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Stic.man and Obama

¿Viva Mexico?

When gunmen burst into a bar in Mexico's Michoacán state that September and dumped a bag of cocos on the dance floor, it was barely a blip on the national media radar. In Mexico, though, people freaked out. Coinciding as it did with election of Michoacán's native son Felipe Calderón to the presidency on a law-and-order platform, the incident at Sol y Sombra is a good candidate for the exact moment when the "War on Drugs" changed from a Nancy Reagan-esque propaganda term to something approaching Iraq in terms of intensity.


Monday, February 2, 2009 1 comments

¿Viva Mexico?

by Dan Evarts

By 2006, Americans were suffering from decapitation fatigue. We'd seen enough grainy images of jihadists sawing or threatening to saw the heads off of journalists, aid workers and GI Joe dolls that people losing their heads had lost a lot of its shock value. Maybe that's why when gunmen burst into a bar in Mexico's Michoacán state that September and dumped a bag of cocos on the dance floor, it was barely a blip on the national media radar. In Mexico, though, people freaked out. Coinciding as it did with election of Michoacán's native son Felipe Calderón to the presidency on a law-and-order platform, the incident at Sol y Sombra is a good candidate for the exact moment when the "War on Drugs" changed from a Nancy Reagan-esque propaganda term to something approaching Iraq in terms of intensity.

After taking office in December, Calderón sent 6000 troops into Michoacán. Instead of running for the hills, the cartels fought back. They've been at each other's throats for decades, and the internecine conflict has created a textbook example of Darwinian survival of the fittest—the Gulf and Sinoloa cartels that have come out on top are in some aspects more sophisticated and better equipped than the federales, and far more brutal. They've responded to Calderón's campaign with a surge in violence: 2500 killed in 2007, over 5600 in 2008, and nearly 400 so far this year. That includes almost 500 police and soldiers. To put that into perspective, America has lost 417 troops in Afghanistan from hostile action over the past seven years.

Things have gotten so bad that last month that when the US Army released its Joint Operating Environment 2008 report in December, there was a paragraph tucked away in a flood of Sun Tzu quotes and military jargon identifying the two states most likely to undergo "rapid and sudden collapse" in the near future as Pakistan and Mexico. Calderón took issue with the Army's analysis, but honestly, things don't look good for the Mexican government. Pemex oil, Mexico's largest source of revenue (probably not surpassed by US dollars wired back home by immigrants anymore) is on the decline, with production dropping each year since 2004. The reserves are largely depleted, and revolutionary attacks on petroleum infrastructure don't help. The drug war was also starting to hit the tourism industry hard even before the recession. As disposable incomes dwindle, a resort vacation with the prospect of becoming a bullet-riddled corpse starts to look even less attractive. Add to that the financial crisis's impact on foreign investment, and Mexico's fiscal situation looks dire.

The cartels, on the other hand, are pushing a renewable commodity with a fairly inelastic demand curve. The GAO says they brought in $23 billion in 2007, and it's possible that they'll do even better this year. Cocaine use skyrocketed during the 80s recession, and the decline of the Mexican economy and a rise in unemployment will make the drug business even more attractive to Mexico's poor.

Of course, plenty of the cartels' income is being spent on things like zoo animals, but what's left over still buys a lot of gunsa lot of guns. More importantly, it buys skills. In the 90s, the Gulf Cartel began employing rogue School of the Americas-trained Mexican and Guatemalan special forces members as bodyguards. Known as "Los Zetas," by 2004 they had predictably taken over leadership of the cartel. Los Zetas operate with a degree of tactical sophistication that the Mexican federal government, quite frankly, can't match. In the United States, a drug raid is a SWAT team kicking down the door of a crack house. In Mexico, it increasingly tends to be a hours-long infantry battle in somewhere like downtown Tijuana, with Mexican soldiers retreating under fire from grenade launchers and .50-caliber machineguns.

Right now Mexico has 45,000 troops bolstering the police in the drug war. The United States is helping to prop up the Calderón administration with money and surplus military equipment through the Mérida Initiative or "Plan Mexico," along with training from FBI and DEA advisors (who knows what other government agencies are doing down there, but it's not likely to be pleasant). Whether this support will be enough remains to be seen, but it's doubtful. $1.6 billion is a drop in the bucket in a conflict of this scale.

His nuclear option is to call for overt intervention by the United States military. That would be political suicide for him and probably Obama too. If military action is authorized, it would probably be limited to something quiet initially, like employing the US expertise in blasting SUVs with Predator drones. Targeted killings can only accomplish so much, though. If the situation escalates, the United States could easily face a worst-case scenario: being caught up in a de facto civil war in the urban slums of Mexico.

The cartels are already the new cultural heroes of Mexico. If they're aggressive enough to face down US military intervention, it would give them further legitimacy in the eyes of a people with a long memory. A US armed response below the Rio Grande, viewed as an invasion by a poor and angry population, could easily make Iraq look like a good idea. The cartels, or at least cartel members, could become the nucleus of an heavily-armed insurgency not only familiar with, but able to blend into, the interior of the United States. Not to mention the implications of millions of refugees pouring north across the border.

Admittedly, this is an unlikely scenario, but stranger things have happened. At the very least, Mexico has the potential to become the foreign policy focus of the Obama administration, eclipsing Iraq and Afghanistan. Hopefully Obama and Calderón can craft a solution that brings narco-violence back down to nuisance levels. If not, though, things look grim for Mexico, and with it the United States, if only by virtue of proximity.

To get back on topic, decapitations are still all the rage south of the border. In September, 11 human heads were apparently burnt as ritual offerings to Santa Muerte, a folk deity that the cartels have adopted as their patron saint (giving us awesome shoes and evocative terms like "narco-cultist"). Mexican soldiers have also started to lose their heads. While an alarmist might be tempted to draw a connection between the tactics of the cartels and Al-Qaeda, it's probably safer to assume that it's an example of convergent evolution. Decapitation is just scary, and these guys are into that.


Saturday, January 24, 2009 1 comments

American Revolutionaries in the Age of Obama: Stic.man of Dead Prez

While Barack Obama is surely an admirable person, his task as President is not enviable. Hunkered down in the Oval Office, he is now calculating with advisers as to how big a shovel he has to use to clean up all of the shit left around by his predecessor. And not only that, but how he will pay for the shovel? And, of course, which shit gets shoveled away first? And, after all, will these shovels even work?

Aside from those practical issues, Obama also has the burden of handling the emotions of the millions of Americans who embraced him wholeheartedly during his campaign, with their wallets and their hearts. The expectations are monumental on a national and international scale. Some expect a messiah, some a magician, and others, just a tax cut.

Even now, in these long-time pro-Obama circles, there are hints of disappointment floating – a near inevitability for the President, considering the volume of support he received from so many who were ready and willing to frame him as the way out of an eight-year coma. Some light public grumbling has already made its way through certain leftist venues over Obama's reluctance to comment on the situation in Gaza, while others were perhaps displeased at the proliferation of his cabinet by ex-Clintonites – Obama's former rival, after all, who was derided for her insider habits.

Now, as he is officially holding the reigns of power, legions of Obama supporters will come face-to-face with the reality that political compromise is going to be necessary, and much of their favored policy decisions will have to be delayed, if not killed off.

