Chapter Forty-Four

More sensitive stuff…

“Boring down to the 
nitty gritty can be upsetting.
to your appetite, upending 
to your sang-froid, too.”

           “Carrot lips…”

          “Hey, pea eyes!”

          “Corny teeth…”

          “Potato ears!!”

          The Bay Trail had hardened some as we followed along a concrete break wall—knee-high to the squirrelly, rubber-limbed junior skateboarders bouncing their plastic wheels off its top and sides. Not that we hadn’t noticed these globes thus far, just hadn’t given them a second glance, what with the sandblasts and overall visual saturation out here. Still, it was hard to miss them, something on the order of high-country hay balls, encrusted with colorful environmental/global warming messages and themes, appearing to line the length of the trail to either side, dotting the Crissy landscape like anteGoogluvian map tacks, laced together like ecological rosary beads.

          So we had noted the first few in passing, but call it cursory review: A black and blue planet with color swatched DNA bands, the red hot and yellow Corporate Volunteerism ball with its stenciled happy faces and platitudes, a snowy glacial Polar Bear globe melting into avant pop isobar red and advancing blue—all atop iron pipe pedestals and round, prominently captioned concrete bases. Although that was before we hit upon ‘Foodie for Thought’.

          “Tomato cheeks…”                                                             

          “Banana nose!!!”                                                  Veggie globe

          “Funny looking…lettuce head!”

          “That’s enough, children—moving on…”

          While it sounded as if some innocent child’s play had devolved into ugly name calling, they were just telling it like it was. That is, a scrum of primary schoolkids over from the Exploratorium had encircled ‘lettuce head’, sculpted in a harvest of fruits and veggies—tastefully organic, unmodified and pesticide free—yet about as appetizing as plaster-of-Paris legumes can be.

          Still, the kids were all over the EcoGlobes, a student teacher busily slapping their little mitts away from Foodie’s broccoli eyebrows, his avocado muttonchops and rutabaga jowls. Losing battle that it was, she quickly shooed them back along the cement barrier, toward a yellow school van waiting on the entry-grove parking lot’s innermost row, ‘lettuce head’ winking a pea-pod eye, flashing his corncob smile through it all.

          “Divine design, how devine,” I asked, eyeing my wristwatch, working up more of a hunger, even so. “I’m thinking it’s more like repetitive stress—or a skin sore. Keep picking at it, and it never heals. Better to just leave it be…”

          “Look, if you don’t clean the sore, air it out, infections will inevitably set in,” replied Reese Paulen, sizing up the colorful, cartoonish sphere as if it were Boulder mall’s quirkiness squared.

          “Sure, just like if you’ve got a neck boil, you lance it. Only don’t go nicking the carotid artery in the process…”

          A free-range wiener dog lifted his stubby leg against Mr. Foodie’s base, while his bun-brown litter mate similarly honored a graphically gridded, gray-green Malthusian Overpopulation planet across the trail, barely missing the ‘Do Not Touch’ tag attached to each EcoGlobe base. Their middle-aged mother-master stuffed in a rouge red pantsuit and thick pink shades sternly called for her precious Dachshunds, yanking down on her wide-brim straw sunhat with a sly, slightly mischievous grin.

          Either way, crowd flows wound around her as the pair of two foot-long pooches scurried to her side. Back on our right, that low concrete barrier brought us to a geothermal e-blast—a molten globe mapping red-hot water spots and parched yellow continents, a steamy model of tappable deep earth sustainability—then to a bit wider stretch of promenade where people apparently could or couldn’t care less.

          “Not following your extractional methodology there, Herbert…”

          “Then I mean, you can’t bomb, bulldoze, build or blockade your way into peoples’ hearts and minds, that’s all—especially when violently inhospitable neighbors keep closing in.”

          “Be that as it may, if you wish to better define the contours of anti-Semitism. Again, just ask yourself these questions: Policies or populace, Zionism or Zionists, faith or flocks, creed or breed,” Paulen rattled on. “See what I am saying? Have I adequately set the table thus far?”

          “I get it, I get it—the folks more than the strokes,” I hedged. “But how do you really separate the two?”

