AUGUST   2020


Friday, October 07, 2011


I wish I had been amongst the congregation that Sunday morning in 1775, when the Reverend Jedediah Dewey gave thanks to the Lord for the capture of the British stronghold of Fort Ticonderoga. It was a tpical Calvinist service, filled with fire and brimestone, until Dewey's fervernt prayers were interupted by a towering figure rising from the congregation and bellowing him into silence. The six foot one inch ruffian reminded the minister that God had not captured the fort, rather that miraculous feat had been accomplished by The Green Mountain Boys, under the command of Ethan Allan. With a sardonic snear on his lips, the giant asked, “Are'nt you going to mention that I was there?” The minister's sharp puritan features turned beat red, and he thundered at the malconent, “Ethan Allen, thou great infidel, sit down and be quiet!” If I had been there I would have reminded the Reverend , that it is just such infidels who build nations.
"Ethan Allen....did in a tumultuous and offensive manner....strip himself even to his naked body and with force and arms...did assault and actually strike (with a club) the person of George Caldwell of Salisbury....on the head...and in a threatening manner with his fist lifted up repeated … three times [to Caldwell]: ‘You lie you dog’ and also did with a loud voice say that he would spill the blood of any that opposed him.”
Justice of the Peace charge - 1765
The orignal trouble maker here was the colonial born capitalist and first royal governor of New Hampshire, Bennington Wentworth (above). Over fifteen years this vulture's greed drove him to sell off three milllion acres west of the Connecticut River, mostly to relatives and inlaws, who re-pcackaged it in smaller chunks and resold it at a profit to smaller investors, who did the same, etc. etc. The problem was the land actually belonged to the colony of New York. But by selling what he did not own, Benington made the Wentworth clan the richest scavangers in North America and set off a wild speculation in shares of The New Hampshire Grants. Of course, after 1764, when King George declared Wentworth's grants to have been illegal, the value of shares in the grants plummeted. But people kept buying and selling them, and they never became entirely worthless. And nobody ever asked Benington Wentworth to return the money.
“I shall do everything in my power to render this state a British province.”
Ethan Allen 1782
By 1767 investors in New York land grants had the royal courts behind them and were forcing holders of the New Hampshire grants (between the Conneticut River and Lake Champlain)  to either buy their land for a second time or face eviction And this was when the eight siblings in the Allen clan sold off their properties in Conneticut and bought 200,000 acres of the New Hampshire grants for pennies on the pound. As a gamble it was more than a little crazy. And that description fits the eldest member of the Allen family perfectly.
“(Ethan Allen) is an awful infidel, one of ye wickedest men who ever walked this guilty globe”
Reverend Nathan Perkins  1774
He studied for the ministry, but even God must have thanked God that Ethan Allan (above) chose a different career. By the time he was thirty, this eldest son of eight siblings was well known for his brains, his profantiy and his capacity for alcohol, arguing and violence. His business partners were as likely to end up in fist fights with him as any share in profits. He was married to a devoutly Calvinist woman, Mary Brownson, and yet first the town of Salisbury, Conneticut and then the town of Sheffield, Massachusetts, both expelled him for religious and social trouble making. Then, in 1770 he was picked by his fellow gamblers in the New Hampshire grants to represent them before the New York courts.
"Mr. Allen, fickle and enterprising,...was joined of rash and violent tempers ...and they vainly conceited that they were become invincible."
James Duane, lawyer, 1773
He lost, of course - the cards were stacked, the game was rigged and he wasn't a lawyer. So, out of the mostly illiterate seetlers who had been duped by Wentworth, Allen formed “The Green Mountain Boys”, and began a campaign of terror against their opponents - for example, in October of 1771, when local farmer Benjamin Hough was appointed a justice of the peace for New York, his farm was burned and Ethen delivered 200 lashes across Hough's bare back, before banishing him from the country. Such treatment became standard for The Boys (above). The New York colonial government tried to reason with the “Bernnington mob”, and finally in 1774 passed the Act of Outlawry, which ordered Ethan Allen and seven other Boys to turn themselves in or be be hanged without a trial. It also put a price of 100 pounds on Ethan Allen's head. Whereupon “The Boys” offered ten pounds for the arrest of the Governor of New York. By the spring of 1775 New York was ready to call out their milita. Then in Massachuets some fool fired a musket on Lexington Green, and New York had something more pressing on its mind; revolution.
