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Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Many thanks for a $50 contribution from a long time supporter! Based in Durham, NC, he's currently working in Mountain View, CA.

Every dollar you donate helps me to roam through some of the most blighted neighborhoods of this country.

Without the internet, I wouldn't be able to publish my photo or prose accounts at all, but what nourish me intellectually also come from the outer fringe of cyberspace. It's sad and sobering that such valuable writers as Paul Craig Roberts, John Michael Greer and Dmitri Orlov also have to depend on donations to keep writing. Michael Rupperts committed suicide. The great Joe Bageant refused cancer treatment. He apparently had enough.

Six weeks ago, I had to head to California because my father was gravely ill. The inevitable happened, so I'm returning to San Jose for his funeral. Leaving tomorrow, I'll be in the Bay Area until next Wednesday. While in California, I'll try to head over to the Central Valley. I'll come back with photos and words.

Suddenly, I think of this Borges passage, "This is the end of the story of the forty-seven loyal men--except that it has no end, for the rest of us, who are not loyal perhaps but will never wholly give up the hope of being so, will go on honouring them with words."



Chuck Olroski said...

Linh: Carol and I are sorry to learn about your father's passing. Please extend our good will to brother Vincent and family. Sons are both working, will tell them later on.

Today at around Noon, there was a stabbing at St. Francis Kitchen. On school bus radio, I heard one person taken to hospital, another taken into police custody. I'm assuming the incident did not start over who either won or lost yesterday's Scranton School Board (primary) election.

Linh Dinh said...

Thanks, Chuck, and thanks for your prayer during my father's illness.

It won't be long before I head up your way. I'm really looking forward to walking around with you. If only life could be so simple!


Ian Keenan said...

Linh thanks for trying to talk me through the same thing during which time you may have gathered that I am the last person to consult on the topic.

Elizabeth said...

Linh, my thoughts and prayers are with you. What else to say? I didn't know that about Michael Rupperts and Joe Bageant. You break my heart and mend it, all the time. You do that for a lot of people. I wish more would clear out their ears and listen.

Linh Dinh said...

Thanks, Elizabeth, for your sweet, kind words.


Chuck Olroski said...


Re; "You break my heart and mend it, all the time." Beautiful and wise stamp of approval for what Linh does!

I believe Chau Dinh is alive, & is presently proud for what his son does in recognizing the pain & beauty of others, and as a "Postcard" result, helps us to live with OUR pain, and collectively strive to maintain inner peace in belly of The 1% Debt-Slave Machine.

Elizabeth said...

Hello Chuck!

Thanks. I want to say I love you schoolbus driving story! And I agree with everything you say here also.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for your loss Linh. Have a safe journey. Gordon in NE

Chuck Olroski said...

Elizabeth: I really like driving school bus, but my daily task only includes transporting generally peaceful kids, Kindergarten to 8th Grade. Other drivers must deal with students who are much less willing to abide by any rules but their own, and in such cases, the School District assigns a bus "aide" who daily handles mischief which sometimes results in violence & having to call 9-1-1.

As expected in our weird society, school bus drivers must undergo "Child Abuse Training." However, after a few harrowing round trips with Bonnie & Clyde 2015, seasoned drivers joke (?) about the need for D.H.S. to promulgate something like W. Bush's wildly popular "Deck of Cards" which would help identify te-R-R-R-or threats on the yellow bus!

Also, usually while stalled in in traffic, I often consider how broke both state governments and school districts are. Where is this going, Elizabeth? One cynical (like me!) can see the return of "good ole" days when students wore galoshes, and had to trudge a mile through snow in order to get to a classes under private national contract with... uh, let's say the Trans- National U. of Halliburton.

Best wishes to you!

Elizabeth said...

Chuck, I really wonder where all that money is going too. Somebody was saying the other day on a thread that in state universities, tuition only provides about ten percent of the costs of educating the students. I've heard this from administrators myself. So Ohio State tuition is 25k/yr. That would mean it costs 250k/yr to educate each student, per year. Whaaaat? And BTW, most come out clueless anyway, and deep shit in debt.

In my town, I was waiting for a bus recently and started talking to a teenage girl, and found she was taking a bus to her high school. No money for school buses? Her high school is four miles away. And this is not an especially poor community.

Get this, if you can stand to: the high school is being torn down this summer, although it is perfectly sound, because the state gave the city a big wad of cash to build a new compound. So the taxpayer will be paying for tearing down a building, buying trailers which will replace the school--the entire high school student body is to be installed in trailers on the property of a junior high for the time being, that is, until they can finish building the new high school--and of course building that new compound. I'm sure it will be just wonderful.

But you know what the schools always say: "It's all about the kids."

EEEEESH. I could go on and on!

Patricia said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Please know that I'll be thinking about you. You have touched my life through your images and your words. Godspeed.

Chuck Olroski said...

Elizabeth: re; "It's all about kids... deep shit in debt," and pass the ammunition?

