The Schlossberg Fractal

Image result for aaron schlossberg


I run a website called The Fractal Journal.

So I tend to see things fractally.

Everyone does. Because everyone understands that no action occurs in a vaccum and is thus inherently multifaceted.

There’s a New York attorney called Aaron Schlossberg who was recently the subject of much controversy.

He took issue with some employees at an eatery. The issue was that they spoke Spanish. He went on a bit of a rant about how he as an American pays for the welfare of these potentially illegal immigrants. That they should speak English etc.

This tirade went viral. The publicity caused Schlossberg so much professional damage that he was even at risk of being disbarred.

This little episode has so many implications that I feel it would be irresponsible for me as a writer and citizen to pass it up.

First, it is demonstrative of a great many things. The impact of social media, the by now tiresome talking point of political polarization, and the nature of modern social expectations.

Let’s unpack that.

Social media is what allowed the incident to gain traction so quickly and in such numbers that it was able to put pressure on Schlossberg’s employers. Social media is also the technology that allowed those who took issue with Schlossberg’s actions to coordinate what can only be described as harrasment.

Political polarization is the fuel that powered both Schlossberg’s ire and the reaction of those seeking the destruction of both his professional and personal life. These two sides of the same coin only reach this sort of fever pitch in the presence of heavy ideological conditioning.

Social expectations today seem to include an insistence on certain points of politesse while completely flaunting general timeworn standards of civil interaction. Schlossberg said something politically unpopular in an aggressive way. Given the overwhelming abundance of casual swearing, in your face banter, and general penchant for sarcasm that permeates American society, it’s not unreasonable to assume that Schlossberg’crucifixionon likely resulted from unpopularity rather than aggression.

All these implications raise questions that I feel are essential to make.

First, social media, is it destructive and if so what can we do about it?

Like any other tool, I don’t think that social media is inherently destructive. The nature of social media seems to tend toward being a catalyst. A catalyst can produce either a favorable or unfavorable reaction. The swelling of outrage that culminated in trolling a private citizen with live Mariachi music and fiestas around his apartment can also be quelled by voices advocating for rationality.

One subcaveat of this social media thing is privacy. Is it fair to take a private citizens outburst and post it online?

Is it fair to then use this evidence to coordinate harassment?

It is true that Mr. Schlossberg was in a public area, behaving very rudely, and that people certainly have the right to film others in public. But does this make it alright for the offended to magnify the event through social media, and in essence involve the entire world in one man losing his cool?

Mr. Schlossberg was not acting civilly but he certainly wasn’t doing anything illegal.

Should we put restrictions on social media posts about private citizens controversial behavior? Should we put restrictions on using such videos to coordinate retribution. Should losing your cool or acting uncouth be so easy to shame from the rooftops?

This technology raises a lot of policy questions which seem to only increase in both number and scope.

I think that it’s a subject that will likely warrant its own article and video.

The second question then is what can be done about political polarization? I think the answer is obvious. Those of us that favor nuanced discussions need to become more vocal and advocate for rational discourse in greater numbers. The popularity of tactics like memes and trolling while fun and not necessarily out of line with the spirit of effective discourse shouldn’t be at the forefront of discourse.

The final question is related to social expectations. Both the public and employers have social expectations. Where, how, and to what extent should such expectations impact the lives of individual citizens?

Wherein does a professional get leeway to act unprofessionally? Being rude certainly falls well within the protection of the first amendment. But, companies can and do exercise the right to fire employees for misconduct. This right is also well within the bounds of the US Constitution.

However, an interesting subcategory emerges here. Namely, should a company be allowed to fire an employee for unprofessional behavior outside of work? If Mr. Schlossberg is good at his job, and reasonably civil in the confines thereof, should his social and political views and faux-pas be cause for termination? If so, then on what legal grounds can he contest the termination?

Image result for ellen simonetti

There do seem to be precedents for firing folks for extracurricular activities. In 2004, Ellen Simonetti was fired for taking pictures of herself in her Delta uniform as she lounged across the backs of airplane seats. The photograph which she posted to a blog about stewardessing, that she’d started in order to cope with the loss of her mother, wasn’t racy even by 1950’s standards. But nonetheless, Delta considered it unprofessional and sacked her.

