Saturday, January 31, 2015

Skid Row Diary 38

1  November   2003    Saturday   Day 112   Day After Halloween

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.” 
― William Faulkner

   I woke up screaming. It was just past 8:00. Too late to walk with Ron.
   I was shaking and too weak to get out of bed, so I read the Playboy interview with the actor John Cusack, brother of Joan, which is why I bought the magazine. 
   He had some interesting things to say... for an actor.
   Playboy: What’s the impact of the right-wing media?
   Cusack: They help shape the debate. They try to convince people that it’s unpatriotic to question things about this country. I don’t know if Ben Franklin or any of the Founding Fathers would approve of that trend.
   I don’t know about Franklin (actually he said, “It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”), but I know Teddy Roosevelt wouldn’t.
   “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”    
   I read an article written by George McGovern, supposedly about Howard Dean, but not really. He said some interesting things as well.
   “Today, store windows across the land carry posters reading 'SUPPORT OUR TROOPS.’  The best way to support our troops is to stop them from being killed in needless and ill-advised wars.”
   “Here are some of the things liberals have created. Social Security, Medicare, guaranteed banks deposits, rural electrification, the minimum wage and collective bargaining, the federal school lunch program, food stamps, WIC, aid to education (including the National Defense Student Loan Program), the women’s movement, the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, the gay rights movement, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the graduated income tax, and of course, the opposition to America’s war in Vietnam, which finally forced our government to withdraw from that nightmare.”
   Those are just a few liberal initiatives. It seems to me that the other side, namely the republicans, have spent the majority of their time denouncing, sabotaging, delaying implementation, and attempting to either privatize or dismantle each of these programs and movements, their goal seeming to be to pay for subsidies to corporations and the wealthy though the minimization or elimination of social programs that benefit a large percentage of the American populace. It would also appear that they somehow get a gullable portion of Americans to vote for them, and by extension these policies, which are clearly against the interests of anyone who is not wealthy or a large corporation, by the use of lies and manipulation. 
   Greed will always manifest itself in our society. It’s human nature, an immature aspect of human nature, but human nature just the same. So the republicans attempt to derail social programs to the benefit of the rich and powerful, in the hopes that they themselves will someday become rich and powerful (if they aren’t already) doesn’t bother me all that much and is to be expected, in the same way that ignorance will prevail until enlightenment graces those who require it. 
   But the willingness of so many Americans to be happily duped makes me sad.
   McGovern continued: “It has always struck me as ironic that some of our leaders who seem to glory in war, including our current president and vice president, have never been in combat. It has also struck me as ironic that President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the highest ranking U.S. general in World War II, refused to let the military budget go up one dollar during his eight years as president, even though he served at the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union and China. In contrast, Ronald Reagan, who had no military experience, let the Pentagon  have everything it wanted as well as some things it had not requested, including the Star Wars fantasy that proposed to put weapons in outer space.”
   Playboy is so informative.
   I updated my files on the computer in the day room, and cleaned my little room. I had about 8 cigarettes and left the pack on the table in the lobby for someone to discover. 
   I sat with John and another vet, an older white guy, for lunch. Veggie burgers. The old guy was complaining about the battery in his car being stolen. He was going to try to lock a new battery in his car some how so that it could not be taken easily. I recommended he chain the hood closed to the car’s grill so nobody could get into the engine compartment. He seemed to be all happy with that suggestion, saying it would be much easier to do and more effective.
   Such is my reason for existence. To be of help to my fellow man.
   I had the funds so I purchased a Super Lotto ticket on my way to the library. I chose 27 as my Mega Number, quick picking the rest. I also bought a copy of the L.A. Times.
   I wrote for a while upon returning to my room, and listened to Bill Gate’s father talk about inheritance taxon NPR. The Prairie Home Companion came on afterwards. Garrison Keillor interviewed some folk singers who at one time had been drug users... and not the good kind of drugs. 
   They sang the Ballad of Rusty the Dog.
    “He died chasing squirrels
    He died chasing squirrels
    He died chasing squirrels
    He laid down and just got sick

    It must have been a bad one
    It must have been a bad one
    It must have been a bad one
    Cause he threw up really bad

    I never liked him anyway
    I never liked him anyway
    I never liked him anyway
    I’m glad that he is dead.”

    Gillian Welch and David Rollings performed some beautiful songs, but Guy Noir, Keillor’s famous private detective, did not make an appearance. 
   That “Grease” song finally got out of my head... oopps! It’s back again.
   Damn it!
   I ate dinner with John. It looked like some kind of fish pattie.
   “So you don’t drink?” John asked.
   “No. I don’t. It’s not a good idea for me. I don’t get anything done, and I mean anything. I tend not to moderate myself when I drink or use drugs. Even marijuana, which is my drug of choice I guess. If I wake up in the morning and smoke a joint my motivation is shot for the entire day.”
   “Not me,” John said. “When I smoke a joint I feel motivated to do things...”
   “Right,” I said. “Me too. I’m motivated to sit around and watch Elvira movies all day. Hell, I even do that when I’m not stoned.”
   “Not me... makes me feel creative.”
   “Not me.”
   “Maybe if you just smoked in the evening...”
   “Well I’m not saying that I’ll never drink again, because I don’t place limits on myself. But I don’t really care for booze. It was just always easy to get. I mean they even have stores where you can go to buy the stuff. And maybe one day I’ll be able to moderate it’s use, but probably not. Traditionally alcoholics don’t do very well while drinking. One drink impairs my judgment, and then I’m off. I think I’d rather do without.”
   “And you don’t smoke?” he asked.
   “Not now I don’t. Do you?”
   “Yeah... I started up again.”
   “What happened?”
   “Oh, I had one drink, and that started it. Hey, I guess you’re right. I guess I’m just like you.”
   Not as good looking though, and he’s damn right I’m right.
   Later I attended the evening Drifter’s meeting. Mario led it. I volunteered to read from Chapter 5 of “The Big Book.” I did a masterful job if I do say so myself. I wore my black leather jacket as it’s beginning to get cold. I wrote, until Yvette spoke, who I stopped for in order to listen more closely. When she finished I began writing again.
   The meeting only lasts an hour. After I got back to my room I watched Paul Newman in “Sometimes a Great Notion,” which is a jazzy sounding title, which was taken from a Lead Belly song (oh, how that name keeps coming up! “Sometimes I lives in the country, Sometimes I lives in town, Sometimes I take a great notion, To jump into the river an’ drown”) and which has nothing to do with the story, although someone does drown in the film. Based on Ken Kesey’s second novel (his first being “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest”), the movie stars the lovely and talented Lee Remick, and Henry Fonda, Jane’s dad. Although I liked the movie, which I hadn’t seen since it first came out in the early 70s, the actors talents were wasted here. I still can’t figure out why Lee’s character left her husband, Paul Newman’s character. Okay, maybe he was a little emotionally unavailable and inattentive, but he didn’t cheat on her, and he was a good provider, didn’t beat her, and was smart, dedicated, and fairly good looking. But just when his dad and cousin die in an accident, she takes off. What the f___?!
   I need to remember that women are insane. If I keep that in mind life will be a lot easier for me.
   After the movie I watched the fourth and fifth episode of HBO’s “The Sopranos,” a show I got hooked on while living at the Frontier Hotel. 
   There was one more episode on the tape but I cut it off after the second and went to sleep. I dreamt I was washing a car with Joy Harmon from “Cool Hand Luke,” and Rose McGowen, out in the Oregon forests. Lee Remick and Shannon Dorerty came out of the large house to help. We splashed water all over and played. Afterwards, the Satterfield triplets, Sara, Vicki, and Rachel, took me deep into the woods to find and cut down a big Christmas tree.
   “But it’s just the beginning of November,” I told them.
   “Just keep chopping, good looking. We need lots of trees,” Vicki said.
   We chopped and chopped.

