Friday, June 8

Dear Jim,

It’s been a great week. My trip to the peninsula for our nephew’s graduation was a good one. He looked great. About twenty-five people went to the party. Over the weekend I had great cheese pizza our brother-in-law made. Then I had meat two days in a row. I should eat more meat.

At the party I sat at a table with the fellers while the woman sat at their table. It amazed me how accepting the men were of our police state. They were talking about what a tough job cops have. Then they talked about the good cops they know or have met.

I said ”Cops love to intimidate people.” They agreed. Then I said, ”There’s a book- Arrest Proof Yourself. A retired cop wrote it. Cops have twenty minutes to spend with you. If they haven’t arrested you in twenty minutes, they have to let you go.”

Nobody said anything.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the country. Last night I read an article in the New Yorker about victim impact statements.

They are statements the friends and family of a murdered or raped person make in court, claiming how great their loved one was. The intention of the statements are to help get the accused convicted and then sentenced with either the death penalty or a more than life sentence. The article scared the shit out of me.

Mom and dad would not have made a victim impact statement against your killer. I wouldn’t have either. I didn’t consider myself a victim of your murder and I don’t think mom and dad did. They asked God to have mercy on the bastard.

It’s bad enough that our country is unforgiving. It’s even worse that so many people consider themselves victims: unwed mothers, illegal aliens, the homeless, gays, jail birds, families of murdered people. What these family members and friends are saying is that the beauty of the murdered guy or raped woman should count as evidence against the accused.

I wrote a letter to the New Yorker. I asked if people who made victim impact statements would apologize if twenty years later the guy in prison was found not guilty. Probably not.

People look at me like I’m a criminal all the time. It is terrifying to think that I could be arrested for a murder I didn’t commit, then have to listen to all these people tell me how great their loved one was and then have to see all the baby pictures, graduation pictures, and wedding pictures.

We’re a vengeful society. I’m more concerned that the accused get a fair trial. Others aren’t. They don’t understand that in our police state you or your family member might be arrested for something you didn’t do.

One of the points the article made was that making these statements is a great catharsis for the family and friends of the murdered guy. That may be. But do you want to cheapen our criminal justice system by saying your pain should count as evidence? Now I understand what scholars mean when they say America has lost its’ ability to reason.

So, Jim, things have been sinking in. We aren’t much of a country. We are a nation of little men – all the rectal intercourse, all the gang guys, all the jail birds, all the homeless.

We are a nation of even smaller woman – the lust for a right to an abortion, the demand that the government pay for the baby of unwed mothers, the right to claim that any encounter with a man that the woman doesn’t like is a rape.

Really we are nothin’.

People complain about the president, but he is a typical selfish boomer. Just like the hippies, he is doing what he damn well pleases even though it will damage the country in the long run.

On the trip to the party The City looked good. I sat on the Embarcadero and watched a freight liner sail in. There wasn’t one person on deck.

Remember the Hills Brothers Coffee building? There’s no smell of coffee anymore. The building is a place for high tech businesses.

It’s the only building south of Market that I like. The building north of Market that I like is the one way up on I think Sacramento Street. The one with the radio tower at least half as tall as the building. You probably walked by it a lot.

That’s it for now.

It’s a beautiful morning.

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko

Friday, May 18

Dear Jim,

Hace buen tiempo as they say in Spanish.

I’m sitting outside at my favorite coffee shop. There’s no wind. It’s not hot. There aren’t too many people.

I just read the New York Times. I enjoyed it. There was a good report about the City of New York’s efforts to find apartments for its’ 60,000 homeless, and the opposition that the city receives. The opposition especially does not want shelters for men in its’ neighborhoods.

I can’t blame them, but most of the homeless are men, at least here in Sacto. What is America going to do? Our city council just approved a 16-20 bed facility for terminally ill homeless people. That is a great idea.

Also in the NYT were letters in response to an article about a college student who committed suicide. Of course the university gets blamed for the death.

People say that professors should say something to a student who has started to behave strangely. But what is a professor supposed to do?

He would say that he isn’t a mental health professional, that he would be stepping out of his domain. He might also say his students’ problems are none of his business. If a courageous and empathetic professor approached a student who seemed to be on the edge, the student might curse him, or sue him for being nosy.

