Alcohol and Drugs

Accident“And I’d like us to deal with the reason why so many people seem to want to use drugs and get high so much.

I’ll write about why I think that is in another post.”

That’s what I wrote in my “Getting High” post published earlier and this is the follow-up:

Our modern society is not based upon and does not encourage cooperation. It’s based upon and encourages selfishness. It’s good for the economy.

For example, we could have mass transit that is effective, runs on time and moves more people much more quickly and much more cheaply than the hundreds of millions cars on the road today does but the oil industry and the insurance industry and the auto makers are making hundreds of billions of dollars a year doing things the way they’ve been doing things for the past 100 + years and they have enough clout making “campaign contributions” to Congress to make the laws they want. And since most people want to be rich and famous and how they do it, for the most part, doesn’t matter that much is why there’s so much crime and so many people locked up (more than 2 million) in the country today.

Take a look at the newspapers, you’ll see shootings and muggings and robberies and burglaries and embezzlement and home invasions and rapes and molestation and gang activities and more crime. Why is that so? Because, as I say above, our society is based upon selfishness and it’s good for the economy. Law enforcement and keeping prisoners locked up to the tune of $48,000.00 a year times 2 million = What? Check it out on your calculator. You won’t believe the answer. Anyway, it’s good for the economy – That money is going somewhere.

At least it’s good for some people getting rich while most people scramble to make a living and pay their bills, mostly to the big corporations, which, thanks to George W. Bush’s Supreme Court choices, now say “corporations are people” so they have the same rights to make campaign contributions to Congress who make the laws as everybody else does. But it does nothing to the majority of the people who must live by the laws Congress makes or pay the consequences.

And what are those consequences? Well, besides the fact that a few hundred people have 95% of the money in the country and the other 5% is trying to make ends meet,  there’s depression and anxiety and divorce and crime (see above) and alcohol and drug usage.

I mean, come on, right here in Butte County it’s not safe to go walking in the woods because there’s so many marijuana farms that is supposedly for medicinal purposes. I guess there must be a whole lot of people who need to be smoking and eating pot for medicinal purposes because there’s enough pot being grown right here in Butte County to supply every man, woman and child with enough medicinal pot to last hundreds of lifetimes.

And alcohol? In the last few weeks there have been two college students killed and two bicyclists killed by DUI’s in Chico and there are thousands of others killed and hurt due to DUI’s. It is estimated that Alcohol is a $100 billion business in America, but it costs much more than that to repair the damages of alcohol abuse.

Some experts estimate that cost at more than $175 billion this year, but that’s a conservative guess — and it doesn’t include a lot of hidden costs: It includes the cost of imprisoning those who commit crimes under the influence of alcohol, for example, but not the cost of police departments to catch them or the justice system to weigh their guilt and sentence them.

It includes the cost of lost productivity to individuals, but doesn’t attempt to estimate how much that might cost employers or businesses. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates businesses lose $100 billion a year due to substance abuse.

It includes the cost of educating children with fetal alcohol syndrome/effect, but not the children with identical symptoms whose
mothers wouldn’t admit to drinking while pregnant.

And I attribute all of that to the fact that our society is based upon selfishness rather than upon cooperation and caring about other people and that causes a lot stress on millions of people. And I attribute the massive use of alcohol and drugs to people wanting and needing to feel some relief from that stress.

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How Safe is Your Pension?

workersEvery day 10,000 people in the US turn 65 years old and many of them have been working hard all their lives and paying into and looking forward to their retirement pension plans.

But the pensions that cover more than 10 million American workers are in jeopardy because Congress is now considering a plan to protect employers rather than worker’s pensions.

Many retires covered by pensions could see significant cuts to their benefits. Yes, even people who are already retired and living on their fixed income pensions.

Evidently some companies have under-funded their pension plans and Congress has proposed, as part of a budget deal, a cut in cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security, veterans’ benefits and other programs. That would make retirees get poorer as they grow older.

Don’t seniors deserve better than having their benefits used as a bargaining chip in a budget debate?

State and local government pension plans are also under attack. In early December, a federal judge approved Detroit’s bankruptcy plan, endangering the pensions of retired firefighters, police officers and other city workers. Detroit is not alone. Recently, the city of Central Falls, R.I., cut pensions for workers by up to 55 percent in its bankruptcy proceeding. Rhode Island effectively ended COLAs for retirees in 2011. That could cut benefits for retirees by as much as 40 percent over the long term.

In the private sector, some companies have under-funded their pension plans, then declared bankruptcy and dumped their obligations on the doorstep of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (which insures pensions, often for a lesser amount than earned). Many of these companies will emerge from bankruptcy pension-free, while some pensioners will get less than they were promised.

What can you do about it? Contact your representative in Congress and let them know you won’t stand for this. You don’t see Congress talking about cutting their pensions. As it is, as of 2012, the base salary for all members of the U.S. House and Senate is $174,000 per year, plus benefits that includes health insurance and life insurance.

This year, Congress is scheduled to be in session just 137 days. Considering there are 365 days in a year, that means Congress gets 228 days off. Not bad vacation time.