2   November   Sunday   Day 113             Day of the Dead

   “I was sorry to have my name mentioned as one of the great authors, because they have a sad habit of dying off. Chaucer is dead. Spencer is dead. So is Milton, so is Shakespeare, and I am not feeling very well myself.” -Mark Twain, borrowed from anonymous cartoonist

   Every morning I am supposed to sign in electronically at the front desk. Today, I not only signed in for today and yesterday, they wanted me to sign for three days back in March. I don’t know why. 
   After a nice breakfast of scramble eggs, I read the business section of Friday’s newspaper before heading out to the 9:00AM Drifters Meeting. Everything and anything you’ll ever need to know can be found in the Business Section.
   They asked me to read from Chapter 5 again from the Big Book of AA. Every meeting starts out with readings from Chapter 3 and 5, and the 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. Most people like the way I read it. The passion, intonation, and syncopation I yield keeps everybody up for the rest of the meeting. Some, after hearing me, start to cry.
   My reading was not the high point of the meeting however. That came when a disgruntled black gentleman stood up to speak and told everybody they were wasting their time. He was kindly asked to leave and refused, so the power to the microphone was cut off. That got him away from the podium, but didn’t stop him as he left Gladys Park from yelling as loud as he could, an invitation for the meeting’s facilitator, another black gentleman named William, to suck his cock. To his credit William passed on that, and the meeting resumed.
   After the meeting I walked west on 7th Street all the way to Alvarado and MacArthur Park where I received a check for $220.33, and $127 in food stamps from the check cashing place. I’m supposed to receive $221.00 and $139. The county is nickel and diming me to death. I shall need to look into this at a later time. 
   I didn’t cash the check there. Oh no, that’s what they want you to do, the bastards. These places that issue the welfare checks and food stamps always charge 2.5% for cashing them. Almost every other place charges only 1%. Capitalistic sons of bitches.
   I used 9$ of my food stamps to purchase food items at the 99 Cent Store. Chicken luncheon meat and cheese, crackers. The essentials. Eggs and bread. Top Ramen. A lot of Top Ramen.
   Then I walked back downtown. I spent a good two hours walking today. I didn’t mind. You get to see things while walking.
   I went to the same store where I had purchased my little coffee pot, but they didn’t have anymore in stock. There was one in the store’s window, but they wouldn’t sell it to me, which doesn’t make sense, to me at least. Why advertise an item that they don’t have? Please tell me. I really want to know.
   Sons of bitches!
   They did have an 8 cup coffee pot, and they really wanted to sell me one, but I didn’t think I could hide one that big underneath all of the Top Ramen I’d bought for that purpose, so I could get it past security at the Weingart. So I didn’t buy it, and returned to my room with more Top Ramen than what’s in the inventories of most third world countries.
   Tacos for lunch. I continued reading the paper, and meditated. Since it was Día de Muertos, I paid my respects to all of the dead people I know. My mom and dad. Uncle Hank. Alice and Lester. My friend Bobbie, and my sister just in case they were making an extended stay in the bone yard. It’s good to be proactive.
   I listened to rock music on KLOS for a while. And Venus Hum while exercising. 
   About half a turkey sandwich for dinner, then I spent the early part of the evening writing and listening to Led Zeppelin’s fourth album.
   Even though Halloween is over I watched The Simpsons’ new Halloween special. Homer became Death, and Lisa and Bart ripped off the Twilight Zone by finding a stop watch that caused time to stand still. They were very naughty when everyone else was immobilized. When the watch broke they spent the next ten years fixing it.
   I watched a CBS tribute to itself for being in business for the last 75 years, first in radio, then in T.V. 
   Everyone was there. Even Ginger and Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island. No Mrs Howell though, which is just as well. She really wasn’t my type. Good old Charlie Rose was there, as part of the 60 Minutes team. Mary Tyler Moore, Loni Anderson, Elvis.
   I also watched the new sit-com produced by Opie... er, I mean Ron Howard. “Arrested Development,” which parodies recent corporate scandals. It was pretty good, even though it was on Fox, which has taken off “The X-Files,” completely now... sons of bitches!
   I played a few episodes of “The Sopranos,” just to get a chronological feel for the show and it’s back story.
   When I got tired of fake violence and intimidation, I played “Support Your Local Gunfighter,” starring Suzanne Pleshette and Jack Elam. Jimmy Gardener, Harry Morgan, and Chuck Conners were in it as well.
   Although not half as good as the first, “Support Your Local Sheriff,” with Walter Brennan (“Get your finger out of my gun!”) and Bruce Dern, it’s still good for a few chuckles.
   I would fall asleep during the movie and would finish watching it in the morning. I dreamt I was stuck on a desert island with Tina Louise and Dawn Wells, who continually fought each other in order that I might favor the winner of their competitions
   Fortunately for me, Gilligan wasn’t around, blowing himself and the rest of the cast up in a freakish gardening accident, and I would never have to answer the age old question, am I a Ginger, or a Mary Ann kind of guy?
   I had both!

