Sunday, February 22, 2009


I don't know who wrote the following piece, but it contains such a basic-basic rule of life that I must pass it on in this Blog. I forward upbeat, positive, fun and funny things on my email lists every day, choosing not to send anything that may upset or create any more problems than we have already, and my readers thank me regularly for making their day better with these little winks of light that make them feel better or laugh. We have a choice with everything we do. This morning I got an email from Jo Ganz saying she sent it to a friend who reads this every morning when she wakes up and it helps guide her day. I hope you find it equally useable. I do.


John is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, 'If I were any better, I would be twins!'
He was a natural motivator.
If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, 'I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?'

He replied, 'Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or ... you can choose to be in a bad mood I choose to be in a good mood.'

Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or...I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it.

Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or... I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive sid e of life.

'Yeah, right, it's not that easy,' I protested.

'Yes, it is,' he said. 'Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood.

You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live your life.'

I reflected on what he said. Soon hereafter, I left the communications tower industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.

I saw him about six months after the accident.

When I asked him how he was, he replied, 'If I were any better, I'd be twins...Wanna see my scars?'

I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.

'The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter,' he replied. 'Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or...I could choose to die. I chose to live.'

'Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?' I asked

He continued, '..the paramedics were great.

They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man'. I knew I needed to take action.

'What did you do?' I asked.

'Well, there was a nurse shouting questions at me,' said John. 'She asked if I was allergic to anything 'Yes', I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Gravity'!

Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.'

He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude... I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.
Attitude, after all, is everything.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.' After all today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.


"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well armed lamb."
Benjamin Franklin.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mes Amis

This is part of a Rant du Jour written in 2006.

I’m totally absorbed in reading a series of books by Jeff Shaara about the Mexican and Civil War. Gone For Soldiers, is about the Mexican war and chronicles, almost in novel form, the roles of Captain Robert E. Lee, Longstreet, Pickett, Jackson, General Winfield Scott, and the importance to the US of that war, which established boundaries of the US in the years just before the Civil War. Then there is a follow up book, Gods and Generals about, the early years of the war, followed by Killer Angels, about Gettysburg, written by Michael Shaara, Jeff’s father. Quite wonderful reading.

The Civil War so far overshadowed the Mexican conflict that it seems to have faded in history as not important, but it was very important, and shows how stupid our Presidents can be. Seems that Santa Anna was imprisoned after he decimated us at the Alamo, and then President Polk sent him back to Mexico with the promise that he would rally the Government and effect a peace agreement between the US and Mexico. Instead, he rallied an army to fight the US, and we had to go in and lost many men in a bloody fight. It seems all the Generals were prima donnas, except for Scott, known as old “fuss and feathers,” who didn’t care for politics or politicians, and they all were vying for fame that would catapult them into the presidency, and Polk wanted to do anything to embarrass them to keep them from getting any recognition. I am almost done with this first book, having already read Gods and Generals, and can’t put it down.

Speaking of Generals, I recently found this website,, which sends you DVD’s for the cost of shipping. They have just about everything you want, and I ordered quite a few, one of which was about George Washington’s life, because I knew so little about him. Seems as if he was a very stiff and upwardly mobile character---much like the aloof appearing, snobbish portraits of him. He was born in the Virginia patrician culture but was not rich, and wanted to be. He was a soldier for a time, making numerous errors, and was not promoted as he felt he should have been, so he resigned and returned to his family properties as a farmer. He married a rich widow, and worked her thousands of acres and slaves as a country nobleman. Then he risked it all when he accepted the post as General in the Revolution. If we had lost he would have lost all of his lands and probably been executed, and many heroes of the revolution returned to civilian life broke and died in poverty. It was a big chance, and only because of his cold steadfastness as a commander did he keep the starving and pitiful Continental Army under control. The Cont. Congress wouldn’t appropriate money for clothes and shoes and food, and he had to live off the land but he refused to pillage his own people. So therein lies much of the nobility and heroism he demonstrated and his men followed him. Most were volunteers and there were many desertions. It was a ragged bunch but he made it happen, and at the end he could have made himself king, but he preferred to return to farming after his presidency.

George Washington was born in Virginia (1732). He started out his career as a successful land surveyor and farmer, and he spent much of the rest of his life trying to get back to that. He was reluctant to advocate for armed rebellion against the British, but he eventually saw that it was inevitable. He served as commander in chief of the revolutionary armies, and after the new U.S. Constitution was ratified he was the clear choice for newly created office of the president. No other candidates were even considered. Washington was elected unanimously. He was the first elected president in world history.
Washington was in an awkward position as the first president because he knew that he was helping to invent the presidency by everything he did in the office. He wrote, "I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn into precedent."
When a Senate committee came up with an official title for him, "His Highness the President of the United States and Protector of the Rights of the Same," George Washington insisted on being called "Mr. President" instead.
Washington did believe in a certain amount of formality. He always wore a sword in public, and he never spoke casually to anyone at public events, including close friends. He didn't even shake hands; he just gave a formal bow. And he rode around New York City in a luxurious cream and gold carriage with silver-plated decorations and Washington's coat of arms on the doors, pulled by a matched set of six white horses with leopard-skin saddle blankets. When people criticized him for having such a fancy vehicle, Washington replied that it had been a gift to his wife.

