Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Farm News Gospel

FARM NEWS GOSPEL. I read this passage in the Gospel -- the parable where the sower cast seeds upon the rocks and among the thistles and thorns and also on fair ground.

Well, duh, he was a pretty useless sower. I mean, why did the guy throw seeds on the rocks, didn't he know? And the thorns and thistles, it sure was dumb to throw any seeds in there.

The lesson from this parable is get a smarter sower. Here is the text in the King James Version:

Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, some an hundred. He said unto them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

— Mark 4:3-9

Bobby and Dixie Mutz talk about their son, Mitchel, a soldier who died in Iraq in 2006

I wrote this story in 2006. I went to interview the parents a few days after their son died in combat in Iraq. I had not met Bobby and Dixie Mutz until the day I knocked on their door for the interview. However, the Mutzes knew and trusted the newspaper I represented, the Wilson County News, and they agreed to give an interview so that local people who did not know Mitchel Mutz personally might learn the story of his life.

It was a difficult interview, as you can imagine. It was important that I become as still as possible and let the Mutzes talk in the way they chose to talk about their son. I also interviewed several people in the very small town of Falls City, where the Mutzes lived.

So I am running this story today because I promised the Mutzes that I would not forget their son. He was a good and brave man who gave his life for his country.

--from the Wilson County News--

FALLS CITY, TEXAS — The last time Sgt. Mitchel Mutz
called home was Oct. 21, the day his brother, Nathan
was married.
“He called us at the reception,” his father, Bobby,
said. “I heard the cell phone ring in my pocket and I
knew it was him.”
Mitchel had stayed up 24 hours straight in order to
make that phone call at the right time, speaking in turn
to Bobby, Dixie, Nathan, and Nathan’s new wife,
“It was the last time I heard his voice,” his mother,
Dixie, said. “He told me he loved me.”
Mitchel sent several e-mails after that, short notes
that said not to worry, but on Nov. 10 he sent a long email
to his brother, Nathan.
The e-mail to his brother described a more dangerous
situation at his new location in Baqubah, asking
Nathan not to share that information with his parents.
Mitchel’s foreboding came to pass Nov. 15 when a
roadside bomb exploded near the Humvee that he and
Sgt. Schuyler Haines, his platoon leader, occupied.
It was not surprising to Mitchel’s parents that he
spent his last moments with a man he admired.
“Mitchel and Sgt. Haynes were pretty tight,” Bobby
said. “Sgt. Haynes was 40, older than the other guys.
He didn’t have kids, but he was like a father to some of
his soldiers.”
Haynes was from New York City. He was buried in
a military cemetery in Albany, New York.
“We’ve spoken to his family several times on the
phone,” Dixie said, indicating a mutual understanding.
Mitchel was a scout in the First Cavalry Division,
based in Fort Hood.
He served in that role during campaigns in Najaf
and Falluja, and it was a dangerous assignment, occupying
advance positions and scoping out the terrain for
troops that would come later in force.
“That’s what he wanted to do,” Bobby said. “That’s
the kind of kid he always was. He wasn’t one to complain.
He never regretted joining the Army.”
When Mitchel was sent back to Iraq this summer for
his second tour, he told his father he was getting bored
at Fort Hood and he was ready to go again.
Kim Moy, his fourth and fifth grade teacher in Falls
City, remembered a much younger Mitchel Mutz. “He
was a very sweet boy,” Moy said. “He had such good
“He came to school every day with a pack of his
friends from the neighborhood, and you couldn’t get
them apart,” she said. “Sometimes they would have
furious arguments, but they were all basically pretty
good kids.”
Mitchel’s boyhood home, where his parents still
live, is only two blocks from the school.
Bobby and Dixie said it was just like what the
teacher said, “Those boys were together morning,
noon, and night, playing football in the street,” Bobby
said. “There were four or five boys and one girl, and
that one girl played just like the boys did.”
Sometimes they went fishing at a tank just past the
end of the road or played other games, but the overall
image is one of rip-roaring, good-natured fun, and lessons
learned, and chores done, and other good things
about growing up in a small town in Texas, where
everybody knows you and you can’t get away with too
much, because everybody will find out.
That closeness is what made so many people in Falls
City sad about losing Mitchel.
“It was like it happened to my own child,” one
neighbor said. “I knew him since he was a baby.
Around here you do for someone else’s child just like
you do for your own.”
The town’s grief was palpable.
Mitchel’s “big” brother. Nathan, is four years older
than he was.
“They squabbled a lot when they were young,”
Bobby said. “Mitchel would irritate Nathan, but
Nathan would always stick up for Mitchel when that
was needed.”
As the two brothers grew older, they grew closer,
Dixie said, “but they were very different from each
Nathan went to Texas A&M and then became a
Texas state trooper, stationed in Floresville.
Mitchel loved the Aggies and always liked going up
to College Station when his brother was in school.
“That’s one of the things he talked about just recently,”
Bobby said. “He said when he got out of the Army,
he wanted to go to Texas A&M.”
Bobby encouraged his son to
continue his education and suggested
that he begin taking classes
online while he was still in the
The Mutzes had no more words
for a future that did not come to be.
“We’re holding up as best we
can,” Bobby said.
“We’re very grateful for the love
and support we’ve received from so
many people,” Dixie said. The
Mutzes have received cards and letters
from people all over the country,
expressing sympathy and gratitude.
“It’s been hard to bear, but that
makes it a little easier.”

