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The Unabashed Pragmatic

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Hello, Everyone!

I started reading "Atlas Shrugged" for the first time on the weekend in August 1997 when Princess Diana of Wales was killed.  I was thirty three.  The book taught me many things and changed the way I look at life from then on, and I went on to read it many times since and to read all of Rand's other books.  I haven't been an Objectivist in every sense of the word since then and probably never will be, though much of the philosophy never leaves me and I read the books often. 

I am a working person, not an academic or a rich industrialist or "professional", if that's the word to use.  I cut sheet metal on a plasma burn table in a custom shop.  This glorious earth is mine and I belong here, creating, thinking, dreaming, enjoying.  I am a physically grounded sort, and I like it hard and dirty, down and dirty.  I love fatbiking and design my bikes and drive them everywhere I go.  Rain or shine, fine summer day or twenty three below zero Fahrenheit you will see me out there pedaling.  We get it all here in South Dakota, and everywhere is a good place for a fatbike. 

It is crazy to see all of Rand's predictions come true,  and it is likely many here knew they would.  The older among us have watched the country unravel at the seams for a long time now.  It never gets better.  Rand's predictions about the Left are startlingly accurate.  The difference between then and now is the fact that all of this seemed so far away once, but now we are living it, feeling it, experiencing it first hand.

As a survivalist, hunter, fisherman, etc., I can appreciate Rand's predictions in ways others cannot.  I knew something was dreadfully wrong in the world long before I read "Atlas Shrugged", and Rand helped to clarify all of it, to make sense of the who, what, why, when, where and how.  I took the advice in Galt's Speech and took inventory of my mind and my possessions and connected with others of like mind wherever they might be found.  

As the infrastructure crumbles, it is time for Atlas to shrug, indeed.  Where is Galt's Gulch?  Let me know and I'll be on my way.  

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Unabashed,

Welcome to OL.

I love it you're not an academic.

(I worked in a chain link fence factory when I was young--my father worked there as his profession. 🙂 )

I'll be back on this thread a little later, but I had to stop by after an intro like that and say hi.

There are many good people around here and many more who read but do not post, or they post sporadically.

I hope you become acquainted with some of them.

Enjoy the site and your time on it.

🙂

Michael

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Hello Noob. The name Noob could mean: newbie?  No body? It may be your real name?  Welcome.

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Hi Unabashed,

I really have to get a fatbike. It's crazy that I don't have one, I have roadbikes, '80s mtbs, some singled out, some og, modern enduros and downhills, a 48" highwheel, (even a 3"-wheeled clownbike.) But I live in the Rockies and have no fatbike -- how jacked up is that? I see people riding all winter so the source of jealousy is right in my face regularly yet I still have not obtained one. Sales are probably great right now, I should get it done.

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1 hour ago, Peter said:

Hello Noob. The name Noob could mean: newbie?  No body? It may be your real name?  Welcome.

Yep.  Newbie.  A description, not a name.  My real name is, Genghis Kahn.  Pleased to meet you.

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4 hours ago, Jon Letendre said:

Hi Unabashed,

I really have to get a fatbike. It's crazy that I don't have one, I have roadbikes, '80s mtbs, some singled out, some og, modern enduros and downhills, a 48" highwheel, (even a 3"-wheeled clownbike.) But I live in the Rockies and have no fatbike -- how jacked up is that? I see people riding all winter so the source of jealousy is right in my face regularly yet I still have not obtained one. Sales are probably great right now, I should get it done.

Fat's-where-it's-at. I don't bother with any other kind of bike anymore. I used to drive three beautiful Cannondale Bad Boy, but bought a Specialized FUSE in 2016 and never looked back. The Bad Boy hung in the garage for a year after that so I sold them.  FUSE is getting near a fatbike with its 3" tires, but it wasn't fat enough, so I bought a Surly Pugsley and the FUSE was my second. Then the FUSE sat in the shed so I sold it.  The Pugsley, with its 4.6" tires is a genuine fatty and I could not be happier. I put a Hussefelt stem on it, a Selle Anatomica saddle, Surly Moloko bars, kept the mechanical disc brakes and junked both derailleurs for a Shimano Alpine 8spd gear hub.  I am so impressed with this bike that I want to build another from scratch, handpicking all components.  The new bike will have a 14spd Rholoff gear hub.  The Pugsley is the first fatbike for sale on the market.  They did something right because they keep making them and selling them by the bushel.  There's even been one in Antarctica!  I love steel frames.  Steel is real.  Carbon and titanium are great, too, but too spendy, and when carbon breaks--you're screwed!  The wider wheel base of the Pugsley is second to nothing for driving in snow. More stability all the way around. In most cases I think the shorter wheel bases are highly overrated. 