The unavoidable criticism of Obama from some of his former supporters for his inability – and surely, lack of desire - to be a leftist cure-all will likely be portrayed by most media outlets as a novel phenomenon, ripe for the picking by Republican spin artists. By necessity, however, this portrayal will discount the fact that there have always been those who are unrelated to Republican political gamesmanship that have always been unconvinced of Obama and his role in the political system.

“I think he is a charismatic brother and he even comes off as level-minded and fair, until you take into consideration a black power agenda. You have to say he is not really representing the black masses in terms of his agenda.” rapper and political activist Stic.Man told the New Madrid. “Maybe in his skin tone he is. But, shit, Obama and Bin Laden both have the same skin tone, for that matter.”

Best known for his time as one half of the rap group dead prez, Stic.man never exactly bought into the Obama hype that wooed large swaths of the entertainment industry. Given the history of his music, this is not exactly surprising.

Since breaking out in 2000, dead prez – comprise of stic.man and his associate, M1 - has released two full length albums while also collaborating with The Coup, Erykah Badu, and The Outlawz. On his own, stic.man has put out a solo album entitled “Man Hood,” authored a book on emceeing, and produced tracks for rap legend Nas.

Throughout, the group has retained a distinct identity, infusing their music with a stridently pro-black identity informed by both the tenets of the Black Panther Party and the work of “African internationalists” in the Uhuru Movement. Stic.man and M1 took that message and customized it, preaching healthy living and exercise as a path to self-determination amid their lyrical criticism of the American political and social systems.

For all intents and purposes, however, dead prez first emerged onto the national music scene with the blistering single “Hip-Hop” - an anthem for political change set to a rattling war call of a beat. With a chorus chanting that “it's bigger than hip-hop,” dead prez called for a full scale assault on the music industry and the political establishment – a haymaker from the rap world that came while the industry was swirling with songs lauding the spoils of the “system” dead.prez came to confront.

who shot biggie smalls?
If we dont get them, they gonna get us all
Im down for runnin up on them crackers in they city hall

These record labels slang our tapes like dope
You can be next in line, and signed, and still be writing rhymes and broke
You would rather have a lexus, some justice, a dream or some substance?
A beamer, a necklace or freedom? - Stic.man, “Hip Hop”

“Them crackers in they city hall.” On the radio and video versions of the song, the “c-word” was removed or obscured from broadcast, similar to its infamous “n-word” cousin. Instead, the sound of a record stopping filled the space so a listener without the unedited version – only available on the album - would hear the line “them [screech] in they city hall.”

Thus, the teeth of the lyrical assault were largely ripped out by some censor somewhere. The line was altered into the same boring general antipathy towards politicians that can be found in a John Mellancamp song - a pointless, throwaway sentiment without the guts of the unedited verse.

While the intentions of the word's removal are debatable, (is it a racial slur?) the result is telling. The censorship allows calls for criticism of a looming government sitting on a hill, but not if the face of that government is defined in color.

By now, we have all learned the mantra that Obama's election is a “historical” one, not just because of the massive voter excitement that propelled him into office, but also because that official face of government is black for the first time – the opposite color than that assumed by dead prez just a few years back.

The symbolism of the event is undeniably awesome, as a black man takes the Oval Office just a few decades after law books in this country insisted African-Americans were marginalized. As Obama begins to work in Washington, though, the structure of government is more or less the same, and - black face or white - the pressures of political compromise and expediency mean Obama must navigate the established realms of power, rather than entirely construct his own.

Now, the hope embodied by Obama is that “change” will come by wielding the system as a weapon against political obstacles, rather than instilling change by attacking the system with rhetorical guns blazing. Tactically, Obama tipped his hand in that regard when he stocked his arsenal with weapons like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Podesta, and Rahm Emanuel. These are the game-players - those who know Washington politics - and not outsiders who seek to overhaul the institutions of power.

It is for these reasons that self-proclaimed black revolutionaries like stic.man are not lined up behind Obama. The system he heads is the same that they questioned before November 4 and the same they will question throughout Obama's time in office.

“I think so far he is helping a failing white power system have a last chance at being revived,” said stic.man in an e-mail interview. “And, if things are gonna be how they have been been under 43 prior white presidents, then my expectations are not high at all.”

“In fact, I'm gonna be preparing for the okee doke,” he added. “I encourage people to stay vigilant in their local and international organizing so that we can hold this administration accountable to the real needs of the people. I say that with humility and with all due respect to the historical nature of this time.”

The historicity is unavoidable, for good reason, but for stic.man, it takes a back seat to action on the issues he sees as relevant.

“I haven't really heard Obama speak out as to what his administration plans to do as it relates to the crisis of black males in this country. I haven't heard his stance on the recent or past police brutality issues at all, or the incarceration epidemic of our people. I did see where he was supposedly not in support of reparations,” said stic.man. “So I don't know what to expect but what we've been getting all along from the system.”

A still from the video for "Hip-Hop"

“Until i actually experience otherwise, my faith in these times is in what the people want to see happen not so much in what the 'President of U.S. Imperialism' is gonna do, ya dig?” he added. “What it it means for the country remains to be seen too.”

Obama's campaign touched largely on the same issues Democratic campaigns have in the past, while packaging them with skillful iterations of promises of “Hope” and “Change” in Washington, D.C.. By consequence, those issues often driving certain African-American activist circles often went under-acknowledged during the presidential race, like addressing significant incarceration rates for black males or calls for reparations for slavery.

Obama walked a fine line on those issues which often pigeonhole African-American politicians into inescapable policy conundrums, and the President sought to transcend racial issues and avoid controversial “race” topics at most times while taking the conservative route at others. When he spoke on the need for “responsible fatherhood” in African-American communities, he was infamously criticized by Rev. Jesse Jackson, who accused him of unnecessary pedantry.

The political negatives of this move were negligible, at least. Obama successfully mobilized African-American voters, who supported him in record numbers across the country. It is something akin to this mobilization that concerns stic.man most about the Obama administration, however. For him, the crisis created by the American system for the black community remains regardless of who is in charge – and buying in via Obama may further exacerbate the crisis, he argues.

“[My biggest concern is] that he will galvanize our people into believing in an American dream that denies our true right to freedom and self-determination,” said stic.man.

The slogan “Be Careful What you HOPE for” long adorned stic.man's e-mails and cyber-communiques throughout 2008 – a self-evident warning to Obama supporters.

It is undeniably clear stic.man has his reservations about an Obama administration, but what did he make of the administration's potential? Could it provide a self-proclaimed revolutionary with anything satisfactory?

When asked what his greatest wish for Obama was, he responded as follows:

“'Wish' as in miracles, right?” said Stic.man. “I wish Obama would be the spook who sat by the door and [that] he is gonna use the power of his office to expose the fundamental contradiction of the system as parasitic and imperialistic by nature.”

“[I wish] that he will free the political prisoners, give the indigenous brothers and sisters their land back, free the prisoners of war and those of conscious,” he continued. “That he will be a voice and proponent for the reparations movement. That he will have a revolutionary impact on the minds and lives of the people.”

“But thats big wishful thinking,” he added.

