Malcolm dissents

Malcolm Brooks, author of Painted Horses and a capital- F Friend of Q, was so appalled by an Adam Gopnik anti- gun rant in the New Yorker that he wrote the furious and sometimes even funny riposte below.

Turns out he was “baited” with an old essay, but the truth remains. Apparently no one at the NYRKR has yet realized that not only is Gopnik’s statement that it is almost impossible to own a gun in Canada wrong (or as we say, a “lie”), but Canada’s only move on guns in recent years was to abandon its flawed, useless, and ruinously expensive long gun registration scheme.

There are dangers to living in a bubble; I am remembering Pauline Kael’s statement that Nixon must have stolen the election because nobody she knew had voted for him.

In Berkeley.


 I don’t regard myself to be on “the right,” whatever that means in this Fantasia of a current political climate, but I own a pile of guns and have been shooting and hunting with them since childhood. True, certain European countries have stringent gun laws, and some or possibly all of them likely have lower homicide rates than our own experiment-in-progress. On the other hand, it’s not “impossible” to own a gun in Scotland, which still ushers in the Glorious Twelfth in traditional fashion with a lot of booming double-guns and dead grouse in the heather. Meanwhile, following the Velvet Revolution the Czech Republic quickly moved to reverse draconian Soviet regulations designed to keep guns out of the hands of anyone who might pose a threat to the regime, and Czechs are currently about as armed to the teeth as the Swiss, with similarly little trouble. America is a unique situation, with a degree of class and racial and regional diversity that might be described as unprecedented in the history of the world. Frankly, for a heterogeneous, even polyglot nation of 300 million with an estimated one gun per person, it’s somewhat astonishing that gun violence is as rare as it is on a per capita basis, despite the best efforts of a sensationalizing media to portray statistically rare (if undeniably tragic) mass shooting events as some sort of social pandemic. As far as straight gun homicides go, the vast majority are demonstrably related to black market drug trafficking, which itself is a product of foolish, draconian, and totally paternalistic state policy rife with corruption at every level and probably knowingly engineered to prop up excessively militarized domestic law enforcement departments, privatized penal institutions, and for all I know the GDP of Mexico. Don’t even get me going on Big Pharma and whatever barrage of untested drugs-du-jour it wants to ram down the throats of Americans at the earliest possible age, except to say I’d far rather see both legal and illegal drug policy reform than squads of the aforementioned LEO’s coming around to confiscate the guns of American citizens, be they Bobby Seale, Dennis Banks, the Pink Pistols, or myself. And frankly, essays and punditry such as the above, in which some air-conditioned wonk blathers on about sixty or so million American gun owners as though their collective character is somehow flawed, retrograde, inbred, gap-toothed, or otherwise unevolved enough EVEN TO NOTICE THE BLATHER, let alone have a change of heart and whistle kumbaya whilst agreeably handing over the artifacts of their own enthusiasms, are about as insulting as it gets. Let’s not forget that we are talking about people who keep the electrical grid up and the toilets flushing and the trash hauled off and the food magically appearing in the grocery store; stop having this conversation as though it’s solely the purview of a self-congratulatory intellectual class, because that isn’t what stands to have its pastimes and ways of life criminalized. And honestly, I’d love to see one-fiftieth the ire out of the left over Snowden’s current straits as it seems endlessly to have over legally owned firearms in a free nation. So basically, this: if you or Adam Gopnik or Barack Obama want my prized 1924 Mannlicher-Schoenauer, or the 1955 Czech BRNO my son shot his first two elk with, or anything else in the safe, you are all welcome to go purchase your own. You can’t have mine. Get the picture?

Steve again: one more thing I have always wondered about: since most military people and cops I know are firmly pro- gun, just who is going to take our guns away?

Worst Design Idea EVER

From California Home and Design, proving once and for all that everything you suspected about California is true…

To quote them, “Enter the second-floor 1908 library… Designing for a modern family, DeSousa was challenged to fill the shelves with real books when today most are read with an iPad. With the help of, a site that provides salvage books by the linear foot, DeSousa adorned the shelves with hundreds of paper bound books.”

And painted them all white.

Carriage horses: the battle begins

I should have said– and will now– to check in just in case something that is actually important comes up. I would not brag that most of what is reported here is important in the grand sense– but my defense of animal- human bonds, the “Old Ways”: partnerships, “jobs”, memes– IS. I helped push back the AR tide when they tried to ban coursing in California. The good guys won that one, however temporarily.

But now, a more visible and symbolic fight has commenced for real in New York. A blinkered urbanite might be forgiven for misunderstanding dogs that chase jacks and their human partners. But more than sixty percent of New Yorkers, three newspapers, an actor (Liam Neeson), a horse trainer (Buck Brannaman), and just about everybody but the most self righteous and resentful Animal Rightsers and a few dubious real estate developers–oh, and the silly playpen Marxist mayor who won his office when only 26 percent of the electorate voted, who did so with the money of said developers (the stables are prime real estate), and who is a “strong Animal Rights activist” who has never owned an animal of any kind, but who tells the little kid of one of the horse drivers that his father is “immoral”, while refusing to meet the drivers; a “man of the people” who says that his administration’s highest goal and priority is to take away the livings of working people who have never been accused of a single act of cruelty…

The battle is joined: Read Jonathan Katz here for a good summary;if you subscribe to him he will keep you up to date. Then join us in sending some funds to the drivers here.

