara's, Mike and a friend of his, Carey, from the housing co-op, went for beers and fries and Gouda [it's cheese!] at the Handlebar on North Avenue, an extremist biker bar.

Carey used to work for Greenpeace.

Get this, once during a Chicago peace rally, he was watching a local television station reporter, well, reporting, on the peace protest. Behind the reporter were some "drunk obnoxious protesters." After the shot, the reporter turned to "the protesters" and said, "thanks,
guys." And the "protesters" walked away, drunk no longer.

Welcome to America, let me try to explain.

Carey has met Julia Hill Butterfly person woman and also Bonnie Raitt, and that's pretty much hugetime in my book.

He had a great suggestion when the inevitable "well what do we do then" question came up at Barbara's.

Carey said we should write to Rep. John Conyers and demand that these thugs — Bush, Cheney, Rove — be prosecuted before the clock runs out. These men should be in the super-max prisons we have prepared so judiciously.

Most of the people we have in those tombs do not belong there, because this country is insane — but Bush, Cheney and Rove ... well, it was for these boys that thumb screws were ever even thunk of.

They are murderers.

Mike Stanek, who once spent six months at Indiana's hideous Terre Haute prison for protesting against the U.S. military, also let me download about two hundred new songs onto my iPod and sent me on my way with a brown bag full of Czech beer, from the home country.

What's the word for awesome in Czech?

Nope, I don't know either.

"Piss and moan about the immigrants, but don't say nothing 'bout the
president. But democracy don't work that way. I can say anything I want
to say."
— Steve Earle, "The Revolution Starts Now"


As we all sat inside Chicago's Revolution Books waiting to get started, someone came in and said that local law enforcement had just conducted a raid in the heart of the Hispanic community, and that local residents had responded immediately with a march in protest.

A front-page photo appeared the next morning in the Sun-Times.

And so I guess that tells us a little about why and how.

Why don't people get too excited about the war in Iraq?

And how do we mobilize people, get them in the streets, bring about a non-violent revolution, as someone in Madison, Wisconsin suggested?
I think it happens when we feel it affects us. When the city council tries to make us put in a sidewalk in front of our house, then we attend the meeting that night.

The folks in Chicago came out, into the street, immediately, without a mailing list, no matter what was on TV, no matter what plans they had for the evening.

Because the robo cops with the machine guns and the face shields were coming after them.

They had to fight. They did not have a choice to make as to whether their time was better spent going out to eat or working in the garden, or whether to fight the brown shirts on their doorstep.      There was no decision to make.

From what I have seen I think that's the only way it happens.

Hey.    I just saw that Rosie O'Donnell is off The View.

Wow. That tell you anything? It tells me that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney attacked their own country in order to start the war in Iraq and steal the oil.

Dick Gregory once said in Omaha, somewhere in the mid-1980s, that if you challenge them, "they will bring tanks on your ass." When I first heard that, in about 1984, I didn't really understand what he was saying, or believe it was that bad in the United States.

It is that bad. In fact, it's probably worse.

Hey. You ever try to find a public restroom in Chicago while you are trying to get out of the city to make it to a book reading in Michigan, and you really, really have to go?

Do you know what happens, eventually?

No, I don't want to talk about it. Would you? If you were a big-time anti-war novelist on a nationwide book tour?

Well, what should we do?

Piss our pants or piss all over the floorboard in fear of the thugs in the police uniforms and government offices? Or get out in the streets with our signs and our fists in the air?

I know what Lou Downey, Aimee England, Anthony Rayson, Chicago Jim, and Richard Wunsch would do, are doing.

— Mike

Next stops:
April 26, Indianapolis Drinking Liberally, 7 pm.;
April 27, Saginaw, MI, The Coffee Shop, 2 pm.; Barnes & Noble, 6 pm;
303 Collective, 8 pm.
April 28, Ann Arbor, The Planet Bookstore, 2 pm.;
April 28, Detroit [Oakland County] Drinking Liberally, Bo's, 6 pm.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The American Dream Book Tour #6

THE GRANDVIEW INN — The Boston Red Sox hit four home runs in one inning tonight against the New York Yankees. Ho hum.

George Bush Sr. was involved in the murder of John F. Kennedy, the Iran-Contra scandal, stealing two elections for his son, planning the attacks of 9-11, and on, and on.


