wearing a t-shirt with a living puppy glued to it is just as bad as wearing one with an American flag glued to it
His name is Muhammad Ali, and he sells roasted corn on the cob. Few people ever think to ask him if he is familiar with his boxing American namesake; the topic rarely comes up.
From around lunchtime until well into the evening he tends his coconut-husk fire, baking corn and selling it to anyone with forty cents to spare. Sometimes, he sticks a ratty beach umbrella into a slot on the side of his pushcart so that customers don’t have to stand in the sun while they wait. He always stands in the sun, though. On his cart are tubs of regular as well as spicy cow’s butter with wood-handled paint brushes sticking out of them. People who desire their roasted corn to be spread with spicy butter say this: mintah panas.
During the Muslim holy month of ramadan, Muhammad Ali travels for a fortnight back to the island of Java, where his family lives, meaning that someone else sells corn in his stead. The other fifty weeks out of the year, however, he stands in the parking lot of Batu Bolong beach selling corn and chain-smoking cigarettes. It’s an honest gig, you see, and someone has to do it. In the Balinese language, one of the slang words for penis is kontol. Therefore, when a pretty white girl says she wants one corn, the joke is to ask her if she wants a big kontol, then jump the eyebrows and crank a secret smile when she says yes.
It’s a funny joke that never gets old.
Muhammad Ali is full of funny jokes.
americanifesto / 場黑麥 / jpr / urbanartopia / whorphan
Dear members of America’s armed forces:
Please consider supporting your fellow lesbian, gay, bisexal, transgender, queer, or curious (LGBTQC) soldiers by performing the following acts: declare that your entire platoon, your full company, and your whole battalion are openly LGBTQC.
Not only will this make the unconstitutional, un-American, and hateful targeting and ostracization of individual service-members more difficult, it will enrage terrorist extremists at home and abroad. The foreign terrorist extremists known as Daesh (formerly IS, or the Islamic State) will lose their minds once they realize they’re fighting against and being killed by transgender people or homosexuals; and the homegrown religious extremists spouting hatred and spreading fear within the United States will be driven to frenzy just imagining that transgender people or homosexuals are putting their lives on the line to defend American values. Please remember that it doesn’t matter if any or all of you are actually LGBTQC - declaring it openly sends a powerful message of acceptance, hope, and pride.
Unit cohesion is fundamental to mission success. By standing united against small-minded bigotry, you’ll help show the world that true Americans are virtuous, inclusive, level-headed, and not to be fucked with.
americanifesto / 場黑麥 / jpr / urbanartopia / whorphan
In March, 2016, my third attempt to see Ho Chi Minh was a success. I’d tried twice before then, but the first time I wasn’t wearing pants or close-toed shoes, and the second his mausoleum was closed. An intrepid young lady and I had left our Hanoi hostel early in order to arrive a few minutes before the shrine officially opened. We got to the grounds, walked through the unoccupied ticket booth, along the paved lanes, out into a large courtyard, and up to the very front of the line.
To our left rose the leader’s black-marble resting place. Ceremonial guards in white uniforms stood at its corners, guarding the entrance too. A man with a clipboard who was setting up queuing barriers looked over at us, glanced briefly at our clothing, then gestured toward the entrance, which we took as an invitation for us to enter.
Moving from the bright hot morning sun to the cool dark interior was fairly shocking, but we kept our composure and climbed the marble stairs. At each landing stood two white-clad guards at rigid attention. We took a right into the central chamber and caught our first glimpse of the deceased patriot lying within his glass and metal sarcophagus. In the viewing chamber with us were at least six guards. My companion and I were walking around the preserved statesman when an urge came over me and I paused, briefly, to give Ho Chi Minh a full bow from the spot where viewing him seemed best. As I was closing my eyes with my hands at my chest and beginning to bend forward, I saw the eyes of all visible guards go wide and snap onto me. The need to honor Vietnam’s erstwhile leader satisfied, my friend and I then quietly exited and went to find breakfast
americanifesto / 場黑麥 / jpr / urbanartopia / whorphan
Give a man a task, and tell him when it’s due, and he’ll move mountains to meet that goal.
Give him freedom without teaching him responsibility, however, as well as a slender magic slab to distract him, and he’ll wile away his days in pursuit of hollow, fleeting pleasures.
With the People so well engaged yet so poorly parametered, it’s no wonder that American society slides into ruin.
americanifesto / JPR / whorphan / 場黑麥
On my trip through Vietnam last Spring, I went out of my way to eat primarily local food, specifically roadside bánh mì đặc biệt - bread filled with a special combination of ingredients. Whenever hungry I would seek out a person selling sandwiches from a push-cart and let him or her pile on the ingredients, whatever happened to be on hand that day. If they had spicy sauce, I would ask for it, although I have since forgotten the word. A local sandwich of this type usually cost less than two dollars.
It is difficult to describe the joy that would overcome me from quieting my hunger on the side of a busy Vietnamese street whilst eating a slender baguette filled with liver pâté, sliced meats, slivered carrots, parsley, &c. If the vendor spoke some English, we would chat. Otherwise I would eat in contented silence, my presence occasionally drawing in additional customers, it seemed.