And since 80% of Congress members are millionaires, they have more time to enjoy their vacations and their safe pensions. I guess they deserve it and we don’t.





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Made in China

When Ronald Reagan was president, Big Business came up with a very smart way to increase it’s profits.

Why not have their products made much more cheaply in China and sell them for more profit?

The average hourly wage for a factory worker in the US is $23.32 and in China it’s $1.36.

The average workday in the US is 8.6 hours. In China it’s 12 hours.

There are no unions in China so labor is very cheap.

And since Ronald Reagan busted the Air Traffic Controllers union in the summer of 1981, when he fired 13,000 striking air traffic controllers and destroyed their union, it’s been downhill for unions ever since.

Reagan gave dedicated union foes direct control of the federal agencies that were designed originally to protect and further the rights and interests of workers and their unions. And Reagan was a role model for the virulently anti-labor George W. Bush who followed Reagan’s lead.

Remember Reagan’s “Trickle-down Theory”? It was the idea that tax breaks and other economic benefits provided by government to businesses and upper income levels will benefit poorer members of society by improving the economy as a whole.

This is the results of that Trickle-down Theory:

In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2010, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 35.4% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 53.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 89%, leaving only 11% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers).

The number of American workers in unions has been declining ever since and it declined sharply last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday, with the percentage slipping to 11.9 percent, the lowest rate in more than 70 years. The report found that the number of workers in unions fell by 612,000 last year to 14.7 million, an even larger decrease than the overall 417,000 decline in the total number of Americans working.

“It was a very tough year for unionized workers,” said John Schmitt, a senior economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. “We’re seeing declines in the private sector, and we’re seeing declines in the public sector.”

And now China has become the country with the second largest gross national product in the world and soon it will surpass the US in gross national product.

Meanwhile what happened as a result of this is millions of manufacturing jobs in the US have been lost and the products that were once made in America are now made in China.

And now It’s hard to find much of anything that’s not made in China.

And this has indeed increased profits for Big Business and it’s been so successful that most things that were once made here are now being made in China and of course, the jobs are gone with it.

 I’m sure it’s just a matter of time when we see China selling millions of cars they make sold all over the world including here.

So more and more money is going to Big Business and less and less is going to workers here.

China, which owns an estimated $1.28 trillion in U.S. Treasuries, is the number one investor among foreign governments, according to the July 2013 figures released by the U.S. Treasury. This amounts to over 22.8% of the U.S. debt held overseas and nearly 8% of the United States’ total debt load.

Big business is still making billions while workers in America are lucky to have a decent  paying job and if they do have one they’re not getting the raises they once were.

And pensions and health insurance? Well, that has been getting more expensive so workers have to work harder and longer to be able to retire.

Workers are thankful that they have Social Security and Medicare but Republicans are trying to cut Social Security and Medicare too so it’ll be interesting to see what happens as the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle class shrinks further.

So much for Reagan’s “Trickle-down theory.”

I guess if the Republicans have their way and continue breaking the unions in the US, labor will be as cheap in the US as it is in China. 

And Big Business won’t have to bother having to deal with China at all because they’ll be able to find cheap labor here.

Of Course by then they may have to ship their products to China because less and less workers here will be able to afford them.






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The Drought

Everybody knows that it is only a matter of time until we are all going to be using water meters to measure and to pay for how much water we use.

Why? Because much of it is being wasted.

We’re now hearing that Mars has dried up water canals but now does not even traces of water. It’s a hard, dried up, red rock that probably at one time contained life but contains no life. What happened?

And the main difference between Mars and Earth? Our atmosphere which protects the Earth from solar radiation and becoming another Mars.

How could the Earth’s fragile atmosphere not be affected by pumping in billions of tons of toxic pollutants into it?

We all know that water is one of the most important resources on the planet and it sustains us but what is water? When it’s not polluted, water is a colorless, transparent, odorless, tasteless liquid that forms the seas, lakes, rivers, and rain and is the basis of the fluids of living organisms. Water is the most abundant compound on Earth’s surface, covering about 70 percent of the planet. In nature, water exists in liquid, solid, and gaseous states.

Water is an absolute necessity for any life form but when water is polluted, it can carry all sorts of toxic chemicals which much of it does today and what it is polluted with can cause all sorts of illnesses and even death.

Since we know all this why have we been taking water for granted and wasting and polluting most of the water on the planet?

Is it just human nature or has water just misused as a commodity? Probably both but now that we’re having the worst drought since we began keeping records in 1905, it’s obvious we’re going to have to change our habits and be much more careful about how we use our water supply — and for that matter we’re going to have to be much more careful how we use many of our planet’s natural resources.

Just about every scientist in the world says that climate change is happening and that it is caused by human beings. That is everybody except for the people who benefit from keeping things the way they are. Namely Big Business who profit from it and the few scientists and people who are being paid by them to disagree.

They can deny it all they want but there is a strong, credible body of evidence, based on multiple lines of research, documenting that climate is changing and that these changes are in large part caused by human activities.

While much remains to be learned, the core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious scientific debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations.” — The United States National Research Council

There is a lot of evidence and examples of climatic change including the fact that oceans are rising, storms are becoming much more intense including hurricanes and tornados and winters are much colder and summer is much hotter, more volcanic eruptions, glaciers are shrinking, different species of animals are effected by it including beetles killing millions of trees and because of that there are more intense wildfires.