After looking at your record of tuition at Ohio State, and as a U. of Scranton graduate (1986), I decided to LOOOOK at present tuition costs for an academic year at this Jesuit institution... $53,140.00! City of Scranton is on brink of bankruptcy, residents are targeted as means to pay police & fireman pensions, and a few months ago, Scranton School District announced they're in $10,5 Million debt. Uh, Quo vadis?

As the U.S. Education Tuition Bombs continue to drop upon shock & awed people, maybe the best thing for us to do is digest some wisdom from the past? Following is a quote from Michel De Montaigne's "On the Education of Children."

"Our pupil should be told: what it is to know and not to know, what the aim of his study should be; what courage, temperance, and justice are; what the difference is between ambition and greed, servitude and submission, licence and liberty; by what signs one may recognize genuine and solid contentment; to what extent we should fear death, suffering, and shame."

O hell, Elizabeth. I don't suspect De Montaigne's words will be plagiarized by ignoble "successes" who speak at Best & Brightest College commencements for $20,000 fee.

Elizabeth said...

Hey Chuck: I am very sorry to have to end my teaching career, and have no idea what I'll do next. I will miss the students and all the amazing conversations. Speaking of amazing, it is amazing how little they know after 13 years of being in school.

But the schools are getting really creepy. The only reason I can see why they are forcing me out is that they read my electronic communication--I suppose that's one reason their administrative costs are so damned high: paying for people to do that.

I doubt any of those "successes" giving the commencement addresses would know what the hell Montaigne was talking about. Great quote, though!

Ali said...

Elizabeth, Chuck,

Have you kind folks seen Tim Cook's (Apple CEO) commencement?

You can do well and do good!

Chuck Olroski said...

Ali: I completely agree with your proposition, "you can do well and do good."

Any work that does not harm others is good and honorable. I sincerely marvel at the brilliant people who engineered great bridges, dams, and subways.

However ingenious and "good" was Steve Jobs, on the same day he passed-on, the man who invented the "Pacemaker" died without hardly any notice. Although my father Charlie had one installed, I can not even recall his name.

For whatever it's worth though, Ali, I note that the world 1% have taken title (deed) to what they exalt as "well and good" for Mankind. Consequently, "doing well and being good" in the eyes of even low-level Wall Street Fatcats trickles downward to the masses in an impurification process. Indoctrinated Americans ingest attractive toxins which fall off the Rich Man table, desire more, and place all on credit cards, of course that is if the latter's still good, not maxed-out.

Too cynical, Ali? As recommended, later I will listen to Tim Cook's commencement speech. In meantime, there's a good chance that some of Tim's "good" seed fell upon good G.W.U. ground. Thank you for comment, made me think.

Ali said...

Hey Chuck,

I was actually being sarcastic but you interpreted that in an interesting way! I haven't heard his speech yet but I have seen posts and excerpts about it. In website I linked earlier, it says:

Cook stated that now more than ever you don’t have choose between “doing good and doing well.”

I suspect "doing well" here means making money. So you see, you don't have to choose in this corrupt society between doing good to society and making a lot of money. You can make a lot of money in Wall Street by betting against the future of a lot of people, and then once you make a billion dollars, money that comes from people like Linh's friend Anwar, you can go protect a rainforest somewhere. Doing well and doing good! Or better yet, you can create computer products, offshore manufacturing to countries where you can pay very little labour, flout laws, make people work unpaid overtime, make products that are status symbols, and do good!

I'm becoming more and more cynical, but I keep my hope and I try to purify it, to remove illusions and magical thinking. I want realistic hope.

I wouldn't recommend actually watching his speech unless of course, you wanted to.

P.S.: He's doing so much good by offshoring profits and reducing the tax liability of his company:

Elizabeth said...

Hi Ali:

I watched half of the commencement speech; I'll watch the rest later. But this is how I feel so far: Tim Cook's endorsement of the civil rights movement is nice but boilerplate. Then comes his endorsement of Steven Jobs as an example to emulate.

I'm not going to go into the digging for minerals in Africa to fuel the consumer frenzy to possess each new gadget, however infinitesimally minor the differences with the last one, or their genius in producing ipods that would die after a year or so and could not be repaired, or that factory in China that put up nets to catch the workers jumping off the building. All these things have caused much suffering and ecological devastation, despite their "world class recycling project."

I'm thinking instead of our interconnectivity through the electronic gadgets like the one I'm typing on. It's such a double-edged sword. On the one hand I've had the honor to meet some wonderful, brilliant people online, and learn so much. On the other hand, the internet has shut down the bookstores, and coffeehouses are now full of people staring into their screens. People walk around the cities and towns alike oblivious to each other. Do you see what I mean?

Chuck Olroski said...

Ali: Out of respect for you as a computer scientist, I failed to catch the sarcasm.

Although having worked in a (fucked-up/shyster) scientific industry for over two decades, I am not a scientist but since 2002 to date, I have enjoyed reading Carl Sagan's great book "A Demon Haunted World."

