“Just because you don’t take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” Pericles
There is considerable hoohaw currently in regard to the ‘revelation’ that the NSA (National Security Agency) is actually using all the technology they possess to do the thing they possess it for: monitoring our communications. No, not just tracking metadata to study trends, listening to keywords to establish justification. Justification for what? To invade our privacy with legal impunity. Saying “Bomb” or “Hi Jack” on a phone call is enough to warrant deeper scrutiny even if you’re just telling your friend Jack that the Bulls are the bomb!
The old saw, “If you’ve got nothing to hide…blah, blah, blah…” Right. My immediate inclination is to suggest that anyone stating such feelings publicly has announced that images of them picking their noses, taking a nice big dump or masturbating are a-okay with them: Post Away! People have personal discussions that do not need intrusion upon; people engage in business or creative discourse where certain information is not for public dissemination, while perfectly legal. Why should the government, which deals with corrupt foreign dictators, have access to our trade secrets? We don’t even know particulars of public events, redacted by the most transparent administration in the history of the nation, yet they know every porn site we’ve ever been redirected to.
Can’t speak for anyone else, but I see right through them.
Hence this revelation doesn’t overly excite me. I recall the same revelation during the Bush/Cheney crime spree in regard to ATT and their vile cellular spawn, Cingular. At that time I was a Cingular user, which I then ended abruptly for reasons soon to be clear. I was bugged by the NSA. No, it’s true. My phone was tapped and I was set up. Possibly to be killed.
Would you like me to show you documentary evidence of this? Internal memos and orders from on high to move on the invisible naysayer in L.A.? Phone logs of the operatives involved in the sting, their badge numbers and home addresses? JFK was killed 50 years ago. The government claimed he was killed by one guy, Oswald, who was killed by another guy, Ruby. Just those two guys. Yet they maintain thousands of pages of documents in regard to the lack of conspiracy as top secret while thousands more they have released are redacted into uselessness.
You want documents, print this out and carry it around. It’s assuredly more factual than anything from a government agency. Have I ever lied to you? If not, you know the government does and has and is, so the least you can do is nothing and beyond that you can continue considering my tale and draw your own conclusions.
I am nobody. How do you know that? You don’t know me. Unless you’re of a very small number of very intelligent and discriminating people, you don’t know my work. Why would you? It isn’t promoted by anyone you listen to. Art doesn’t become socially accepted until someone already socially accepted accepts it, socially. Kind of the guru thing, we need a self-anointed or publicity appointed expert to define what we enjoy for us. Oh, to kiss Gaga’s ring…
If you opened this up because it’s Arturo Hammer, for God’s sake, gotta jump right in here, see what he’s doing, that would be different. But among my readership, likely less than a handful know who I am. You don’t know me, nobody knows me. But for this I am an unknown, invisible.
This stated so emphatically, why would I be bugged? That’s a good question. How can I prove that I was bugged? That is harder, but allow me to provide the context and you can decide.
I’m a writer type. I write lots of different types of things – I used to type them on a typewriter; now I write them on a computer on a type of keyboard, much like a typewriter. It’s a brave and terrifying new world. Mostly terrifying, or terrified…But brave? Give me a break. As such I write screenplays and fiction and songs and essays. On Twitter, I write fortune cookies.
Toward the end of the Bush/Cheney Criminal Enterprise & Coercive Democracy Explodetorium (how I wish it would end), I was concurrently working on a couple of projects, one of them a screenplay called Smart Bomb. This is an interesting piece that no one will touch, like most of my work. Poorly written? Not by a long shot. The subject matter is too scary for most people. I’m like that.
Smart Bomb is the story of a man that disguises himself as Donald Rumsfeld – with limo and motorcade – who arrives at the White House just ahead of a scheduled appointment. As he is expected, he is ushered in, followed by a Fox News van. Only upon closer inspection do they discover an imposter with what appears to be an atomic device in a suitcase at the White House gate. His demand: an hour interview with Bush, broadcast live on Fox.
This allows DC an hour to evacuate – with a catch. Every time Bush is caught in a lie, the terrorist takes a minute away. Very tense, very intelligent, very timely and cheap: basically in one location with 4 actors. No wonder no one had an interest, huh? It would be boring comic book. Blah blah blah…
I submitted this script to then head of the MPAA, Sid Ganis, who I had worked with on Akeelah and the Bee. Sid is a good man, his wife Nancy is a good woman and I enjoyed working with them and wish they’d hire me again. I don’t think that’s gonna happen.