          “That’s for you to digest and decode, my friend, in your heart and mind.”

          “Maybe, but my growling stomach has no appetite for more of these guessing games…”

          “So, why cavil over junk food, when you can hang on a bit longer and comparatively feast at Liverpool Lil’s? Come now, guide me along here a bit further, allow me to more fully enlighten you on the nuances of anti-Semitism,” doc said, accommodating as all get out. “Ah, yes, last I recall, this stretch was little more than a grown-over, swampy runway…”

          “Yeah, swamp,” I sulked that if I couldn’t hang with him out here, how could I rope him in when and where? ”By all means, show the ropes, hang on your every word…”

          “Preferable to hanging yourself, hey? Juuust joking,” Paulen stepped gingerly around a fresh pile of NPS ranger horse dung. That said, perhaps I should boil our immediate issue down to a case of sens de autre.”

          “Sans what,” I asked, safely past, looking out upon east Crissy Beach for any signs of naked expression or aggression, back bending purposefully into the wind. What instead caught my eye was that red Saturn airship once again, now hovering over the Golden Gate Bridge. I reflected on how far I’d coasted through my Return II year comparatively unscathed. Just a matter of weeks to go, if only I could have run out the clock in peace, rather than taking a knee, sweating it out on a fool’s errand such as this. You betcha, take a deep breath…mantra, mantra: Saturn Turmoil Rings In Peacehelping you get through this, Saturn Turmoil Rings In Peace. STRIPpppp…

          “A sense of The Other…”

          “The other? The other what?”

          “Look, you know where I’m going with this.”

          “Haven’t the foggiest.” Why was it that whenever he started off with a priggish ‘look’, I didn’t see it at all?

sr dingbats

          Spinning out in our direction was a high-pumping mountain biker who had hit a soft bog on his way back from Tennessee Valley, nearly tossing his Clif Bar in velocitized rage. No harm, no foul, he sputtered at us, righting his blue Cannondale Synapse, saddling back up in full stride. These sand pillows drifted through barrier breaks, heaping into the promenade like freeway grain spills, product of East Crissy Beach’s northward pitch, of daily winds blowing relentlessly through the Golden Gate, sweeping everything in away from the Bay.

          Kids frolicked, retrievers and setters chased wooden sticks in and out of the shallow surf along this narrow, turgid beachfront, retreating to parental calls as channel waves rose in the wake of a passing outbound freighter. I instead tracked the graceful ascent of a Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet over the bridge and East Bay hills, until a Latino tyke raced past us atop the breakwall’s slab tops, hurdling over some sun-bathing stiffs napping supine in his way. Nothing was to come between him and the old hombre in feathered sombrero pushing a bell-chimed ice cream wagon some three concrete slab lengths up ahead. Was getting so I could have chased right after the goodie wagon for a little fudge sundae, preferably good and hot.

          “Anti-Christ, alien culture, ever the outgroup,” Paulen said. “The whole nagging crypto-xenophobic subtext that burgeons from many-headed monsters, never really going away for long.”

          “Yeah, well—I wouldn’t know about that either…”

          “You wouldn’t, now would you,” he momentarily followed the Virgin jet’s red tail and engine cowlings, gaining altitude, due east over the Berkeley Hills. “However I suspect you know precisely what I mean.”

          “You do, huh? How’s that…” Little wonder a better part of me was thinking, let’s not go off on all this virulence stuff, let’s just get off on the view here instead

          “Suffice to say, I have my sources, my…attributions.”

          A slight widening of the Bay Trail delivered us unto perhaps the promenade’s friskier, more frenetic, fanatical stretch. Most noteworthy about Crissy Beach, besides being so utterly wind blown, was its positioning relative to the sun—that is, mainly facing away from it. Such wrong shore positioning made for a hardier, heartier bunch, and prompted a good bit of turn and burn—counter-broiling, lying down attitudinally away from the bay, more or less spitting into the wind. Not that it mattered much to the giggly halter-topped girlfriends tapping away at their cell phones on double-layered blankets, totally rubbing it in.

