Update 3/14: Greta nominated for Nobel Peace Prize.
The inspirational singular protests started by Swedish 16-year-old student Greta Thunberg that grew into an international movement of teenage girl demanding action on climate change, successfully convinced the European Union yesterday, February 21st, to spend hundreds of billions of euros combating climate change during the next decade. You go, gurls! To read how it all began, please click here.
Update 3/14: Greta nominated for Nobel Peace Prize.
Props to Swedish 15-year-old Greta Thunberg -- I see her as a modern day Joan of Arc leading an army of teenage girls-- for starting it all and to 17-year-old Anuna De Wever for getting inspired to bring Thunberg's peaceful protest to Belgium. Thunberg's protest over her government's inaction on the Paris Climate Accords began last September when she started skipping school every Friday to protest in front of the Swedish Parliament. Alone. Here's an early video of her showing how to change the world with the simplest effort.
When Belgium stepped back from ambitious plans to limit carbon in December, DeWever realized that she wouldn't be old enough to vote on these matters in the Belgium and European Union spring elections. She believed by the time the next elections came around, it would be too late for Gaia.
So, what's a girl to do? Well, she and her best friend, Kyra Gantois, posted a video on YouTube urging students to show up for a protest. They expected "only a handful" but got 3,000. In four weeks they have grown to 30,000.
Sadly Thunberg and DeWever have also been the brunt of overwhelming hate mail-- and DeWever has received death threats.
But something good has also risen out of these marches and their ever growing numbers. On March 15th climate strikers are organizing an international day of action. Jamie Margolin, 17-year-old founder and executive director of Zero Hour, is organizing the U.S. events.
Oh, God, how I love these girls and wish them well. Although I can't be with them with protest sign held high because I'm doing Sanctuary at the Miccosukee Embassy, I-- and my darling Haalie-- will be with them in spirit.
To learn more, please click here.
Update 3/14: Greta nominated for Nobel Peace Prize.
I was barely 18, pregnant, and certifiable because of the hormones raging through my body when I decided to get both sides of my head tattooed with spears. Oh yeah, "love" had something to do with it, too. After I abandoned Nokosee at the end of Book 1 because I couldn't see myself living on the run with him in the sweat inducing mosquito infested Everglades, it was my way of asking for forgiveness and showing my devotion to Nokosee and, which I thought at the time, was the cockamamie New Seminole cause.
Anyway, re the excerpt below (legible if saved to your desktop and opened), I had ran away from home to join up with Nokosee in the Everglades but before I got there, I got into an altercation with a high school football player on the way down. He dissed me and I put him down with a few choice and effortless kicks and jabs. Unfortunately, his classmates had recorded it all on their smartphones so by the time I got down to Miami, I was already "trending" and wanted by the police-- which I learned while sitting in a barber's chair in a tattoo shop.
After putting Haalie to bed last night, I started channel surfing. The Miccosukee Embassy has a great cable package so, although I'm basically imprisoned while doing Sanctuary here, I still get to see some mighty fine entertainment with just the click of a button. Anyway, I stumbled upon an old PBS show called Rumble about Native American influence on rock. I had seen it before but thought I'd watch it again because it really is worth watching. It got me to thinking about a chapter I left out of my second book. It would have been Chapter 26. The title was "Saint Vs Sinner" and it was about the time a famous Native American folk singer was kidnapped by Nokosee and his mother to perform for my father-in-law, Busimanolotome Osceola, founder of the New Seminole who, like the rest of us in the NS, were hiding from Uncle Sam deep in the Everglades. Everyone thought it slowed the pace of the book so I agreed to leave it out.
I wish I hadn't. I reread it following the TV show and thought, wow, it ain't bad and tells an inspiring over-the-top true story about when Mr. B (my name for the Chief) had his favorite singer perform for him in the swamp and how it almost came to bloodshed thanks to Indian Larry, a crazy high-strung NA wannabe from New Jersey.
So I'm going to publish it here. And, thanks to YouTube, the songs that were sang that night before it got dicey. The first one is about how babies are sent from heaven to lead us to our futures which had a major effect on me since I was pregnant with Haalie and discovered after her birth that it's very true. She was born in a bithlo in the middle of the night deep in the Everglades while it burned down all around us. Since then I can attest she is leading me on a different path just by being herself. (Spoiler Alert): I also suspect the spirit of her grandfather is abiding in her, having jumped from his mortal body to hers upon his ironic death only minutes before as he helped Nokosee and me escape our loosing route with Army Rangers.
