Posts Tagged ‘Syria’


Climbing through the Atlas Mountains

Climbing through the Atlas Mountains

Somewhere between the dusty path under our wheel and Marrakesh at our backs we had lost ten degrees of Fahrenheit. Poof! Gone were these degrees, evaporating into the ether as unheard of as a Neverman punchline. Despite the westward road’s climb in elevation, the increased proximity to the African sun actually brought relief from the valley’s all-too-intimate heat. Such change was a welcome one. Weeks ago I had given up on the insistence on cleanliness in vogue of late, surrendering my thrice daily baths and becoming familiar with the smell on my skin of days-old sweat (mostly mine, but not always). I didn’t entirely betray hygiene; I had, after all, packed my toothbrush. I kept my wounds covered because Ebola, I overcooked my pigeon because E-coli and I didn’t fraternize with camels because MERS; but I stank. I smelled of Fes tanneries, of Meknes butcheries, of spoilt vinegar thanks to the puddles of cat piss throughout Marrakesh. Up here, though, in the thinning air of the High Atlas… the wind charmed the nostril with the scent of untainted dirt.

I held my head out the window as a dog, the desert goggles strapped to my head keeping the filthy specks of Africa out of my eyes. To my left, my brother of a Berber-Arab mother drove the latter-century Mercedes truck.

“I have a joke. It is like riddle.” Rafiq began. In the back were the Australians and a California photo-journalist chick with mythical tattoos and a watch she wore on the inside of her wrist like a Mossad agent (thus I considered her highly-likely of Mossad). Rafiq went on with his riddle, “How do you get the camel into the refrigerator in three movements?” Rafiq drove on in the silence. Someone asked if there was a blender involved. Rafiq shook his head, no. “It is romantic joke.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe journey continued. Rafiq begged us to “think” about the joke. The answer was clear, he insisted. What wasn’t clear was our intent in the High Atlas Mountains. It began as something of a dare over smuggled gin – me auld mate of the Australian Consulate, Digger McKenzie, and I were desperate to unearth Qatari spies, especially if they had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. While the MB presence in Morocco had decreased after the reactionary appeasement to the Arab Spring by King Hassan, there were rumors of the Muslim Brotherhood being rife within the Rif and the Atlas Mountain ranges. Where our quixotic caravan wandered was Bled el-Siba, the Berber tribal country translated as ‘the Lands of Dissidence’. These were the mountains of the one-eyed rogue, Bou Hamara (translated ‘the man with the she-ass’) and of the kidnapper of Americans* el Raisuni: both scoundrels a century dead (give or take a hanging). The High Atlas was bandit country, fertile ground for a brotherhood of Islamic radicals on the run.

*President Teddy Roosevelt once put a bounty on Raisuni if a kidnapped Greek-American businessman was not returned unharmed, “Perdacarus Alive or Raisuli Dead!” Gunboat Diplomacy was nothing if not direct.

Since World War II, the Muslim Brotherhood had been a power player in Egyptian culture and politics (note past tense had). With the coming of 2011’s Arab Spring, the Muslim Brotherhood seized power in Cairo with a little propaganda help from al-Jazeera Network and funding from the Qatari Royal Family. This would be the MB’s greatest (though brief) achievement and ultimately their undoing. The American Military of Egypt (armed by America, trained by America, etc. by America) held themselves a fashionable coup d’état and tossed the Muslim Brotherhood out of the country. Not only that, the most recent state of Egypt called treason on several al-Jazeera journalists for their part played in bringing the Muslim Brotherhood to power (read more in my Qatar expose –kangaroo courts convicted the journos, rather unfairly, even if al-Jazeera paychecks are signed by Qatari royals). Suddenly without a country, where would the Muslim Brotherhood run? To the war-torn streets of Damascus and Baghdad? Or here… the Land of Dissidence?

I should mention, my introduction to the Muslim Brotherhood was pre-Arab Spring thanks to the French Documentary OSS117: Cairo, Nest of Spies.

Vic in Bled el-Siba, the land of dissidence

Vic in Bled el-Siba, the land of dissidence

We left Rafiq’s grandfather’s Mercedes in the village of Imlil and hiked our way up the mountain path to the village of Armed. Beyond Armed were valleys of river rock, thousand-years dried, and mountain peaks separating us from the Sahara. Both Imlil and Armed were villages prone to Berber territorialism, yet hardly breeding grounds for Islamic jihad. We still chatted and made tea with each passing villager, leaving my bladder a traffic warden ushering the minty, sugary stuff in as easily out.