          They were under the watchful eyes of gym-ripped buds pulling fresh pop-tops from nearby coolers, gawking with a glow on as the chicks slathered more sunscreen into each other’s well-developed base coats, seductive as roomies in a soft-porn short. Or the frat rats running in place just ahead of us, taking in the smokin’ hotties tugging at their tanks and camis, the strapless young barebacks, halfway to the Raelian Movement—the converging, intersecting tan lines of this two-piece bikini scene.

          Or the hulky muscle heads doing boot camp pushups against the concrete barrier slabs, spankin’ it hard core. And no, these hunks weren’t fixing one jot on the shapeless Euros beached about in thongy briefs and mankini slingshots as though this were the bright white strands of Antibes or Nice. For that matter, neither was Paulen, instead slyly checking the broader East Crissy fleshfest out the corner of his eye.

          “Attributions? What does that mean,” I yielded, off-guard all the more. Really—globes, rings—here again, I’d once seen how Israel had come through its first Saturn Return O.K. back around ’78, then it quickly went not so O.K.. So now the country just went through its second Saturn Return not so well, and I was just trying to see a way to turn this not-so-good back around Saturn-wise, before it was too late. And what did I get for my trouble—after coming this far, after making such undivided…progress? A movable sermon, in a manner of speaking—a roaming diss-inquisition. “I have no idea what that means…”

          “Simply put, sometimes ugly anti-Semitism stares you head on,” doc gazed out more intently upon the bikinied beachscape. “Other times it entails a little digging. Then again, sometimes we even hide the hate and bigotry from ourselves.”

          “We speaking generally here,” I asked warily, not at all unready to wring his blamed neck. Instead, came a mental seiche wave: in and out, back and forth, sound him out, pin it down, thread the needle, drop the pins and needles, walk the line, jack him up, slip him up, hit the mark, track it down, work the spin, spin the wheels, ring him up, pull back, bring it, write it off—all those rah-rah clichés. But dammit, bring the heat, go for broke, push back, pay it off with compound interest, quick and dirty, remember?! Wherever it’d lead from here

          “If you please—and perhaps a dollop of deconstruction is in order. For sake of argument, let’s refer to this current business with the recent spate of anti-Israel demonstrations, shall we? Now, if the issue is Middle East violence, all well and good. However, what if these protests descend into diatribes on so-called occupation, apartheid, the Zionist entity, unwelcome Israel with no right to exist? Well, what have we then?”

          “Dunno, just constructive criticism, maybe,” I said, pulled into this miasma further, buttons duly pushed. “I mean, Israel has just ranked, like, 141st out of 144 countries in world peace and human rights…maybe there’s some room for improvement there. I’m just thinking for the country’s own sake…”

          “You call that constructive?! What on earth is constructive about trashing Jewish cemeteries or defacing our places of worship?”

          Even less appealing than the Speedoed Euros were the recent retirees, likely fat on government pensions, expressing their pent-up freedom on wobbly comfort bikes, wide-wall pot boilers and muffin tops hanging out over their beltlines, far better off keeping their shirts on, Gynecomastia-wise, for everyone involved. Dancing around one patently grotesque lard ass gasping past us on his front-basket Schwinn, was this black leotarded downtown New York ex-pat wired up to his headphones, fairy jogging, prancing about to re-issue show tunes like some 42nd Street Balanchine, Cunningham or Cage.

          Then there were those sedentary types clearly underwhelmed by the East Beach’s upward nubility altogether—unimpressed with these throngs for thongs, and their leash-reeled pugilistic dogs. Proceeding along a cross-trail row of dedicated concrete and wood slat benches, we variously spotted bundled up old duffs dodging the gull guano, picking at take-out deli trays, hissy fitting at these other people, near and far—pigeon feeders versus pigeon kickers—fussing over all this vital young life passing them by. Spurned romantics and other long-lost souls sat staring blankly out on the bay and TiBelvedere hills—boat spotting at best, casing the Gate Bridge deck at despondently worst. Further down, gossipy widow gal pals in fur-trimmed olive/raisin and cocoa quilted vests respectively stroked their Pomeranians and spooned over an upcoming season of Michael Tilson Thomas, while keeping discreet tabs on the stripped-down buffcakes still knocking out sets and reps.