Subscription Drive.
The annual subscription drive begins today -- we do it every spring and rake in a few hundred dollars as a reward for our effort throughout the year -- doing this newsletter twelve years now.... It is a great group of readers we have, like lawyers -- we have a few lawyers on the mailing list -- Pat Paul in LaConner, Felicia Value, also in LaConner, Aisha Barbeau in Alameda, California, and the inestimable, always Irish Ed Burke in Framingham, Massachusetts.......So, when you read the Farm News/Frog Hospital, you are part of a high-quality crowd.

Send your $25 check today. Make it out to "Fred Owens" and mail it to 7922 Santa Ana RD Ventura, CA 93001. Or use Pay Pal -- go to the Frog Hospital blog and hit the Pay Pal button.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My blog is Fred Owens

send mail to:

Fred Owens
7922 Santa Ana Rd
Ventura CA 93001

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Field of Dreams from the Farm News

By Fred Owens

This being Oscar week and the awards coming Sunday, February 26, and this being the Farm News, it is time to nominate the two greatest farm movies of all times, those two being Field of Dreams with Kevin Kline, and the Grapes of Wrath with Henry Fonda.

Now it could be said that, as good as Kevin Kline is, he is only half as good as Henry Fonda, half as tough, half as deep, and half as good-looking.

Can anyone, man or woman, match the sparkling blue eyes of Henry Fonda? And we know that the Grapes of Wrath is the greater movie, and one of the greatest movies ever made, and yet we can also ask, is it a better movie than Field of Dreams?

It is not a better movie, because the Field of Dreams is not just about farming, it's about baseball.

And so I form these words, connecting the farm with baseball, because it's spring, because life is real and life is good, and it's time to play ball on the Field of Dreams.
TRAGIC INTERLUDE. I was watching a replay of Game Six of the 1986 World Series when the Red Sox lost to the Mets. It was like dying all over again..... I first heard this game on the radio in 1986 when I was driving from Anahuac, Texas to Venice, California in a 1978 Buick Electra 225..... The Red Sox lost and my whole life changed..... The weird thing is that, at the time, I wasn't even a Red Sox fan. But it was so real, and majestic, and tragic...... Four years later, I moved to Boston because it was my destiny to be there. I became a Red Sox fan.
The Red Sox loss in 1986 was the ultimate sports tragedy, the cosmic choke of all time, a soul-searing collapse ---- Fate! --- The Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004, but by then it didn't mean that much to me, and that's when I let the Red Sox go....... Now I live near Los Angeles, and I would LIKE to be a Dodgers fan, if they weren't so screwed up. But no more will I follow a tragic team, I know it's easier, but I want to be with a winner.
The Old Ball Player
He wore a World Series ring with Real Diamonds
I worked for the Wilson County News, a newspaper in South Texas. I was the farm and ranch editor, which was a really cool assignment, going around to ranches and livestock auctions and so forth, talking to people about cows and the price of hay, and the weather, which was always a drought.
But it was a small newspaper and the editor let me write any kind of story I wanted to, so that spring I started driving into San Antonio, to Wolff Stadium, seating 5,000 fans under the starry skies of Texas on warm spring evenings, to watch the San Antonio Missions play their Texas League opponents in Double A ball competition – teams from El Paso, Corpus Christi, Austin, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City.
The young Double A ball players had all the athletic skills of major leaguers – they could throw, hit, run and catch as good as any star player -- but what they lacked and what they needed to learn, if they were ever going to make it to the major leagues, was a kind of baseball maturity – meaning focus, judgment and sustained concentration, which is to say, “you got to keep your eye on the ball if you want to make it to the Show.”