The idea of revolutionary impact is one that was subtly addressed throughout Obama's campaign, especially through its flirtations with popular culture. The iconic Shepherd Fairey-designed poster of Obama seems to channel socialist propaganda of the past, echoing Che Guevara gazing into the socialist future, while other campaign images appear to recall Soviet images of brighter days fuelled by sloganeering.

Stic.man remains doubtful that the Obama's goals of change are aligned with his. His own goals and message, for that matter, are not likely to be altered, even with the change in American leadership.

“It will be the same in principle,” he said of his work. “I will express what's on my heart...but, as i grow in understanding, so will the music. ”


2009 will offer ample opportunities for that expression, as stic.man continues to work through his Atlanta-based BossUp production company. The forthcoming year will find stic.man working on a new book entitled “Rites of Passage for Black Boys” as well as a new dead prez album called “Information Age” and further collaboration with M1 on a “mini-album” project with DJ Green Lantern.

Fore more, visit BossUpBu.com


Friday, January 16, 2009 0 comments

Men Will Bleed, Bones Will Be Crushed

by Reid Jupin

Whatever deity is out there in the ether must be smiling down on Pennsylvania this weekend, because only a higher power would bless us with this weekend's AFC game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Let me take you on a quick trip through history to emphasize why this match up will unquestionably be a historic one.

Ray LewisSunday December 14, 2008, Balitmore, Maryland: With the Ravens leading Pittsburgh 9 to 6 in the waning minutes of the 4th quarter, rookie coach John Harbaugh instructs his team to punt on a 4th down after his team's offense--led by rookie quarterback Joe Flacco-- fails to convert a late game 3rd down. The ball is snapped, the punt goes up and falls perfectly, gracefully, and fortunately within the 10 yard line of Steelers' territory. With the ball ultimately downed at the 8 yard line, and the home crowd in Baltimore explodes… That’s it!... It’s done!... Game over, man!...

That beautiful punt all but insures a Ravens' win, as the Steelers would have to move heaven and earth to win. To secure a victory, the Steelers needed to drive 92 yards in a little over 2 minutes and score a touchdown. To make things worst, the defense that would be preventing them from doing this was no ordinary unit, but the fabled and feared Baltimore squad, led by outspoken middle linebacker Ray “I might have helped kill a guy” Lewis. No, there was no way that could happen--no way could the Steelers pull off an impromptu victory, not in front of this crowd, not against this defense.

Of course, it did.

In front of a stunned Ravens' home crowd, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense--which had been sputtering all game long--willed a drive the length of the field down the to the Ravens' end zone and topped off the drive--and the game--with a controversial 4 yard Santonio Holmes touchdown pass. It proved to be the difference in the game, and the Steelers had done the impossible and won.

With that, the victorious Steelers were all but certain to receive a playoff berth. For the crushed Ravens, the loss meant it would take a divine intervention for them to make the post-season.

Yet for whatever reason, the football gods saw it necessary for these two titans to clash again, and here and now, five weeks later, in one of the best AFC Championship match-ups in recent years.

The Baltimore Ravens, a team once thought to be as dead as disco when it came to the playoffs, is now advancing to the AFC Championship game and set to face none other than the Pittsburg Steelers. Mike Florio, of Profootballtalk.com, said it best, “Ladies and Gentlemen get ready for World War 3!”

In predicting an outcome to this inevitably epic game, all rational thinking says to pick the Steelers. They’ve beaten the Ravens twice this year, the game is a home game for them, they are led by a fifth-year quarterback with super bowl experience and “statistically” they have the best defense in the NFL. With all those factors backing a decision you’d have to be crazy to bet against them, yet that is precisely what you should do.

I’m taking the Ravens in this game to win by a field goal, and I’m taking them because of the turnout of their last meeting. The Ravens are a team with too much pride to let it end the way it did on December 14th. There’s just something about this team and the way they're playing.

You have to ignore all the facts and justifications the pundits pull out to explain why the Ravens will lose this game: They have a rookie quarterback, they Raven’s haven’t had a bye week since September, they are riddled with injuries, it’s an away game...Some even say there’s nothing left in the tank for Ray Lewis and his defense.

Ray may be on his last leg and might only have a couple more years in him--he is not the player he once was. But, you have to assume that the memory of the Steelers' 92 yard drive against Lewis' proud Baltimore defense--in front of a Baltimore crowd--topped by a touchdown pass that never crossed the plane is a memory that still haunts Ray.

And we shouldn't forget that, though the Baltimore defense is not statistically number one, it is surely the most feared in the NFL.

Forget assumptions and statistics--the Ravens will have their vengeance this weekend, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, in their own house, in front of their own home crowd. They win with a rookie quarterback and a smile on their face. The Steelers might have all the favorable statistics in the world, but Sunday morning, the Ravens will awake with a burning need to reclaim their pride, and they will stop at nothing to get it back.

Men will bleed, bones will be crushed, Pittsburgh will burn and Baltimore will prevail.

Monday, January 5, 2009 2 comments

Katrina Stories

by Donn Cooper

Around the Fire

Just about everyone I've spoken with from southern Louisiana has some horrific personal account of loss or hardship during and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Homes were flooded, personal belongings destroyed, lives ended. I've heard of grandmothers dying in the attic and entire families swimming through septic sludge to flee the city after Katrina made landfall. It goes without saying that these narratives need to be repeated, to recognize the suffering and to burn into the American consciousness the painful memory of unpardonable social and political failures.

Explaining how Katrina happened—describing, for one, the modern engineering mechanisms that permitted the city's population to exist in almost an amphibious natural environment—would take every volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and then some. Grasping the entire rhyme and reason is nearly impossible because New Orleans has long been a literal sump of problems. Then again, ascertaining causes is always nearly impossible in a catastrophe, especially for those involved. Survivors cope by sharing stories of their tribulation and deliverance. In contrast to an abstract time-line of contributing factors--or, in the case of Katrina, a compilation of oceanographic charts and congressional budgets--their immediate experience is something real and tangible to which they can hold.

At the Door

However, another thing begins to happen, other stories surface as if conjured from dreams. They're unattributable, like urban myths. And similarly, they speak to the collective phobias and psychoses of a population. What could be scarier for the American family than mistaking a giant sewer rat for a pet dog? (You've heard that one, haven't you?) The very idea threatens the iconic, Leave It to Beaver image and attacks a sense of safety, tied to cleanliness. Less trivial, it's perfectly conceivable for talk to circulate among New Orleans African-Americans that the levee in the Lower 9th Ward had been exploded. For a community that had been disenfranchised for so long, the story becomes almost a wish-fulfillment of their worst fear.

Among a group with an opposite and congenial relationship to power, the stories that arise in crisis can be ones of confirmation and fanciful hope. What's that, there were militias of heavily-armed African-American youth roving New Orleans, looting and raping women? Well, the city's whites shrug and say, “We're not surprised. In fact, we told you so.” The ruling class finds a justification for its economic position and political behavior. That's not to say that there weren't heinous crimes committed in the lawlessness after the storm, only that the cultural salience and particularity of the details of those purported crimes need to be analyzed.