So, he deserved the kingly appointments for having saved the nation. In politics, it’s a virtue to not be outspoken, to be able to hold in your thoughts and not reveal them for you will inevitably bump someone who holds a different view and therein lies trouble. I have only, and actually quite late, learned this and I still am not smart in this as I am unfortunately like an open book. For that reason, I realized politics is not my thing very soon in 1971 when I ran for City Council in Baton Rouge. I nearly won. Scared me. I just wanted to make a good showing so I could run for legislature later, then finally go to Congress. That was my ultimate goal, but seeing that a politician soon has to be able to talk out of both sides of his mouth, and still keep from offending, he will soon forget which is right from wrong---using situational ethics and nowadays sooner or later be accused of something he didn’t do, or busted for some infraction he did do accidentally, and always in the big fishbowl. Ugh! Either one must be superficial and shallow or be very well founded and at peace with himself so that he can float on the tide and still keep his own self respect. I was neither.
Responsibility: The following poem by John Donne ends with the little line—“never send to know for whom the bell toll; it tolls for thee. So what does that mean? Every act or inaction impacts someone or something else, in greater or lesser measure, which then ripples through the universe. Like a pebble dropped in a pool, the ripples flow out in all directions, touching places you never suspected. So everything you do has an effect on something else, and you are responsible for everything that may happen far away, even though you may never know it. I have had people come to me and repeat something I said to them a half century ago, and I couldn’t remember having said it, but they did, and it had an impact. I have said some very dumb things, and done some dumb things, and it always comes back in some way. So when I was disbarred, regardless of how much I can point fingers at those who did it, and regardless of whether nobody was hurt, complained, or even affected that I knew of, I caused it. It wouldn’t have happened had I not caused it in some way. I cannot send to find for whom the bells toll, for they toll for me.

No man is an island by John Donne

No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

John Donne

My friend and poet Dean Blehert,, is an amazing poet.
I have a huge collection of his little musings, most of which are just two or three liners. I randomly clicked among those I have saved and out popped Feline Haiku, “The food in my bowl is old.”

The food in my bowl Is old, and more to the point Contains no tuna.
So you want to play. Will I claw at dancing string? Your ankle's closer.
There's no dignity In being sick - which is why I don't tell you where.
Seeking solitude I am locked in the closet. For once I need you.
Tiny can, dumped in Plastic bowl.
Presentation, One star; service: none. Am I in your way?You seem to have it backwards: This pillow's taken. Your mouth is moving; Up and down, emitting noise.
I've lost interest. The dog wags his tail, Seeking approval. See mine?Different message.
My brain: walnut-sized.Yours: largest among primates.Yet, who leaves for work?
Most problems can beIgnored. The more difficultOnes can be slept through.
My affection isconditional. Don't stand up, It's your lap I love.
Cats can't steal the breath Of children. But if my tail's Pulled again, I'll learn.
I don't mind being Teased, any more than you mind A skin graft or two.
So you call this thing Your "cat carrier." I call These my "blades of death."
Toy mice, dancing yarn Meowing sounds. I'm convinced: You're an idiot. Anonymous

Somehow, after reading of tuna, I thought of a poem of my own, published in, among other poems I wrote in the cuisine poetry section.


Sushi made of little fishes
eat’em raw on little dishes
how they make that funny rice
stuck together neat and nice
wrap around that eel so tasty
eat it all so none is wasty
Ooh Ooh wowie, that stuff ishot.
what you call it, wasabi what?
When it hit you, it start biting
Make you feel like Kung Fu Fighting!
Little leaves of pinky ginger
send me off on fishy bender
wash it down with vase of saki
hits me like a puck of hockey
Can’t believe how much I ate
started early ended late
Oh my god look at that bill
was it worth it for the thrill?
Full of fishes fried they not
rice and ginger wasabi hot
Help me get up from this chair
Carry me out to cool night air
I’ll be back tomorrow night
I don’t care if wrong or right
Little fishes every day
Make me troubles go away


While I am on the cuisine poetry, here’s another that was
Published in Spillway Review:

A Canticle to peanut butter

Yo! Thou creamy
Yo! Thou Crunchy
Lord of snackies
Lion of lunchies

Steadfast friend
when fridge is bare
Ever ready
Every there

Gob a glob on
sliced delicious
nibble public
or surreptitious

Soar on wings
of jelly highs
A malgam pure
of honeyed sighs

Nanners, Crackers
white or wheat
smear some on
this gummy treat

By star by sun
by hunters moon
viands por dios
lick the spoon

Before I die
I’ll say a prayer
that peanut butter
is Heaven’s fare
So this comes to you from the land of sunshine, on the west coast of Florida, where we have a bluebird day at sixty five degrees and dancing palms trees. I received an email today from a pretty lady I met on the Freewinds at the art convention a month ago from Moscow, Russia. They are under the snow. Elena, I am sorry, but our snow comes every fifty years here, if then, and only in little flakes that dissolve on our warm windshields.

Education doesn't fill an empty bucket, it starts a fire. W.B. Yeats.

L D Sledge
February 22, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Political comment.

Mes Amis:

"I can keep my money, my freedom and my guns, and you can keep the "change." I saw this as a big sign on the back of a car. There are more signs of unrest in America than I have seen in my 73 years on this planet this round. Are we in fact doomed as a Republic? What happened to our sense of duty? Our willingness to fight. "The price of freedom is constant alertness and the willingness to fight back." (L. Ron Hubbard.)

Now we have illegal aliens on social security without contributing a penny, a medical program that can exclude people from advanced age of getting expensive treatment such as chemo because the determination of societal worth vis a vis expense, removal of habeas corpus-the fundamental right of the citizenry, Homeland security-an act that in order to keep security limits movement and freedom, pending required national id card, bills to regulate my right to keep and bear my hunting rifle and shotgun, CEO's who get millions in severance from companies they managed to bankrupt and then get paid out of the public fisc, billions of dollars in new bills to adjust the economy, much of which is just pork, and the list goes on and on.

So is there some pattern behind this? Who is really running things? The gnomes of Zurich? I think there is nothing done now, or anytime in the past, of significant change that wasn't engineered to empower individuals in charge who don't give a damn about the people. In a little book by Will Durant, he said that there is a higher concentration of wealth in a smaller percentage of the population now than there was in imperial Rome. Every great civilization seems to have gone through such an evolution, then crumbled because of corruption at the top.