So what are we doing about it? It’s easier to say what we’re not doing about it. We’re still cutting down millions of acres of trees and still spewing out billions of tons of air pollutants that consists of chemicals or particles in the air that can harm the health of humans, animals, and plants. It also damages buildings. Pollutants in the air take many forms. They can be gases, solid particles, or liquid droplets.

Pollution enters the Earth’s atmosphere in many different ways. Most air pollution is created by people, taking the form of emissions from factories, cars, planes, or aerosol cans. Second-hand cigarette smoke is also considered air pollution. These man-made sources of pollution are called anthropogenic sources.

People experience a wide range of health effects from being exposed to air pollution. Effects can be broken down into short-term effects and long-term effects.

Short-term effects, which are temporary, include illnesses such as pneumonia or bronchitis. They also include discomfort such as irritation to the nose, throat, eyes, or skin. Air pollution can also cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Bad smells made by factories, garbage, or sewer systems are considered air pollution, too. These odors are less serious but still unpleasant.

Long-term effects of air pollution can last for years or for an entire lifetime. They can even lead to a person’s death. Long-term health effects from air pollution include heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases such as emphysema. Air pollution can also cause long-term damage to people’s nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs. Some scientists suspect air pollutants cause birth defects. Nearly 2.5 million people die worldwide each year from the effects of outdoor or indoor air pollution.

People react differently to different types of air pollution. Young children and older adults, whose immune systems tend to be weaker, are often more sensitive to pollution. Conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and lung disease can be made worse by exposure to air pollution. The length of exposure and amount and type of pollutants are also factors.

Global warming is an environmental phenomenon caused by natural and anthropogenic air pollution. It refers to rising air and ocean temperatures around the world. This temperature rise is at least partially caused by an increase in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases trap heat energy in the Earths atmosphere. (Usually, more of Earths heat escapes into space.)

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that has had the biggest effect on global warming. Carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels (coal, gasoline, and natural gas). Humans have come to rely on fossil fuels to power cars and planes, heat homes, and run factories. Doing these things pollutes the air with carbon dioxide.

Other greenhouse gases emitted by natural and artificial sources also include methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. Methane is a major emission from coal plants and agricultural processes. Nitrous oxide is a common emission from industrial factories, agriculture, and the burning of fossil fuels in cars. Fluorinated gases, such as hydrofluorocarbons, are emitted by industry. Fluorinated gases are often used instead of gases such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFCs have been outlawed in many places because they deplete the ozone layer.

Anybody can take steps to reduce air pollution. Millions of people every day make simple changes in their lives to do this. Taking public transportation instead of driving a car, or riding a bike instead of traveling in carbon dioxide-emitting vehicles are a couple of ways to reduce air pollution. Avoiding aerosol cans, recycling yard trimmings instead of burning them, and not smoking cigarettes are others.

My question is; Is it worth what we’re benefiting from doing things the way we’ve been doing things (and sacrificing our environment as well our health and our lives) or is it time that we start doing things differently and protecting the planet that sustains us?

2009-05-21_0000058   Subscriber-false   Marketing-false   Newsletter-   RegYSNewsletter-  MicroTransactions-false



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The Health Insurance Racket

Health care 2

Why should health care so prohibitively expensive? The U.S. spends $2.7 trillion a year, nearly 18 percent of the gross domestic product on health care and yet it’s not keeping up with the rest of the developed world when it comes to improving people’s health. Why is that?

The so-called “free market” for health care is not a market at all. It’s far from a market. When you go for health care, you don’t even know what they’re going to charge you. What’s up with that? What other “market” does anyone go to and not know what they’re going to charge you? Not to mention all the garbage fees of being charged hundreds of dollars for an aspirin and hundreds of dollars more to hand it to you and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

And while just about all opponents of Obamacare say the U.S. health care system is the best in the world, the statistics don’t support that. US life expectancy is not as long as lifespans by people in most of Western Europe and Japan. There are huge disparities across the US. People in states like Mississippi are compared to most of the rest of the states.

The standard fee-for-service system that encourages doctors and other caregivers to give lots of tests, individual treatments and to prescribe drugs, instead of keeping patients well keeps health care even more expensive. Of course It’s good to keep prices high and

According to Forbes, the insurance industry makes $900 billion profit a year taking payments from people and paying it to health care providers. Eliminate the middle man insurance industry from shuffling the paper taking payment from individuals and sending it to health care providers and put together a computer program to do that problem and you’ve just cut the price of health care 40 or more percent. Instead of 2.7 trillion a year for health care, it would be lowered to 1.62 trillion.

That means if you’re now paying $200 a month for health insurance (and it’s easy to be paying much more), you’d be paying $120 a month by eliminating the middle man and going to a program like Medicare where there’s no insurance middle man. The money goes straight to the health care providers.

So what I’m saying is get the insurance industry out of health care and the price you’re paying for health care suddenly becomes much more reasonable.

But you never hear that idea being talked about by Congress because the insurance industry is making “campaign contributions” to Congress and Congress responds accordingly.

