Mourning The Loss Of A Giant Recently Passed – Sunset Musings II

PrickyDespite the wall to wall coverage, not just on NBC and MSNBC, but all the networks, the hand wringing, the eulogizing, the lionization, the body lying in state at the Kennedy Center, and the funeral worthy of royalty, not enough has been said about the recent passing of a giant. Probably because all that bleating was about Saint Tim of Russert. I am talking about a different giant. A giant in my own family has passed. Granpa Pricky.

Granpa Pricky was our 24 foot tall saguaro cactus that majestically guarded the east entrance to Casa de bmaz since at least several decades before Casa de bmaz was built, and our house is almost fifty years old. Just woke up one morning and there it was, keeled over into the road. Saguaros are truly Pricky 1grand and majestic entities, standing tall as the guardians of the Sonoran desert. Granpa Pricky was not just a centurion, he was a home as well. There are now a couple of homeless woodpeckers. Actually these peckars don’t even peck wood that much. They like to perch on my chimney and wail on the metal vent cover on the top. Sounds like a freaking machine gun or jackhammer in the house. Very annoying. Metalpeckers.

At any rate, an autopsy was conducted. Any and all of these photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

The whitish material in the center is very squishy. There is simply a ton of moisture in saguaros. And we don’t even have the cacti on drip systems; all they get is rain water, and it does not rain that much here. It is kind of fibrousPricky 3 pulp like stuff. People trying to survive in the desert desperate for water cut up that pulp and put chunks in their mouth to suck the water (and there is a lot) out. The cactus does produce a red, bulbous, pretty sweet fruit that is fully edible and not bad. Granpa Pricky died on June 5. Here is a photo just taken of the same cross section depicted above.

Note how the pulp is shrinking as opposed to the outer shell and especially the spine. The spine is the circle of dowel like looking things in the middle. When you tap on the outer surface of the pulp, which has hardened, you can tell from the sound that there is still simply a ton of water in there. It has been really hot here lately (112 degrees today), this thing is dead and cut up into pieces; yet it still holds that much water. Pretty remarkable. Saguaros Pricky 4have a relatively long life span. They take up to 75 years to develop a side arm. Granpa Pricky had three arms. The arms themselves are grown to increase the plants reproductive capacity (more apices equal more flowers and fruit). The growth rate of saguaros is strongly dependent on local precipitation patterns, and saguaros in drier western Arizona grow only half as fast as those in and around Tucson, Arizona. The night blooming flowers appear April-May and the sweet, ruby-colored fruit matures by late June. Each fruit can contain up to 2,000 seeds. Saguaro flowers are self incompatible and require a pollenizer to supply viable pollen. For more information, see here and here.

Well, that is the end of the desert discussion for today. If you are interested in knowledge of the desert ecosystem and all it’s different species, as well as some other Southwest, Pacific and Pacific Northwest ecologies, please visit the site of the Center for Biological Diversity. The center was founded decades ago by a friend, Dr. Robin Silver, and it really is a remarkable organization, the EFF or ACLU of Southwest ecology. Their website is also a superb resource of information.

Pricky SunsetIn closing, a photo of Camelback Mountain Western Camel Head’s Face/Praying Monk Rock, taken from close to the exact spot of ground where Granpa Pricky once stood guard. In the previous Sunset Musings post, I was forced to use a picture culled from the web that was actually taken at sunrise. This is the real deal taken during "golden hour". Last week was fast, furious, and a bitter disappointment. We got some incredible and fascinating substantive work in this weekend thanks to Marcy’s Ghorbanifar Meetings Timeline post. But I also wanted to do a couple of general, and lighter, things to give everybody a chance to vent, decompress, and recharge their batteries. So, the same rules from yesterday’s The Sun Always Rises post are in effect. Chat and comment away on any of the things we do or you want. If there was/is stuff in the news that is noteworthy, give a link and let’s discuss it (I haven’t even done my daily reading yet). Tomorrow, it is back to the war. FISA is not a done deal until the Senate sends it out in a form that Bush signs. But our backs are to the wall, and the road steeply uphill from here. Got some more effort left in you? I do.

69 replies
  1. TLinGA says:

    It sounds like Granpa Pricky was a solid specimen. Are any of his seedlings growing at Casa de Bmaz?