"When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion - when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed. -- Ayn Rand (1905-1982) Author

I am convinced all of this chaos was manufactured for the benefit of a dominating international group who have run things for a long time, but now are just making larger, bolder steps in creating larger chaos to distract us from the truth, to set themselves up as ultimate rulers with infinite power over our lives and minds. They are emboldened by our apathy. And of course they are hidden in the woof and warp of business and political fabric, saying that one visible group or the other is cause. Obama, Bush, papa Bush, Clinton, Reagan, little Jimmy, and all of them were pawns. Cannon fodder. This "bailout" insanity simply pushes us toward the brink of what probably will be the biggest economic collapse imaginable, and we are sheep for shearing but are doing nothing for we are polarized and mesmerized by the rhetoric of this one so improbable a president who is driving us at breakneck speed toward the brink.

My ultra conservative friends have poo pooed my observations along this line. I was on a radio program with Jim Engster on public radio before the invasion of Iraq, and demanded to know about those Weapons of Mass Destruction, where were they, what was the justification of invasion, and even defended France's refusal to join the war. I was told by several to get hell out of the US and move to France. My questions of the motivation of this, the Homeland Security Act, and on and on, have been kicked in the teeth because I have been some kind of weirdo who dares question the wisdom of our great "leadership." I sent a letter to Clinton when he endorsed the "don't tell" concept in the army in protecting military homosexuals, saying his administration would probably go down as one of the worst in history. Well? I was told that the gov. would probably be investigating me and I should be very afraid. What the hell is this attitude? I have the right to question those things that impact my life!! Not that that issue impacted my life, but it was such a departure from my concept of the order of things that I had to say something.

It is this apathy that has put us in this precarious position of pending tyranny and hidden Marxism that can actually be fascism for we will be run by the wealthy who run the government as always. If we continue on this path, we can have a Gulag world with Orwell's "1984" just coming a few decades late, camps for dissidents and political mavericks. I will surely be a candidate to disappear for I have made myself a critic of the power, unwisely for I really created a problem for myself as an outspoken lawyer. So I speak from experience. I have seen, as Ann Rand said, those guys deal in favors with no production. And they live very very well. You penalize production and reward non production and you get non production. Where are we in this truthful statement? Bankrupt.

So this said, take a look at where you are in your sense of responsibility. I feel a rebellion in the air, for what it is worth because "they" have means of putting one down, but if the public makes a huge spontaneous move, it can happen. The only problem about revolution is the new group then suddenly changes and becomes the old in short time. Welcome to planet earth.

Durant says that regardless of how powerful the centralized government becomes, sooner or later it is toppled. With existing technology of sniffing out dissidents and rebels, this may take a while to overturn. What you see in Science Fiction movies are simply the future, and implanted chips are the future---to read not just your health but your location and even emotions and thoughts. This is not far away. So enjoy what freedom you have now, and be ready for anything.

I usually am upbeat, write about joy and happiness and the infinite capabilities of man and his works of beauty and worth. I am just fed up with the apathy of our public, for all art and beauty seem to disappear under the shadow of tyranny, and if we don't wake up and do something, like electing responsible men and women, taking part in community, state and national affairs in some way, then soon you will be willingly stretching your hands so they can place the manacles of command on your soul.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bird and I

It was in late October, 1979, an Indian Summer Sunday afternoon in Baton Rouge, La. I was in the back yard cutting a sheet of plywood with a skillsaw on two sawhorses, talking to Bob Godwin, my law clerk and his buddy who had dropped by. The trees above were loaded with those migratory blackbirds that blacken the skies and fill the trees with their clatter and squawks. The noise above was so loud we had to almost yell to hear each other.

A bird flew down from the tree, skidded on the sawdust on the plywood, looked up at me and squawked. He walked to my finger, pecked on it and then began rubbing its beak in a caressing motion on tthe top of my hand. He then stepped up onto my hand, then my forearm and fluttered to my right shoulder and began pulling gently on my beard and nuzzling in my ear, while making little cooing and gravelly sounds that was like purring. At one time, the din from the tree had grown to a roar, and the bird looked up and let out a mighty squawk toward the tree. The noise instantly stopped. Not a peep from the tree. Silence.

Bob said, "That bird knows you!!" I whispered for him to get my eight year old daughter Shannon to bring the camera quick. Before they could get back with the camera the bird flew back into the tree. We were disappointed and began chattering about it.

The bird flew back down onto the plywood! He flew back to my shoulder and continued talking to me, and I knew he was trying to tell me something. Shannon brought some bread crumbs. He ate them, and I had a worm bed behind the garage I kept for fishing and I held up a long wiggling nightcrawler at the time this picture was made and he swallowed it right down.

This went on for twenty or more minutes. Fortunately there was one piece of film left on that roll. He then flew back down to the plywood, looked up at me, squawked (which was goodbye I am sure) and then flew back into the big Oak above. The entire flock lifted like a black cloud and flew away. I was in a mild euphoric shock from the experience. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever exerienced.

I have always believed that flocks of birds had a leader, and now I am totally convinced. It may be a man or woman in bird form just messing around, or whatever, but it is surely a spiritual being like us in that bird body. This event showed me that for sure.

The beginning

There is no end
Just beginnings
and games in progress
What's the score?

There are no losses
Just experience
and points on the graph
What's the trend?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Jimmy Dominguez was a legendary procurer of cases. Somehow in the mixed tangle of relationships I got to know him and we became friends. He was a Damon Runyon character, one of those tough guys who came up in the rough part of New Orleans, and at the age of sixty he was just as mean and tough as he ever had been. Jimmy was scary mean. What I am trying to say is that he would scare you with his voice, his demeanor and his eyes, even though he was only five feet five.

