Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Our Idiot Secretary of State John Kerry

Kerry Warns Israel Could Become ‘An Apartheid State’

"If there’s no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming an apartheid state,” Secretary of State John Kerry told a room of influential world leaders in a meeting Friday.

Way to go, Lurch. You have just provided potent propaganda fuel to an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, who already hate the Israel and their only ally, the United States. Al Qaeda will be quoting you in their recruiting drives for the next twenty years.

This is an outrage. This insulting language is a direct slap across the face of the Israelis, coming on the eve of Yom HaShoah, the memorial day commemorating the Holocaust.

I have been to Israel several times and I am here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. I have visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem - site of Solomon's Temple - on a Friday. The place was full of Arabs attending Friday prayers at the al Aqsa Mosque; as far as I know I was the only non-Muslim up there. It is forbidden by Israeli law for Jews to pray on the Temple Mount - a law that is enforced by Israeli policemen.

Highway signs in Israel are in Hebrew, Arabic and English. This is not the case in the Palestinian Territories, I can assure you.

While I was in Israel I saw a car with green license plates, and asked my Israeli host, "What is this? All the Israeli license plates are blue."

"That car belongs to a Palestinian."

"Oh? You mean there is a separation? Two classes of citizens?"

"No. This means that individual chooses to be separate."

I was then taken to the Knesset - the Israeli parliament - where Arab members of the Knesset were pointed out to me. "Those Arabs choose to be Israeli citizens. It is a free society."

Members of the Knesset Ahmed Tibi, left, Hanna Swaid, middle, and Jamal Zahalka, right during a hearing, Jerusalem, July 20, 2011 Photo by Emil Salman

MK Hanin Zoabi of the Arab Balad party seen during a plenum session in the Knesset on April 29, 2013 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Please name for me, Mr. Kerry, a single Arab country that has Jews sitting in it's parliament.


Monday, April 28, 2014


Check it out . . .

Here in Philadelphia on the radio they have 'Breakfast with the Beatles'. The DJ tells a little anecdote about the Fab Four then plays three songs from across their career. Today's anecdote was about their hectic lives in 1964. Every day was a blur from hotel room to dressing room to stage back to hotel room . . . and they were working on their first movie. It was Ringo who uttered the line, "It's been a hard day's night." One of the best lines ever.

So this agent, a guy called Lester, repeated this to the press, said the name of the movie is A Hard Days Night

Well John heard about this and he got kind of bent out of shape - John was like the big leader of the band, right?

At this point there isn't even a song written yet called A Hard Days Night. So John is kind of out of sorts, but he's dealing with all this success so he can't really squawk too loud, so he knuckled down and wrote the song, and it was attributed to Lennon-McCartney.

It was 1964. I was a kid, freshly evacuated out of Indonesia, The Year of Living Dangerously. We were living in Bondi Beach, Sydney, and I thought it was the most beautiful place in the world. I thought I had died and gone to Heaven.

I was in my first real school, Bondi Elementary. Not some bungalow in Indonesia but a real school. Then that song came out, and we were all crazy about the Beatles. It completely blew us away. I'd never even heard music on the radio before . . . suddenly the great tunes of the Fab Four, belting out at us from everywhere. It was all a first. Completely blew us all away.

We went to see the movie, of course, Saturday Matinee, blew us away even more.

I was 6 years old. The Beatles paralleled my childhood from that point on.

My Dad rejoined us from Indonesia . . . he had to stay back to close out the project. The next year we moved on to California . . . by that time my Dad had all these great American connections and that's where the Big Money is . . .

For Christmas that year in California, Mother presented us the Meet The Beatles album and we all sang along to all the songs over and over and over again.

That was the best Christmas I ever remember growing up. I was 7 years old.

We wore a groove in that album listening to it over and over and over. The next year Mother got us a NEW Beatles album . . .


That blew our minds ALL OVER AGAIN!

There's never been a band quite like the Beatles for offering variety . . . each album was like discovering a whole new band . . .

In the meantime we'd been fed a constant input of Beatles . . . the Help movie had come out, and every Saturday morning we watched the Beatles cartoons. Suddenly there was this NEW version of the Beatles.

The album cover showed them as a studio band, and it was obvious that Beatlemania was over . . . but the songs were even MORE AMAZING.

In '67 my Dad picked up another overseas contract and we moved to Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). Life there was . . . different . . .

We lived in these huge whitewashed cement houses with flat roofs you could go up an walk around on, sleep up there during the hot season if you wanted. Huge walled in yards.

It took them six months to paint the place because the walls were so high.

There were herds of cows walking up and down the streets, piles of garbage that people and animals would pick through . . . open sewers . . . no TV, no telephones even . . . if you wanted to communicate with another family you sent a servant over with a note.

There were packs of wild dogs and at night the jackals would come out, do battle with the shrews over the garbage heaps.

We'd hunt the jackals and shrews at night with flashlights and pellet rifles. During the day I used to hunt cobra - a constant problem in our backyard - with a baseball bat. That became my job.

Our entertainment was whatever we did outside, for me it was slaying snakes. There was no TV, only Saturday Night Movies at the USIS. All the rest of the time we were on our own. We kids had tons of time to develop our imagination and learning skills, so much better than sitting in front of a TV. We created some amazing things - one day I'll tell you the Saga of the Lone Penguin.

By the time I was in 5th grade I'd lost track of how many snakes I'd killed - DEADLY POISONOUS snakes! I never thought anything about it; the gardener taught me how to kill cobras and so I went about it like it was part and parcel of taking care of the yard.

Only time I had a close call was the time I lifted an old plank in the backyard and instead of a cobra it was a NEST OF VIPERS!!! Vipers are a HUNDRED TIMES MORE DEADLY than cobras!!! and a THOUSAND TIMES FASTER when they strike!!!

Cobras are NOTHING - they just flare up their hood and sit there all stupid-like waiting for you to beat their brains in with the baseball bat. Vipers STRIKE OUT at you with LIGHTNING SPEED and that's exactly what Mama Viper did to me! I had a split second look at a MOUTHFUL of RAZOR SHARP POISON FANGS COMIN' STRAIGHT AT ME!!!

I slammed that plank down on that snakes' head faster and harder than I've ever done anything before or since!

ANYWAY . . .

One day in Dacca Auntie Helen showed up. She was my mother's older sister . . . very beautiful, a very flamboyant personality. Auntie Helen used to show up wherever we were, reeling in from her latest adventure. This time she told us a bunch of confusing tales of riding the Orient Express through Yugoslavia, hanging out with a bunch of Serb Chetniks, talking all about the double-headed eagle. None of that made a lick of sense to me, of course, until years later when I was going in and out of the former Yugoslavia like the place had a revolving door.

Aunty Helen had no kids of her own, but she loved us kids, and this time she brought us the latest Beatles album!


What a brilliant album! We were all BLOWN AWAY ALL OVER AGAIN ! ! !

It was like "WOAH!!! Look what happened to THESE GUYS!!!"

It was ABSOLUTELY a big difference! But we still loved it - OH YEAH - who wouldn't ??? It's BEAUTIFUL MUSIC and it's withstood the TEST OF TIME.

By this time we were aware of the Beatle's trip to India, and that had special meaning to us because we were in Bangladesh, and we had already seen a pic of John with his wireframe glasses and short hair. One day Mother was reading the International Herald Tribune - that was our only paper - and she said "Oh look! Here's a picture of John Lennon with glasses!"

The Times They were a-Changin' . . .

It had started about eighteen months after we'd arrived but now the troubles between the Bengalis and their West Pakistani overlords were getting progressively worse. We pulled out just ahead of when it became full blown civil war, although we kids saw enough suffering & human tragedy before we left . . .

. . . horrific suffering that you simply cannot imagine unless you've lived in a place like that . . .

. . . suffering on a level with the greatest war crimes and human tragedies of the 20th century, I saw that as a kid . . . the place was a mess . . .

We ended up in Bangkok, and for the second time in my young life I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven. After Bangladesh, Bangkok was Big City, Shining Lights . . .

. . . a rich, vibrant exotic Oriental culture . . .



It was 1970 . . . the Beatles had just broken up which was a heart break, but I was starting 6th grade at the HUGH International School; BIG adventure. Several of our friends who were in Bangladesh were also there - it was the step-up for engineer families after "paying our dues" in the "Old Country" and the start of yet more interesting times for me!

Thailand is one giant playground full of fun & adventure! Mother used to take us on the trains and we'd explore all up & down Southeast Asia. By this time we were "Old Asia Hands".

We were in the night markets in Kuala Lumpur . . . a fantastic place . . . Any supplies we couldn't get in Bangkok were available there. We came across a record store . . . and my, my, my, there it was . . .


We purchased it of course - that was The Old Country for us - it was the Beatles first post-breakup release, with a lot of great Indian sitar artists.

Next followed All Things Must Pass

George Harrison's masterful triple album full of hits. Then Paul did the theme to that Bond film:


A superb tune, to this day. One of my personal theme songs.

In 1974 I spent my summer vacation down in Aussie, working in a factory in Sydney. It was winter down there and with my thin tropical blood I froze my ass off! The big deal that year:

BAND ON THE RUN album by Paul McCartney and the Wings

When I finally made it back to Thailand I made my way to the beach and lived in the sun & the sand for two solid weeks. Recharging the batteries.