At last, during a shade break well-beyond Armed, Rafiq answered his own joke, “How do you get a camel into a refrigerator in three movements? Open the refrigerator door, push the camel inside, close the door. Inshallah.” Ahh. Ahha. Arabic humor, you can’t mistake it. These are the same dudes who invented algebra, probably another of their jokes. The (Israeli-)American photo-journo asked, “How is this a romantic joke?” Digger, the Aussie, deadpanned, “Guess it depends on how you push the camel.”

Many thousands of miles away, in the disputed territories of Iraq and Syria, American drones are bombing jihadists who call themselves the Islam State of Iraq and Syria, or more commonly ISIS. These terrorists are the threat English-speaking governments & media insist have sleeper cells occupying the London Underground, digging beneath the Mexican Border and hiding under your bed. ISIS is ushering forth their own eugenics campaign – decapitating heathens is Natural Selection in favor of ‘the Faithful’, at least this would be their rationale should they be well-read on Darwin and Evolution. While misguided support of ISIS exists in the streets of Morocco, there does not seem to be any sort of organized threat here. Yet…

“There is reasoning why ISIS is only in two countries: ISIS is agent of America.” said the Frenchman wearing nothing but his very brief underwear and a curly red beard with beaded knots. It was a profound allegation that had us on our heels, but then we were leaning back as soon as this 6’+ Neanderthal emerged from the woods scratching his briefs and speaking French. I might, at this juncture, mention Rafiq is as allergic to Frenchmen as I am to Mayonnaise – which are related allergies. If you ask Rafiq about the period of the French Protectorate of Morocco, his kindly eyes will darken and he would spit on the ground if he weren’t so damned polite, incensed to the point of claiming, “Nothing was protected, only occupied.” Therefore French suck. Not that Rafiq ever shied from the occasional Parisian girlfriend, but these are details outside the realm of geopolitic.

Mister Giggle's nephews, Stink and Blink, with a mule train in the distance

Mister Giggle’s nephews, Stink and Blink, with a mule train in the distance

We didn’t happen by the Neanderthal, Francois, by accident. Our troupe had been hiking along when we encountered a mule-train recognized by Rafiq (these are the hills he grew up in). He connected with these Berber muleteers who invited us in for tea. All so bloody-fucking British, you would think, but the hospitality is nothing new to country folk – here or anywhere. Digger, his Australian companions, the Cali-Israeli chick Ly, and I enjoyed our tea as Rafiq rapped Berber with his people. He returned to us with another joke, “Lion is king of the jungle and so he plans a party. He invites everyone to party he is having and every animal attends except for one. Who is the animal and why is he not attending?”

It was while we were sipping our tea and pondering the party snub when the Neanderthal, Francois, emerged from the woodwork in his skivvies and a dead rabbit in hand. We asked Francois the Frank the same questions we had asked the village people and all of the muleteers in between – mostly, had you seen any Islamic radicals? Francois the Frank scratched his red beard, looked longingly at Ly, scratched his groin through the skivvies using the spare fingers of his rabbit hand and then spoke heavily-accented English directly to Digger McKenzie, who he assumed was the man in charge.

“ISIS exists, but not here. ISIS only exists in Iraq and Syria. Iraq and Syria is where it exists because this is where America wish it exists. America does not like Syria regime, they are too friendly with Iran. America does not like Iraq regime, they are too friendly with China.”

Digger and Rafiq have tea with the muleteers

Digger and Rafiq have tea with the muleteers

Surprise, surprise… We had ourselves an educated Neanderthal. Apparently, that cyber café back in Armed came in handy. I couldn’t disagree with his premises. Syria’s dalliances with Iran didn’t make any friends in the Pentagon and it was true the previous Prime Minister of Iraq, al-Maliki, was cutting deals with China to give them oil once Iraqi oilfields were back in running order. All this and a free toaster, however, was hardly enough evidence to suggest the United States were behind the rampaging ISIS jihadists.

“Where come the money for ISIS? They have money, they have guns. Where this come? It come from Saudis, it come from Qataris, all by approval from Mother Liberty Miss America!” The Frenchman saluted as he ranted. The French had tendency towards douchebagginess. Digger McKenzie later diplomatically confirmed in his infinite wisdom: only the Dutch were worse.