    • bmaz says:

      We have tried to plant one arm that was not too damaged, don’t know if it will take or not. Should know in a month or so; my guess is chances are not good, but it was worth a try.

      • Loo Hoo. says:

        RIP Granpa Prickly. Hope planting the arm works out for you. Then you’d have Great Granpa Prickly.

      • victoria2dc says:

        I know you must have been so saddened with your loss of this big guy. I love cactus plants! I have a small collection, but indoors.

        Do you know how to propogate? He should root by himself, even if you don’t make much of an attempt to get it done. I have one log right now that came from a dying species… I just stuck it side down in some potting soil and it has little tiny roots right now. I watch it closely because it’s my baby.

        Let me know how it goes… victoria2dc at gmail dot com

  2. rosalind says:

    aw, got to see a bunch of these beauties last fall on my first roots rail train trip through the sonoran desert to cooper canyon. between sets by dave alvin and tom russell, and mas cerveza y tequila, i sat by the window and marveled at their size and beauty.

    trust you gave Grandpa Pricky a proper send off.

  3. Drumman says:

    we also had a loss this weekend in NHRA drag racing Scott Kalitta funny car driver son of the famous Connie Kalitta. Also Bmaz do not get up an 4:30am for the F1 race at Silverstone it is also on fox. bummer about Grandpa Pricky

  4. skdadl says:

    Sorry to hear about Granpa Pricky, bmaz. I have never seen one in place, never been that far southwest — Arizona is to me a place of myth and fable (I saw a lot of cowboy movies back in the day).

    A couple of years ago I realized that a young white birch I had planted two years earlier had got the pest I was warned of, the dreaded bronze birch borer, from which no white birch ever returns. For a year I watched her die from the top, as they do — I just couldn’t bear to take that lovely graceful tree out. And then last winter, she just broke off and fell over, kind of like Granpa Pricky. I still haven’t cleaned her up, although I think that by now that wood must be desiccated enough to turn to matchsticks in my hands.

    • bmaz says:

      The bummer is he won’t get replaced. A saguaro over 20 feet tall and with multiple arms, in excellent condition, is anywhere between $5,000-$10,000 installed; a rescued one that is only in so so condition is $2,500. And taking one out of the desert is a serious Federal felony crime with huge penalties; basically the equivalent of carrying a gun into the airport and on a plane.

      • skdadl says:

        Och, that bark was fascinating to wee kids, wasn’t it? To me too. That’s why I got her. We are supposed to be silver birch country and there are some huge old specimens here that you could make a canoe from, but I think my girl was a susceptible hybrid.

        bmaz @ 16, I lose points for missing that too. This may be too sad for some, but Gordon always gets me with “I don’t know where we went wrong but the feelin’s gone and I just can’t get it back.” If You Could Read My Mind. The live performances I could find are all quite recent, which means they are moving but you’re not getting the beautiful sound of his younger voice.

        • bmaz says:

          Another crazy Canadian; most people probably think he is from the Southwest because of these songs. I have always liked Lightfoot a lot even though it is not my normal type of music.

          • skdadl says:

            He is very much loved here. He has had his health scares, but that makes people love him more, y’know?

            I’ll say good night with a disappointing squib from our greatest folk singer/writer, Stan Rogers, just a brilliant guy who died young (fire on a plane at Cincinnati airport; he didn’t make it off). This is the chorus of his song “Northwest Passage,” which many of us think should be our national anthem — it’s the only vid I can find that shows him in action. The audience would have been singing along. You can hear more of the song (not the whole) with good sound here, but you have to put up with some CBC Remembrance Day patriotism as well.

            The Northwest Passage. It’s ours, eh? Hands off, eh? Sweet dreams.

            PS to WO @ 23: What a wonderful present! Enjoy.

          • ffein says:

            One of my favorites too….from long ago!

            I’m sorry about your loss. My sister lives in Scottsdale and I always enjoy the desert scenery when I visit….very different from Michigan…although they miss our beautiful fall color and weather.

            I hope the remaining “arm” takes root.

          • sojourner says:

            I always enjoyed a lot of Gordon Lightfoot’s music, but my all time favorite was Marty Robbins, who hailed from your area. Marty recorded Lightfoot’s “Ribbon of Darkness” and apparently helped push Lightfoot into the spotlight.