3   November   Monday    Day 114

   Up at 7:00 for scrambled eggs and cubed ham and onions. Mark and Brian spent the morning giving out love advice to a stripper. Giselle was wearing a black sweater and mini skirt. 
   It would be a good day.   
   I spent the morning writing. Trying to heat water for coffee in the microwave I’m forced to use because I don’t have a coffee pot, I just about made it to luke warm when the power went out in the day room. The computers, microwave, T.V. all out, and it would take the crack Weingart maintenance team all day to find the right circuit breaker that had tripped and turn the power back on.
   The power was still on everywhere else so I was able to finish watching the James Garner movie.
   My mother and father knew James Garner. He must have been a customer in our liquor store, or maybe a Kiwanis member like my dad. Who knows? My mom told me she last saw him at Disneyland. He’s still with us. My mom isn’t. She said he was a nice man.
   While leaving the sanctuary of my little room to use the restroom down the hall, a janitor I’ve never seen before yelled at me for walking on the wet floor he’d just mopped. Since my ability to fly or levitate is somewhat limited to vertical drops, I walked on it anyway in order to return to the relative safety of my room. 
   I continued writing after the movie, until lunchtime, then went to the ASAP meeting. Kathy was out lolly gagging somewhere, and a ratty looking intern filled in for her. I provided a urine sample after the meeting. Some good, clear, and fresh urine.
   I then  went to the library to exchange videos. I also wanted to print out some letters to John Manzano and Odalys (yes, I’m still looking for her, but she’s being very evasive), but when I had them all ready to print, the equipment desk lady came around whispering to everyone, “The printers not working, the printers not working.” I saved everything on to a disk and left.
   Jackie Guerrido’s still missing. I don’t know how much longer I can go on without decent weather reports.
   I spent most if the evening watching the Sopranos tapes I’ve gotten from the library. Interesting show. Very well written, directed, and acted, no wonder it’s won so many Emmys, although “The West Wing,” seems to win Best Drama each year. Starring Lorraine Bracco and Edie Falco, and James Gandolfini, who up until this show became a hit mostly played seamy villains. I remember Nicholas Cage beating the holy crap out of him in “8mm,” saying “I’ll never get tired of hurting you.” Those were his exact words to Gandolfini’s character who was a recruiter for snuff films. He still plays a villain in the Sopranos, and I feel no sympathy for any of the characters in the show. But Anthony Soprano is a villain we can empathize with. I can identify with Bracco’s character, the psychiatrist, for continuing to treat Anthony, although at a growing personal cost, because she’s fascinated with him. “Like watching a freight train crash,” is how she put it. I fall asleep watching most of the movies I borrow, but I haven’y yet while watching The Sopranos.
   I liked it when after Christopher was shot and in the hospital, clinically dead for one minute, he thought he’d been to Hell, which he truly believes to be his destiny. He described Hell to his friends as being completely filled with Irish people, and he would spend eternity playing poker with them and losing every hand. That probably would be Hell for a committed Italian.
   Beside all of the money and perceived power, I don’t think I’d ever like, or feel comfortable living in the world of the Sopranos, where family and friends, those who you love the most will smile and kiss you while planning your murder. Deceit, betrayal, constant danger, and that’s just from your friends. How could anyone be at peace in such a world?
   Upon reflection, the world I do find myself in right now isn’t all that much different.
   After watching the last episode I fell asleep and dreamt I was a doctor who lived in the Amazon rainforest, searching through the various types of flora for a substance that would cure foot cancer... the worst kind. A pharmaceutical company sent two biochemists to check up on me, Lorraine Bracco and Sharon Kane, the lovely and talented star of “Caper Cats,” “Lube Job,” and “Ass Clowns.” We discovered a particular flower that seemed to do the trick, but then found out it’s not the plant that cures foot cancer, but the ants that live in the flower. Unfortunately for us a logging company was building a road right through the area where all of the ants live and destroyed them forever. Discouraged, Lorraine, Sharon, and myself, go hopping through the trees of the forest, like Tarzan used to do, and we disappear, never to be seen again.

4   November   Tuesday   Day 115

   I watched another Soprano episode before going out for the day. A dried up pork chop for lunch.
   On my way to the library I stopped at the Needle Exchange and found McCree there, pretending to work.
   “What’s your excuse this time?!” I asked, trying to blame him for me not showing up for a walk last Saturday. 
   “What do you mean? I was there.”
   “Are you sure? I didn’t see you.”
   “You didn’t see me because you weren’t there.”
   “I wasn’t?”
   “Well, you may have something there. You know what happened?”
   “I forgot to set my watch back so I got there an hour early.”
   “Yeah, you’re right. I was held captive by  Lorraine Bracco and Sharon Kane...”
    “Sharon Kane? That name sounds familiar.”
   “Now remember, we’re going to the V.A. clinic next Saturday.”
   “Yeah, I know. Are you going?”
   “Of course! What time are we leaving?”
   “Man, I usually get there early.” He thought a moment, his eyes rolling up toward the ceiling. “I’m going to leave at about six.”
   “Yeah, you got to get there early cause there’s going  to be a big line...”
   “A line?”
   “Yeah, a line. A big one.”
   “Six o’clock?”
   “Okay. I’ll be waiting for you outside of your place at six o’clock. In the morning, right?”
   “Yeah! Of course in the morning.”
   “Okay. You’re going to be there this time, right?”
   “Man, go on with you. I’ll be there. You make sure that you be there.”
   “Oh, I’ll be there alright. You don’t have to worry about that.”
   “I’m not worried.”
   “Six AM?”
   “Yes Richard. Six o’clock in the morning, this Saturday, November... eighth, two minutes after five fifty eight, one before six oh one, right in front of my house.”
   “Your sure?”
   On and on.
   Ron’s sort of a no nonsense kind of guy, so it’s a lot of fun to bombard him with large doses of my special brand of bullshit. I have to be careful though or he may crack.
   No mail for me today, which was rather unsettling. My CA7 from DPSS should have been there waiting patiently for me to pick it up, fill it out and send it back. But the space it normally displaced within my mailbox was instead filled with free atoms of nitrogen, oxygen, and molecules of water vapor. And a smidgeon of ozone.
   I’ll have to go to the DPSS office if it doesn’t come soon. I hate going to the DPSS office.
   I hurried back to the Weingart for my Phase 3 meeting with Dahlia Sanchez. 
   She was late. Only one other self-absorbed, older black vet was there. We talked about budgets, and made a list of what our fixed expenses may be when we moved out. I listed rent, food, utilities, car insurance, cable, and Internet.
   “How about clothing, Mr Joyce?”
   “Im going to try and wear as little as possible,” I told her.
   The conversation drifted to how much we might spend on dates, or with our significant others if we had them.
   “Do you spend flamboyantly when with others?” Dahlia asked me. I of course immediately saw what she was trying to get at, trying to nonchalantly ask me for a date, and finding out how much I would spend on her.
   “Yes,” I replied.
   “You do?”
   “Sure. I don’t mind spending money when I’m with someone else. That’s what money is for.”
   “But you spend flamboyantly?”
   “Not only that but I spend flashily as well, but not more than I can afford.”
   “Good. That’s what I’m trying to determine.” She sounded pleased, but looked a little disappointed at the same time.
   Right now, with my current financial situation, she’s going to have to pay for our date. I don’t mind. Women’s liberation, and all that.
   We ended the meeting agreeing that we shouldn’t spend more than we make. Sounds good to me.
   Chile Mac for dinner. Then more Sopranos up in my room. 
   I took time out from the New Jersey mob to watch and tape the last segment of Brian Green’s “The Elegant Universe,” and the story of String Theory, M Theory, which is a refinement of String Theory, and the search for Super Symmetry and Sparticles (named after Kirk Douglas), which if discovered would imply physicists and String Theory were and was on the right track, and a step closer to a Grand Unification Theory. Tests are being made in atom smashers here in the U.S., and soon in Europe.
   Afterwards I continued with the Sopranos, and went to sleep late.
   I dreamt I was racing around a cyclotron on a proton with FermiLab  physicist Maria Spiropulu, faster and faster, 98% of the speed of light, when BANG! we ran smack dab into another proton coming from the opposite direction, carrying Sophie Evans, the lovely and talented star of “Cream of the Crop,” “DNA,” and many other fine films. 
   I don’t want to go into any details about what happened next, but talk about strange particles...