As for those who haven't read my books, shame on you. :) However, if you choose to read the excluded chapter, please note "Demaris" is Nokosee's Cuban mother's first name and the real folk singer's name has been changed to protect her privacy. "Boom Box" is the NS bugler (he alerts us with recorded cavalry bugle commands during battle) and "Digital Camcorder Guy the Second" is the second NS videographer, the first having been killed in battle.
And this the song that got all of us crying.
Saint vs. Sinner
“You know, Demaris, you didn’t have to kidnap me.”
The voice and the sound of the plastic bamboo curtain being pushed away startles me. It’s around one in the afternoon and I’ve just come down from the top of my tree where I had spent the morning thinking deep thoughts to get something to drink. Thank God I’m only half naked. I scramble to throw a bikini top on and quickly adjust my loincloth as Nokosee parts the bamboo curtain so Mrs. B can guide a woman up onto the raised log floor. The woman is blindfolded and dressed in faded jeans and and a t-shirt.
“I would have been more than happy to perform for the Chief,” the woman continues. “He and the NS have been on my radar for some time.”
While Mrs. B helps her find her footing, I rush to Nokosee’s side as he lets the curtain fall behind him. For some reason, he’s got an electric guitar strapped around his back which is unusual since he doesn’t play. I grab his wrist and pull him aside.
“You kidnapped somebody again?” I whisper.
“Yeah, mom needed some help.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
He shakes lose and walks over to his mother who is removing the blindfold from the woman.
“Stormy,” Nokosee says with a broad, proud smile, “meet Joannie St. Collins.”
Ms. St. Collins is still blinking her eyes to adjust to the light when she smiles and starts looking for me.
“Stormy Jones is here?” she says all friendly like. “I’ve heard so much about you.” When she sees me, she moves towards me with open arms. “You are so special.”
She’s deeply tanned and her long black hair is streaked with gray and could be another Seminole for all I know but the thing I notice most is her smile: it’s big, bright and angelic. I don’t know what to do or say. It’s not every day you get such a loving greeting from someone your husband and mother-in-law just kidnapped. She grabs me up and gives me a big hug. I try to hug back while giving Nokosee a look that could kill since I got no heads-up on another kidnapping which he knows I have a problem with and the fact I look like a wreck and need a bath. When she pushes me away to look at me, I get embarrassed and wish I had done something with my Mo.
“It’s a great look, Stormy.”
“Thanks,” I manage to mumble. Then she puts her hand on my big pregnant stomach hanging out over my loincloth like a beer gut which really catches me by surprise.
“I’m sure the baby is going to be as beautiful as you are.”
Okay, I still don’t know who she is, but I’m really beginning to like her.
“When are you expecting?”
“Late May or early June.”
“Boy or girl?”
“I...I don’t know.”
“Neither did I when I had my babies. As far as I’m concerned, not knowing is the only way to go when it comes to having babies.”
“Okay,” I stammer. I mean, this woman is like a force of nature. I swear, I’m so discombobulated.
“So,” she says as she puts her arm around me and turns to Nokosee and his mom, “when do I perform?”
As it turns out, Joannie St. Collins is a famous folk singer and apparently Mr. B has a jones for her. Because of that, Nokosee and his mom took it upon themselves to kidnap her this morning before she got a chance to perform at some kind of Disney World folk festival or something. Instead, she’ll be performing live for the Osceolas-- and surprising Mr. B-- in celebration of their 20th wedding anniversary. Until then, the co-conspirators are stashing her in our chickee.
Whoe, what we Osceola women will do for love.
Mr. B is, of course, overwhelmed when he discovers a night of karaoke under the big communal chickee has been preempted for a special appearance by (drum roll please followed by Kermit the Frog shouting because at the time it all seemed so... comical)... Ms. Joannie St. Collins!
When Joannie (that’s what she insists I call her) walks out onto the log floor with the guitar Nokosee had been carrying a couple of hours earlier and stands in front of the mic, Mr. B’s jaw drops down onto his chest and stays there until he’s lifted onto his feet by his wife and son to join the standing O the NS are giving the living legend.