            I guess I am really showing my age, but I have been very pleased that the Grand Ole Opry has been making some live performances available from back in the 60s. One such performance that was recently issued is Robbins introducing “Ribbon of Darkness” for the first time. The man had such an incredible voice and made it sound so effortless… I was at a friend’s house and remember that particular broadcast. It was chilling to hear it again!

  5. wrensis says:

    I feel worse about your saguaro than I did about Tim Russert. I think we should hold some sort of a site funeral

  6. PJEvans says:

    There’s a cactus place, California Cactus Center, in Pasadena, CA, that grows their own saguaros. Of course, most of the plants are not very big (I bought one, ended up giving it to a friend). They have a website.

  7. bmaz says:

    This IS the wake! A music video for the services. Carefree Highway by Gordon Lightfoot. Seemed appropriate. Lots of cacti in it too.

    Also, the line in the song “Feel like I’m winning when I’m losing again” pretty much sums up our status with the Democratic Leadersheep, eh?

    • LabDancer says:

      I think you will have to send a fair chunk of it on to one of the Wheelers-in-training in Neverland…er WDC: It should be memorialized in distinction from all those awful jumping chollas & other native varietal going under like so many prickly DFHs & collaterals. For every Uncle Sticky I would think there must be a thousand undomesticated cacti that have bitten the desert dust from recent effects of the War on the Climate plus maybe ten times that many suffering wounds that will prevent them from any opportunity of rising to achieve Sticky’s historical recognition. Were I a native cactus I’d be loathe to just foregive & foreget & instead I’d get even more prickly- particularly as they cleared out more of my kind & diverted water & other sources of life support elsewhere to increase domesticated yields of artichoke & melon squash.

      Notwithstanding this prickly rant I readily concede that even in this photo-shopped light you have succeeded in elevating Uncle Sticky to something remarkable not just among cacti but across the full range of fauna: thru your post Uncle Sticky has been granted the stature we grant to the Lincoln & King- tho at the scale appropriate for a succulent.

      And as you note the corporate media establishment has elevated one of its own to this same stature. Where next? The Brody Memorial Gardenia Garden?

      • bmaz says:

        No photoshopping whatsoever on any of those. Believe it or not, all taken by my cell phone camera. In lieu of flowers Pricky does ask one and all to conserve water; his children of the desert need every drop.

  8. BayStateLibrul says:

    Whatcha think… Sox and D’backs… can’t wait.
    Schilling is gonzo, don’t like him cuz he is voting for McCAIN,

  9. bmaz says:

    Attention! I made a grievous error in my last comment. The line “Feel like I’m winning when I’m losing again” is actually from another Gordon Lightfoot song, Sundown (also a pretty cool song and video).

  10. klynn says:

    Oh bmaz… a sad loss. We have family in the Phoenix area with similar Grandpa Prickly relatives (only three side arms though).

    So very sorry you lost such a handsome member of your garden family.

    I miss the Mesa evenings with evening cacti blooms…and the smell of orange blossoms.

    Casa de klynn sends their thoughts to Casa de bmaz…

  11. WilliamOckham says:

    I’m in my seat waiting for the start of the Tom Waits concert. That’s not even the best part. I’m here with my 24 year old son. He got the tickets as a combo Fathers Day/birthday present for me. I didn’t even know he knew who Tom Waits was.

  12. greenbird4751 says:

    it’s a short post, very sweet, but already you have “uncle sticky” and “grandpa prickly” references…but then i’ve been asleep for two days.
    i think having a 50-year-old home is pretty amazing, actually.
    i’m going to go looking for you, to find out more about planting arms and sprouting seeds (if they sprout).
    i just realized that santa and satan use the same letters!
    but even better, i located the name of an author whose books have been on my mind more and more since 2000 election: B. Traven, The Jungle Series.

  13. Loo Hoo. says:

    I loved Gordon Lightfoot in my youth, but he’s not one I play too much now.

    Tom Waits is a different story. Got to see him when I was twenty at SDSU, and there were so few people there that we got to speak with him. (And drink some Jack Daniels with him!)

    Unfortunately, I can’t find a YouTube of “Walking Spanish Down the Hall”, my favorite.