Sid read a couple of my scripts and after reading Smart Bomb he called me on my cell phone. My Cingular cell phone. And on that cell phone he told me it was a very good script, he liked my writing but…(this town has so many buts and so few of them are nice ones)…he didn’t feel his company was prepared to make a movie about a terrorist that holds the president hostage in the White House with an atomic bomb. Red flag? How about crimson banner with my name all over it, just flapping there?
A while later, after my then current project had ground to a standstill owing to dearth of funds, I found myself in conversation with my son, in my studio. (It’s a spare bedroom.) Studio. Remembering Russell’s warning, “The first sign of a mental breakdown is belief that one’s work is terribly important…” I lamented that to properly see the project through to fruition I needed a hundred thousand dollars. I emphasized that: $100,000.00.
My cell phone rang. The number dialing me was 0-000-000-0000. Oh oh! That seemed odd; I didn’t know any groups of operators and certainly didn’t know they represented themselves with more than the single 0. I picked up to hear, “Do you need money?” This struck me as disconcerting and I hung up. Why would operators be offering me money?
Distressed, I let it slide into the storage area of my neo-cortex; I had work to do. While displeased by our surveillance state, I don’t kid myself about it which makes me an anomaly. The internet was created by the Pentagon through DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). The internet runs through telephone lines. ATT, which laid and maintains phone lines, is a massive global corporation. Neither of these organizations exists benevolently. They possess clearly defined agendas: Full Spectrum Dominance. They want to kill the competition. Literally. The Pentagon actually does.
Immediately subsequent to 9/11, (which the government had no advance knowledge of) DARPA instituted TIA: Total Information Awareness. TIA’s goal was simply that – use all the technology available to the system to monitor and collate total information awareness on everyone, everywhere. Facebook became huge right afterwards with some of the very same people working for both organizations. TIA was ostensibly shut down, owing to protest, but clearly was only moved from front burner to the back as intelligence gathering heated up.
So to imagine that these aggressive, heartless, ideologically driven collectives work with my best interests at core is naïve at most generous, and just plain stupid when dispassionately viewed. My friends and family don’t work with my best interests at core, though I don’t mean to suggest that they wish me ill. We each work based upon our perceived best interest, as that is the natural course of life. If you starve to death feeding others, then you won’t be able to feed others any more. Pretty simple stuff.
Consolation comes in the statistical advantage. There are hundreds of millions of phone calls, e-mails, Tweets and so on every hour of every day. This is a massive amount of amazingly trivial information. For the most part, horribly boring exchanges by fairly uninteresting people, at least from an intelligence perspective. To act on every petty drug deal or hooker date would collapse the system, so most calls are disregarded.
The calls of interest? Suppose you have information about a stock or new product about to be developed; perhaps a great idea that you don’t have the funding for. Rapacious capitalist (fascist) organizations that come into valuable insider information do exactly what with such intelligence? Flush it down the memory hole? Sure they do. Maybe get a little insider edge? To think that such things do not occur is to accept such intrusions willingly. It is to invite them.
Two days after my odd phone encounter, I found myself on my regular constitutional. I walk a couple of miles every day or so to keep my body fit and recharged with vitamin D courtesy of our father the sun. I figure this is the only body I got for the rest of my life; it’s probably best to keep it functioning well. My former bank is on the corner of a fairly major intersection about a mile from my place. As it happened, I was walking in front of it when I was beckoned.
“How do I get in?” I heard the voice from behind and unaware it was addressed to me proceeded. “How do I get in?” Back and to the right, the voice closer, more insistent. I turned and looked behind me. A Mexican fellow, about 30, a good head shorter than me and schlepping a gift tote looked at me, quizzically. I told him the entrance was ahead, near the parking lot. He strode beside me.
“I can’t believe it.” I glanced at him, a little sideways. We continued walking. He said it again, “I can’t believe it.” I glanced again, “Oh yeah?” The little fellow looked at me and said, “A hundred thousand dollars.” I stiffened. Who was this interloper and what of this strange message?
“Huh?” I grunted. We continued up the sidewalk. He shook his head and said it again, “A hundred thousand dollars.” This was now positively creepy and I got a little nervous. I made it clear I didn’t understand his strange repetitive comments. He shook his head again and crossed in front of me stepping up the ramp toward the entrance to the bank, putting a rail between us. He looked at me.
Before continuing, allow me to offer a little further context. I am a man in my mid 50s. I’m fairly fit, not a giant but no dwarf either and tend to appear fairly menacing to sensitive types. I wear a lot of black, have facial hair and fairly long hair on my head. That day, as winter approached, I was in a black jacket, black jeans and tennies, a black watch cap, dark glasses which totally obscured my eyes and black gloves.
