Stolen Quote: Truth

There is nothing so universally intelligible as truth. It has a thousand meanings, and suggests a thousand more. ~ Olive Schreiner, The Story of an African Farm


And so there’s no need to be a compulsive talker. If you want to say a lot without speaking much, just tell the truth.

Stolen Quote: Bedroom

It doesn’t make any difference what you do in the bedroom as long as you don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses. ~ Mrs. Patrick Campbell, English Stage Actress


Perhaps the sexual revolution can be traced to the advent of the horseless carriage.

Stolen Quote: Sleeping

How can you prove whether at this moment we are sleeping, and all our thoughts are a dream; or whether we are awake, and talking to one another in the waking state? ~ Plato


I don’t care whether I’m sleeping or awake, just as long as I can take a nap, in either state.

Stolen Quote: Religion

Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble. ~ Joseph Campbell, American author


Now if only the religious would just metaphorically try to convert me, I wouldn’t mind their religions.

Pasquala

I’ve taken a few jabs, in the past, at the Catholic missionaries who settled California. That’s because we all know they held natives prisoner in their missions. And they treated them like slaves and made them work the fields, weave baskets, and shine their shoes. And they forced them under penalty of torture to adopt Christianity.

Right?

Ahhhnnnkkk! Wrong answer, according to Catholics.

Catholics have a way of painting halos over the heads of the old missionaries. They point the finger at the conquistadors. It was the fault of the Spanish soldiers, they say. They’re supposedly the ones who exploited the natives and so badly mistreated them.

The priests were actually saints and heros, according to the Catholic Church. They were always intervening, pressuring the soldiers to back off and leave the innocent natives alone.

And there’s some truth to this. It was hard to recruit soldiers for mission-protecting work. As a result, many of the recruits had tainted pasts, and some were even recruited straight out of prisons. The Spanish government often had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find volunteers for such remote frontier work.

These low-life soldiers resented the priests and all their rules, while the priests kept a wary eye on the soldiers. The tension between these two groups could have been sliced with a sword.

And yet the two depended on each other. Four or five soldiers were stationed at every mission. Their job was to drink, wassail, gamble, fornicate, and occasionally defend the mission whenever the natives became hostile. They were scorned by the priests for their debauchery. And in return the soldiers despised the goody two shoes priests, whom they were entrusted to defend.

This dysfunctional relationship existed at every mission, including Mission Santa Ines.

Mission Santa Ines was established in 1804, in the middle of Chumash country, about 10 miles northwest of Mission Santa Barbara. The Chumash tribe was every priest’s dream come true. They were friendly, industrious, and welcoming to the missionaries. And they were always eager to help out these strangers from a foreign land, whom they thought they were hosting.

Danish immigrants settled next to Mission Santa Ines in the early 1900s. They named the town Solvang (meaning “sunny field” in Danish), and they constructed their buildings using authentic Danish architecture. This Danish windmill stands just a few hundred feet from the mission walls. Today Solvang is a major tourist trap destination, attracting a million visitors a year, who enjoy the photogenic buildings and Danish bakeries.

The Chumash were like Li’l Abner’s shmoos. They happily went to work building the mission, an aqueduct system, and agricultural enterprise. Their sacrifices made the mission a rocking success. And so the mission thrived, raising bumper crops, and growing vast herds of livestock.

And that attracted other tribes. Soon the Tulare tribe joined the mission activities. These folks were tough hombres, always making war and causing trouble. But at Mission Santa Ines everyone lived together in peace. It was kum ba yah time.

Mission Santa Ines was named for Saint Agnes. She was a 13-year-old Christian martyr of ancient Rome, who struck men blind when they tried to rape her. I wonder if this is how groping got started.

The priests felt righteous and satisfied. The soldiers were spoiled with abundance, belching, farting, and wallowing about like fat hogs. And the natives learned new ways to support themselves, living off the land.

