Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Havana, Cuba

Compliments of Nat Geo

Most peeps know better than to ask how I ended up in Cuba. So I will tell.  It's sort of a mystery to me too. I remember this huge nip party in Cancun and the next thing I vaguely recall was the smell of dead fish, stale beer and cheap cigars. I woke curled up on the deck of a rusty tub that resembled a leaky ½ gallon milk carton, the kind with a missing peep on one side and Elsie on the other. Missing Portion.

Indeed, the crew of two not counting me were two fat guys of questionable origins and questionable scruples. However, the knew the superstitions of the sea – never throw a cat overboard  as it is very bad lucky. Actually they found me quite amusing when I hacked up a fur ball the size of a fishing lure. Why these to sailors were headed to Cuba I could only guess. I was trying to figure out why I was headed there with them.

Before taking on water knee deep – their knees, not mine – we puttered into the harbor at Havana.  Before anyone could say, “Papers. I need to see your papers,” I was off the boat, off the dock and scurrying like a rat leaving a sinking ship. Nobody paid me any mind. At 4 in the morning even the street sweepers were still.

Havana is huge! I had always imagined the place as some sleepy forgotten enterprise found in a Jimmy Buffet novel. Vintage cars, Spanish arches, thick rum, skillfully rolled fat cigars, Che Guevara murals... the stuff of legends and exotic appeal. Glitz and glimmer sitting next to grime and grit. And more.  The Habaneros are proud and silently defiant peeps.  Life just happens here despite itself.  The city felt like it was constantly pushing a boulder up a hill for no reason at all. Very weird.

Did I mention Fidel?  He caught wind of the fact that I has sneeked onto his little piece of fantasy island and hunted me down like a would be president would hunt down a dog for dinner. Except Fidel wasn’t looking for dinner. He knew I sat with the Queen of England last year and wished to have the very same privilege.  Who knew Fidel was on Twitter?

After he promised a TUNA banquet I humored the old guy. What a coup for me. (Sorry dude, I just had to say it. Frighten isn’t it?) But at the suggestion that I get a ride in a '57 Chevy to the gates of Gitmo, he balked. Pushed my kitty luck a little too far. And once again I found myself wandering about Paradise Lost.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


What I must endure to get a rusty can of Tuna.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Effing Depressing

 “Do nothing which is of no use.” It wasn’t the jaguar who said that.  I had come so far to seek so much. The Jaguar knew it too.

The Solstice on December 21, 2012—precisely at 11:11 AM Universal Time—marks the completion of the 5,125 year Great Cycle of the Ancient Maya Long Count Calendar. Depending on who you talk to, (and I was talking to Foster, the Jaguar) some living Maya (and there are about 7 millions of them) believe the 2012 date to be of critical importance. Others, not so much.

He yawned revealing a canyon of teeth, pinnacle monuments to dentistry. “Believe the stories you will,” Foster continued. “Before the end of times you will see the USA's imposed deadline for Iran to cease its nuke development pass.  That date is 9/21/2012.  What will happen then? The USA has not said. Given the current administration we can expect a strict embargo on pistachio nuts.”

My jaw dropped open.  We all know how I would feel about pistachio nuts.  Iran exports pistachio nuts like the Pacific coughs up TUNA.

Foster asked if I saw the correlation. “No, not really,” I said.  


If I could blush I guess I would have.

“In the expression 'end of the world' the 'world' refers to a cycle. 2012 is the completion of the 26,000 year Precession of the Equinoxes cycle, and some say it also signifies the end of a 104,000 year cycle. But none of that matters. Our moving through with either resistance or acceptance will determine nothing. What will happen will be cataclysmic changes. O gradual peace and tranquility. Or nothing much.” He licked his paw.

I sat listening to where I was. In the jungle rain sounds like cold pancake batter poured on a hot griddle.  The world droops; every leaf hangs low under the weight of the water. I shivered in my wet coat and yet the jaguar remained dry.  He sensed I was not satisfied. 

Foster held up one claw. It gleamed under the dark jungle canopy. From where the light came I did not know.  The jaguar began slowly, sounding mysteriously like Jack Palance, “Do you know what the secret of life is?” 

I cocked my head lost in his logic. “Your claw?”

The jaguar ignored my dim-witted response. He continued, “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.”

I didn’t want to insult him. One swipe of his paw which matched the whole size of me and I would find myself sliced into five little filets. “Excuse me, Foster, but you are beginning to sound like a movie. What is that one thing?”

His eyes seemed to brighten. He released a low purr that sounded like the rumble of distance thunder. “That’s what you have to figure out.”

Heck, I already knew what my one thing in life was.  It wasn’t in that jungle. It didn’t matter what might happen on December 21.  There was no concern about the Mayan Calendar.  The "one thing"  is the concern and that my friend is what you do with your life. It is making the most of today.