So the problem with the health care racket is that Congress is not working for you and me. Congress is working for the insurance industry.

Health careHealth care providers


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Paul Walker

The horrible car crash that Paul Walker died in a couple weeks ago is tragic. He seemed to be a nice guy with the good looks and charisma and youth and talent that millions of people admired. I admired him too and I saw and enjoyed a couple of his movies.

And to die in Valencia, CA, home of Magic Mountain seems all the more tragic.

But if you Google “How many people die each year in the US from illegal street racing”, this is the answer you get: “An average of 135 people in the US die each year in street drag racing accidents — and 51 out of every 1000 racers get hurt.”

What does that have to do it Paul Walker dying? Well, as much as I enjoyed his movies and seeing him on the screen, I’m afraid that his six Fast and Furious (and soon to be seven) movies have romanticize illegal street racing and that many other young people are dying each year from street racing.

You know young people are looking for role models and the Fast and Furious movies are encouraging and glorifying and getting young people to emulate Paul Walker and some of the people dying are innocent victims that are just in the wrong place at the wrong time and in the way of street racers and that could be anybody. But nobody seems to be talking much about that

So as sad as it is to see Paul Walker die so tragically, I think it’s even more tragic to realize that hundreds of other people are dying from what is romanticize and encouraged by his Fast and Furious movies.

968full-street-racing-syndicate-screenshot Getting ready for an illegal street race


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“If You Want to See Your Son Alive Again….”

It was November, 1965. I was working at a job pumping gas at a Powerine gas station in Pasadena, CA. One morning at the end of my 8 hour graveyard shift I got a call from my boss telling me that the guy who was supposed to relieve me of my shift can’t make it so I had to work the next shift too, making it a 16 hour shift for me. Naturally since my shift was an all-nighter, I didn’t pack a lunch and by 7 0’clock the next morning I was starving and ready for breakfast. What to eat at a gas station? Well, near the cash register there were some snacks like beef jerky and swizzle sticks. I started grabbing packs of those and eating several of them along with some candy and cookies and milk. At about 10 AM my stomach began hurting and not getting better. It was getting worse. What to do? I ran to the bathroom and as soon as I got out of the bathroom, I had to run back in the bathroom. I did that several times. Meanwhile I had a bunch of cars lined up for service. I don’t know how I made it through that second 8 hour shift but somehow I managed to make it. When I got home I was doubled up and on the floor of the bathroom moaning and groaning and I couldn’t stop throwing up.

My dad saw me on the floor and asked what the matter was. I told him I was having the dry heaves and my stomach was killing me and I couldn’t get up. My dad rushed me to a nearby medical clinic where I was given some Compazine, both oral and suppositories. I took those and was feeling better for a little while and my dad left for work. I got up and was talking to my brother Richard and trying to go to the kitchen to get something to eat when suddenly my back muscles began forcefully pulling my head backwards and I dropped backwards to the floor hitting my head on the hardwood floor and having severe involuntary muscle reactions. My back was bending me over backwards and my muscles wouldn’t stop. My brother looked at me with eyes wide and said, “What’s going on?!” All I could say was, “Call an ambulance.!”

My brother called an ambulance and it came with the sirens wailing and the lights flashing and the neighbors coming out of their houses wondering what was happening while I was strapped onto a gurney, quivering in pain and unable to control my body and keep it from pulling itself backwards. They put some big rubber thing in my mouth to keep me from biting my tongue. I kept spitting it out and they gave me oxygen as the ambulance sped through stop lights to a nearby hospital where they had no idea what was wrong with me so I was put back into the ambulance and taken to another hospital where they had no idea what was wrong either. So I was put back in the ambulance and taken to the LA County General Hospital where a doctor asked me what happened. I tried to tell him but I was in such withering pain with such extreme involuntary muscle reactions forcing my back and head backwards that I was groaning and could hardly speak.

The doctor asked me where my mother was. I told him she worked as a clerk in downtown LA at the LA Country Assessor’s Office. He called my mom and told her, “If you want to see your son alive again get here within the next thirty minutes.” My mom didn’t drive. She took the bus to work so there she was, waiting at a bus stop in the downtown LA traffic and worrying herself sick about what happened to her youngest son and hoping and praying to see him alive again.

The doctor asked me if I was on any drugs. I told him about eating the beef jerky and swizzle sticks and getting the dry heaves and going to the clinic and taking some medicine.

“What medicine did they give you?”

“I don’t know. Some little yellow pills.”

“What size were they?”

“Some little yellow pills. I don’t know what they were or what size they were.”

“Where did you go to get them?”

“Some clinic in Alhambra.”
“What’s the name of the clinic?”
“Some clinic with some German name.”
“What’s the address?”
I just looked at the doctor and groaned and quivered in pain as my back was pulling and curling me backwards. All I could do was groan.

The doctor looked at a nurse and said, “Find the clinic in Alhambra with a German name and call them up and find out what this patient was given.”

Meanwhile the doctor brought a book of pictures of hundreds of different pills and forced me to look at them to find the pill I had taken and then he yelled at an aide to “Get that damned back brace on him before he breaks his back with those damned muscle reactions.”

