The Standing Prayer (AMIDAH)

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The Amidah (Hebrew: תפילת העמידה, Tefilat HaAmidah, “The Standing Prayer”), also called the Shemoneh Esreh (שמנה עשרה), is the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy. This prayer, among others, is found in the siddur, the traditional Jewish prayer book. Due to its importance, it is simply called hatefila (תפילה, “prayer”) in rabbinic literature.[1]

Observant Jews recite the Amidah at each of three prayer services in a typical weekday: morning, afternoon, and evening. A fourth Amidah (called Mussaf) is recited on ShabbatRosh Chodesh, and Jewish festivals, after the morning Torah reading. A fifth (called Neilah) is recited on Yom Kippur.

The typical weekday Amidah actually consists of nineteen blessings, though it originally had eighteen (hence the alternative name Shemoneh Esreh, meaning “Eighteen”). When the Amidah is modified for specific prayers or occasions, the first three blessings and the last three remain constant, framing the Amidah used in each service, while the middle thirteen blessings are replaced by blessings (usually just one) specific to the occasion.

The prayer is recited standing with feet firmly together, and preferably while facing Jerusalem. In Orthodox public worship, the Amidah is usually first prayed silently by the congregation and is then repeated aloud by the chazzan (reader); it is not repeated in the Maariv prayer. The repetition’s original purpose was to give illiterate members of the congregation a chance to participate in the collective prayer by answering “Amen.” Conservative and Reform congregations sometimes abbreviate the public recitation of the Amidah according to their customs.

To recite the Amidah is a mitzvah de-rabbanan for, according to legend, it was first composed by the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah.[2][3] The rules governing the composition and recital of the Amidah are discussed primarily in the Talmud, in Chapters 4–5 of Berakhot; in the Mishneh Torah, in chapters 4–5 of Hilkhot Tefilah; and in the Shulchan Aruch, Laws 89–127.



The language of the Amidah most likely comes from the mishnaic period,[4] both before and after the destruction of the Temple (70 CE). In the time of the Mishnah, it was considered unnecessary to prescribe its text and content. This may have been simply because the language was well known to the Mishnah’s authors.[5] The Mishnah may also not have recorded a specific text because of an aversion to making prayer a matter of rigor and fixed formula.[6]

According to the Talmud, R. Gamaliel II undertook to codify uniformly the public service, directing Simeon ha-Pakoli to edit the blessings (probably in the order they had already acquired) and made it a duty, incumbent on every one, to recite the prayer three times daily.[7] But this does not imply that the blessings were unknown before that date; in other passages the Amidah is traced to the “first wise men”[8], or to the Great Assembly[9]. In order to reconcile the various assertions of editorship, the Talmud concludes that the prayers had fallen into disuse, and that Gamaliel reinstituted them.[10][11]

The historical kernel in these conflicting reports seems to be that the benedictions date from the earliest days of the Pharisaic Synagogue. They were at first spontaneous outgrowths of the efforts to establish the Pharisaic Synagogue in opposition to, or at least in correspondence with, the Sadducean Temple service.[citation needed] This is apparent from the aggadic endeavor to connect the stated times of prayer (morning and afternoon) with the Temple sacrifices at the same times[12] (for the evening prayer, recourse was had to artificial comparison with the sacrificial portions consumed on the altar during the night).

The Talmud indicates that when Rabbi Gamaliel II undertook to uniformly codify the public service and to regulate private devotion, he directed Samuel ha-Katan to write another paragraph inveighing against informers and heretics, which was inserted as the twelfth prayer in modern sequence, making the number of blessings nineteen.[13] Other Talmudic sources indicate, however, that this prayer was part of the original 18;[14] and that 19 prayers came about when the 15th prayer for the restoration of Jerusalem and of the throne of David (coming of the Messiah) was split into two.[15]

When the Amidah is recited[edit]

Morning Prayer, 2005.

On regular weekdays, the Amidah is prayed three times, once each during the morning, afternoon, and evening services that are known respectively as ShacharitMincha, and Ma’ariv.

One opinion in the Talmud claims, with support from Biblical verses, that the concept for each of the three services was founded respectively by each of the three biblical patriarchs.[16] The prescribed times for reciting the Amidah thus may come from the times of the public tamid (“eternal”) sacrifices that took place in the Temples in Jerusalem. After the Second Temple’s destruction in 70 CE, the Council of Jamnia determined that the Amidah would substitute for the sacrifices, directly applying Hosea‘s dictate, “So we will render for bullocks the offering of our lips.”[17] For this reason, the Amidah should be recited during the time period in which the tamid would have been offered. Accordingly, since the Ma’ariv service was originally optional, as it replaces the overnight burning of ashes on the Temple altar rather than a specific sacrifice, Maariv’s Amidah is not repeated by the hazzan (reader), while all other Amidot are repeated.