Perhaps the good harmony continued because the natives were unable to decipher and translate a book one of the priests had sitting around, entitled, “How to Serve Man.” That’s what I suspect, anyway.

But in 1821 the good times went off the rails and tumbled down a rocky arroyo. Mexico won its independence from Spain. And the new Mexican government wasn’t as much into religion as the Spanish Royal Court. They said, “screw the goddamned Catholics,” and cut off support to the California missions.

The front portico of Mission Santa Ines. This mission was one of several that were destroyed by an earthquake in 1812. It was rebuilt in 1817 with thicker walls, in order to pass stricter building codes for earthquake protection.

Now the soldiers were left unchecked by the priests, and unpaychecked by the new government. They had to make a living somehow, so at Mission Santa Ines they began forcing the natives to work long, hard hours without pay, against the wishes of the missionaries. And no one came to their rescue. Not even Zorro.

One day in 1824, a soldier beat a Chumash woman. Or rather, he tried to “encourage” her to work harder. This cowardly act was the last straw. It felt revolting to the natives. And so the Chumash and Tulare tribes did just that. They revolted, and confirmed the soldiers’ beliefs that the natives were, indeed, revolting.

These indigenes were soon joined by Chumash and Tulare natives at nearby Mission Santa Barbara and Mission La Purisima Concepcion. And it became the largest organized uprising during the Spanish and Mexican periods in California. The day of reconciliation had arrived.

The mission fell into ruins after 1824, then restored more than a century later. Except for this column, which shows off the original adobe bricks.

Buildings were burned to the ground, and those that weren’t, were occupied by angry tribe members. They evicted the soldiers, priests, and their family members, forcing them to flee.

But surprisingly, few lives were lost during this revolt. This may be due, in part, to a little native girl named Pasquala.

Pasquala belonged to the Tulare tribe. This young girl got sick one day, from food poisoning. That’s right, even Native Americans occasionally eat the wrong berry or mushroom. She was brought by her loving parents to Mission Santa Ines, and the missionaries kindly helped her recover.

The entrance to the church.

The Tulare tribe didn’t like this. Not one bit. They were already getting tired of the padres, and they wanted to break off the tribe’s friendship. And maybe they were missing all the great fun that comes from making war and causing problems. So they decided to force Pasquala’s parents to return to the tribe.

One day they attacked the mission and killed Pasquala’s father while he was working in the vineyards. Then they kidnapped Pasquala and her mother and hauled them back to the Tulare village some miles away. They must have been rough on the little girl’s mother during all this action, because soon after, she died.

This was at the same time, in 1824, that the great revolt against the missions was fomenting. Pasquala was a nosy little girl, and she overheard her people discussing plans for a much larger attack on Mission Santa Ines.

She’d had enough. They’d killed her parents. And now they were going to kill the very people who saved her life. So as soon as she could, she slipped away from the village and ran back to the mission to warn the padres.

This is what you see after you enter the church. Especially when mass is not being held.

The Padres happened to be playing against the Dodgers at the time, but when Pasquala arrived, looking frantic and disheveled, they dropped their bats and balls and gave her their complete attention.

She cried out, “Padre! Padre! War! War!” She breathlessly warned them about the imminent attack, then collapsed and died from exhaustion.

This was too bad for Pasquala, but just peachy for everyone at the mission. Her warning came just in the nick of time. The padres and soldiers quickly prepared for battle and were able to repel the attack. Had it not been for Pasquala’s warning, the whole mission would have been completely destroyed and everyone inside massacred.

The church altar. Saint Agnes is the large figure at the top. Don’t touch her, guys, or she’ll be the last thing you’ll ever see.

Mission Santa Ines declined rapidly after the revolt of 1824. Most of the natives said, “ah, to hell with it.” They lost their enthusiasm for helping the mission, and few remained to keep it maintained. It soon fell into ruins and became a fixer-upper for the real estate market.