          Most intriguing to me was that winsome lotus blossom in a comparatively modest ruby tunic, seated serenely at bench’s end, contemplating an overhead V-squadron of sea-bound pelicans amid heightening beachfront commotion, probably I-Pod budded to the likes of Marcome, Sarah Brightman or some low-flame Fiery Furnace. Doc seemingly looked upon her as a doe strayed from the herd. Although I was more partial to gazelles.

          “Whoa, hey, that’s not what I’m saying,” I retreated some, while remaining close enough for dutiful comfort. “I mean, you’re jumping a pretty big step here. What’s senseless vandalism got to do with our honest debate?”

          “Slippery slope, my friend—such violence is one ugly step removed from inciteful accusations sliding into the sewer of militant anti-Semitism itself…”

          “Yet who’s to make that kind of judgment,” I countered, reconciled to moving the chains. “I mean, thought-policing free speech and all…the Supreme Court or the ADL?”

          “Free speech is one thing. Hate speech is another altogether…”

sr dingbats

          But so much for calm. Calm was like, totally definitely overrated, especially when there were these mounting, gnarly knots to brave: Rock on, sur-fsup! Damn straight, sure as shit, this here was headwind, headbanger territory, brother dude. In the rub of an irritated eye, Crissy Beach was all about board games. We stopped in our tracks as a Body Gloved wind surfer lugged his bowed Neil Pryde sail across the promenade, wrestling with his clear Rafjet in a sudden gust, bound and determined for the shoreline.

          Raggin’ him were a lunatic fringe gang of SOMA skate rats slammin’ hard ollies and kickflips up and down off the concrete barrier. These self-medicating boomerang kids sported emblazoned Huf or Hawk t-shirts and Benny Gold mesh trucker caps, stompin’ atop decal plastered samurai decks in slip-on Vans Skink Skates with day-glo racing stripes, otherwise spinning their raw trucks and DarkStar hollow core wheels.

          Just a little turf talk among mouth-breathing adrenaline fiends, but pushing the juvies’ buttons more were a cabal of older streetboarders sucking down, passing around malt Joose and shark bite, Levasoled cocaine and no-brand smokes—scarred and lumpy, heavy into black Judas Priest sweatshirts and Bennies, cut off so as to brandish full-tatt forearms, cobra calves down to their scuffed spider-web Quake sneakers. Worship, they might have, at the calloused feet of Bullet Biniak and the Dogtown Z-Boys, before ripping their own tidal pool.

          These megadeath Mephedrone M-Cat rappers and their tweaker girlfriends seemed a rougher, scruffier, dead-ender strain, crankin’ war-torn Cheta/Destructo long decks on 60mm Krooked speedemon wheels, reeking of smeared curb cream and bearing lube. Waterfront skaters by day, dealing bogus medical pot cards; warehouse squatters and car torchers/arsonists once the sun went down. These horrorcore freaks were old enough to know a whole lot better, too grip taped and alienated to give a good goddamn. Grab your board and go sidewalk surfing, nail that trick, hustle the ’hoods—goin’ total rogue—rattle chrome link keychains at red-ass scenes such as these. Living was cheap, life was even cheaper—just stay a halfpipe ahead of the badge.

          “Bit of a stretch, don’t you think? Isn’t that sort of victimization as a reactionary fallback position just stifling any hint of legitimate voices—even Jewish dissent?”

          “Stretch,” Paulen asked, shielding his eyes from the glare. “Hardly—it’s a simple slur and leap to personal physical attacks. Before you know it, you’ve got the new anti-Semitism, which is just old anti-Semitism in chic clothing.”

          “Come on, that’s total overreaction, blown out of proportion,” I prodded, noting one of the senior boarder’s legs, a bend sinister tattoo on his upper right calf—just like at that skinhead party way back there in Falkirk, Scotland, not all that far from where grandpa pere was raised. “You’re making it sound like an epidemic of swine flu.”