  14. bmaz says:

    Heh, cool. Only problem is I will have been dead for about a 100 years before it gets to the size of Granpa Pricky.

    greenbird4751 @26 – I used only Pricky, someone else threw in sticky; but he was not picky.

    • ANOther says:


      I noticed that “grandpa pricky” became “grandpa prickly” but it seemed appropriate for a post from you.


      We saw Gordon Lightfoot on his Canadian tour in the fall of 2006 – when he started, I wasn’t sure his voice was going to make it all the way through, but it seemed to get stronger and stronger – a wonderful show.


      Today’s French Grand Prix saw Kimi getting his usual luck.

  15. azportsider says:

    It’s always a sad event when one of these stately guys passes, bmaz, and you have my condolences. I hope the woodpeckers (Gila Woodpeckers, I’m supposing) had already fledged their youngsters.

  16. TobyWollin says: do you tell how old Saguaro’s ARE? is it like with trees..with growth rings or ?

  17. greenbird4751 says:

    ah, bmaz, you didn’t say it had to replace it in size.
    but i’m still awake and researching arms and seeds…but then got sitetracked by smithsonian-folkways american indian recordings, so it may be a while.
    so: you want a free, 25′ saguaro with gila woodpeckers, right?
    you’re worth it!!
    here’s a kid i found, who may have some answers for you:…../kyle.html

    the needles, not rings, apparently hint at age.

    • bmaz says:

      Thanks, but don’t worry. I’m a native here, I know the gig. There are established market conditions pretty much along the lines, give or take, that I outlined @7 above. Any 20+ foot saguaro, especially with any arms, that is less than that is suspicious and you stay away from. You need the proper papers and certs on the thing lest you be buying ill begotten booty, thus engaging in a crime. I have friends that build spec houses; when the economy picks up, they will undoubtedly be building something up in Cave Creek/Carefree and I can get one that they clear for the price of having it moved and planted. In the meantime, we have plenty of other cacti, including a couple of other saguaros. Nothing like Pricky though, the others are 10-12 foot max.

  18. greenbird4751 says:

    Yea!! Good for you. however, i did enjoy kyle’s research, i didn’t know at all about gila woodpeckers (just the monsters), i know what a saguaro boot is, i shared my favorite hot plant site with you, and also learned about a bunch of other stuff, so thank you!
    here’s my last link; of course i know you know the gig: i just enjoy fooling around on the tubes. and really, this is my last link. really nice nice photos, hope you get to visit it some time.
    ave atque vale, granpa pricky.

    • bmaz says:

      All info is good info, and appreciated always. And, although I knew some basics, the only way I knew pricing was by a toobz search and some calling around myself.

  19. Bushie says:

    Well today after three days of faxing and calling Obama on his act(for all the good it’ll do), I had several Top Shelf Margarita’s to mourn the passing of our late ,so so Republic.

    Reading your post, post potation, and in my revery, I thought of the great rock group, Dr Hook and the Medicine Show from their album, Sloppy Seconds. “…have some cactus juice to purrrify my brain….” It hasn’t so I’ll try again, somewhat more successfully than Barack will “try” to amend the FISA bill.

    I lift a toast to Granpa Pricky and our late, if so-so Republic

  20. PJEvans says:

    One of Granpa’s cousins is in a couple of picture here:

    They have about two parking spaces, but lots of plants. I used to live down the street and around the corner from them. Several of the plants I bought from them in the very early 90s are alive and growing; one of them is still a baby (pushing 20 years old, but it’s only about 6 inches tall, with a maximum somewhere around 5 to 10 feet).

  21. bmaz says:

    Crap. A real giant has died. George Carlin gone at age 71. RIP.

    * ”If you love someone, set them free. If they come home, set them on fire.”

    * ”The bigger they are, the worse they smell.”

    * ”The only good thing to come out of religion was the music.”

    * ”Ross Perot. Just what a nation of idiots needs: a short, loud idiot.”

    * ”Most people are not particularly good at anything.”

    * ”There ought to be at least one round state.”

  22. prostratedragon says:

    A breakfast toast to the memory of Grandpa Pricky and his soul-mate, George Carlin.

  23. masaccio says:

    OT, Reporting from Beijing.