Jimmy had been a motorcycle cop for twenty or more years, and then retired as chief of detectives of Baton Rouge. He then became an “investigator,” really a procurer of cases, for the legendary tort lawyer Al Brumfield in Baton Rouge. Brumfield was a wealthy plaintiff attorney back in the sixties and seventies until he was murdered in his home one night by burglars. It was rumored by Jimmy that he was killed by a family member, but Jimmy was also a little crazy and paranoid. I know from rumor, and from what he told me himself, that he had killed at least three men---in the line of duty or otherwise.

Let me describe him when I knew him in the late sixties, seventies and early eighties. Two hundred pounds, five feet five, his bald head had a deep creased indention running front to back, and he packed a .45 automatic on his hip under his leisure suit jacket. He wore an old lime green and a light blue leisure suit long after they went out of style. A thick gold chain around his neck, big gold rings on nearly all of his fingers and long fingernails that weren’t always the cleanest looking. His face was oddly kind of small, taking up less room on the front of his rather fat head than it should have, jowls, and his small hard eyes were set close on his nose.

When Jimmy laughed, it was a heh heh with his thin lips pooched out showing his teeth which were in need of maintenance. He was a scary looking man, especially when he laughed. I had a skinny somewhat proper secretary, about forty five or fifty whom he called whistle britches for she wore corduroy pants often and as you know when you walk fast with those pants they rub together and make a sissing sound. He would come into the office wearing his felt hat he pulled down over his eyes, and his dark aviator type glasses, and look right at her crotch and lick his lips. She would make a whimpering little noise and run into the back of the office, and he would laugh his heh heh laugh.

Jimmy brought me some dog cases, meaning some that were worthless or difficult at best. He brought his good cases somewhere else. For some reason, the country people, the Cajuns of South West Louisiana and the rednecks of Mississippi thought he was brilliant, some thought he was a lawyer, and they all thought he was a messenger from the God who lived in the city who could deliver them wealth from their offshore case or car wreck. He would hear of a serious accident somewhere, and he knew someone in the area. Next thing he was in this person’s house, drinking their coffee, charming their socks off, then signing them to a contingency fee contract. Brumfield would settle the case and keep the money his account for a long time “in the client’s best interest,” and finally release it to the client when the client began to worry him about it.
There is something to this, for I once had a million dollar judgment in a case against the highway department and my clients had no money left in less than a year.

Jimmy introduced me to the prison population at Angola, where I immediately had a hundred clients. In those days the vehicles and tractors were insured by Fireman’s Fund, and prisoners were always getting seriously injured on them. Once a hootenanny, which is a barred cage on wheels used to transport prisoners to the canefields, loaded to overflowing with prisoners locked inside, was being pulled at a high rate of speed by a guard down a gravel road, and things got out of control and the hootenanny flipped upside down in a deep pond. Nobody died, but there were injuries and many nearly drowned—you can imagine the terror. I settled those cases after a while.

Another case involved a black boy, less than thirty, along with a trustee and four other prisoners all of whom were in for murder, were loading a pickup with bales of hay. When the truck was loaded, the trustee and two murderers got in the cab, two murderers sat on the tail gate, holding onto the support chains, and there was no place for my client to sit. He didn’t want to sit with the murderers---as his crimes were petty theft and some burglaries during which he always got caught red-handed. So he clambered on top of the great stack of bales and tried to hold on as the trustee careened down the gravel road at a high speed—--making a curve during which maneuver the top bales and my client separated from the truck and continued in the original direction---all terminating in a canefield with my client’s severely broken leg. My little New Orleanean client had spent his life in one jail or another, actually getting rehabbed more in prison than at home—for his mama would lock him in the attic while he was home to keep him out of trouble.

Once he got out of jail, still in his cast, and wanted to borrow some money. The problem about plaintiff lawyers is that their clients are nearly always indigent and broke. I gave him a check for $100 because he had no shoes and needed a shirt. My office was on Plank Road at the time, sometimes in the late sixties, and about two hours passed when he came back, crying, begging me to fix the check. He had clumsily tried to alter the check to make it $100,000, and was turned away from the bank. I should have kept the check as a souvenir.

Jimmy’s prize prison procurer of clients was named Paul. All the prisoners I represented were in Camp A, the murderers, rapists, big time crime guys who had been injured. This guy was thin with dark almond complexion and oddly colored blue eyes. He had cut a man up into little pieces and put the dismembered parts into a big suitcase. He ran his drugs, whores, extortion and contraband like the Godfather of the prison. Nobody messed with Paul. He never made parole and died up there in that hell hole, but given that he was insane, he surely didn’t belong in society. Insane doesn’t mean slobbering crazy---it means constant intention to harm in order to protect oneself for they are in frenzied concealed terror. They are completely devoid of feeling and have no sense of responsibility---that is why they can kill or harm without remorse. Jimmy was just like him in a way. This was in the late sixties and seventies before I learned to detect and stay away from anti-social personalities. It was scary, but exciting.

One of Jimmy’s techniques of control was blame and put you on the defense. His voice and demeanor was a weapon. He growled, even gurgled, turning his lips up in a snarl, while almost getting in your face when he felt he was losing control. I was terrified of him at first until I realized I could play his game. His favorite starting point was a growl: “Why didn’t you return my fugging phone call?” He probably never called at all. Finally I would just tell him he is a lying sack of shit he never called. He would laugh and all would be right.

Once a good friend was sitting across my desk from me in the corner of my then small office on Perkins Road when Jimmy burst in, wearing his hat pulled down over his eyes, sunglasses, lime green leisure suit, growling, “why don’t you return my damn phone calls?”

