America the Unbeautiful


The face of American hate

It was only a matter of time.
I have barely been back in Florida three weeks, following a seven-month hiatus in El Gouna, Egypt, and already the intimidation and harassment on the street by the notorious Gang of Three has commenced.
Today, as I returned to my house on my bike after a 15-mile ride, one of these individuals — let’s call him Loafer Guy — was standing in “his” driveway, which is about 200 or so feet away from mine, with the nasty white-haired old hag — known as The Wraith —who lives across the street from him.
They stood like sentinel plants, insolently staring at me pull into my driveway, as if I did not really have the right to do that — in a house I have owned for nearly twenty years — as if, as an Arab-American, I did not really belong in this country.
Suddenly Loafer Guy hocked up a loogie then, ptooie, spat it out in my direction, making a deliberately loud khaptouf sound in this grotesque process.  The Wraith did nothing except continue to stare, as if this behavior were normal and in fact called for.
Not to be seen was the ringleader of the Gang of Three — a despicable New Jersey runt, whom I’ve nicknamed Roger.
Rogee is pushing 90 and looks like a homeless person with one foot in the grave. He lives directly across the street from me, and has threatened me with physical violence in the past: I called the police; they did nothing.
Unusual for him, Rogee was not around for this little drama, but of course had again left his garage door open all day — though it is against the association’s rules to do so — as if to assert his twisted territorial rights.
Loafer Guy is in his 50s and has been unemployed at least a decade.
He hangs around on this street, after being thrown out by the County Sheriff for non-payment of his mortgage, around when the housing bubble crashed, in another association not far from here.
Now he’s just waiting for his 90-year-old bedridden Mama to kick the bucket so he can inherit the house and perhaps move on to wherever.
He’s from Middle America, one of the God-forsaken flyover states, and has spent the last twenty years as a transient in FLA, always lurking around its reddest fringes.
The Wraith with the dead husband — she could be from anywhere — is a hopelessly angry old coot who rarely leaves the immediate surroundings of her house.
This street may be in the middle of Nowheresville, but it’s their entire, pathetic world, one that they never leave, one they zealously guard against the blacks, the Mexicans, the Jews, the Arabs, Democrats… and whatever FOX news tells them is the enemy that is secretly plotting to make their way of life vanish.
When I left El Gouna less than a month ago, a few people whom I had become friends with bought me a goodbye present.  I am still wearing it — a Bedouin style ID beaded bracelet with my name on it — that has been on my right wrist since the day I left Egypt.
Yet when I arrived here, not one person bothered to say hello and welcome me back.
I don’t imagine it’s breaking news to anyone reading this post that most of Florida, especially white, old Florida, is Trumplandia every inch of the way.
No matter what the Orange Turd does, these despicable racists will vote for him as well as for every corrupt right-wing pol who supports their Fascist agenda.
For the most part, around here at least, these are deeply uneducated people: boorishly ill-mannered, and filled with hatred — perhaps because at some level they must realize how deeply pointless their wretched lives have turned out, how at the end of their miserable existence they never amounted to much.
And so for that they have to find someone or a group of people to scapegoat. They are not adult enough to recognize that they simply failed in life and it is nobody’s fault but their own, that they were never good enough or intelligent enough to do any better than hate and poison the body politic with their toxic collective disappointment that they can never squarely come to terms with or it would destroy whatever shred of self esteem they may have left.
I am not talking about the traditional grumpy old geezerhead here; I am talking about the sorts of people you find in places like Florida, whose every word is laced with the acid of self hatred turned into a perpetual sense of aggrieved victimhood.
Imagine condemning yourself in old age to being… that, a loathsome monster filled with impotent rage that once in a while turns murderous.
Meanwhile, what should I do?
Buy a pistol?
Take Concealed Carry and Krav Maga courses, which are popular around here?
Lurk around gun ranges?
Seal the outside salt filter system in case Loafer Guy creeps onto my property one night and dumps lye or strychnine in my water filtration system?
Hmmm…. let’s see.
I do actually have an October 1st return ticket booked on Egyptair to Gouna… only because it was cheaper to do so, not because Egypt with its even more rancid governing junta offers any kind of solution.
In the meantime, I will continue to make my 66-year-old body stronger. This incident has only motivated me further to body build — not bulk, but lean taut muscle — such that these creeps, and any others like them, might think twice about crossing that invisible line that keeps us all from reverting to some primitive feral state of being.
Buying a gun or taking Israeli self-defence course is only becoming one of them, just another crazy Florida creep.
Time has a way of sorting things out.
The Wraith and Roger are probably not long for this world. They cling on — in fact I refer to them, and people like them, as Klingons — as the poison of rancorous hatred courses more strongly through their varicosed veins with each passing day, giving them some putrid reason to continue living.
As for Loafer Guy, no doubt when Mama keels over he will get his money and end up drunk or stoned and in jail somewhere for assault or worse.
From my point of view, as a classic old-school Manhattan Liberal immigrant, the three of them are a perfect metaphor for the still beating, unbeautiful, right ventricle of a 47% diseased, black-hearted America.
I’m going to bide my time.  With each month that goes by, I grow stronger.
As the French say: on verra ce qu’on fera.