On ShabbatRosh Chodesh, and other Jewish holidays there is a Musaf (“Additional”) Amidah to replace the additional communal sacrifices of these days. On Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), a fifth public recitation, Ne’ilah, is added to replace a special sacrifice offered on that day.

Structure of the weekday Amidah[edit]

The weekday Amidah contains nineteen blessings. Each blessing ends with the signature “Blessed are you, O Lord…” and the opening blessing begins with this signature as well. The first three blessings as a section are known as the shevach (“praise”), and serve to inspire the worshipper and invoke God’s mercy. The middle thirteen blessings compose the bakashah (“request”), with six personal requests, six communal requests, and a final request that God accept the prayers. The final three blessings, known as the hoda’ah (“gratitude”), thank God for the opportunity to serve the Lord. The shevach and hoda’ah are standard for every Amidah, with some changes on certain occasions.

The nineteen blessings[edit]

The nineteen blessings are as follows:

  1. Avot (“Ancestors”) – praises of God as the God of the Biblical patriarchs, “God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob.”[18][19]
  2. Gevurot (“powers”) – praises God for His power and might[20]. This prayer includes a mention of God’s healing of the sick and resurrection of the dead. It is called also Tehiyyat ha-Metim = “the resurrection of the dead.”
    • Rain is considered as great a manifestation of power as the resurrection of the dead; hence in winter a line recognizing God’s bestowal of rain is inserted in this benediction. Except for many Ashkenazim, most communities also insert a line recognizing dew in the summer.
  3. Kedushat ha-Shem (“the sanctification of the Name”) – praises God’s holiness.
    • During the chazzan’s repetition, a longer version of the blessing called Kedusha is chanted responsively. The Kedusha is further expanded on Shabbat and Festivals.
  4. Binah (“understanding”) – asks God to grant wisdom and understanding.
  5. Teshuvah (“return”, “repentance”) – asks God to help Jews to return to a life based on the Torah, and praises God as a God of repentance.
  6. Selichah – asks for forgiveness for all sins, and praises God as being a God of forgiveness.
  7. Geulah (“redemption”) – asks God to rescue the people Israel.[21]
    • On fast days, the chazzan adds in the blessing Aneinu during his repetition after concluding the Geulah blessing.
  8. Refuah (“healing”)[22]) – a prayer to heal the sick.[23]
    • An addition can ask for the healing of a specific person or more than one name. The phrasing uses the person’s Jewish name and the name of their Jewish mother (or Sara immeinu).
  9. Birkat HaShanim (“blessing for years [of good]”) – asks God to bless the produce of the earth.
  10. Galuyot (“diasporas”) – asks God to allow the ingathering of the Jewish exiles back to the land of Israel.
  11. Birkat HaDin (“Justice”) – asks God to restore righteous judges as in the days of old.
  12. Birkat HaMinim (“the sectarians, heretics”) – asks God to destroy those in heretical sects (Minuth), who slander Jews and who act as informers against Jews.
  13. Tzadikim (“righteous”) – asks God to have mercy on all who trust in Him, and asks for support for the righteous.
  14. Boneh Yerushalayim (“Builder of Jerusalem”) – asks God to rebuild Jerusalem and to restore the Kingdom of David.
  15. Birkat David (“Blessing of David”) – asks God to bring the descendant of King David, who will be the messiah.
  16. Tefillah (“prayer”) – asks God to accept our prayers, to have mercy and be compassionate.
    • On fast days, Ashkenazic Jews insert Aneinu into this blessing during Mincha. Sephardic Jews recite it during Shacharit as well.
  17. Avodah (“service”) – asks God to restore the Temple services and sacrificial services.
  18. Hoda’ah (“thanksgiving”) – thanks God for our lives, for our souls, and for God’s miracles that are with us every day.
    • When the chazzan reaches this blessing during the repetition, the congregation recites a prayer called Modim deRabbanan (“the thanksgiving of the Rabbis”).
  19. Sim Shalom (“Grant Peace”) – asks God for peace, goodness, blessings, kindness and compassion. Ashkenazim generally say a shorter version of this blessing at Minchah and Maariv, called Shalom Rav.