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Happy Birthday Taija Rae!

   This morning it is my great pleasure and honor to give a great big happy birthday shout out to one of my favorite actresses, Ms Taija Rae!
   Like a little more than half of the planets population, Tianna O’Keefe Reilly was born at a very early age as a small, puffy, female infant, and specifically for her, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (39°57′N 75°10′W)... where Rocky lives.
   Philadelphia of course has historical significance for our country and once served as the capital of the nation temporarily, from 1790–1800, while the Federal City (later to be known as Washington D.C., named after a general in the Revolutionary Army. I’m not sure which one) was under construction in the District of Columbia. The  Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia! How many other cities can say that?!
   The great linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and logician, Noam Chomsky, was also born in Philadelphia. What an amazing coincidence! The cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead; Heather Dewey-Hagborg, the information artist and bio-hacker; the 19th-century biscuit entrepreneur Maria Anna Fisher; the actors Kevin Bacon, Bradley Cooper, Linda Fiorentino, Tina Fey, Richard Gere, Grace Kelly, Jack Klugman, Will Smith, Kelly Monaco, and Seth Green all come from Philadelphia. Serial hypno-drug therapy sex counselor Bill Cosby comes from Philadelphia. As does social activist and cheese straightener Miguel Witsnetsky. Flagulist Betsy Ross was born there. Certifiably insane Michelle Malkin is a Philadelphian. MSNBC hero Chris Matthews, time tunnelist James Darren, and stooge Larry Fine, come from Philadelphia.  Everybody except freaking Sylvester Stallone comes from Philadelphia.
   Tianna’s mom, Maggie Aoibheann O'Banion, a physical chemist, and her dad, Ciaran Reilly, an executive for the Colonial Penn Life Insurance Company, were of... oh, let’s say Irish ancestry, always supported their daughter’s interest in the entertainment field, which she became interested in after seeing the film “Citizen Kane,” when she was eight years old. Young Tianna  excelled in the tap and modern dance courses her mother enrolled her in. At age nine she began ballet studies at the prestigious Philadelphia Dance Academy, and yoga, at The Yoga Garden on South Street, two disciplines that she would draw from later in her film career.
   “The yoga and ballet I learned when I was younger would come in handy as I advanced in the film industry,” she said. “As I could be way more bendy and flexible than other actresses.”
   At age thirteen Tianna came in second place in the banana eating contest at the Philadelphia County Fair at the Oval. Her expertise in banana eating would also come in handy later.
   After graduating from Parkway Center City High School, she attended the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Bioinformatics, Computer Science (specializing in operating systems and database management), Animal Husbandry, and Dramatic Arts.   
   In 1980 Tianna graduated with a Master of Science in Bioinformatics and Computer Science, a Bachelor's degree in Animal Science (specializing in selection, breeding, care for, processing, market livestock and small farm animals... but no chickens!), and a  Artium Baccalaureatus in Theater and Performance Studies.
   My research indicates that after graduation Tianna helped make ends meet as a massage therapist, and she also worked in a “call house,” for a while. 
   That we have that in common. I once worked in a call house as well. Two of them in fact. One in Northridge California, and the other in Burbank, as a long distance operator for AT&T. It was one if the best jobs I ever had! Of course now that type of job is all automated. Perhaps automation is what pushed Tianna out of the business, who knows?
   Any way in 1983, a year after I got out of the navy, Tianna was “discovered,” by the famous Philadelphia talent firm, Lynx Management, who prompted Tianna to change her name. I don’t know why. Tianna  Reilly is a perfectly lovely name, but no matter. Tianna chose Taija  Rae as her stage name. Taija Rae is pronounced Tay-zha Ray, just like it sounds. She says she got the name from an Asian cocktail waitress she once worked with, and Rae from the actress Fay Wray, whom King Kong once fondled. Tianna... er, I mean Taija changed the spelling of Wray’s last name to Rae because she doesn't like names that end in “Y.”
   Another thing we have in common.
   Lynx Management offered these amazing statistics: 
   Taija has brown hair and eyes. Is 5 feet 5 inches tall. She weighed 130 lovely pounds. Measured a stunning 38D-24-37, and had a 7 shoe size. 
   Isn’t it wonderful!
   Taija was screen tested as an independent contractor in New York City, and soon became familiar with the various aspects of, and people in the industry. She worked on the east coast,       with such distinguished filmmakers as  Ron Sullivan (the sequel to “The Devil in Miss Jones,”  and “Blame it on Ginger,” starring the lovely and talented Ginger Lynn, who I’ve actually met), 