We complain about the invasion of privacy by the government and business, but we want universities to keep tabs on their students’ mental health.

It would scare me as a college student if I knew that the software that reads my papers for class sends a report to the dean when I write: I am lonely.; They should throw the scum in jail.; I get plastered every weekend. It’s a gas.; If somebody breaks into your apartment you should be allowed to kill him.; There’s nothing wrong with spanking your child.

The more we try to monitor people’s mental health, the more mentally unhealthy we become. Who can I trust if any negative, angry, lust-filled, profane statement might be interpreted by the authorities to mean that I need help – forced prescribed drugs or required counselling?

It’s a double whammy for people who are on the edge. You don’t want to tell your family and friends you are suicidal because you don’t want to burden them.

Yet you can’t trust the mental health profession. It keeps an electronic record of all your appointments and what you revealed about yourself. That’s scary because all your information can be sent to insurance companies, hospitals, and police departments with the click of a button.

So We’re here to help, but Our neighbors are watching you. And We report all suspicious persons to the police. And Smile. You’re on camera.

I think I said this before – no wonder people don’t seek help. We are trained to be afraid. If we were not a police state there would be good mental health. There would be more trust – of yourself and of others.

Remember last year when I wrote to you about the new building for the natural foods co-op? I told you it made me feel good because of the natural light, healthy electric light, and a great view of the sky from the outdoor eating area upstairs. What I was saying was that it was good for my mental health. I really needed the shot-in-the-arm.

But now I hate it. Like one of my friends said, “It’s so yuppie.” Now they want to sell hard liquor, just like all the stores they think they are different from.

We keep talking organic in America, but we are so full of fear and alienation and anality that we are light years away from an organic state of mind. However we might get an organic police state.

You will have a view of the mountains and eat organic beans and rice when you are in jail for something you didn’t do. The mountains and organic food will help your healing process.

I feel like I am in jail. Crazy people feel trapped. We are exiled in our own country.

Sorry to bitch Jim.

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko

Tuesday, July 4

Happy 4th of July Jim,

They’re starting to set off fireworks. I’m curious to see how loud it gets. There weren’t as many booths selling firecrackers this year and I didn’t see a lot of customers at them.

Do you remember the 4th of July that you came to Sacto and we were at the bike trail on the river near Cal Expo? There was a crescent moon over Venus. You mentioned The Star of the Sea. Then you said that nobody notices something as beautiful as that, but they can’t wait for all the silly fireworks. We agreed how superficial Americans are.

I was thinking about the poster you had in your apartment to celebrate the bi-centennial. There were four guys on it. I know Thomas Paine was one of them. Washington too. I can’t remember the others.

The country is as superficial as when you died, but there is a lot less freedom. There are cameras everywhere. Everybody is afraid. The more cameras there are the more afraid people are.

This evening I walked around a couple of blocks of government buildings. There were nice flowers and bushes, and picnic tables for the staff to eat in the shade. A lot of the places were tucked away.

But I didn’t want to linger and smell the flowers, or make plans to bring a book for three hours on a Sunday to enjoy the solitude. I was afraid.

I didn’t want to be asked to leave. It feels weird knowing somebody is watching me. I said happy 4th of July to a couple of people, but I only said it to bring myself up and to make them feel good.

I wish America was great and there was something to celebrate. We Americans are terrified of each other. Land of the free and home of the brave my ass.

Several years ago I heard a decorated veteran give a patriotic speech. It was great. One of the things he said was that people do not take God seriously anymore.

I could not stay for the end so I asked somebody at the pamphlet table for his name and address. I wrote to him.

I agreed we are Godless. Then I commented on what he said about war and patriotism. I said there are security guards and cameras all over town. I said all a woman has to do is pick up the phone and say a man raped me. She is taken at her word and the man is destroyed. I said I worry about being arrested all the time and I feel more unfree every day.

He didn’t write back.

One time one of our nephews told me that he called ‘grandpa’ on Memorial Day to thank him for fighting in World War II. Dad appreciated it. I would like to thank dad and all the soldiers for keeping America free, but we live in a police state.

I wonder how many vets cry when they realize we’re being spied on all the time and you can’t even have a beer and a cigarette in the park.

The firecrackers have been steady, but it has not been dramatic.

Well Jim. Thanks for listening.

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko