Spies Are Us

“Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe.  Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.” – Ayn Rand

Six days after the big bang, god, according to a fresco painting by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, breathed life into Adam, the first man; creating him in his own image and there, as Willy Shakes would later opine; lay the rub. God, the original spy, as legend has it, watched, as he does all six billion of us, their every move 24/7. 

Apparently unable to secure Mexican field hands to upkeep his Garden of Eden, god ordered Adam to work without pay. Adam, needing a little recreation, hit on god for a consort. In a kind gesture unlike him god performed a major skin graft gifting Adam a McRib playmate. Soon after, in the first ever recorded passive aggressive schizophrenic flip, god booted them both out of paradise with nothing but olive leaves to cover their junk; just for eating an apple. Seems a bit harsh but then god always was a moody prick.

Enlightened yet rightly paranoid minds from the coast have asked for my comments on the National Security State and how all communications including their email are being stored and analyzed by what they deemed “the new SS”.

Well, we can’t help it; god, creating us in his own busy-body image, hard-wired us thus. Couple that with long lines of us awaiting the next Swiss army knife like super phone that doubles as a tracking device, Face-Twit; allowing me to know when you got your pubes, reality TV, American Idol and GPS in our cars; privacy it seems is not what we want.

J.Edgar Hoover, between dress fittings, didn’t snoop on everybody; just those he fantasized commies, and for the most part, as presidents and hero’s fell and cities burned; we didn’t mind. Now, Post 911, sphincter muscles are air tight as submarines imagining another Boston Marathon and again; mostly we don’t mind.

I’m less amazed technology has enabled the level of data collection reported and more bewildered what all those trillions of phone calls are saying; mostly nervous banter is my guess. Back in the Stone Age I refused to carry a Beeper for work since it seemed like a dog collar and it’s why now I don’t own a cell phone. All the new gadgets meant to give us more time seem to fill up every second; I write. I need time to wander and wonder. The richest man is the one with the freest time.

This doesn’t mean I’m not sympathetic to those who want their communications private. It’s disconcerting I’m sure to imagine some sweaty-palmed nerd listening to you talk dirty to your girl friend or spy the Selfie she just sent you of her vag-hole; kinda ruins the mood eh? 

Personally I want the opposite; the more exposure I get the better. Maybe someone will discover my genius. But for the others; I understand. I say just chill and realize it’s the guy who’s listening clandestinely that’s the guy who’s scared. But before condemning our government who is after all us, as the new and improved East German Stasi; there are two sides to this coin.

In Sydney Pollack’s 1975 American political thriller Three Days of the Condor, Robert Redford’s character, code name Condor, a CIA analyst, discovers secret war-game plans to occupy the Saudi Arabian oil fields. When he’s confronted by the CIA Black Hand out to kill him for it Condor says; “the American people won’t stand for it.” The company man says “not now they won’t; but ask them when they’re freezing in the dark; ask them then. When they’re cold and starving they won’t care how we do it. They’ll just want us to get it for them”.

Since America will be energy self-sufficient by 2017 due to Fracking, or so they tell me, that particular boggy-man is dead. But now its terrorism and those same CIA guys are plenty pissed at having been blamed for not connecting the dots. So, once given the means to make those connections they are off to the races. I’m pretty sure we won’t be able to put that toothpaste back in the tube so my advise is don’t do or say anything you’ll be ashamed of. Speak, write and have the courage of your convictions; and remember it’s the government that follows the people not the inverse.

Meanwhile, I suspect the CIA cipher was right; we may not like it now but a few more 911’s and we’ll all be handing in our phone logs like time sheets. #spiesareus #CIA #Russiahack 



 “The wind is in from Africa. Last night I couldn’t sleep” – Carey – Joni Mitchell

Negotiating narrow walkways above overly clean streets in Cape Town; a haphazard assortment of traipsing multi-racial folk shadowed by Victorian buildings and Victorian morals, enveloped in fear midst everyday joys of life; are hidden yet visible under a veil of normalcy.

In apartheid Southern Africa the disconnect that set this place apart was palpable. Chaos; the random order free people enjoy, chaos born of freedom to act spontaneously; was missing. Every move people of all colors made seemed choreographed; life on film in a sort of paranoid hell, a Orwellian 1984. Each body cringed imperceptibly like it could be struck at any moment; a collective fear mixed with a collective sorrow, a deep psychic injury, lying outside the sphere of the physical, a mysterious sensitivity generations ingrained.

The tribal elder’s called me Mzungu; Bantu for aimless wanderer. The tribal boys called me Mukiwa; white boy in Africa. I told them of American apartheid, the struggle and triumph and how it had been done; by walking and sitting down, resulting in the civil rights act of 1960. They told me of 1960 in Sharpeville. We had Bull Connors with fire hoses; they had genuine Neo-Nazi’ with live rounds and they were definitely open for business.  

It wasn’t hard to foresee the fall of South Africa was a matter of time. In the opulence of European style bistros a small boy led an old ragged blind woman by a rope through the maze of café’ tables begging for charity; the white shopkeeper shooed them away none to politely. Knee deep in the sewer sludge of apathy, general ambivalence to suffering on a societal scale, the center could not hold; and when it blew; I was sure the gutters would run red. I saw it, the boy and the blind woman saw it too.

Nelson and I got the same sentence; hard labor. Mine in Salisbury maximum security prison for six months; his on Robbins Island for life. Inmates told me a prison cell I spent some time in had at one time held Nelson Mandela. They passed it with reverence and told me of the vicious way he had been treated there.

During my captivity three executions took place not fifty yards from my cell. The guilty “terrorists” were hanged. For days earlier the condemned were held in a tower above the black section of the prison. Their screams, which permeated the compound, were spoken in Bantu or Shona or Zulu; translated for me as plea’s begging for their mother’s. Beatings and drugging stopped them temporarily each day.

Locked down the day of the hangings, whites and blacks; we listened through the deafening silence of three thousand seventy-two men as an old pick up truck entered the prison, first gear, second gear, third gear. We heard testing of the gallows, screams of the soon dead being dragged to the executioners clutches; silence while the knot was set, slamming of the trap door and nailing shut of the coffin. Then, the executioner, paid fifty dollars for the day’s work, drove out the way he came in; this time he took a body with him. No one spoke before during or after these events.

It is sadly ironic to contemplate that ten years later these same men would be hailed heroes to the great struggle for independence, patriots to the revolution; would be given honored status in the new government for the same deeds they died for in those days.

Before my state sponsored vacation I met Africans who told me freedom fighters infiltrated the country at different places and times. One represented the legs, one the arms, one the hands and so on, and when they all came together as the body at a prearranged place, the bomb would go off.

Sitting in that ganja smoke-filled hotel room I listened to one ancient Africans voice speak metaphorically and chillingly about the body. The newspaper had reported that day electrical transmission towers were blown up and I asked him who he thought had done it. He smoked the herb in high billowy exhales as if his lungs knew no bottom and could blow up like a bullfrog and said, “Love lies dormant inside, unable to be realized and may damage the heart if not set free”. The herb passed around a few more times in silence after that profound observation; his words hung from the ceiling; the room spun.

Had Nelson Mandela given just a nod South Africa would have been Rwanda. When news spread across the wire yesterday that the great elephant was no more; Albert’s words echoed in my ear. “Generations to come, it may be, Einstein said of Gandhi in July 1944, will scarcely believe that such a one as this, ever in flesh and blood; walked upon this earth”. #Nelson Mandela # Mahatma Gandhi #Apartheid #South Africa #Mukiwa #Mzungu # Nazi’s #Zulu