Charles Vincent Dingley (“Hollywood Hot Tubs,” “Bad Penny,” and the classic “Roommates”), and Dave Darby (don’t know who this guy is, but the odds are he’s a distinguished director).
   According to Wikipedia Taija’s first professional acting job was to appear in “Dangerous Stuff,” and “ Scenes They Wouldn't Let Me Shoot,” both in 1983. As a matter of fact they were both filmed on the same weekend, which reflects the marvels of modern film making technology for that time. 
   According to the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB), her first film was 1984‘s “Urban Heat,” with Tish Ambrose. 
   I have no idea which film was the first one that Taija appeared in, and I suppose it doesn’t really matter. The point is that she had broken into the business, and her career was about to take off. 
   The IMDB offers this brief description of Taija: “Throughout most of the 1980s this luscious, New York-accented, sexy "girl next door" was a fan favorite. Unlike the typical movie queen, Taija was neither svelte nor surgically enhanced; she had a "this is pretty much the way I am" look that appealed to men and didn't threaten women. She seemed approachable, the kind of girl you could meet in a club and offer to buy a drink without getting laughed out of the place. She was a very good actress and an exceptional performer.”
   Well, wasn’t that nice. 
   Taija was on her way and there was no stopping her. 
   She continued her film work, appearing in “Good Girls, Bad Girls,” with another Irish lass, the lovely and talented Colleen Brennan and Sharon Mitchell. “Make Me Feel It!” with Kelly Nichols, Sharon Kane, and Kristara Barrington. And 1985s “Hot Rockers,” with Sharon Kane again, and Melanie Scott.
   Her career flourished, and she appeared in a series of successful movies, one right after the other. 1986‘s “Christine's Secret,” with Carol Cross, and “Cherry Tricks,” with superstars Tracey Adams and Lois Ayres. 
   That year she also got her first leading role in “Breakin In,” with Nina Hartley, Sharon Mitchell again (boy she got around), Jeanna Fine, Honey Wilder, Siobhan Hunter, and another girl next door, Shanna McCullough. The story concerned a blind burglar and her pet miniature schnauzer, which is deaf. Taija came in second place to Angel for the Best New Starlet AVN Award, for her work.
   But it wasn’t until her breakout performance in 1987‘s “Living Doll,” with Ginger’s sister, Amber Lynn, Siobhan Hunter, Nina Hartley, Sharon Mitchell, and Shanna McCullough... pretty much the same exact cast as in “Make Me Feel It!” and “Hot Rockers.”
   The film brought Taija to the forefront of the entertainment industry here and abroad, nationally and internationally. Sudden and overwhelming fame and recognition of her immense talent was of course unnerving at first. Having your whole world turned upside down virtually overnight can be quite unsettling. It’s a good thing that she had plenty of drugs and alcohol close by in order to cope with the ordeal. 
    Taija had maintained a home in Pennsylvania, but more and more work was coming her way out of L.A., so in 1988, after a stint in a Broadway production of “The Crucible,” with Tony Randall, Keli Richards, Rhonda Jo Pettyand Kay Parker, she finally packed up and moved out to the west coast.
   After the success of “Living Doll,” Taija went on to make such fine staples as “American Babylon,” the musical “DreamGirls,” with Melissa Melendez and Candie Evans. 1987‘s “Spoiled,”  “Smooth as Silk,” with Viper, Nina DePonca, “Motel Sweets,” with Nikki Knights, Ona Zee, and Renee Summers; 1988's “Decadence,” with Cassandra Leigh and Carol Cross, “Samantha I Love You,” with  Erica Boyer, “Twins,” with Careena Collins, her one woman show, “Outrageous Games,” “Exposure,” with Laurel Canyon, and 1990's “Inner Blues,” with Frankie Leigh.       
   Taija has been romantically linked to Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, Steve Jobs, Jerry Brown, Mick Fleetwood, Kurt Vonnegut Jr, Keith Richards, Barbara Boxer, Sam Donaldson, Muhammad Ali, David Letterman, Ed Asner, Stephen Hawking, Cat Stevens, Don Pardo, Chris Matthews, Dean Koontz, Charles Koch, and Henry Kissinger, but has never married, or had children. 
   Sadly she left the movie business in 1990, leaving Los Angeles as well and relocated in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she has been employed as a computer code writer by a consortium of defense contractors including, but not limited to, Du Pont, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Mcdonald’s, working on a highly classified program called  Skynet. 
   In a few years she will be partially responsible for the subjugation and destruction of the human race by the machines. 
   Let’s see, what else?
   Oh yes, Taija’s name in Elvish is Eámanë Silimaurë.
   And everyone here at Joyce’s Take wish her, and her friends and family, continued good fortune and health, and of course, a very happy birthday!
   Happy Birthday Taija!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Genocide: the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.