For me?  My one thing? It's TUNA. I'd damn good at eating TUNA. It is of great use. The rest doesn't mean shit.

Some might ask why this revelation was so depressing. Come on? Pistachio nuts?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Meeting the Jaguar

So the jaguar told me of Wayeb. The extra days tacked onto the end. "The five days of Wayeb, are to be a dangerous time. During Wayeb, portals between the mortal realm and the underworld dissolved.” To illustrate, his black tail curved menacingly in the night air. With a quick whip it disappeared into the darkness that loomed thick behind his yellow eyes. He blinked twice disappearing completely. Then continued. “No boundaries prevent the ill-intending gods from causing disasters."

I swallowed my TUNA and blinked twice, knowing that my emulation fell far short. It was my effort to show my casual inattentiveness. I licked my shoulder feigning distraction, but I was as much mesmerized as any small house cat would be in the presences of his sleek power. His muscles rippled beneath a silk black coat that was poured from darkness and mystery. The jaguar, a piece of my ancestral DNA.

This was my quest. To search for the answers to the end of time. What will happen on December 21, 2012 when the Mayan Calendar ends? Deep into a Mexican jungle I had wandered to find the answer.

After a copter ride to Tulum I couldn’t just leave the “are you kidding me” beaches of the Caribbean. Visions of employing myself as a pirate cat danced through my tiny cat head. Alas, borne 100 years too late and half way around the world from the Somali Coast (Thank God). Yet, it was tough to stay on mission and drag my little cat tail into the jungles.

Tulum is a place where Goddess could retire. But who am I kidding. She hasn’t had a real job since 2003. She ain’t retiring. The Tulum archaeological site is relatively compact compared with many other Maya sites in the vicinity, and is one of the best-preserved coastal Maya sites. Its proximity to the modern tourism developments along the Mexican Caribbean coastline and its short distance from CancĂșn and the surrounding "Riviera Maya" has make it a popular Maya tourist site in the Yucatan. Popularity doesn’t preserve secrets so I had to leave the coast to find my answers.

I sure could have used a machete. Being a slim and agile cat skilled in jumping trains and stowing away on cargo ships was of little help in navigating the tight flora weave. And the further I pushed into the jungle, the denser it became.

Sooner or later I knew I would stumble upon him. Later was desired, but I knew I would have to face the inevitable. I stumbled through vine and thicket knowing I wasn’t really going to find him. He was going to find me. And one night, after the full moon had begun to wan, I found two glowing beads hovering in the voided stillness. His golden eyes staring at me. It had just rained. I was soaked and he was dry.

And for all his power and all his mystery his name was Foster. I tried my best not to snicker. “My little Diablo, what is your quest?” A voice as silky as his hide. (Was I expecting him to sound like Denis Leary?) He knew where I was from and why I was there. Suddenly, I felt as if I had climbed the mountain and found a cross-egged shaman who knew the answer to life.

His presence made me stutter. I know that’s going to ruin my reputation. “Um, iiiit’s a ttttime thing. The peeps want to know the deal with the Mayan Calendar. I was sent on the mission to find the answers.”

Do you know what he told me?

Next blog, peeps. Next blog.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Mission: A Go.

For crying out loud, I can’t even get an Easter break. I am complaining like I lost the TUNA. So what? I’m a seasoned traveling cat, but this trip has been one challenge after another.

Let me recap. I wandered aimlessly around Indiana avoiding tornadoes. Or so I thought until I discovered I had been in Illinois. (I’ll never forgive that DC bag lady who stole my GPS.) Come to think, maybe it was Indiana after all. I wanted to be in Kentucky. The lesson learned here is that following rivers can get you into trouble as they snake every which way. And bridges? Some should be burned. You never know what lies, sleeps or lives below. I wish I was talking about trolls.

I found myself eating my way across the Ohio/Mississippi River Valley. Surviving on bacon and barbeque. TUNA withdrawal can be a bitch. Once I hit Memphis I got a bright idea. A Steamboat River Cruise to the Big Easy. Except the tourist season hadn’t started. Getting a ride down river was about as hard as drifting along with Huck Finn. And I was dreaming of sitting on fat ladies’ laps and nomming finger sandwiches. Instead, I hitched a cruise on an out of service tug with a couple of old gristles. Got off in Natchez when they started that “here, kitty, kitty” nonsense. Nothing good ever came of that.

In Natchez there are 53 things to do. You can tell me what they are. I never stuck around, but if you can only do one it is the Southern Carriage Tour. Say hello to Ben, a great old dapple of a horse.

But Ben wasn’t headed to NOLA. Hopped on board a train (my favorite mode of transport) and thoughts of City of New Orleans filled my cathead.

Rolls along past houses, farms and fields.
Passin' trains that have no names,
Freight yards full of old black men
And the graveyards of the rusted automobiles.