“In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!”
Ethan Allen. 1775
The idea of capturing Fort Ticondaroga (above) - “The American Gilbrater” - originated with Benidict Arnold from Conneticut. He contacted the rebels in Massachuetts, who were busy surrounding Boston. So they contacted the Green Mountain Boys. Ethan Allen jumped at the opportunity. Joining the new Contiental Army would put him and his men beyond the authoritiy of New York. So on May 10th 1775, under Ethan's command, 83 Green Mountain Boys and Massachuetts and Conneticut milita rowed to the western shore of Lake Champlain and just before dawn walked right up to the front gate. The lone sentry managed to bayonet one of The Boys, but with that pinprick the strongest fort in North America was captured, less than a month after the start of hostilities.
“I have seldom met with a man, possessing, in my opinion, a stronger mind, or whose mode of expression was more vehement and oratorical. Notwithstanding that Allen might have had something of the insubordinate, lawless frontier spirit in his composition ... he appeared to me to be a man of generosity and honor.”
Alexander Graydon 1778
Then things started to go wrong. Nathan appropiated ninety gallons of rum from the fort's stockpile, “For the refreshment of the fatigued soldiary”. This led to what one writer has described as “one of the...most riotous binges in all American history”, which left only the milita under Arnold fit for duty. Once sober reinforcments from Masachuetts arrived, Arnold sailed off to the northern limits of Lake Champlain. A few days later, Ethan loaded 100 bleary eyed Boys into boats and rowed after him. But Ethan forgot to bring food. The British at St. Jean-sur-Richelieu,  up the Richelieu river from Lake Champlain, were on alert. So Arnold raided the town and sailed back south, pausing only in mid- lake to feed Ethan Allen's hungry boys. But Ethan ignored Arnold's suggestion they return to Ticonderoga together, instead leading his Boys on to St. Jean. There his men starved for another two days until British reinforcements from Montreal fell upon their unguarded camp in the middle of the night. Ethan now retreated so quickly he abandoned three of his Boys in the wilderness. Two days later the exhausted remainder of his force rowed back to Ticondaroga. And the next time the Boys met they passed judgement on Ethan Allen's leadership by chosing a new commander.
“I always dreaded his impatience and imprudence.”
American General Schuyler, 1775
Determined to regain his reputation, the “great infidel” hired on as a civilian scout with the “quixotic if not downright insane” expedition under the American General Schuyler to capture Montreal. After an exhausting march from St. John, on September 25th  1776, without authorization or support, Ethan Allen abruptly crossed the St. Laurence River with 100 men, intending to assault the fortess of Montreal. Allen and 30 of the men who had followed him were captued. He suffered a harsh confinement for 952 days aboard rotting English prison hulks, was kept in chains and rairly saw the sun. However it might be said that one of the reasons America won her independence was that Ethan Allen was prevented from all further participation in the hostilities. At the very least, captivity saved his health (by keeping him sober) and thus saved his reputation.
"His figure was that of a robust, large-framed man, worn down by confinement and hard fare; but he was now recovering his flesh and spirits...”.
Alexander Graydon, 1779
If only his confindement had lasted longer. Exchanged for a Britsh officer in May of 1778, Allen returned to the now self proclaimed republic of Vermont (French for “Green Mountain”.) He was welcomed home as a hero, and appointed a judge. He was assigned to the seizing and selling off the property of British supporters, and quickly broadened that mandate to include eliminating any remaining New Yorkers from Vermont. The next year he published his autobiography, “A Narrative of Col. Ethan Allen's Captivity”. It was an immediate colonial best seller, going through eight editions in just two years. But in relating the capture of Ticondaroga, it managed to avoid any mention of Benedict Arnold, or the fisaco at St. John-sur-Richelieu.
The following year, as New York continued to resist giving up the lands across Lake Champlain, Ethan Allen led secret negotiations with the Governor of British Quebec, offering to join Vermont to Canada. It may have been a political ploy, or a hedging of bets. We will never know, since in 1783 the revolution ended with America as a new nation but Vermont offically still part of New York. Earlier in that same year the pious Mary died of cosumption, and just six months later Ethan Allen married the far younger and far more worldly Frances Buchanan.