Final benedictions[edit]

Prior to the final blessing for peace, the following is said:

We acknowledge to You, O Lord, that You are our God, as You were the God of our ancestors, forever and ever. Rock of our life, Shield of our help, You are immutable from age to age. We thank You and utter Your praise, for our lives that are delivered into Your hands, and for our souls that are entrusted to You; and for Your miracles that are with us every day and for your marvelously kind deeds that are of every time; evening and morning and noon-tide. Thou art good, for Thy mercies are endless: Thou art merciful, for Thy kindnesses never are complete: from everlasting we have hoped in You. And for all these things may Thy name be blessed and exalted always and forevermore. And all the living will give thanks unto Thee and praise Thy great name in truth, God, our salvation and help. Selah. Blessed be Thou, O Lord, Thy name is good, and to Thee it is meet to give thanks.

The priestly blessing is said in the reader’s repetition of the Shacharit Amidah, and at the Mussaf Amidah on Shabbat and Jewish Holidays. On public fast days it is also said at Mincha; and on Yom Kippur, at Neilah. It is not said in a House of Mourning. In Orthodox and some Conservative congregations, this blessing is chanted by kohanim (direct descendants of the Aaronic priestly clan) on certain occasions. In Ashkenazic practice, the priestly blessing is chanted by kohanim on Jewish Holidays in the Diaspora, and daily in the Land of Israel. In Yemenite Jewish synagogues and some Sephardi synagogues, kohanim chant the priestly blessing daily, even outside Israel.

Concluding meditation[edit]

The custom has gradually developed of reciting, at the conclusion of the latter, the supplication with which Mar, the son of Rabina, used to conclude his prayer:

My God, keep my tongue and my lips from speaking deceit, and to them that curse me let my soul be silent, and like dust to all. Open my heart in Your Torah, and after [in] Thy commandments let me [my soul] pursue. As for those that think evil of [against] me speedily thwart their counsel and destroy their plots. Do [this] for Thy name’s sake, do this for Thy right hand’s sake, do this for the sake of Thy holiness, do this for the sake of Thy Torah. That Thy beloved ones may rejoice, let Thy right hand bring on help [salvation] and answer me…

At this point, some say a Biblical verse for their name(s):

For example, someone named Leah, would say, as their Pasuk

LaHaShem HaYeShuA AL Amcha VirChaSecha Selah” since both Leah and the phrase begin with a Lamed and end with a Hay.[24] This practice is attributed[25] to Eliya Rabba and/or Sh’Lah. One Sephardic siddur says that this practice helps to remind the person of their name on the Day of Judgement.

The silent wording then continues:

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Eternal, my rock and my redeemer.[26]


Three steps back are followed by a followup prayer:

May it be your will, O my God and God of my fathers, that the Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days, and give us our portion in your Torah, and there we will worship you with reverence as in ancient days and former years. And may the Mincha offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasing to God, as in ancient days and former years.

  • Many Sepharic prayer books correspondingly add:

May it be your will, O my God and God of my fathers, that You Shall speedily rebuild the Temple in our days, and give us our portion in your Torah, so that we may fulfill your statutes and do Your Will and serve you with all our heart.

Many also customary add individual personal prayers as part of silent recitation of the Amidah. Rabbi Shimon enjoins praying by rote: “But rather make your prayer a request for mercy and compassion before the Ominipresent.”[27] Some authorities encourage the worshipper to say something new in his prayer every time.

Mode of prayer[edit]

The many laws concerning the Amidah’s mode of prayer are designed to focus one’s concentration as one beseeches God.


Prayer in Judaism is called avodah shebalev (“service of the heart”). Thus, prayer is only meaningful if one focuses one’s emotion and intention, kavanah, to the words of the prayers. The Shulchan Aruch thus advises that one pray using a translation one can understand, though learning the meaning of the Hebrew liturgy is ideal.[28]

Halakhah requires that the first blessing of the Amidah be said with intention; if said by rote alone, it must be repeated with intention. Rema (16th century) wrote that this is no longer necessary, because “nowadays… even in the repetition it is likely he will not have intention”.[29] The second to last blessing of Hoda’ah also has high priority for kavanah.


Interrupting the Amidah is forbidden. The only exceptions are in cases of danger or for one who needs to relieve oneself, though this rule may depend on the movement of Judaism. There are also halakhot to prevent interrupting the Amidah of others; for example, it is forbidden to sit next to someone praying or to walk within four amot (cubits) of someone praying.

Silent prayer[edit]

The guideline of silent prayer comes from Hannah‘s behavior during prayer, when she prayed in the Temple to bear a child.[30] She prayed “speaking upon her heart,” so that no one else could hear, yet her lips were moving. Therefore, when saying the Amidah one’s voice should be audible to oneself, but not loud enough for others to hear.