Meanwhile I had to be held down as I was bouncing all over the bed as the doctor was trying to show me pictures of hundreds of different pills and I could hardly keep my eyes focused as I’m screaming and crying and howling in pain.

“Is that the pill you took?” the doctor said as the aide was trying to get the back brace on me and I was fighting him and howling and saying, “Yes, I think that’s the pill I took but I also took suppositories.”

“What did they look like?”
“Some big yellow waxy things that I had to put up my butt.”

More pictures were shown to me when I said, “Yes, I think that’s what they were.”

“He’s overdosed on Compazine. Get me some Benadryl in syringe immediately” the doctor yelled at a nurse.

The doctor shoved a needle into a vein in my arm and instantaneously my body relaxed and it was the most relief I’d ever felt in my life. At the exact same moment my mother rushed up to my bedside with a pale, worried look on her face and she no doubt was expecting to see me dead but I was laying perfectly still and falling asleep. I looked up and I could see the worry and the tears in my mother’s eyes as I looked up and said, “I’m okay, ma. I’m okay. Don’t worry about it.” and I fell back to sleep.

I was kept in the hospital for a couple more days until the doctor was sure the Compazine was out of my body and he gave me some extra Benadryl pills and a note to carry around with me just in case saying, “This patient is extremely allergic to Compazine and other thiazine derivatives. He gets extreme allergic involuntary muscle reactions to them. If he encounters them, give him intravenous Benadryl immediately.” which I carried around with me in my wallet for the next several years.

The next month I got my draft notice into the army. I went back to see the doctor at the LA County General Hospital with hopes that my near death experience would keep me out of the draft with a note from my doctor. But instead the doctor looked at me and said, “Oh, the army will be good for you. Just make sure you bring the Benadryl and the note I wrote along with you.”

I’ve often wondered what the doctor later thought knowing that I was drafted into the army as the Vietnam war was heating up and getting worse by the day. He must have known that I was surly going to Vietnam and who knows what happened to the patient who’s life he saved.

SrFelipe school photo 2 Phil 1964.

Mom at work in the 1950s (seated, front desk)  in downtown LA officeMom at work in downtown LA, seated at her desk with her boss overlooking her work. She didn’t drive and only took the bus to work.

Phil Coming Home Phil in the army. Book available on Amazon

Back from Nam Me just getting back from Vietnam with my mom at the LA airport.


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Me and Bobby and Jim and Vietnam


I turned 21 in Vietnam and I’d been back home for a few weeks. I was hanging out with old friends I knew before I was drafted, including a girl named Christina who was in my class in high school. We always liked each other and got together occasionally but our heads were in completely different places and we liked different things. She liked fancy cars and shopping for expensive clothes and going out to nice restaurants. I was more of a cut off jeans and T shirt kind of guy who liked to eat at taco trucks, but like I said, we liked each other so we still got together sometimes.

I’d go over to Christina’s house and hang out with her and listen to music or we’d go dancing or to the movies or sometimes I’d play poker at her house with her father and her brothers and sisters. One time while we were playing 5 card draw in the living room with her father and her brothers, I was dealt an ace of spades, an ace of hearts, a 3 of diamonds, a jack of hearts and an 8 of clubs. I put 5 bucks in the pot and I asked for 2 cards and I dumped the 8 and the 3. There was 35 dollars in the pot and I drew the other two aces. I bet another 5 bucks and so did everyone else. There was now 70 dollars in the pot. When it was time to show my hand I showed the cards one at a time starting with the jack which didn’t impress anybody too much but when I showed all four aces, everybody’s eyes lit up and Christina’s younger brother Bobby said, “Damn, Phil, you’re good at this.”
“Ah… yeah… well, I’m just lucky I guess.”
“Yeah, you are a lucky dude. You made it through Vietnam and you know what? I like who you are now even better since you’ve been back from ‘Nam.”
“Thank you, Bobby. But I think I’m the same guy as I’ve always been.”
“No you’re not. You seem much cooler and happier now. It makes me want to go to Vietnam too.”
“Really? You want to go to ‘Nam?”
“Yeah, I want to go to ‘Nam just like you did.”
“How old are you now Bobby?”
“I’ll be 18 in two weeks.”

A week later Christina called me up and asked if I wanted to go to with her to the beach at Playa Del Rey.
“Ah…Playa Del Rey? Ahh… I don’t know….” I said.
“Okay, I know you prefer Venice Beach. Let’s go there instead. I’ll even let you drive my new convertible sports car.” she said.

So I drove Christina’s new sports car to Venice Beach with the top down and the sun shinning and the music blasting. We played in the waves in the ocean and laid on the sand until we got sunburned and then we went to get something to eat at a taco stand and Christina said ”Let’s go to see a movie.”
“Okay. What do you want to see?” I asked.
“Rosemary’s Baby is supposed to be good.” she answered. “What do you want to see?”
“Not that. I’d rather see Bullitt or Barbarella.” I said.”
“Oh, those sound like terrible movies, Phil! How about Romeo and Juliet?” She answered.
“Oh…I don’t know if I can stay awake through that.” I said.
“Okay, let’s compromise. How about The Odd Couple.”
“Kinda like us, huh?” I answered and we both laughed.