You'll love a fatbike!  Cheers!

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21 minutes ago, Jon Letendre said:

OK, I will look at Surly Pugsleys. Definitely will go very fat as I want to ride it on snow-covered mtb trails in the winter.

Steel is real, and the best as far as I am concerned, but it is heavier.  If you want aluminium and light weight, if trails are your thing, look at Giant's Yukon, or Salsa's Beargrease in carbon, for starters.  These are full 5" fat tire capable and more of a trail style, shorter wheel base.  Another worthy of consideration is Surly's Ice Cream Truck, which is also shorter wheel base and full 5" fat tire capable.  Pugsley cannot run a full 5" fat tire in the frame or the fork, but gets up to 4.8", which for my style of driving is plenty.

Test drive fatbikes whenever, wherever you can.  I used to rent them to test them out.  Specialized really has it dialed-in with their Fat Boy.  If I were to buy another aluminium bike, the Fat Boy would likely be the one.  

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I like steel, too. Some of my favorite rides are my zero suspension steel '80s early "'mountainbikes," Diamond Backs, Univegas and Peugeots, that I've turned singelspeed and squeeze 2.125" and bigger tires into. They make great urban curb bashers. I have an '85 Diamond Back Ascent that I singled with super low gearing and use on mountain trails.

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1 hour ago, Jon Letendre said:

I like steel, too. Some of my favorite rides are my zero suspension steel '80s early "'mountainbikes," Diamond Backs, Univegas and Peugeots, that I've turned singelspeed and squeeze 2.125" and bigger tires into. They make great urban curb bashers. I have an '85 Diamond Back Ascent that I singled with super low gearing and use on mountain trails.

The Pugsley has no suspension.  With full fat tires suspension is not necessary.  The tires are the suspension.  Suspension just adds weight and is something else to go wrong.  I dont care much for hydraulic brakes either. Too much fuss.  Mechanical disc brakes are the goods.  My Pugs never ever lets me down.  It is rare that I work on it because I have to.  99% of the work I do on this bike is only because I want to do it.  

I had an old 1990s Fuji mountainbike I drove like you did when I lived in Vegas.  Someone gave it to me.  It was a lot of fun, but it could not out-perform my Bad Boy, so it got tuned up and sold.  

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9 hours ago, The Unabashed Pragmatic said:

Yep.  Newbie.  A description, not a name.  My real name is, Genghis Kahn.  Pleased to meet you.

Howdie, Genghis. The Smithsonian Magazine had an interesting article about Alexander The Great. He was right down there with Ghengis Khan and other barbarians and he raped, pillaged, stole, murdered, etc., so why do we call him "Great?"   

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35 minutes ago, Peter said:

Howdie, Genghis. The Smithsonian Magazine had an interesting article about Alexander The Great. He was right down there with Ghengis Khan and other barbarians and he raped, pillaged, stole, murdered, etc., so why do we call him 

A good question and a serious question.  I'll answer it for you.  

They are called "Great" because they raped, pillaged, stole, murdered, etc.  It's really that simple.  Historians, particularly the compulsory "education" masters of today, want you to admire these men of the distant past for their great leadership abilities,  as they want you to admire the great leadership abilities of the men of today you call "USA Presidents" as they go about their business of raping, pillaging, stealing, murdering, etc. all over the world.  The British and USA empires are much bigger and wealthier than anything Alexander or the Kahn could ever dream of.  And empires are built on rape, pillage, theft and murder.  The superstructure of the ancient empires is not much different than the empires of today,  but it is simply sold to the sheep,  marketed to them, in a much different way.  Back in the day of the Kahn, for one example, who's name, "Genghis Kahn" means simply, "Universal Leader", the people did as they were told or they were executed or enslaved.  Today we get to vote in which leader will rule us, so's to make it like we are "free" and have a choice in which boot is to be set about our necks.  We don't.  It's the same old boot always, just a different foot is wearing it.  Plus we still get to curse at our leaders and make fun of them in cartoons if we like.  A good stress reliever, perhaps, though it changes nothing.  And I can't really say how much longer we will have any of these devices,  as the First Amendment to our Bill of Rights is nearly wiped out.  Now, back in the days of the Kahn, any disrespect or disloyalty to the Kahn was grounds for your immediate execution without trial.  So,  calling the leaders "great"--no matter what they said or did--was clearly in your best interest.  So it depends on what time in history the word "great", as applied to the leadership, really means.  Take your pick.  And, as always, I advise you to do your own research.