But it was fun watching the kids play. I had a pass to the press box that season, it was like being in baseball heaven, sitting in cushioned seats in air-conditioned comfort with catered fried chicken dinners and all your coke and iced tea and potato salad.
Gathered around the press box most evenings were major leagues scouts and retired ball players talking inside baseball. They were as gods to me, talking about the game at a level that I could not even begin to understand. These men – their whole lives were about baseball. That’s how they lived.
I said nothing, I only listened, but I loved it. One man, older and quieter than the rest, often sat near me and we would exchange greetings and little more.
Then one evening, I noticed his hands, and looking closer, I could see the big ring he wore, a World Series ring, with real diamonds.
I was astounded. Here was a man, like me, or like you, and yet, by evidence of his ring, he had played in the World Series. You can only imagine the respect I had for him. So I asked him his name and that night when I got home, I looked him up on the Internet – Joel Horlen, who won 19 games for the Chicago White Sox in 1967 and pitched a no-hitter – that was the best of his 10 years in the major leagues.
The next time I saw him I asked for an interview. This is the story I wrote:

San Antonio native Joel Horlen began his baseball career in sandlots and summer leagues.

He earned a scholarship to Oklahoma State University and then was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 1959.

They brought him up from the minor leagues in 1961 to Comiskey Park on the south side of town, a magical place run by owner Bill Veeck, who invented the exploding scoreboard.

Horlen, a 6-footer, 24 years old, and righthanded, took the mound to face awesome hitters such as Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, who hit 61 home runs that year. It took a lot of confidence for a rookie like Horlen to face down Maris and Mantle.

Horlen didn’t do so well. His record was 1-3 that first year, his ERA a dismal 6.63.

But he must have shown promise, because they kept sending him out there. In 1962, he won seven and lost six.

He got better and stronger every year with the White Sox until his best year, 1967, when he won 19 games. His ERA was 2.06, the lowest in the American League. He pitched a no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers. He was a cinch to win the Cy Young award, but Jim Lonborg of the Boston Red Sox received more votes for that prize because the Red Sox won the pennant.

They called him Hard Luck Horlen after that, but he was playing for a hard-luck team -- the White Sox came in second place behind the Yankees year after year in the 1960s. They were good, but just not good enough.

Horlen stayed with the White Sox until 1971, when he was 34. His speed was off. They traded him to the Oakland Athletics, and that next year was his last one in the majors.

The A’s didn’t use him much. He won three games and lost four. But that year was the beginning of the mighty A’s dynasty -- the team with Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, and Reggie Jackson.

The A’s won the pennant, and Hard Luck Horlen got a chance to pitch in the World Series -- a long way from the sandlots of San Antonio.

Having the grace of a gifted athlete, Horlen decided to retire after that. He quit while he was ahead, because he had seen other players play beyond their years trying to hold on to a career meant only for young men. His lifetime record was 116-117, a respectable and durable achievement.

He went back to San Antonio with his wife and children and started a construction business. “I thought about continuing as a coach, but I had a family to raise, and I had to make a living,” he said.