My position is that Simonetti should not have been fired. Schlossberg has even less reason to be fired/evicted/disbarred etc. than she does. This is because he was not on company property, representing his company, or wearing company paraphernalia when he had his outburst.

His history of outbursts, including one where he ran into a radnomer with his bag and called him a ‘dirty foreigner’ might be a minor case of harassment or perhaps assault. Which I could see as being unsavory for an employer. But, again where should the line be drawn? There wasn’t really any battery, and the harassment was brief, akin to a middle finger on a busy street.

Should a line be drawn at all? Or should employers/landlords continue to wield carte blanche to terminate otherwise competent employees on grounds of unsavory conduct?

When looking at this case I ran across the notion that Schlossberg’s career was destroyed by the people he’d offended. This, to me, is where it gets a tad murky. Schlossberg initiated the aggression, in a public space, he is aware of cell phones, and he is aware of social media. While I 100% sympathize with the notion that the possibility of backlash shouldn’t intimidate Schlossberg or anyone into silence or even politesse, I can’t really view him as a victim. Even if I did, the link between those who posted the video and coordinated the harassment and his termination remains tenuous. Because it was still up to his employer to make the decision, and more importantly, it was up to him to avoid being confrontational.

Running up to randomers to call them dirty foreigners, haranguing Spanish speaking employees, and similar hijinks aren’t really public discourse. They’re outbursts and while they are protected under freedom of speech, that freedom doesn’t necessarily shield you form things like social ostracization, or job loss.

I don’t think either of those things should be the result of making an ass of yourself. However, if you work in a sector that requires a great deal of civic responsibility, being consistently combative, is likely a poor career choice. Whether that’s done on your own time or not.

As you can see, this is a really multifaceted issue that raises many questions. I encourage everyone to comment below, whether you agree or disagree with this analysis.


Sources 

http://excelle.monster.com/news/articles/1348-delta-flight-attendant-fired-for-blogging

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_Simonetti


https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/fiesta-protest-for-aaron-schlossberg_us_5aff7423e4b07309e058125f

https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/8xenxv/honey-im-calling-ice-says-white-guy-at-a-manhattan-restaurant

https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/8xeggb/retribution-has-been-swift-for-im-calling-ice-lawyer-aaron-schlossberg


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The War Witch (Short Story)

Image result for spooky colorado forest


It was a humid evening amid the pines. What’s worse, the approaching night carried fog in its wake.

Certainly, a wake would soon be needed.

We were in the tall grass. Cradling the cruel black adonized purpose of our automatic rifles as if they were precious children.

“O good,” Craig muttered darkly.

In the thermal glow of our tax-funnel optics, at least a dozen polychromatic blurs leapfrogged through the trees. We were converging, the professional detachment of the rendezvous reminding me of a corporate mixer. Mars was in the market and Abaddon would close.

These wackos had some PMC in their ranks. Where they’d gotten the funding, god only knows. If we weren’t careful those damned mercs would see us as the same colorful blurs that so tantalizingly danced in and out of my sights.

We were on an intercept. They were on an ambush. Theoretically, we had the upper hand.

It was only logical for them to flank the perimeter of the clearing by staying eastward with the trees. Our five men versus what was supposed to be a dozen.

Surprise, silenced NATO rounds piercing the thick veil of night, like overgrown BB’s, finding their ways into the waiting flesh of the baddies. That’s the theory. That’s the dream…

Daly, the recent hire, tripped on a root. The recruitment battalion wasn’t lying. I bit my lip at the urge to kick the dead weight.

‘He must have some merit if he made it this far…’

I heard the distinct ‘thwick’ of a 5.56 round followed by a sharp cry. A cry that was quickly muffled.

“shhhhh...” Lynch hissed with a fierce quiet as he clasped a gloved hand over Daly’s mouth. When the muffled sound of his wounded panting ceased, “Did I give the order to engage?”

Tom Daly, the chubby-cheeked farmboy from Ohio, shook his goggled head, no.

“Then why in the solemn fuck is your safety off?”

Tom just bit his lip even harder.

“Listen, I don’t care if you bleed out, you probably won’t die…dumbass...though…shooting yourself in the foot ….I don’t give too much of a shit if you do. Just stay quiet, till these fucknuggets are neutralized. Copy…?”

Tom nodded.

‘Shit…shit…shit… There was no way they didn’t hear that.’