Francois the Frank’s mumblings seemed absurd, yet absurdities worth considering… chaotic warfare in Syria and Iraq does benefit American aims to keep China and Russia off-balance. The be-headed Christians made an example of by ISIS were merely the sacrificed pawns of the Occidental War on the Orient. If you read behind the groin-scratching madness of the half-naked Neanderthal, you can start to see a conspiracy unfold. China is desperate for oil and the longer Iraq remains in chaos the longer China has to wait to quench its thirst. China is, ultimately, the power in the East (Orient) and the eventual Endgame opponent of America and the West (Occident).

Russia is even more susceptible to oil scarcity. Russia’s economy is dependent on a high oil price – the USSR even more so. In the 1980s, the United States managed to manipulate oil prices and the Soviet Union collapsed (#Reaganomics). To this day, the United States still manipulates the oil supply. The theory of “peak oil” is but myth meant to exaggerate supply & demand economics. There is no doubt plenty of oil exists and it is being held back by the United States. Canada wants a pipeline, fuck that. Iraq wants to rebuild their oil infrastructure and sell to the East, fuck that. The United States would rather keep oil underground than allow Russia or China to get their filthy mitts on the latest vintage.

As Russia encroaches on the Ukraine – just watch as surplus oil hits the market in a flood. The cost of oil will drop (though it will be hidden from the gas prices at your local petrol station) and this drop in price will drive Russia to economic ruin and/or nuclear agitation. Who drives this sudden surplus of oil? Us. US. US of A.

“If the Lion throws a party and every animal attends but one, who is it that does not attend and why?” Rafiq had asked back at the tents of the muleteers. After many guesses, the California girl surmised, “It is the camel.” Why did the camel not attend the party? “He is still in the fridge.” She was correct. The poor beast of burden was shivering his bones in the fridge as the lion party went on.

“Okay, an Aussie joke.” Digger interjected, not to be outdone. “Three Aussies enter the Medina and realize they forgot their watch. They ask a Moroccan sitting next to a bull what time it was. The Moroccan reaches out to the bull’s scrotum and weighs its bollocks with his hand before replying, ‘2:15’. Amazing, the Aussies think. The next day, they return with a watch and find the same man next to a bull. They ask him again what time it was. Again, the man cups the bull’s balls and estimates a time. The time matches with the Aussie’s watch. ‘How do you do that?’ the Aussies inquire. The man waves them forward… if you lift the balls of the bull up, behind them you can see the clock tower.”

Again – the answer is often clear, but blurred by our manic imagination.

It’s just a joke, but there is a pattern worth recognizing: Arabic tendency versus Western conviction. Westerners hear the same joke and expect different results. When the punchline comes, it is too late. Towers fall. I am no Arabist, but I read. I read about the English in Afghanistan in the 1840s and damn does it seem similar to the same tribal warfare we encounter now. I read about the Indian Mutiny of 1857 – incited when Muslim and Hindu troops under the employ of the English were led to belief their gun cartridges were greased by pig and cow fat. Western Diplomacy is short-sighted and long-barreled. Eastern-diplomacy is long-game and dagger-in-the-back. This shit is ongoing, eternal. After the atrocities of World War II, Western Powers bulldozed a path for permanent Israeli settlement in the Levant – the umpteenth Crusade, this time with a Hebrew King of Jerusalem instead of a leprous Frank. Has this crusade been any different than those of the last few millennia? Has the British cartographical dissections of Jordan and Iraq worked out? Ask the various tribes and ethnicities that make up the majority of those countries what they think of their chances at democracy.

Rafiq had a final joke, “How do you get an Elephant into the refrigerator in four movements?”

I was able to respond easily enough, “Open the door, remove the camel, push in the elephant and close the door.” Rafiq turned towards me and asked, innocently, if I had heard the joke before. I had not.


Sleep with the remembrance of death and rise with the thought you will not live long.

– Ulwais el-Qarni


The sun rose over the Atlas Mountains and concentrated its vengeful gaze upon the African coastline, setting ablaze the Atlantic waves as they crashed against the defeated sand. Somewhere, directly under the sun’s thickest oppression, in a hotel room overlooking the cacti jungle and the beaches beyond, rested the weary head of your narrator. Nay! – “rested” is too kind of a verb.  Instead: within this hotel room overlooking prickly flora, fauna, et al, was a bucket carrying the decapitated head of your narrator. Figuratively, of course, or such narration would be downright inconceivable. Your narrator pulled his decapitated head out of the bucket and rose from bed if only to escape the boredom of being both sleepless and immobile. Outside the door would be coffee, and perchance, redemption. Vic Neverman, your humble narrator, stepped over the carcasses of the stoned cockroaches he destroyed through the night with the whips of his bathroom towel. They were slow North African roaches, nothing in comparison to the baby-thieving exopterygota of Florida he was used to. Too slow, as evidenced by their scattered limbs across the foyer of his hotel room. It had been a long night.

Beach of Casablanca

Beach of Casablanca

Within moments of setting down with his continental breakfast spoils at a restaurant table on a terrace looking west over the water, our narrator turned to barbaric butchery. Coffee overfloweth, puddling the saucer and staining the white table cloth. Fruit was devoured with its rinds and pits littered in his wake. Buttery and kind-hearted croissants were cheated out of their destiny when they were torn apart like… well, torn apart like buttery and kind-hearted croissants mounting a charge at Gallipoli. Indeed, the beard and shirted torso of your narrator was rife with evidence of their ill-fate, flakes of their once warm bodies settling catawampus over each other across a 2 meter radius from his great, churning, mawl.

Out of the shadows approached a man, features full of well-defined angles, geometrically French, who rattled off an inquiry too fast and too… well, Francais, for your narrator to comprehend. Left without an alternative retort, Vic Neverman shrugged, “No comprendo, Chief.”

The Frenchman nodded, smarmily, as if confirming the validity of his argument and went along his merry way.

Your narrator, ever-curious fellow he was, waved over the young waiter to ask what the douchebag in the ascot had said. The waiter apologized, “Pardon, M’sseur, was not listening.” The waiter then saw the materialization of a 100 Dirham note which he grabbed like a Miami exopterygota thieving a baby. Morocco, you should know, dear reader, operates on a bribe economy. Baksheesh, they call it. Nothing is done without monetary reinforcement. Aptly prodded, the waiter began his interpretation of the Frenchman’s words, “He asks, ‘Have you found your treasure? Perhaps a truffle?’”

Fucking French, I grumbled under my croissant-flaked beard. “Merci, garcon.”

From the hotel pool deck below the breakfast terrace climbed a character even more haphazardly put together than myself, as if God sneezed amidst construction of this Teutonic scoundrel. At his arrival, the French and Italian tourists gorging themselves on pastries were suddenly aghast at the sight and scent of the newcomer. I winced through the sun and realized I recognized the bastard. He approached and took a seat at my table.

“What the hell are you doing here?” I asked him, recalling vague details from the night prior.

“Slept by the pool, in the garden.” Conrad motioned behind him and picked up a menu.

“No one sleeps in Casablanca.”

Conrad grabbed a boiled egg off a neighboring table and having plucked it into his mouth he smiled like a mangy chipmunk with rabies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had met Conrad the previous evening in a parlor of utmost indecency. I humored him over beers until I realized he had no money to pay for his own. I humored him because his stories were fantastic. Oh! – to join the French Foreign Legion at the age of 17 because the expectations of his Rothschild kin back home were too overbearing! He wasn’t French, but he was Francais par le sang verse, or “French by spilt blood” after his latest secret mission to Syria. Thank heavens he deserted the Legion in time to deflower Kate Middleton before she married into the incestuous tribe of Windsors. Conrad had lived with the Toureg Nomads in the Sahara until his skin turned blue and had come to Casa to find peace of mind smoking kif, which was what he was selling when he first approached me in the loo of the parlor of utmost indecency whispering, “some hashish?” Conrad’s next adventure, apparently, will be to return to Iraq as one of Obama’s “advisors”. He explained Middle Eastern politics quite candidly, “Monsters need to be ruled by monsters. If you cut the balls off of Assad, if you hang Hussein, the monsters roam free. Only answer, mein herr, is to bring bigger monsters to the party. If the oil companies create private army to police the Middle East, then and only then, will there be peace.”

Fucking fascist. Right or wrong, a fascist rose by any other name is still a damn fascist.

French Urinal Poster "Les Soviets Partout!"

French Urinal Poster “Les Soviets Partout!”