          “Au contraire, it’s rather more insidious than that. Just look at New York, for instance. A large pro-Palestinian rally in Times Square, and Bronx synagogues start getting bombed, blacks are harassing Hasidim in Crown Heights, Jersey kids are toppling 500 gravestones in a Jewish cemetery. Take the heartland. St. Louis high schoolers concoct some ‘Hit a Jew Day’, soon neo-Nazis are toppling headstones, adopting a Missouri highway to taunt a beloved rabbi—then a KKK rally in Orlando leads to the torching of a Miami temple. This, in the south, where Jewish academics went in the 1920s-40s to teach selflessly in the poorest of schools, already! So it’s happening everywhere you look—militia kooks in Idaho keep rebel-rousing, and before long, some nutcase with assault weapons is shooting up a Seattle Jewish Federation center. Colorado Springs has gone mega-evangelical on us. Boulder’s not immune to hate-mongering, either. Why, I’ll wager such madness is even going on around here.”

          “Now that you mention it,” I wilted, caught with my scorn down. “There have been a number of protest marches on Bay Area campuses and at the Israeli consulate. I’ve seen where some synagogues have been tagged out in the Sunset and East Bay. Swastikas at a Jewish pool and day camp in Palo Alto, for that matter. Then there was that attack on Elie Wiesel here this winter at a downtown hotel. But what you said about Boulder…”

          “Oh, this is much, much broader than Boulder, Herbert. Point is, virulence can and does beget violence. And when you hear things like Israel is an unwelcome cancer in the Middle East, and Hitler didn’t finish the job, it has to give you pause.”

sr dingbats

           Yeah, well, pucker up, punks…no snot-nose X Games here. True, these boardsail types looked to be the bigger dawgs, as evidenced by the packs and racks stacked on rigs all over this end of East Crissy’s parking lot. Serious business: Thule and Yakima sky/rocket boxes on most every roof and trunk lid; road and mountain bikes racked atop S.U.V.s and crossovers muddied from live action up and down the coast.

          Battered longboards were propped upright against Tundra pick-ups, sail frames drained against the grillwork of H3s and X-Terras. Reef Sandals and baggy boardshorts dried out across the front hoods of cubish Scions and Elements; wetsuits airing out on a mis-placed Vanagon, tri-finned surfboards silver thermal bagged on the roofs of Wranglers and other woody would-bes. Outfitted to the gills, loaded for bare—big-boy action here, sport, no room for any kid’s stuff or kooks, so quarter spin on this

          The promenade narrowed some again at its western edge, where a slight leftward leaning curve turned it back into Bay Trail mode. The gravel jag occasioned further pause just when it looked as if we might gain a deboarding pass from this subculture clash. Sailboards

          Instead, we got scissor pinced some between an outgoing biaxial Kona Cruiser board with its Ezzy Zephyr sail and an incoming Screamer board with salt-soaked Goya Guru sheet going gung-ho.

          For this promenade dogleg happened to be a pipeline to some of the most righteous currents this side of Hood River rats. So ultra-fanatical sailboarders wrestled their X-Rides across our path with ‘don’t make waves, make way’ glares as the plowed into new surf generated in the wake of an Oakland bound Hapag-Lloyd container ship.

          “Tsk, if it weren’t for the bloody Palestine business,” Paulen muttered, upon dime-turn reflection came a candid digression. “Israel gives them land, they give Israel war. The ludicrous Fatah-Hamas river-to-the-sea crowd is like unwieldy albatrosses on the arc to deliverance.”

          “Yeah, who the hell are they,” I shrugged, increasingly annoyed by the sandy shuffle of surf-soaked Addisage slides. “But you know that adage. One man’s Temple Mount is another man’s Noble Sanctuary. Like I said, maybe if Israel quit soaking up all their land awhile, things would settle down some.”

          “Easy for you to say, you don’t have to bear the wanton violence, the rage and indignities…”

          “And you do?”