Ho hum. I guess it just all depends.

Well, I'm sitting in the GrandView Inn somewhere on I-94 with my car headed toward Chicago. The sign says I am in Racine. I think they mean "racing".

All I see is The Ramada, Holiday Inn, a truck parking lot and well, cars, roads, gas pumps, big signs, people trying with all their heart and soul to get from wherever they are to somewhere else.

I got stood up tonight in Milwaukee.
I had a date at the Cream City Collective, supposed to read there, and nobody, not even somebody to open the door, shows up.

Being a big-shot author, well, it's not that. I mean, I'm this anti-war novelist author guy and here is this anti-war bookstore, with a vegetarian co-op food natural grind, pick and haul your own beans with your own donkey coffee thing across the street, and still I can't get somebody to come open the door.

I drove over here from Madison this afternoon.
I read in Madison yesterday afternoon at a bookstore near the University of Wisconsin.

Beforehand, I was lost, of course, and as an absolute last resort decided to ask for directions. I pulled into this big lot and drove up to this guy wearing an orange vest.

"Mulch?" he asked.

No, no effing mulch.

Where in the eff is Gilman Street?

He gave me directions, expertly, politely, as only a Madison resident could do.

After my reading, no, before, I go out walking around the "Designated Funk Area."

And it's EarthFest Day Thing, of course.

Every day is earth day in Madison.

There is a band up on this stage and, well, they all look like me, like they've been standing up there a long time.

I walk around and there are tables set up for fair trade coffee.

"You like solar energy?" someone asks.

Love it, just love it.

Fair trade coffee, sustainable agriculture, homemade shit of every phylum and fauna, and breasts. Every-effing-where.
The whole thing was put on, evidently, by WISPIRG. I know what that is, do you?

And, I'm walking around and people are laughing at me, gut laughs, some smiles.
It's my all-time best T-shirt ever that sent to me for this tour.
It has an image of a scowling George W. Bush: Worst President Ever.
It is the best T-shirt ever. I can tell that. I know what is a winner and what isn't. This T-shirt is a winner.

Well, I read to eight people. That's not a bad crowd for me. I thought I was going to get skunked because at 2 p.m., when it was supposed to start, there were a bunch of chairs, but nobody to sit in them.

The way my "events" go is that I do my thing, my speech, which lasts about thirty minutes, then somebody asks me a question and I don't know the answer, so the people start discussing among themselves, which is fine with me. The people who come to hear me, even though there are not millions of them, are very smart. I've noticed that.

And after I speak, they often want the author to be The Author.

They might ask me, where do you think our country is, as far as on the path toward fascism?

And I laugh silently to myself because I know that I have no effing idea, and then I try to get them to talk about it amongst themselves, because I also know that's what they really want to do anyway.

See, if they came to see a real smart guy author man person like Ralph Nader, well, he would have shit to say, about every-effing-thing, and they could sit there and just listen.

With me, at my "author events," after I give my prepared speech, that's kind of it, show's over, anywhere a guy can find a quart of Old Style around here?

I'm okay with that.

I know what I know, and I know there is a definite limit to that, and so I stand in front of the group and let them talk about paradigms and para nickles and para pennies as much as they want, and I pay attention as long as I can, until my mind starts wandering, wondering if that was a Kwik Trip I saw over on Einstein Circle.

After my talk at Rainbow Books in Madison at 2:10 pm., I got directions from Allen Ruff, the events coordinator, raced to find a place to stay, made four [four] trips to the ice machine to cool down the remainder of my twelve pack from Grand Forks in the sink, rode the exercise bike, took a shower, then got directions from the person at the front desk who said she loved my T-shirt [Dude, I told you], back to the
university area, cursed the low sun, and sweated myself into finding a parking garage with some room, then walked with my head down and my chunky legs just a churnin' over to hear William Rodgriguez in the Humanities Building.

Rodgriguez was a janitor in the World Trade Center when 9-11 happened. He was pulled from the effing rubble. He is a very good speaker. And he admits that he looks and sounds like Ricky Ricardo, which he does.

He helped to save a bunch of people and he says he heard explosions in the basement before the planes hit, saw the vending machine guy walking out of that area with his skin hanging off his arms from the explosions — before the plans hit.

He conjectures that the planners didn't quite coordinate everything — the charges planted in the buildings and the planes hitting — exactly together.