    As EW predicted, today we saw the Badaling section of the Great Wall, a most amazing sight. It crawls along rough mountain peaks, following the top of the ridges, and in places is so steep that it is easier to walk on tip-toe, as if you were climbing steps instead of walking up a ramp, and then there are the stair portions, very steep. There are tons of tourists from everywhere, but the crowd was predominately Chinese. There was also a high school band from Londonderry, NH, playing very well, and with tons of percussion, which reverberated up the hills.

    Then we saw the Ming Tomb of Shenzhou, also known as Wanli Emperor, or the Lazy Emperor, one of the last of the Ming Dynasty. Tombs were built on a grand scale, this one, one of the few which has been thoroughly excavated. It seems not to have been raided, possibly because of a system of closing the doors that locked them from the inside. It sounded like something from Indiana Jones when our guide explained it.

    The burial chambers were built from stone and brick, and possibly marble. The architecture is romanesque, with very visible keystones in the arches, and the roofs are barrel vaulted. This technique was out of date in Europe at the time of the construction of the tomb, around 1620. This brought to mind the general state of older Chinese architecture. All of the main buildings at the Forbidden City and most of the buildings from that era are simple post and beam, with the occasional romanesque structure built atop the beams. Apparently, there was no shortage of trees for this kind of construction. At the Temple of Heaven, there are 12 piers of sandalwood trees, which our guide said were each manufactured from a single tree.

    The Great Wall is an enormous feat, but in terms of architecture, it doesn’t compare with the Roman Aqueduct system, which was a real engineering feat. I have seen the Pont du Gard at Uzes, France, and it is easily equivalent to this wall.

    I have been saying that you can feel the energy of these people, everywhere you look, and it is so hard to imagine the failure to emerge more quickly from feudalism. But when you see the paucity of imagination in the architecture, and the strength of the cultural imperatives of keeping things the same, it is easier to understand.

    Last night we went to a shopping area, the Wangfujiang Road, not far from our hotel, where there is an enormous book store, packed with patrons, many sitting on the floor reading. there is a large section on accounting, maybe ten double rows of books, and a section of two rows on the lottery. One of the things both our guides have discussed is “luck”, and various talismans, and the effects of various natural substances, like teas, which are good for what ails you. Everything is discussed in these terms, which no doubt explains why people might take a book on the lottery seriously.

    This conflict, between the folk stories that have guided these people for centuries, and the western drive towards capitalism, is fascinating to hear, and I am glad we have the guides, both of whom seem to embody the contrasts.

    Loo Hoo asked on a previous thread about the food. We eat breakfast at the hotel, where we have a choice of Chinese and Western food. The Chinese eat the same things at all meals, as far as I can tell, although there isn’t any roast meat at breakfast, which seems to be mostly dumplings and vegetables. There are hard-boiled and preserved eggs, which are very tasty, very fresh, and rice or noodles.

    We had a wonderful dumpling feast in Xi’an at Da Feng Chang’s, beautifully crafted dim sum, including my personal favorite, a walnut stuffed walnut shaped and walnut colored dumpling.

    We tend to eat at the local places instead of the ubiquitous KFC and McDonalds. The owners speak very little English, so we carry a phrase book and between pointing, trying to speak Mandarin with our American voices, and pointing at pictures in the menu, we are able to get along nicely. We ate bamboo shoots and mustard greens, and sweet and sour barbecued short ribs one night, with a nice bottle of beer, and another night, we had fried mutton and fried chicken bits, with rice and “Chinese Cabbage” with pork sauce (this wasn’t a good combination, too much fried food). We have enjoyed noodles and dumplings and similar stuff, much like what you would get in a Chinese restaurant at home, but this is somehow better.

    Long report, but, what the heck, that’s what scroll is for.

    • Professor Foland says:

      My mother-in-law, who lives with us, grew up in rural (and I mean rural) China before the Second World War and the Revolution. And you are absolutely right about the talismans, luck, fortune, and so on. Our wedding celebration in Beijing lo these many years ago had to be planned according to lucky dates and in consultation with a fortune teller. Every time one of my girls so much as stubs a toe, it’s because the apartment has Bad Feng Shwei. Believe me, if it were my own house, I’d pay the money to the fortune teller to install the little ghost-stoppers, just to get some peace!