So we went to see The Odd Couple and laughed our heads off. After it was over, while driving back to East LA, Christina said, “Oh, I almost forgot, Bobby wanted me to tell you that he’s joining the army next week.”
“You’re kidding!”
“No. He said he really likes who you’ve become since you’ve been back from Vietnam so he’s going to volunteer for Vietnam too.”
“Yeah and he’s volunteering to go into the infantry.”

I just sat there staring into space and thought, oh my god. How did I ever make it though Vietnam? I was just happy to make it back home alive.

Next thing I heard was Bobby graduated basic training with a lot of awards and he volunteered for infantry and for Vietnam.

While on leave before he left for Vietnam, Bobby came to see me driving Christina’s sports car. He had gotten very tan and had gained some weight and looked very muscular and had all his hair all shaved off. He took me and drove Christina’s car fast and crazy all over LA until we got to Tommy’s Burgers in The Silverlake District and we ate some of the best burgers in LA and he asked me to tell him all about Vietnam.
I told me everything that happened to me and I wished him luck. “You’re a strong guy, Bobby. You’ll make it through ’Nam no sweat. Just be careful and don’t take any chances.” I said as I hugged him goodbye.

The next day Bobby went with a couple of his army buddies to Las Vegas for a couple days before leaving for Vietnam. He was driving back home in Christina’s sports car at 100+ miles an hour the day before he was supposed to report back to the army and go to Vietnam when he rolled the car on a curve and he was killed.

I went to the funeral and could hardly recognize Bobby in his casket. He was in his army uniform. He looked like he was asleep but he was all bloated. His hands were placed on his stomach and I could see where his hands had been stitched up. It was one of the saddest days I’d ever experienced.  There were over 100 cars in the procession from East LA to the cemetery. He was only 18 years old.


The next year I was going out with a girl named Diana and she wanted us to go to Las Vegas so we drove to Vegas in my ’65 VW bug and we met some people there who told us about a big party at Parker Dam on the Colorado River. So we drove over to Parker Dam and we went to the party for a while and we decided to go camping out under the stars so we went to a nearby campground. During the night a big wind storm came up and it got so bad that we had to get into my car to keep the sand from covering us over completely.  We were sleeping in the car as the wind was blowing the car around and the sand was sand-papering and pitting the windshield of my car and sanding some of the paint off the fenders.

The next morning I could see the sand piled up in sand dunes all over the place including a foot high around my car. While trying to push the car out of the sand, a guy named Jim came by and helped me push the car out and over the sand dunes. He invited me and Diana to his house in Phoenix, Arizona where we went and stayed and partied with Jim and some of his friends for 3 days. Jim and I became good friends and Diana and I would go visit him in Phoenix and he’d come visit me in LA.

One day while  Jim was visiting me he said, “Hey, man I really like who you are and if Vietnam hasn’t messed you up any more than it has then I guess I’ll go into the army too.”
“What? You want to go into the army?”
“Yeah, well, I got my second draft notice last week and rather than throw it away like I did with the first draft notice I got, and worry about getting busted, I think I’ll just go in. I mean you seem like you’re an okay guy. For the  most part anyway. Hahaha.”

So Jim went into the army and we wrote each other back and forth a few times until he finished basic training and he was going into infantry training. He wrote me one more time and said he missed me and he drew a picture of me on the back of an envelope of a letter he sent me. He said he had just gotten orders to go to Vietnam

I really liked Jim but I never heard from him again and I don’t know whatever happened to him. I’ve tried to find him on Facebook but with more than a billion people now on Facebook, there are a lot of people with the same first and last names so I haven’t been able to find the right Jim. I only hope he made it through Vietnam in one piece physically and mentally.

It’s been years since Bobby died or I heard from Jim but I’ll never forget either one of them. They helped make me feel good about who I was at the time.

I only wonder if I should have discouraged them more from going to Vietnam.

Like I said, I was just happy to make it back home alive from Vietnam and, at that time, life felt like a cakewalk and I was happy and excited to be back home and I guess it showed. Of course that didn’t last very long and there was a lot more chaos ahead for me.

Phil in Vietnam, 1966Phil in Vietnam, 1967

Me in my room Phil back from Vietnam, 1968

HippiePhil Phil, 1969


Drawing of me on envelope Drawing of me on the back of an envelope. Drawn by Jim, 1969.




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My Dad and the Hell’s Angels

I was a kid maybe 7 or 8 years old. I was on vacation with my mom and dad and my older brother Richard in the high desert outside of LA. We went to a place called Lake Elsinore where we stayed at the lake for a few days and I played in the water and got so sun burned that I had huge, high, one inch blisters on my back from being in the sun all day long. This was before anybody ever heard of sunblock. I remember my dad popping the blisters with a pin and water pouring out of them. Then he put vinegar on my burning back saying that will make it all better. But it sure didn’t feel all better.

I was proud of my dad. He wasn’t afraid of anything. He was a strong man and what was called a health nut. He was a vegetarian. He didn’t eat meat or white bread or any junk food and he didn’t want us to either. He lifted weights and loved running on the beach and swimming in the ocean and he loved to put on the boxing gloves and box my two oldest brothers and their friends who were all young bucks and he’d never lose.