Major league players did not earn million-dollar salaries in those years.

After 15 years in construction, Horlen returned to baseball as a minor league coach for the San Francisco Giants.

He returned home for good 12 years later, a respected baseball elder.

In that capacity, he often visits the press box at Wolff Stadium to watch the San Antonio Missions play. He listens to the other old-timers talk about baseball, but he doesn’t say much himself.

Horlen was famous for that reticence as a pitcher. Reporters liked his game, but he was no talker. “I probably wasn’t a very good interview,” he admits. “I thought my actions on the field would speak for themselves. I’m still that way today.”

Asked about the enormous salaries of current players, Horlen said, “They deserve what they can get. I was just glad I got to play.”

He did wonder, however, about how often current players get injured. “I played 12 years. I was on the disabled list only two times because of my knees, but my arm never gave me any trouble,” he said.

During his career, the best advice for a pitcher in the off-season was to stay away from the training room.

“I wouldn’t pick up a ball from September until January. All I did was hunt and play golf, and I think that was better.”

Looking over the Missions’ roster this year, Horlen was not willing to choose the rising stars -- the ones who will make it to the major leagues like he did.

“It’s hard to say which ones might make it, but they all have a chance, you know,” he said, a fine sentiment from a man of few words.

Today, he still wears a special ring with a sparkling diamond in the center. Around the stone it says “World Series, 1972, Oakland Athletics.”

Friday, February 10, 2012

Another Visit with Tom and Bathsheba

In Part One, Tom Blethen is introduced, a super-annuated, overly educated farmworker who felt he was stuck in a rut, literally, digging potatoes on Bessie Blume’s farm in Ventura. But there was an undeniable and unspoken attraction between Tom and Bessie building up and they finally made a night of it together, in her bedroom at the farmhouse.

The next scene will have Tom and Bessie waking up at 4 a.m. in her bed and beginning a long conversation. They had avoided talking to each other all these months, for fear of what might happen, but the door is open now. It's the magical quiet of the night when everyone else is asleep.

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you

Leonard Cohen

It was the quiet of night, four a.m., they lay in Bessie’s bed on the second floor. Through the broad window the half-moon made a blue light and strong shadows. There was no sound anywhere. Tom’s right arm was numb from lying under Bessie’s light body. He tugged it away. She stirred. “Are you awake?” he asked.

“Mmm,” she murmured, “awake and alive.”

Minutes passed. The jostling of small leaves in the field somewhere -- it was the air moving. It was the night beginning to end.

“Let’s talk” Tom said, lying on his back. Bessie moved up on her pillow and looked over to him, seeing his profile.

“You start,” she said.

“No, you,” he said.

“My father’s name is Isaac, “ she began, as if reciting, as if she had waited years to say out loud what she had chanted in her dreams. “He was a dealer in dry goods. That was in the old neighborhood in New York. Pencils, fabric, dinnerware, whatever he could buy, whatever he could sell for a penny more.

“He was a kind man and he didn’t hate his job. Life is with people he always said. You do honest work and the rest doesn’t matter.

“My father did not finish high school. There was trouble at home and he had to work, to find a job. His first job was at the biology lab at Rockefeller University, a big medical school, yes, but he cleaned out the rat cages and the monkey shit. That’s how he started…..Tom, are you listening?” she asked.

“Yes,” he answered, “I’m not sleepy.”

She continued. It was the kind of long story you could tell late at night, with every detail. Bessie spoke quietly, but with an intensity that seemed to lift her off the pillow and bring her to scenes from long ago, a hundred years back, even five hundred years. She had the voice of a distant mountain. And Tom had an alertness of mind much greater than in the daylight.

“And so Isaac, my father, always wanted a piece of the land for his own and his children. But he never left the city. I became his dream. I was his son, not in gender, but I was his destiny. And I have this farm – because of my father’s dream.”

“You could have gone to Israel,” Tom said. “You could go there now and grow oranges and be a real Jew.”

Bessie stared at him. “You are a worse fool than I imagined. Look out the window. Do you see these acres?”