He recently visited Venezuela, and was approached by an FBI agent in the hotel. The Venezuelan government then assigned five men to protect Rodriguez because they thought it just might be possible that the USA would kill Rodriguez in order to silence him, while in the meantime blaming it on Venezuela and giving the land of the free an excuse to invade and silence Chavez, who thinks Bush is the devil, which he is.

Anyway, Rodriguez had no visible protection in Madison on Saturday. He was headed to Peoria for another talk on Sunday. We owe him a lot. It is possible that the future of our democracy rides on his shoulders. No, not on his. He is doing what he needs to do. It depends on our response.

He is a hero. He is putting his life on the line by rolling his eyes when he hears the Bush government's conspiracy theory about what happened on 9-11.

As I was driving around trying to find a parking spot I saw all these people wearing red T-shirts. I thought maybe it had to do with the Rodriguez event.
As I got closer I saw that they were University of Wisconsin T-shirts.
There was some kind of sporting event in some kind of humongous building, where most of the people on the sidewalk were headed. Oh, I thought, dumb guys. Not great T-shirts either.

It just depends.

— Mike

Chicago: April 23, New World Resource Center, 1300 N. Western Ave., 5
pm.; 8 pm. Unitarian Church, Park Forest.
April 24, Revolution Books, 530 pm.; Barbara's Books, Halsted St., 730

Friday, April 20, 2007

The American Dream Book Tour #5

"Kid, have you rehabilitated yourself?"
I went over to the sargeant, said, "Sargeant, you got a lot a damn gall to ask me if I've rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I'm sittin' here on the bench, I mean I'm sittin here on the Group W bench 'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug."

— Arlo Guthrie, Alice's Restaurant

I'm back.
Did you even notice I was gone?
I was in Canada from about 3:30 p.m. to about 5:15 p.m. this afternoon.I was trying to get into Canada to go to my book reading in Winnipeg tonight at Mondragon Books. They asked me at the window who I was, what I was doing, where I was going, what kind of books did I write, what I was thinking.

Umm, political fiction. Why?

Then they sent me inside. Park under the ramp.

Talk to the customs people, no, go over there instead, to the immigration folks.

I can do that. How you doing, eh? How about that Red Green Show, huh? I mean, eh? You know him? I love that show. I want to move to Canada sometime. You folks seem like nice people. You count your votes, here, right? How do you feel about anthrax?

Do you have a passport?

Umm, know, I didn't think you had ...
I thought that was next yea ...

Birth certificate? How do I know you are really an American citizen if all you have is an Iowa driver's license.

Hey. How about those Maple Leafs, huh? You skate? I can't skate. I wish I could skate ...

Have you ever been arrested?

... But I never learned.

... Yeah, I guess. Hey, lots of ducks around here, eh? I used to hunt. I don't hunt anymore. Bet it gets cold up here.

Sit down. There.


Well, I guess you guys are stuck with me now. I always thought Canada was kind of an option. You know, go up there and sit in the park, feed bread crumbs to the moose.

But now it looks like this is kind of it.

Canada kicked me out because I have been to prison for protesting against the United States military at Offutt Air Force Base.

I thought they would appreciate something like that. I thought Canadians were different.


Well, the young woman immigration officer, agent, takes my papers, Iowa driver's license, back to some room down the immigration hall and disappears for about half an hour, while Mom & Pop Back To Winnipeg From The Winter In Miama get high-fives from the immigration and customs staff, and I'm sitting over in the corner on the Group W bench.

The young woman Canadian person came back and told me to come through the swinging doors with her and please step into the second open door on the right.

One, two.

We sit down and she explains that I can pay $200 to make an application to get considered to enter Canada. Then the application will be studied and a determination will be made as to whether I have been "rehabilitated" enough to sit in a borrowed rowboat and drink Moosehead Beer.

Then I am escorted out of the building — young immigration woman keeps my dissolute Iowa driver's license in her hand and tells me where I need to turn around to head back to wherever the hell I came from.

She will only hand me back my license as I pass by her on the sidewalk.

I then drive back the quarter mile or so to the United States immigration complex, a crew whose acquaintance I cannot wait to make.

The American immigration window woman asks me why Canada won't take me.

She directs me to Garage Number Two, where I wait until the door opens and American immigration man motions me inside.