My most memorable bánh mì experience occurred in Hoi An, an ancient seaside city of culture and beauty. The evening before my bus left I had come across a woman selling sandwiches from a cart parked in a quiet side-street a few blocks from the farmer’s market. I had parked my rented bicycle and ordered a sandwich, eating it on the sidewalk whilst sitting on a colorful, child-sized plastic chair. The next morning I had checked out of my hostel, gathered up my ruck, and was waiting for the sleeper bus near the market when a pang of hunger hit. Walking down the block I discovered the same cart parked in the same spot, recognizing it from its unique banners and construction. Since the bus had not yet arrived I went quickly to it. The woman’s bánh mì had been the most delicious I’d tasted to that point, and I was excited to sample another.
Rounding the cart I found a man standing there, roughly the same age as the woman of the night before. I greeted him in his tongue, bowing to him respectfully. “Bánh mì?” he said to me, his eyes twinkling merrily. I nodded emphatically, answering him accidentally in Indonesian. He didn’t seem to notice but raised his right hand, first showing one finger, then two, his face mischievously crinkled, a pantomimed query. I raised two fingers, whereupon he nodded and bent to work, using the same hand to grab a pair of short baguettes from a wicker basket resting in the glass case in front of him. After putting the baguettes on a cutting board he picked up a chef’s knife in his right hand, then bent forward so that the stump of his left arm, which had been crudely severed below the elbow, could keep the baguette from rolling away.
Upon seeing the numbers tattooed into the skin near the stump I was instantly reminded of images I had seen in of War Crimes museums of Hanoi and elsewhere that chronicled the punitive, wartime practice of hacking off hands. Since my bus was set to arrive shortly, and figuring it would be rude to do so, I did not inquire as to the nature of the man’s wound. Given his age of roughly 65 years he would have been in his twenties at the start of the American War, however, meaning that he’d been tortured, branded, and disfigured by the invading forces, their allies, or the North Vietnamese Army. The sandwiches he made were as delicious and fortifying as any I have ever tasted. Memories of his twinkling smile, though, and willingness to engage kindly with an American tourist, will nourish and sustain me for far longer.
americanifesto / JPR / whorphan / 場黑麥
in China, briefly
In the winter of 2014, on a late-evening domestic flight from Beijing to Shanghai, I sit next to the deputy mayor of Taicang, a city in Jiangsu province. Excited to practice his English but not confident in his skills, he calls over his assistant, to translate. Over the next few hours we talk about families and cultures, politics and religion. They invite me come spend the night in their town. I accept.
We disembark at Shanghai’s domestic airport and squeeze into a minivan for a more than hourlong drive through the darkened Chinese countryside. Along the way, I realize that I have no idea who these people are, where I am, or where I am going, but the boisterous mood and smiling faces of my new bureaucratic friends calm any lingering worries. With the help of the assistant, a bespectacled, skinny man who speaks English well, I check into a Western-owned hotel near the modern center of town. We make plans to meet the next morning so he can show me around. Jetlagged and in unfamiliar settings, I get little sleep, watching reruns of classic Chinese movies subtitled for hearing-impaired locals.
I awake early, have a light breakfast, check out, and wander the surrounding area until the assistant arrives. On a Saturday morning, in an official Chinese government car - complete with driver. As we are making our way over to Zhouzhuang, an older town not far away, the assistant explains that the 15th Century explorer Zheng He was based out of the area, hence its enduring fame. We tour the ancient city, a wonder to behold, tidy wooden structures standing shoulder to shoulder, cunningly crafted stone bridges spanning narrow canals.
The assistant takes his leave, saying he wants to spend time with his children. I am deeply ashamed upon realizing that he has used his day off to show me around, and that I didn’t buy anything in the artisanal stores we entered. The driver heads for the highway. We smoke cigarettes and speak little. As we are approaching downtown Shanghai, I catch people in the cars around us staring, apparently trying to figure out who I might be, a Westerner riding alone in a chauffeured official vehicle.
I wander around near the Bund, harvesting graffiti and getting a feel for the city’s layout. Then, sensing my apparent loneliness, I attract a hanger-on, a fat and sweaty man who speaks good English. He tries to get me to buy gold at a gaudy shop. I refuse and walk out, but he’s hot on my heels. I buy trinkets at another shop he leads me to, however, a tourist trap that sells mass-produced items. Then, because the man claims he is broke, I treat him to an expensive pot of tea and the last of my Chunghwa cigarettes, which he enjoys immensely. Exhausted and out of cash, I hop the subway toward Shanghai Pudong international, and flee finally the madhouse scramble of another world city.
americanifesto / JPR / whorphan / 場黑麥
on Ynki overreach
In the aftermath of World War Two, as the British Empire was collapsing under its bloated inefficiencies, it was redrawing borders around the world in sloppy, hasty fashion. These borders still cause tension, primarily where they broke up (or forced together) religious populations, splitting cohesive cultural groups along artificial boundaries. Notable examples of these poorly planned British demarcations of territory can still be found in Asia (Iraq, Pakistan, India) and Africa (Zimbabwe). One area particularly prone to violence and disaffection is the Middle East, where the carving out of a separate Jewish-run state by British planners in an area historically inhabited by Muslims to this day causes war, chaos, and hatred. From a certain point of view, the creation of a Zionist state where no such state previously existed resembles the current attempts by Daesh (i.e. ISIS, ISIL) extremists to establish a quasi-Islamic caliphate in the Levant. When Israel came into being, the local populations fought against its existence, furious that apparent foreigners with strange customs and curious headwear had set up shop within their midst and were enforcing the laws of their religion.
