International Writers Magazine: Reality Check
Hazy Reflections On America's Economy South Of The Border
going to be fine," I told a young exporter from Cincinnati,
as we sat with our wives in the cramped bar of a dilapidated restaurant
on the Westside of downtown Cabo San Lucas.
had been another warm later-November day and the wife and I decided
to interrupt our Mexican Booze Marathon to charter a sailboat at
Puerto Los Cabos and watch the sunset. It was on route to a port
along the Mar de Cortés when we offered passage to Mr. Cincinnati
and his wife.
I hadn't so much
as seen a sober American since being accosted by a round-faced Oklahoman
at the pool bar fourteen hours earlier, but these people were different.
They looked desperate, claiming to have been forced to dock an ill-conceived
marlin expedition when two local fishermen brandished a pistol and summarily
ordered the Gringos to "hand it all over".
I was responding to a conversation that began when Mr.
Cincinnati, drawing hard from a bottle of cheap Chablis, repeatedly
bemoaned his doomed trade and the sinking American dollar. "I'm
afraid," he stammered. "I go to sleep with CNBC scrolling
disaster every goddamned night and I am fully convinced my children
"Don't watch that miserable crap," I told him.
"Those people are programmed to peddle hype. It's the first thing
you learn in broadcasting school, how to pronounce "W" and
pitch hype masked by news-speak. Fuck CNBC. All is well. You're children
may starve, but it won't be a result of the American economy."
"The stock market is killing my future!" he
"Future? It's a myth," I counseled him. "Live
in the now!"
"Jesus, we forgot to cancel our stolen credit cards,"
Mrs. Cincinnati interrupted.
"No problem," my wife told her. "The people
have controlling interest in the goddamn banks. I read it in my husband's
"Are you two with the press?" Mr. Cincinnati
blurted, his sagging complexion turning a greenish alabaster as the
ocean began to go haywire.
"Take that back," my wife sneered, holding fast
against the crash of erratic swells. "Just because my husband slums,
does not implicate me as media."
As we veered into the Pacific, a sudden bout of seasickness
caused Mr. Cincinnati to violently disgorge what he said was once a
fine platter of Chili Mariscos. A fair amount of it grazed my khakis
and part of my wife's sandals. She had ample opportunity to avoid the
surge, but was transfixed by how Mr. Cincinnati's weird combination
of odd facial hues mixed with the crimson sunset. As he doubled over
in retching convulsions, she clicked away on her Pentax K2000D proclaiming
madly, "This is why you must always bring a fast-action shutter
Appalled, and still in post-traumatic shock from the heist,
his wife proffered a conciliatory dinner engagement if we "made
it back alive". Moreover, there were serious overtures to having
an "in" with a select eatery only a few blocks from our hotel.
"We've been coming here for over a decade," Mrs. Cincinnati
explained, as she frantically ushered her heaving spouse into the tiny
bathroom below deck. "We have a 30-year timeshare."
"I would sell that," my wife chuckled, still
clicking away. "The economy is screwed."
But safely back on terra firma, Mr. Cincinnati's appetite
was approaching ferocious, as was my beloved's insatiable lust for stronger
Tequila and a halt to our endless harangue on the Death Of The U.S.
Dollar. She took to growling,
"I swear I'll open my wrists if someone mentions 'fiduciary tailwind'
one more time."
"Aren't you the least bit worried that things are
beyond repair?" Mr. Cincinnati asked.
"Fuck that noise," I said. "America was
never in a better place while crippled. This is not the Depression.
Do you know anything about history, son? After '29 the world closed
its doors on us, and we recoiled in horror at the thought of international
aid. Those days are over. In 1930, we hadn't done a fucking thing for
anyone. Shit, World War I? We came in for land grabs in the last seventeen
months. Before that it was stealing this and colonizing that. Since
then we've dumped billions upon billions all over this globe, not to
mention bloodless coups and weird assassinations. Hell, we went to war
for god-knows-what from Indo-China to Grenada, Lebanon, Kuwait and Nicaragua
in order to drag the Third World into the 21st Century. We won't be
allowed to go under, not now, not ever."
"What about China?" he argued. "They will
eat us alive!"
"China? Shit, do you have the slightest inkling of
what the average American citizen spends a year on crap from China?
Our demise would be suicide. They'll keep lending us money and we'll
keep spending it on their crap. We're like a deadbeat junky to a dealer.
No matter how deep in debt, he cannot afford to lose him. Fuck China.
They need us. Everyone needs us."
"Fuck China?" my wife asked. "Fuck this
hideous feed-shack! How long have we been sitting here?"