He asks me why Canada won't take me.

Mrs. American Immigration Woman stands close by. They both have on fresh protective gloves, kind of a robins-egg-blue.

He asks what air force base I protested at that got me sent to prison. I tell him.

He asks if I have ever been to Fort Benning, the School of the Americas.

I say no, but I would like to go there sometime. Mr. American immigration man, young fat blond boy with crewcut, does not smile.

He is fingering, smelling, the money in my billfold.

He directs me to "the waiting room." I know that's what it is because it says "The Waiting Room" on the door. I can see the chairs inside.

I go sit down in one of the chairs and look toward where Mr. & Mrs. American Immigration Persons are ruffling through my undies and political fiction books.

I can't see them.

Because of the one-way window.

You can't watch them as they search your vehicle.

I can hear slamming and clanking and something like dirty socks being sniffed by a drug-smelling Mrs. Immigration American Woman, and I try not to imagine her walking into The Waiting Room with a smile on her face holding a bag of marijuana.

And then they have me. They can put me in Leavenworth or Butterworth or whatever new below-ground federal prison they have these days, and they never have to hear me talking about how Bush did 9-11 and killed Wellstone, ever again.

The door opens.

Mr. New Immigration Man, the other one must have gone home for the day, says that I'm set to go.

Turn right and head back to wherever the hell you came from.

Can I have the paper from The Country Of Canada that says why I can't come in?

No, we keep that.

I turn right, head back to Grand Forks.

I look at the sheet on my passenger seat that Miss Immigration Canadian Person Woman gave me.

It's a list of Canadian Consulates in the United States.

That is where I need to send the $200 to get them to study me to see if I am rehabilitated enough to fish in a decent lake.

I wonder how they would make their determination.

Are you glad you broke the law? Yes.

Do you support the United States. No, not really. We suck. Our military is a bunch of thugs, paid killers. No money should go to them. In fact, I sent in a crossed-out tax form to the IRS in Kansas City before I left home on this book tour.

Well, son, looks like you will never see Thunder Bay — ever, in your lifetime. I think we are through here. We'll take those flapjacks with us, and the flannel shirt, the cedar logs.

I told the woman with a smile that I was not rehabilitated, while we were sitting inside the second open door on the right. I thought, being Canadian and all, she would understand what I meant. I wouldn't even try that line down the road with the Americans.

They'd be like, what? Go Packers.

I really thought Canada would be different.

You know, like another country.

Go Maple Leafs.

— Mike

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The American Dream Book Tour #4

"But Tonto he was smarter, and one day said Kemo Sabe, kiss my ass, I bought a boat, I'm going out to sea." — Lyle Lovett, If I Had A Boat

SITTING IN THE MAY DAY CAFE, SOUTH MINNEAPOLIS — I got a hug from a black lesbian in Iowa City. She was wearing a black stocking cap and heavy coat and dreadlocks.

It was great. A hug. Wow.
It probably says a lot about me, the way I describe that event. Sorry. Or not.

I am from Norfolk, Nebraska. When I lived in Norfolk the only blacks were the basketball players for Norfolk Junior College, and the only housing they could find in town was in the locker rooms of the Catholic elementary. I guess nobody else would rent to them. I remember seeing them in there, coming in and out, when we went to the gym for P.E., didn't think anything of it.

Oh, well.

Cherry, "as in the tree", made a comment during my presentation that she didn't come to a point in her life where she had to "break up with America" because of finding out the truth. She never trusted America. She always knew what it was about. She did not have to go to prison. She did not have to wonder after 9-11 whether her government could have done it themselves.

"I totally believe the conspiracy stuff," she said. So do I, and I'm from Norfolk. I didn't always know about America. I had to learn it, along the road, from people like Cherry, like Dan Berrigan, like Kevin McGuire, Darrell Rupiper, Jean Petersen.

Yesterday I pulled over at a rest stop 40 miles out of Saint Paul to be a guest on a radio show with Kevin Barrett, in Wisconsin. It was a nice break to a long drive from Iowa City to Minneapolis, during which I played and re-played Lyle Lovett's song If I Had A Boat about twelve times because I like the line from Tonto. That line makes that song, gives it heart, gave me some strength for the road, same as the hug from Cherry.