The door opened in a way that Jimmy couldn’t see my friend. But my friend could see him. My friend knew I kept a gun in the top drawer of my desk. I growled back: “You lyin’ SOB, you ain’t called me!”

“You, you,” Jimmy said, pulling his coat back as if reaching for his gun. I slammed the drawer of my desk open and reached inside and my friend hit the floor. Jimmy saw him for the first time and we both began laughing and my friend looked up wide eyed, still expecting lead to fly. My friend and I still laugh about that scene as he got to meet the legendary Jimmy Dominguez.

Jimmy had lots of ups and downs—his wife Sadie died. I think, in spite of his tendency to wander and I was amazed that some women really found him irresistible---and I still wonder at seeing a fine young babe wrapped around a tattooed, unwashed, hairy beast and thank the gods that women are truly blind. If they weren’t, I would have been devoid of love life and so I just was thankful for the blind ones who stumbled by me.

Anyway, Jimmy finally had a stroke of sorts that deprived him of his weapon, his voice. He could only growl and gurgle. He had set up the “Big D Bail Bonding Service,” bailing criminals out of jail, and was having problems with his partner. He and his wife sat across from my desk explaining the problem, and Jimmy’s eyes would bug out as he tried to talk, but could only burble and growl, his face turning red and redder as that animal inside tried to get out. She would lean away from him and reach out and touch him to cool him down, yet as if she had to keep a little distance at times like these for he just might explode and she would be hit by shrapnel. Still attempting to talk he would growl, almost slobber and finally resolve into a little bugeyed squeak. I thought he was going to have cardiac arrest right before my eyes, all the while thinking “he’s getting what he deserves.”

Finally Jimmy went to whatever reward awaited him, and I stood between his daughter and his wife at the coffin, looking down at what was left of Jimmy. We said nothing for a while, then his wife said under her breath, “There lies one no-good rotten sonofabitch.”

After a couple of heartbeats, his daughter said, “Yeah. Daddy was a no good rotten sonofabitch.”

I thought this was a fitting farewell for a man whose life consisted mainly of terror, extortion and threats. Maybe he wasn’t all bad. I was able to ride over and above the thing he was, being an observer and not a participant in his game. I am sure he never knew a moment’s peace, and was as miserable a human as I have ever known, concealed by his demeanor of bluff that he may have been willing and able to deliver. Had I not known him so well, I would have thought he was just another Mafioso, for he looked and acted the part---and claimed he was the confidant of Carlos Marcello and his gang---he may have been. All I know is that my gut went into a clinch when he showed up, and only relaxed when he was gone.

This little spinning forgotten cinder out on the far reaches of an insignificant galaxy, is peopled with angels, demons, geniuses, miscreants, idiots, all miracles in their own way. If you hang around long enough and mix it up with the tenants of this planet, you will run into the Jimmys, or Swaggarts (I represented Jimmy Swaggart for seven years) all trying to survive in their own way, which is interesting for they cannot, being immortal spiritual beings, but survive. People like Jimmy D. try to survive by keeping others down, and people like Jimmy S. try to survive by putting fear into others in another way for another reason in the name of salvation. And I sometimes almost weep seeing their struggles and pain trying to overcome problems they create for themselves. I wonder where Jimmy is today. If one believes in Karma he may be one of the dogs he kicked, working his way back up the gene pool. On the other hand he may be singing with the angels, laughing at the effects he created on me. Knowing him was, looking back, a treat, for he was the last of a breed. The way things are going, fifty years from now his kind will be on forced medication, unless he is a psychiatrist, which would fit his mind-set, and he would be dispensing the pills or administering the shock treatment.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Least Tern and Sabine Indians

Forty three years of law practice yielded up to this seeker of sensation and spice many weird and off the radar experiences.

I represented many of the Sabine Indian people who live in the marsh on the edge of the gulf south of Houma, Louisiana. They speak a dialect of Cajun French which is a dialect of Parisian French. They primarily fish, trawl and trap for a living, with a diet of fish, crab and oyster and occasional coon, possum, squirril or rabbit. Many times I sat at a table totally overflowing with great boiled crabs and shrimp, getting it on me all the way to my elbows. Delicious. South of Houma, head toward Montegut (monteegue) and then head south again to Pont Au Chein (meaning fork of the oak tree---that is what the locals say it means--not dog=chein.) Beyond that you drive south again down among the bayous. Soon you will come to what appears to be the end of everything, a marsh as far as the eye can see in every direction, with brown marsh grass waving in the wind like an endless wheat field shot through with saltwater canals. Then you reach a thread of high ground with oak trees on each side bordered closely by encroaching marsh with houses in varied condition, some on stilts, on each side of the road bordered by a canal on one side. When I first visited there in the early seventies, there was land around these home and cattle. The last time I went water and marsh came right up to the back of many houses, and after Katrina and Rita I have no idea if the whole area is washed away.

Proceed a mile or so down that road and you arrive at the end of the world, for you can go no farther---it is just marsh and gulf south of there. My clients and friends lived on that little peninsula of dry ground. The people are of the Chittamacha (spelling) tribe, who subsisted over the centuries just as they do today, building boats, living off the land, with an idea the land is theirs. They are looked down upon by the Cajuns, who consider them "Sabs," lesser breeds, and so they stay isolated and marry among their culture, which is unique asmuch as the Cajun life is unique just north of there.

