Thursday, June 24, 2010

What Happens in Vegas...

I thought I was the only one who has issues on stationary bikes.  Richard has, too, but he did something different about it.  What I did was stop using our probably-twenty-year-old bike and started walking.  I stopped but just got back about three for four months ago.

His doctor told him a metaphor about the cholesterol inside our body.  He says that they are like, say, four people working outside the street.  That they also get tired, and that they also need to rest, and that if they won’t rest, they will eventually die one by one.

But anyway, as with anyone else, Richard started biking because his doctor said so, and his cholesterol [workers] said so, too.  But eventually, he got bored and decided to move it somewhere at the basement of the building and did a “forced perspective” painting on the wall.  Boy, did he enjoy that painting.  This reminds me of the virtual golf thingy where you hit the ball and the gadget tells you how fast, how far your ball is.  Now I am thinking if it is really possible to have “virtual biking” where you can actually go places and there’s a gadget that will tell you your mph and the distance you traveled.  I think I’m going to buy one of those if ever there would be.

Richard started to love biking the moment he did that drawing (SK said it can never be called a mural). It made him lose weight, allowed him to do his freelance drawing work, where he eventually made good.    He bikes for two hours in front of  that ‘painting.’ He even has an alarm set which meant that it makes him feel so good that something had to remind him it was time to stop.  How I wish I get the same thing if I get back to biking.   But what I wouldn’t want to get is how he began to feel see, and eventually, what began to happen.  What happened changed his life again, and he doesn’t know how to get it back.

He continued to bike just the same, because he tried to stop, but once he did, he also stopped working and the workers start working, rising his cholesterol level once again.  He knew it had to stop because it’s not doing him any good.  So, he started biking again, and he began working again, and the workers well, he did meet some workers when he tried to map out his bike routes.  Four people who looked like construction workers doing some work at the side of the street.  But Richard doesn’t know whether these people wants something from him or wants to do something to him.

All I know is, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

But what happens inside Richard’s body, our body… well, that’s another story.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I've Had Harvey's Dream

I think it was two days ago – or maybe it wasn’t – that I dreamed about snakes. Yeah, not just one of them, nor two. There were a lot. I don’t know what triggered that dream. It might be the vacant lot in front of our house that is now being filled up with soil. Or maybe it’s something else.

I have had dreams about snakes. One of it was so many years back, but I remember because it was sort of funny, the snake being a colorful cartoon character. The next that I remember was probably a month back and couldn’t come up with at least the scene, if not the story. Then this one. I was walking on a soily road (just like the filling material from the lot across our home) and was about to step on a snake when someone snatched it to keep it from biting me. He told me to take care because there are many snakes. And as I walked along the road, I saw people passed by me carrying snakes that as if they are catching them for some reason. I walked and another snaked I nearly stepped on. Nearly, because someone scooped it, looking as if he was really catching it as a prize for a game. Then, I continued to walk and then woke up. So, do you think the soil triggered the dream?

But whichever it may be, I just hope it’s not like Harvey’s dream. Shit! I really hope it’s not like Harvey’s.

This is, I think, the third of the thirteen stories in this book; the shortest of the three. It was only ten pages, which is really quite a short story. But this is the scariest so far. Or… was it scary just because I had a dream about snakes?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Just After Sunset

She lived in her Toughskins and shell tops, hair scrooped back behind her in a ponytail.  She and her best friend Becka watched old Eastwood and Schwarzenegger movies on TV instead of the Olsen wins, and when they watched Scooby-Doo, they identified with the dog rather than Velma or Daphne.  For two years in grammar school, their lunches were Scooby Snacks.
And they climbed trees, of course.  Emily seemed to remember her and Becka hanging out in the trees in their respective backyards for one whole summer.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Micaela is the second wife of Robert Saviano's father. She is a lot younger and comes from Romania. Saviano described her as a Romanian who left her country without knowing what she would be up to. All that she knows is that she is leaving her country; and that just by leaving Romania is fortunate enough. This is true with other Romanians.

In the Philippines, there are also a lot of Micaelas. Micaelas who leave our country, not to mention their families, to seek fortune somewhere else. But, is it fortune enough that they have this chance? A lot of Filipino women also ended up like Micaela, married to a local guy from that country and have kids, too. Is it fortune enough to be married to a local guy of that country? A good many of them left after signing a teaching contract, only to find out that they will end up as nannies and/or domestic helpers, but they do not complain: is it fortune enough that they have a job? A job that pays a little more than what they get in our country?

There are so many of these fortunes that I would rather not talk about. Probably, it is still fortune enough.

I guess sometimes it really pays to read about someone else's fate. Like to read something else about other country's. I don't know if it fortune enough to know that our country is not far from different from Micaela's. But does it really make it any different to know that your country has something in common with another country? Even if it is with regard to these same situations?

Well, I guess it is still fortune enough to know that these people - whether from my country or somewhere else - are fortunate enough to always look into the brighter side of things.

It IS really enough fortune to not lose hope that everything would be better than not doing anything at all.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Cut, The Visitor and The Kleenex

The cut is essential: caffeine, glucose, mannitol, paracetamol, lidocaine, benzocaine, amphetamines - but in emergencies even talc and calcium for dogs are used.  The cut determines the quality, and a bad cut attracts death, police and arrests.  A bad cut clogs the arteries of commerce.
What I read today is really something that I would not forget.  The thing is, from the wholesalers, 30 kilos of cocaine can become 150 kilos or even 200 depending on the cut.  The cut is very important to drug dealers.  A good cut will bring profit, will make you famous.  A bad cut will, like Saviano said, attract death, police and arrests.