I read at Magers & Quinn Books in Minneapolis last night, and tonight it will be Magus Books, then tomorrow morning on to Duluth and Winnipeg. The College of St. Scholastica booked me at the Holiday Inn in Duluth for tomorrow, so I'm hoping to put my feet up at some point and locate a quart of beer and the Twins game. That'shigh living to my point of view. I'm from Norfolk.

Well, I'll take this chance to tell you something about my book, since it has turned into a sunny afternoon, and I have a while until I have to try to find my way over to Dinky Town for my 7 p.m. reading.

"The American Dream", is a satirical novel which I wrote last summer each day in my head as I drove from my home in Sheldon, Iowa to my work at a group home in Hull, Iowa, about twenty minutes away. Then I wrote it down on paper when I was supposed to be working, then typed it into the computer when I got home, when I was supposed to be mowing the lawn.

The focal character is Michael M.

M also works at a group home. He wants with all his being to get on the Home Helper Show to get his little house fixed up and make his wife happy — while the world burns.

By accident, M rams his moped into the war memorial in city park and breaks the World War II monument. He is whisked away by helicopter to the local concentration camp and called a terrorist. He is dubbed The Big Evil One.

And other stuff happens. I'll tell you more later, if you want.

My thanks to Holly Hart in Iowa City for organizing the event at the public library. Thanks to Marta Carson for the place to stay. It's this refurbished old church out in Amish country outside of Iowa City. Remember that old Arlo Guthrie song, Alice's Restaurant? Isn't there a church in there somewhere? And Marta was playing an Arlo Guthrie song in the morning. Far out.

Thanks to Jeff Sarmstrom and his family for coming to Magers & Quinn last night. They really made my day.

I'm staying these couple of days with Ed & Carol Felien in south Minneapolis. Carol teaches women's studies at a local college and Ed runs an alternative Twin Cities newspaper, The Pulse. He has a Che Guevara mousepad. Now, why couldn't I find a paper like that to work for when I was running around in a fever to be a real reporter?

Ed doesn't know me, but when I emailed him to ask him for a place to stay, he said yes. Last night after my reading he had wine and cheese and crackers ready and the three of us watched Amy Goodman interview Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn — on the TV. Howard Zinn talking sense on the television. That is something I have never-ever before seen in my life. I am from Norfolk.

I had lunch up in The Pulse offices today with Ed and his staff: wonderful, rebellious, talented journalists. Put these people on the TV, on the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Washington Post, and we won't have to put up with the likes of George W. Bush and Karl Rove. [My dislike for Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings seems to have not yet found bottom.]

And somebody—some great, wonderful body — gave me a hug after one of my talks.

The sun is out, there are kids running around this shop. It smells like exotic coffee that I do not yet know how to order. There are two guys next to me playing their daily card game, loving every minute of it.

And now it's time to try to find Magus Books.

You take care. Enjoy the day.


— Mike

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The American Dream Book Tour #3

"You open up their hearts, and here's what you'll find ... some humans ain't human, some people ain't kind."
— John Prine

DRIVING TO DES MOINES — It's sixty-three songs from Sheldon, Iowa to Rochester, Minnesota.
I got my iPod back up and running. I won't be alone anymore.
Got the Dixie Chicks, John Prine, Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, Mary-ChapinCarpenter, John Denver, The Clash, Bill Hicks, Cat Stevens, The Soggy Bottom Boys,Alison Krause, The Eagles, Green Day, Greg Brown, Woody Guthrie, Steve Forbert, Harry McClintock, all squeezed into the brown Honda.

Austin, Minnesota is thirty-four songs from Rochester.

It is the home of the Spam Museum. I'm probably in there somewhere, maybe in the hall of fame with all my emails over the past ten years trying to hawk my books.

In the early 1990s, Ruth, Sam, Emily and I lived in Byron, eight miles west of Rochester. We owned the tiny Byron Review, ran it out of the north side of our home on Byron Avenue. We scrimped and saved and hustled and fought with the city council, school board, lumber yard, elevator, fire department, and won the newspaper of the year award from the MNA in 1994. We went out of business later in the year.

Sitting in traffic in Rochester was the first time I felt kind of vulnerable with my bumper stickers: 9-11 Was An Inside Job, Jail Bush, Impeach Bush. Rochester is a conservative island in Minnesota. But it wasn't really that. I think I was just tired, depressed a little from having to leave home and think of three months ahead of me on the road, and so maybe I was poking along a little and getting some looks from my fellow Americans.