The Holocaust: (from the Greek ὁλόκαυστος holókaustos: hólos, "whole" and kaustós, "burnt"), also known as the Shoah (Hebrew: השואה, HaShoah, "the catastrophe")

“Long live Germany. Long live Argentina. Long live Austria. These are the three countries with which I have been most connected and which I will not forget. I greet my wife, my family and my friends. I am ready. We'll meet again soon, as is the fate of all men. I die believing in God” -Last words of Adolf Eichmann,  one of the major architects of the Holocaust

The International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust is thus a day on which we must reassert our commitment to human rights. 
   We must also go beyond remembrance, and make sure that new generations know this history. We must apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today’s world. And we must do our utmost so that all peoples may enjoy the protection and rights for which the United Nations stands.
   Message by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for the second observance of the Holocaust Victims Memorial Day on 19 January 2008.”

   Turkey. The country, not the bird. World War I, and after. Approximately from 1913 to 1923. A planned, systematic slaughter of the Christian Greek population from its historic homeland in Asia Minor, an area bounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Aegean Sea to the west. Between 750,000 to 900,000 deaths committed by the Turkish Empire against the Greek population within that empire, including massacres, forced deportations involving death marches (a forced march of captives with the explicit intent to kill, brutalize, weaken and/or demoralize as many of the captives as possible along the way) summary expulsions, arbitrary executions, and the destruction of Christian Greek Orthodox cultural, historical, and religious monuments.
    Turkey. The country, not the bird. 1915. The Turkish government’s systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects from their historic homeland within the country. The genocide was carried out in two distinct phases: the wholesale murdering of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labor, followed by the expulsion of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian desert. Approximately one and a half million people dead. 
   In high school I once had an Armenian girlfriend. Michelle Meridian. Beautiful, dark complexioned girl with huge... eyes. Her family had come to the United States after being expelled from the Turkish Empire during World War I.
   She dumped me for some skinny guy who had a car.
   Young attractive girls are opportunists not burdened with thoughts of pity and remorse.  
   Bosnia and Herzegovina. After the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992, the country proclaimed independence, which was followed by the Bosnian War, the opposing factions being the forces of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and those of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat entities within Bosnia and Herzegovina, exacerbated by the tensions between the three primary ethnic groups, the Bosniaks (48%), Serbs (37.1%), and the Croats (14.3%), tensions that had been held in check by the strict, socialist controlled leadership of Yugoslavia. 
   July 1995. A small mountain salt mining town in eastern Bosnia, Srebrenica.  8,000 Bosniaks, mostly men and boys, were murdered by units of the Army of Republika Srpska (also referred to as the Bosnian Serb Army) under the command of General Ratko Mladić. General Mladić would earn the moniker "Butcher of Bosnia." In 2004  the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, located in The Hague, ruled that the massacre of Srebrenica's male inhabitants constituted genocide, a crime under international law. Mladić disappeared, but was eventually found and arrested on May 26th, 2011 in Lazarevo, in the Banat region in northern Serbia. Mladić was extradited to The Hague on May 31st, 2011, and his trial formally opened in The Hague on May 16th, 2012. The outcome of his trial is still pending due to procedural errors of the prosecution.
   Iraq. March 16th, 1988. In the closing days of the Iran–Iraq War, in the Kurdish city of Halabja in Southern Kurdistan, Iraqi forces led by Ali Hassan al-Majid,  "Chemical Ali," cousin of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, dropped bombs from Iraqi MiG and Mirage aircraft containing poison gas. The attack killed between 3,200 and 5,000 people and injured 7,000 to 10,000 more, mostly civilians. Thousands more would die years after the attack due to complications, diseases, and birth defects. 
   When the Reagan administration learned of the use of poison gas on the Kurds it sought to obscure the situation by falsely claiming that somehow Iran, the very country Iraq was at war with, had participated in the attack as well, and opposed any sanctions against Iraq.     
   A Senate sponsored bill, The Prevention of Genocide Act of 1988, was drafted to punish Iraq for it’s use of chemical weapons, but was defeated after intense lobbying of Congress by the Reagan-Bush White House, which supported Saddam over the  Ayatollah Khomeini (ironically, it was Iran that helped Reagan win the 1980 Presidential election by Reagan’s frustrating President Carter’s efforts to end the Iran-hostage crisis until the election, a strategy that probably was not appreciated by the hostages themselves).
   After the 2003 invasion of Iraq by American forces Al-Majid was captured and  charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. He was found guilty and executed on January 25th, 2010.
   His cousin Saddam was captured as well, and brought to trail on charges related to a 1982 killing of 148 Iraqi Shi'ites in retaliation for an assassination attempt against him. Saddam was sentenced to death and executed on December 30th, 2006. 
   North and South America. October 12th, 1492. Spanish sponsored, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sights and lands on the island of Guanahani, in what is now called the  Bahamas. Guanahani is what the natives called the island. Columbus called it San Salvador. 
   We’ve thoroughly discussed Christopher here, here, and here
   He was the second European to “discover” the Americas, after the Norse explorer Leif Erikson, (if one could be said to discover a land that had been inhabited by an indigenous and established population for thousands of years), but Columbus would make a significantly greater impact on the land and it’s people.
   With him he brought  smallpox, influenza, bubonic plague and pneumonic plagues that infected and killed the native population which had no natural immunity to these diseases. But worse than that, he brought with him European ignorance, greed, and cruelty, and aided by a superior technology, Columbus, and those that followed him, would decimate the land. 
   It is almost impossible to estimate the size of the population in the Americas before Columbus arrived as taking a census was not required back then as it is today in the United States. Only small bits of information survive today that we may use to guess, really what it was. The expert opinion places the number between 37 and 54 million indigenous people. It is also estimated that 90 percent of the total population died due to infectious disease brought to them by the Europeans by the end of the 17th century.
   And then there is the grave matter of intentional aggression and enslavement of the population by the Europeans. Columbus himself in the Caribbean, enslaved and murdered huge numbers of the indigenous people in his never ending thirst for gold and other riches. He was not a nice man, and we should not be celebrating the anniversary of his arrival, but accept it as part of a history that we alive today have benefited from to the great detriment of others. 
   "In July 1529 the queen of Spain signed a charter allowing Pizarro to conquer the Incas. Pizarro was named governor and captain of all conquests in Peru, or New Castile, as the Spanish now called the land."
   With just 168 men, 1 cannon and 27 horses, Francisco Pizarro and his brothers were able to conquer and control the entire Inca Empire, with the help of smallpox, technological superiority, wit, ruthlessness, and the help of thousands of native allies who wished to displace the Inca leadership (for those who are interested in this particular subject I recommend the book “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” by the American physiologist, biophysicist, ornithologist, environmentalist, historian, ecologist, geographer, evolutionary biologist and anthropologist, Jared Diamond).
   Hernán Cortés did pretty much the same to the Aztecs in Mexico. 
   A few hundred years later in North America, the fledgling United States of America began to expand west from it’s eastern colonies. The reduction of the North American Indian population from an estimated 12 million in 1500 to barely 237,000 in 1900 represents a "vast genocide . . . , the most sustained on record," says Ward Churchill, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado. David E. Stannard, a historian at the University of Hawaii, gives his opinion that native Americans had undergone the "worst human holocaust the world had ever witnessed, roaring across two continents non-stop for four centuries and consuming the lives of countless tens of millions of people." Authors Lenore A. Stiffarm and Phil Lane, Jr., believe "there can be no more monumental example of sustained genocide—certainly none involving a 'race' of people as broad and complex as this—anywhere in the annals of human history." 