It was no sooner than that thought crossed my mind that Lynch’s head exploded like gruesome lightning. He landed face down in the cool dirt, emitting a high pitched shrieking gurgling, with a triangular flap of skull hanging off by the merest whim of scalp.

…military intelligence….

‘No possible vantage.’ …. ‘Tell that to the headshot hero.’

I didn’t have much time to curse the donut dippers as Kalashnikov fire erupted like a martial rain. God these guys were amateurs.

I knew that the Redfern boys weren’t gonna like that. I was right.

The barrage ended. I suppressed a chuckle as I watched one colored blur smack another in the head.

Snipers can’t do much through all that noise. We took the chance and serpentined to a new position taking cover behind an old foundation and some ancient tractors.

Then the damndest thing happened.

A voice.

I heard a voice from our former position. But, Lynch was dead and Tom was probably dead too, from embarrassment, if not enemy fire. Besides, it was a little ahead of our current position. Right by the edge of the treeline.

It didn’t sound like anyone on our team.

“Hey! I surrender! They’re all dead….” It sounded pained and genuine.

‘Who the hell….’ I saw every remaining member of the team do a double take to make sure that we were still grouped.

There was no way Redfern or even those hippies would be dumb enough to fall for that. Though…a prisoner was far more valuable to their cause then a pile of corpses.

Though I could no longer see the glowing blurs, I guessed what they were doing. The sniper or snipers were likely sweeping the area, communicating via radio, I hoped that our prone position behind the remains of the old farm wasn’t ‘within vantage.’

They wouldn’t fall for it…there were only two bodies out there…

Then the voice came again. “I’m bleeding! O God help! I’m so thirsty….”

Well, I guess there were three bodies then…which was slightly more plausible.

‘Seriously…who….the….fuck...could that be…who would be this far out in Colorado…who..would…ACTlike that…’

There was no way… My mind raced. There was no way. It didn’t make sense.

I heard the all too familiar ‘thwunk’ of an m203 attachment followed by the hiss of smoke grenades. Jesus, these guys were better equipped than we were.

The fresh hullaballoo gave me the confidence to momentarily peek over the crumbling foundation. I couldn’t see much because there was even more preternaturally tall wheat between us and the enemy. Though every once in a while I glimpsed a glowing blur through the waving stalks.

They were cautiously… tepidly emerging from the tree line in three groups of four men.

“Help..it’s all clear…I promise…just help me…”

This emboldened the blurs. The first two groups found Tom and Lynch.

The third group. Which was the last to emerge from the treeline…approached the voice.

A piercing scream rent the night air followed by a cacophony of gunfire.

I dipped back behind cover.

“What in the fuck!” I yelled in a loud whisper.

Everyone was dumbstruck.

Everyone except for that other kid… from Arizona, Diego. He was mumbling something to himself. I lifted my goggles to try and make out his expression. A task that was difficult due to fog.

I did manage it though. And what I read in his eyes was abject fear.

“Brujeria..brujeria….brujeria….” He kept mummbling.

I put a hand on his shoulder.

“Listen, Diego…I don’t speak Spanish…what is it…?”

He just kept repeating, “Brujeria…brujeria…”

The screams were growing more confused as the gunfire grew sparser.

Harrelson leaned in…it was strange to see the big Swede so spooked…

“Brujeria is Spanish for witchcraft.”

Normally, I would have laughed, even taunted my mates but…this wasn’t normally.

I frowned. “Well, the commanding officer is dead. And I am not equipped to deal with witchcraft. Any ideas Diego?”

Diego paused…and looked me in the eyes… “Run.”
“Run, when ‘Brujeria’ has already done three-quarters of the job, and dumbass Daly might still be alive enough for a beer and an asswhoopin?”

Run.” Diego reiterated with added vehemence.

When I didn’t assent. Diego spoke more cooly than I had ever heard him speak before.

“Lieutenant, climb up on that broken step, it’s safe…for now. But do it quick.”

Normally, I would have told him to clarify but something in his voice elicited obedience even though I was his superior.

There were only stray shots now and they were close to the ground.

“What am I looking for, Diego?” I asked…ruefully considering that the sniper might not be as distracted as I hoped.

“Switch to night-vision.”

“But the fo..” I began, stopping myself mid-protest as I realized that it had cleared.

In stark electric shades of black and white, I saw the wheat matted down in a dozen or so places. There was no gunfire now.