“Happy anniversary, Busi,” Mrs. O says, “from Nokosee and me.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” he asks while still looking at Joannie and clapping his hands.
“No kid,” she says.
Mr. B doesn’t know who to look at as Digital Camcorder Guy the Second records it all for posterity.
“Go ahead and kiss her, Micco,” Joannie says, her voice amplified by Boom Box’s sound system. “She deserves it.”
Mr. B does as ordered. When he parts to look at his wife, he asks, “How--” but is cut short when her fingers touch his lips. He grabs them, takes them into his mouth and starts sucking and kissing them.
Oh, Lord! Well at least I know where Nokosee gets his mojo.
Mrs. O extricates her fingers from her husband’s mouth and turns his head toward Joannie.
“Yeah, Saint!” he yells, jabbing his fist into the air. “Saint! Saint! Saint!”
As others join Mr. B in the chant I turn to Nokosee with a puzzled shrug. He doesn’t have a clue why they’re doing that either but that doesn’t stop him from joining the cheer-- until his dad grabs him in a headlock and gives him a noogie and a kiss on the top of his head.
When Mr. B turns back to “The Saint” to applaud and scream, I’m surprised to report he sounds, dare I say, like a leetle girl. I make it a point to yell as loud as I can over the NS cheering, whistling and applause so Nokosee and his dad can hear me.
“Why I do believe, Nokosee, your papa’s a big giddy fanboy!”
Mr. B stops screaming long enough to reply, “Fanboy, hell I’m a fucking teeny bopper when it comes to The Saint!”
Nokosee and I look at each other and start laughing. Call me crazy but despite what I know about Mr. B, that he earned his right to be on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List-- right up there with me and Nokosee-- I’m happy for him.
When everyone settles down “The Saint” opens with a fitting romantic ballad that makes the old and new Osceolas put their arms around each other and kiss. A few songs later, I get why they call her “The Saint:” her songs-- none of which I have heard of but get the NS to applauding and cheering-- come with a message, usually about standing up for what’s right and respecting the land.
When she gets off the stage and walks over to me and starts playing a song, I immediately grab Nokosee for support because that kind of attention makes me nervous and surreptitiously motion for her to sing to the Osceolas sitting next to us, not me. But of course, she doesn’t listen being “The Saint” and all and, after playing the opening chords on her guitar, reaches out and puts her hand on my bare stomach and leaves it there when she sings with true passion, never once taking her eyes off of mine, about how babies are sent from heaven to lead us. By the time she takes her hand away from my stomach to sing the chorus to Mr. and Mrs. O, she’s turned me into a blubbering, true believer. Oh, yeah, she’s the perfect choice for this bunch-- including me.
Especially when you read what she wrote on her guitar.
Yeah, when she was singing to me with her hand on my stomach, it kinda took me by surprise: This machine kills fascists. Thankfully she doesn't have a jones for rubbing out losers like me.
She saves her most famous and most moving song for last and sings it directly to the Micco. It’s a song about soldiers. Her voice and her words cut me deeply right down to my soul. I glance at Nokosee to see if he’s crying like I am. He is. I lean forward to look past him at his parents. They’re crying to. Hell, everybody’s crying. When she gets to the last lines in the song she looks directly at Mr. B The Sinner and reminds him that no matter what a soldier does in trying to make the world a better place, war is not the answer.
By now I’m crying like a big baby and have to cover my eyes because I’m so embarrassed.
“Micco, you can’t go on like this. You can’t win this fight.”
I look up. “The Saint” is using her guitar like a rifle, sticking the neck in Mr. B’s chest and it in fact looks like the Marines planting the flag at Iwo Jima. I look around Nokosee at Mr. B. He’s looking up at her with an unflinching, steady gaze. His tear-filled eyes are narrowed on her’s and there’s a slight smile on his face.
“So far we don’t seem to be doing too badly.”
Mrs. O collapses in on herself and tries to control her body wrenching sobs but she cannot.
Nokosee reaches across his father under the guitar/rifle to touch her hand. She yanks it away, gets up and walks quickly across the open clearing and disappears in the jungle hammock.
Nokosee goes after her.
Mr. B drops his head onto his chest.
“Micco,” “The Saint” says softly, “you--”
He raises a hand and cuts her short.
He tries to push “The Saint’s” guitar away from his chest but she resists.