"Nine Modelos, five Margaritas and one Tequila Sunrise
ago," Mrs. Cincinnati quantified.
"Holy mother of Christ, we need service here!"
my wife yelled in the direction of the chubby waiter, who sprinted over
to slam an entire tray of Pacificos on our table. He was sweating profusely
from the heat and breathing dangerously hard. "On the house, señorita,"
"We don't want this piss, bring us four more Modelos
until a table opens," I said.
"No table, amigo. We are overbooked."
"I don't care about food, four more Modelos!"
Obviously frightened, the panting waiter whispered, "No
more Modelo. We're out."
"Corona then," the wife said. "Bring us
four Coronas with limes, and no chincy curved slivers, real chunks of
lime this time!"
"No Carona?" my wife shouted. A hush fell over
the bar. "Aren't we in Mexico? Can you go into any dive in the
U.S. and scare up a fucking Budwieser?"
"I'm going to pass out if I don't get sustenance
soon," Mr. Cincinnati said, bolting from our table to confront
the perpetually angry Maitre D'.
For nearly two hours we watched in utter fascination as she physically
evicted six patrons without explanation.
"That woman looks like a pissed-off Frida Kahlo,"
the wife observed. "She's going to kill that poor schmuck."
"What the hell is wrong with him?" I asked his
"Aside from being trapped in Los Cabos for Thanksgiving
Weekend with a lousy time-share, robbed at gun point of everything he
owns, and waking up in cold sweats for a solid month with the sound
of his financial advisor repeating over and over that three weeks ago
the Untied States fiscal stability hung by a thread, he's pretty chipper."
"You've got to ride this stuff out, take the blows
and keep coming," I instructed.
"I know," she said, keeping an eye on her husband,
who was raising the ire of the scowling Maitre D. "We're weak."
As she let "weak" escape her lips Mr. Cincinnati's
hapless recon mission had succeeded. Waving us over, we followed Frida
through the crowded entranceway into a tunnel festooned with cheap jewelry
and trinkets out to the main room. It was too bright, too loud, and
reeking of dried sweat, stale beer, and soiled children. The sound of
nervous laughter was oppressive. Mr. Cincinnati looked woozy, so we
sat him down at an oval wooden table, where an imposing gray-haired
waiter stared us down. "You are in a rush, no?" he asked.
"Rush, yes," my wife told him. "This man
here is dying; he is living in fear...an expatriate who has suffered
a grave injustice at the hands of pirates. He needs refried beans and
guacamole immediately or there could be an unpleasant incident."
Looking perplexed, the gentleman smiled, "Who told
you we served refried beans and guacamole here, señorita?"
With that the wife and I got up from our chairs, and walked
briskly to a waiting cab and back to our corner table at La Guadalupana
Cantina. Before the door closed we could see Frida smiling broadly.
We never saw the Cincinnatis again. They're weakness was
not needed stateside. This is the Land Of Survival. We would be there
soon to weather any storm. But first, Cohibas, refried beans, guacamole,
and two Caronas, please
Campion December 5th 2008
RESPONSES DEc 13th 2008
Nice job on this one. (WHAT'S WORTH VOTING FOR)
A rare look into your personal life/values (such as they are, of course).
Peter G. Blasevick
It's always entertaining reading about your inner-most political demons,
but having been an avid reader of your weekly nonsense for years now,
I am still surprised you're as high on Obama as you are. I know you've
stated, in the end, he is not an Independent and he is still a politician,
and we are talking about The System here, but when does true change
come: real and binding change? If ever? Not sure this guy isn't on the
road to disappointing us. And how can he not disappoint you -- the ultimate
outsider. There is only so much you can do against a structure you ran
so rabidly to lead. Perhaps, since you point out we do get the leaders
we deserve, that best reflect us in our present milieu, then maybe Barack
Obama is sitting on miles of bad road.
In other words I guess I'm just telling the preacher himself
that no matter who takes the wheel, it's still the same old damned lemon.
This is one of your
finest pieces. I applaud your honesty, in a place where I think we rarely
get that. It is a strange glimpse behind this terrible monster you drag
out for show and tell every week. I think Obama has uncovered the very
reason you have spent the better part of a lifetime attracted to this
miserable profession of politics, while staying as far from blame and
reconciliation as you possibly could.
The barricades have shown some signs of cracking.
I fear when they tumble.