‘What the hell could have done this, so quickly….’

I’d only heard one voice. Was it a trap? Was there some second team we hadn’t been warned about….

Then I saw it.

There was a… thing with what looked like a long matted mane, half limping, half crawling, I’ve run out of halves but I swear…half slithering…at a disjointed sprinters speed. I raised my scope for a better look.

Its face…was like a man..but no…more like a serpent…an odd sort of diamond…the eyes large but narrow…the skin of a repellant texture…the mane was thick black hair but…this creature…this reptile shouldn’t have hair…several of its limbs seemed to be broken…and god…was it gutted…

I thought about taking a shot. And right as the thought crossed my mind… the thing trained its cunning snake eyes through my scope and right down my soul.

“Nope.” I said as I lept back down behind cover.

“Uh…Diego…what the fuck is that…?”

“It is yee-nad-loo-shii…”

I can only remember the word as syllables though it still haunts me to this day. Imprinted indelibly on my memory living endlessly in my nightmares.

“The war witch who feasts on the fierce.”


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Incels and the Stanford Experiment (Vlog)


Incel is just another ambiguous term like loser. Part of the reason people have trouble connecting is arbitrary spontaneously emerging social hierarchies. Schoolyard taunts only reinforce this.

This incel thing…is just that…a taunt, like the word nerd, that some have adopted as an antihero status, I have friends that didn’t have girlfriends till their late twenties. They were just normal guys who were kinda shy. They’re both married now.


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The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 4.1 – The Union Jack

Image result for the union jack at sea


It was only a beer and a half later that my eye caught something cresting the horizon. Its size was apparent even from a distance. There was no way that a craft that large could dock at the diminutive pier which now held us.

My inner query was soon answered when the teal behemoth stopped some 5000 yards from the dock.

“Here,” Leo said reaching into a posh leather satchel and pulling out a pair of binoculars. If it wasn’t for the ease of his manner, his impeccable appearance would be unnerving.

“You see it! You see our taxi?”

I scanned the side of the boat. It was quite a sight. The first thing I panned across was the stern. It had a crane which meant that it was equipped with an ROV. It was modern. Definitely built in the last couple of decades. Ah, ‘RV Genevive’ ok so it’s an oceanographic vessel. This was hardly surprising.

I looked in vain for the dinghy. That meant it was on the side of the boat I couldn’t see. So as I waited for the ‘taxi’ to round the prow I made an inspection of the deck and wheelhouse. Which caused me to discover the Union Jack. Something vague about maritime law entered my head but it had been so long…

“God save the queen!” I mumbled in a loud sarcastic semi-whisper.

“Oho-hoho,” Leo laughed. “Yes, Senhor Reed is quite the nationalist.”

“This is a private vessel?” There was something off about the way that flag was flying.

“Si. Very much so. You are very lucky to see it. There are many companies in this part of the southern hemisphere, few of them acknowledged.”

“Crazy fuckin’ expats.” Sam murmured.

Leo continued laughing. “Yes, Senhor Reed is quite spirited. And I would suggest that you not get on his bad side.”

I had lowered the binoculars and was now looking at the ‘Genevive’ with the naked eye. I saw a small speck shining green and gold in the rays of the setting sun. I trained the lenses on the speck. It wasn’t a dinghy at all. It was a speedboat. And, I chuckled, equipped with its own miniature union jack.

It was approaching us at a decent clip. A speed for which I was glad. I couldn’t wait to explore this rare treat that had dropped itself in my lap.

I looked over at Hoyt to see if the vessel had stirred a similar nautical passion. I was still unaccustomed to the recent shortening of his leafy crown. Maybe it was this. But…no…he was still distant…there was something foreign about the tight expressionless curl of his thin lips. Here we were in one of the most stirring possible situations and all I could read in his angular features was the cold detachment of a vivisectionist. Whatever had gotten into him all those weeks prior was still very much in control.

The speedboat that had pulled up was piloted by a man with a broad nose and a heavy brow. He deftly grabbed the rope that Leo tossed him and moored the sleek looking boat with its impressive outboard to the landing. 


We hoisted our gear and descended the stairs to meet the newcomer. He was an older man though how much older was indeterminate. His step was lively, despite the graying of the hair and beard, and the first thing he did was hop from his craft and embrace Hoyt with a very peculiar hug, placing a hand on Graham’s opposite elbow. Graham reciprocated the hug perfectly in a mechanical sort of way.