Those who know me find me of fairly even temperament and even quite charming on occasion. Strangers find me unreadable till I reveal myself through discourse or even just a smile. This fellow approached me from behind; a man in black, taller and potentially dangerous without direct knowledge. While easy to engage, I as most, still represent the unknown. Speaking personally, I wouldn’t fuck with me.
My new buddy felt otherwise. He held open the gift bag, displaying its contents to me and said, “No, a hundred thousand dollars.” In the cheesy little bag in his hand was a pile of ten, ten-thousand dollar bundles of hundred dollar bills. Just as he stated, a hundred thousand dollars. In a gift bag, in my face, within arm’s reach. I looked around then proceeded up the sidewalk, shaken. I waited for the other shoe to drop, but it didn’t. I had a sense of laser sites dancing across my body all the way home.
Had I taken that bait, you would not be reading this – I’m sure of this. Not that it was ever a question. The reason I am poor, perpetually broke, is that I don’t steal. Money, property, other people’s work. As all these things have been stolen from me during my lifetime, I choose not to cause others to feel as bad as I feel when people do it to me.
Was it coincidence? Could it just be that the memory of a ridiculous request two days prior was triggered by the exposure to the very thing I sought? Perhaps. Had I not been set up prior and subsequent I might even convince myself that. But I have been a target of the system my entire life, as well as rejected by it, which leads me to feel that my time is always coming and will likely be hastened by bored men with too much money and too little actionable crime to justify it.
The poor are targeted because we have reached the point of having little left to lose. What a world we’ve become when nonviolent people who speak for peace and reason are targeted by a system that only knows unreasoning violence. Lucky then that I’m nobody – if I were somebody, they’d likely find themselves compelled to make me nobody again.
Since the phone was invented, they’ve listened to our calls. Since the internet caught us in its web, they’ve monitored our emails. You can tell yourself otherwise, even convince yourself it is to protect your safety. While you comfort yourself with such charming notions, remember also that the full weight of your government was used to target a writer that nobody cares about.
How many people care about you?
The Hundred Thousand Dollar Question
In my essay Bugged, I recount how I was set up over $100,000.00 in cash. Of course many if not all who read the piece decided immediately that I was either, 1.) crazy 2.) lying 3.) paranoid. My son, who figures prominently in the story, thinks I’m merely misinterpreting a wild coincidence.
So, in the interest of confirming the 3 posited suppositions or perhaps offering another even more plausible, I will offer a little Thought Exercise that could help one understand things such as coincidence and probability. I will offer some questions, yes or no, broad but comprehensive enough for our purposes. Honest answers will only confirm what you’ve already decided or make you actually consider my proposition.
1. Do you have $100,000 in cash? Yes No
2. Have you ever had $100,000 in cash? Yes No
3. Have you ever seen $100,000 in cash? Yes No
4. Have you ever known anyone that had $100,000 in cash? Yes No
5. If you had $100,000 in cash would you display it? Yes No
6. If you had $100,000 in cash would you tell your friends? Yes No
7. If you had $100,000 in cash would you tell your neighbors? Yes No
8. If you had $100,000 in cash would you feel safe with it? Yes No
9. Would you entrust a friend with $100,000 in your cash? Yes No
10. Would you openly carry $100,000 in cash on a busy sidewalk? Yes No
11. Is $100,000 in cash an insignificant amount of money? Yes No
12. Would you feel secure walking around with $100,000 in cash? Yes No
13. Would most businesses recover from the loss of $100,000 in cash? Yes No
14. Do you know of any businesses that would wait to collect $100,000
in cash before depositing it in the bank? Yes No
15. Can you think of any legitimate business that would trade in bundles
of fresh $100 bills, wrapped in 10 bundles of $10,000? Yes No
16. Can you think of any legitimate business that would transport
$100,000 in cash in a cheap, string-handled gift bag? Yes No
17. Would you drop an employee off on a busy corner with $100,000 of your
cash in a gift bag, in the middle of the day and have him walk it up the sidewalk
to the bank instead of parking in the lot and accompanying him? Yes No
18. Would you approach a stranger from behind, taller than you, in dark
glasses, a black watch cap, jacket, jeans and gloves while carrying a gift bag
containing $100,000 in cash and socialize with him? Yes No
19. Would you address the stranger in the above scenario, twice saying
to him “A hundred thousand dollars”? Yes No
20. Would you in the above scenario put a rail between yourself and a total
stranger, hold open the gift bag displaying the money to him while saying
emphatically, “One hundred thousand dollars!”? Yes No
To any who couldn’t honestly squeeze but a couple of “Yes’s” out of there all I can say is,
“Quite the coincidence, don’t you think?”