          “In the spiritual,  empathetic, neo-metaphysical sense, yes I do. And yet rest assured, Israelis will get and keep things right,” he studied this black wetsuit scene, as though the various aquanauts were some evolutionary species first crawling ashore, plotting them on a linear Darwinian continuum to lofty Boulder cliff climbers, misconstruing the connection. “But as to your initial question, think in terms of 3-Ds.”

          “Let’s see if I have my divining rod and stethoscope,” I cracked back, probing myself, particularly about the pockets and midsection.

          “No, not three dimensions, rather: double standards, demonizing Israel by equating it with Nazi Germany, or de-legitimizing the Jewish state’s right to exist. Altogether, 3-Ds makes for quite a substantive metric. To wit, does an issue or instance ease anti-Semitism, or does it abet it?”

          “Now we’re measuring degrees of anti-Semitism? Like taking a temperature?”

          “If it means castigating Israel while giving other nations a pass for similar behavior, you bet your life,” Paulen shyied away from a wet boxer mutt shaking off its prong collar. “Or blowing expectations of Israel out of proportion, ascribing influence beyond Jews’ actual numbers, population-wise.”

      “Huh? Who does that? Have I done that? Tell me when I did that?! Help me out here…” What was this, some Fuhrershock test? Suddenly, all this inflating and conflating was deflating me something fierce.  It was more than one person could weather. Crossover distress signals shot up and down my spinal cord, stirring an inflammatory stewmedulla down south to the dorsal horn. 

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          Just-beached rigs sun dried in parking lot aprons to our left, while a band of fresh, extremophile boarders locked down their carbon masts and U-joint baseplates, tightened footstraps, cinched up loop-‘n’-go tailpieces and Sonic waist harness lines before catching wind, carving waves out toward mid bay. With Paulen fielding another quick phone call, turning to whisper into the wind, I slid over near the breakwall, out of swarm’s way, stopped cold by the test pattern color dynamics of it all. Each free-force deck, Spectra film sail was an in-your-grill expression of radical solidarity—imaginatively graphic, brilliantly bizarre—where HGH and A.D.D. met Wii and CGI by way of THC, PCP and LSD.

          The Robby Naishniks atop them blew swiftly past a twaddling of pesky paddleboarders with their frumpy, wrinkled bulldogs hanging loose on back, boogying about aimlessly, harmlessly in shallower surf. Curiously, the gonzo boarders braved 50-degree waters in primarily darker tones. Even though younger hot-shots sported citrus-paneled half-skins or tagged and baggy Quicksilver/Kelly Slater boardshorts, mesh low-tops and lycra Ballslappers, tilting into shoreside winds—freestylin’ loops and spins, bumps and jumps along the way.

          But the even harder core were riding their sideways aqua glides, hoisting their skinny-short mast extensions, cutting the rippers, balls out into the ships’ channel for some high-wind planing, a round of tight-radius turnies and jibes amid 15-20 knot blasts. These maniac paragliders tended to wear black graphite wetsuits, head to foot: full Billabong barehoods, Rip Curl rashguards, down to ankle seals and round-toe boots to shield every malady from nail fungus to severe surf toe.

          Out there, they dodged and darted between freighters and regattas alike—in gusts strong enough to shear marine-grade locking collars and pretzel their triple-clamp alloy booms—with the upper body mass to stay coursing with their clearsails and pull it off. Far beyond the killer wakame kelp, jumping the shark where the sea otters and lions roamed, even hairier and stone Evel were the galeblazing kiteboarders, boatracing in from the Gate clear through to Alcatraz Island.

          Tethered to humongous inflatable crescent-shaped finned batwings bobbing and weaving 50-100-feet overhead, they hydroplaned, pulled slingshot touch-and-go’s atop bay flooding waves—death-wish daring-dos in the face of barge-hauling tugboats and 980-foot cargo ships, for nothing other than rushes or grins. Stroke, stroke—like, totally rad, dude…what with the fog now beginning to pile in with gusto, fresh from devouring Ocean Beach, the Sunset and Richmond Districts, block by block.

          “Now, do we really want to go down that road of yours, Herbert,” Paulen returned in visible awe of the entire aero-aquatic spectacle. “Let’s just say that denial is not necessarily determinative—merely an unprovable negative.”