It’s Indian “The Whistler” Larry. He’s suddenly standing next to Mr. B and aiming his AK-47 at “The Saint.” Mr. B, without looking at the guy, motions for him to relax as he looks up at the guitar wielding folkie.
“Now, now, Joannie, let’s not forget our non-violent roots.”
Indian Larry loads a round in the chamber of his machine gun to help remind her.
“The Saint” isn’t intimidated as she struggles to keep the guitar planted in Mr. B’s chest.
“As much as I love your music and what you stand for,” Mr. B continues, “it’s no match for the power of my vision.”
He sticks his fingers through the strings and into the guitar and starts to close his fist but “The Saint” won’t give up. I look around to see if anyone will help her but they won’t look me in the eye.
“Leave her alone!”
It’s me. I’m standing up and yelling at him and don’t know if I’m more angry or surprised I got all in-your-face over his behavior. Of course, he never acknowledges me but instead keeps looking at “The Saint.”
“Fuck this shit!”
Now I’m standing by “The Saint” and helping her pin Mr. B to his chair with her guitar. But it quickly proves to be a fruitless gesture as the old bastard methodically and effortlessly pops the guitar strings one-by-one and, despite our combined struggle to keep it firmly implanted on his chest, rips it from our hands. We stumble into his body and he pushes us back with the guitar.
“And you call yourself a peace activist,” he says looking up at her from his chair. “You should be ashamed. Just for that, no guitar for you!”
Mr. B breaks the guitar across his thigh and throws it on the ground. It looks so sad lying there all crumpled in the dirt. When I turn back to Mr. B, he’s slowly rising from his chair and looking like he’s about to bust a valve or something. I step in between him and “The Saint.”
“Leave her alone,” I shout. “She was only trying to talk some sense into your thick skull.”
By the time I finish my sentence, he’s already towering over me and my perspective on things suddenly becomes more realistic and hopeless.
You really got to learn to keep your mouth shut and to curb your impulses.
How come you’re never around to advise me before my faux pas?
Focus. The old bastard looks like he wants to slap your head off.
“You touch me,” I quickly add, “and you’ll lose Nokosee too.”
He doesn’t move. He just looks at me as if he’s seeing me for the first time and what he sees disgusts him.
“I don’t take lightly to threats,” he finally says.
“Yeah, I know, you’re the toughest motherfucker in the jungle but if you keep this up, you’ll be the only motherfucker in the jungle because you will have driven everybody away if you don’t kill them all first.”
Mr. B pauses and then lets out a great sigh before lowering his head toward his chest and his hand to his head.
“You know, little girl,” he says while rubbing his temple, “you’re starting to give me a headache.”
“Good. Think of it as my anniversary present.”
He chuckles over that one.
“Okay,” he finally says as he turns to us, “I’ll take it under consideration. Will that work for you gals?”
“The Saint” and I are both dumbfounded. We were expecting bows and arrows with the occasional Stinger missile thrown in for good measure and got an olive branch instead. Go figure.
“It works for me, Micco,” “The Saint” replies. She grabs my hand and holds it tight.
“Me too,” I say. The last thing I want is a riff between Mr. B and me. We’re basically all living on top of one another out here in the middle of nowhere and it makes life so much easier if you’re on speaking terms with the people you bump into on your way to take a dump in the jungle.
“Fine. Joannie, please accept my apologies for the way things turned out.” He starts digging into his pant’s pocket for something. “How much was the guitar worth to you?”
“Boss Man,” Indian Larry interrupts, “what are you doing?”
“What do you mean?”
“Let’s hold her for ransom. She’s gotta be worth something?”
“Hm-m-m,” Mr. B says slowly, like he’s actually considering it, “ransom.”
“I don’t know, Indian Larry. She hasn’t had a hit in... decades. She probably won’t fetch much.”
“That’s right, Micco,” “The Saint” chimes in, “folk music isn’t as big as it use to be.”
“Don’t worry, Joannie. I’m not going to hold you for ransom. I was just having a little fun with you.”
“Damn!” Indian Larry stamps his foot and walks away in a huff.
“Anyway, Joannie, what’s that guitar worth to you?”
“It’s priceless. It was my talisman against writer’s block.”
“What, you can’t write songs with another guitar?”
“Hey, what can I tell you? I’m superstitious.”