leaving america

Losing it All

Jupiter inlet

Jupiter inlet / photo by me

It’s been a week and a half since I left El Gouna, Egypt, on the Red Sea, where I spent  the last seven months of my life. The highlight of my stay was going from around 265 lbs to 225 lbs, a reduction of 40 lbs. While this is significant progress, my target weight remains 185 lbs, with a size 32″ waist.

Not impossible, but this is going to take major work, with a serious and concerted effort at many levels — rather than just eating like a bird and walking around now and then, as I did in El Gouna.

I figure it will take another six months to get there, probably by October or so. Losing weight is easy if you do not eat much, especially if you skip eating entirely for days at a time, which is what I did in Gouna, but doing it that way results in drooping, wrinkled skin around the arms, and causes black hunger circles under the eyes.

The trick is to be relentlessly gradual.

Now that I am back in Florida, the 50-90% air humidity is restoring my skin. I am going to my dermatologist tomorrow, to remove the mole on my right knee, zap off some sun spots, and get prescription creams to fix the bags and loose skin under my eyes as well as the turkey neck rash I seem to have acquired:  at age 66, my skin ain’t producing the collagen it used to, but I remain vain enough to not want to look (too) old.

My body is responding well to the weight training I’ve started since arriving back home. It’s restoring elasticity and already filling in the arm skin droop with the muscle that I am building up with bicep and triceps free weight (dumbbell ) exercises at home.

I’m using 20 lb free weights, and will ramp up to 30 once my arms get stronger, after a period of increasingly aggressive reps. I am also targeting my stomach and thighs, but won’t bore you with the details here — suffice it to say I am back to eating (modest portions) of beef and feta cheese omelettes (Publix refrigerates the shell eggs it sells, a safety precaution ignored by all grocery stores in Gouna, but even so, the American supermarket has had to deal recently with a Salmonella outbreak) in order to give myself the needed protein to restore muscle mass, which disappeared as I subsisted on a diet of felafel pocket pita sandwiches with tahina sauce.

I am also going on long bike rides, weather permitting, and on Saturday, I had a Thule SUP board rack installed on the SUV that I share with my beautiful wife.  She takes it to work during the week, as she owns her own shop in town, but sometimes I drive her there, then take off and do my thing.

It’s been raining for the last two days; and will continue to be crappy through Tuesday, so I’m planning on launching my big SUP experiment on Wednesday, when the weather is supposed to clear up, with 84° / 64° temps, 6-10 mph winds, and low humidity.

SUP board

It’s been waiting patiently next to my bike

That SUP board is a beauty.  It cost me a grand and a half several years ago, but it languished in the garage, as I turned into a lardass.

Well, screw that.