All empires fail, all tyrannies at some point face extinction. As the American Empire reaches its zenith, as Pax Amerikana grinds to its inexorable halt, it is fitting to ponder what could happen in the areas now controlled by the Ynki war machine when it, too, collapses. Will America carve out a portion of its vassal state of Saudi Arabia so that Daesh may settle there? Will one of the Ynki-owned Pacific islands be given to quasi-Islamic religious extremists whose goal is to subject all of humanity to Sharia law? Will the Western powers change their tune and start talking ‘self-determination’ when they realize that their attempts to stop a group of religious extremists from gaining independence cause more problems than they fix? Will the world cry foul at the (supposedly accidental) slaughter of innocents during the military reconquest of Mosul, demanding appeasement for the hardliners in order to limit their brutal oppression to but one contained geopolitical entity?
Using history as a guide, the following is likely to happen. America will hold onto its overseas possessions tenaciously, fighting tooth and nail to make sure money keeps flowing out of foreign economies and into the pockets of indigenous corporate bosses. America will continue its policy of intervention in external affairs, toppling democratically elected governments in countries fighting to be free of its meddling and interference. America will send troops into battle to maintain its authoritarian control over foreign populations yearning to be free. America will use propaganda and counter propaganda to poison the minds of its own people against the world at large, whipping them into a nationalistic frenzy and blinding them to the crimes and injustices being performed in their name. Only after unthinkable atrocities have been committed in the name of ‘liberty and justice’ and countless lives have been sacrificed to the gods of greed and destruction is the Ynki juggernaut likely to fail. For millions of oppressed persons around the world, the downfall of the American Empire will come not a moment too soon. The inevitable approacheth. Sic semper tyrannis!
© JPR / whorphan / americanifesto / 場黑麥
This author rejects the notion of American exceptionalism. Having read repeatedly the nation’s founding documents, the Constitution and the Declaration, he finds in neither of the two texts cause or justification for imperial ambitions. America was not founded as an empire, and yet it is an empire, today. America exhibits sicknesses and discrepancies similar to those found in previous empires: we spend the lion’s share of our budget on keeping and expanding foreign corporate holdings - most often through aggressive war-making - whilst neglecting our domestic economy and infrastructure, allowing them to crumble; we curtail free speech and civil rights at home whilst paying them lip-service abroad; we imagine ourselves mighty because we had the unthinkable gall to use nuclear weapons in anger yet fail to understand that such brazen and inhuman acts compel other nations to arm themselves similarly; we call for the prosecution of foreign leaders who willingly committed crimes against humanity yet hold our own leaders (e.g. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld) exempt from such prosecution even though our own crimes dwarf those of others; we topple legally elected foreign leaders in favor of violent thugs trained by us to subjugate and torture their own people in order to maintain and protect American corporate profits.
Not one of the deplorable conditions mentioned above is called for in the Constitution, this nation’s supposedly highest code of laws, wherefore these conditions are unconstitutional, unjust, and forbidden. There is no justification for America’s imperial ambitions; our acts of war in the interest of short-term corporate profit making violate the Constitutional directives, wherefore they must stop. The America of which we collectively dream - that place where all persons are created equal, where the government acts to protect the Life, Liberty, and Property of all persons instead of merely the financial gains of artificial, immortal entities - that America does not now exist, nor has it ever. We pathetic citizens who demand a return to traditional constitutional values are being ignored, laughed at, and brutally silenced. Woe be unto this nation. Forgive us, world, for we knew what terrible things we were doing, and did them anyway.
© JPR / whorphan / americanifesto / 場黑
A major American news outlet is seeking actors to film scripted segments for its coverage of the Syrian conflict. Prior military training preferred, but no special language skills required; the opposition currently fighting the rule of Bashar al-Assad is nearly entirely foreign-born. Depending on the timetable for illegal U.S. involvement in the struggle taking place in Syria, a sovereign foreign nation, actors may be expected to sign contracts lasting more than 1 year. Non-disclosure is mandatory for participation. After Damascus has been bombed to rubble, employment opportunities may become available with al-Qaida, a paramilitary terrorist organization rumored to be run by the federal government of the United States of America. Persons wishing to participate in misleading and lying to the trustworthy people of the world should run a Google-searh on “potluck trampoline breakwater” (without the quotation marks), wait 8 minutes, then make the mark of the beast on their front doors. Armed federal agents will arrive within the hour, black-bag and hogtie the applicant, and transport him forthwith to mock-ups of the Syrian countryside being constructed deep in the deserts of California.
© americanifesto / 場黑麥
blog updated thrice weekly
I bicycle, write, surf, and strive.