The name “Amidah,” which literally is the Hebrew gerund of “standing,” comes from the fact that the worshipper recites the prayer while standing with feet firmly together. This is done to imitate the angels, whom Ezekiel perceived as having “one straight leg.”[31] As worshippers address the Divine Presence, they must remove all material thoughts from their minds, just as angels are purely spiritual beings. In a similar vein, the Tiferet Yisrael explains in his commentary, Boaz, that the Amidah is so-called because it helps a person focus his or her thoughts. By nature, a person’s brain is active and wandering. The Amidah brings everything into focus.

The Talmud says that one who is riding an animal or sitting in a boat (or by modern extension, flying in an airplane) may recite the Amidah while seated, as the precarity of standing would disturb one’s focus.[32]

Facing Jerusalem[edit]

The Amidah is preferably said facing Jerusalem, as the patriarch Jacob proclaimed, “And this [place] is the gateway to Heaven,”[33] where prayers may ascend. The Talmud records the following Baraita on this topic:

A blind man, or one who cannot orient himself, should direct his heart toward his Father in Heaven, as it is said, “They shall pray to the Lord” (I Kings 8). One who stands in the diaspora should face the Land of Israel, as it is said, “They shall pray to You by way of their Land” (ibid). One who stands in the Land of Israel should face Jerusalem, as it is said, “They shall pray to the Lord by way of the city” (ibid). One who stands in Jerusalem should face the Temple. … One who stands in the Temple should face the Holy of Holies. … One who stands in the Holy of Holies should face the Cover of the Ark. … It is therefore found that the entire nation of Israel directs their prayers toward a single location.[34]

There is a dispute regarding how one measures direction for this purpose. Some say one should face the direction which would be the shortest distance to Jerusalem, i.e. the arc of a great circle, as defined in elliptic geometry. Thus in New York one would face north-northeast. Others say one should face the direction along a rhumb line path to Jerusalem, which would not require an alteration of compass direction. This would be represented by a straight line on a Mercator projection, which would be east-southeast from New York. In practice, many individuals in the Western Hemisphere simply face due east, regardless of location.

Three steps[edit]

There are varying customs related to taking three steps backwards (and then forwards) before reciting the Amidah, and likewise after the Admidah.

Before reciting the Amidah, it is customary for Ashkenazim to take three steps back and then three steps forward. The steps backward at the beginning represent withdrawing one’s attention from the material world, and then stepping forward to symbolically approach the King of Kings. The Mekhilta notes that the significance of the three steps is based on the three barriers that Moses had to pass through at Sinai before entering God’s realm.[35] The Mishnah Berurah wrote that only the steps forward are required, while the backward steps beforehand are a prevalent custom.[36] It is not the custom of the Sephardim to step backward or forward prior to reciting the Amidah.

Mention of taking three steps back, upon finishing the final meditation after the Amidah, is found in both Asheknaz and Sephardi/עדות המזרח siddurim.

One takes three steps back upon finishing the final meditation after the Amidah, and then says, while bowing left, right, and forward, “He who makes peace in the heavens, may He make peace for us and all Israel, and let us say, Amen.” Many have the custom to remain standing in place until immediately before the chazzan reaches the Kedusha, and then take three steps forward. The Talmud understands this as a reminder of the practice in the Temple in Jerusalem, when those offering the daily sacrifices would walk backward from the altar after finishing. It also compares the practice to a student’s respectfully backs away from his teacher.[37]


The worshipper bows at four points in the Amidah: at the beginning and end of two blessings, Avot and Hoda’ah. It is the custom of the Ashkenazim that one bends the knees when saying “Blessed,” then bows at “are You,” and straightens while saying “O Lord.” (At the beginning of Hoda’ah, one instead bows while saying the opening words “We are grateful to You” without bending the knees.) The reason for this procedure is that the Hebrew word for “blessed” (baruch) is related to “knee” (berech); while the verse in Psalms states, “The Lord straightens the bent.”[38] At each of these bows, one must bend over until the vertebrae protrude from one’s back; one physically unable to do so suffices by nodding the head.[39] It is not the custom of the Sephardim to bend the knees during the Amidah.

During certain parts of the Amidah said on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Ashkenazi Jews traditionally go down to the floor upon their knees and make their upper body bowed over like an arch, similar to the Muslim practice of sujud. There are some variations in Ashkenazi customs as to how long one remains in this position. Some members of the Dor Daim movement also bow in this manner in their daily Amidah prayer.[40]

The repetition[edit]

In Orthodox and Conservative (Masorti) public worship, the Amidah is first prayed silently by the congregation; it is then repeated aloud by the chazzan (reader), except for the evening Amidah or when a minyan is not present. The congregation responds “Amen” to each blessing, and “Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo” (“blessed is He and blessed is His Name”) when the chazzan invokes God’s name in the signature “Blessed are You, O Lord…” If there are not six members of the minyan responding “Amen,” the chazzan’s blessing is considered in vain.