This weekend I heard what I consider the other, wishful half of the previous story, which has been running through my parents' circle of friends, a group of upper-middle class residents of New Orleans and the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain. Here's the question: If the city harbors warlords and murderous animals, how does white society deal with them? Although they still control its economy, white political power in the city is no longer evident. What hope do they have to eliminate the criminal element? They've done everything in their ability to protect themselves, namely by removal, by living and learning separately. But otherwise, they're impotent; they tire of a self-imposed segregation. They'd venture out, were the wolf not licking at the door.*

The following, I think, originates partly in response to the stated subconscious question. Here, told in Tennessee, with a vodka tonic in hand:

You know about the Navy Seals that came into the French Quarter after Katrina came through? The police were just a mess. Nobody was really in charge. They didn't have any headquarters. I don't even think they could hardly communicate with each other. The ones who were really heroic were just freelancing, really. A whole bunch of officers stole Cadillacs from a dealership and just drove out of town. I know there were others who shot themselves. There was basically no security after the storm, and as you heard on the TV, there was all kinds of bad things going on. People getting robbed and murdered and worse.

But, you know, the French Quarter didn't ever get looted or anything. You know why, don't you? People were really worried about it getting burned down or something. But they couldn't send the military or, I think, the National Guard into New Orleans right after the storm because our stupid governor was sitting on her ass. She hadn't signed the papers that would allow the federal government to mobilize soldiers inside the state. But the French Quarter, you see, is actually a National Historic District—something like that—so it's under federal jurisdiction. When it was pretty clear that the police couldn't do the job once the storm was done, President Bush ordered Navy Seals to go up the Mississippi River and protect the French Quarter.

So right across Rampart Street is the ghetto—well, you know that, you're familiar with the French Quarter. Anyway, there was some bad stuff going on over there. The Navy Seals, they set up snipers on the roofs looking over across Rampart Street. You can ask Joey about this since he's got some Navy connections, although I heard it from someone else. The snipers sat up there and picked off all the guys that were looting and raping and stuff. They'd see this stuff going on and shoot these guys, who were raping women. Then they'd go over in the night and get the bodies. That's why you didn't hear anything about it.

* Johnny Darrell.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008 2 comments

The Ballad of Weezy Salah

by Lusy Dupree

The perils of the internet do not cease during the Holidays, of course. The ruses just get more focused.

Most are familiar with the traditional e-mail scam: an unsolicited message is received from an unknown person in a foreign land requesting financial assistance with the promise of a large financial reward. Following the instructions, victims of the so-called "Advance-fee fraud" (aka the Nigerian E-mail scheme) send money overseas with little hope of seing any return.

According to legend, the e-mail scheme business is a major industry in Lagos, where internet cafes cater to scammers working on prying the cash out from overseas. The ideas of the scams have been numerous, if not silly, at times using false airline tickets, diplomas, and even the forged signature of the Nigerian president.

Evidently, as we at the New Madrid discovered, the scam artists began targeting Christmas Tree vendors during these holidays. One of our contributors - who at times has operated a Christmas Tree farm (really) - received a slew of grammatically-flawed sales inquiries at his business address from a number of email addresses, each asking for an order of trees to be sent overseas.

The scam comes in when the "purchaser" demands a certain shipping agent (of course, a fake one) be used and paid in advance by the tree vendor, as we discovered in the following correspondence.

In this case, however, something beautiful blossomed from our correspondence with the scammers: true love, the ultimate Christmas gift.

Please enjoy the following exchanges. We responded in turn as an "independent Christmas Tree consultant" for the below correspondence. It is long in length, but a quick read that is entirely worth your time.

The correspondence from the scammers is entirely unedited.


-------- Original Message --------
From: Chris Douglas
Date: Mon, December 08, 2008 12:05 am
Subject: Order

Dear Sir
With much regards to your company services and products, I am Rev.Chris Douglas" and would like to make a purchase on Artificial Christmas Tree .Advise with pick up price base on bellow specs .

6ft tall x 112cm wide Artificial Christmas Tree.
7ft tall x 127cm wide Artificial Christmas Tree.
Artificial Tree stand.
Decorated 7-foot Artificial Christmas Tree.

Kindly send me a return e-mail on what you currently have in stock and what you can  offer with prices and availability. This is a special order I would like to deal with the owner direct .

God bless

From: Larry Dupree
Date: Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 8:00 AM
To: Chris Douglas
Subject: Re: Order


Might I begin my message by wishing you a Merry Christmas. It’s so good to know that men of the cloth are still aiming to celebrate the birth of our lord and savior, Jesus H. Christ.

I intercepted your message concerning the a purchase of Artificial Christmas Trees. My name is Larry Dupree, and I am an independent Christmas Tree consultant representing Lusy Dupree’s Trees, Ltd. Let me explain what that means to you: I am interested in getting the trees you need to you when you need them. Any tree, any time.

I see you are looking for three different kinds of trees. I can assure you I can get them all for you, one way or the other. And I am certain that we can cut a deal, if you know what I mean.

My company operates the following web site:

On it you will find JUST A SELECTION of the trees we offer. Through my consulting business, I can get you any trees you want, or other holiday memorabilia. We're talking menorahs, that Kwanzaa stuff, whatever. Just e-mail me, we'll work it out.

All right, Reverend, I look forward to hearing back from you soon. I don’t need to tell you that time is running out on Christmas, so you better get your order in quick.

In Him,

Larry Dupree, esq.
Christmas and Holiday Decorating Consultant

"Decorating trees in the spirit of the season" -- Company Motto


On Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 12:07 PM, Chris Douglas wrote:

Hi Lusy

Thanks for the e mail .I appreciate your interest .I want to know the trees that you current have in stock with the price and available for pick up .I also want to know the method of payment that you accept ?.I only need a pick up price only.


On Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 12:14 PM, Lusy Dupree Trees wrote:


I appreciate your prompt reply. It’s a good Christian value, promptness.

I’ve already directed you to our website with our stock and prices; you can find our available trees there.

We accept check or money order. We also accept barters, particularly in these "tough economic times," if you know what I mean. Some of the barters we have made this holiday season:

One (1) case Tylenol Cold and Flu Gelcaps for a 6' Fir (with stand).
16 Cans of Diet Rite Cola for a rather thin, but passable, 5' North Carolina Pine.

At any rate, might I recommend the following for you:

- A majestic 7' broadleaf oak (baby) for just 25.95 (pick up ONLY)
- 28" Mint Julep (KY LEAF) for just 59.95 (pick up ONLY)
- 6' White Fir for just 49.95

As you can see, our prices are economical, given the "tough economic times."

If you are located in northeastern Tennessee, we would gladly have you come pick up a tree. The prices are all for pick-up.

Where are you located? In southern Tennessee?

Your friend in Christ,

Larry Dupree

The Ballad of Weezy Salah

-------- Original Message --------
From: Salah Weezy
Date: Mon, December 08, 2008 8:53 am
Subject: Order…..

Dear Sir
With much regards to your company services and products, I am Weezy Salah" and would like to make a purchase on Artificial Christmas Tree ..Advise with price available below space.

6ft tall x 112cm wide Artificial Christmas Tree .
7ft tall x 127cm wide Artificial Christmas Tree .
Artificial Tree stand .
Decorated 7-foot Artificial Christmas Tree .

Kindly send me a return e-mail on what you currently have in stock and
what method of payment do you accept...

God bless

From: Larry Dupree
Date: Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 12:22 PM
To: Salah Weezy
Subject: Re: Order…..

