WHEN I LEFT America in January 2000, I thought I was merely moving to another country to start a new adventure.
While that was true, what I did not realize at the time was that I, just like Steve McQueen in the photo above, was making my own Great Escape. But I wasn’t escaping from the Nazis. I was escaping from the United States.
When I hightailed it, things were fairly normal above the Rio Bravo. Bill Clinton was president. The economy was running well, and people were getting along pretty good.
There was no Black Lives Matter. There were no Antifa thugs running riot in the streets. There were no geriatric socialist presidential candidates. Conservative speakers were not tarred and feathered on university campuses.
There were no Safe Spaces, and public restrooms were either “Gentlemen” or “Ladies” or sometimes “Setters” and “Pointers.” Humor had not been banned.
Still standing were the World Trade Center in New York, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. And nobody outside Illinois had heard of Barack Hussein Obama.
Farther afield, there were no Mohammedan mobs being invited into European nations, nor to the United States either. Gays were not suing Mom & Pop bakeries over wedding cakes.
You got your porno on DVDs through the mail. It took some cash and effort. Nowadays it requires neither.
There was no Twitter, Facebook or iPhones.
Television dramas and sit-coms were not expected to kowtow to thought police. I read recently that the wildly popular sit-com Friends could not be made today, and it’s true.
The cast was all white. They poked fun at ethnic groups. The show’s crimes against PC were relentless, but nobody cared back then. We just laughed and laughed.
Seinfeld too would be verboten.
But the laughter has faded away. You must avoid saying certain true things, or you run a real risk of losing your job and/or friends and your social standing.
Everything went to the devil after I moved south. I’ve witnessed it exclusively via the internet, not in person.
Man, oh, man, I got out of there in the nick of time.
(California was a magic spot when I lived there a spell in the early 1960s. But no more. Today’s post is written by Victor Davis Hanson, a historian with the Hoover Institution.)
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MORE THAN 60 percent of California voters went for Hillary Clinton — a margin of more than 4 million votes over Donald Trump.
Since Mrs. Clinton’s defeat, the state seems to have become unhinged over President Trump’s unexpected election.
“Calexit” supporters brag that they will have enough signatures to qualify for a ballot measure calling for California’s secession from the United States.
Some California officials have talked of the state not remitting its legally obligated tax dollars to the federal government. They talk of expanding its sanctuary cities into an entire sanctuary state that would nullify federal immigration law.
Californians also now talk about the value of the old Confederate idea of “states’ rights.”
They whine that their state gives far too much revenue to Washington and gets too little back.
Residents boast about how their cool culture has little in common with the rest of the U.S. Some Californians claim the state could easily go it alone, divorced from the United States.
Sound a bit familiar?
In December 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union in furor over the election of Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln did not receive 50 percent of the popular vote. He espoused values the state insisted did not reflect its own.
In eerie irony, liberal California is now mirror-imaging the arguments of reactionary South Carolina and other Southern states that vowed to go it alone in 1860 and 1861.
Like California, South Carolina insisted it could nullify federal laws within its state borders.
Like California, South Carolina promised to withhold federal revenues.
Like California, South Carolina and other Confederate states bragged that their unique economies did not need the Union.
They boasted that “King Cotton” had created the wealthiest class in the United States. Silicon Valley now often assumes that Google, Facebook, Apple and others are near-trillion-dollar companies that are a world unto their own.
Slavery and the extravagant income from cotton warped the Southern economy and culture. A wealthy plantation elite, with its millions of exploited slaves, ensured that there would be virtually no middle-, working- or small-business class.
Huge estates were surrounded by the impoverished shacks of servants. Hardscrabble farmers or small businessmen often fled westward to escape the shackles of wealth disparity.
The export-dependent Southern elite demanded unfettered free trade. It offered bitter resistance to Northern protectionism.
South Carolina elites were opposed to federal infrastructure projects such as the building of roads, canals, bridges and reservoirs, and other such unwelcome “progress.”
Confederates boasted that their antebellum culture was more romantic, natural, pristine, healthy and moral than was the bustle, grime and hyper-capitalism of Northern industrialism.
Southern aristocrats believed that they were culturally superior — in terms of music, art and literature — to other Americans.
Of course, this is 2017, not 1860, and California is superliberal, not an antebellum slave-owning society.