But I've got a license to drive slow — Iowa plates.

And now I remember how fast people in southeast Minnesota drive. They are busy people, getting things done, going places. I try not to get in the way.

Sitting in heavy traffic on Broadway Avenue in Rochester I kept an eye on the fat blonde woman behind me with no neck driving the forest green Dodge Caravan. Had my hand on the auto-lock in case she opened her door.

Once when I was a seminarian at the College of St. Thomas in Saint Paul in 1979 I flipped a trucker the bird as I drove past him in my 1959 brown and white Chevy. Just because I thought I could, and get away with it

As I sang along with an Eagles song I could see a familiar truck getting bigger in the rearview mirror.

I had to stop and the trucker pulled up next to me, got out of his truck, came around to my door and pounded on the door and the window, saying somebody should teach me a lesson.

I did learn a lesson.
Don't stop.

Or if you have to stop, keep one eye on the lady in the fur-lined jacket in the side mirror.

When we were in Byron in the early '90s I did a story on the Leonard Peltier case, and interviewed an FBI agent in the Rochester office.

One of them, David Price, was mentioned in the book In The Spirit of Crazy Horse, and had been accused by some in the American Indian Movement of having murdered Anna Mae Aquash. He wasn't in the office the day I was there, so I did not get to meet him.

The other, Don Dealing, did visit with me. He talked about Peltier, Jack Coler, Ronald Williams, Wounded Knee. He had been at Wounded Knee as a member of some sort of FBI special forces team.

By searching Google for Don Dealing tonight I found that he testified in 2004 in a trial regarding the death of Anna Mae Aquash. He says he was the first FBI agent on the scene. I don't recall talking to him about that. In the 2004 testimony he also says that his only knowledge of COINTELPRO is through what he has seen "through media and that sort of a thing."

Have you ever met an FBI agent? I have talked to a few, while in custody, as a reporter, watching a friend be arrested by a boatload of them once in Omaha. They don't seem human. They have a non-terrestrial aura. Stay away from them if you can. Your life will be richer for it.

Anyway, I spoke last night to the southeast Minnesota peacemakers group in Rochester, perhaps the most organized peace group in the continental USA. They have name tags and agendas and motions and seconds, and non-acidic tea.

In my talk I raise the question of whether Senator Paul Wellstone was assassinated by the Bush government. I really didn't know what to expect in giving the talk in Minnesota. But during and afterwards some said they agreed, and some thanked me for saying out loud what was on people's minds. They were not aware of Jim Fetzer's book, American Assassination

And so when someone asked what additional information I had about the Wellstone affair, I told them about the book. And I said that an electro-magnetic weapon was a possibility, and told how the FBI was on the scene too soon not to have left Minneapolis before the plane crashed. And the fire burned blue-white, which is how an electrical fire burns.

These are things I found out from reading Fetzer's book.

I have to admit, out loud, that a lot of what I say comes not from knowing, but from feeling. I don't apologize for that.

I don't think there is anything wrong with saying what you feel. I would actually like to have someone show me, to my satisfaction, that I am wrong about Bush and 9-11, Bush and Wellstone. That would be fine with me.

To have to imagine the alternative, that persons within our own government did these things, is not particularly easy to live with. I would be glad to let it go.

I first found out about Wellstone's death when I turned on my computer that day and went to Common Dreams and there was Wellstone's photo. I then went over to run on the treadmill at nearby Dordt College, and the Wellstone news was on the TV in the corner. A couple of college girls were snickering, implying that he got what he deserved. Gotta love those pro-lifers.

The timing of the death of Wellstone was perfect for the Bush administration. They needed that seat to control the Senate. Wellstone stood in the way of a lot of things.

Think how excited they would be at about that time, after pulling off 9-11, and set up perfectly to run the table, to take over the world. Would people like this let one guy stand in their way after all the work and struggle they had committed to become rich and powerful?

Not likely.

There was an investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that pilot error was responsible for the plane not maintaining adequate air speed, which led to a stall from which they could not recover.

And so we can be certain Wellstone was not murdered, because a commission said he was not.

Well, I don't agree.

I think these things can be rigged: the Warren Commission and the 9-11 commission come to mind.