The word, "barbarian" comes from the Roman Empire, or at the very least they made wide use of the word.  Peoples not yet conquered, i.e., raped, pillaged, robbed, murdered by the Romans were referred to as "barbarians".  Their soon-to-be rulers were not. Their rulers were considered "great" in every sense of the word, "civilized" and "benevolent", "godlike", "holier-than-thou", if you will.  I am quite content to be a barbarian.  I strongly oppose a central power, a central authority, as Ayn Rand did, as she so eloquently portrayed in her books and speeches, etc.  And so I would agree with you, as you seem to imply, that these so called,  "great men" were in a lot of ways not so great. 

And I must say, as nasty as these powerful leaders could be, they did have their good points.  Genghis Kahn, for example, knew that free trade was a good thing for people and not only allowed the famous and rich Silk Road to go on once he took possession of it, but expanded on it and protected it and kept his taxes and tributes low. He also allowed freedom of religion, something that no leader had ever done before him. The Mongol hordes were also easily among the fiercest and most effective warriors who ever lived, and made the best bows.  What could possibly be wrong with that?!  Archery is just downright fun!

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23 hours ago, The Unabashed Pragmatic said:

Today we get to vote in which leader will rule us, so's to make it like we are "free" and have a choice in which boot is to be set about our necks.  We don't. 

Damn.  Ok Noob. I think i will reverse the letters and get "Boon."  But . . . is there one president who reverses that "boot on the neck?"

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On 7/14/2020 at 12:47 AM, The Unabashed Pragmatic said:

He also allowed freedom of religion, something that no leader had ever done before him.

Unabashed,

Sorry I'm so late getting to you. And sorry for calling you "N" in my first post to you. (I fixed it.)

 

Genghis and Religious Tolerance

I'm going to nitpick here, but it's not hostile. 🙂 

I presume you mean "religious pluralism among a select few religions" when you say "religious freedom" and "Genghis Khan" in the same context. For example, in your conception of a Khanian religious freedom, could a Church of Satan have existed? I suspect GK he would have dealt with such a proposition in secular, not spiritual terms. 🙂 

I get your point, though, about him being open to Buddhism and so on.

But if religious pluralism or religious tolerance among normal religions is what you mean, than Khan was nowhere near the first leader to practice that as government policy. The very Roman empire, once it started conquering the world, included a plethora of cults and religions at the same time and the makeup of this mix changed a lot over the centuries. As I understand it (but I am no expert on the Roman Empire), the Roman government was quite tolerant of the local religions in areas it conquered. That was way before Khan.

Anyway, enough religion. On another issue:

 

Empire

On 7/14/2020 at 12:47 AM, The Unabashed Pragmatic said:

The British and USA empires are much bigger and wealthier than anything Alexander or the Kahn could ever dream of.  And empires are built on rape, pillage, theft and murder.  The superstructure of the ancient empires is not much different than the empires of today,  but it is simply sold to the sheep,  marketed to them, in a much different way.  Back in the day of the Kahn, for one example, who's name, "Genghis Kahn" means simply, "Universal Leader", the people did as they were told or they were executed or enslaved.  Today we get to vote in which leader will rule us, so's to make it like we are "free" and have a choice in which boot is to be set about our necks.  We don't.  It's the same old boot always, just a different foot is wearing it.  Plus we still get to curse at our leaders and make fun of them in cartoons if we like.  A good stress reliever, perhaps, though it changes nothing.

I am nowhere near as pessimistic as you are about the British and USA empires. I think there is a fundamental difference between them and, say, the growing Chinese empire or the defeated Nazi empire.

And I speak as no fan of empires.