Nonetheless, what is driving California’s current efforts to nullify federal law and the state’s vows to secede from the United States are some deeper — and creepy — similarities to the arrogant and blinkered Old South.
California is likewise becoming a winner-take-all society. It hosts the largest numbers of impoverished and the greatest number of rich people of any state in the country.
Eager for cheap service labor, California has welcomed in nearly a quarter of the nation’s undocumented immigrants.*
California has more residents living in poverty than any other state. It is home to one-third of all the nation’s welfare recipients.
The income of California’s wealthy seems to make them immune from the effects of the highest basket of sales, income and gas taxes in the nation. The poor look to subsidies and social services to get by. Over the last 30 years, California’s middle classes have increasingly fled the state.
“Gone With the Wind”-like wealth disparity in California is shocking to the naked eye.
Mostly poor Redwood City looks like it’s on a different planet from tony nearby Atherton or Woodside.
The California elite, wishing to keep the natural environment unchanged, opposes internal improvements and sues to stop pipelines, aqueducts, reservoirs, freeways and affordable housing for the coastal poor.
California’s crumbling roads and bridges sometimes resemble those of the old rural South. The state’s public schools remain among the nation’s poorest. Private academies are booming for the offspring of the coastal privileged, just as they did among the plantation class of the South.
California, for all its braggadocio, cannot leave the U.S. or continue its states’-rights violations of federal law. It will eventually see that the new president is not its sickness, nor are secession and nullification its cures.
Instead, California is becoming a reactionary two-tier state of masters and serfs whose culture is as peculiar and out of step with the rest of the country as was the antebellum South’s.
No wonder the state lashes out at the rest of the nation with threatened updated versions of the Old Confederacy’s secession and nullification.
But such reactionary Confederate obstructionism is still quite an irony given California’s self-righteous liberal preening.
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* Old Felipe prefers “illegal aliens.” He also continues what appears to be a one-man war against the use of “liberal” and “progressive” when referring to leftists.
My most beloved bar of all — El Batey — was in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recently I did an internet search, wondering if El Batey still existed, and it surely does.
It’s now the oldest bar in Old San Juan, and it has its own Facebook page. But what business doesn’t?
El Batey has changed a lot over the years, but outside more than inside where the only alternations seem to be more wall graffiti. Here is a current exterior shot, just below, and a photo from when I drank there, farther below.
Note the street surface in the photo to the left. It’s blue stone that Spaniards brought to the New World as ballast in sailing ships.
So it’s said.
It was recycled into cobblestones in what is now Old San Juan, which is San Juan’s version of New Orleans’ French Quarter.
You don’t encounter blue streets very often, and they take on a particularly lovely cast when slicked with raindrops.
When I moved to San Juan the first time in the early 1970s — I was there twice, once for five months and a second stint of 11 months — I had a black BSA motorcycle shipped down from New Orleans in the hold of a Sealand freighter.
A decade ago I wrote El Morro Sunrise about a late night in El Batey while the black BSA leaned on the cobblestones.
My two spells in San Juan were separated only by a year or so. When I returned for the final time I brought a record from New Orleans. It was one of Jimmy Buffett’s lesser-known ditties, titled Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw?
The owner put it on the jukebox.
El Batey was owned by Davey Jones. In the early years, while I was there, he had a business partner named Norman, a spectacularly delightful man.
My second ex-wife and I visited Puerto Rico in the early 1990s, about 20 years after I lived there, and the only time I’ve returned. We went to El Batey, and Jones told me that Norman had died. Far too young.
If memory serves, Davey was one of those mail-order ministers with the legal right to perform marriages.
I was smitten at the time with an Argentine floozy who’d overstayed her visa. I decided to marry her so she could stay in San Juan, and Davey agreed to perform the ceremony. But it never happened, thank God.
Which is why you shouldn’t drink, boys and girls.
During that 1990s visit, I checked the jukebox for my Jimmy Buffett record, but it was not there.
One of Davey’s daughters, Maria, told me on Facebook that he died last year. He was in his early 80s. R.I.P.
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Both fore and aft of my times in San Juan, I favored a bar on Decatur Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, a city where I lived off and on — mostly on — for 18 years.
For a time after my first divorce, my ex-wife tended bar there, and it’s where she met her second husband, the guy who jumped bond on a marijuana charge and hightailed it to Canada with my ex-wife and my daughter.