Her family had backed the crown in the recent unpleasantness. And her first husband had been a British officer at the seige of Boston. But by marrying an honored hero of the revolution she saved the 20,000 acres of Vermont lands she had inherited from her dead first husband. At the wedding ceremony Ethan refused to swear his fidelity to her “by God”,except under the stipulation that the God in question was “the god of nature”. Still Fanny had a calming affect upon Ethan, or maybe he was just worn down.
"Allen was an ignorant and profane Deist, who died with a mind replete with horror and despair”
Reverend Uzal Ogdan 1789
They had five happy years together, produced three children and spent a lot of money. Then, on February 11th , 1789 the fifty-one year old Ethan Allen attended a party with friends and had that final one drink too many. The next day he suffered a “fit”, slipped into a coma and died. He was buried four days later in the Green Mountain Cemetery in Burlington Vermont. The Reverend Doctor Ezra Stiles President of Yale college noted in his diary, “General Ethan Allen of Vermont died and went to H-ll this day.” Such judgements did not matter. A year later, New York finally relented and Vermont became the 14th state. And that is Ethan Allen's monument. 
Behold him move ye staunch divines! His tall head bustling through the pines; All front he seems like a wall of brass, And brays tremendous as an ass; One hand is clench'd to batter noses, While t'other scrawls 'gainst Paul and Moses."
Lemuel Hopkins, 1793
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Wednesday, October 05, 2011


I guess if you are taking stock you might cow-culate Yvonne's escape as a dairying break for freedom. But I suspect it was simply inescapable. Like the 1957 accident on a Brazilian experimental farm, when a weekend janitor left a hive open and an African queen bee buzzed off, eventually some placid bovine was bound to have a random close en-cow-ter with a fence. So when electrifying freedom came to a six year old Gurnsey named Yvonne, northwest of the tiny German village of Zangberg, Bavaria, nobody should have had a cow. But having blundered away from the ranch, the bovine broad proceeded to milk her brazen escape for all it was worth.
Yvonne the German Cow: is away to sleep now in the nice forest, with a comfy bed made of old editions of Moos Of The World
Yvonne on Facebook
Have you herd about Yvonne? She has her own facebook page and 24,000 friends. It says she was born on April 1st, 2005,  in Austria. But she was not content there. The humans who owned Yvonne were cheesed off she was so moo-dy and spoilt. They were hoping she would ruminate on her mad cow ways. But when even muoo-udder-hood failed to make Yvonne cuddly, they leather go, selling the 'Problemkuh” (problem cow) in March of 2011 to a German farmer named Wolfgang (below). He explained to the magazine Bild, “She was a very nervous cow, so I sold her.” But first he fattened her up to about half a ton of beef steak.
"Yvonnes parting words for this evening "Cow-nt your blessings every day".....I do }:-)~"
Yvonne on Facebook
Three days past her sale-by date, on the afternoon of May 24, 2011, as she was being loaded on the truck for her final journey to the slaughter house, Yvonne did something for herself, if only by accident. She bull-ied her way through an 8,000 volt electric fence, and n-heifer looked back. Now, from a human perspective, what a cow lacks is a moo-ving insight that all cows are, beneath the hide, a band of udders. But that is not the whey of cows. And sadly, Yvonne is no cheese whiz. If there was a hidden truth laid bare here, Yvonne just sort of stepped in it.
"Female cow, lost and lonely, seeks bull companion for romantic liaison and adventures. Great set of teats (128DDDD)"
Yvonne on Facebook
Gone missing, Yvonne did not make it onto any milk cartons. Rather, she en-cow-tered a road, and everything in her experience told her to follow that concrete cow path of least resistence to a reward. But outside of Hay-dom, roads have purposes unknown in the bovine ethos. And in following that road after dark, Yvonne was almost hit by a cop car. In the police officers' view the great brown broad side flashed across their headlights in a flash, forcing them to swerve. In their view it was a blood curdiling experience.  In Yvonne's view, it was one more betrayal of trust. Yvonne was suddenly a bovine Patty Herd-est, once the innocent victim, now the fleeing felon.  If she'd had a voice Yvonne might have echoed the average human twelve year old, forcing back tears and crying in the dark, “This is bull sh-t!” It was then that Yvonne left the road and made her own whey.
Personal Interests: Escaping, chewing, breaking wind, hiding, moooooing.