   But you and I benefit from this outright theft of land, life, and liberty from the Indians (the term “Native American,” is offensive to a large percentage of indigenous people as they were here long before Europeans came and named the continent “America”), so we don’t usually acknowledge this genocide as a genocide, but rather a natural expansion that European settlers were entitled to for some reason. 
   Similarly, our culture often refers to General George Custer’s Last Stand as a “massacre (implying that the Indians committed an atrocity towards us (of European ancestry) so whatever we do to them in retaliation is perfect fine, acceptable, and well deserved),” rather than a lost battle between Indians who were defending their homeland and a military whose leader unwisely failed to utilize readily available batteries of Gatling guns in a fight in which he had vastly underestimated the number of his opponents.   
   On and on.
   Of course when discussing genocide one must consider the Germans, who are responsible for the largest, most deliberate, systematic, efficient, and successful genocidal campaign in modern history. The Holocaust, or “The Catastrophe” in Hebrew.   
   In Europe during World War II approximately six million Jewish people were killed by the Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler, two thirds of the Jewish population of Europe.
   For those of you too young, or not interested enough in history to know about World War II, like my lovely ex-case manager Erin, and have heard the name Adolf Hitler used as a personification of evil, besides actually starting the war, the Holocaust is the reason why.
    Besides the Jews, Gypsies, Poles, communists, homosexuals, Soviet POWs, film critics, and the mentally and physically disabled were exterminated as well, making a total of approximately 11 million murdered, 1 million of those Jewish children.
   Antisemitism, like racism in general, isn’t hard to find in this world. The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, the “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger,” guy, put it this way: "The whole problem of the Jews exists only in nation states, for here their energy and higher intelligence, their accumulated capital of spirit and will, gathered from generation to generation through a long schooling in suffering, must become so preponderant as to arouse mass envy and hatred. In almost all contemporary nations, therefore – in direct proportion to the degree to which they act up nationalistially – the literaral obscenity of leading the Jews to slaughter as scapegoats of every conceivable public and internal misfortune is spreading." 
   Germany had a long history of  antisemitism. The Völkisch Movement arose in the country in the second half of the 19th century. The word völkisch has no direct translation into English, but can be equated, sort of, to “ethnic.”  The movement promoted a pseudoscientific, biologically based racism that distinguished Jews as a race rather than a religion, a race that was attempting to subdue the Aryan ( of European and Western Asian heritage)  race and gain world domination.    One can gain a lot of power and raise a lot of money by scaring people. George W Bush took the United States to war in Iraq for no good discernible reason by scaring people. Remember the mushroom cloud argument?
    Völkisch leader Hermann Ahlwardt called Jews "predators" and "cholera bacilli" who should be "exterminated" for the good of the German people in 1895, setting the stage for Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s.
   Hitler used hatred of the Jews as a wedge issue to help him gain power, much the same way as the republicans in the United States use abortion, gay rights, immigration, and yes, racism, as wedge issues to gain power and raise funds today. Once Hitler had the power, he needed to keep acting out in a practical manner ways to use that power to placate those who had given it to him (just like the first bill taken up in the House of Representatives in this new Congress being abortion legislation rather than a jobs or immigration bill that the republicans had run on. They passed a weakened bill (due to a rebellion within their own ranks by republican Congress women who deemed the original bill to be too extreme) even though they knew it would not pass through the Senate, or even if it did, President Obama would surely veto it. They did this for no other reason than to placate their base). So he came up with what is known as “The Final Solution,” which was Nazi Germany's plan to systematically exterminate the Jewish population in Nazi occupied Europe through genocide.
   Applied, it went like this: 
   Inspired by the Herero and Namaqua Genocide of German South-West Africa (modern-day Namibia) that was waged between 1904 and 1907 during the Herero Wars, the Final Solution was implemented in stages. First the new German government passed laws to suppress and exclude Jews from society. To alienate them and set them apart. Concentration camps were built  when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, and after Germany invaded western Poland in September of 1939, ghettos (small parts of towns or cities used  to confine and segregate Jews, and sometimes Gypsies) were established. In July of 1933, the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring was passed, a eugenics law which called for the compulsory sterilization of the "inferior," which led to over 200 Hereditary Health Courts under whose rulings over 400,000 people were sterilized against their will. In 1935, Hitler introduced the Nuremberg Laws, which: prohibited  Aryans from having sexual relations or marriages with Jews, and stripped German Jews of their citizenship and deprived them of all civil rights. Jewish lawyers were disbarred, and in Dresden, Jewish lawyers and judges were dragged out of their offices and courtrooms and beaten. Jewish intelligentsia in general was suppressed, prompting a mass exodus of individuals such as the philosopher Walter Benjamin, and the novelist Lion Feuchtwanger who went to Switzerland, and then France (unfortunately after France declared war on Germany in 1939, the French interned him for a short time, and when the Germans invaded France the next year he was captured and imprisoned again. He eventually escaped and was able to leave the country by dressing as a woman). The German scientist and Figure-outer of how stuff in the universe works, Albert Einstein was visiting the United States when Hitler came to power in 1933, and he decided to stay, never returning to his home country. 
   And then things started to get nasty. In occupied Poland the first organized murders of Jews by the Germans occurred during what is known as  Operation Tannenberg. First, utilizing list of individual prepared before the war started, about 2,000 activists of Polish minority organizations in Germany were arrested and murdered in August of 1939. The second part of the operation began September 1st 1939, ending the next month in October after at least 20,000 had died in about 760 mass executions carried out by special task units designed specifically for such work.  
   In the General Government area of central Poland, Jews were forced into ghettos,  where they were put to work under the Reich Labor Office. Once there many thousands died from maltreatment, disease, starvation, and exhaustion. This is where the Nazis learned that forced labor could be used as a form of extermination. The expression Vernichtung durch Arbeit ("destruction through work") was frequently used, as it is today. 
   But the Nazis were just getting warmed up. 
   After Germany occupied Norway, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France in 1940, and Yugoslavia and Greece in 1941, antisemitic measures were introduced into these countries as well. Jews were removed from economic and cultural life and were subject to various restrictive laws, but physical deportation did not occur in most places before 1942. 
   I’ve recently been re-reading “The Diary of a Young Girl,” written by 13 year old Anne Frank (picture above), whose quality of prose, to me, is absolutely mind boggling. As I read it I find it difficult to believe it was written by a 13 year old. When I was 13 I was lucky if I could figure out how to work my television’s remote control. I’ve read many professional writers who can’t write as well as she did. But she didn’t think too much of herself, and it seemed she was criticized by her family as being too precocious. Anyway, she was living with her family in German occupied Netherlands when she turned 13 and experienced many of the indignities we’ve been discussing. Several months later she and her sister were invited to a Nazi work camp in Germany, all expenses paid. Rather than accept that offer the family went into hiding in the sealed-off upper rooms of the annex at the back of her father’s company building in Amsterdam. The rooms were concealed behind a hidden bookcase. Her’s and another family lived there for twenty five months, until they were betrayed in 1944. Anne was first sent to the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp that Steven Spielberg depicted so well in “Schindler's List,” where she escaped immediate termination in the gas chambers by having turned 15 three months previously. She was eventually relocated to the infamous Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she succumbed to typhus.    
   That makes me very sad. 
   I’d be angry too, but I have no where, or no one to direct that anger toward. 