I am hugely critical of USA monkeyshines overseas. I lived in Brazil for 32 year, part of that under the military dictatorship. I saw it up close. I knew people on both sides of Operation Condor, for example. What the USA did was disgusting.

But I also see the good the USA has done the world over. I married a Brazilian woman (no longer with her, though) and integrated myself with the Brazilian culture back then. I would go weeks at a time without speaking English. So I know what foreign people--normal middle class foreign people--think when they think USA. It is a beacon of hope to them. Something they look up to. Hell, my father-in-law back then was Bedouin (my marrian back then is a long story 🙂 ) and his favorite past time was watching John Wayne movies on TV.

Sure, I speak from a Brazilian perspective, but from feedback I have gotten from the people I have spoken with over the years from other countries (meaning normal middle class people), their vision is similar.

Ayn Rand herself wrote about what the USA meant to her as a Russian. She left Russia to get to the USA, not any other country.

That doesn't happen simply because the USA is an evil empire raping, pillaging, robbing and murdering them.

I don't know if you have ever lived in a foreign country for a long stretch of time, lived like I did, among the people, but I highly recommend it. It makes you less vulnerable to propaganda and core stories seeded in the culture through the media.

When I look around today at the mess the fake news mainstream media is hollering about day in and day out, including their crap about foreign policies, etc., it has nothing to do with the earth on which I have lived. Not even the America I live in.

 

Bullies

I have found something universal the world over. Bullies. And right behind bullies there is war.

I hate war. And I hate bullies.

I have learned the only thing a bully understands enough to leave me alone is to pop him hard where it hurts. 

There is a long discussion to be had about violence and human nature, more than just NIOF (I do a lot of studying about things like modern psychology, neuroscience, etc., so my perspectives are partly informed by this study), but I think I've said enough to piss you off for a howdy.

🙂

And, not to leave anything on the table, do you think Genghis Khan was a bully?

:evil: 🙂 

Michael

 

 

 

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On 7/15/2020 at 12:13 AM, Peter said:

Damn.  Ok Noob. I think i will reverse the letters and get "Boon."  But . . . is there one president who reverses that "boot on the neck?"

Andrew Jackson, on his deathbed, was asked what he thought was his highest accomplishment.  He said simply, "I beat the bank."  No president before or since has even come close to Jackson's tribute to Freedom, which nearly cost him his legacy and his life.

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On 7/15/2020 at 3:50 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Unabashed,

Sorry I'm so late getting to you. And sorry for calling you "N" in my first post to you. (I fixed it.)

 

Genghis and Religious Tolerance

I'm going to nitpick here, but it's not hostile. 🙂 

I presume you mean "religious pluralism among a select few religions" when you say "religious freedom" and "Genghis Khan" in the same context. For example, in your conception of a Khanian religious freedom, could a Church of Satan have existed? I suspect GK he would have dealt with such a proposition in secular, not spiritual terms. 🙂 

I get your point, though, about him being open to Buddhism and so on.

But if religious pluralism or religious tolerance among normal religions is what you mean, than Khan was nowhere near the first leader to practice that as government policy. The very Roman empire, once it started conquering the world, included a plethora of cults and religions at the same time and the makeup of this mix changed a lot over the centuries. As I understand it (but I am no expert on the Roman Empire), the Roman government was quite tolerant of the local religions in areas it conquered. That was way before Khan.

Anyway, enough religion. On another issue:

 

Empire

I am nowhere near as pessimistic as you are about the British and USA empires. I think there is a fundamental difference between them and, say, the growing Chinese empire or the defeated Nazi empire.

And I speak as no fan of empires.

I am hugely critical of USA monkeyshines overseas. I lived in Brazil for 32 year, part of that under the military dictatorship. I saw it up close. I knew people on both sides of Operation Condor, for example. What the USA did was disgusting.

But I also see the good the USA has done the world over. I married a Brazilian woman (no longer with her, though) and integrated myself with the Brazilian culture back then. I would go weeks at a time without speaking English. So I know what foreign people--normal middle class foreign people--think when they think USA. It is a beacon of hope to them. Something they look up to. Hell, my father-in-law back then was Bedouin (my marrian back then is a long story 🙂 ) and his favorite past time was watching John Wayne movies on TV.

Sure, I speak from a Brazilian perspective, but from feedback I have gotten from the people I have spoken with over the years from other countries (meaning normal middle class people), their vision is similar.

Ayn Rand herself wrote about what the USA meant to her as a Russian. She left Russia to get to the USA, not any other country.

That doesn't happen simply because the USA is an evil empire raping, pillaging, robbing and murdering them.

I don't know if you have ever lived in a foreign country for a long stretch of time, lived like I did, among the people, but I highly recommend it. It makes you less vulnerable to propaganda and core stories seeded in the culture through the media.

When I look around today at the mess the fake news mainstream media is hollering about day in and day out, including their crap about foreign policies, etc., it has nothing to do with the earth on which I have lived. Not even the America I live in.

 

Bullies

I have found something universal the world over. Bullies. And right behind bullies there is war.

I hate war. And I hate bullies.

I have learned the only thing a bully understands enough to leave me alone is to pop him hard where it hurts. 

There is a long discussion to be had about violence and human nature, more than just NIOF (I do a lot of studying about things like modern psychology, neuroscience, etc., so my perspectives are partly informed by this study), but I think I've said enough to piss you off for a howdy.

🙂

And, not to leave anything on the table, do you think Genghis Khan was a bully?

:evil: 🙂 

Michael

 

 

 

I won't argue your point about religious freedom in the ancient Mongol empire.  It could have been that way at times for all I know.  And of course we know there are things we'll never know about it and can never know.  That being said, my understanding of it was that you could practice your faith any way you wished, so long as it did not interfere with the Kahn's laws, so long as you paid tribute, and so long as you came when called by the Kahn and did whatever he wished.  His reign was absolute in all things at all times.  And so long as you obeyed the law you were left alone to do what you wished.  Sound familiar?  Lol.

 The history of the Mongol empire is over three hundred years.  Ghengis was not the only Kahn, and many others may have acted differently.  I was speaking solely in reference to Ghengis (or, if you prefer, Temujin--the name his family gave him), who's father was murdered by another tribe when he was a boy, and which subsequently led to the abandonment of Temujin by his own tribe to suffer death on the icy steppes of Mongolia.  Temujin did not die however.  He was a loner, a warrior, and a hunter and survived in any way he could.  He did so spectacularly, even as a teenager, and rose to power by eventually uniting the warring tribes of Mongolia against the entirety of the known world and with spectacular success.

Ghengis Kahn wrote the original manuscript on bullying.  Lol.  Of course he was a bully.  But that was the way of the world in his time.  You will kill or you will be killed.  Period.

The Roman empire wasn't too friendly about Christians, eh? Lol.

Do I hate bullies?  I don't hate anyone.  Waste my time.  I've dealt plenty with bullies and simply deal with them whenever they pop up.  With kinetic force, if necessary.  I've punched up a hundred thugs in my lifetime.  They're nothing, really.  Rand demonstrated that beautifully in her writings.  

I am a martial artist/scientist and lifelong practitioner of violence.  Violence is simple.  The use of it puts you in control.  The proper use of violence is only in self-defense.  Again, I credit Rand with helping me make sense of this when I was much younger, but I have always grasped violence.  I grew up in it and wanted to understand it better, and so I made the effort to learn.

I lived in Siutheast Asia for three and a half years two of them under martial law in Thailand.  Traveled through the jungles of South America for a summer in the Amazon.  I love to travel.  Glad to see you do, too.  Fun!

I am not at all optimistic about the USA or Western Europe in any way, shape, or form.  It's inevitable ruin is at hand.  That's all I have time for right now.  Cheers!

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7 hours ago, The Unabashed Pragmatic said:

Traveled through the jungles of South America for a summer in the Amazon.

U,

You're taking me down memory lane.

I lived in Brazil for 32 years.

I only went to the Amazon jungle once during an orchestra trip (I used to play in the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra and guest conduct--I was tagged to be assistant conductor when I left). I actually played in the Amazon Theatre in Manaus. That was a place the rubber barons built at the end of the 1800's for their entertainment when they would bring over from Europe entire opera productions, casts, crews and scenery, including the orchestra--to perform opera in the middle of the jungle. Of course there were no airplanes back then so it was a long hot and sticky boat ride for the artists. 🙂 

I did the tourist trip on the Rio Negro where they lower a hunk of meat into the river for piranhas to eat, then raise the bone out of the water at the end. Even back then, I imagined they had ways of attracting large numbers of piranhas before the boat arrived, though. It was really touristy. Still, the churn was impressive. You did not want to fall overboard. 🙂 

Also, I had a dear friend, Edmund Bielawski, who used to get shit-faced with me during my alcoholic years. We planned for me to write the music for a film he had filmed, but not edited.