Felicia De Santo
Well said- let us
not forego just yet the plans to fortify Compound Unit 1B- if you do
get disappointed by the anointed, the last refuge of your fragile psyche
will be behind a 6" loft cannon firing indiscriminately as rants
of rage attain previously unattained heights and vulgarity- I'll be
Wow! Two weeks in
a row of fantastic deconstruction into your warped psyche. (AN OPEN
APOLOGY TO AMERICA )I feel like I'm privy to a sick reality show inside
James Campion's skull. I'm not sure we can get to sleep anymore knowing
you've gone soft. Have you begun the final decent of all balls-out writers
like Mencken or Bangs, a pathetic backslide into nostalgic whining.
I don't read this craziness to be waxed poetic.
Get back on the hill with that mortar and start firing,
you pansy ass.
Once PA went it
was OVAH JOHNNY!!!!! As I hoped, 'twas the electoral blowout! Now
the hard work begins. I think people will find Obama very middle of
the road and even conservative in some respects. I bet he keeps Defense
Sec Casey and he might even tap Dick Luger (Rep) as his Sec of State,
although that would be a little too far maybe.
Yes, truly an historic moment. Just goes to show that sometimes
you really do need to hit rock bottom to see change. I think Obama's
even tempered manner and desire for consensus will serve him well, giving
him the ability to adapt and hear all sides but then be confident in
Congrats on the well deserved victory...Obama's speech was excellent...I
wish him well over the next 8 years (and am still very happy that this
wasn't Madam Shoo In's big night!)...I thought McCain also gave a classy
concession speech...I do find it a bit odd that the closest poll out
of ALL of them taken leading into yesterday was 7 1/2 points...and it
ended up being only 5 points (52% - 47% in the popular)...confirming
that all polls taken are clearly biased by anywhere from 3 points on
Looks like the Republicans held up fairly well
in the Senate by winning 5 of the close races by slim margins (KY /
GA (no runoff needed) / MN (currently going through re-count, but 762
vote lead should hold up over Franken) / AK (shocking that Stevens
held on) / OR)...no where near the 60 that the Dems had planned for
a filibuster proof Senate...this gives me some consolation in defeat.
I know that you and Erin must be very excited...you
poured your heart and soul into each of your well written columns and
I know how much this means to you both...Change is definitely coming...Hope
he protects our interests (including oil) both home and abroad...
problem...How are we going to keep him alive?
Last night all I could think while he was doing his acceptance
speech was back... and to the left... back and to the left....
200,000 people and no one shot him? That was amazing...
I seriously can't watch him without worrying that he's
about to be shot..
Move over cynical boy... ;)
Are you kidding
me? President-elect is in the pocket of Moveon.com, Hollywood, Oprah
and lobbyists, and the far left. And he better tap to the sound of their
music, as MoveOn already told him how much they invested. Get over yourself,
Campion. God help America, not God damn America as Rev. Wright so eloquently
stated, (not that Obama heard that - LOL).
Well done, James.
Still hard to believe.
I just hope it goes as well as we think it can.
Dear, dear James:
I have been reading--and anticipating--your screeds with great delight
for almost three years, now. I call you my brother in the same way that
Django Reinhardt did when seeing Louis Armstrong play live. Well, it's
not like I wept with my head in my hands, but I claim fraternity just
I like to read opinion articles. Sometimes the arguments
are sufficiently cogent to provoke thought, and sometimes they just
suck ass. I guess that's the price of having paid attention and invested
time and effort in the English courses I've taken. It's one thing to
denigrate the contributions of those with whom I don't agree. That's
too easy, and is very likely the single biggest problem we face as a
culture. I've tried the blind faith approach several times in the past,
and I've found it to be a dead end, or as our politically correct traffic
signs now say, there's "No Outlet."
Sometimes I read what you write and it resonates like
a well-crafted guitar. Sometimes it takes a little more on my part to
get what you're saying. The well-worn phrase, "a voice crying out
in the wilderness" comes to mind, and true to my training, I go
to look it up, and wouldn't you know it's right out of our mythology,
describing John The Baptist. Rather fitting, I think: You come across
as wild and unconventional, and although I have a hard time imagining
you railing about a coming Messiah, you have a way of being impossible
to ignore: Unconventional, but consistent, and obviously stuck with
a stubborn sense of integrity. I imagine that you've cursed this part
of yourself, wishing that you could just shrug off your conscience.
Any fool can open a can of worms. You seem compelled to dig in and address
the slimy and unpleasant issues that you discover in the exploration.
I eagerly await your next missive from the edge of known
Promises On The Road To Automotive Welfare
The American Auto Industry is weeks from going belly up in an already
eroding economic slog
Open Apology to America
Despite my hard-line skepticism, serious doubts, and relentless cynicism
born from over two centuries of recidivistic dementia, you did not elect
a middle-aged Anglo-Saxon,
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.