I spent quite a few pages in my novel, Dawn's Revenge, telling about this area and the people for my protagonist, Jack Chandler, escaped the clutches of a vengeful sheriff by hiding out there among his friends. Once I was sitting on the dock by the canal in front of my friend's home, smoking, drinking beer with my friends after a fishing trip, when an old man, in his late eighties, came paddling up in a pirogue (a shallow, very narrow, flat bottomed boat about eight feet long) from the south. He had a home on a little high ground a couple of miles south which had become surrounded by water and now he would come to visit his family and friends by boat. He was wizened, toothless and gnarled as an old root. He didn't speak any english. I gave him a beer and a cigarette, and we squatted on that dock for an hour, smoking, with him smiling at me, his clear, sparkling eyes watching with humor everything around him.

They are very friendly if they take you in, otherwise they are aloof and suspicious. I was one of their own. They would open the door, grab me by the arm, sit me in the swing, bring me a cup of scalding sweet hot coffee and talk in their heavy accented patois, and I would feel so warm and welcomed. I handled lots of their cases almost exclusively as their lawyer until a lawyer in New Orleans married into a family in the community and then only a few of my oldest friends kept me on. It was a rich and enriching experience for they always had some claim for an offshore accident, hurt on a rig, shrimp boat, etc. Steady clients and good money, and good fun.

They felt they had free run of the whole of their territory on the islands around, the many strips of beaches reaching into the gulf and on the canals. Then environmentalists came in and began cutting off areas that one couldn't trespass where a threatened specie may be nesting, such as the Least Term. The Least Tern is a kind of small seagull that lays eggs in the sand and has been declared threatened. They posted signs and warnings not to cross in this area of the beach, which before had been part of a means of ingress and egress to the beaches beyond where my friends would go and picnic and fish.

My friend and her family continue their usual pattern of crossing that area, and evidently drove straight through the posted area where these little birds lay their eggs, and sure enough there was one of the few agents there who arrested the driver and charged with a hefty fine. My friends swore there was no sign or warning, and that if there were warnings they were posted after she crossed through. She was adamant and angry, being a bit hot under the collar naturally. Now Linda was not a Sabine,but a Cajun lady who married to the community and she and Dave had three kids and lived out there in the worst of conditions but seemed to be consummately happy. I took the case at her insistence, because you just have to do so when you have good friends needing help.

I went to New Orleans to the hearing, and all of these game wardens were there, and they said the passed through the warnings and posted signs all around, nearly hitting one. She said they were lying and were just trying to discriminate against Indians. Well, they broke out a little video and it seems the agent was really on the ball for there she was, blasting right through the area, nearly hitting a sign that said no trespassing, squashing many little eggs in the process. the video showed broken eggs in that tiny nest in the sand with her tire tracks all over it. She stayed angry at me as if I was in collusion with the law even though she could see herself sitting high in that pickup talking away to her kids as she ripped right through the area. Of course there was no fee and even with the visual proof, she stayed mad at me for a year or so as if I had done something wrong. Then we were dear friends again. I understood the phenomena.

I have many stories about these great people and unusual cases.

If you ain't livin', you are dyin."
(Shankshaw Redemption.)

On anatomy and staring

It’s February 13, 2009, the day before Valentine’s day, and the weather is just perfect in Palm Harbor. The morning is one of those cool mornings with fresh air from the bay and the Gulf. Pinellas County is an appendix shaped peninsula on the West coast of yet another big Peninsula, the state itself, with Tampa Bay on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. The only time of year that is hell, and it is purely hell, is in the summer. But being from Baton Rouge, which is in a topographical room without windows, and there is no air circulation and hotter, I can appreciate a place that has breezes year round that modifies the swelter. And the fishing is great. In three minutes I drive down Edgewater drive with vistas of the gulf and sand Key a few miles away. Kind of paradise here.

I have a collection of Mankind magazines, and little books published by Mankind, about the way we lived, the daily life of the periods. I just finished reading about the Victorian era which was struggling for existence as I grew up. Girls in this country still wouldn’t reach. It was if they were forbidden to reach. Men do the reaching. Man feels threatened a little when a woman reaches, and that comes from these mores’. It must have been a crazy time. John Ruskin, writer, never consummated his marriage because he had an idyllic idea of womankind borne of the poetry and dreams of the period of romanticism, and when he was confronted with a woman’s anatomy he freaked. She married an artist who came to paint her portrait who evidently did appreciate her anatomy.

In my bio I put “looking for signs of life.” Included in this category of livingness are ladies whom I really have been drawn to had life---and more than a guttering candle or glow, but spark that may even shock me it touched without permission. So here’s a poem to amorosity.

When I think of her anatomy
She’s got things I wish to see
And I have heard the best things in life are free
But it did cost me it really cost me,
Beyond measure

And rising tide within said pay
You’ll drown in your juices if you wait another day
Roll the dice and then pray
To see and know what beneath lay
Those treasures

So rolled the dice on the bedding table
To view the sights beneath the sable
True, there were wonders and I think her name was Mabel
And I looked with all that I was able
At my leisure

So now that I am long in tooth
Looking back I know the truth
I looked and saw and can say sooth
And I guess that I’ll admit I am uncouth
But that was pleasure.


My second wife Glenda (the good witch) criticized me for staring at things. She said “you look at things like you are in awe of them,” like I was wrong and it embarrassed her. Per haps it is wrong in this culture to look at things with deep interest. I do find myself staring at things because I find things fascinating, and upon ruminating on what I do, as I am given to do at all times, I realized that I am really trying to get it, to absorb that which is around me into myself so I can fully understand it all. Then I realized, after learning the basics of things, for there are basics and everything has an anatomy which can be broken down into smaller elements and parts, that there are “parts or components” of understanding. These are Affinity, Reality and Communication, each of which can be broken down into even smaller parts, so if there is any kind of upset or problem, it is always a break in one of these Affinity, Reality of Communication---or all of them. It is a triangle, with the C on the top. If you expand any one of the angles, all the rest come up. So always communicate if you are in doubt of anything, and it will bring up the reality (agreement) and then affinity. I learned this studying L. Ron Hubbard’s works. It has made my life much easier and gives me tools to handle any situation witih people.