The Mounties nabbed them three years later, and they were returned to New Orleans where everything eventually got straightened out, and both ex-wife, second husband and daughter are now upstanding citizens.
The Abbey is one of a handful of New Orleans bars that never close, a characteristic that suited me wonderfully.
On Sundays, back when I was a patron, the owner laid out a spectacular free spread of snacks that negated your having to buy your own main meal that day.
Between the two, I favored El Batey, but I’ve spent far more nights in The Abbey.
If you stumble out of The Abbey at dawn, lurch right a couple of blocks to Jackson Square, look left and you’ll see the levee that holds back the Mighty Mississippi.
You’ll spot freighters passing above the levee’s crest because the river is higher than the city.
It’s like watching ships sailing in the sky.
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(Note: El Batey is a plaza for community events, a word that comes from the Caribbean Taino people.)
I HAVE A Facebook page under a fake name. I use it almost exclusively to leave comments on news sites. Many news sites only accept comments via Facebook.
I have 11 friends there. One is a dog. Three are restaurants. The rest are good people, buena gente, as we say en español.
Until this week, I also had a Twitter account. I use Facebook rarely, and I used Twitter almost never. Facebook and Twitter are egregiously left-wing. They police their memberships like the Obama IRS harasses conservatives.
Just recently a Twitter alternative came online. It embraces free speech, so I opened an account there and zapped my Twitter. The new site is called Gab.
It’s in Beta, and you must get in line to open your account, but it doesn’t take long. I put in my request, and three days later, I had it. The look is very similar to Twitter but cleaner.
And you won’t get kicked out if you’re a conservative.
There are no jackboots.
Join up and say hi. I go by Felipe Zapata there. I was directed to Gab by the Dangerous Faggot — his term, not mine — Milo Yiannopoulos.
TENDER SENSIBILITIES in some precincts are suffering the vapors because of a detergent commercial in China.
But there is another version in Italy — seems to be a different detergent — which is not causing the vapors.
That is because the Italian version portrays blacks as the ideal while the Chinese version portrays Orientals as ideal.
The criticism of the Chinese ad comes from Western PC leftists — no surprise. I doubt the Chinese care a whit about the delicate sensibilities of Western PC leftists.
Most people around the world view the race issue as they’ve always viewed it, and that is that people are different, and the way you look is, of course, superior.
And it’s quite normal to look down your nose at different races. The Japanese are particularly talented at this.
They have a history of not just looking down their noses but murdering and torturing gleefully, which is woefully often the result of multiculturalism and diversity.
Western PC leftists ignore this grim detail.
While Latin America can be leftist, it’s not PC.* An example is the cartoon character Memín Pinguín, a black boy beloved by Mexicans.
About a decade ago, Mexico issued a postal stamp featuring Memín, and a vapor cloud rose above the United States as PC leftists fainted dead away in colossal swoons.
Mexico ignored it, and the stamp ran its course. I kept intending to buy a sheet but never got around to it. Dang!
The Chinese ignore PC leftists, and so should you.
Milo Yiannopoulous, Breitbart tech editor, “flaming faggot,” and bane of university leftist PC fanatics everywhere, argues that the PC terror is on the verge of collapse.
The astounding rise of Donald Trump is also a reaction to PC terrorists and limp-wristed politicos like Weepy Barry Obama who apologized to the Japanese recently for Harry Truman’s brave, abrupt and justified end to World War II.
I HAVE UPDATED the Felipe page, the first significant makeover in years.
It includes a recent photo, replacing the one taken a decade back while I was sitting in a rocker on the veranda with an orange juice. I am now sporting what I call a bebop cap, a new style I adopted recently after cutting my silver locks significantly shorter. I embrace neat.
The face one presents to the world should be honest. Recently, I picked up the mugshot that will appear on my Mexican passport renewal, and I was gobsmacked when I held it next to the mugshot on the passport issued 10 years ago.
Time marches on.
In addition to the current photo, the updated Felipe page contains some new information that will give Felipe Fans (See Facebook and Twitter — just kidding) much to chatter about.
Also available is my email address if you have something to say that doesn’t relate to a specific post. The Felipe page, along with separate pages of Library, Art, Hacienda and Web Roll always rest up there in the header on the right side.
Just so’s you know.
In closing, I offer a heartfelt tip of the sombrero (or bebop cap) to those of you who dance along with me here on the dim Mexican fringe of cyberspace. I appreciate it.