If the screaming fanatics of AR win this one, no city animal will be safe.  A lot of country friends forget that, a few years ago, Albuquerque animal activists tried to enforce draconian dog regs that slipped by in Albuquerque to the rest of our very rural and western state (ban on more than two dogs, rigorous permits including no in- house litters, on- site inspections, and huge fees to breed, and apparently only AKC purebreds).  They want a war, they have a big war chest– check out HSUS– and believe they can win it, while the carriage drivers only want to live in peace. If they want to play ISIS to our border fortress, our Kobani, let us be as brave as the Kurds. Stop them in New York before they knock on your door.

OK, a little humor. Mayor DiBlasio claims he is a “Marxist”. He says so; I am not red-baiting him. If we must have Marxists, let them be like this iconic one. Here he is shooting birds in exile in the Caucasus in 1926 (next stop Kazakhstan, where he mostly hunted birds with his dog for two years); with his rabbits, in lonelier exile in Mexico; and big- game fishing a la Hemingway off Mexico, shortly before the traitorous “Ramon Mercader”, who had insinuated himself into Trotsky’s trust,  sneaked up behind him and put an icepick in his head (if you think I am comparing that sleazy Stalinist hit man to “the coward Robert Ford”, of course I am!).

The New York Horses

Jon Katz, despite his recent open heart surgery, is still fighting the good fight for the Carriage horses of Central Park and against the combined forces of AR supporters and the City’s incredibly clueless mayor:

“They are coming for the horses, and they are coming for the ponies and
elephants and working dogs and chickens on farms and so many other
animals who used to live and exist among us. Soon enough, they will be
coming for you, for the animals in your world, for the way in which you
live with them and love them. Soon enough, they will be entering your
world, your life and telling you how to live and taking the animals you
love a way from you and removing them from our lives. It is not a
paranoid fantasy, it is here. It is the life of every carriage horse
owner and driver and every horse today in New York. It is happening
right now.”

I think he is right, and it is that serious. The mayor, who has steadfastly refused to even MEET the horse owners, says he may move this week. Add your voice and whatever else you can…

It is official

You might have figured it out in comments below but it is official: because the Feds are allowing a three- decade exemption for wind farms to kill as many eagles as they “need” to, and because they exert no pressure on tribal use (right and understandable for religious practice, but ignoring the profitable if clandestine traffic in feathers for dance costumes), falconers will no longer be allowed to catch “up to six” eagles for falconry in areas of proven depredation, exactly reversing the win- win scenario Cat details below.

Nobody ever took six a year, an infinitesimal part of the breeding surplus; ranchers had proven predators removed; falconers got the companionship of one of the world’s formidable predators, often for decades, and the chance to participate in one of if not THE oldest falconry tradition on earth, at least six thousand years old.

Presumably if we do not fight this it means “for three decades?” Or forever?

And why in hell not allow trapping in wind farms?

No more of this!

Pigeons vs Humaniacs

Chris Landauer of Border Wars sent me a note a couple of weeks ago on the ARista’s war on pigeon racing. Since then I have been roaming the Internet, too busy and too pissed off to to write a calm essay on the kind of people who would persecute old men, some of them who have made real connections to youngsters of different cultures, for being “racketeers” for betting on races. They claim it is cruel because some don’t make it home (they don’t know most ferals are more homer than not), and that some substandard birds are “culled” (and eaten), a practice and term that they seem to think unique to pigeon keepers….

It would of course be easy to sue the sport out of existence, of course; though the Queen of England and some wealthy Belgians fly birds,  the old working class cartoon character Andy Capp on the other side of the channel and ancient ethnics like my late grandfather in the US are more typical, as are young blacks and city Hispanos. And given its nature as a HOMING sport, its targets are stationary, unable to go underground. Add irrational fears of diseases that pigeons don’t even carry, the latest being bird flu…

And then I thought, to hell with reasoned arguments; better to go with my initial reaction. So here are some of the calmer parts of my reaction to Chris…

“God, Chris, I get so sick of it all.

” ‘It’s so crooool, but they are all old and they’re going to die soon so we’ll LET them’…

“And another human- animal hybrid culture, another meme, another selected association of unique genes goes back into the undifferentiated pond; another joy is taken from us, there is one less thing to distract the young from the all- flattening difference- ending locale- killing biophobic Almighty Screen. How many youths in how many places once took baskets of pigeons miles to ‘toss’ and raced them home, as I did? No more pigeons, hunting dogs, ferrets, horses but for the rich, ratting, snake catching. Oddly my grandson probably WILL do many of these, but will he be a social outcast for it? And WHERE will he do it?

“And me- my salukimorphs are wanted, and my hawks. But who will pick up my unique genetic stream and crosses when I am gone, my wild hawk- evading homers, my crossbred and reconstructed old Spanish pouter breeds? Eli is too young, and his parents still live in the city; US cities are banning them outright by name (Chicago, Bozeman) or just making it  virtually impossible to keep or God help us FLY them.

“No answers but… Pigeon racing CRUEL? What absolute bullshit. The only beings that never suffer are– DEAD.”

A last thought: vegetarian and fine writer Sy Montgomery, who wrote beautifully about them in Birdology, knows better, and has more wise biophilia in her little finger than all of HSUS…

Photos from Scotland and Turkey, where pigeon culture still not only exists but thrives. The last pix including the cupboard loft are in the restaurant in Urfa where I used to eat lunch.