How do you test a cut?

You test the cut with the Visitors.  They are the addicts desperately in search for cheap hits.  The men of the clan organize a meet up with these Visitors and give them hits for a very cheap rate.  On this particular day, the Visitors got suspicious about the cut that everyone started to stay away from the men.

A couple was there waiting.  The man looks desperately in need for a hit.  His girlfriend took the syringe from the men and jabbed it on his neck.  After a while, the man started to sway with his mouth frothing, then jerked and fell to the ground, stiff and closed his eyes.

One of the men called someone and said that he (referring to the man on the ground) looks dead to him.  He then started to do a violent cardiac massage, thrusting his foot on the man's chest.  The girlfriend started shouting, telling the man to stop what he's doing and that he's doing it wrong, told the man to stay away from them or she'll shoot.  The man made another call:  Oh, the Kleenex, he said.  He laid a piece of Kleenex just under her boyfriend's nose.  This is to test if her boyfriend is still breathing.  He started to move, and again on the phone he said, "He's dead."

The man left, and the rest of the Visitors started to follow.  Saviano stayed behind and was surprised with what happened.

The girlfriend moved on top of her boyfriend, put her pants down and peed on his face, making th Kleenex stick on his nose and face.  After a few seconds, the boyfriend started to move, regaining his consciousness.

Is it because of her piss?

This is how they test the quality of the cut.  The bring it to the outskirts of Naples and sell them cheap to the Visitors.  If it is a bad cut and brings someone dead, there would be no investigations because they see it as a case of overdose.  If a bad cut goes out to the market without any testing and it kills someone, it will entail an autopsy and an investigation.

So it's better to it this way.  The Visitors are the guinea pigs.

Monday, June 7, 2010

More Business

The System revolves not just around the textile mafia.  It also maintains a vast empire on drug trafficking where many people are getting rich dealing with drugs.

But there came a point when they saw the opportunity to do business with the Chinese. The high-tech market was tested and when they proved it to be genuine, digital cameras, video cameras and power tools with brands such as Bosch, Hammer, etc., were marketed all over Europe.  The Secondigliano System has actually foreseen this opportunity even before their government did.  I am wondering if this is what started the global demand for cheap digital and video cameras around the world.  Back then when I was in Dubai, I got the chance to go the the Chinese-dominated place they call the International City.  It’s like a big warehouse-like supermarket where you can find almost everything that you need and want, made in China.  Mobile phones are everywhere as well as cheap clothes, mobile accessories, furniture and appliances.

Everything was doing fine and everyone was getting along very well with The System.  Until one of the bosses initiated transformation.

I actually lost track of this transformation that somewhere around after the middle of the story, I began to think of how it was shifted to drugs and all its structure that I had to go back to the first few chapters to find out and refresh myself.

It all pointed back to the suburbs of Secondigliano and Scampia, under the hands of one of the families, the Licciardi family.

La Scimmia – the monkey – was the one who started the metamorphosis.  He transformed the place – Scampia, a place without a shopping center, or even a store, yes, this awful, into a drug sales hub.

One of the strategies they implemented to get this place started was getting almost everybody to be in the business.  They even have a plan suited for pensioners: if you invested your 300 euros worth of pension, you’d double your money’s worth in only a month’s time.  I was really surprised that they were able to even tap this segment of the market.  You might think that this is a little risky since you don’t have anything to hold on to but their word.  But in an economy that has grown sick and tired of trusting banks, this proves to be more of an advantage since, as Saviano said, the profit outweighed the risk.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Around here, there is The System. But as Saviano said, it is a mechanism rather than a structure. It is how the clan operates the criminal economy. The economy that they started to dominate. Operating at the outskirts North of Naples, almost nothing is impossible there.

In this place, you can find what they call true fakes. If you are looking for a brand and quality for a cheap price, you can get what you are looking for right here. The only thing missing is what they call the authority of the motherhouse. But who cares? Does anyone ever asks you when you’re walking in the streets if that Gucci you’re wearing has the official authority of the owner?

Around here, true fake is one word short of the original. Where it came from, nobody knows. Or should I say somebody knows but chooses not to talk about it, to just keep quiet at all.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Saviano became friends with one of the common people. His name is Pasquale and he is connected with the textile industry, or textile mafia, if you like to put it that way. I would not go into details as to how the textile mafia works around here, but I am telling you, you would be surprised if you read and find out. One of the things I found out is how it was possible that there were so many surplus production of signature brands in the market that looks as good as the original. I couldn’t believe at first but having thought about it long after, all I could say is, “Yeah, sure, that’s really how it is. That’s why how it comes to that.” The fact that so many of these clothes are closed to if not equal to the original one.

Pasquale is a very talented man. But like a lot of people all over the world, he wasn’t given a chance. Or should I say, the chance was taken away from him. He remained poor and his talent unrecognized. He works as a designer for one of the textile businesses in Italy, who in turn sell their business to big brand names in the U.S. and some place else. What he gets out of this is a little more than enough to feed his family, and, he lives in one of the poorest areas of the country. So much the same with Emmanuele, you could say. But in spite of this fate, he still loves what he does. It showed in his work.

Until one day.

He was watching t.v. It was the Oscar’s. His jaw dropped with what he saw. It was Angelina Jolie.

Two months later, he was a driver, driving legal and illegal stuffs for a certain business.

He never was the same after the Oscar’s.

Remember, this is a true story.

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