The repetition’s original purpose was to give illiterate members of the congregation a chance to be included in the chazzan’s Amidah by answering “Amen.”

The public recitation of the Amidah is sometimes abbreviated, with the first three blessings (including Kedushah) said out loud and the remainder silently. The individual’s silent repetition of the Amidah is said afterwards, not before. This practice is commonly referred to as heikha kedusha (Yiddish: הויכע קדושה‎, lit. “high (loud) kedushah”), and sometimes as bekol ram (Hebrew בקול רם, lit. “in a high voice”). It is occasionally performed in Orthodox prayers (in some communities it is customary for mincha to be recited in this way), and more common in Conservative and Reform congregations. A variety of customs exist for how exactly this practice is performed.[41][42][43][44][45]

Special Amidot[edit]

Amidot for Shabbat[edit]

On Shabbat, the middle 13 benedictions of the Amidah are replaced by one, known as Kedushat haYom (“sanctity of the day”), so that each Shabbat Amidah is composed of seven benedictions. The Kedushat haYom has an introductory portion, which on Sabbath is varied for each of the four services, and short concluding portion, which is constant:

Our God and God of our Ancestors! Be pleased with our rest; sanctify us with Your commandments, give us a share in Your Torah, satiate us with Your bounty, and gladden us in Your salvation. Cleanse our hearts to serve You in truth: let us inherit, O Lord our God, in love and favor, Your holy Sabbath, and may Israel, who loves Your name, rest thereon. Praised are You, O Lord, who sanctifies the Sabbath.

On Sabbath eve, after the congregation has read the Amidah silently, the reader repeats aloud the Me’En Sheva’, or summary of the seven blessings.[46] The congregation then continues:

Shield of the fathers by His word, reviving the dead by His command, the holy God to whom none is like; who causeth His people to rest on His holy Sabbath-day, for in them He took delight to cause them to rest. Before Him we shall worship in reverence and fear. We shall render thanks to His name on every day constantly in the manner of the benedictions. God of the ‘acknowledgments,’ Lord of ‘Peace,’ who sanctifieth the Sabbath and blesseth the seventh [day] and causeth the people who are filled with Sabbath delight to rest as a memorial of the work in the beginning of Creation.

Amidah for festivals[edit]

On festivals, like on Shabbat, the intermediate 13 blessings are replaced by a single blessing concerning “Sanctification of the Day” prayer. However, the text of this blessing differs from on Shabbat. The first section is constant on all holidays:

You have chosen us from all the nations, You have loved us and was pleased with us; You lifted us above all tongues, and sanctified us with Your commandments, and brought us, O our King, to Your service, and pronounced over us Your great and holy name.

A paragraph naming the festival and its special character follow.

If the Sabbath coincides with a festival, the festival blessing is recited, but with special additions relating to Shabbat.

Mussaf Amidah[edit]

On the Shabbatfestivals (i.e., on Yom Tov and on Chol HaMoed), and on Rosh Chodesh, a fourth Amidah prayer is recited, entitled Mussaf (“additional”). Like the Shacharit and Mincha Amidah, it is recited both silently and repeated by the Reader.

The Mussaf Amidah begins with the same first three and concludes with the same last three blessings as the regular Amidah. In place of the 13 intermediate blessings of the daily service, a single blessing is added, relating to the holiday. (The Mussaf Amidah on Rosh Hashanah is unique in that apart from the first and last 3 blessings, it contains 3 central blessings making a total of 9.)

Historically (and currently in Orthodox services), the middle blessing focuses on the special Mussaf sacrifice that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, and contains a plea for the building of a Third Temple and the restoration of sacrificial worship. The biblical passage referring to the Mussaf sacrifice of the day is recited.

The Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism has devised two forms for the Mussaf Amidah with varying degrees of difference from the Orthodox form. One version refers to the prescribed sacrifices, but in the past tense (“there our ancestors offered” rather than “there we shall offer”). A newer version omits references to sacrifices entirely.

Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism generally omit the Mussaf Amidah on Shabbat, though it is retained on some festivals.

Ne’ilah Amidah[edit]

On Yom Kippur, a fifth Amidah (in addition to the Ma’ariv (Evening), Shacharit (Morning), Mussaf (Additional), and Mincha (Afternoon) Amidah is recited and repeated at the closing of Yom Kippur. The congregation traditionally stands during the entire repetition of this prayer, which contains a variety of confessional and supplicatory additions. In the Ashkenazi custom, it is also the only time that the Avinu Malkeinu prayer is said on Shabbat, should Yom Kippur fall on Shabbat, though by this point Shabbat is celestially over.