      That the Olympics will start on 8/8/08 is no coincidence; 8 is a lucky number in China and that’s why the date was chosen. Triple 8’s is just electrifying. It’s about like going to Las Vegas on 7/7/7 and having a rabbit’s foot fall on you from the sky while you’re picking a four-leaf clover–only taken a lot more seriously than all that would be.

      The transformative power of tea I can also attest to. Our place is filled with a wide variety of Chinese herbs; I’ve often said that my m-i-l’s room sometimes looks like a little chem lab. I think by now I’ve been in every little Chinese herb shop from Boston to Chicago, looking for some particular herb, the Chinese name scratched out on a little post-it for the shopkeepers.

      Speaking of American-accented Mandarin, you have no idea how many times I’ve called my mother-in-law a horse…

      Grandpa Prickly Pricky, RIP.

      • masaccio says:

        We went to a brief lecture on feng shui, and it was kind of cool: it explains a whole lot of what I see on the street, with the guardian creatures, the constant use of pools of water in front of buildings, and the oddly round shapes.

        Even the location of the Ming Tombs was determined by feng shui experts, they are between the Mountains and a river.

        I might add that my hotel room number here is 909, a heavenly number. My guide said so.

  24. MarieRoget says:

    RIP Granpa Pricky, & RIP George Carlin. I’m glad Peterr came by to say a few appropriate words @ the service for the late lamented GP.

    Since I didn’t know Granpa, but have quite a collection of Carlin CDs, I’d like to remember him w/a few select quotations. Age 71 is too young to lose our Lenny Bruce:

    Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part to us, do they?

    Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.

    The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.

    If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?

  25. PJEvans says:

    And from the way-back Carlin
    Al Sleet, the hippy-dippy weather man, with all the hippy-dippy weather, man

    and the sports reporter, Biff Burns:
    Here are some partial scores: 6, 2, 4, 5 …
    and the wonderful one for baseball (from Willie’s Time):

    In the sportlight spotlight tonight, first a baseball trade:
    The San Francisco Giants today traded outfielder Willie Mays to the New York Mets in exchange for the entire New York Mets team. The Giants will also receive $500,000 ic cash, two eskimos and a kangaroo.

      • LabDancer says:

        The only up side to this as far as I can see is that for some time now I’ve been feeling rather down on no-good airmen named “George”.

        This is the one who doesn’t suffer from magical thinking without partaking of some serious libation & killed FIGURATIVELY in front of audiences –

        whereas the one who got me down was arranged to have maybe a million or so Arabs Kurds & Persians within a country or two of Iraqs massive oil reserves [in respect of which we know learn Big US Oil called “dibs” in a bidding conducted in an invite-only do in some private boardroom in Houston- the invitations to which in the case of all Middle East Arabs Kurds & Persians not named Chalabi must have gone missing in the US Post] variously bombed shot hassled assaulted renditioned tortured disfigured wounded & LITERALLY killed for him.

        Should we see how long this mosh pit can keep George C up in the air?

        I imagine George would not admit to deriving much comfort from sharing an Irish heritage with both the presumptuous nominees for president- except that he might ask Senator McCain to say a word in his honor. And we know the word.

        I heard George speak to it jeez more than 20 years ago in one of his variations on the 7 Words [slight paraphrase]: “All of us KNOW this word – but not only you can’t say it on TV- This one has some sort of radioactive half life where you’re not even supposed to say it in the privacy of your own boudoir in front a person of the female persuasion & it hangs on you like a “tell” sign in poker- a tell sign that you are one gigantic *sshole motherf**king male chauvinist pig. Apparently even if you say it in front of the absolute cheapest hooker hanging out in front of a crack house man- say it there & you’re still pretty much a rock solid cinch for a permanent membership in the Loyal Order of the Moron Male Misogynists. And that’s kind of a shame in a little way because this is a really interesting old English word- but for some reason the Loyal Morons think its a synonym for an entire person born with one & that just spoils it for everyone.”

  26. WilliamOckham says:

    OT from Mr. Waxman:

    The Oversight Committee has received evidence that the U.S. Embassy in Albania approved an effort to conceal the illegal Chinese origins of ammunition shipped to Afghanistan by AEY, a Florida arms dealer whose 22-year-old president was indicted last week.