There’s a spot I know right in front of the Jupiter Lighthouse barracks, where I can park the car and carry my 40 lbs SUP board a short distance to the Loxahatchee river right by the Jupiter inlet itself.  I’m looking forward to that, as SUP paddling is both fun (but one has to beware of the currents in the inlet, as well as the odd bull shark or moccasin snake cruising by) and a fantastic way to get in shape, while enjoying some remarkably picturesque scenery.

However, man does not live by SUP boarding alone. If the heart is a lonely hunter, then the mind is a thirsty sponge.

Thus, it’s crucial to engage with other liberals with similar interests, in order not to turn into some Florida geezer, stuck in his house like a hermit, with no one to talk to, except maybe the wife who goes to Bible school to keep from going insane:  you know the type: they sit all day in front of their TVs, rail against Mexicans and Muslims and gays as they watch the propaganda outlet that is FOX, while mindlessly supporting, no matter what, the orange turdball currently defiling the presidency of the United States on a daily basis.

One such venue is the Lighthouse Book Club.

On May 2nd, they will be discussing  “Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Waters” by Cynthia Barnett, and, get this, I can even check out the book for nothing at the Martin County Library.  How cool is that?!

Compare that to the interests of the mamelukes who live in El Gouna.

I actually ran an ad in Gouna News some months back, suggesting that a book club be started at the Gouna Library.

I though it would be cool to begin by covering a seminal Egyptian novel, written in English, in the 60s, that has massive current relevance — but there was no interest whatsoever.

Maybe I had the wrong title.

Maybe I should have picked Forging Credit Cards and Passports for Dummies instead.

No doubt the foreigners who live in or have property in Gouna are more interested in flipping villas while quaffing bottles of Sakkarah Gold at their snooty, monthly “owner” shingigs.

Meanwhile the El Fuerte, married weekender pimps, armed with the latest smartphones and twin packs of Marlboros, are far likelier to go for smoking hashish at private, late-night parties, being seen at 7th Star with their sidebar girlfriends, flaunting their expensive cars in the parking lot at Abu Tig marina, and going off on aimless day trips on their glitzy yachts, than actually confronting culturally what’s going on in the violent realm of General Peepee, the little runt who protects their valuables, as they feed off the public trough with sweetheart deals, while the rest of Egypt gets poorer and hungrier by the day, and fatherless, homeless boys become prostitutes to Gulfie pederasts roaming the filthy streets of Cairo, and organs are harvested off African refugees desperately seeking a boat ride to Italy — any leaky zodiac will do.

No worries; it just ain’t my problem, any more; and never will be again.

Jupiter lighthouse

Jupiter lighthouse / photo by me

There is a lot of work ahead in terms of getting truly thin and in shape again — but that SUP rack will allow me to regularly go paddling by the Jupiter Inlet, which is an area that is far more beautiful that El Gouna can ever hope to be — although I am partial to the scorpion filled mountains that serve as a mysteriously austere backdrop there.

Moreover, I have a lot of books on my summer reading list to go through, which I will talk about at some length in future posts.

Between maintaining my wife’s e-commerce site, getting to a normal weight, making new friends, and watching the slow disintegration of the Trump presidency, I have a feeling I am going to relish the fun-packed days and months ahead!



leaving america


This Is What Happens When It Rains in South Florida


SUP car rackSo yesterday I went to downtown Hobe Sound and had a Thule rack installed on the trusty Escape my wife and I share.

I was all set to take it around noon today to Burt Reynolds Park in Tequesta for some paddling, but heavy summer afternoon thunder, lightning and showers came early this year.

So I ended up cooking an Egyptian-style okra with fresh locally grown tomatoes and beef dish (bamia bil lahma).



okra dish

Last time I had this traditional dish was in Gouna on the Red Sea about a month ago at an Egyptian restaurant directly in front of the GO bus stop.

I had bad stomach problems for many days afterward.

The moral of the story is, if you want to enjoy good Egyptian food that’s safe to eat, cook it in America!

leaving america