A fine line of light was rising in the east. Tom rose up on his elbow and looked to see the dimmest of dawn’s light. Then he looked over at Bessie’s glimmering eyes.

“My father died a few years ago,” she said, “He never came out here to California. He wouldn’t go. There were so many things that he wanted that he never got. He wanted the land, but something held him back. He was the link from the old world to the new world and the Lower East Side was as far as he could go. So it all came down to me. I was his Kaddish…..”

“Pardon?” Tom interjected.

“His Kaddish. A son, someone to say the Kaddish for him when he died. The prayer we say for our parents. It’s for a boy to say for his father, but I was the only child. His Kaddish.”

“So do you say the prayer for your father?” Tom asked.

“No, I don’t say a prayer for my father Isaac. I plant radishes for him. I plant gladiolas. I plant rue and lovage. And my father is here now. This is Isaac’s farm.”

“Bessie, I love you,” Tom said.

“You don’t,” she said, but she moved closer to him in the bed. “I’m old now, I’m not so pretty. I was never pretty….”

“I love you, Bessie,” Tom said again.

It was lighter now, with orange lights in the sky, a December morning in Ventura, the sky was free of clouds, with only a puff of wind, and a hint of frost settling on the fields.

“You don’t know me,” Bessie said. “I grew up in the city. I was very protected. My parents – I was the dream of what they wanted. And they weren’t selfish, we could have moved to the suburbs, except for their social causes -- to make the world a better place. I was no princess. My mother bought clothes for me at Alexander’s, on sale. My parents were so progressive with books and pamphlets. Then the sixties came along and it didn’t make sense to them.”

“So you’re that kind of girl,” Tom laughed. “But slow down, you’re talking too fast. Gentle is the rising light of dawn, my love.” Tom held on to her a little tighter and stroked her hair.

“That means you came out here to find your father’s dream, is that it?” Tom asked. “I mean, that’s good enough. Most people don’t know what they want.”

“I hitchhiked out west when I was 19,” she said. “My parents were frantic with worry to see me leave and to take such chances, but I couldn’t stay in college. I couldn’t read any more about someone else’s life. I had to do it myself….That seems so dramatic now, but I needed the energy to break out. My home was so loving and close, it was smothering me but I could not complain because my parents were not wrong. They just didn’t see….I left.”

“You don’t have to explain that to me. It’s the young lass who turns down her suburban future and becomes a hippie chick,” Tom said.

“Oh, geez,” Bessie said and pushed him away. The room got cold very quickly. Tom was backing up as fast as he could, and then he began to relax and took a deep breath, and figured he should not have mocked her -- he could have been a little more tender. But he was saved by the early light, only 5 a.m., and too early for Bessie to rise and make her coffee, too early for her to get out of bed, or to give farm orders. Bessie let it go.

“Tom, I don’t care if you categorize me. I’m like a lot of other people – a Jewish girl from Manhattan becomes an Earth Mother. She writes a book about making compost and cooking vegetarian, she has beautiful children. I’m in that group. You’re always in somebody’s group.”

“Sex ruins everything,” Tom said, by way of a response, in the short hand way that two lovers can talk. “I had my eye on you since I got here. I mean I tried not to have any looks at you. I felt a buzz, but it seemed like we could work together and live on the same premises and not end up here in your bed. You could lose a good farm hand after tonight. Things can get very complicated.”

“When is it simple?” Bessie said.

“Listen, we’re not angels,” Tom went on. “The angels live forever. They watch over us and guide us, but they envy us. We have sex and we die. We make love and it changes everything, and the angels watch over us, but they really wish they could be us. I’m not worried about what’s going to happen, but I’m sure glad to be here now… So what about your mother?”

“It was my mother’s idea to name me Bathsheba,” she said. “You didn’t know that, did you? People call me Bessie, but I am Bathsheba, and I just loved it when you told me about her in the book. I’ve read the book, I know who she is. My father was Isaac and I’m Bathsheba”

“And your mother’s name?”

“Rebecca, of course, but that’s enough for one night,” she said.

