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Cold Iron consists of random bits of irreverence, surliness, and contumely; sometimes it's even funny. Reading it is entirely optional.

...the iron monger and rusticater himself

Cool Iron

"Never hit someone over the head with a hot iron. Wait until it cools so you don't burn them."

...the source of my ideas

An Epistolary Pete

January 1, 2019

An Epistolary Pete
Dear G.K.,
Pete the Pissed here. I’m writing to you because I’m not sure you always listen when I talk. I mean, you’re a good fellow but you have one of them multi-tasking brains that sometimes leads to a faraway look in your eyes when I talk making me think you either want to reply or release a good burp.
So here goes.
Tired of being Mr. Nice Guy, I greet this new year with a sense of wonder amidst a theme of trepidation.
[Editor’s Note: We’ve never thought of Pete the Pissed as Mr. Nice Guy, but we’re glad he sees himself that way.]
For two years now our democracy has shown that it can withstand all manner of shock and stress, from our tendency to shoot each other in quantities large and small, to speak not only ill but with outrage to those with whom we disagree, to ignore the wisdom of our best thinkers as well as the scary conclusions of our best scientists, to elect politicians who seem to have no sense of what a government of and by the people means, to the constant shaking of our heads as we view the antics of a leader who seems to have no clue as to what his office means.
We have seen women coming forth relating tales of degradation that boggle the mind, clergy of many faiths revealed as the most despicable sorts of predators while the leaders of those faiths simply shuffle them around until various statutes of limitations allow the sinners to become invisible. An historical icon, Sears, is in its death throes, as are no small number of people whose only fault was eating tainted hamburger or romaine lettuce. Meanwhile, our highways crumble, our forests burn, our coastlines are ravaged by storms of previously unimaginable fury, and our health care systems are mired in pathological confusion with patients forced to beg for internet handouts or face the crushing burden of unpayable debt.
It’s easy, then, to adopt an apocalyptic outlook; indeed, there are scientists who can even give us dates as to when our planet will become uninhabitable if we don’t start cleaning up our messes. Scenarios are readily available as to what will happen to our coastal communities as sea levels begin to change, and it hardly takes more than one picture of Beijing to wonder how those people are even breathing. Poverty, starvation, and disease ravage poorer countries while their governments can manage nothing more than to harass the minimal efforts of various humanitarian organizations trying to help.
And we are manipulated. We are led to believe that our journalists are consummate fiction writers. Our pulpits increasingly tell us how to vote or else God will no longer be on our side. Complex algorithms tell us what we want and, thus, how to spend our money. We are pressured to worship our military so that when they are involved in an unjustifiable conflict any criticism of that conflict becomes a criticism of our sons and daughters – and not the idiots who deployed them to that conflict or the reasons behind the conflict itself. We open our wallets the minute our media flash a Black Friday or Cyber Monday or Giving Tuesday or Go Fuck Yourself Wednesday before our eyes. We play online games and fill out surveys so that we can be manipulated even more.
Worse than that, more and more world leaders seem to be adopting a “Make (America, Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran) Great Again” attitude with dictatorial tactics that divide their own people and increasingly isolate nation from nation; thus, unifying and ameliorating strategies with respect to climate or trade or denuclearization or disease control or refugees or currency become nearly impossible to implement.
To paraphrase a quote from one of my favorite movies, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” we’re in a tight spot.
What’s amazing, however, is that, in spite of all these self-inflicted traumas, we still get out there and go to work, wash the car, mow the lawn, shovel the snow, get the kids off to school, buy the groceries, check out Facebook, watch some TV, go out to eat, put a couple bucks in the Salvation Army kettle, vote, walk the dog, feed the cat, and clean out the gutters.
That, right there, that life just goes on, is what vexes me most, that we just keep indicating to them governidiots that things are okay. They are not. Might be time to don one of them French yellow vests and hit the streets.
Happy New Year,

Selected Works

I think this book would appeal to anyone who likes a dark crime story set in a rural, somewhat remote part of Maine in a time when the radicalism of the nineteen-seventies was sweeping the country.
Ellen DeLay, an upstanding citizen of Quillifarkeag, Maine, suddenly and unpredictably leaves her happy, twenty-five year marriage for a lonely cabin deep in the Maine woods, where she makes a living dressing hunters' kill - bears, moose, deer. It seems an idyllic life, punctuated only now and then by rifle fire as she shoots into the air to scare off cheeky teens who come to taunt "the crazy woman."
A small-town lawyer in the middle of a gruesome murder case finds salvation in the world of a homeless woman and her daughter.
A young woman's morning walk through her small town finds her immersed in a small tragedy, an indifferent government, and the "science gone mad" of her best friend's husband. Quirky, goofy, nutty - yes, but a gentle look as well at some of the values that keep us from falling off the planet
A hint of generally true autobiography, this piece is part of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill's "How I Became A Writer" series.
Quillifarkeag is a state of mind, one marked by innocence and regret, by guile and sympathy. The people there will let you into their lives - but not very far. Go too far inside and things start to echo, people get close. Honesty becomes negotiable. Bare all and someone might still say, "Were you naked or nude?" It's an important distinction. In a small place like Quilli the naked truth is hurtful. The nude truth is not so bad.

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