          “Neither is declaring that bigotry is festering under every goddamn roof or rock.” Still and all, press onward, heedless as Evel Knieval himself. “Instead, why not focus more on the peace deal, put the occupation mess behind them? Maybe this departheid crap will end up in the rearview mirror.”

          “Ahem, allow me to toss some actual statistics your way, my friend,” he sniffed. “Recent authoritative studies have shown that at least 15% of Americans are clearly anti-Semitic; 20% claim Jews have too much influence, over 30% believe American Jews are more loyal to Israel. Moreover, there has been a sharp increase in attacks on Jewish institutions and property throughout this decade. These are hard numbers—not undue, anecdotal paranoia. Yet again, anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head the world over, particularly in this Internet age. And even if there were legitimate peace moves tomorrow, do you think this ancient hatred would end overnight?”

          “Don’t ask me…by the way, whose authoritative studies?”

          “Why, by the Anti-Defamation League, for one…”

          “I see, was it longitudinal, a double-blind style, or…” Yep, stoke down to the brushes with anger, but will it do?

          “Ahem, meaning…”

          Me personalIy, I was still somewhat nettled by all the adrenaline jonesing and neoprene, the prospect of wet-suited stokers flashing me the full finger glove—increasingly apprehensive, much like some jokers get flustered by black skin and clowns. Spotting one boarder in a quantum jammer pausing before us to hack up a wet loogie, then shooting double nostril snot rockets, it shook me back to coastside Pacifica, to Eric and those Jaguar junkheaps, and that ‘Fuckin’ Middle Finger of Fate’ of his. He must have been living on Maui or some Montana ranch spread by now. “Meaning, the ADL is rock turner in chief. That’s their raison d’ etre, isn’t it?”

          “What? Resorting to ad hominems now? Are you deliberately trying to get under my skin,” Paulen huffed, as some newly beached surfers shared man hugs all around. “You asked for an explanation of anti-Semitism, which I’m endeavoring to provide. If you can’t take this seriously, I must infer that you don’t honestly care…”

      “I care, I care—how would I know what I do know about this if I didn’t? But c’mon, would you expect anything less from the ADL? After all, that is their business.” There, his hot spot, the anger button pushed once more, though hopefully not too hard. Really, get that motor cortex running stronger. Was that not how they explained things should go?

          “That’s odiously, offensively absurd,” Paulen spouted, jaw dropping like a superior court gavel. “ADL vigilance is essential in exposing and combating bigotry—supreme diligence, beyond reproach. Not without ample reason, I might add, and you find something wrong with that?”

          “No, not a lick, so long as it doesnt involve unduly smearing decent people,” I said, surgically splitting hairs. “But some of those organizations tend to border on the vigilante attack squad now and then…and their anti-Semitism accusations sort of become a hate accompli. It’s like with homophobia and Islamophobia: Choose wisely when to use and accuse—or else misuse, abuse and gradually lose. That’s one powerful label. All I’m sayin’ is be careful about diluting it, wearing it out—greasing the skids for the real true haters.” Okay, enough, already…this slope was getting altogether too slippery. Time to claw back some reality, single out some actuality. Way too deep in the cortisol sea, yessir, turn this absolutely zero-sum world, this whole damn ship around. Time to check the scenario, check the tactics and strategy—time to recheck yourself in the nick of time…time to reset things right…

          “Oh, I see,” doc said frostily. “This is veering toward some sort of undue-influence ruse. Next you’ll be spewing the whole nefarious conspiracy doggerel. Honestly, you are a reasonably educated man, Herbert. One would hope you’d know better by now.”

          “You’re jumping to confusion here, doc. Who says I will…or don’t? Seriously, I’m big on Jon Stewart and Tom Friedman, I admire Shimon Peres and Amos Oz as much as the next guy…”

          “Sure, and some of your dearest friends, blah, blah, blah.”

          “On that, youd be surprised…”

Care for more?

Chapter Forty-Five. The farther out they go, the 
deeper they delve, issues getting touchier, exchanges 
testier by range and definition, on a global scale…