We’d been at Lake Elsinore for a week and my mom and dad had to get back to work so we were driving back home on some country road when a bunch of Hell’s Angels with all their insignias on their vests and some mean looks on their faces rode up behind us and got on both sides of our car with their very loud mufflers and they began taunting my dad who was driving his old 1941 Plymouth. My dad began slowing down and I thought, okay, you dumb guys, you’re messing with the wrong guy here. My dad is going to beat you up real bad – but my mom said, “Don’t stop. We got the kids in the car and there are too many of them.”

The bikers were yelling at my dad and giving him some mean looks and I was excitedly waiting for my dad to stop and beat them all up — but my dad just looked straight ahead and didn’t say anything – but you could tell he sure was thinking something.

I was disappointed because I thought the bikers needed to learn a lesson but I guess my dad had more sense than that and the bikers just passed us up and went looking someplace else to make some other poor people scared and – help some other little kid in the back seat of his daddy’s car learn when it’s a good idea to just let it go, keep your mouth shut and not do anything stupid.

Mom & Dad newlywedsMy mom and dad

Dad with the 4 boys hunting with 22's in Llano @ 1954My dad and my brothers hunting. That’s me in my father’s lap, @ 1952

hells-angelsHell’s Angels



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Making Aliyah and Marty

It was 1970 and I was going to Cal State LA. I’d been out of the army a couple of years and I grew my hair very long and bushy and grew a big beard and hung out with a bunch of other hippies at Cal State LA. Turns out that a lot of hippies were Jewish so this was pretty much my first time I was hanging out with other Jews besides my family who didn’t really celebrate much about being Jewish except during the holidays when my mom would try to explain to me what Passover or Chanukah was. I never really knew the difference and none of my 3 older brothers or myself ever had any religious training or had a bar mitzvah but I liked the hippies I was hanging out with and the progressive political and social ideas and values we all seemed to share.

I was hanging out with my girlfriend who lived with a group of other students in a  commune type household called “The Tribe,” It was a few blocks from Cal State LA and soon all my friends were hippies with all the trappings with long hair and bell bottoms and beards and listening to psychedelic music and smoking pot and taking LSD and going skinny dipping and enjoying free love and thinking we were going to help make a social revolution and turn society away from a system of greed and selfishness and embrace cooperation with our lifestyle of peace, love, sex and rock and roll.

One of my friends was a young Jewish guy named Sinai (like the desert in Israel) and his best friend was a guy named Sholmo who happened to be Israeli. We’d hang out on campus and would go to West LA where there were a lot more Jews and we’d celebrate whatever Jewish holiday it happened to be by joining with other Jews and eating Middle Eastern food and singing Israeli songs and dancing Israeli folk dances. Eventually Sinai and Sholmo began talking to me about “making aliyah” which means “ascent, going up” The expression is used when someone immigrates to Israel, it is called in Hebrew “making aliyah.”

“Yeah? What’s it like in Israel?” I asked Sinai.

“You’d love it! It’s beautiful there with beautiful desserts and the blue-green Mediterranean Sea and where you’re not the minority. It’s like a combination of Santa Monica and Death Valley not to mention all the historical sites and archeological ruins.” Sinai said.

“Yeah? I guess that would be kinda cool to see.”

“Well, me and a group of other college people are going to make aliyah to a place called kibbutz Gezer.” Sinai said.

“Yeah? What’s that like?” I asked.

“It’s like The Tribe where your girlfriends lives but so much better. We all share everything, not just living together but also sharing common interests, property, possessions, resources, work and income. We also have consensus decision making and, non-hierarchical structures and ecological living.”

“Wow sounds great!” I said.

“Well, we’re going to a kinus in New York in a couple weeks. Would you like to  join us?” Sinai asked.

“A what?”

A kinus. It’s a gathering of people and a unique opportunity for the sons and daughters of people considering making aliyah to draw the same energy and inspiration.”

“Oh… wow.”

“It’s a weekend retreat with a full schedule of well-planned activities including learning, trips and more. Throughout the weekend we’re all in a warm, spiritual environment with great food that is supervised by a dedicated staff of people from Kibbutz Gezer. They’ll fly you there and put you up for free.” Sinai said.

“Kibbutz Gezer? Where’s that?”

“It’s between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with 200 plus members. The kibbutz was established in 1945 on land purchased by the Ancient Order of Maccabeans in England, a philanthropic society founded in 1896. The pioneers were immigrants from Europe, who named the kibbutz after Biblical Tel Gezer, an archeological excavation located nearby.”

“Oh, interesting. What are the members like?”

“They’re almost all college educated American Jews. They’re from the first group of people who’ve immigrated there in a group called Garin Alef which means the first garin. Gezer is putting together a second garin that’s called Garin Bet.”

“Sounds good.” I said.

“Well, the kinus is coming up. It’ll be in upstate New York next month at a nice campground. Would you want to go? They’ll pay your air fare and put you up and feed you.”

I looked at my girlfriend and she looked at me and shrugged her shoulders.

