"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.
It probably says a lot about me, the way I describe that event. Sorry.
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.
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's high 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. Now two more geezers have joined the groups. These guys are discussing labor politics, and not from a conservative, idiot point-of-view that virtually covers like a wet blanket anywhere I have ever lived.
Somebody, one of the old guys, just said "military-industrial complex." This is not Norfolk.
My table is littered with empty diet Coke cans, and now it's time to try to find Magus Books.
You take care. Enjoy the day.
Mike Palecek website: iowapeace.com
Palecek books: KGB [Killing George Bush], The Truth, Joe Coffee's Revolution, Terror Nation, The Last Liberal Outlaw, Looking For Bigfoot, Twins, The American Dream.
Available on Amazon, through local bookstores or from CWG Press, Howling Dog Press, Badger Books, Mainstay Press, Publish America, Writers Publishing Cooperative of New Hamphshire.