“Welcome, Mr. Hoyt. Welcome!” The man boomed in a decidedly American accent.

 


1.1 (Intro) The Sketch of Sam Monroe

1.2 The Cajun Prayer

1.3 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter One: The Cambridge Gable Scene (‘Gator is Waitin’)

1.4 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.4 – The Cambridge Gable Scene – (Horticulture)

1.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.5: ‘To Luckadoo Cove’

1.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.6 – ‘Is there anybody out there…’

1.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.7: ‘Jesse’

1.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.8: ‘Lungful of Bees’

1.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.9 – ‘Precedent’

2.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.0 -Calvinist Neuroses

2.1 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.1 – Mirage

2.2 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.2 – Estate Planning

2.3 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.3 – High Tech Summons

2.4 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.4 – Amazon Stonehenge

2.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.5 – Jung

2.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.6 – Dee

2.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.7 – Meeting 211

2.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.8 – Itinerary

2.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.9 – Fact and Fiction

2.10 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.10 -Kaffeeklatsch

2.11 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.11 – Catnap

2.12 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.12 – ‘One Pair’

2.13 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.13 – Reentry

2.14 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.14 – Phoenix

2.15 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.15 – Apollo and Dionysus

3.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.0 – Inherit the Wind

3.1 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.1 – Stardust

3.2 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.2 – Loyola

3.3 Chapter 3.3 – High and Dry

3.4 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.4 – One Dream

3.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.5 – Pensive

3.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.6 – Feijoada

3.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.7 – ‘Good food and good work…’

3.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.8 – A Good Egg

3.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.9 – Oregon Hill

3.10 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.10 – ‘Thick Bushes’

4.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 4.0 – No room at the Inn


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The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 4.0 – No room at the Inn

A water taxi getting to the pier of San Cristobal


“Welcome! Welcome to San Cristobal!” Professor Bohm boomed with the enthusiasm of a tour guide.

I blinked in the balmy saline breeze.

“Fantastic isn’t it. This place is magic! No wonder that the seed of genius that had germinated in England blossomed here!”

“Huh?”

“He’s talking about Darwin.” Chuck filled in the gap.

“Si. I love it. This is my absolute favorite place. It is…electric…do you not feel it! This is the birthplace of the whole Earth.”

“I thought that was Africa,” Schmidt said.

I grinned at his Teutonic literalism. Though it was interesting. Where did life begin? I doubted that it radiated from some central location. At least not wholly. No, it made much more sense that places like this, like the Galapagos, had spawned the great biochemical adventure that we call life.

These were volcanic islands. And there was the primordial basalt mystery whose embrace was so fertile, so fecund, in its implications. At the crossroads of sea, fire, and air there had sprung one of the most diverse litanies of flora and fauna on the face of the earth.

The stark sparseness of the landscape, the stones that jutted from the lapping ocean, and the rose-colored sky of an onsetting evening were indeed stirring.

“It is nice,” I said.

“More than nice now, I’m sure!” Leo teased. “You Americans, sometimes you are so loud, and sometimes you are so English.”
The weight of my bags was making itself more and more apparent. We had taxied to a pier from the airport. “I’m beat. When are we gonna get some grub and bunk down?”

“O! Very soon. But not so soon that you shouldn’t put down those bags.”

“What right here?”

“No. Come with me.”

We followed him past coils of rope and other nautical paraphernalia up the length of the pier.

“Ok, you can drop it.”

“Uh?”

Leo didn’t answer immediately. Instead, he bent down to open a cooler.

“Cerveja?”

I dropped my bags and eagerly reached for the crisp freshness nestled among melting cubes of ice. The label read Eisenbahn. I looked at Leo.

He extended a bottle opener.

“So is the hotel near here?” I asked, popping off the cap.

Leo laughed in his quiet way, “It’s coming.”