That was the end or her talking, but it seemed to Tom that it was the beginning of many stories, that Bessie knew many long, deep stories. He was glad for that.

Now came the tenderest moment, after the lovemaking late at night, after the soulful talk in the hour before down, now in the first light of day, there was no more denying what happened, so he looked in her eyes and leaned over and kissed her in a long way and very softly, and she kissed him and squeezed him with her body. They lay back for a time staying warm under the blankets, but then it was morning. They could see each other now.

Tom got out of the bed, put on his clothes, went downstairs and stopped for a minute to think. “No, I don’t want to think. Just go back to like nothing happened. This is still a farm.”

He walked out to the trailer and put on some coffee and cleaned up a bit. He thought about working as he drank his coffee, but he had to look it up, what Bessie told him. He got out a Bible in the box of books under the bed. It was in Second Samuel, Chapter ll, Verses Two and Three.

And it came to pass at eventide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house; and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.

And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said: 'Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?'

I need to get Bessie to take a bath where I can see her, Tom thought. I would have to climb up on the roof of the barn to peek into her bathroom window. She is beautiful in a homely kind of way. But I am not King David. Not by any chance. I guess I could be some kind of low rider, but a king? I don’t know what to do. Do I just go back to digging potatoes?

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My blog is Fred Owens

send mail to:

Fred Owens
7922 Santa Ana Rd
Ventura CA 93001

Friday, February 03, 2012

Losing the Farm

LOSING THE FARM. After almost thirty years of farming vegetables on forty acres in Carpinteria, Tom Shepherd is losing the farm. It was leased land all this time, and the owners’ divorce has forced the sale of the property and that means Tom’s departure after such a long tenure.

He seems to be taking this quietly, but there was a palpable sadness in the air when I stopped by the farm office last week and spoke with the manager. Maybe a dozen workers who have made this place their life’s work will have to go elsewhere – oh, they will find something because the demand for fresh organic produce is growing yearly and there is a need for those skills. But it is sad.

Tom has been a presence at the Santa Barbara farmers market every Saturday, and he made the farm fun by doing things like having a pie contest last autumn. People brought their pies for judging, and the rest of us bought tickets to taste all the pies and cast ballots for the winner – eating pies in the midst of an herb garden bursting with aroma and succulent, savory tastes. Well, it’s a movable feast.

Shepherd’s Farm has made no official announcement, but I have talked with the farm manager and a Shepherd family member about the closing.

Let them know you care – they’ve been growing wonderful vegetables for many years and they are good people.

NORM'S HEIRLOOM TOMATOES. Norm Bauer, along with his brother Roland and his son Karl, grow some of the finest heirloom tomatoes in California, grown hydroponically in their greenhouses on the Oxnard Plain, sold in ten-pound flats to the finest restaurants in Los Angeles, under their brand name “West Coast Nurseries.”

I stopped by last week to pick up a sample flat, to carry up to a catering company in Santa Barbara. Norm has four varieties – Great Whites, Cherokees, German Striped, and Brandywine….. so much good flavor. Norm also sells to the public on weekends at the Camarillo farmers market.

LOVE HOUSE DAHLIAS. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, sweet peas are popping and dahlias are perking up. It’s an early spring here in Southern California. Blossoms are coming out ahead of schedule. There has not been enough rain, but the natives tell me this is how it is. Some years are dry, and some years are even drier, and every now and then it gets wet.

Okay, that’s the farm news. Now I will mention the recent boisterous weekend in Oakland where the wild folk had a dustup with the police. This gives me a chance to retail my own story of arrest and detention back in the day.

OCCUPY OAKLAND: Arrests may top 400; City Hall vandalized

“Officials surveyed damage Sunday from a volatile Occupy protest that resulted in hundreds of arrests the day before and left the historic City Hall vandalized after demonstrators broke into the building, smashed display cases, cut electrical wires and burned an American flag.” -- quote from the LA Times.

Hmmm ..... "smashed display cases" ? -- what fun! – perhaps the arrestees issued taunting remarks directed at the gendarmes – add a bit of spray paint here and there, and a few tossed bottles -- ah the joys of shouting "we're taking over" !