“Okay, but priceless I can’t do.” He pulls out a thick wad of cash. “But I can and want to reimburse you for your troubles.”
“Mr. B,” I exclaim, “where did you get all that money?”
“I may not be a great host, little darling, but I’m a helluva bank robber. Joannie, give me a number I can work with.”
“That’s okay, Micco. It’s insured.”
“What? Isn’t my money good enough for you?”
“The Saint,” being as intuitive as she is, knows it’s probably a trick question and pauses before answering.
“Make me a copy of the video and we’ll call it even.”
“A copy of the video?”
“Yeah. I mean, if it’s not too much trouble for you.”
“No problem.” He turns and nods to DC-G2. “Mind telling me what you plan on doing with it?”
“I liked what The What did with theirs. Maybe I can do the same.”
Aw geese. Too late.
“‘The What?’ Those fucktards. If I ever get my hands on them I’m going to kill them.”
“The Saint” turns to me with a questioning shrug.
“He thinks they squealed on us,” I tell her.
“Think? They did! For crying out loud, Stormy, haven’t you learned anything about the Outside. It can’t be trusted.”
“Micco,” “The Saint” says softly, “Demaris needs you.”
The Sinner takes a deep breath and nods he understands. “I’ll go tell her you’re leaving. Nokosee will take you back. Thanks for the great show. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
“Me too,” “The Saint” replies.
“Oh, by the way,” The Sinner says as an afterthought, “would you mind listening to my CD? It’d be cool if you dug one of my songs enough to record it.”
"High school boys marching against women's reproductive rights taunting an older man who is there to bring to light missing and murdered indigenous women. Is this what all that money for a catholic education pays for?"
-- Hannah Balaban, FB
The white, entitled, God-fearing Catholic teen boys from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Ky., surrounded the Native Americans, shouting, "Build that wall! Build that wall!"
64-year-old Vietnam War veteran Nathan Phillips was walking near the Lincoln Memorial in DC, pounding on his drum and singing a native song with his group who were participating in the Indigenous Peoples March. The boys, in DC to show support for the anti-abortion group March for Life, were wearing Trump's red badge of courage, the red "Make America Great Again" hats. Emboldened by their numbers and the President's recent go-to words for mocking Senator Elizabeth Warren's claim to NA roots, and knowing God was on their side, blocked their retreat. One, his smug smirk now living in infamy forever, faced down Phillips and wouldn't let him pass.
I know if that privileged and feeling entitled punk had pulled that shit with me he would have found himself on the ground, that smile replaced with a painful grimace-- if he was still conscious.
I know, not very pacific on my part, but I'm from the Billy Jack school of confrontation and have a long way to go to reach Nathan Phillips level of consciousness. But I will start with a prayer, that the smug punk's life goes downhill from there.
What? Not the right kind of prayer? Sorry, but it's at least a start. Hey, maybe the priests at the school will get through to him and "change his life forever," you know, like in the movies. Yeah, maybe.
For those who think prayer isn't enough, you can petition the President to "stop racism against Native Americans" here. And good luck with that approach, too.
You have to understand that Nokosee had never seen a white person before until he met me, lost and abandoned in the middle of an Everglades fire (Book 1). I was running from him because I thought he was going to rape me. I had just kicked him in the nuts with my Doc Martens which slowed him up a bit but he was still hot on my trail-- albeit limping mightily-- when I saw the tops of an Everglade hammock rising out of the fire and thick smoke. I ran for it, screaming and thrashing through the burning sawgrass, my skin slashed and bleeding. When I reached the hammock, I turned to see how close he was and ran into the only tree on the hammock. It knocked me silly and I fell to the ground. When I turned around, Nokosee was stumbling out of the fire. Breathing heavily, he paused to catch his breath while unabashedly grabbing his balls beneath his loincloth to massage them, rolling them around like dice in his hand.
My first thought as I struggled to stand was: Indian sign language. My second thought as I turned to run again was: Fuck you!
But his knife stopped me in my tracks, stuck in the tree that had knocked me silly only seconds ago.
I grabbed it with one hand and tried to yank it out of the tree but it wouldn't budge. When I reached back with my other hand, that's when he jumped me, forcing me onto my stomach. When I rolled over to kick him again in the balls he caught my leg and... froze. He told me much later that he had never seen anyone with blue eyes before and will never forget the first time he looked into my eye.
That's right. He only saw one eye. My mighty Mo had settled across my face because I had jumped into an alligator infested canal to get away from what I thought was a mutant Miccosukee with a boner.* Later Nokosee told me seeing my one blue eye peeking out from under my wet pink hair reminded him of a weird 18th Century thing called "Lover's Eye Jewelry" where lovers sent miniature paintings of one of their eyes to each other, to be worn in a locket around their necks. He said my one angry eye looking up at him couldn't be contained in a locket, that it would burn a hole through it because of my fierce spirit.
Un hunh, that's one reason I married him.
Anyway, at that time, I didn't know he was a well-read Romantic as I struggled to push his sweaty body off of me. So, in angry frustration, I chomped down on his long black wet hair covering my face and shook my head from side to side. He yelled like a girly-mon, pushed himself up, and to my surprise, yanked the knife out of the tree and sliced it through his hair. My head fell back against the dirt and the second impression I made that day on my future husband was him looking down at a good sized clump of his hair in my mouth. He said he would have laughed if given half the chance but I spit it out like a "leetle girl" before I slammed my head against his. I was hoping that would stun him enough so that I could free myself but I discovered his head is harder than mine. The last thing I remember thinking before I blacked out was that I was looking up at the state tree, a sabal palm, spinning in the smoke and soot; fate's co-conspirator, planted there in the middle of nowhere to grow big and tall and to wait patiently until I ran into it so I could meet this pagan caveman (as I once thought of Nokosee) who had the most beautiful eyes.
Oh, and this is what I saw as he chased me across the burning Everglades and stepped out of the fire.
Yeah, you'd run, too.
At least until you got to know him. And then you wouldn't want to leave his side.
*I'm a shallow chick and thought he was disfigured (read the book). I've grown since then and am even known to not jump to conclusions about people and things I encounter for the first time. :)
If you read my first book you know those are the first words that came out of my dad's mouth when he saw me standing in Concourse D at MIA. Summer was just beginning, I was 17 and just graduated from Milltown High (a place I hated with a passion!) and, thanks to a divorce court judge, going to spend my 7th summer vacation with my dad, a proud ex-Marine but always unapologetic hardass and Chief Ranger of Everglades National Park. I had flown in from New Jersey and thought I'd wear what I and my mom thought was a way cool outfit (as you can see above). Mom took the picture and brought it down with her when she visited me and Haalie a few weeks ago. I had forgotten about it (the picture, not the outfit which I still think is adorable!). I had just come down the stairs with my suitcase and wasn't in any mood for pictures since the idea of sojourning with my dad in the heat and humidity and mosquitoes not to mention the Everglades fires (I swear it seemed like the damn place was always on fire when I was down there!) was not something I was looking forward to-- especially since it separated me from my boyfriend (a guy now I can't believe I ever dated! Ugh! What a creep!). Anyway, this is the last time my Mo was standing upright. When dad uttered those cold, hard, unforgettable words to me, my Pink Badge of Courage had already wilted in the humidity inside the airport.
"Yeah, I'm a freakin' flamingo."
That was me. You don't mess with a Jersey girl "with a chip on her shoulder."
Anyway, my Mo, like me, was crestfallen and dad and I hardly spoke on our way back to the Everglades in an open-windowed Humvee (it had AC but he refused to turn it on, telling me to get use to it). Upon circling over the Everglades to land at MIA, I looked out the window to see if it was on fire. It was but now I could SMELL the gray smoke and FEEL the white soot as it rushed through the open window and attached itself to my body, sticking to my sweaty skin, covering me, my to-die-for outfit, and my Mo with "Everglades Snow." My eyes were burning and it took all my willpower not to cough in the presence of the head banging jarhead driving hell bent for leather into the fire and smoke to Judas Priest on the radio.
Anyway, who knew it would take getting lost in an Everglades fire to meet Nokosee, the First of the New Seminole, a 17-year-old just like me, but on a mission to return South Florida (and now the State) to its rightful caretakers, the New Seminole? Who knew I would run away with him and his Cause? Who knew we would have a baby together, a girl called Haalapatee (Haalie)? Or that I would be doing Sanctuary at the Miccosukee Embassy, separated from him for years following our devastating losses with Uncle Sam's Army Rangers at Rendezvous Point deep in the Everglades?
Yeah. Who knew?
Mom was visiting Haalie and me at the Miccosukee Embassy yesterday where I have been doing Sanctuary. Before she divorced my dad we use to live in Miami Shores, Florida on NE 13th Ave and 99th Street when he just took on the job as the Chief Ranger for Everglades National Park. Perhaps it was the stress of driving each day back and forth into the boondocks with dad leaving before sunrise and returning long after sunset, but within a year of moving here, mom had had enough of raising me "alone" (her word) in the "heat and humidity" (she hated living here) and divorced the guy, taking me back with a yanking hand (as I remember it) to New Jersey (read my books).
Anyway, she brought an old picture of me hoisting up a book into the banyan tree on the side of our house. You can see my dad's old boat in the background. And blue tarps on the roof of the house, his solution to a leaky roof.
Seeing that old photo brought back some fond and not so fond memories. I truly loved that tree and would spend hours on end up in its branches to read and to get away from the shouting and cursing of my parents down below. I distinctly remember the day it was taken. It was early in the morning, the sun was just rising and because my father took the picture, it was on a Saturday or Sunday when he was home. He encouraged me to climb trees and again, if you read my books, got me into karate by the time I was twelve because, by God, he may not have a son but that doesn't mean he can't make me the son he never had!
He was laughing when he saw me up there and snapped the picture. Mom, on the other hand, was screaming her head off while simultaneously scolding dad for cheering me on and yelling up at me to "get down from there this minute before you break your neck!"
New Seminole Osceola Beer has an ABV of 28% and is proudly illegal in 15 states. Based on the ancient and legendary ritual "Black Drink" brewed by many Southeastern U.S. tribes, we choose to brand it with the English corruption of its Seminole name: Osceola!
The Muscogee peoples call the black drink ássi. In ceremonies, the drink is passed around with each participant using the opportunity to sing (yahola). The ritual name for such a person is Asi Yahola (Black Drink Singer) and if said real fast (or slurred from too much brewski) sounds like... Osceola.
Right now the only place you can get it is deep in the Everglades on a camo covered hammock where Nokosee is setting up a craft brewery. All proceeds are going to "the Cause." If you read my books, you'll know that someday soon you'll be able to pick up a six-pack "at the third alligator on the right."
When Nokosee first introduced me to this... thing, I nearly jumped out of my... Wait, I wasn't wearing anything when he reached into the water, whipped it out and dangled it-- and I'm talking about the... thing, not that other "thing"-- in my face. We were swimming and making love in the water surrounding a lonely hammock deep in the Everglades. Just him, me and the... thing. Anyway, I couldn't get out of the water fast enough and yelled at him to stop, and to keep that squirming... thing away from me! He told me this is what happens when toxic chemicals are introduced into the Everglades.
At the time, I had just ran away from my home in New Jersey on my 18th birthday present, a classic Indian motorcycle with fringe saddlebag-- yes, I was spoiled but the bike was a bribe to keep me home, to go to college, and to fargedabou my loincloth clad, warpaint wearing psycho hunk down in the Everglades. Of course, if you read my books, you know it didn't work. And you'd know too that in the beginning I believed everything he said. Why? Because he was the "expert" about all things Everglades and just about everything I knew was sold at Hot Topic where I worked the cash register and sold shit to kids like me. But this... thing to me was something the Toxic Avenger would have as a pet and I believed the poor... thing had a muy bad encounter with some kind of toxic chemical that had floated out of the sugar cane fields up near Lake Okeechobee all the way down here. I didn't learn until yesterday that toxic chemicals have nothing to do with its looks.
It's the rare (about 50-years since it was last seen and studied) and legendary Florida Leopard Eel, a giant salamander with leopard spots and only a face its mother could love. Its called Siren reticulata (reticulated siren), and it belongs to a rare genus of giant salamanders called Sirenidae. It's two-feet of long and sinuous slime with only a pair of front legs. That stuff you see around its head, those are its gills.
Looking back, Nokosee probably was just trying to convince me to join up with the New Seminole to fight the Man and to save Gaia and, yeah, it worked because, who wouldn't want to save creatures from looking like Frankenstein monsters? I'll have to ask him if that's what he had in mind next time he visits the Miccosukee Embassy where I'm doing Sanctuary.
You can learn more about the... thing and the scientists who captured it here.
Holatte-Sutv Turwv Osceola.