Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Urgent Please!

I got this e-mail a few weeks ago—allegedly from a friend, “Urgent Please” in the message line.


How are you today? Anyway I'm not feeling good at the moment, Well I'm stuck in London,England as i speak to you i was mugged last night by some robbers at gun point, i got terribly beaten up by the robbers and injured as well..and right now i speak to you,i got bruises on my neck all cash on me was stolen away including my phone and credit card and now I'm talking to you from a local library close to the hotel where i lodged. I've been to the embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all please i need your help out from here,my flight leaves in three days time from now,but I'm having troubles sorting out the bills i owe here at the hotel where i lodged..i would have loved you to help me call someone..But i already sent bunches of email to everyone and still waiting for response..Please i need you to get me a quick loan of $1,500. i promise to definitely pay you back when i return. Honestly,it was a brutal experience,but thank God i still got my life and passport saved, I already filled a report to the police and they are on investigation But sincerely speaking,they are not helping matters at all. Please get back to me as soon as possible.

All best,

My friend's name

First response: it scared the crap out of me. Could this actually have happened to my friend, from whom I had received a happy “catching up in the new year” e-mail just days before?

Then I read it again and thought—grammatical errors, punctuation errors, run-on sentences, not to mention the voice—there’s no way my friend, who’s a wonderful writer, would have written this, even under the worst kind of duress.

Of course, it turned out to be a scam. I got another e-mail a few days ago—down-and-out in Nigeria this time. My friend has changed his e-mail address since then.

But I keep wondering, what kind of person does this?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

This Year's Valentine

A poem by my friend, Phil Appleman.


They could
pump frenzy into air ducts
and rage into reservoirs,
dynamite dams
and drown the cities,
cry fire in theaters
as the victims are burning,
I will find my way through blackened streets
and kneel down at your side.

They could
jump the median, head-on,
and obliterate the future,
fit .45's to the hands of kids
and skate them off to school,
flip live butts into tinderbox forests
and hellfire half the heavens,
in the rubble of smoking cottages
I will hold you in my arms.

They could
send kidnappers to kindergartens
and pedophiles to playgrounds,
wrap themselves in Old Glory
and gut the Bill of Rights,
pound at the door with holy screed
and put an end to reason,
I will cut through their curtains of cunning
and find you somewhere in moonlight.

Whatever they do with their anthrax or car bombs,
however they strip-search or brainwash or blackmail,
they cannot prevent me from sending you robins,
all of them singing: I'll be there.

Monday, February 1, 2010

D-Day Assault: Day Three

Today we went in search of the Maisy batteries, but never found them--and went on to look at Utah Beach, the farthest debarkation point on D-Day. It's beautiful country, with huge dunes like you find in Michigan, grasses waving.

Farmland rolls away from the sea. Cows and horses grazing, two donkeys that came up to greet me when I got out of the car to take their picture.

Hedgerows lined the rows and fields, the paratroopers' nemesis as they tried to move inland.

We took a wrong turn on our way to St. Mere-Eglise and, serendipitously, came upon the best battlements we've seen so far. A whole string of them, one of them gargantuan, along the dunes--and a working farm no more than five-hundred yards behind it. The Germans would surely have occupied it. Today, though, the farmer was his tractor, working in the fields. We walked the length of them, amazed to consider how ominous they must have looked to soldiers coming out of the boats. The others were up high, mostly hidden (except, that day, for the smoke and fire). These, though--you'd be able to see them from way out on the water.

We came upon a remnant of one of the "mulberries" that had washed up on the beach, rusty and green with algae, but you could see the structure of it--and the hook on the end nearest the water by which it had been dragged from England by a ship.

Back on the road, we found St. Mere-Eglise, eventually--and visited the museum there, where I came upon this photo (no names, no label) that looks disconcertingly like my (younger) self.

All the stranger for the fact that when I was here in'94, I stood at the edge of the American cemetery, gazed out at the landscape of fields that looked a lot like Indiana and saw in my mind's eye a young soldier waking to that view, thinking he was in Indiana--then reality slowing dawning on him. He was in France, in a farmhouse, being tended to by a family who'd taken him in when he was left for dead.

There was a girl in the family...

And when he comes back, all those years later for the fiftieth anniversary of the landings, he sees a man who looks almost exactly like his younger self.

I don't know what happens from there. I guess I should write it and find out.