1.1 (Intro) The Sketch of Sam Monroe

1.2 The Cajun Prayer

1.3 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter One: The Cambridge Gable Scene (‘Gator is Waitin’)

1.4 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.4 – The Cambridge Gable Scene – (Horticulture)

1.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.5: ‘To Luckadoo Cove’

1.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.6 – ‘Is there anybody out there…’

1.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.7: ‘Jesse’

1.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.8: ‘Lungful of Bees’

1.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.9 – ‘Precedent’

2.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.0 -Calvinist Neuroses

2.1 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.1 – Mirage

2.2 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.2 – Estate Planning

2.3 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.3 – High Tech Summons

2.4 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.4 – Amazon Stonehenge

2.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.5 – Jung

2.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.6 – Dee

2.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.7 – Meeting 211

2.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.8 – Itinerary

2.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.9 – Fact and Fiction

2.10 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.10 -Kaffeeklatsch

2.11 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.11 – Catnap

2.12 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.12 – ‘One Pair’

2.13 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.13 – Reentry

2.14 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.14 – Phoenix

2.15 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.15 – Apollo and Dionysus

3.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.0 – Inherit the Wind

3.1 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.1 – Stardust

3.2 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.2 – Loyola

3.3 Chapter 3.3 – High and Dry

3.4 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.4 – One Dream

3.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.5 – Pensive

3.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.6 – Feijoada

3.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.7 – ‘Good food and good work…’

3.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.8 – A Good Egg

3.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.9 – Oregon Hill

3.10 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.10 – ‘Thick Bushes’


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The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.10 – ‘Thick Bushes’

Image result for mato grosso


“Quick call Enya!” Sam exploded.

“Save all the whales, all the fucking whales…” Lucas enjoined.

We were in a large second story bedroom that had been converted into an office. In the center stood a cheap Ikea desk with a generous surface, across which were strewn aerial photographs.

“The area in question is a region of Brazil known as the Mato Grosso, which means thick bushes, though if you look at these photographs you can see that much of the area looks like Nebraska, due to deforestation.” This was the comment that had made my comrades burst into their little slapstick routine. 

We were skeptical about the environmental industry that had hijacked an otherwise noble movement. Of course, we knew that deforestation of this magnitude was a legitimate concern. However, people have to eat, and who the hell are a bunch of latte-sipping first worlders to dictate a developing nation’s policies. Then again…This inner debate thumped away quietly in the background of my mind as I tried to understand exactly what all this Brazil business was about.

“Thick bushes?! Like in my dad’s porno stash?”

The NORP that had greeted us, an analyst named Mark held a palm to his forehead. “You work with these people?” The question was directed at Thornton.

“Mallum ingenium sine mixtura dimentiae fuit.”

“Come again?”

“It’s Seneca,” I said.

“Like the cigarettes?”

“Nah, he’s a Stoic, the phrase means ‘there is no great genius without an element of madness.’”

“Pfft…” Mark guffawed. “You aren’t mad, you’re just run of the mill assholes. Sophomoric little shits.”

“Sophmore year was my favorite,” Sam said.

“Enough.” Thornton interrupted. “Let’s get back to the matter at hand. We’re only here for another day.”

It was undeniable, we were on our way to Brazil, though rendered vivid through drama Hoyt’s proclamation of that trip, about a month prior now, was shaded with haze, like looking at an orchid through cellophane. I waited for clarification.

“As I said. This area is heavily deforested. It looks nothing like it did when Fawcett embarked on his final foray in ‘25. In recent years he’s been vindicated. There was a civilization there. Mounds, traces of roads, lots of pottery has been uncovered. Maybe it’s not El Dorado but it’s revolutionary alright.”

“Ok, so what does any of this have to do with us, with Hoyt and his limey uncle? I suspect the map he pilfered had something to do with this and it’s already been found. So let the eggheads mull it, yeah?”

“You anticipate way too much. No wonder you’re still a blue belt.” Thornton said.

“Ah yea! Now I’m game. Let’s go meet the fuckin’ Gracies.”

“Afraid that’s impossible.”

“Do they even live in Brazil?”

“Back to the matter at hand,” Thornton said firmly.

It was like sophomore year.

“About the matter at hand.” Lucas chimed in, assuming that Prussian coldness which ran much stronger in his father. “We’re not archeologists, or anthropologists, we’re…” he paused as the difficulty of defining PLATO loomed hurdle-like in the wake of his cross-examination. “…we’re ‘alchemical chaplains’ and I see nothing of either psychological or pharmacological interest there.”

“Nothing of pharmacological interest in the Amazon?” Mark asked, raising a disdainful eyebrow.

“We’re not field botanists, simply chemically sophisticated psychonauts, what’s the M.O?”