Dear Mr. Weezy,

I must confess - I am just confused. Sure, in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is easy to get confused. Or depressed. God knows I get depressed. Like all the time. I sell fucking Christmas trees for a living. This is all I do. It’s not joyous, I can guarantee you that, to get yelled at by a fat woman every day about a tree putting bugs in her house.

But anyway, I am confused, because you introduced yourself as "Weezy Salah," but you signed your email Reverend Chris. Interestingly, I have already been in correspondence with another customer named Reverend Chris. I wonder if your email mixed with his and I got the confusing signature! Who knows? What a world! Ha ha ha.

Or are you a Reverend also? What denomination? Are you Presbyterian? If you are Presbyterian, I will give you a gracious discount on our WONDERFUL AND MAJESTIC 10' Douglas Pines!

Let me know!

They are $45, PICK UP ONLY. We have 7 in stock. To ship them, it is 5 dollars more. WRITE ME BACK, WEEZY, because Christmas is coming soon.



Larry Dupree


On Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 1:12 PM, Weezy Salah wrote:

Hi Merry Christmas
well I am not rev okay..well can you give me the Total Cost Of 30 and also I will recommend you with a shipping company that will be coming in for the pick at your location..
Thank You

On Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 3:15 PM, Larry Dupree wrote:


My pleasure. Sorry for the confusion.

30 trees * 45 dollars each = 1350 dollars
BUT since it is a large order, I will cut it to just 1000 dollars. Does that work?

What company will you be recommending? Where are you located?


Larry Dupree

On Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 12:31 PM, Weezy Salah wrote:

Dear Customer,

Thank You so much for the efforts you put on this transaction
in other to make my order very special.Well this is my first time with
your company and I think I am impressed so.Actually I want you to know
that there is this freight company I want to recommend you to so that
they will handle the shipment of the merchandise to the final delivery
location which is in west Africa to an orphanage home .I want you to
contact them and get me the freight charges for shipping the Trees to the orphanage home. below is their contact details....and try
and contact the shipping right know and get me the charges and I will
send you my credit card for the full payment..

Contact name :Doyle Todd
Company Name :International gali And express Shipping company
Contact email: gali_shipping@yahoo.com

Delivery address :

Alihatu Osu orphanage
897 osu Road 4t

As soon as you email them send me an email with a copy of what you
sent to them and also as soon as they get back to you email me with
the quote that they gave to you so that we can proceed the order .
Thank You .

Counting on to your prompt response
Mr. Weezy Salah

On Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 12:57 PM, Larry Dupree wrote:

You might be one of the more confusing customers I have ever had. You just called me “customer,” silly! As if you were trying to get something out of me or something! Ha ha! I am glad we are such good friends that we can joke like that.

Anyway, MY dear customer, I will contact Mr. Todd in Accra post haste with regard to getting a shipping quote for our little Christmas tree transaction.

I will contact you back shortly, my friend. I hope your Wednesday is going excellently. Please tell the orphans "hello" from Uncle Larry.

Happy Christmas Season!

Larry Dupree

PS. You should have told me these were for an orphanage before! Ha ha! I would have given you a bigger discount. Oh well, too late now. Tough break, old friend.

From: Larry Dupree
To: gali_shipping@yahoo.com
Date: Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 1:14 Pm
Subject: Quote needed for Christmas Tree Shipments - Attn MR. DOYLE TODD


I am contacting the International Gali and Express Shipping company, particularly trying to reach MR. DOYLE TODD at the behest of my friend WEEZY SALAH of the Alihatu Osu orphanage in Accra, Ghana.

Weezy and I have worked out a deal in which he is buying 40 trees for 55 dollars apiece from my Christmas Tree Wholesaling Company, which is called the Lusy Dupree's Trees (after my wife, Lusy, who died some years back…my condolences, my condolences).

I am an independent Christmas Tree Consultant, you see. Christmas Trees are my business and Weezy and I worked out this deal for the Christmas trees, okay?

Look, I told him I would have given him a better discount if he told me it was for an orphanage, but sometimes I doubt Weezy's business savvy, you know what I mean? I mean, if you have something under your belt, like you run a goddamn orphanage and you can put it up in a vendor's face, you do it, you know? You'll get a goddamn discount with information like that - any goddamn vendor in his right mind will give a goddamn AFRICAN orphanage a discount. It’s common sense, especially during the Christmas season. People are extra gullible during the Christmas season, you know what I mean?

Look, you are a businessman like me, and I am not sure how well you know Weezy, but he is just naive sometimes. I know, orphanages aren't a business. That's what my second wife told me last night. (Her name is Janet.) She said, "Go easy on Weezy, he is not a businessman like you," and I said to her, “well I can’t adjust my practices just because someone isn't a businessman. If I did, could I even call myself a businessman?”

Whatever. Listen, Doyle, I need to get these trees to this address:

Alihatu Osu orphanage
897 osu Road 4t

You can pick the trees up at:

1088 S. Main St.
Lot 2
Hazard, KY 41702

It’s a parking lot, as used by most standard tree vendors.

The weight of the 40 trees has to be about 1.3 tons. I asked Jared (MY SON) to guess the weight the best he could and that's what he guessed. He is a good weight guesser—he used to do it at the County Fair to make extra spending money—so I trust him.

They will be wrapped the best I can, but I am going to be honest with you, Doyle, I have never shipped trees to Africa before. I figured there would be some sort of problem with customs, but that is for you and Weezy to deal with. He told me you were the best, and I expect that he is right. I trust Weezy; I have known him a while, so I trust you by extension.

Anyway, Doyle, get me that quote ASAP, buddy. Appreciate it. You be good, now.

In Him,
Larry Dupree

On Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 1:17 PM, Larry Dupree wrote:

PS: Jared is the son from my FIRST wife, not Janet. Janet is infertile because she lived too close to the old asbestos plant in Pikeville. Long story...ha ha, maybe I should talk to ole Weez about one of those orphans, ya know?



From: Mariam Kassim
To: ldstrees@gmail.com
Date: Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 1:35 PM
Subject: Wu


Dear Customer,
Thank you for your interest in using Gali Express Shipping Company for your shipping needs.also we are sorry for the delay and our System is down that is why we have not get back to you by time.also
We checked on shipping -Trees,and weight of the Trees 40 High 1.3 tons

From: 1088 S. Main St.
Lot 2
Hazard, KY 41702

To:Alihatu Osu orphanage
897 osu Road 4

And the shipping cost is going to be:......

Grand Total =$650 Six Hundred and Fifty Dollars

That includes international airway taxes(I.A.T) , Tariffs and
custom's clearance duties. It takes approximately 5 to 7 days for
delivery from the day of pick-up.

And the shipping company will only schedule the pick up with you but
will come to your location to pick up the unit from your location as
soon as it is ready instock to be picked up and so the payment has to
be prepaid so you need to get payment from the Customer who is
purchasing the product from you and then you will make the payment
to us.
The only method of payment we accept is via Western Union Money Transfer to our
financial manager in the delivery location.

If you wish to proceed with this shipment, we would require that you
make the Western Union payment to our Financial Manager in your
delivery location at the address below:

Name : Mariam Kassim
Address: 441 ogboham street.
City : Accra
Country: Ghana
Zip code: 00233.