Although I barely know the difference between D.N.A. and D.U.I., I pay attention and know that, last month, 90 year old Alexander Rich passed away. He was one of the last of the pioneering biologists who created the modern science of molecular biology. Mr. Rich worked at M.I.T. for 57-years, hardly missed a day, and I suppose he became rich..., and might not have screwed anyone for a buck?

Essentially, I have difficulty in passing judgment even upon some of the biggest pricks in the U.S. In fact, I like Bible Thumpers who warn "Judge not that ye shall not be judged."

I will tell you a little small town story, Ali?

In the mid-1990s, Carol and my two sons lived at 111 East Hospital Street, Taylor. A nice old house which needed major repairs and we could not afford that. At any rate, next door lived Barbara Pane, a very nice and attractive big-breasted woman, in mid-50s and married to Joe, a handsome Italian guy, in tip top shape, worked Old Forge Liquor Store.

Barbara worked at Insalaco's Market for over 20-years, and she enjoyed taking care of their home, planted garden, and walked brown Lab, named Molly. Barbara always doted over my two sons, and I felt very bad on the night a PA State Policeman came to the Pane's front door, late one evening, in order to tell them their son Larry got killed in an accident on I-380 North.

Suffering and joy, joy and suffering.

One day, while I mowed lawn, Barbara came home from Insalaco's all excited. She told both Carol and I to "take a break, c'mon over and enjoy an ice tea!"

We sat at the Pane's picnic table, and she started to tell a very unforgettable tale of good fortune... for a change, involving a working man! Barbara explained how a guy (early-50s) who worked Insalaco's meat department went with his wife on a day trip to Atlantic City. As usual, they played the slots until broke, ate a "comp" meal, and walked the A.C. boardwalk.

Upon return home, the guy took the Garden State Parkway North instead of doing the boring PA Turnpike route. Raining out, Barbara's friend got off on an exit, and decided to pull over somewhere, rest a while, stretch legs. Only a 1/4 mile off the parkway, they saw a black limousine pulled-over on shoulder, and a soaked driver who struggled to fix a flat tire.

Rain fell hard, and the Insalaco meat worker stopped and provided vital help needed to change the limo tire, and get back on the Golden road. Upon completion, grateful, the driver shook the fellow's hand, returned to car. The limo's automatic window went down, and a voice inside commanded, "Go back and get that guy's name and address!"

Get this, Ali. A couple weeks or so passed, and the "Good Samaritan" went to his bank in order to make a house mortgage payment. Astonishingly, a Bank clerk carefully checked his account, and said, "O my Sir... your mortgage is paid off in full!"

Turned out (Holy Shit!) that it was Donald "The Donald" Trump's limousine flat tire that he changed. In 1999, the beautiful Barbara Pane passed away from cancer.

Finally, although I liked what Trump did, I'd still never vote for him, unless of course he'd consent to pay our June apartment rent!

Ian Keenan said...

Hey'all I just saw this today about "Where it all goes" in one such beacon..

Elizabeth said...

Hey Ian:

Well, what do you know? Don't try to seek too hard and maybe somebody else will find. Thank you!!! I'm reading through it. Incredibly creepy.

Rudy said...


Emotions don’t listen to reason, so you just have to wait for time to fake some meaning of the rough parts, if you can.

What you’re doing, and then recording here, is important. Along with others I look forward to your return.

Elizabeth said...

Hey Ali:
I didn't realize you were being sarcastic, so I'm a bit embarrassed! Yeah, the educators say, you can do both well and good. Hmmmmmm.

Dogtowner said...

This is for those who are not fond of Steve Jobs. I was at a seminar for kids in foster care and we had to listen to our governor (now senator) Angus King tell kids, "You can grow up to be another Steve Jobs." Thankfully, one of the kids in foster care got up and said, "Some of us have no desire to be anything like Steve Jobs." One of life's pleasures is hearing the truth spoken.

x larry said...

i've just read this and watched the tim cook talk. what a load of shit! oh, but there are always cynics and critics on the sidelines.
what on earth could this guy mean? he goes on and on--just a big apple infomercial--about changing the world for the better. really? with more machines? with more of the same business practices, with the same old modern 'way' (tao?) of rule by corporations? perhaps with more talks like this, inspirational talks by our betters, ted talks (my personal fave).
he sees life (that is, the futures of these graduates) thus: there are problems that need to be solved, injustices that need to be ended, people that are STILL being persecuted, diseases still in need of cure.
but can't we go into that a bit further than a soundbite? what about injustices? what about persecutions? let's start early in our hyper-controlled lives--with education, and with television. is it perfectly okay to indocrinate children, especially not our own children, and to pass on our perfect unwisdom? this, to me, is the ultimate in violence. what the first year of school does to a child (esp these days and esp in the uk, where i've seen this harsh, harsh system which, as one teacher told a parent friend of ours, turns out sausages) is an unspeakable violence. where's tim cook or steve jobs to come to the child's rescue? well, to be honest, very likely they're at the school's gates, fangs dripping, 'free' computers in tow.
i think i make my point--obviously no one's listening as this is an old post. cheers


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.