I just think someone like Wellstone, who had heart, who was twice the man, twice the human being, that George W. Bush is, deserved better. He deserves justice. He deserves a real investigation.

He deserves to not be forgotten.

See you in Des Moines [The Ritual Cafe, April 14, 3 pm], Iowa City
[Public Library,330 pm.].

- Mike

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The American Dream Book Tour #2

SHELDON, IOWA — Hello all.

I am home this weekend for Easter, watching the Red Sox and Rangers on Sunday Night baseball.
I was in Lincoln, Omaha, Wayne, Sioux Falls since writing last.

Lots of memories in Omaha. Ruth and I lived there during much of the 1980s in a resistance community in north Omaha called Greenfields, named after the anti-war song The Greenfields of France.

"Oh how do ya do young Willie McBride. Do you mind if I sit down here by your graveside." I think I carved that into my cell in Terre Haute Penitentiary while I was there for three weeks waiting transfer to El Reno, Leavenworth and La Tuna.

Terre Haute. "Dog-ass Terre Haute" somebody on the prison bus said as we pulled within sight. We had come from Chicago and stopped at Marion earlier in the day to pick up a couple of guys bound for Leavenworth after years in lockdown at Marion. Or maybe Marion came after Terre Haute. Not sure that I remember anymore. 'Scuse me.

You get out of the prison bus and you walk up toward the big brick penitentiary, through the guard towers and the shotguns and rifles. And you know that none of it has to do with right and wrong. It has to do with we are bigger than you and we could give a shit about thou shall not kill and the poor and any of that shit and we will kill you if you get out of line and run toward home and your son and your wife.

And 'scuse me, but that walk up from the prison bus to the big brick walls of Terre Haute Penitentiary is where I formed a good deal of my opinion of America. Even days and weeks and years spent in hot and cold classrooms, wooden desks and Formica desks, listening to Sister Anita and, Lucy, Monique and Luellan, studying American History and religion and English and hygiene, from impressive, hard cover textbooks made in Texas could not compare.

The guns were pointed at me. My son was sitting at home in Nebraska looking out the window wondering when I was coming home.

America. It is big and it will kill you. It is mean. It is rich. It is obnoxious. It is beautiful. It has people capable of stopping their car in rush hour traffic to move a baby bird to the grass, or of looking the other way for forty years while people suffer and suffer and finally die.

America. A big, red brick walled country.

But, shit, the people who will stop in traffic for the little bird are far and few between, while the ones who will take money to build big, red brick walls are lined up from here to the hardware store.

Anyway ... Omaha.

Dog-ass Omaha.

I went to jail for the first time in Omaha, along with the second, third, fourth and fifth times.

I went to seminary from Omaha, too.

Took the bus, Greyhound, from Norfolk, to meet the bishop. Then up to Saint Paul where I met Fr. Daniel Berrigan, a priest who said there were better things than becoming a priest, such as working for peace and for justice and the poor, and I believed him. I still do.

During the summer I got my teeth cleaned back home in Norfolk, and I guess I liked clean teeth, so I ended up marrying the dental hygienist. We moved to Omaha and moved into Greenfields.

I wrote a letter to Archbishop Daniel Sheehan asking him what he thought of Offutt Air Force Base, home of the Strategic Air Command, which was responsible for the targeting of all of America's nuclear weapons. Sheehan said the targeting was cool with him and the Catholic Church. Threatening all those people with murder was cool, spending all those billions of dollars on weapons and not on the poor people of
north Omaha was cool with the bishop and the Catholic Church.

So I made up my own little sign.

It said "The Omaha Catholic Church Supports SAC — Why?"

I picketed outside the bishop's offices on Dodge Street, inside his offices, outside the Masses of the jillion Catholic churches in Omaha. I went on a hunger strike once inside Douglas County Correctional Center to try to get the bishop to say "thou shall not kill." I once stood in front of the congregation at St. Cecilia's Cathedral while the bishop gave his Easter homily, holding my sign.

I once took sanctuary inside the Cathedral, went there instead of going to federal court for an Offutt protest, again asking, demanding that the bishop say "thou shall not kill." He raised a strong chin, firmly placed his red bishop's cap on his head and smoothed his gold-laced, ankle-length robes and said, of course, he would not.

I decided not to let the FBI take me — they were all around the church — one was posing as a stations-of-the-cross sayer inside the church.