   Here’s a link to the 1959 film “The Diary of Anne Frank,” starring Millie Perkins as Anne, with Shelley Winters, Diane Baker, and Ed Wynn, if you’re so inclined.
   Auschwitz. Bergen-Belsen. Buchenwald. Dachau. Treblinka. It is estimated that the Germans established approximately 15,000 camps and subcamps in the occupied countries, mostly in eastern Europe. When one thinks of the Holocaust, one thinks of the concentration/extermination camps, the gas chambers, and the ovens.
     Lieutenant colonel Adolf Eichmann was charged with facilitating and managing the logistics of the mass deportations of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps. He was good at it. 
   True to their designation the extermination camps weren't used for punishing crime or containing political prisoners. They were designed specifically and purposefully to kill Jews, and others the Nazis deemed unworthy to live (delivered there in mass by the Holocaust trains, in which many prisoners did not survive the journey),  primarily by gassing,  but also by execution and extreme work under starvation conditions. The designers did not expect the majority of prisoners taken to the Belzec, Sobibór or Treblinka camps to survive more than a few hours beyond arrival.
   Some camps tattooed prisoners with identification numbers on arrival. Those that were fit for work were dispatched for 12 to 14-hour shifts. Extermination through labor was just one of the ways systematic extermination was implemented. Camp inmates would literally be worked to death, or worked to physical exhaustion, and then they would be gassed or shot. By the spring of 1944, up to 8,000 people were being gassed every day at Auschwitz. 
   Deceived into believing they were to be deloused, prisoners were routed into the gas chambers    (a chamber room, usually outfitted to appear as a large shower room, with (non-working) water nozzles, tile walls, etc.). The guards hurried them to undress and enter the "shower room" as quickly as possible, and assisted the aged and the very young in undressing. Suddenly the guards would leave and the door was sealed. Pellets of Zyklon B (a cyanide-based pesticide invented in Germany in the early 1920s) were dropped through special holes in the roof. 
   Auschwitz Camp Commandant Rudolf Höss was required by Nazi regulations to supervise the preparations, the gassing (through a peephole), and the looting of the corpses afterwards. He reported that the victims "showed no signs of convulsion." Camp physicians attributed that to the "paralyzing effect on the lungs" of the Zyklon-B gas, which killed before the victim began suffering convulsions.
   After the killings, the guards, and those prisoners who worked for them (these duties would not save these prisoners from the gas chambers themselves, and often they were aware of that. What they gained with their cooperation, was a little extra food possibly, and a little extra time), removed the corpses from the chambers and extracted any gold teeth. Initially, the victims' corpses were buried in mass graves, but later were cremated in the ovens, which, at least at Auschwitz, needed to keep operating 24/7 in order to keep pace with the industrialized killing (where it is estimated that approximately 1,100,000 Jews, and others, lost their lives in that camp alone).
   What I’ve described above is of course only a small portion of the Holocaust, and the events surrounding it. Multiple the above by several thousand and one might get close to the magnitude of the true horror perpetrated on humans by other humans, for no sane reason.
   As the war drew to a close with the advance of American troops to the west of Germany, and Soviet troops advancing from the east, some of the camps were soon discovered, even after German troops had been ordered to dismantle them, and destroy evidence that they had existed, and what their purpose was. 
   The first major camp, Majdanek, was discovered by the Soviets on July 23rd, 1944. Chełmno was liberated also by the Soviets on January 20th, 1945. Auschwitz January 27th.
   Buchenwald by Americans on  April 11th; Bergen-Belsen by the British on April 15th; Dachau by Americans on April 29th; Ravensbrück by the Soviets on the same day; Mauthausen by the Americans on the 5th of May; and Theresienstadt by the Soviets on  May 8th. 
   Colonel William W. Quinn of the US 7th Army said of Dachau: "There our troops found sights, sounds, and stenches horrible beyond belief, cruelties so enormous as to be incomprehensible to the normal mind."
   At the end of the Second World War, Adolf Eichmann was captured by the Americans and spent time in several camps for SS officers using forged papers that identified him as "Otto Eckmann." He escaped from a work detail in the city of Cham, Germany, when he thought his real identity may have been discovered.. In 1948 Eichmann obtained a landing permit for Argentina and false identification under the name of "Ricardo Klement" through an organization directed by Bishop Alois Hudal, an Austrian cleric then residing in Italy with known Nazi sympathies. Departing via ship from Genoa on June 17th, 1950, he arrived in Buenos Aires on July 14th. There he had a ten year reprieve until he was captured by the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service. Following a widely publicized trial in Israel, he was found guilty of war crimes and hanged on May 31st, 1962.
   Some people claim the Holocaust never happened. Holocaust deniers attempt to rewrite history by minimizing, denying or simply ignoring essential facts. Sort of like climate change deniers, except those denying the Holocaust are not seeking a financial reward for their efforts. Holocaust deniers  generally deny the Holocaust occurred because they themselves are antisemitic. Most Holocaust denial claims imply, or openly state, that the Holocaust is a hoax arising out of a deliberate Jewish conspiracy to advance the interest of Jews at the expense of other people, or groups of people. For this reason, Holocaust denial is considered to be an antisemitic
   Denial includes any of the following claims: that the German Nazi government's Final Solution policy aimed only at deporting Jews from Germany, and included no program to exterminate Jews, or anybody else; that Nazi authorities did not use extermination camps and gas chambers to mass murder Jews; and that the actual number of Jews killed was significantly (typically an order of magnitude) lower than the historically accepted figure of 5 to 6 million.
   In 1945, Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower thought that this might happen in the future, and took steps to document as thoroughly as possible what it was that he found in the death camps.
   “The same day I saw my first horror camp. It was near the town of Gotha. I have never been able to describe my emotional reactions when I first came face to face with indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality and ruthless disregard of every shred of decency. Up to that time I had known about it only generally or through secondary sources. I am certain however, that I have never at any time experienced an equal sense of shock.
   I visited every nook and cranny of the camp because I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify at first hand about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or assumption that "the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda". Some members of the visiting party were unable to go through with the ordeal. I not only did so but as soon as I returned to Patton's headquarters that evening I sent communications to both Washington and London, urging the two governments to send instantly to Germany a random group of newspaper editors and representative groups from the national legislatures. I felt that the evidence should be immediately placed before the American and the British publics in a fashion that would leave no room for cynical doubt.”
    On  November 1st, 2005,  United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/7 was passed which designated January 27th to be International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which commemorates the victims of the Holocaust. It commemorates the genocide that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 6 million Jews, 1 million Gypsies, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexual men by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.   
   Why the 27th?
   70 years ago today,  Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, was liberated by Soviet troops.
   Resolution 60/7 urges every member nation to remember and honor the victims of the Holocaust, while encouraging the development of educational programs about the Holocaust in an effort to prevent future acts of genocide. 
   The resolution denies any denials of the Holocaust. The resolution also condemns all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief. It also calls for actively preserving the Holocaust sites that served as Nazi death camps, concentration camps, forced labor camps and prisons, as well as for establishing a U.N. program of outreach and mobilization of society for Holocaust remembrance and education.
   It is at times difficult to keep pertinent events that have occurred in the distant past, or even when that past isn’t all that distant, relevant and unambiguously clear in the minds of a modern citizenry.    
   Yet it is important... vital some would say, to remember one of the greatest examples of man’s inhumanity towards other men. Of man’s inhumanity toward women, and children, for life. 
   Least we let it happen in the future again and again.

Addendum: 4-17-15: Turkey still in denial