Truncated Amidah (Havineinu)[edit]

The Mishnah (Brachot 4:3) and Talmud (Brachot 29a) mention the option of saying a truncated version of the Amidah (see Havineinu), if one is in a rush or under pressure. It consists of only seven blessings – the usual first three and last three, and a middle blessing named after its first word, Havineinu.[47][48]

Seasonal changes to the Amidah[edit]

Prayers for rain in winter and dew in summer[edit]

“Mentioning the power of [providing] rain” (הזכרת גבורות גשמים)[edit]

The phrase “משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם” (“He [God] causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall”) is inserted in the second blessing of the Amidah (Gevurot), throughout the rainy season in Israel (fall and winter). The most prominent of God’s powers mentioned in this blessing is the resurrection of the dead. Rain is mentioned here because God’s provision of rain is considered to be as great a manifestation of His power as the resurrection.[citation needed] Rain is not mentioned in spring and summer, when rain does not fall in Israel. Nevertheless, given the importance of moisture during the dry summer of Israel, many versions of the liturgy insert the phrase “מוריד הטל,” “He causes the dew to fall,” during every Amidah of the dry half of the year.

The “mention” of rain (or dew) starts and ends on major festivals (Shemini Atzeret and Passover respectively)[49] On these holidays, special extended prayers for rain or dew (known as Tefillat Geshem and Tefillat Tal respectively). In the Ashkenazic tradition, both prayers are recited by the Reader during the repetition of the Mussaf Amidah. Sephardic tradition, which prohibits such additions, places them before the Mussaf Amidah. The change is made on these holidays because they are days of great joy, and because they are days of heavy attendance at public prayers. Therefore, the seasonal change in the language of the prayers is immediately and widely disseminated.[citation needed]

Requesting (praying for) rain (שאלת גשמים)[edit]

In the ninth blessing of the weekday Amidah, the words “may You grant dew and rain” are inserted during the winter season in the Land of Israel. Outside Israel, this season is defined as beginning on the 60th day after the autumnal equinox (usually 4 December) and ending on Passover.[50] In Israel, the season begins on the 7th of Cheshvan. The Sephardi and Yemenite Jewish rituals, as opposed to just adding the words “dew and rain” during the winter, have two distinct versions of the ninth blessing. During the dry season, the blessing has this form:

Bless us, our Father, in all the work of our hands, and bless our year with gracious, blessed, and kindly dews: be its outcome life, plenty, and peace as in the good years, for Thou, O Eternal, are good and does good and blesses the years. Blessed be Thou, O Eternal, who blesses the years.

In the rainy season, the text is changed to read:

Bless upon us, O Eternal our God, this year and all kinds of its produce for goodness, and bestow dew and rain for blessing on all the face of the earth; and make abundant the face of the world and fulfil the whole of Thy goodness. Fill our hands with Thy blessings and the richness of the gifts of Thy hands. Preserve and save this year from all evil and from all kinds of destroyers and from all sorts of punishments: and establish for it good hope and as its outcome peace. Spare it and have mercy upon it and all of its harvest and its fruits, and bless it with rains of favor, blessing, and generosity; and let its issue be life, plenty, and peace as in the blessed good years; for Thou, O Eternal, are good and does good and blesses the years. Blessed be Thou, O Eternal, who blesses the years.

Conclusion of Shabbat and Festivals[edit]

At the Maariv Amidah following the conclusion of a Shabbat or Yom Tov, a paragraph beginning Atah Chonantanu (“You have granted us…”) is inserted into the weekday Amidah’s fourth blessing of Binah. The paragraph thanks God for the ability to separate between the holy and mundane, paraphrasing the concepts found in the Havdalah ceremony. In fact, the Talmud teaches that if this paragraph is forgotten, the Amidah need not be repeated, because Havdalah will be said later over wine. Once Atah Chonantanu is said, work prohibited on the holy day becomes permitted because the separation from the holy day has been established.

The Ten Days of Repentance[edit]

During the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, additional lines are inserted in the first, second, second to last, and last blessings of all Amidot. These lines invoke God’s mercy and pray for inscription in the Book of Life. In many communities, when the chazzan reaches these lines during his repetition, he pauses and the congregation recites the lines before him. During the final recitation of the Amidah on Yom Kippur the prayer is slightly modified to read “seal us” in the book of life, rather than “write us”.

Moreover, the signatures of two blessings are changed to reflect the days’ heightened recognition of God’s sovereignty. In the third blessing, the signature “Blessed are You, O Lord, the Holy God” is replaced with “Blessed are You, O Lord, the Holy King.” On weekdays, the signature of the eleventh blessing is changed from “Blessed are You, O Lord, King who loves justice and judgement” to “Blessed are You, O Lord, the King of judgement.”