If you are lucky to be alive when you arrive in NOLA you’ll be above ground, just like the dead. Thank God for concrete.

Let’s see what happened in Louisiana? Oh yeah. Primaries and Basketball. That is what March is all about. The Madness!

Something made me go mad. I hate to fly, but I took a helicopter ride to what I thought would be Mexico. I didn’t hear anything about the Gulf of Mexico. Ended up on an oil rig in the middle of the Gulf. Surrounded by water and not a TUNA in sight. Stuck on the wreckage until the crew rotated. And these guys, the roughnecks, are serious boys. If they ain’t working they are eating or sleeping. A cat on the rig is no distraction. I tried to get them to haul a fish or two out of the water, but they stuck to business as the price of oil went over $100 a barrel. Can you remember when it was $40? About the time O’man got elected.

Enough with the water. I’ve crossed the Pacific on a cargo container with a Croatian crew. I’ve crossed the Atlantic, twice. Once on the Queen Mary II. Now I was marooned in the Gulf. So when the next chopper pilot told me he was doing a little R and R on the beaches of Mexico, I was off the island with a whomp, whomp, whomp of the rotors.

So here I am. I can see the Mayan ruins. I have not ventured into the jungles. Do we really want to know what lies within? Nah. I’ve tried to solicit a US Postal ride back to USA in an Easter chick crate, but the agricultural guys aren’t buying it. Damn it.

Friday, March 02, 2012


Mile making has been slow. However, the diversions have been pleasant up ‘til today. Of all places, the irony of being hunkered down in an intersection-of-a-town called Rising Sun. Waiting for the severe weather to pass. During this lull my heart and prayers go out to those in Harrisburg, Illinois and other Midwestern stomps that were hit with the tornados. While it can be tough going in my world, I count my blessings that this afternoon I can rest inside what appears to be a storage shed.

My diversions last weekend included Dayton, Ohio and a fine visit with @CrookedStamper’s Dad. She claimed all he did was nap when she visited. I say she doesn’t know what napping is. Take it from a cat who knows the fine art of napping. CS’ Dad is a far from a party-pooper.

When I arrived he graciously whipped up some of Oscar Mayer’s finest bacon. I thought eating Oscar Mayer’s was most appropriate for it was the weekend of the Oscars. Can I be frank (ha-ha-ha)? A silent film that no one has ever heard of much less seen kind of promotes napping. Anyway, we ate bacon all weekend. A delicious TUNA alternative.

The highlight of the weekend was not the Oscars. (Surprise, surprise). We took in a concert. Emily and the Rambling Cats. Ever hear of them? Probably not and probably never will. Google them and see what you find. Nothing. Ever Google something and not find anything? It is an experience you can talk about at work on Monday.
“Hey Joe, what did you do this weekend,”
“Googled, shit. I googled something and found nothing. It was totally weird. Kind of like looking for a government listing in the phonebook."
“ For God sake. Joe, what did you google?”
“Emily and the Rambling Cats.”
“What is that? Some funk country band?”
“Shit, if I know. I told you. I found nothing on Google.”
“Joe, what possessed you to google Emily and the Rambling Cats?
“ ‘cause I read some random blog written by a southbound cat. This cat is traveling to Mexico to unlock the secrets of the Mayan Calendar.”
“Dude, how much weed did you toke?”
“None, I swear. I could pee test this afternoon and pass.”

Yeah, this is what sitting out the rain in Rising Sun, Illinois gets you.

My trip down river continues.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Shooting Pool With Joe

A short entry, but this will put Goddess’ mind at ease.

After I had my fill of New Jersey clams I back tracked to New Castle and cross over to Wilmington, Delaware. Knowing I was close to Joe’s house in Greenville, I knew I would be remiss if I didn’t stop in and pay my respects. Sort of. Knowing he never put two and two together last time we played pool, when I peed on the table, I got a warm and gracious greeting from the Vice President.

Joe is always a good sport about things. If you forget as much as he has, you have to be. We got down to business right away, racking up the balls and shooting pool. Joe thinks he is pretty good at this, but I’ve played with better, including Prince William last year at his bachelor’s party. Put a few brews in the VP and he thinks he rules to cue sticks. Not so much.

We watched Whitney’s funeral on the tube which kind of distracted Joe. He really got into that good old time religion stuff. I don’t care what the Democratic elite says about religion. They intuitively know that when it comes time to meet the Maker it is time to sing like the spirit moved you all along.

I decided not to mistreat my host this year and passed on messing with the house. Joe’s got a lot on his mind, with reelection and stuff. But it will take him a couple of days to find the cue ball. Hey Joe, got to keep you on your toes.

Took a look at the map and decided to head west. Mexico is a long ways south and if I am to return to NY by June, successfully accomplishing my Mayan mission I best make tracks.