On 3/8/2007 at 4:15 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Also, the head-shrinking of the Jivaro Indians is well-known (they are from the Ecuador and Peru region of the Amazon jungle). If you look them up, you will see that their head-shrinking was to confine an enemy's spirit in the afterlife. Yet I had a friend in Brazil, a very colorful person named Edmund Bielawski, who actually filmed the head-shrinking ritual (he saved the life of a tribe member, so he became friendly with the tribe, and this was before the different armies went in and machine-gunned those Indians practically out of existence). It was quite a story and maybe someday I will write up an article about this person (we were drinking buddies). I have been gratified to see that Edmund must have finished his film because I saw it referenced doing a Google search, EXPLORING OF THE SOURCE OF THE AMAZON RIVER. I do know that Edmund would periodically exhibit an unfinished rough copy in Brazil when he got broke and these events would always result in ample news coverage.

What was explained to him by the Indians was that a friendly person could have his head shrunken, also. The idea was that if a person was doing many bad things in life, there were evil spirits in his head. So to cure him, they would shrink his head to a size that could not contain both his spirit and the evil spirits. The only inconvenience was that they had to decapitate him first in order to help him, but that was a mere detail...

Looking him up for this post, I was pleased to see he now has a Wikipedia page: Edmund Bielawski. (btw - I knew him as Edmundo, but I'll refer to him as Edmund in this post since he is now official and Wikipedia-sanctioned and all. 🙂 )

Also, the name of the Indians from what I am reading around is Shuar Indians, but we called the Jivaros. In fact, I just looked it up and Shuar is a type of Jivaro.

Back when I posted that, his son Richard got in touch with me here on OL:

On 8/16/2008 at 8:18 AM, vladimir_wong said:

May I introduce myself. I'm Edmuno Bielawski's son Richard. Would it be possible to set up a dialogue between us via email? I really would like to talk to you regarding my father and his film (that I have). I don't even know if we met when I was over in Sao Paulo a number of years ago. If we did meet, please accept my apologies for not recognising you.

We exchanged some emails, but I never sent him my stories about his father and me. (That phase of my life was not my finest hour, so I felt resistance to dredging it all up again.) Maybe I will try to revive the contact since Edmund was such a colorful character. I know his son will love to hear these stories. Time has healed the shame.

Here is a typical story Edmund told me about his film expedition back then. (It might be bullshit, but he was not prone to lying. He was nuts, but I never caught him in a lie when we did all that drinking together. 🙂 I did catch a lot of people lying about him, though. People in National Geographic and local TV stations. They wanted his footage. But that's another long story for another day.)

Edmund was in Portugal with his boat getting ready to traverse the Atlantic Ocean to go to the Santos port in São Paulo. Before he left, there was a bum hanging around the docks. He had a large dirty canvas bag of his things and went barefoot. This bum simply got up right before they embarked and got on the boat. He didn't ask permission, nor did he say anything. He just got on and plopped himself down near the side. Edmond's crew got mad and was getting ready to throw him off, but Edmond talked to him and discovered he knew about 11 languages. (Edmund himself spoke several.) That intrigued him, so he let the bum catch a boat ride to Brazil.

Once out on the open seas, Edmund and the bum would spend long hours talking about many things, especially in the evening where there was little to do. Edmund said no matter what subject they talked about, the guy was an expert. Whether it was the economics of different European countries, or the configuration of the stars, or advanced math, the guy would go into learned detail about everything. And they discussed this in Polish and English and Portuguese and other languages.

The guy's odd manner persisted, though. When he wanted something like a cigarette, he would just simply take one from the pocket of whoever was near. He didn't ask permission or say thank you. He would walk up to a crew member and simply take the pack, get a cigarette, and put the pack back. Ditto for food. He would take a piece of something someone was eating and chomp down without a word.