As soon as funds have been transferred via Western Union, we will also
require that you provide us with the following information below:
1. Sender's Name.
2. Total Amount Sent.
3. MTCN #. {Money Transfer Control Number}.
4. Test Question.
5. Test Question Answer.

As soon as payment is confirmed to our financial manager in the
delivery location we would then contact you to give us a specific
date and time for us to come for the pick-up. You can contact us back
anytime you need anything.

We look forward to serving you to your fullest satistfaction.
Thank You

Mr,Mariam Kassim

Note: We Accept Payment From the pick up location ,that is From Your
location and it should be only Western Union Payment...


On Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 1:40 PM, Larry Dupree wrote:


No offense, but I was told to deal with Doyle Todd. Who exactly are you, and where is Mr. Todd? My understanding is he has a personal relationship with my client, Weezy Salah. Please put me in touch with Mr. Todd for the quote.

Larry D.

On Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 1:45 PM, Larry Dupree wrote:


Listen, I think we have a problem. I contacted the shipping company you recommended, and asked for Mr. Todd. Unfortunately, I heard from some jackass named Mariam. And, to be quite honest, she was a bit rude and I don’t know if I trust her. I am not sure if my message was intercepted by pirates OR WHAT, but I would prefer to do business with your friend, MR. DOYLE TODD. Where is he? Have you heard from him? Do you know this so-called Mariam?

On the other hand, Mariam gave me a quote of $650, which seems pretty good to me. Do you think that is a good deal? I have contacted some other shipping companies about how much they would charge. What do you think?


On Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 3:34 PM, Weezy Salah wrote:

Yes Mariam is the Finance Manager and the Funds has to be sent for her..so now I want to know if you are are ready for my Credit Card Information and run it I will send you my credit card information tomorrow ...so that you will go and make the payment to Mariam ...
Thank You

On Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 3:39 PM, Larry Dupree wrote:


Well, that is good news (Mariam is real!) but there is BETTER news. The BETTER news is that I got a better quote on shipping from my friends at Global Tree Container Solutions!

Mariam said $650, but that is so high! Global Tree Container Solutions will ship all of the trees for just $400!!!! That will save you money. How exciting! So I will use Global Tree Container Solutions to ship the trees to you.

Also, do you know Mariam? Will you tell her that I am sorry for calling her a "jackass?" Thanks.


On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 4:21 AM, Weezy Salah wrote:

Well Larry im not Interested in Global Tree Container Solutions..i am Interested in Mariam's Shippers...and use that I will give u my credit card for the Payment...I want to know if u are ready for my credit card Information..and as soon as the Card has Been Approved Send the Funds to Mariam Okay....please dont use Global Tree Container Solutions! I am Interested in Gali Stock Freight Express Okay so Use That One...
Thank You

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 7:41 AM, Mariam Kassim wrote:

Hello larry
mr Todd is in touch with weezy and me..i am the finance manager..so now I am waiting for you to go and make the payment to western union.
thank you

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 9:10 AM, Weezy Salah wrote:


I don’t understand—I got a quote from global container solutions for $400 and you want to pay $250 more to ship the trees???

Weezy, this is something I need to talk to you about. Mariam and I were both talking, and we think you are not necessarily—and please don’t be offended—the best or perhaps most fiscally-minded businessman in the world. First, you did not ask for a discount even though the trees are for an orphanage! What’s up with that? It’s common sense to use the charity angle for a discount, but you left that arrow in your quiver. Inexplicable.

Incident Number Two is this whole shipping conundrum. Now, you need to level with me. It doesn't make business or fiscal sense—and, mind you, I am a businessman—to use Mariam's shipping company. As you can see from the statement I attached below, Global Container solutions gave me a BETTER QUOTE! 250 dollars cheaper. You have to explain to me why you want to use Gali Shipping. Please. and be honest, because we are old friends.

I think I know what the reason is, anyway.

You know I love you, Weezy, and I don’t want to see you hurt, but throwing business to Mariam isn’t going to make her love you unless there is already something there. Let me just ask you straight out: Are you using Mariam's shipping because you have a secret crush?

Is somebody crushing? Is it Weezy?

I thought so, lil' Weezy. I thought so. But just tell me. We are friends, but we have to establish that bond of honesty again, about everything. Just tell me you love Mariam, and GREAT! It’ll be wonderful. Heck, if you are willing to throw 250 bucks away on your love of Mariam, maybe I can too. Just let me know. As soon as you can.

Christmas is getting closer.

Your best friend,
Larry D.

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 10:47 AM, Weezy Salah wrote:

Hello Larry
Try to Understand me Please..i want to use Mariam's Shippers Because that's the shipping I have been using for so long .and I will not use any global shippers...I want to know if u are ready so that I will give u my credit card to run it...also Mariam is waiting for the Payment..you Know X Mass in On The Way...so are you ready for my credit card.let me Know
Thank You

>On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 11:01 AM, Larry Dupree wrote:

Since you refuse to tell me that you love Mariam, I am taking your discount away. I am sorry, but it’s within my rights as a businessman. That brings your total up to $1,350.

Also, I am adding a $1,000 consultancy fee to your original total because I have had to write several emails for this transaction, and I don’t think you understand that I live in a trailer with no internet. I have to literally power this computer by burning vegetable oil in an engine my niece Jared set up. It’s very smelly and time-consuming, and all you can do is throw money out the window, which DOES NOT MAKE SENSE for an orphanage to do.

With the $250 you are throwing away on your flirtations with surreptitious and unrequited love for Mariam, you could be buying wagon tongues and clothing sets for your orphans. What is wrong with you? Can I have the phone number of the orphanage director? Are you the orphanage director?

Also, I need to let you know that we ONLY accept Diner's Club credit cards. Is that okay? Do you have a Diner's Club card? They are supposedly international, so you should.

You can apply here:


sort of upset with you,

Larry D.

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 11:12 AM, Larry Dupree wrote:

There is something I need to talk to you about, and I feel like it is my duty to do it, because Weezy just plum won't.

Weezy Salah is in love with you. I don’t understand it, believe me, and I am sure you don't either, but this is something the two of you need to talk to me about.

You may be wondering how I found this out. Well, I will have you know I am a pretty good detective in my own right. I watch CSI (NY AND MIAMI) and NCIS and Cold Case, like all the time.

I told Weezy that I had gotten a lower shipping quote from another company—WHICH I DID—and he insisted that I use your company. I asked him why he wanted to use your company and spend MORE MONEY and this is what he wrote:

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 10:47 AM, Salah Weezy wrote:

Hello Larry

Try to Understand me Please..i want to use Mariam's Shippers Because that's the shipping I have been using for so long and because I love Mariam .and I will not use any global shippers, Because it is Not Mariam...I want to know if u are ready so that I will give u my credit card to run it...also Mariam, my sweetest Love of my life, is waiting for the Payment..you Know X Mass in On The Way. I just do not know what to get Mariam. shee makes me nervous and I dont want to come on too strong. I bought her nice thing, but not too nice because then I dont want her to know just like that, just off a gift. what do I do?..so are you ready for my credit card.let me Know

Thank You
Best Friend,
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< So, Mariam, what do you think? Do you love Larry? Just be honest with your heart. True love will find a way. Did you receive my payment? Larry D. ----------------------------------------------- On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 11:16 am, Weezy Salah wrote:

Okay Larry

so now if u take away the discount how will be left....give me the total price.so that I will give u my credit card information to run the card and make the payment to Mariam.i don't love Mariam she is my old friend and she is the one I am dealing with Only
Thank you

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 11:31 AM, Larry Dupree wrote:


I hear what you are saying. Just think about this:

If you're down, and confused
And you don't remember who you're talkin' to
Concentration slips away
'Cause your baby is so far away

Well there's a rose, in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can't be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you're with

Don't be angry, don't be sad
Don't sit cryin', talkin' 'bout the good times you had
Well there's a girl, sittin' right next to you
And she's just waiting for something to do

Well there's a rose, in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can't be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you're with

Turn your heartache right into joy
She's a girl, and you're a boy
So why don't you get it together, make it nice
You ain't gonna need any more advice

And there's a rose, in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
Sometimes you can't be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you're with

A little wisdom from the gods. You feeling that?