But let’s be fair. And I’ll even eat part of my hat. This was not due to the Catholic priests. It was the fault of the soldiers who mistreated the natives and who sparked the revolt.

Madonna, with baby Jesus, adorns this nook in the church wall.

Okay, I’ll admit it. Perhaps the Catholic Church has been unfairly maligned in the portrayal of their treatment of Native Americans. Perhaps even by me, although it’s not my fault. I must have been drinking at the time I wrote all those mean posts.

It’s a controversial issue, and maybe there’s been hyperbole on both sides. But one thing is certain. At least some of the natives were very impressed with the padres, and treated them with a love and hospitality that was reciprocated. There’s evidence of this. And some of the evidence can be found in the life of a young girl.

A little Tulare child who ran her heart out, named Pasquala.

Pasquala was buried with honors at Mission Santa Ines.

Stolen Quote: Toyle

Sleep after toyle, port after stormie seas; Ease after warre, death after life, doth greatly please. ~ Edmund Spenser, English Poet–from The Faerie Queene


Sounds great. I only want to go to heaven if they allow naps.

Saint Barbara

My first sort-of girlfriend was named Barbara. She and I were in the third-grade, and she also lived just down the street from me. We laughed and played together, and had plenty of fun, until the day I called her a whore. I didn’t know what that word meant, but I thought it was funny because I’d heard other people laughing when they said that word.

Barbara didn’t think it was funny.

It would have been better had I called her a saint. Just like Mission Santa Barbara, which my wife and I visited a few weeks ago. By the way, I’ve never called my wife a whore, and we’ve had a long, happy marriage.

Mission Santa Barbara is unique in a number of distinct ways. For instance, it was the first of the old California missions to be founded by Father Fermin Lasuen, who was the successor to Father Junipero Serra.

It’s located in Santa Barbara, California, which is arguably the most beautiful coastal town in the entire Golden State.

It’s the only mission with two bell towers. Smart. It’s always wise to have a backup. Legend has it that Saint Barbara was locked up in a tower by her pagan-worshiping father, from which she miraculously escaped. So perhaps this is why two bell towers were built at this particular mission.

The twin bell towers of Mission Santa Barbara. Seems the Catholics invented the world’s first stereo.

It’s been destroyed or severely damaged by earthquakes, twice, in 1812 and 1925.

The mission architecture is beautiful, but no place to stand near during an earthquake.

The Mexican government secularized the California missions in 1834, threatening the total loss of the mission system. But Father Presidente Narciso Duran came to the rescue. He transferred his headquarters to Mission Santa Barbara, and brought with him over 3,000 original documents that pertained to all the missions. This is the oldest archive in California, and remains a priceless treasure for historic research. And these documents have been used for the accurate restoration of the other missions, after they fell into ruins.

An old, out-of-use gateway to the Mission cemetery.

Mission Santa Barbara is the only one of the 21 California missions to remain under perpetual control of the Franciscan Order, from its founding in 1786, to the present day. The rest were sold off by the Mexican government after 1834, to Californios.

This side entrance, from the cemetery to the church, was reserved for pirates only.

Californios were the original Mexican landowners in California. They were unfortunate in several ways. First, their land was coveted by white settlers after the United States stole California from Mexico, during the Mexican War. The treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo guaranteed they could keep their land. However, the Californios violated this treaty when they sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War.

A basin of holy water at the main entrance to the church. Or maybe it’s God’s eyeball. I’m not sure.

Therefore, on March 18, 1865, Abraham Lincoln decided to grant a petition by a Catholic bishop, to return all the California missions back to the Catholic Church. The Californios lost out, but historical preservationists won a big victory.

Jesus asking a woman at Jacob’s Well for a drink of water. She was a Samaritan, considered one of the lesser races of people. And she’d had five husbands already, and was shacking up with her sixth lover. I mean, for Christ’s sake, what the hell was he talking to a woman like that for?