Fast days[edit]

On public fast days, special prayers for mercy are added to the Amidah. At Shacharit, no changes are made in the silent Amidah, but the chazzan adds an additional blessing in his repetition right after the blessing of Geulah, known by its first word Aneinu (“Answer us”). The blessing concludes with the signature “Blessed are You, O Lord, Who responds (some say: to His nation Israelin time of trouble.”

At Minchah, the chazzan adds Aneinu in his repetition again, as at Shacharit. In addition, during the silent Amidah, all fasting congregatants recite the text of Aneinu without its signature in the blessing of Tefillah. In addition, communities that say the shortened version of the Shalom blessing at Minchah and Maariv say the complete version at this Minchah. The chazzan also says the priestly blessing before Shalom as he would at Shacharit, unlike the usual weekday Minchah when the priestly blessing is not said.

On Tisha B’Av at Minchah, Ashkenazim add a prayer that begins Nachem (“Console…”) to the conclusion of the blessing Binyan Yerushalayim, elaborating on the mournful state of the Temple in Jerusalem. The concluding signature of the blessing is also extended to say “Blessed are You, O Lord, Who consoles Zion and builds Jerusalem.” In other traditions, it is said in all the Amidot of Tisha B’av, or not included at all.

Ya’aleh VeYavo[edit]

On Chol HaMoed and Rosh Chodesh, the prayer Ya’aleh Veyavo (“May [our remembrance] rise and be seen…”) is inserted in the blessing of AvodahYa’aleh Veyavo is also said in the Kedushat HaYom blessing of the Festival Amidah, and at Birkat HaMazon. One phrase of the prayer varies according to the day’s holiday, mentioning it by name. Often, the first line is uttered aloud so that others will be reminded of the change.

Al HaNissim[edit]

Main article: Al HaNissim

On Hanukkah and Purim, the weekday Amidot are recited, but a special paragraph is inserted into the blessing of Hoda’ah. Each holiday’s paragraph recounts the historical background of that holiday, thanking God for his salvation. Both paragraphs are prefaced by the same opening line, “[We thank You] for the miraculous deeds (Al HaNissim) and for the redemption and for the mighty deeds and the saving acts wrought by You, as well as for the wars which You waged for our ancestors in ancient days at this season.”

Modern changes by liberal denominations[edit]

The most recent known change to the text of the standard daily Amidah by an authority accepted by Orthodox Judaism was done by the Arizal in the 16th century. He formulated a text of the Amidah which seems to be a fusion of the Ashkenazi and Sepharadi text in accordance with his understanding of Kabbalah. Following the establishment of the State of Israel and the reunification of Jerusalem, some Orthodox authorities proposed changes to the special Nachem (“Console…”) prayer commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem added to the Amidah on Tisha B’av in light of these events.A mixed-gender, egalitarian Conservative service at Robinson’s ArchWestern Wall

Conservative and Reform Judaism have altered the text to varying degrees to bring it into alignment with their view of modern needs and sensibilities. Conservative Judaism retains the traditional number and time periods during which the Amidah must be said, while omitting explicit supplications for restoration of the sacrificesReconstructionist and Reform Judaism, consistent with their views that the rhythm of the ancient sacrifices should no longer drive modern Jewish prayer, often omit some of the Amidah prayers, such as the Mussaf, omit temporal requirements, and omit references to the Temple and its sacrifices.

Reform Judaism has changed the first benediction, traditionally invoking the phrase “God of our Fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob,” one of the Biblical names of God. New editions of the Reform siddur explicitly say avoteinu v’imoteinu (“our fathers and our mothers”), and Reform and some Conservative congregations amend the second invocation to “God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob; God of Sarah, God of Rebekah, God of Leah, and God of Rachel.” The new reform prayer book, Mishkan T’filah, reverses Leah’s and Rachel’s names. Some feminist Jews have added the names of Bilhah and Zilpah, since they were mothers to four tribes of Israel.

Liberal branches of Judaism make some additional changes to the opening benedictions. the phrase umeivi go’eil (“and brings a redeemer”) is changed in Reform Judaism to umeivi ge’ulah (“who brings redemption”), replacing the personal messiah with a Messianic Age. The phrase m’chayei hameitim (“who causes the dead to come to life”) is replaced in the Reform and Reconstructionist siddurim with m’chayei hakol (“who gives life to all”) and m’chayei kol chai (“who gives life to all life”), respectively. This represents a turn away from the traditional article of faith that God will resurrect the dead.