“Ah…here is where you will have to humor us…we have after all been very understanding with you…” Thornton said.

“Err…”

“First off, though there is much deforestation, there is still plenty of forest, and that map is…well like the rest of the mission…it will make sense in execution. Improvisation you see is key for developing the new dynamic the fresh ‘rod and staff’ that we’ve been trying to squeeze out…you’ll just have to piece the thing together as you go along.”

The rest of the evening was spent getting familiar with the topography of the region. The politics and culture of Cuiaba and a brief survival lecture. Which was going to be elaborated upon further when we landed.

I still wasn’t certain why we were meeting Leo in the Galapagos.

 


1.1 (Intro) The Sketch of Sam Monroe

1.2 The Cajun Prayer

1.3 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter One: The Cambridge Gable Scene (‘Gator is Waitin’)

1.4 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.4 – The Cambridge Gable Scene – (Horticulture)

1.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.5: ‘To Luckadoo Cove’

1.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.6 – ‘Is there anybody out there…’

1.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.7: ‘Jesse’

1.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.8: ‘Lungful of Bees’

1.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.9 – ‘Precedent’

2.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.0 -Calvinist Neuroses

2.1 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.1 – Mirage

2.2 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.2 – Estate Planning

2.3 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.3 – High Tech Summons

2.4 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.4 – Amazon Stonehenge

2.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.5 – Jung

2.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.6 – Dee

2.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.7 – Meeting 211

2.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.8 – Itinerary

2.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.9 – Fact and Fiction

2.10 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.10 -Kaffeeklatsch

2.11 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.11 – Catnap

2.12 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.12 – ‘One Pair’

2.13 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.13 – Reentry

2.14 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.14 – Phoenix

2.15 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.15 – Apollo and Dionysus

3.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.0 – Inherit the Wind

3.1 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.1 – Stardust

3.2 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.2 – Loyola

3.3 Chapter 3.3 – High and Dry

3.4 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.4 – One Dream

3.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.5 – Pensive

3.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.6 – Feijoada

3.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.7 – ‘Good food and good work…’

3.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.8 – A Good Egg

3.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.9 – Oregon Hill


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The King of Bohemia (Short Story)

3x4 inch Czech Republic Crest Sticker - decal coat of arms ...


The room was large with a staircase leading to an indoor balcony directly ahead of me. The crowd that milled about seemed enthused with giddy expectation.

I was uncertain about what this place was or why I was here.

The floors were marble. The paneling a rich heavy wood that may have been oak. Every member of the crowd was dressed in jazz-era garb, but after the European fashion, including myself.

A woman with neatly arranged hair and a long white glove tugged at my sleeve. Her hair was flaxen, but her eyes were brown, bright brown. They glowed with excitement despite the dim light of the chandelier.

“Isn’t this fantastic!” She exclaimed searching my features for a kindred response.

As I said. I had no recollection of what all this was. It was as if I’d awoken from a dream or into a dream. Like someone had flipped a switch and I’d assumed a new reality. Past and future seemed veiled. I could not penetrate them.

She must have caught my hesitation. Because her eyes began to dim, and a crestfallen, yet oddly threatening aspect overtook her delicate features. There was a definite air of danger. Not so much from her but from the air and the crowd. She was merely a pilot light.

“I can’t wait for it to start!” I exclaimed, trying as best I could to hide any note of affectation that may have slipped through.

“I know, I know! Every time it’s better and better!”

I felt another tug at my jacket. This time it was a man with a strong jaw and resolute eyes. He stood a head above me and was older. The shocks of white that streaked his hair when paired with rounded spectacles produced a stern and fatherly effect.

“Harry. Come here, Harry. Let me look at you.”

I turned around to face the novel conversation.

“Oh, dear. That’s no good. See how pallid you are. You must drink. Come on then!”

He wheeled round and led the way to a table that sat against the wall.

There was something about being called Harry that I really disliked. It wasn’t my name. Or at least shouldn’t be. But then again I remembered nothing. So maybe it was my name. But there was something beyond the possibility of mistaken identity gnawing at the periphery of my consciousness.
“See here. Look at it, look at how it sparkles, such a cheery thing, yes. Marvelous, we shall have you sorted out here and quick.” He said as he ladled some sort of soda from a crystal punch bowl into a port glass.

“Bottoms up.” It was more command than encouragement.