So I wrote a little thing on Staring

What I see
You may wonder why I seem to stare
Yes, that may be the word---stare
I seek the fullness of the world
That is the reason I am here
To feel, encircle, taste, enter
And know the heart and mind and soul of allo.
I sense its edges, its depth
Its essence, its life and proportion
Its roundness, its angularity
Its allness and how it fits with the whole
I only wish I could flow within
The cambium, the sap, the upward
reaching juices of this big elm
and know its heat, its cool certainty,
feeling the birth of its twigs and leaves
and how it praises the day
with uplifted branches
for each ray connecting its life
to the sun that is in itself connected
to the wholeness of the universe
all of which I am somehow holding in place.
I came here to know
As payment for past deeds,
Now in a meat body,
Trying to retrieve something lost
Trying to find the path to the way
Back home
Back to myself.

Reach out. Touch someone. Be.
Have a fabulous, unserious day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Waiting for the Tide, Who Am I, Remembering a Dream

(Picture by James Christensen)

I am a fan of James Christensen's fantasy art. Here's a sample of his art that I named "Waiting For The Tide," to accompany the poem I wrote in May 2006.

Give me the Sea
By L D Sledge

Oh set me afloat
in me friggin boat
upon the foamin' brine
I'm a mean old coot
and I don't give a hoot
about your bleedin' lubber's whine

I'll take me tea
Myself and me
and what I say is true
I'll sail away
One fine day
onto the salty blue.

Meanwhile I'll wait
in this landed state
to take me for a ride
I really hate
this landlubber fate
I pray for an early tide.

When I die
I pray that I
will swim with Davy Jones
In the deep
Is the place to keep
me remainin' mortal bones

Soon far out upon the sea
all that you will see of me
will be tiny speck of sail
Than I'll be home
The world to roam
with the porpoise and the whale.

So kiss it while you may me lass
the time is now and soon will pass
I feel me tide a risin'
A mariner man will come and go
and dock his dingy with the flow
As soon you will be a realizin'

I may be old
but I've been told
I've wood a plenty for the fire
We've got time
For a lovely rhyme
I promise to inspire.

So pipe me aboard and you'll be surprised
We'll still be a sailin' even when the wind dies
I'll leave you a smilin' when me anchor is raised
Trim me sails and swab me deck
Fix me jib so I'll leave here correct
I'll monkey up the gallant and sing your praise

Soon I'll be gone with the swellin' sea
But you haven't seen the last of me
This voyage has just begun
In the topsail I'll be singin'
In the wind I'll be a wingin'
Look for me beyond the sun.

As a kid in my little remote country town of Castor, in the northwest quarter of Louisiana, I dreamed of being a sailor for some reason. I would fantasize standing on the rolling deck with the wind whipping in my hair (I had hair then) and the salt spray soaking my shirt, or skinnying up to the tops in the crows nest, wheeling side to side in the swells and rock of the ship. What dreams we had as kids.

Here's a couple of old poems:

Who Am I?

I have pulled the oars as a galley slave
I have ridden camels across the waste on the silk road
I have ruled empires as Sheik and Pharaoh
I have marched with Hannibal across the Alps
I have bored skulls in china, as physician to release the evil spirits
I have sung the songs that swayed empires, as solomon, Hing Tsue, and Ragga
I have slogged through swams in search of baubles on Arctuous
I have dealt and died a million deaths
from sword, disease and famine
I have won, lost, laughed cried
and taunted my enemes, boredom and death.
Look into my eyes
You will see eternity.


(I had a dream of dancing with a lady who must have been ninety or more)

Remembering a dream:

I danced with her last night
Her skin was smooth
drawn over hands
with blue veins
Pretty hands
Now Old
Still feeling
Still reaching
Still dancing
Her eyes were blue
I knew she has grandchildren
who adore her
and her body was solid and firm
from workout and dance
Life was in her
Like slow fire
It burned
and will burn on and on.

I didn't mean for this blog to be a poetry blog, but I have written hundreds of poems I am finding in the looseleaf binders that contain those half million words of shortstories, essays and poems, and will share some on these blogs.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Favorite authors

Mes Amis

I am a voracious reader. When I discover a new author, I covet him or her like a lover and it is literally a moveable feast until I either tire or exhaust the supply. Then I cast about, on the prowl like I am looking for a new love, lonesome, hungry and alert to any nuance that may suggest interest, availability or appeal. My reading is like my choice of a lady--she must first be physically attractive, second there must be no comm lag in our communication, and third we must have enough stuff in common to weld a majority of parts in place so the mechanism of loving and living doesn't work loose after vigorous use or rust and stick through decay and ennui.

I love to share authors. Here is a list of my favorites, along with suggestions from others some of whom I haven't read. The order given doesn't necessarily mean order of preference, as they are written from random memory.

Historical and historical fiction:
Will Durant, my absolute favorite historian. His 100 page, Lessons Of History, an awesome little book, and of course his XI volume Story of Civilization, Story of Philosophy, and numerous other historical stories of famous lives.

Bernard Cornwell. Learned about him from reader Tom Cummings. The Grail questin Sharpe series, Starbuck Chronicals. All about English history in the 17th century, Recent finished The Archer.

Mary Stewart. Her king Author series, The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last enchantement.

Jack Whyte: Series on Author is fantastic. Start reading the Skystone. It is all about the Camoloud Chronicles, in 400 AD the Legions left the British Isles, leaving the Romans who had lived there for centuries, and their confrontation of invasion from all directions. Bloody times, but beautiful real history woven with the Authorian legend---unexpected stuff, for Merlin was actually a Roman Soldier. And the sword was made of a meteor.