This isn’t a wake-up call to the American people; this is just a wake held for the death of democracy…

I’m no idealist. Rule by the people is as only as strong as the people’s will to be just. Let’s face it; we’ve grown up into children trying to take as many blocks from the Kindergarten play-area as our chubby little t-rex claws can carry back to our isolated corner. We’ve become too rigidly stubborn and once our snotty noses get a whiff of the end of all we think is holy, we became outraged. Moderation-be-damned, we all became extremists and this polarity has tossed the globe into an unrecoverable wobble.

syria_civil_war_rebel_control_map_2013-08-22I speak not just of the United States; I speak of Humanity. Look at the Arab Spring – the people stand up against oppression and once the iron fists fall, extremism fills the power-vacuum. Venezuela and Thailand are in turmoil over transitions of power, but these games of thrones are to be expected. It’s the authoritative repression of uprisings in Syria and Ukraine that have become the new norm, coming to a town near you and likely to plunge us all into the next world war. The Militarized States of America and her Western Allies play democracy patron by arming Syrian rebels (or by allowing friends like Saudi Arabia to continue funding Sunni-extremist Al Qaeda to fight Syria’s Assad) while Russia assists the demagogues of Damascus (as Russian pet pit-bull Iran funds Shiite-extremist Hezbollah to defend Syria’s Assad). If you haven’t read up on your histories, such complicated strategic alliances at odds eventually trigger global war. As if alliances were not complicated enough, we have the China vs. the World over the South China Sea trade-routes where Japan, the Philippines and Australia are shoved aside or bought-out entirely.

Territorial-Claims-South-China-Sea-Map1Wars, of course, are fought over resources and no level of diplomacy can overcome that. The Petrol-Dollar is about to tank as Russian and Chinese oil baron oligarchies undermine the Anglo-dominance in black gold. Once the Artic melts in a couple days from now, war will certainly erupt over rights to drill the North Pole. What Bitcoin I haven’t lost to hackers I have been using to fund the legal fees for Green Peace’s Arctic pirates. Not that there is anything to be done to stop the inevitable.

There is an epidemic of American bankers committing suicide. It is 1929 all over again, yet unlike the days of “the crash”, today Wall Street seems strong. There is something rumbling under the surface you and I cannot see. What is it these dead bankers knew that drove them to jump (or to be tossed out the window)? A complete financial collapse? Some cosmic fear is driving Wall-Street mad with despair.

With war abroad and collapse within… What’s to be done?

What’s to be done when Iranian generals insist there are Hezbollah sleeper cells hanging out in America, just waiting for Israel to bomb Tehran before striking us where it hurts? These sleeper cells could be in the apartment next door, could be manning the Starbucks drive-thru, could be wearing a kilt and serving haggis out of a food truck. The American Police State hovers overhead domestically in their spy blimps, seeking out readings of radioactive isotopes, hoping to find the Jihadist nearest you.

sleeper cellsShould the sleeper cells erupt, or more likely, should a soon-to-be impoverished American populace rise up in protest, Homeland Security will be well prepared. The Security Agencies of the Fatherland recently purchased 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition, which is enough to fight a hot war (using Iraq bullet usage as a reference) for 20+ years. This is Homeland Security, not the Pentagon. Homeland Security, which compromises the Coast Guard, FEMA and the airport bouncers of the TSA. What do they need with 1.6 billion bullets?Frighteningly, many of these rounds are sniper bullets. Is this just the Military Industrial Compliance scratching its own back or is there a pending domestic threat to the Establishment around the corner?

What do we have in store? America will survive in her legacy of corporations, but will those corporations assist the people of America? No. As the domestic environment crumbles with the dollar, these international entities will pick up their right foot here and lean on their left foot firmly planted on the other side of the Pacific. We, the populace, will be left behind, a bunch of hungry bellies without a valuable dollar to consume. If you do not have job security with an international like Google or Lockheed Martin, then you are no more than a member of a vulnerable citizenry.

Pretty fucking bleak. Aye.

So again, what’s to be done? Fellow fear-mongers advocate guns, the more the better. Fuck that 18th century worn-out concept. Guns are nice for killing your neighbor, not overthrowing the Government. Of course, the survivalist prophet Cyrus Lee Hancock would argue, “I am not just arming myself against the New World Order, I am arming myself against the highwaymen who want to steal my gas, I am arming myself against the neighbor who covets my wife, I am arming myself against the creatures that rise out of the lagoon.” So what’s to be done? Find yourself a friend like Cyrus Lee Hancock; just don’t find yourself siphoning his gas or coveting his wife. Find yourself a government spook of a brother-in-law who has a shit-hit-the-fan reservation to the nuclear bunker under Cheyenne Mountain. Teach your children to use a crossbow and how to speak Mandarin. Find yourself some Apocalyptic church full of wacky Revelations nuts because they will likely be better prepared for the collapse than your Fantasy Football League. The solution is community. Build one, join one, make yourself useful to one.

spy blimps be damned...

spy blimps be damned…

Okay, enough writing drivel from my blimp-proof tub for now, I need to continue binge-watching House of Cards and praying the world lasts long enough for me to catch the finale to True Detective. I will have good beer and warm thoughts as I do, no sense wasting the good times while they’re around.

