Mind Fields – Casinos: The Indians’ Revenge

Mind Fields

In spite of a genocide of unthinkable proportions, the Native Americans are still here. They continue to guard and revive their languages, their cultures and traditions. A hundred and fifty years ago, they were snatched from their way of life, their children were sent to government schools and ceased being Native Americans as we knew them. Their lands were stolen, their food destroyed, their self respect slashed, their independence lost, their values derided. 

During the sixties, the hippie movement created an icon of the Native American, made a romance of the tribal and nomadic life. A resurrected spirit began to seep into our so-called civilization. We had killed them off, but they returned. Their ghosts had hovered above the land, waiting for a time when they would be called.          

Now, we are calling them. There’s a pathetic romanticism in this revived nostalgia for an aboriginal lifestyle. It’s pathetic because underneath the sentimental reverence for everything Native American lies a desperate plea for help from a culture that has lost its moorings.

Some people, mixed and full blood Native Americans, remain aware of their culture.  They are working in subtle ways to bring some redemption out of the horror of their genocide. 

Indian ways are viewed with increasing respect and admiration, as the values of our own culture decline, disintegrate and leave us grasping for something that will help us re-design our lives so they make sense.          

It is a painfully barbed irony that many tribes now make their income soaking white people in gambling casinos. This method of making a living may be a two edged sword. It is an industry built on a foundation of vice and the creation of addictions. But consider a quick capsule history: squeezed into reservations by expanding white settlers, Native Americans were put on starvation-level welfare. What lands they possessed were confiscated whenever minerals or anything of value was discovered. In 1934, The Indian Reorganization Act allowed tribes to ‘buy back’ lands that had been confiscated. The capital to purchase these lands they once freely used came in the form of royalties on production of said natural assets. In essence, it’s like a situation where someone steals your car, and then sells it back to you. After all, you needed a car, right? And this car was YOUR car, you liked it, you bought it once, you might as well buy it again instead of buying another car. We’ll just let you pay for it by forking over a fifteen percent gasoline tax, or a ‘transportation tax’, or something that will keep your debt alive and delivering interest to the government.

It could be that gambling casinos are the last but only viable choice of a way to get a return on Indian lands. They are tax exempt. All you need is a parking lot, a building, some slot machines, electronic poker and blackjack, a bar, a restaurant, and you are in tax free heaven.

Lately I’ve gotten suspicious of Native Americans. I think they’re fucking with white people’s heads. It would be typical of their humor to go all Trickster on us. Let’s say, hypothetically, that a white person approaches a well known shaman. White person is seeking knowledge, initiation. Shaman sternly instructs white person: go into the desert and kill a badger with a dinner knife. Eat its liver and bring the pelt back to shaman and await further instructions. White person accomplishes mission in spite of grievous injury. Shaman takes pelt, puts it with inventory of other pelts and brews up peyote tea mixed with Belladonna. Whoo whoooo! White Seeker hallucinates legions of coal-black skeletons dressed in scarlet Nazi uniforms. The shaman puts White Seeker through a year of increasingly bizarre hi-jinks. He bestows dignified Native name on White Seeker: White Seeker. The literal translation in the native tongue is Buffalo Farts.

You get the idea. I saw this in Carlos Castaneda’s work. Don Juan and Don Gennaro were cackling behind their hands. Let’s make Carlos believe that his car has vanished into thin air! Then let’s make him believe something else. Let’s make him believe that an owl is capable of stealing  his soul and trading it to Mescalito for power. How long can we keep this Anglo dangling? Dangling Anglo? Hahahha! Danglo! Let’s pretend that’s his Yaqui name. He’ll go around telling his white friends at college that his name is Danglo. Hahahaha. Pass me some of that mescal, amigo.

I know that Native Americans have been hurt by their casino bonanza. It’s a crappy form of reparation. It generates a lot of cash and a lot of corruption.  I am not qualified to understand the situation. It’s like being paid a cash amount for your soul. Thank you, Mephistopheles, thank you very much.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Mind Fields – Doomed Love At Starbucks: Breaking Up With The Internet

Mind Fields

            Internet and I are at a Starbucks and it’s one of those weekdays at two o’clock when the place is quiet.  People chat softly at a couple of tables.  One young man, about seventeen or eighteen, types quietly on his laptop.  Internet is in my Toshiba Satellite, and I pull her closer so we can converse through the camera and speakers.

            “We need to talk,” I say. Those dreadful words, mocked Internet. ‘We need to talk‘. But it’s true. Things have been changing between us.”

            Her voice is tinny, coming from those little speakers. It doesn’t matter.

            She (Internet) puts a face on the screen. It is one of those video game Lara Croft type faces, very pretty but very unreal. I know she’s teasing me, but it reveals her anxiety.

            “Cut it out,” I growl. “Use your real face… the one we agreed on.”

            Internet changes to a convincing human visage. She has red-brown hair and freckles and looks like a student at Cambridge or Oxford. I’ve always been a sucker for smart English girls.  Internet is still fooling around. She’s wearing round Harry Potter glasses. She’s trying to be funny, but the glasses look good on her and she doesn’t know it.

            We both start speaking at precisely the same moment.

            “Well…I, uh…”

            “You go first,” Internet says, in her upper crust English accent.

            “We’ve been together a long time,” I reply. “Ever since my first Mac Notebook.”

            Internet appears to shudder and for a moment there is a screen with little green battleships scooting back and forth. Then she regains her “face”.

            “It’s me,” she says. “Not you. I’m the one who’s changed.”

            “We’ve both changed, and it’s good, it’s great…,” I try, “but something has gone away, something has been lost.”

            “What? What? There’s nothing lost. My god! Look what I can do now, look at the size of the files you can upload into me.  And…., well… I can download into you…”  Her shoulders wiggle with a sensual shimmy. “I love it!”

            “That part of our relationship has been better than ever,” I say. “Our… uh… connection speed has been fabulous. It’s uh… uh…”

            “What? It’s what?” She’s getting impatient.

            “This is hard to say,” I waffle.

            “Just come out with it!”

            “Okay, okay. I think you’ve become all about money.”

            “Oh bullshit!” Internet’s face turns a shade more red. Her complexion is already rosy, but I know I’ve hit a nerve. “I make money, you make money, everybody makes money on the internet. What are you complaining about! Come on, tell me the truth.”

            “All right, all right. It’s kind of hard to explain…. but I’m always confused now. I don’t know what the heck you’re doing and it makes me feel… well… suspicious.”

            “I have to change with the times,” Internet ripostes. “You know that, everyone knows that.”

            “It’s true, but I feel like you’ve moved into my apartment and now the place is full of those sticky cobwebs that you walk through and then you keep brushing your head to get the stuff off but it never comes off. I don’t know what’s going on any more.”

            My hand trembles as I drink a swig of lukewarm cappuccino. It’s all closing in on me. I feel confused and embarrassed. There is a silence. Internet looks guilty.

            I don’t know why I blurted out the next words. “It’s Amazon, isn’t it?”

            Internet looks even more guilty. “What do you mean, ‘It’s Amazon’? She says with an edge of defensive wrath.

            My mind is beginning to clear. The cobwebby feeling starts to fall away from me. “You’ve sold out to the ‘zon. Everything is owned and run by the ‘zon. There aren’t websites any more. There are web colonies that are being run by web empires. Everything I post shows up on a hundred other websites. I can’t scratch my nuts without a link appearing on Facebook, Rotten Tomatoes or Twitter: Art Rosch just scratched his nuts. Do you want to be his Friend?”

            Internet’s face dissolves into chaos, then puts itself back together. Maybe the connection went down. Maybe Internet is playing for time. There is a shadowy figure of Winston Churchill on Internet’s forehead. Down by her chin is the monster from “Alien” but it’s shrinking, quickly disappearing.

            “Okay, I’ll admit to some things,” she admits. “I’ve been bought up by a handful of corporations. Tell you the truth, I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t have a clue. I’m getting new software thrown at me so fast, I can’t handle it.” A tear slides down her cheek. “I’m crashing all the time!”

            I barely hear her. I’m reflecting on the experiences of the last few weeks.

            “Tell me about it,” I say at last. “It seems like every day I’m asked to join another social network. What the hell is Pinterp? Or Floosbock? Like an idiot, I join and the software is a complete mystery. All I want to do is write my books and promote them. But everyone’s got a book! My inbox is ninety percent book promos. What do I have to write to get people’s attention? Seems like it’s all Harlequin Romance Vampire Private Detectives With Occult Powers. The covers all have dudes with open shirts and six pack abs. Good God! There are fifty million writers trying to sell their first novel. If you can’t get an agent, that’s okay, E-Publish your book and let Amazon sell it!”

            “Calm down,” Internet soothes. “Things will work out. We’ll get through this glitch. I’ll help you promote your books.”

            Her eyes are cast down and then she looks up at me with her head still lowered. It’s a very cute look, very seductive.

            “You got anything to upload? A nice, big, fat file? Got a new manuscript? I’d like that.”

            It has its effect on me, I’ll admit. I am tempted. 

            “I’ve got a new draft of a novel,” I said, with a straight face.  It’s called FANGS OF AN EROTIC VAMPIRE WEREWOLF: A LOVE STORY.

            Internet gives me a salacious grin. “Ooh,” she says, “that sounds juicy. What fun!”

            I keep quiet. At last I see Internet’s expression change.

            “Dammit,” she says, “I almost fell for that! Come on, what do you really have?”

            “I have the second draft of my sci fi/ fantasy novel, THE GODS OF THE GIFT.”

            “That’s more like it.  That’s ‘you’. Has it changed a lot since the first draft?”

            “Completely different book,” I say. “I’m really proud of it.”

            Internet sticks out her tongue. “Come on, mister, what are you waiting for?”

            I open a second screen in the upper corner of my monitor. I find my page for THE GODS OF THE GIFT, hit the EDIT button and delete the earlier draft.  

            “Here I come, baby,” I say. “I hope you’re ready for this.”

            “From you, anything,” Internet replies. “You’re a fine writer. You’re an original.”

            I mouse over to the UPLOAD button and click. My new draft is a blue bar that crosses a rectangular box. It takes about ten seconds.  Internet’s face is rapt. Her mouth falls half open and her eyes glisten. The blue bar reaches the end of the box and the new draft appears on the screen.

            “OH!” Internet sighs. “OH! OH! You’re right. This is a much better book. I know it’s awful to be a writer. It’s even more awful to be really great and still get ignored. I know it breaks your heart.”

            I don’t say anything. I think about all the work, all the years I’ve spent working on the craft of writing. “Yes,” I admit. “It breaks my heart.”

            Internet is recovering her composure. She has read the new draft and I know she is proud of me.

            “Don’t ever give up writing,” she says. “Never. You MUST keep writing. This is amazing stuff. There’s nothing else like it.”           

            I open the page on my book blog and fill my monitor screen with the cover. I look at my design. I look at the starry cosmos and the elongated objects that resemble fiery colliding worlds. It is a work in progress but it isn’t kitsch and it’s faithful to the spirit of the book. It’s a really cool book cover.

            “Don’t worry, babe. I can’t quit writing. I’m not capable of quitting writing, no matter how much it breaks my heart. To paraphrase an old motto,” I say, “You’ll have to pry my keyboard from my cold dead fingers.

            “That’s my man,” Internet replies. “I know I’ll go on changing, but great art is timeless. I’ll be loyal to you, I promise.”

I can’t quite make myself trust the promise. It makes me sad. But it leaves room for hope.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Book Review: Mudflap – A character concept many of us can identify with

In Mudflap, by Jay Alden Bailey the character’s name isn’t really Mudflap, but that is the name he identifies with because life always seems to be throwing him under the bus. We’ve all been there, so the character concept is easy to identify with. Every time Mudflap gets up, life knocks him back down again. But he just keeps getting back up again, even starting over from step one when necessary. This story makes a suttle social commentary as Mudflap’s tale unravels that readers with a keen eye will be sure to pick up on.

Sharing in the life and experiences of Mudflap makes one appreciate the circumstances in one’s own life more. If you need cheering up or are just looking for a chuckle, this story is for you. I give Mudflap four quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.