Do you have a Diner's Club card OR NOT? I do not accept Visa or MasterCard, just Diner's Club. I told you that a long time ago and you don't listen. I am going to tell Mariam you called her "old" if you aren’t careful.

Love, Larry D.

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 11:37 am, Weezy Salah wrote:

I dont have Diner's club Card so what do we do now..i only have master card.

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 11:39 AM, Larry Dupree wrote:

I will accept a barter. Do you have anything good to trade? CSNY Bootlegs? Cough syrup?

I am getting sick and tired of your un-businesslike ways.


PS. Why don’t you tell your friend Mariam to write back to me? Did she get the damn payment? She is as un-businesslike as you! God, have mercy on this man's orphans…

11:43 am, Thursday Dec 18. Larry takes matters into his own hands and dispatches an e-card with the following text:

From: Weezy Salah weezy.salah@yahoo.com
To: Mariam Kassim gali_shipping@yahoo.com

MARIAM, HOW CAN I TELL YOU I LOVE YOU? It is so strong, my love Because your eyes are my oldest friends, and your soul is my closest companion. With you, I can ship things around the world at a relatively economical cost. With you, our Christmases will always be white. But, its true. I do, I do, I do love you.
Please, Please bang me.
Bang me all night long.
From Your Weezy

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 12:04 pm, Weezy Salah wrote:

Well Larry I dont think you want to get the Trees to me...Mariam will reply to u as soon as the funds have been sent for her..so I am telling you if u are ready for my master card then I will give it to u .and if u are not good bye

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 1:22 PM, Larry Dupree wrote:


You rapscallion! Obviously I want to get the trees to you. Trees are my business. All I do is trees. I have told you this. Do you think I would be talking to you so much if I didn’t care about the trees? You are a reticent and cold person, but I am a businessman. A tree businessman, who deals with your boring ilk all the time.

And now, quite frankly, you are just sounding bitter about your unrequited love for Mariam.

Weezy, I want to get you these trees. But I also want to get you together with Mariam. I feel this is my destiny, to bridge the gap between two would-be lovers. Love is a beautiful thing that must be cherished and fostered anew between people who didn’t think it was there before. Especially during the Christmas season.

Do it for me, your best friend, Weezy. Just tell me you love Mariam and we can talk about Christmas trees, okay?

Larry D

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 2:32 pm, Weezy Salah wrote:

Yes I love her..so will you accept my master card.

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 2:35 PM, Larry Dupree wrote:


Don't just tell me, tell her! Let me know when you have told her!
I want to see the email you send her, okay?

You are so brave!


On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 2:39 pm, Weezy Salah wrote:

Okay I told her right away..so are u ready for my credit card information.so that u can go and make the payment for Mariam..u now X mas is on the way

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 2:41 PM, Larry Dupree wrote:


I told you, I want to see the email. I want to make sure you are not lying to yourself about this. Just forward me the email you sent to Mariam telling her you loved her.

Please, do it for yourself.

Larry D.

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 2:49 PM, Mariam Kassim wrote:

well I think if he love's me normal. no I did not get the payment from you,but I am waiting

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 3:07 PM, Larry Dupree wrote:

Well, do you love him? Just tell me that. Do you also love Weezy? That’s important in a relationship.

You didn't get the payment? That's so weird.

Wait, why am I paying you again? Isn’t Weezy buying this shit?


On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 3:09 PM, Weezy Salah wrote:

well this joke's and game's are over...if u are not ready to accept my credit card and make the payment to me let me know. I sent her an e-mail if u like as her..and if u are not ready for the payment bye

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 3:14 PM, Larry Dupree wrote:

Your sentences are becoming more and more incomprehensible. I don’t really understand your English, but I think you are getting sassy. Why would you get sassy? I thought we were friends.

You seem to be forgetting the glory of love and friendship. I just want to see the email you sent to Mariam. Is that so hard?

Look, honestly, Weezy, it would make me feel good. I have really been down in the dumps and depressed lately. I lost my job and my step-cousin Jared came down with shingles and I don’t even have the money to pay for his shingles medication and the government is saying they are going to put him in an orphanage with no Christmas trees AND WOULDNT THAT BE AWFUL.

I really just want to know that I made a difference in someone's life, especially if I can’t help Jared. You know? So just send me the email of your love confession.

Then your glorious love will be complete and we can move back to talking about business! and Christmas trees! and Christmas tree business!


On Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 1:51 AM, Mariam Kassim wrote:

yes I love him..well weezy want to know if u are ready for his credit card information.so that u can make the payment to us.

On Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 7:10 AM, Larry Dupree wrote:

I have news and the news is good, old friend. Remember how you told me you loved Mariam? I do—it was a glorious and shining day among the many dull ones of my existence. And let me tell you, there have been many dull ones. The mind-numbing and freezing days sitting in a tool and dye factory, the weeks behind the counter at a convenience store on Route 66. So terribly, soul-crushingly dull.

But you and Mariam's blossoming love has brightened my life! AND TO WHAT DELIGHT DID I ARISE THIS MORNING? Nothing less than Mariam's confession of her love for you! To wit:

"yes I love him..well weezy want to know if u are ready for his credit card information.so that u can make the payment to us"

Isn’t that wonderful? Mariam loves you, too!

Well, we must make plans, Weezy. I am sure you have a ring picked out already, but don’t blow the proposal—you only get one shot!

Do you want a spring or a summer wedding? What color will the groomsmen's suits be, so I can pick them out? Let me know.

I will start writing my toast now!

you old dog, you—



From: Salah Weezy
To: Larry Dupree
Date: Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 2:34 pm
Subject: Fw: Love
     On Fri, 12/19/08, Salah Weezy wrote:

          From: Salah Weezy
          Subject: Love
          To: gali_shipping@yahoo.com
          Date: Friday, December 19, 2008, 10:29 PM



Tuesday, November 11, 2008 1 comments

The Ecstasy of James Dickey

by Donn Cooper

His intimates and apologists liked to talk about the real James Dickey–fortunate son of Buckhead, mollycoddled introvert, intuitive teacher, and sensitive genius. Most people, instead, witnessed the evil doppelganger Jimbo. A creature of carnal appetites disproportionate even to his 6'3" frame, he reveled in shock and scandal, in sauntering over to the dean’s wife and asserting his droit d’ ecrivian right to a quickie. As a character Jimbo had limited range, lettered redneck or great, countrified Id. For both sexes the latter was a harrowing encounter on the reading circuit, a drawling and crapulent incubus that, outside of groupie meets fish, could put Led Zeppelin to shame.