Quincunx: arrangement of five objects in a square or rectangle, one at each corner and one in the middle.

Calamity: n pl. a disaster or misfortune, esp one causing extreme havoc, intestinal distress, or acid reflux

Quincunx of Calamity: n. paranoid doggerel portraying four unsavory foreign current events from a fifth perspective under a rock somewhere.

With Labor Day closing in, I have adorned myself in my favorite white linen suit despite how stained with spilt gin and spat sin these lapels may be. Outside my tree fort, a quickening into chaos has begun as the last threads of this civilization are becoming unraveled faster than bootlaces at a foot fetishist’s pleasure palace. My lone comfort, beyond the linen suit, is that this long cruel summer is at a close. Sunburnt from women’s scorn and mildly delirious from dehydration I may be; but be I still am, which is better than to not be (this is the unspilt gin speaking).

So, farewell and good riddance Summer of 2013.

Within the sticky dew of the dawning Fall emerges a fresh football season like a wobbly fawn still finding its balance. As the gladiators suit up and take the field, the hysterical mob finally has a distraction away from the dour circumstances of the world at large. At the risk of being a killjoy during such fanfare, I wish to present my Quincunx of Calamity: four international storylines of import as well as a fifth note from my perspective as central observer.

1 – Syria: if all else fails, start dropping bombs

Fans in Oregon take to the streets to show support

Fans in Oregon take to the streets to show support

Thanks to offseason football storylines, when the common contemporary American male hears the name “Syria” they first think of this country as the origin of the Manziel Family, which begot Heisman Trophy winner Johnny “Football” Manziel. Of course, while American headlines followed the summer antics of the much publicized 20 year-old quarterback, Syria has been a hotbed of civil strife as the Assad Regime and their opposition practice ritual massacre against each other and all those in between. Most recently, the Syrian powers-that-still-be used chemical warfare, crossing the line President Obama drew in the desert sands and calling his bluff. Now, America is drawn to military conflict, but to what purpose? Obama and the supportive UN do not seek to undermine the Assad Regime, only to punish it in order to deter the powers-that-still-be from continuing their use of sarin gas upon its people.

Pre-game antics incorporate the public's growing distaste for the Assad Regime

Pre-game antics incorporate the public’s growing distaste for the Assad Regime

We cannot overthrow Assad because such an action could reduce Syria into a state of tribal warfare like Iraq or a continued civil conflict between moderates and extremists, like Egypt. So what is there possibly to gain by attacking? Justice, perhaps. The perception of Obama’s pride and power would be preserved. But at what consequences? Continued chaos in Syria, an upset Russia and an upset Iran, prompting retribution against Israel which will prompt the Four Horsemen to descend upon Megiddo.

There is no clear way out, only further entanglements and escalating war. If this were a chess match, both sides would call a draw, tip the board over to scatter the pieces and then fall into a deep melancholic vodka-themed drunk.

2 – North Korea: Death to the Porn Queens

LSU fans accept the inevitability of strikes on Syria

LSU fans accept the inevitability of strikes on Syria

In America, land of the free, we raise our child celebrities into twerking trollops, allowing them to parade around unpunished as they take liberty with any preconceived notions of decency. Such child-stars turned-voyeurs, like Miley Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes would do well to look east at the latest events in North Korea. Hyon Song-wol, a popular songstress for the state-run Unhasa Orchestra, was executed this last week along with 11 others after they were accused of selling a sex-tape. Not only was Hyon Song-wol (allegedly a former girlfriend of Ultimate Leader Kim Jong un) executed before a firing squad, her family was forced to watch before they themselves were shipped off to prison camp.