While a friend held a diversionary press conference on the front steps I pulled a sweatshirt hood over my head and threw a black garbage sack over my back and walked out a side door, took out the Cathedral garbage, and hopped into the car my wife had left for me in the parking lot.

Ruth and I and our young son were on the run from the FBI for about two nerve-wracking weeks, staying in the cabin of a sympathetic priest, at the mother house of a local religious order, in a friend's apartment, out at her family's farm in South Dakota.

Then I ended up giving myself up at a press conference, again at the Chancery, the bishop's office, after which my wife and son went home alone. I went to Douglas County Correctional Center, where I went crazy, insane, clinically depressed, from missing my young son ... and the bishop ... he went golfing.

Dog-ass Catholic Church.

It is big and it will kill you.

Palecek On the Road 1

Mike Palecek is on the road for a book tour to read from his newest book "The American Dream" and others. I will be printing his missives here Mike Palecek is an activist who has spent time in prison for his work against US Imperialism and the Iraq war. He is the author of books including, Joe Coffee’s Revolution,
KGB, Twins, The Truth, The Last Liberal Outlaw, Looking for Bigfoot, and Terror Nation.

March 27, 2007


Tomorrow I give Ruth a hug and drive away to Kansas City for the first stop on my book tour, a meeting of the K.C. Drinking Liberally group.

It’s been one hundred years since I really went out and socialized. I think this trip will be a learning experience for me.

Just finished updating the itinerary. There are seventy-eight stops between drinking with the liberals in Kansas City to drinking with the liberals in Colorado Springs on July 3.

Got my car worked on, tune-up, oil, two new tires. Cost about fifteen hundred or so. And so, of course, this afternoon I’m going back to the shop because the windshield wiper fluid still doesn’t spray. And maybe I should have got that driver’s side window and the radio to work, I don’t know, maybe.

I did figure out the iPod, with the help of my kids, Sam and Emily. Ruth bought me a map and Lisa Casey at All Hat No Cattle and Bart at sent me T-shirts. Awesome.

At 51, it’s been awhile, almost thirty years, since I took my last road trip in my dad’s 1959 Chevy with the wings, and my dog, and cowboy hat I bought in Fort Collins after visiting my sister. I always called her derisively “my rich sister.” I shouldn't have done that. That’s maybe not fair, but her husband, once the manager of KCOL radio in Fort Collins, was up on the dais when President Gerald Ford visited Fort Collins in the 1970s. I don’t like Gerald Ford. He’s dead and I don't like him any better. He was supposed to be a man’s president, football player and all. If he was half a man he wouldn’t have lied to us all with the rest of the Warren Commission. Oh, well, what you gonna do with rich bastards? About all you can do is holler. They’re still gonna do whatever it is they do.

Anyway, dad’s brown and white Chevy, my dog, Nicki, sitting in the front seat, ears flapping in the breeze, looking around at me, out the window with Buddhist detachment. Headed out west, to Oregon, to find the sun, the truth, the girl of my dreams, my ass with both hands, I really don’t know. Dad died in 1981 in an Omaha hospital, of kidney failure, the day before Ruth and I got married. That has been awhile, too. Wish I still had the white plastic Jesus we used to have on the
dashboard of the Chevy. It might come in handy.

I never did want to do this, take a book tour. In my mind, that’s the reason you write books, because you don’t or won’t talk. But my books are good, really, trust me, and they deserve a chance to live. So I’m going to give about eighty speeches more than I have ever given in my life — and I think it will be a blast. When it’s all over, after you get back and sit with a quart of beer in both hands on the back porch, that kind of a blast, not necessarily while, oh, well, that’s enough.

I need to just go do it. Right. I hear you.

First, I need to put this letter to the IRS in the mail.



March 27, 2007

Internal Revenue Service
Kansas City, MO 64999-002


Enclosed is a crossed-out tax form.

I will not cooperate with the murderous regime of George W. Bush.

President Bush and his administration planned and carried out the attacks on the United States on 9-11-01, in order to attack Iraq and steal their oil.

In the eyes of Bush and Cheney and Rove, the war is going according to plan. They and their friends are making millions, billions, from the oil, from the defense industry, while the poor go without, while social services are cut in order to pay for more war and killing.

As a Christian, I cannot go along with this.

I must protest.


Mike Palecek