Yvonne on Facebook
The cops put out a contract on the grazy cow, labeling her a road hazard. Hunters were offically authorized to execute the leather covered speed bump, in the name of public safety. But Yvonne was saved by the wettest summer in recent years, which made cow hunting too damp to be sporting. And Yvonne fell in with a herd of deer who by example, began her transistion from domesticated dumb beast to a curd-ish revolutionary, or as the Sueddeutsche Zeitung described her, a freedom fighter for “the animal-loving republic”.
“We only hope for the best for the cow,”
'Mühldorf district spokeswoman
Our free range heifer was now assisted by another freak of nature, a German Hindu vegan activist and publicty hound named Michael Aufhauser (above). Michael horned in on the situation by first buying Yvonne in absentia for six hundred Euroes. That gave him standing in the Bavarian courts, allowing him to seek a sixty day injunction to stop the hunt – and, holy cow, it was granted. This wealthy vegetarian then sent a hunter out in his stocking feet (to avoid making too much noise) armed with a tranquilizing dart gun. Once doped up, Yvonne would be served up at “Gut Aiberbichl” or “Well Aiberbichl”, Michael's animal farm, where she would pasturize for the rest of her days in religious safety.
I heard about that new “Planet of the Apes” film and was inspired. It’s hard wielding tools with hoofs, though.”
Yvonne on Facebook
But Yvonne had udder ideas. She must have sensed that what had been done to her was done soley for the convienence of humans. And she thought she was not well done. Yvonne was a rare German burger, indeed. She was still drawn to humans, as proven by a local grand-moo-ther who spotted cow paddies in her backyard. A veterinarian who examined the fee-cow matter, dubbed Yvonne to be healthy. The magazine Bild now offered ten thousand euros for a peaceful end to the Great Escape.
And inspired by this capitalist approach, the grand-moo-ther's 11 year old grandson Sepp, went charging into the underbrush, getting close enough to snap a photo of the cow girl (below). A few evenings later the hunter, Hans Wintersteller, came face to face with Yvonne. As detailed by Der Speigel, “She appeared out of the mist, and stared him straight in the eyes. She walked off before he could fire a dart at her. He reported that she now looks more like a buffalo than a cow, and has evidently turned into a wild animal in her months on the run.” How many buffaloes Hans has observed in Bavaria was not explained.
"Yvonne knows exactly what she's doing, and she's tricking us.”
Michael Aufhauser
Michael contacted a Swiss “psychic cow whisperer”, Franziska Matti, who remotely “spoke” with Yvonne, and was told “she was fine but didn't feel ready to come out of hiding,” Perhaps, growing frustraited with this bull-oni, Michael contacted the Swiss farmer who had raised Yvonne, and bought her sister, Waltraud, and her calf Waldi. Both were transported to Bavaria, and left spinning their veals ovenight in a forest pen (above).
The next morning hoof prints and some moo-cus indicated Yovonne had stopped by to say hay, but by dawn she had hoofed it back into the 3 ½ hectacre wood. Then Michael steaked out the adora-bull Ernst, “the George Clooney of cattle”.  Michael was certain that Yvonne would be drawn to his “sonoroous baritone” (below). But somehow Yvonne was tipped to Ernst actually being a Bull-dozer, having previously gotten the Ox and been fixed. Eventually this  un-tempting pseudo-Taurus was sent packing.
“Looking to build herd, own the forest and relax on our comfy (non-leather) sofas together sharing cow lick and snacking on dairy nuts.”
Yvonne on Facebook
During the August news drought, Michael sent in a helicopter armed with an infared tracking device. They failed to find anything but more headlines. Finally, out of sheer exhaustion, the humans decided to try sanity. First, the hunter Hans Wintersteller announced, “‘We have asked all helpers to leave the forest.” Then Bavarian authorities permanently lifted the execution order. They e-mailed Der Speigel “As the animal no longer constitutes an acute threat to road traffic in its current location, no major search or capture operations are necessary. The Mühldorf district office requests that the animal not be disturbed in its current habitat.” Human logic seems to be, that starved for food, the press would moo-ve on to other stories.