3 – Russia: Bigotry, Corruption and the Winter Olympics

In Central Florida, principles are mixed, but decidedly pro-booze and anti-Putin

In Central Florida, principles are mixed, but decidedly pro-booze and anti-Putin

Don’t fret the eventual close of this pending football season. Soon after will be the Winter Olympics of 2014, broadcasted to you live or tape-delayed on 54 different channels from the summer destination city of Sochi. How Russia convinced the Olympic Committee to allow them to host the Olympics from a Black Sea beach town is easy to explain: bribery and extortion, two of Russia’s finest exports. The amount of money Russia is squeezing out of its people by borrowing from oil barons to pay land developers to create a winter-scape in Sochi will no doubt inspire American entrepreneurs to advocate Las Vegas as a candidate for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

The worst aspect of the coming Olympics is Vladimir Putin’s threats about arresting any homosexual athletes or attendees if such persons demonstrate any signs of homosexuality. Of course, the Olympic Committee sits by idly as these threats are made, twiddling their thumbs and shrugging, “hey, at least we aren’t the committee that allowed Hitler to host the Olympic Games.” There will be protests and there will be arrests and it will get ugly.

4 – Brazil: Pacifying the Streets for World Cup and Olympics

Rio de Janeiro is an obvious location for the 2014 World Cup and not a bad idea for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Of course, one thing stands in the way of Rio being the sports ideal: the abject poverty, crime and murder in the favelas – the shanty towns along the outskirts of the city. In preparation of hosting two of the biggest sports parties of all time in 2014 and 2016, the military/police have begun a form of class warfare by indiscriminately purging the streets of low caste criminals through a process they call “Pacification”. In many places, the locals of these favelas prefer the rule of the street corner drug kingpin over the new pacification teams that have replaced them. As more inhabitants of these slums are removed, real estate investors are buying up property and raising taxes, driving even more residents further from the city.

5 – From Bayou St Bas Trailer Park, Neverman waits out the End

It appears that this whole Maya Apocalypse is a little overrated. Nine months into 2013 and the world still seems to be desperately hanging on despite all the dire 2012 prophecies. Probably a good thing as my supply of canned beans, preserved fruit and pickled ham are running low. The raccoons and feral children outside my abode do not leave much behind for me to forage, so it looks as though I might have to rejoin society and get a job.

At least I will have plenty of good clean sport to immerse myself within on the weekends.

We, as we read, must become Greeks, Romans, Turks, priest and king, martyr and executioner; must fasten these images to some reality in our secret experience, or we shall learn nothing rightly.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson

You’ve heard of a “Mexican stand-off”, where three or more combatants face each other, with one holding the advantage over another while at the mercy of a third? In a regular duel, he who shoots first has the advantage. In a Mexican stand-off, he who shoots first has a disadvantage (though whom he shoots first would likely argue that).  This is where we, the United States, stand very Mexicanly with the situation that is Syria – kind of screwed if we act, kind of screwed if we don’t…

Courtesy of Political Geography Now, a map of Syria’s cousin-fucking-esque complications

Syria is like tax reform, cousin-fucking and scuba diving: the deeper you venture the more complicated it becomes. What we have in Syria is a tyrant who is killing the people he rules because of their dissent. This has given rise to fierce backlash by rebel factions which are comprised of various different ideological groups, many of whom embrace militant Islamic Jihad. If the United States were to back the rebel forces against the tyrant Assad, they may effectively create a terrorist state in the ashes of what was before just a terrorist-friendly monarchy. So what to do?

I have the answer: we must become Turks. Or at least I shall become a Turk. In Northern Syria, the border with Turkey is aflame with tension. The two former allies are now at each other’s throats. A Syrian plane flying to Damascus from Russia this week was grounded in Turkey out of Turkish paranoia it was carrying arms (it, according to Russia, was not). We are at the brink of war between Turkey and the embattled Assad regime to the south. With Russia already angered at Turkish actions, we have the making of a conflict with far-reaching consequences. This could be the Crimean War all over again and if there was anyone foolish enough to Charge with the Light Brigade, look no further than Vic Neverman!

Turkey: where East meets West meets Volleyball

Turkey is the greatest American ally in the Middle East, I mean other than the Israelis who want us to go to war with Iran and the Saudis who indirectly funded 9/11 with the protection pay-outs they gave to al Qaeda. Turkey is that friend you largely ignore, but who your mother always insists on you hanging out with because she knows what’s good for you and, to be honest, Turkey kinda has the hots for your mom anyway, not that she knows that, but whatever, Turkey has been very successful at implementing a secular Islamic government. It may not be what Ataturk envisioned when he threw out the last of the Sultans after the original World War, but it is still a pretty damn impressive government with a thriving economy and the most beautiful women’s indoor volleyball team at the Olympics.