Back in Bangkok the week before school started, I was hanging out at the Teen Club. I overheard this girl saying to another "Where did Sean Linnane get that DEEP TAN?"

Angie was a year ahead of me in school, a beautiful girl with copper colored hair and this amazing copper colored skin. Pink Floyd's DARK SIDE OF THE MOON was playing over the sound system. I asked her "What kind of music is this?" I'd never heard anything like it. Then we talked about the big album of the year: BAND ON THE RUN. Very different to DARK SIDE of course. Angie said she liked that song 'Jet'.

We became sweethearts . . . 'Jet' was "Our Song". It was very sweet and innocent . . . all we did was hold hands, hold each other tight at high school dances . . . make out a bit . . .

Nowadays whenever that song comes on the radio I text Angie and tell her "They're playing our song . . . JET" She always coo's and sighs over that . . .

Angie still has that amazing copper color. Nowadays she's married of course, but what she and I had was so sweet & innocent way back then it's not even an issue. In 1975 Angie's family returned to the States. There were a couple of letters, then I never heard from her again until the Internet phenomena picked up and nowadays we're all back in touch, the old Bangkok Gang.

By 1976 I was Big Man On Campus at the International School. By that time off course we were all heavily into Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Santana, and of course the mighty, mighty Led Zeppelin . . . those were the days! It was a time of great music, that's for sure!

Then John Lennon came along and BLEW US ALL AWAY ALL OVER AGAIN!!! The album I got that year was John Lennon's ROCK-N-ROLL

That picture on the cover of the album could have been me. I was Joe Cool. I especially like his renditions of Stand By Me and Be-Bop-A-Lula. I don't think there was anything John Lennon couldn't do well.

The years rolled by. I graduated high school in '77 and hung around Bangkok another year because I loved the place. When that became counterproductive I went back to Aussie. I went "home" hoping to get to know my homeland but for the most part I fit in like a square peg in a round hole.

Still I'm glad for the time I spent Down Under. I did and saw some amazing things. I hitch-hiked from Mount Gambier on the South Australian border, all the way up the coastal highway to Sydney, New South Wales.

I saw the incredible Ninety Mile Beach, and some of the most idyllic countryside imaginable. Sometimes people took me in, sometimes I slept in paddocks. One time I woke up in a field in the middle of the night surrounded by a herd of kangaroos. I just lay there and tried to make a sound like a bush, I didn't want to spook them and get stomped to death.

The Bush, near Bega, New South Wales

But ultimately I was spinning my wheels . . . then in December 1980 John Lennon's amazing album DOUBLE FANTASY came out . . .

He blew us all away AGAIN . . . he never failed! . . . but this is a poor choice of words because three weeks later he was blown away by that lunatic . . . sadness

About six months later I was in Melbourne, across from Flinders Street Station. It was winter, late afternoon and the cityscape shadows were getting long. There was this big jumbotron TV newly installed over the city square and they were showing a graphic of the Middle East with arrows & jets coming out of Israel and a radioactive symbol over Iraq. I know my geography so I knew where but I could not tell WHAT they were talking about.

It was the Israeli bombing of the Osirak nuclear plant in Iraq, of course. My thoughts were 'Oh My God, that lunatic killed John Lennon and now Israel's dropped The Big One'! I thought the whole world was coming to an end.

The Seventies were obviously OVER. Ronald Reagan had just been sworn into office on the heels of the whole Iran mess. My Dad was still working for the same American company he'd been with all those years in Bangladesh and Thailand, and an opportunity existed for me to get a Green Card.

I sensed my years of meandering between Melbourne and Sydney and wandering the Outback were over, it was time to get serious. I had to get my ass over to the States and get on board with the program.

I arrived in L.A. February '82 with my suitcase in my hand . . . ready to move on to the start of the next phase of my life . . . and life has never been the same ever since . . .

A big "Thank You" to Special Agent SUPERFREAK for coaxing this story out of me, and helping me write it down . . .


Saturday, April 26, 2014


Flipping back and forth between the local classic rock station and NPR to avoid the ads, a phrase caught my ear - "The Railway Man" - and for some reason I immediately knew they were talking about a place I know very well, from my youth in Thailand . . . S.L.

"The Railway Man" is based on the autobiography of Eric Lomax, a British Army officer who was brutally tortured at a Japanese POW camp during World War II. Lomax somehow survived — unlike many fellow soldiers — but came home broken and haunted, particularly by his ordeal at the hands of one sadistic Japanese interpreter. In his book, Lomax, who died in 2012 at age 93 (during editing of this film), chronicles what happened when he was able to confront the interpreter in person, many years after the war's end.

The "railway" in the title refers to more than one thing. As a child, we learn, Lomax was enthralled by trains. During the war, trains became a source of agony as he and his comrades, in captivity in Thailand, were forced to work under inhuman conditions on the infamous Death Railway, built by the Japanese with forced labor to link Bangkok with Rangoon, Burma.

The Bridge Over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, as it appears today.

Growing up in Thailand, my brothers and I visited this place many times on Boy Scout trips, and later on our own. It is a beautiful part of a beautiful country, but during World War II it was the site of an incredible horror - as bad as any concentration camp in Nazi Europe.

A cholera case in the Kanchanaburi PW 'hospital' - which was known as 'The Death House'

"The Bridge Over the River Kwai" made famous in Pierre Boule's novel, countless memoirs by Allied prisoners and the film of the same name, is actually located on the Mae Klong river - one of the branches of the Kwai. There were actually TWO Bridges over the River Kwai - the bridge built by the prisoners and Asian slave labor was a temporary structure, made of wood and did not survive the ravages of time. The bridge that survives today was also built during the war, and bears the scars of numerous Allied bombing raids.

In this unique wartime aerial reconnaissance photo, the older wooden bridge (built by PWs) is seen in the background and the 'new' bridge of concrete and steel is seen in the foreground.

It is said that for every railway tie on the Death Railway, a man died. The numbers are horrifying: about 180,000 Asian civilian laborers (romusha - enslaved civilians from Indonesia) and 60,000 Allied prisoners of war worked on the railway. Of these, around 90,000 Asian civilians and 12,399 Allied PWs died as a direct result of the project. The dead PWs included 6,318 British personnel, 2,815 Australians, 2,490 Dutch, about 356 Americans, and about 20 POWs from other British Commonwealth countries (the Indian Empire, New Zealand and Canada).

The cut at Hellfire Pass is now a memorial to the men who suffered and died there.

Hellfire Pass in the Tenasserim Hills was a particularly difficult section of the line to build due to it being the largest rock cutting on the railway, coupled with its general remoteness and the lack of proper construction tools during building. The Australian, British, Dutch, other allied prisoners of war, along with Chinese, Malays and Tamil laborers, were required by the Japanese to complete the cutting. 69 men were beaten to death by Japanese guards in the twelve weeks it took to build the cutting, and many more died from cholera, dysentery, starvation, and exhaustion.

One of several cemeteries established and maintained in the Kanchanaburi area by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Visiting the River Kwai as a youth, and hearing the story of the Death Railway directly from the men who built it, made an indelible impression on me that survives to this day . . .


Friday, April 25, 2014


“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us. Where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours . . . You mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away the tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace after having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well.”

- Turkish President and Gallipoli veteran, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1934)

Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, known nowadays as ANZACs, joined the British allied forces in Europe to fight in WWI. They landed at Gallipoli, gateway to the Ottoman Empire with the objective of capturing the capital city of Constantinople and providing access to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. They arrived in Gallipoli on April 25th, met heavy resistance and suffered major casualties in their 8-month long, unsuccessful campaign.

The Allied landings at ANZAC Cove.

Casualties awaiting evacuation, 1915.

Australian values were forged in the trenches of Gallipoli.

Wounded and sick soldiers boarding a hospital ship off Gallipoli bound for Malta.

During the 1920s, ANZAC Day became established as a National Day of Commemoration for the 60,000 Australians and 18,000 New Zealanders who died during the war. At almost 65%, the Australian casualty rate (proportionate to total embarkations) was among the highest of the war.

The Gallipoli campaign featured heavy combat . . . ferocious bomb and bayonet attacks. The Australian, New Zealand, Irish and English troops fought gallantly and, with grim determination, held their own against Johnny Turk.

ANZAC Cove today.

Over time, ANZAC Day has become a national Day of Remembrance to commemorate all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.”

It is very similar to Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day in the USA, or Remembrance Day in the British Commonwealth, and the associated ceremonies are just as moving.



Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;

Or close the wall up with our English dead.

In peace there's nothing so becomes a man

As modest stillness and humility:

But when the blast of war blows in our ears,

Then imitate the action of the tiger;

Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,

Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;

Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;

Let pry through the portage of the head

Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it

As fearfully as doth a galled rock

O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,

Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.

Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,

Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit

To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.

Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!

Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,

Have in these parts from morn till even fought

And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:

Dishonour not your mothers; now attest

That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.

Be copy now to men of grosser blood,

And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,

Whose limbs were made in England, show us here

The mettle of your pasture; let us swear

That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;

For there is none of you so mean and base,

That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,

Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:

Follow your spirit, and upon this charge

Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'

Shakespeare - KING HENRY V