Jimbo’s supersized persona compensated for James’s self-consciousness and public discomfort. Dickey submerged what he felt were connotations of effeminacy inherent to being a poet by playing a distorted imago of his father, a modernized Rooney Lee, new and improved with co-eds and amphetamines. His bombast and manufactured egotism grew out of another professional insecurity as well. Being an unacknowledged legislator of the world was hardly reward for an American poet in the second half of the twentieth century. Shelley’s term “unacknowledged” didn’t sit well, especially in America, especially where fame means success. Through his boorish antics Dickey, in part, was trying to cement his spot on Mount Parnassus, albeit per the ignominious route of celebrity.

Naturally, he seized the opportunity to play the sheriff in Deliverance. Celluloid would transmit him to a popular market untouched by any contemporary poet. Robert Lowell wasn’t about to take Life Studies to Hollywood. Plus, Dickey could reprise his easy role of Jimbo, this time in law enforcement uniform. But there was a hiccup on that second point. The sheriff’s not Buford T. Pusser, just some dude with the biggest stick in the room. By his second and final scene, it’s evident that weariness is an active agent in his psyche. Either he understands the complex and perverse nature of backwoods justice, or he’s just exhausted, an impotent satrap: tired of overseeing the civil erasure of Aintry, defeated by the unstoppable hand of Progress. “I’d kinda like to see this town die peaceful,” he tells the Atlantans. There will be utter quietude once his bailiwick rests at the bottom of the power company’s reservoir.

Dickey’s performance is credible, not because it’s good but because it’s true. On the one hand, the sheriff is staring down a possible homicide sans a corpse; on the other, with the damming of the river, he faces a situation that’s literally overwhelming. The sum of it leaves him presiding over the total affair with little more than shuffling and awkwardness. And awkwardness is exactly what Dickey as an actor brings to the table. He’s clearly not comfortable with the mechanics of filming, with knowing how much to modulate his voice, pause for effect, or “act.” You can see the stiffness in his shoulders and back and Jon Voight waiting patiently for him to finish his heavy-breathing at the riverside. More than that, by playing a character the very opposite of Jimbo, Dickey is thrown from his chosen macho persona and returned to his private, diffident real self. It’s something like inverse ecstasy–an out-of-body, out-of-body experience for a bonafide headcase–from the retiring poet to the domineering faux hick and back to the native spirit again.

When John Boorman comments that Dickey brings a certain veracity to the screen, it seems the director hits an unintended mark, one far more personal than he could have imagined. For that sense of fumbling and vulnerability embodied by the sheriff is precisely James Dickey’s.



The Image of the South

by Donn Cooper

Cataloguing has become a fool’s errand. It’s a parlor game played by Elizabethan relics, workaday ironists, and other lovers of futility. Definition has become absurd, even regarding the sexes. The canon and its kind are defunct, undermined by rhizomes of minority literatures and performativity theories. Earnest litanies are the exclusive trade of academics, obscurantists, and human dynamos–folks like Harold Bloom whose dryness, oddness, and mind-numbing productiveness help deflect insult. Make a list; suffer the stings and arrows of cavilers and anarchists. Invite impolite accusations of defective methodologies and criteria. With your inadvertent omissions provoke an infinite comment loop, generating compulsive and riotous list-making that underscores the inherent impossibility of making lists.

Southern film’s primum mobile index is Larry Langman and David Ebner’s Hollyood’s Image of the South: A Century of Southern Films, published in 2001. Given the difficulty of the matter, the compilers’ measuring stick for Southernness is sound enough: “When we categorize a film as a ‘southern,’ we mean to say that it has passed the ‘Confederate test.’ The action either takes place at any time in one of the states that composed the Confederacy or else it takes place during the Civil War in some other state but Southern troops are involved.” Langman and Ebner, unfortunately, ought to apply their standard a tad more rigorously.

The problems are legion. Anyone old enough to enjoy Patrick Swayze’s matchless time would agree a list of Southern films that excludes Roadhouse, the dramatic touchstone for a huge slice of honky-tonking Southerners, is fundamentally flawed. There’s no (2) Thunder Road either, presumably because of its setting in Kentucky outside the Confederate pale. But running whiskey in suped-up cars was always a native Southern experience Thunder Road was filmed around Asheville, North Carolina). Hollywood later understood that fact and duly relocated its moonshining fare below the Mason-Dixon line, the most notable example, of course, a rowdy marathon from Atlanta to Texarkana and back. If Thunder Road is excluded on the grounds of extra-Confederacy, then (3) the whole chapter on feuds should be struck through, as this especially Silent Era delicacy seems to occur solely within the provinces of Kentucky and West Virginia. The compilers also (4) cull through films about Texas with apparent painstaking discrimination. Truth be told, Texas ought to be a genre unto itself, which is the way Texans would want it. All the same, it was still a Confederate state. If you’re going to count The Buddy Holly Story about a geeky boy from Lubbock as Southern, where’s The Sugarland Express or A Perfect World?

From this point the objections become more specific: (5) Shouldn’t Showboat be recategorized from “Economic Conditions” to “Discrimination”? (6) Brubaker in “The New Politics,” not “Law and Order”? It may touch on the Ku Klux Klan, but is (7) The FBI Story really Southern? (8) What is Warren Beatty’s Bulworth doing here? (9) And where’s No Time for Sergeants, Sergeant York, Doc Hollywood, Gator, Angel Heart, and even Jean-Claude Van Damme’s utterly ridiculous Hard Target? (10) Etc., etc.

As a cultural tool, however, Hollywood’s Image of the South is an invaluable first step. With the assumption that production roughly equals consumption, the book’s categories begin to gauge the historical notions about Southerners. One peculiar institution seems a little more Southern to the last century’s imagination: the chain gang. “Law and Order”–composed of films about chain gangs, prisons, and courtroom contests–accounts for 8% of the book’s total entries. It’s followed by six categories at approximately 7% each: “Southern Decadence and Dark Shadows,” “Family Survival,” “Economics of the New South,” “Show Business: Way Down South in Dixie,” and the vague double set of “Social Conditions” and “New Social Conditions.” The Ku Klux Klan comprises only 3%. And films about the Civil War and its aftermath as well as ones that tap into Antebellum romanticism all tally 5% or lower. Most, too, were made before mid-century. The smallest pile belongs to “Political Conditions,” as in nineteenth century political conditions. Apparently, people just don’t go for biopics of Andrew Jackson.

Langman and Ebner broaden their categories to encompass almost everything; nonetheless, there’s one glaring oversight and it’s really no fault of theirs. Hollywood and the American imagination have failed to conceive of the modern South of the past twenty-five years. Where’s the agribusiness Dixie? And where are the films about the cities besides New Orleans and Savannah, squeezed for their Old World charm and grotesqueries? The suburban and exurban swaths outside the happy Southern megapolis, say, of Atlanta or Houston, are absent. There’s only one film that might cover that territory, Alan Pakula’s Consenting Adults, but its suggestions are troubling for future Southern culture and cinema because a plot about subdivision-living upper middle class swingers could happen anywhere.