Friday, August 17, 2007

a miami jury convicted american citizen jose padilla of thinking about doing something nasty to people overseas. or something along those lines. mr. padilla was dragged off a plane years ago, accused of plotting to explode a dirty bomb (don't such people wash their c4 before using?), declared an enemy combatant by president brushcut, hauled to a brig, and forced to watch all the "i love lucy" episodes forwards and backwards, dubbed into norwegian, for three years. in other words, he was tortured.

the actual conditions of padilla's confinement and interrogations were not allowed to be discussed at his trial. from many sources we can surmise that mr. padilla's govmint handling included: total isolation, intolerable loud music (the "koresh cantata"), injections of weird drugs, heating and super cooling of his cell, no sunlight, bouts of continuous interrogation, and no visits from paris hilton.

padilla was brought to trial as the supreme court edged closer to forcing the administration to release him. a ruling that "enemy combatants" was an illegal category would have closed down the fun times at gitmo.

today's papers should trumpet padilla's conviction as a triumph for bush justice. and for junior alberto, our quaint attorney general. and render these years of mistreatment perfectly legal.

so, let me tender a suggestion to senator leahy's senate committee. to improve alberto gonzales' memory and soften his attitude problem, let's give him the (perfectly legal) padilla treatment before his next visit with leahy's committee. there must be a dark dungeon somewhere in our nation's capital for rent at a modest sum. we have a number of ex-cia guys who'd volunteer time as an interrogation tag team. god knows there are enough awful cd's to serenade gonzo at extreme volume. for public information purposes we can video some of the fun and pop it on youtube. why gonzo might confess to more stuff than that rumpled sheik mohammed dope.

how the hell else are we going to get the truth from this confederation of clowns?

Monday, August 6, 2007

josefina's livingroom

a marvelous woman has passed from us. josefina yanguas, after 90 rich years, died this week.

barely five feet tall, her spirit was large as the mountains surrounding her native pamplona, spain. founder and presiding genius of the cafe pamplona, josefina's hospitality embraced nobel winners, teachers, readers, conversationalists, students. you were always her guest, not just a customer. many pamplona guests have been warmly loyal for decades.

in the cellar of her barn-red home she wove a josefina sized nest of friends, warmth, coffee and media noches. i have lingered thirty winters there and thirty summers savored the bright outdoor patio. i have drunk enough coffee there to thrombose a balzac. i have made fleeting friends and lifetime friends, read novels, newspapers, neruda. her cafe has given me half a lifetime of pleasure.

near the end josefina told a friend, "miss no pleasure. miss nothing." to me, she once said, "live with no fear."

miss nothing. no fear.

goodbye, courageous heart, gooddbye.


Womb of friends, conversations, books,
Marrow-cellar of human moods,
Door into feeling,
Iberian light slice,
I come to celebrate your seasons.
In June church shade
Or under September stars,
Reading Cervantes in the sun,
Unamuno by the rushing Dudley bus,
Lorca near your winter stove,
I have knit my soul to Spain here.
Speak to me your
Shaly consonants and grassy vowels,
Canciones earth-bright in your passionate home tongue.
When your steam machine roars
I hear bulls thunder through holy Pamplona.
Your caffeine music kindles my veins.
And your waiters - wonderful!
Generations, torrents, encyclopedias
Of waiters have rivered my years.
So I give you my praise song
Scratched within your cloud-white basement walls
My sweet space,
Hearth within my heart.
Bless all your twelve tables,
Rich calendar of my delight.

D.H. Brennan