Tracks. Yes, train tracks. Since Joe is a great fan of Amtrak, I thought I connect to a west bound train to New Orleans. I can hear Arlo now.

"All along the southbound odyssey..."

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Jersey

Some have been concerned about my delay in the Garden State of New Jersey. I have also caught some flack over the mystery of this stay. Come on, peeps and anipals! You sent me on a quest to find the secret behind the Mayan calendar, but how could I resist the secret of why New Jersey is called The Garden State? My search for the answers behind the Mayan’s The End of Times dilemma can wait. Maybe the world will end before I get to the jungles of Mexico? Meanwhile, the Eastern Shore puzzlement.

So, after I stowed away on the New York Giant float to celebrate their Super Bowl victory (Yes, Blumberg is an opportunistic oaf.), I shuttled with the team back to New Jersey where they wrapped up a thrilling season. I gave my congratulations to Eli and Victor Cruz and headed off to find the gardens of New Jersey. The boys told me I would find them back in New York City at Madison Square Gardens, but I already knew that wasn’t true.

The northwest corner of New Jersey use to have more cows than people, but that was when Goddess’ mom grew up there before WWII. There are the coolest mineral deposits in this neck of the woods. Odgensburg. The old zinc mine attracts rock hounds from around the world all in the hunt for rare fluorescent minerals. Pretty, but no gardens.

For a traveling cat the Turnpike and the Parkway is a precarious adventure. Skylines are littered with refineries and chemical plants and other intimidating gray materials (thinking asphalt highways, huge bridges and parking lots). Greenhouse effect has nothing to do with starting gardens. But interestingly enough the state is a low carbon emissions producer. One reason is nuclear power. Not green but glowing? Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station came online in 1969 making it the oldest operating nuclear plant in the country. Take that to your next trivia party. Still nothing looks like a garden.

It is winter but even in my wildest kitty imagination I can’t see green in this state.

The mystery of the name? I know for a fact New Jersey’s corn in mid-July is the best you can get. I love corn. So get over it. And Goddess won’t eat blueberries until the season hits New Jersey. She always said that blueberries raised south of New Jersey weren’t worth eating. But I’m not seeing the gardens.

So I trudged, accidentally into Camden. A tough hombre town. The last place on earth to find a garden. This is where I stumbled on the fact that a dude named Abraham Browning, of Camden back around the Centennial compared New Jersey to an immense barrel, filled with good things to eat and open at both ends, with Pennsylvanians grabbing from one end and the New Yorkers from the other. Well good things to eat sounded enticing, but when I hear anything compared to being an immerse barrel I think Governor Chris Christie. Not gardens. I think this is like naming Greenland, Greenland. A trick.

I prefer New Jersey’s other nickname. The Clam State. So I’m off to the shore. Following the old taste buds never did me wrong.

The classic view of Camden, New Jersey in 2010. Image Copyright and courtesy of The New York Times

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Adventure Annnouncement

Well boys and girls, we are headed on an adventure for 2012. My ramblings this year have great scientific purpose. I embark on a journey on the same epic level as Perry to the South Pole, Hillary to the summit of Mount Everest and Indiana Jones to the Temple of Doom. I am going to, for once and for all, solve the meaning behind the Mayan calendar. Yes, fifteen peeps want me to unlock this mystery. That is fifteen out of seven billion. My public calls. However, I ask, “What the hell are the rest of you thinking?” The world is made up of more than Jersey Shore, Dancing with the Stars and Glee. Honestly.

You know the saying “curiosity killed the cat.” I just hope this proves untrue.

As soon as I get the Old Man distracted I’ll slip out the door. First stop New York City, baby I feel a bagel binge coming on.

To all those who voted, thank you so much. I think.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

2012 Epic Adventure

Hi, Peeps and Anipals. Once again the Goddess is leaving me for the warmer climes and black lava beaches of the Big Island of Hawaii. Yep, she plans on leaving me behind. Same ol', same ol'.

In 2010 I tromped across the USA visiting my pal @ToonceCat in Florida. Then I jumped a freighter to cross the Pacific Ocean to arrive in Hawaii just a few days before she headed back to Upstate New York. She collared me and dragged me home on an airplane. I hate flying as much as I hate Orange Jello. Last year, with my royal wedding invitation in hand I went to England to see Kate and William off in wedded bliss. But all that was after I visited my friend Cheeto of @Rosieandcheeto fame in Chicago and hitched a ride on a private yacht to Belgium.

This year, I'm planning to run away again, but I am totally undecided about where to go. So much to see! Help me plan my escape and begin the 2012 Epic Adventure. Enter your vote for a destination by participating in the survey posted on my blog. Or twitter me any suggestions you might have.

It is a big furry world out there. Help me explore it!!