What an Assadhole?

My thought is this – Assad the tyrant has got to go. To fill the void, we ask the Turk to turn back to their Ottoman days and just take Syria back over. The Turks could rule Syria better than Assad or the Jihadists, so let’s back Turkey. To show my own personal support, I am attempting to enlist in the Turkish military. That’s right – at the height of the Ottoman Empire, the Sultan had a crack regime of troops who were foreign-born Christian children snatched from their families through invasion/occupation. They were called “the Janissaries.” I think it neigh time to bring the Janissaries back and I nominate myself: Victor Ulysses Neverman, as Janissary number one.

Jorah Mormont: protector of young, unconscious women

What would I, Vic Neverman, have to offer to a military unit? First – I am the co-author of Cry Havok! And Let Slip the Doge of War, which is the complete authority on the Frank/Venetian invasion of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade (pending publication and, ah, um, the actual writing of the book). Second – I am very familiar with Byzantine politics having watched the first two seasons of “Game of Thrones”, having read 4 out of those 5 books and having been compared to the character Jorah Mormont for his penchant for spending time with scantily clad younger women. Third – I am a certified rescue diver. Fourth – I am sure I will come up with something later. And lastly – my features are actually fairly Turkish despite the Jorah Mormont comparison

For an example of my Turkish-ness: once when crisscrossing Istanbul by buss, ridiculous traffic forced me to emerge from the public transport and into the street. It was too late before I realized the cause for congestion was a soccer hooligan rally. To my left was an army of riot police, complete with shields and masks. Surrounding me were hundreds of young soccer fanatics, chanting the local Turkey Cola team’s fight song, smashing beer bottles on the street and lighting off flairs. Hardly the place for a lost American tourist. But alas! I purchased a scarf with the black & white checkers of the Turkey Cola Eagles, wrapped it around my neck and suddenly, and without question, became one of the Turks. It took me twenty minutes to fight my way out of that crowd, but in the meantime, I was hugged by men to the left and right as I tried to match their drunken vocals in whatever song they sang. I think that makes me an honorary Turk.

The Blue Mosque Blues: Vic In Istanbul

And then there is my Turkish heritage. I will not lie, it is a heritage that has been argued. My Turkish blood was recently explained by your narrator to a Palestinian nurse who I ravenously desired in the distant spring of my youth, which coincidentally occurred in Spring of this very year 2012. This Palestinian beauty, I was told by my close ally Raz Kelly, would not date men who were not Arab. Fortunately for me, Raz’s brother and my personal physician, Doc Kelly, introduced me to the nurse as, “My friend, Ibrahim, the Turk.” While Turks are Persian and not Arab, it was close enough to get me a first date over tea with the young woman. Upon hearing my name was not exactly “honest Ibe”, my date inquired if I really was Turkish. “Sure” I responded, “By way of rape and pillage.”

Allow me to explain as perhaps some background is in order. Presenting… the Neverman Genealogy! Courtesy of a DIY DNA swiping and analysis kit.

Tens of thousands of years ago, my people left Africa and settled in Pakistan.

A few thousand years ago, my people were forced out of Kashmir and headed west.

A thousand years ago, my people found their way into Eastern Europe and settled what would become Hungary and Slovenia.

A few hundred years ago, eastern Europe was occupied by Turkish soldiers. The blood of the invaders tends to get into the drinking water, ya know? Pillage, plunder and bastardize was the way of the world.

Last night, I watched my blu ray of Game of Thrones before falling asleep and dreaming I was Jorah Mormont.

So yes – Nevermen are just the bastards of the Danube left behind by the Ottoman conquerors.

“So you see, I am Turkish-ish.” I told my date, this, on the last occasion we were to meet.

Which brings me to my impending military service…

I have checked with the United States State Department and I am allowed to serve in a foreign military (just as many Jewish Americans will serve with Israeli military) as long as there are no conflicts of interest, as that would be treasonous and no one wants that. So now I am just waiting to hear back from Turkey on my offering. Their delay may be in regards for the certain compensation I am demanding: mainly to have Turkish passports drawn up in any names I choose and to be made Duke of Tyre once Turkey takes over Lebanon. Vic Neverman, Duke of Tyre, Esq. It has a ring to it…

“‘ello there! Me name’s ‘Vic’ and I am a Jannisary. Say… which way is Damascus?”