Edmond's crew was extremely bothered by one thing with this bum. He stank. He would not bathe. But this didn't bother Edmund. During WWII, he fought for the Allies (he was a parachuter) and a bomb had exploded near him as he was guarding a bridge. Due to the explosion, he lost his sense of smell (and got a plate of metal his his skull). So he and the guy got on well because he was the only one who couldn't smell the stench. In fact, he was the only one who had conversations with the guy. And, oddly enough, the guy would never tell him his name. He would get angry at Edmund's crew, though, if he caught them using birds or fish for target practice.

The day of landing at Santos finally arrived. Once they docked, the bum picked up his bag and walked off to shore. As he got on land, he turned and said to Edmund, "You know, you're not totally lost, Edmund." And then he disappeared.

During the next few weeks, Edmund forgot about the guy. He had to get to the Amazon River, another long trip that took weeks. One day after he was well into his trip down the Amazon River, it clouded up for a rain and Edmund looked on the banks for a place to tie down the boat. As he got near the bank, he saw a guy sitting under a tree.  After the boat was secure, he went ashore and it was the bum. This was kilometers and kilometers from nowhere and over a couple of thousand kilometers from Santos. The guy was whittling. The only thing different about him was that he now wore some kind of fiber sandals that looked like straw. Everything else was the same. Edmund stared at him for a long time in total astonishment and the guy didn't look up. Finally, he did. Then he said, "You took a hell of a long time to get here." Then he got up and went to the boat with Edmund. He never said how he got there.

During the next few weeks, it was as if they were still on the Atlantic with the long talks and odd behavior. At one point, though, they had to secure the boat alongside the river for another rain. The guy got up with his bag and went ashore. Once he was on land, he turned and said, "You know, you're not totally lost, Edmund." Then he then turned around and disappeared for good from Edmund's life.

That is just one story. There are many.

I guess the bottles of cachaça we murdered together is one of them, too. There sure were a lot of them. We favored the rotgut, Velho Barreiro and Pirassununga 51 because it was cheap. 🙂 

Enough!

Enough, I say!

I must focus on the present and the future, not the past.

But thanks for prompting these memories...

🙂 

Michael

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2 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

U,

You're taking me down memory lane.

I lived in Brazil for 32 years.

I only went to the Amazon jungle once during an orchestra trip (I used to play in the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra and guest conduct--I was tagged to be assistant conductor when I left). I actually played in the Amazon Theatre in Manaus. That was a place the rubber barons built at the end of the 1800's for their entertainment when they would bring over from Europe entire opera productions, casts, crews and scenery, including the orchestra--to perform opera in the middle of the jungle. Of course there were no airplanes back then so it was a long hot and sticky boat ride for the artists. 🙂 

I did the tourist trip on the Rio Negro where they lower a hunk of meat into the river for piranhas to eat, then raise the bone out of the water at the end. Even back then, I imagined they had ways of attracting large numbers of piranhas before the boat arrived, though. It was really touristy. Still, the churn was impressive. You did not want to fall overboard. 🙂 

Also, I had a dear friend, Edmund Bielawski, who used to get shit-faced with me during my alcoholic years. We planned for me to write the music for a film he had filmed, but not edited.

Looking him up for this post, I was pleased to see he now has a Wikipedia page: Edmund Bielawski. (btw - I knew him as Edmundo, but I'll refer to him as Edmund in this post since he is now official and Wikipedia-sanctioned and all. 🙂 )

Also, the name of the Indians from what I am reading around is Shuar Indians, but we called the Jivaros. In fact, I just looked it up and Shuar is a type of Jivaro.

Back when I posted that, his son Richard got in touch with me here on OL:

We exchanged some emails, but I never sent him my stories about his father and me. (That phase of my life was not my finest hour, so I felt resistance to dredging it all up again.) Maybe I will try to revive the contact since Edmund was such a colorful character. I know his son will love to hear these stories. Time has healed the shame.

Here is a typical story Edmund told me about his film expedition back then. (It might be bullshit, but he was not prone to lying. He was nuts, but I never caught him in a lie when we did all that drinking together. 🙂 I did catch a lot of people lying about him, though. People in National Geographic and local TV stations. They wanted his footage. But that's another long story for another day.)

