April 20, 2007

The American Dream Book Tour & Protest Across America - Dispatch 8

... by Mike Palecek

WATCHING THE TWINS GAME FROM THE DULUTH HOLIDAY INN I could not fine a quart of beer on a Wednesday night in Duluth.

Oh, well. Coors Light bottles will do in a pinch.

I look out the window and I see this old port city, with these humongous buildings, board of trade, hotels, that you just know used to hold millions of sailors every night, drinking and shit. Quart bottles, no doubt. It makes you wish you could go out right this minute and find a boat to go down to the bottom of Lake Superior, and have Gordon Lightfoot feel really bad about it.

Or not.


Wow. What a night.

I visited the Duluth Catholic Worker, Loaves & Fishes. And I am on a Dorothy Day high.

What a group. That was fun.

Michele Naar-Obed was one of those sitting around the living room. She told how hard it had been for her to be away from her family while she served eighteen months in a federal prison in Florida for pounding on a nuclear submarine. Her husband, Greg Boertje-Obed, is due to be released soon from Sandstone prison for pounding on a missile silo in North Dakota.

And there were lots of other interesting people there. I always just sit and listen after I finish my thing. There are always lots smarter people than me around who know lots of stuff. My mission is to shut the eff up and maybe learn something.

And this afternoon I read at the College of St. Scholastica, also in Duluth.

You should have seen the spread they put out there. Beer on ice, wine on ice, cheese on ice, crackers and broccoli and carrots on ice. And I couldn't touch any of it, because I am the honored guest.

So it goes.

Are you like me and everything reminds you of prison or county jail?

Does the play area at McDonald's freak you out because it's hard plastic like county jail chairs and it feels like you're locked in and those workers behind the counter look like county jail guards? And they're laughing and pointing at you ... and.

Really? You, too?

And does the College of St. Scholastica reminds you of a prison, that stone wall, and how tall it is, and the cut, the outline of the top?

You, too?


It's got this front wall, and it reminds me of Stillwater state prison. I was never inside, except as a reporter, but, oh, well.

Yes. I can talk about something else.

I was walking around the campus before my talk, and I checked out the chapel, which was awesome. I could sit in there and think about shit for a long time if I had to, but I was nervous before my talk, so I just peeked inside.

Then I walked by a sign that said "St. Scholastica Monastery."

I once considered the monastery, in Oregon. I'm not sure they considered me. They would not let me keep my dog, so I left.

I think it would be great to pray about a million hours every day. And I don't know that I would miss the world too much, except for sex, and Twins baseball, and beer.


You should have seen the lineup card I picked up at Magers & Quinn books in Minneapolis.

Upcoming Events: Mike Farrell, Mike Palecek, Ralph Nader. The events manager told me he had about 175 people for Mike Farrell, had to knock out a wall to fit everyone in. There were four people at my event and one of them was a little girl with her parents. I'm still calling it four.

Hey. The next night over in Dinky Town, near the U of M, I did a signing at Magus Books. It was like being in Diagon Alley. They had bumper stickers about brooms and witches and stars and being abducted by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

I saw a plaque for "Best Astrology Store." They had crystals, and books on Wiccans and UFOs and the customers were ordering "oils." Yeah, sure, that probably means, oh, well, it could just be oils. What do you do with oils? Write me if you know.

The owner was a Brit. He called Bush a "plunker." I smiled as if I knew what that meant because I was the honored guest author. I think that means retard-war-criminal. I might need a ruling on that. Write me.

On the way up to Duluth from Minneapolis this morning I passed Sandstone. I remember driving up there in the 1980s from Omaha with Rich Koeppen to visit Kevin McGuire in prison.

And later Marylyn Felien and I would drive up to Duluth from Omaha on a mission to help Rich.

See ... there was this thing about how three resisters from Omaha, in prison for protests at Offutt Air Force Base, were being held too long, past their sentences.

So, we came up with the idea to "Get Rich Quick."

Meaning we would drive up to Duluth and hold signs outside the prison, where Rich Koeppen was being held, to try to force the federal government to release him.

It didn't work. Then we drove to Chicago where Kevin was being held at Metropolitan Correctional Center, the federal prison in downtown Chicago, to try to help him, too.

In the meantime, the feds had released Frank Cordaro from Marion, before we even got there. Maybe we scared them with our clever slogan.

Anyway, Kevin wasn't waiting for us. He was on a hunger strike inside MCC in Chicago, saying they needed to release him or he would not eat.

He was in the doctor's office in MCC, with the hack doctor shoving an IV up his arm to force-feed him, when the order came to cut him loose. They let him out the side door.

You ever hear of anyone forcing the Bureau of Prisons by a prisoner in custody to release him?

I have. Kevin McGuire. He beat them. Unheard of. Awesome. Kevin is Irish. Somebody needs to write an Irish drinking song about the bloody British and the lads and McGuire forcing the bloody, fooking BOP to cut him loose.

So. We had a party.


Before my thing at St. Scholastica. Did I tell you they had my name on the marquee out in front of the school? They did.

No. I don't think it's that. I don't think I'm a big deal and I get off on seeing my name. Oh, I love to see my name. Dude. It's just that I know how small of a deal I am, and when I see something like that it knocks my socks off, and I have to smile. What if Ruth could see this. We'd get a chuckle out of it. Maybe go have a beer somewhere.

Well, then I went and parked, put my bags inside the hall and went to explore, made notes about the college looking like a prison, shit like that, then went behind the monastery and walked up to the trees.

I could imagine going into the woods and never coming out.

I really would. And never come out except for sex, or to drink a lot of beer, or to go to a Twins game. I swear I would.


See you tomorrow night [Thursday] in Winnipeg.


Mondragon Books, 730 pm.

I have no idea where it is.

If you do, write me.


--- Mike

Buy my stuff: Amazon.com.; cwgpress.com.

Be impressed by blurbs about my books: iowapeace.com

Write me: mpalecek@rconnect.com

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