I can’t speak for my first girlfriend, because I lost track of her after grade school. So I don’t know what line of work she eventually pursued. But history speaks favorably to Barbara, the mission. It has always been run by a religious order. And it has been very instrumental in the restoration of all the other California missions.

This little niche is so colorful and inviting, I hardly feel sorry for the “poor” box.

Mission Santa Barbara has lived up to its first name. It truly is a Saint.

The church altar, in all its refulgent splendor.

The True Meaning of Christmas

A traditional nativity set on the church altar, at Mission San Gabriel, California.

Today is the real day of Christmas, so Merry Christmas everyone! Actually, today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. After today, our days will grow longer and longer.

This was the favorite holiday of pagans. They loved the sun. Worshiped it, in fact. And they got pie-eyed drunk every year, to celebrate its return from its southern retreat.

A recrudescent sun, peeking through clouds.

The early Catholics had a hell of a time converting pagans to Christianity. They tried torture, drowning, and mass murder. But apparently, many pagans would rather attend a mass murder than a Catholic mass. This had a lot to do with the bacchanal celebrations of the winter solstice. They were such a blast, nobody wanted to give them up.

This nativity set at Mission Santa Barbara, California, seems to have come from the Stone Age.

Finally the Catholics compromised and moved the celebration of Christ’s birthday to the winter solstice date. Nobody could agree on when Jesus was born anyway, so this was an easy move to make.

A modern nativity set, complete with hippies, at Mission Santa Barbara, California.

Imperfections in the calendar caused Christmas to eventually slide a few days past the solstice. But it’s still close enough, and besides, there aren’t many fundamentalist pagans around anymore to complain.

Solar eclipse shadow patterns projecting through tree leaves. Eclipses were more worrisome to pagans than the winter solstice, as they occurred unexpectedly, and unlike the winter solstice, nobody was sure the sun would return.

The Christmas compromise makes sense in some ways. The birth of Christ symbolizes new life for those who die, just like the returning sun melts away winter and brings new life to the land. And Christ is supposedly the “light” of this world, just like the sun.

This nativity set at Mission Santa Ines, in Solvang, California, is about 400 years old. I guess over the years, the three wise men, sheep, and angels must have all been dropped and broken.

I’m an atheist, but I like the sun as much as any drunken pagan. So I like what the winter solstice symbolizes. And after the winter of my life is over, I like to assume that there’s new life on the other side.

This nativity set at Mission Santa Barbara, California, depicts Christ being born in a canoe. Tsk, such a small place to be born. Perhaps there was no room at the ship.

I also like that we don’t have to be pagans to enjoy the benefits of our returning sun. And on the same token I doubt we have to be Christians to have eternal life. If there is such a thing as eternal life, then we’re living it right now. And we will always live it. There’s no getting out of something as enduring as eternal life. Just as there’s no keeping the sun from shining on earth.

The promise of a nice, warm sun, and eternal life. For me, that’s the true meaning of Christmas.

Sunrise over Long Beach, California, with an oil tanker promising warm furnaces, and eternal mobility for our cars.

2019: The End is Near!

If you hate politics as much as me, you’re gonna love this political post. I predict that the end is near!

My prediction for the year 2019 is that at some blessed moment, on some blessed day of next year, Donald Trump will leave office and no longer be our president. He will either be impeached and convicted, or he will resign.

But that’s not the end I’m prophesying. I’m prognosticating that within a few months after Trump leaves office, you’ll be able to tune into any cable news channel and watch for at least ten minutes without hearing the T-word.

Yes, the dreaded T-word is on the way out. No more Trump this, Trump that, Trump all the time, 24/7. And many news anchors and reporters will be laid off, because the T-word seems to be the extent of their vocabulary.

Finally we’ll be able to watch news covering other subjects besides our beloved president. And I do mean beloved, because we do so love to hate him.

Here’s why I think Trump is soon to be history. It’s all in the math:

Last month the Republicans got their red asses whipped by the Democrats, in the mid-terms. They lost at least 40 seats in the House of Representatives, to the Dems, and thus lost control of the House. And their bowels. And their bladders.