    • WilliamOckham says:

      You gotta read the documents that Waxman posted. In a nutshell:

      On June 9, 2008, Committee staff interviewed Major Larry Harrison, the Chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Albania. According to Major Harrison:
      • On November 19,2007, the U.S. Ambassador to Albania and his top aides met with the Albanian Defense Minister to discuss how to respond to a request by the New York Times to visit a site in Albania where a U.S. arms contractor, AEY, Inc., was removing Chinese ammunition from its original packaging before sending it to Afghanistan.
      • As a result of discussions that went late into the night, the Albanian Defense Minister ordered one of his top generals to remove all evidence of Chinese packaging before the site was inspected the following day. Major Harrison told the Committee: “the Ambassador agreed that this would alleviate the suspicion of wrongdoing.”
      • At the time of this meeting, AEY was under investigation for illegal arms trafficking involving Chinese ammunition. Major Harrison told the Committee that he did not agree with the decision to remove the Chinese markings and felt “very uncomfortable” during the meeting.
      Moreover, it appears that Embassy officials sought to keep this information from the Committee.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        This, in particular, warms my little IT heart. The whistleblower trapped his bosses by using ‘Track Changes’ in MS Word. In the draft response from the embassy to the Oversight Committee, he asked if the meetings in question should be mentioned. His bosses deleted that information. Waxman posted both versions on his website.

  27. JohnLopresti says:

    There are some acquisition and planting recommendations, together with a nice saguaro ‘forest’ photo at the Sonora Desert Museum of Tucson. I have met some folks there, and some of their licensed collectors of plant materials in antediluvian time, but all out of date now. The margins of the saguaro preserve southeast of Tucson, headed toward the business park where Mantech holds forth, has an interesting configuration like some archons in formation proceeding up the valley taking millenia, as is saguaros’ wont. In their primitive way, the formations they create in the plant communities seem to have an innate feng shui, as if their species appreciates meaning of place.

    As for Russert, he was the witness Libby bluechip defense dared not question too feistily, as he always had some backplane of integrity. I see his testimony’s share of the trial dynamic as critical, and an often slighted turning point. Defense opted for discretion as the better part of barrister valor. I think Fitzgerald appreciated that moment as a turning point locking in prosecutor wins on several counts. Nagourney wrote a nice biography of Russert in NYTimes, reminding that Russert’s beginnings lay in the Moynihan and MCuomo organizations as a bluedog of sorts before becoming a mediaDarling.

    And joining the jocund to the somber, Carlin’s passing certainly will inspire a few ribald comments. He was a pathmaker in his day.

  28. randiego says:

    bmaz, an amazing post. The desert is truly a special place. My condolences on your loss of a truly magnificent specimen. That you had an ancient one in your yard for you to enjoy each day was fortunate.

    One of the rites of passage for families in the southwest is having your photo taken by the road in front of one of these gentle giants. Go through enough family photos and sure enough eventually you’ll get to the one of the fam taken in front a huge saguaro. In that way, they feel like part of the family.

  29. Leen says:

    Sorry about the saguaro this ” giant” coming down. Another giant passed… George Carlin. This guy was one of my gurus this raunchy intellect kept us on our toes. Always reminding us that in Carlin’s world we are all targets. I loved this about him. He targeted tree huggers to the Bush administration warmongers(but decked the warmongers).

    He reminded us to keep our perspectives while still staying engaged. He was willing to go where many would not go..politics, religion, environmentalist. Going to miss him,,,his insights, his intellect and his truth telling.

  30. pdaly says:

    bmaz, my condolences for the passing of Granpa Pricky.
    I see by your photo that he at least spared your cars in the driveway. I kept from my long ago travel to Arizona a postcard of a circa 1950s car flattened by a fallen Saguaro.

    I have to say the first time I saw saguaros in the wild I was temporarily unimpressed. They had the look of randomly spaced shoots of grass sprouting from dirt–like you might see on a newly seeded lawn from the vantage point of an ant. Finally after I became exhausted mentally filling in their missing branches and leaves (east coast bias), I learned to love them as they were.

  31. pdaly says:

    The photo on the postcard is a circa 1950s car, but the postcard itself is from 2002. I wasn’t around in the 1950s.

  32. FloraLegium says:

    Sorry for your loss, bmaz. Great autopsy photos, however! Good luck with the transplant, and thanks for your work here — A Longtime Lurker

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