I hesitated. Something I was afraid to do though I didn’t know why. There was this overwhelming sense that questions were strictly forbidden. But, I had to know what was up.

“Where’s the guest of honor?” I inquired. Forming what was the most innocuous sounding question I could muster. It did, after all, seem like we were waiting for something. Or rather someone. It did seem like expectation had been ratcheted up to fever pitch. So long as I didn’t ask who the guest was…

“He’ll appear in due time. Punctuality never fails in the House of Hours. But in the meantime, precisely for this reason, drink Harry! For God’s sake…DRINK!”

There was no resisting the command. I downed the silvery green sparkling liquid in a single swig. It wasn’t unpleasant. There was a strong, bracing sort of citrusy aspect, and a hint of gin.

Then I felt it. The effervescence seeped into my bones, into my very soul. I felt as one with every motion of every limb in the hall. Excitement overtook me. I too was ecstatic. I felt the urge to spring and dance.

“There’s a lad!” The tall stranger said, momentarily resting an iron grip on my right shoulder.

With this, he disappeared back into the foppish crowd. I didn’t follow.

“Lucy!” I exclaimed approaching the brown-eyed lady. “Let’s have a kiss, Lucy.”

She turned her face away rebuffing my advance with a light hand against my chest. As soon as she made contact something felt wrong.

“Not yet! Harry!” She giggled though with a tad of cold behind the mirth. “Have you forgotten the etiquette?”

“But you look so beautiful! I want to taste your sweet lips to hold you close to my heart.”

When I uttered the word heart I realized what had felt wrong. Though why or how I knew it was beyond me.

“Why hearts Harry? Why would we need such things as hearts when we have such fine spirits!” She said raising the sparkling port glass up to her lips and drinking.

I was confused again.

She looked at me and smiled coquettishly and with what seemed like a twinge of pity. Before I could say anything she gave me a quick peck on the cheek and disappeared into the crowd.

I stood for some minutes my mind racing. Though it felt like an eternity my frantic search was quickly interrupted.

One of the swing players had produced a comically medieval note. At this, all the revelers stood still. From somewhere on the balcony which was now to my left a loud and triumphant voice called out.

“His Majesty, the chief of alchemists, the king of Bohemia!”

From a great door directly opposite the balcony, there came a mellow creaking, as it swung open to reveal a beturbanned man of moderate stature.

He walked briskly and wordlessly into the silent crowd. Brushing shoulders, tapping elbows, nearly twirling round his congregants. All of whom were absolutely thrilled by his strange, fleeting, though purposeful caresses.

As he approached I grew yet more surprised. The turban sat atop an English face. The upturned nose, the stiff thin lip, and those peculiar broad cheeks. ‘Bohemia, more like Bristol.’ I thought to myself. ‘An Anglo with a turban has usurped Prague?’ I was on the verge of a giggle.

He flicked against me. It did feel good, sort of invigorating. But I felt that he had noted the inner slight I had just had at his expense.

Because he stopped and eyed me cooly with pale blue eyes which were no longer friendly.
“We’ve got a spy, my friends!”

He pulled a mirror from behind my lapel. In the brief moment that my eye rested on the smooth glass surface, I beheld a revolting sight. All the pretty gentry that were gathered round were rotted. Flesh sunken into bones, denuded sinews, they were all cadavers!

I ran and pulled down a drape. The mirror was huge and all the circumspectly attired ghouls got a good look at exactly what they were. This sent them into a panic.

“Cover it up, o God cover it up!” A woman shrieked between frightened sobs.

“Why do we have those damned things in the first place!”

“It’s alright, it’s alright.” The ‘king’ proclaimed as he produced an evil looking ceremonial saber from the sheath at his side.

Before I could respond he had run me through. As I lay bleeding on the shockingly cold marble he knelt down and dipped his finger in my dwindling life force.

With this crimson ink, he wrote upon the horror holding mirror a number of characters which I was surprised to find intelligible.

‘Ad va el ho ata.’ The syllables sang out in my brain.

With this, he redrew the drape and the last thing I heard was his triumph.

“We’re gonna revel forever! This perfect moment! This house in time. Its timbers so strong! And stronger with each prayer. His angels can’t hold us. They can’t hold us. No. We won’t bleed out into the inky stars to be rewrapped by His whim! Michael is bound!”


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