LAURA SAID The haves and have-nots are gonna clash because there is too much disparity. I am not for entitlements without working but when jobs are not available and you don't see any prospects...anger gets in the way!

I agree. Too much income inequality causes a great deal of social friction, i.e., smashed display cases. I don't have a solution, but I'm not breaking any glass either.

CAROL SAID most of the protesters have never paid taxes, but use all the roads, schools, and libraries -- freedom good men and women are dying for. Not a good way to make their point.....

They don't need anyone's permission to make their point. I remember when I smashed a window in 1968. It was at the US consulate in Toronto. I was a student at the University of Toronto and I was opposed to the war. So, not being good at participating in organized opposition, I made my own statement, to wit, I got up at 2 a.m. and walked the mile or so across the urban landscape of Toronto, from my student apartment, to the somewhat imposing US consulate.....with no plan, but when I got there at about 3 a.m. and it was totally quiet on the street, I somehow found a LARGE ROCK and heaved it through the plate glass window on the front door of the building. After surveying the damage, I quickly departed.

That was the only time in my life I deliberately damaged something..... I think, years later, maybe I shouldn't have done it..... I mean, Toronto was such a sleepy crime-free big city at that time, so I was truly disturbing the peace.... now US consulates and embassies are like armed fortresses, and I contributed to that necessity.

I was arrested for sleeping in the park in New Orleans along with my good buddy Mark Mikolas. It was Audubon Park and we bedded down near the seals in the zoo, we could hear them barking at night. It seemed innocent enough, we just didn't have a place to stay and we had bedrolls and it wasn't very cold, so we got a good night's sleep........ But our mistake was we didn't get up and move out at the first light or morning. No, we were still sleeping at 9 a.m. when the cops rolled up and put the cuffs on us. From that I learned a lesson -- the cops can look the other way and you can sleep in the park, but get your ass out of bed and be on your way --- unless you think you have a right to a longer term presence, like you say to the cops we ain't living here we're protesting ..... and so on.

Anyway, you could be arrested in this situation. We got arrested that time, but they were easy on us -- on the way downtown to the lockup, they let us stop at a convenience store and cash some travelers checks -- what we would need to pay a fine -- they waited patiently outside the store while we cashed the checks, then they drove us down to lock up, booked us, put us in the holding tank for a few hours, and then we paid our fine and walked out ..... walked out of New Orleans altogether .... and never went back. I tell this story to illustrate some of the logistics of Occupation. I could give a learned seminar on this topic.

Ah yes, I remember my old days as a Hooligan, back in the the 1970s. I suppose nobody was watching at the time, but I was often arrested for challenging the police -- arrested for disorderly conduct, vagrancy, loitering, failure to identify, and having no visible means of support. How many nights did I spend in county jails from California to Florida? -- In California alone, I was in the following jails -- San Luis Obispo, arrested for hitchhiking on US 101, San Bernardino -- arrested for riding a freight train, Riverside County jail -- I don't why they arrested me, but I was there, Grass Valley -- basically for insulting a police officer, Stockton -- not sure why but I was in that jail too.

Anyway, I never got my name in the newspaper because I was not a part of anyone's movement. I'm my own man. I put on my own demonstration, and I got arrested because of my own fight for freedom.....You would think these occupiers in Oakland invented resistance to authority, but it's all happened before, and it will happen again.....I spent enough time with criminals and layabouts and ne'er do wells, and when you spend time with felons and hustlers you inevitably have many encounters with the police. And after several years of consorting with street people, I decided that the police, on the whole, were a better class of citizens, far less likely to act out violently..... so that was my personal research and my conclusion is that cops are better than criminals. But don't take my word for it, go out on the street and spend some time with low lifes -- you will meet all kinds of interesting and dangerous people.

This makes me look like I’m against the Occupiers, but I am not. I’m only saying that most of the police are just working stiffs trying to get through the day. Most of the time they will treat you fairly if you give them a chance.