Wilber Smith. His tories of Africa are fabulous. Follow from the beginning when the Boers and English settled Africa through to present time. Men of Men, The Burning Shore, they are all delicious. Read them all. Oh yes, there are his mystical histories of Egypt in the Seventh Scroll, River God, Warlock.

Michener. A treasure. The Covenant, another great story of Africa. Caravans, the Source, my three favorites.

Charles Frazier. cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons, set in post civil war. I underline his great phrases and descriptions, noting the page number on the back cover, so I can go back and have a little word snack. I do this with all great writings.

Jeff Sharra---you gotta read his historical fiction on the revolution, the Civil War, the First and Second World war. He puts you in the head of generals and privates alike, and you learn politics as well as how it was in the trenches. Wonderful stuff.

Bill Bryson. Please read A Walk In the Woods. He and a friend treck the appalacian trail. Funny. A short History of Nearly Everything---I learned more about esoteric and arcane stuff than I could imagine reading this very funny writer talking about serious tech stuff like relativity, etc. Others are The Lost continent, Mother tongue, I'm A Stranger Here myself. Many others. Funny bright writer.

Stephen Ambrose: Undaunted Courage about Lewis and Clark, Jefferson and the opening of the west. Band of Brothers, To America. Wonderful reading.

Alfred Silver. Canadian writer. I stumbled on him buying Red River Story, thinking it was about the US Red River, but there is another Northern Red River, a story of settling the Hudson bay area by the Irish and French. He also wrote Where the Ghost Horse Runs, Lord of the Plains, Arcadia, Colony and Keepers of the Dawn.I read these like a starved man--a harsh time lived by tough harsh men and women in a freezing world -- enough romance to sustain any reader, and enough action to hold any man.

Fantasy and Science Fiction

JRR Tolkein. Perhaps my favorite writer of all genres. You know about him and the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I think I read them all three of four times through before the movies came out. You just get into his world of wonder and become it.

Robert Jordan. So prolific. Wheel of Time, progress through hismany sequels.
Roger Zelazny. The Nine Princes of Amber.
Raymond Feist. Rift war seies. The Magician, Krondor. I read this guy dry.
Orson Scott Card, the Ender and Maker series.
Anne McCaffrey. Pern Novels

Terry Pratchett. Fancy. Discworld series. Funny fantasy. Where's my Cow, the Wyrd Sisters, The Color of Magic. One of his books started with: "In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded." That is also my idea of the Big Bang silliness.

Neil Gaiman. I just got through Smoke and Mirrors, Stardust, (movie) Fragile things and am reading Good Omens where he collaborated with Terry Pratchett. He wrote the screenplay for Beowulf, American Hero. A real trip, this guy.

Tom Robbins. I put him into the fantasy category, because I can't categorize him anywhere else. I love his stuff. Totally random but makes wonderful sense all together. Jitterbug Perfume, my favorite, the story of a 1000 year old man. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (movie), Still Life with Woodpecker, Another Roadside Attraction. The others that followed weren't quite as good.

Larry McMurty Omigod I could not believe the extent of this guy's work known for Lonesome Dove, the Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment. I love his westerns---the Berryberry series of a wealthy aristocratic family on a several year jaunt into the american west in early 1800's, with their fine wine, servants and silver and outrageous standards---sin Killer, Sorrow's River, The wandering Hill, The folly and the glory. Amazing prolific writer.

Jim Harrison. Legends of the fall, the Beast God Forgot to Invent, True North, A Woman Lit by Fireflies, get his book of short stories, Just Before Dark. Tough, intellectual, sensitive, funny and a wordsmith who holds you page by page. A gourmet hunter fisherman with his main subjects always right there to discuss, women, love, sex, food, hunting. Oh yes Brown Dog can't be missed.

Gregory MaGuire. Wicked--life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West.
Ursula LeGuin. Earthsea Trilogy
Agathy Christie--anything by her.

Louis Lamour. I read every one of his books, the hayburner westerns as well as other real classics--The Walking Drum, 1700's adventures of a son's quest to rescue his father from Arab Kidnappers . Sitka, about Alaska. The Sackett series start with a man in Ireland falsely charged with a crime and he makes his way to America. The Hanuted Mesa is a great one also.

James Lee Burke. Great Detective stories set in Southern Louisiana and New Orleans. Tough ex alcoholic Dave Robichaux lives in a fishing camp near New Iberia with his wife and daughter, works for sheriff's office, ex N.O. Cop. Get his stuff, haunting, wonderful images and thrill packed pages--Neon Rain, Cadillac Jukebox, In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead.

CS Forester, Hornblower series.
Carl Hiassen. Set in Florida. Totally wild stories about wild people. Hilarious characters. Natuyre Girl, Skinny Dip, Lucky You, Hoot, Native Tongue. Always involve some stupid badass guy getting what he deserves.

James Patterson. Great mysteries. When the Wind Blows, books with nursery rhyme titles.
Bruce Wiseman---Mind Games. Bruce putme onto reading Sol Stein's Stein on Writing, the best book on writing I have read.
Jack Vance.
I am running out of books. There are many more I just can't remember.

Bon Appetit.....


Eric Van Lustbader, the Ninja, White Ninja, The Bourne Legacy. Gutsy, great writing.
Ludlum. bourne Series, Matarese Circle. Recently Lustbader took the Bourne series to a new level.
Michael Chrichton. Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Timieline, Prey,, Eaters of the Dead, the Thirteenth Warrior.
John Le Carre--Spy who came in frm the cold, the Night Manager, Constant Gardner.
Clive Cussler, Dirk Pitt series. Watch this one though, his name may appear on the cover, but another name in small print appears below his, who really wrote new stuff out there. I have been disappointed in these subliminal authors sliding in below the radar under his name.