Yes, they did gain two Senate seats, as Trump is quick to crow, but conditions were very favorable for them in the Senate this election cycle. 26 Democratic senate seats were up for reelection, but only 9 Republican seats. The Republicans should have picked up a lot more than just two seats. And if Trump hadn’t been out campaigning so hard for them, they probably would have.

In the next election, Senate prospects will be far less favorable for the Republicans, because they will be defending 22 seats, while the Dems will try to keep their asses planted in just 12.

Right now, Republican senators must be shitting a brick every time they think about the upcoming 2020 elections. Donald Trump is highly unpopular in America. And with each new scandal, and each new revelation from the many investigations, his popularity treads on thinner and thinner ice. The elections of 2020 will likely be a massacre for the GOP in the Senate if something isn’t done about Trump, now.

Impeachment is a two step process. The House of Representatives does the impeaching. A simple majority of 218 votes is required to impeach. And there will be at least 235 Democrats sharpening their knives in the House next year. So the votes are there. Let the stabbing begin.

But Step 2 requires the Senate to do the convicting and removing. After the House votes for impeachment, Trump will be put on trial in the Senate. After the trial, two-thirds of the Senate will have to vote to convict and evict Trump from the White House. That means 67 out of our 100 senators will have to vote against Trump, on at least one of the many expected counts of impeachment.

Next year there will be 45 Democratic senators, and 2 Independent senators, that can be expected to vote for removal. Unless an asteroid strikes our planet. Or unless Yellowstone blows up and sinks North America. Or unless glacial ice-melting submerges Washington D.C.

Thus, at least 20 of the 53 Republican senators will also have to vote for removal, to rid cable news of the T-word.

I believe the Senate will have no trouble mustering those 20 Republican votes. Remember, 22 Republican senators will be up for reelection in 2020. And 22 more will face reelection in 2022. And so I suspect there are at least 44 nervous Republicans in the Senate who are secretly hoping and praying for the president’s early political demise, in spite of all the lickspittle public praise they heap upon him.

Otherwise their political careers may go straight down Trump’s golden crapper.

What they need is a premise. Some red meat. Something they can show to their fanatics, er, voters, that Trump really is the terrible person his new Chief of Staff said he is. You know, a con artist. A liar. And a corrupt sellout to countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia. The kind of stuff everyone who is not a Republican, or Donald’s Chief of Staff, is already aware of.

That way they’ll have an excuse to vote for his removal, while standing a chance at getting enough votes to win their Republican primary elections.

And we already have some red meat. Trump has been implicated in a scheme to violate campaign finance laws, by paying off the National Enquirer to silence women he’s had extramarital affairs with.

Remember Bill Clinton? He survived removal after he was impeached, when zero Democratic Senators, but 50 Republican senators, voted to convict and evict over charges stemming from a sex scandal. Yep, where Democrats have no morality, Republicans are loaded with it. They will not stand for any president to have illicit sex. Regardless of political party. Right? Uh, ahem. R-r-right.

But just to be on the safe side, I’m sure much more meat will be put on display at the butcher shop. Special Counsel Bob Mueller will issue his report, and the House of Representatives will complete a few investigations of their own. And the Southern District Court of New York will also do some snooping. Soon we’ll see meat on display with labels such as, “The Putin Penthouse Steak”, “Obstruction Sausage”, and “Trump Roast Tax Returns”.

And maybe there’ll be some “Collusion Calimari” on the side.

I predict that will be enough. That kind of meat is what Republican senators need, to satisfy their party. That is what they are secretly praying for, even while openly defending our orange oligarch.

And the sooner the better. Because the sooner they can get rid of Trump, the sooner they can get on with the business most important to them. Their reelection campaigns.

You heard it here first. My prediction for 2019. No more Trump, and the T-word is on its way out. The end is near!

God I hope I’m right.