Edmund was in Portugal with his boat getting ready to traverse the Atlantic Ocean to go to the Santos port in São Paulo. Before he left, there was a bum hanging around the docks. He had a large dirty canvas bag of his things and went barefoot. This bum simply got up right before they embarked and got on the boat. He didn't ask permission, nor did he say anything. He just got on and plopped himself down near the side. Edmond's crew got mad and was getting ready to throw him off, but Edmond talked to him and discovered he knew about 11 languages. (Edmund himself spoke several.) That intrigued him, so he let the bum catch a boat ride to Brazil.

Once out on the open seas, Edmund and the bum would spend long hours talking about many things, especially in the evening where there was little to do. Edmund said no matter what subject they talked about, the guy was an expert. Whether it was the economics of different European countries, or the configuration of the stars, or advanced math, the guy would go into learned detail about everything. And they discussed this in Polish and English and Portuguese and other languages.

The guy's odd manner persisted, though. When he wanted something like a cigarette, he would just simply take one from the pocket of whoever was near. He didn't ask permission or say thank you. He would walk up to a crew member and simply take the pack, get a cigarette, and put the pack back. Ditto for food. He would take a piece of something someone was eating and chomp down without a word.

Edmond's crew was extremely bothered by one thing with this bum. He stank. He would not bathe. But this didn't bother Edmund. During WWII, he fought for the Allies (he was a parachuter) and a bomb had exploded near him as he was guarding a bridge. Due to the explosion, he lost his sense of smell (and got a plate of metal his his skull). So he and the guy got on well because he was the only one who couldn't smell the stench. In fact, he was the only one who had conversations with the guy. And, oddly enough, the guy would never tell him his name. He would get angry at Edmund's crew, though, if he caught them using birds or fish for target practice.

The day of landing at Santos finally arrived. Once they docked, the bum picked up his bag and walked off to shore. As he got on land, he turned and said to Edmund, "You know, you're not totally lost, Edmund." And then he disappeared.

During the next few weeks, Edmund forgot about the guy. He had to get to the Amazon River, another long trip that took weeks. One day after he was well into his trip down the Amazon River, it clouded up for a rain and Edmund looked on the banks for a place to tie down the boat. As he got near the bank, he saw a guy sitting under a tree.  After the boat was secure, he went ashore and it was the bum. This was kilometers and kilometers from nowhere and over a couple of thousand kilometers from Santos. The guy was whittling. The only thing different about him was that he now wore some kind of fiber sandals that looked like straw. Everything else was the same. Edmund stared at him for a long time in total astonishment and the guy didn't look up. Finally, he did. Then he said, "You took a hell of a long time to get here." Then he got up and went to the boat with Edmund. He never said how he got there.

During the next few weeks, it was as if they were still on the Atlantic with the long talks and odd behavior. At one point, though, they had to secure the boat alongside the river for another rain. The guy got up with his bag and went ashore. Once he was on land, he turned and said, "You know, you're not totally lost, Edmund." Then he then turned around and disappeared for good from Edmund's life.

That is just one story. There are many.

I guess the bottles of cachaça we murdered together is one of them, too. There sure were a lot of them. We favored the rotgut, Velho Barreiro and Pirassununga 51 because it was cheap. 🙂 

Enough!

Enough, I say!

I must focus on the present and the future, not the past.

But thanks for prompting these memories...

🙂 

Michael

Ha!  Great story! Thanks.

I was preparing for a trip to Alaska when I went to the Amazon River Basin.  Ran into a guy from FL who said he went there all the time.  Told me how great it was.  I just had to try it.  Changed plans and went to Iquitos instead of the tundra.  Once in Iquitos I met up with a bunch of these herpetologists and geologists who had rented a big boat and a guide and were headed up river 350 miles.  I could go if I paid my way.  I did.  And I went.  There I saw things I had no idea even existed.  Five pound poisonous toads and pink and gray freshwater dolphins.  It was bizzaro world, all right.  After two months on the boat and nothing but travel, it was good to get back to Iquitos, get a room, and hunt for women instead of animals for a change.  Plenty of willing girls wanting to play with a strong, young American boy.  It was a great month!  Then home again, jiggety jig.  Back to work.  

I won't return.  It was fine and I loved it but I am a Northerner.  Love the woods and winter.  It's good to be back.  

Southeast Asia was great, too.  I still may go to live there.  I love Cambodia. Siem Reap and Angkor Wat is amazing.  Viet Nam is cool, too.  A hearty, rugged, tough sort of people live there.  I would live in Japan if it weren't so bloody expensive.  

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