But as August chewed its way into September, something changed for Yvonne. Maybe her dear friends the deer got ticked off at her. Maybe she wearied of being a maverick Perhaps she thought, like Steve McQueen in "The Great Escape", that the last fence she jumped was a border to even more freedom. As you get older domesticity can feel like that. The Meuhldorf council suggested "she apparently go tired of the lonelyness", and that may be closer to the truth. But whatever her moo-tivations, on the first of September Yvonne jumped another fence and rejoined a herd, this one of four calfs. And perhaps the venison quartet reminded Yvonne of her own lost youth, when she still had calves and her breasts did not hang so udderly low. We will never know, since Yvonne is not talking.  But we do know she had a beef with the veternarian who tranquilized her for her ride to her new home in a sanctuary. She knocked him on his butt. Let that be her final stampede. She is set now for a contended and safe old age, and I do not expect to hear anymore about her. From this day forward, no moos about Yvonne is good moos.
You may e-mail your message to Yvonne, what heifer it may be, to
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Sunday, October 02, 2011

LIVE BAIT - Part One

I am sorely disappointed. The celebrated “Tour de France” has become a sprint for a drug-testing-urine stained yellow jersey. American baseball and English football seem more pharmaceutical than fantastic, You'd get lousy odds that basketball referees are still entirely trustworthy. And the epitome of “pure sport”, the Olympics, has morphed into a five star marketing tool for GlaxoSmithKline. Sport for the sheer joy of competition seems to have  made its final stand on the humble playing field of the Wallaston County Primary School, in Natwich, Cheshire, England.
In this tiny village of 2,310 souls, one fish-and-chips shop and two hairdressing salons is held the annual hunt for the wily and wild Lubricous terrestris, watched closely, as one observer noted, by a few hundred amused humans and thousands of fascinated birds. And there is not a single endorsement contract in sight. This is pure sport, a contest so pure that water is considered a "performance enhancing drug". I am, of course,  speaking about the World Worm Charming Championships.
The International Federation of Charming Worms and Allied Pastimes (or IFCWAP, pronounced "If Cap") has only 18 rules. Each “worm pitch” is a 3 meter by 3 meter box of manicured lawn, chosen by a random draw. In each pitch two contestants (a charmer and a “Gillie”) may use any method of their choice to entice as many worms from the soil as they can within 30 minutes -  with the proviso that they may not dig or turn the soil in any way and they may not apply any liquid, especially water.  Copies of these simple rules are available in 30 languages, including Tibetan, even though there is no record that anyone speaking Tibetan has ever even applied to enter the championships.
The true charm of the sport is illustrated by rule 18, which states that all “charmed worms (are) to be released only after the birds have gone to roost on the evening of the event.” Rule 18 is only one of the ways in which “Worm Charming” is differentiated from its more barbaric English cousin, “Fox Hunting”. The other
s are are the horses and the dogs. And the odd costumes.
In fact, there is no record of any creature, human or worm, being injured during this event, although the Darwin Awards does provide an unconfirmed incident in Norway in October 2002. The subject in this incident, a 23 year old human male, presumably in preparation for the competition in Natwich, tested an experimental electrical charming device by inserting one electrode into the ground while he held  the second in his hand. while sitting on a metal bucket. Because of the shocking lack of notations taken by this unamed  experimenter it is impossible to say if any worms were actually charmed. At the most, it may be surmised, they were bemused.
In fact the use of electricity to attract earthworms has been something of a "Holy Grail" as long as humans have been touching positive to negative. U.S. patent #1932237 was granted in October 1933 for an electric “Device for use in catching earth worms, insects, and the like”. This innovation was followed in October of 1948 by patent #2450597, which was granted for an “Earth worm disgorging device”. August of 1952 saw patient #2607164 for an “Electric device to bring earth-worms to the surface of the ground”. Patent #2770075 was granted in November 1956 for an “Electric bait getter”.  This was succeeded by patient #3763593 (10/'73) for an “Apparatus for bringing earthworms to the surface of the ground”, the “Worm Rod” (patient # 3793770  granted in February of 1974).
The crowded field has become so advanced that on February 29, 1988 the Consumer Product Safety Commission even filed a complaint against P&M Enterprises of Caldwell, Idaho, demanding a recall of the “Worm Gett’r”. (No longer available.) Officially, since 1971, 23 products of the American education system have died while using commercially sold “worm extractor systems”, but in truth only God knows how many other intrepid inventors and electrically inclined souls who were too cheap to pay $5 for a dozen worms have gone to that great worm pitch in the sky. The Internet is yet still crowded with geniuses, each so thrilled and excited by their own inventiveness,  that they are willing to risk their lives to outsmart a protein tube with no brain. At least the contestants at the Wallaston County Primary are merely risking their dignity, as no electricity is allowed in Worm Charming.
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