“She can come too. They’ll pay for her too.” Sinai added.

So we went to the kinus and Sinai was right, it as a lot of fun with singing and playing volleyball and dancing and eating and laughing and having a lot of fun with other Jews.

“So are you interested in making aliyah? You can be part of Garin Bet.” Sinai asked when we got back to LA.

“Hmmm.. Well, maybe…”

“There’s another kinus coming up in a few weeks. Would you like to go to that one too?”

“Sure, why not?” I answered as I looked at my girlfriend.

We went to that one too and it was also a lot of fun and for one of the first times in m life I felt like I belonged to something. I met a guy named Marty who lived in New York City and was also considering making aliyah to Gezer. We hit it off very well and liked each other a lot and we hung out together in New York City and he took me all over New York from the Statue of Liberty to Harlem to Central Park to several of the museums. We had a blast hanging out together.

Marty took me over to his house where I met his mother and his father and while eating dinner, his mother looked at me said said, “So you’re not really serious about going to live in Israel are you?” I looked up from my meal and looked over at Marty and shrugged and shook my head yes. Then Marty’s mother looked at Marty and said, “You know it’ll just kill us if you leave New York where you’re going to law school at Hofstra University, where it’s costing us an arm and a leg to go make aliyah. It’ll just kill us.”

I felt very uncomfortable and squirmed in my chair and looked at Marty who said, “Well, I’m sorry ma but law school doesn’t mean that much to me. Going to live on kibbutz Gezer feels a lot more meaningful to me.”

Marty took me with him to Hofstra University where he was going to law school to sit in a class with him and I had a hard time keeping my head up from nodding off trying to listen to the professor’s lecture but I could see what a big change making aliyah was going to be for my new friend Marty especially since his mother was dead set against it.

At the kinus when they asked me if I wanted to make aliyah and I answered “Yes” without even talking about it first to my girlfriend who looked at me with wide eyes and a look of “Hey, you forgot to ask me.” Then she said, “Phil we don’t even speak Hebrew.”

Sinai said, “For the first 6 months in Israel you’ll be in a Ulpan where you go to school for 4 hours a day to learn Hebrew and for 4 hours a day you work on the kibbutz.”

“Oh, that sounds cool. What’s it like?”

“Ulpan is especially popular among immigrants who go to live in Israel, it’s also very popular amongst tourists, theologists, historians, and those who study the Middle East and Semitic languages.”


“ You can take a Hebrew class in the US but Israel is truly the best place to learn how to speak Hebrew by immersing yourself in the culture. Even though many people in Israel speak English, there are always opportunities to learn Hebrew wherever you go. This gives you a chance to get real-world experience that you cannot get anywhere else in the world.”

So my girlfriend and I began getting into the consciousness of making aliyah and wondering what it was going be like. I called up Marty a few times and he said he was looking forward to us getting together again the at the kinus coming up in December in New York City. He was anxiously looking forward to leaving school at the end of the school year even though he only had one semester left and his mother wanting him to at least finish law school first. She kept saying, “Can’t you at least finish law school first? It’ll kill us if you don’t.”

In December some members of Garin Bet named Mona and Mordichai and a few other members picked me and my girlfriend up at JFK airport. I was disappointed that Marty wasn’t there. After a few minutes of happily catching up laughing and joking with each other while driving on the parkway heading to the kinus I excitedly asked, “Where’s Marty?” It was very quiet for a long moment when Mordichai looked back from the front seat and said, “I was hoping we weren’t going to have to tell you this, Phil, cause we know how much you and Marty liked each other.”

“Ahh…yeah? What? He’s not going to make aliyah after all?! What? He chickened out?”

“Well, Phil, I hate to tell you this but Marty passed away two weeks ago.”

“What?! You’re kidding!

“No, I’m not kidding.”

What are you talking about? How could that have happened?!”

Mordichai looked at me and softly said, “I hate to tell you, Phil but Marty died while working out at the gym trying to bench press too much weight.”

“What?! You got to be kidding me?!”

“I wish I was, Phil. I’m really sorry to tell you. Kinda was hoping you weren’t going to ask about Marty because I know Marty’s a big reason you want to make aliyah.”

I sat there in the back seat for a few moments in complete shock. My girlfriend held my hand while quietly sitting next to me in the back seat and all I could think about was Marty’s mother saying, “If you make aliyah, Marty, it’ll kill us. It’ll just kill us, Marty.” Whoever thought that his mother saying that caused Marty to have even more stress and pressure in deciding what to do and maybe it was just too much for him.

I’ve often thought about and Marty since then and wondered how his poor mom and dad dealt with him dying so young. It was a painful loss for me but I’m sure nothing like it was for his parents. He was only 27 years old. I’m sure that suddenly the idea of Marty making aliyah didn’t sound so bad to his mom and dad after all had he still been alive.

I never made aliyah either. Instead, me and my girlfriend broke up and I moved up to Chico to go to Chico State and I’ve been in the area for the past 38 years.

Israel_outline_center_ta Israel. Gezer is between Tel Avia and Jerusalem near the West Bank.

Kibbutzgezer Kibbutz Gezer

Members of gezer Members of Kibbutz Gezer

Fire Pix



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