Prayer 17, Avodah. asks God to restore the Temple services, build a Third Temple, and restore sacrificial worship. The concluding meditation ends with an additional prayer for the restoration of Temple worship. Both prayers have been modified within the siddur of Conservative Judaism, so that although they still ask for the restoration of the Temple, they remove the explicit plea for the resumption of sacrifices. (Some Conservative congregations remove the concluding silent prayer for the Temple entirely.) The Reform siddur also modifies this prayer, eliminating all reference to the Temple service and replacing the request for the restoration of the Temple with “God who is near to all who call upon you, turn to your servants and be gracious to us; pour your spirit upon us.”

Many Reform congregations will often conclude with either Sim Shalom or Shalom Rav. Once either of those prayers are chanted or sung, many congregations proceed to a variation on the Mi Shebeirach (typically the version popularized by Debbie Friedman), the traditional prayer for healing, followed by silent prayer, and then a resumption of the service.

Conservative Judaism is divided on the role of the Mussaf Amidah. More traditional Conservative congregations recite a prayer similar to the Mussaf prayer in Orthodox services, except they refer to Temple sacrifices only in the past tense and do not include a prayer for the restoration of the sacrifices. More liberal Conservative congregations omit references to the Temple sacrifices entirely. Reconstructionist and Reform congregations generally do not do the Mussaf Amidah at all, but if they do, they omit all references to Temple worship.

See also[edit]



  1. ^
  2. ^ Abramowitz, Jack. “Shemoneh Esrei #1 – Avos (Fathers)”. Orthodox Union. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  3. ^ Adler, Cyrus; Hirsch, Emil G. “SHEMONEH ‘ESREH”. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  4. ^ 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia.
  5. ^ Maimonides on Men. iv. 1b, quoted by Elbogen, “Gesch. des Achtzehngebetes”.
  6. ^ This aversion that continued at least to some extent throughout the Talmudic period, as evidenced by the opinions of R. Eliezer(Talmud Ber. 29b) and R. Simeon ben Yohai (Ab. ii. 13). R. Joseheld that one should include something new in one’s prayer every day (Talmud Yerushalmi Ber. 8b), a principle said to have been carried into practice by R. Eleazar and R. Abbahu (ib.). Prayer was not to be read as one would read a letter (ib.).
  7. ^ Ber. 28b
  8. ^ Sifre, Deut. 343
  9. ^ Ber.33a, Meg. 17b
  10. ^ Meg. 18a
  11. ^ Ehrlich, Uri and Hanoch Avenary. “Amidah.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 2. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 72–76. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. 17 November 2009, p. 73
  12. ^ Ber. 26b; Gen. Rabbah 68
  13. ^ Ber. iv. 3; see Grätz, “Gesch.” 3d ed., iv. 30 et seq..
  14. ^ Donin, Rabbi Hayim Halevy, To Pray as a Jew, p. 92, citing Yer. Berakhot 2:4 and Eliezer Levy, Yesodot Hatefilah
  15. ^ Donin, pp. 95–96
  16. ^ Berakhot 26b
  17. ^ Hosea 14:3
  18. ^ God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (Exodus 3.15)
  19. ^ a great God, a mighty, and a terrible (Deuteronomy 10.17)
  20. ^ The LORD upholdeth all that fall (Psalms 145)
  21. ^ Consider mine affliction (Psalms 119.153)
  22. ^ “Shemoneh Esrei #8 – Refuah (Healing)” (Orthodox Union).
  23. ^ Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise (Jeremiah 17.14)
  24. ^ A person with a two part name would recite two Pesukim.
  25. ^ ArtScroll Siddur
  26. ^ Talmud Berachot 17a
  27. ^ Pirkei Avot 2:17
  28. ^ Orach Chayim 101
  29. ^ Orach Chayim 101:1
  30. ^ Samuel I 2; Berakhot 31b
  31. ^ Ezekiel 1:7
  32. ^
  33. ^ Genesis 28:17
  34. ^ Berakhot 30a
  35. ^ Mekhilta, Shemos 20:18
  36. ^ Mishnah Berurah 95
  37. ^ Babylonian Talmud Yoma 53b
  38. ^ Psalms 146, Mishnah Berurah 113
  39. ^ Talmud Berakhot 28b
  40. ^ They understand the Mishneh Torah and the Talmudic statements concerning bowing in the Amidah to mean that one must always prostrate, lying flat on the ground, throughout the year during the four bows of the Amidah.
  41. ^ Heicha Kedusha
  42. ^ כיצד ניתן לקצר את חזרת הש”ץ?
  43. ^ Hazanut of Shaar Hashamayim, London
  44. ^ The Short שמונה עשרה of מנחה
  45. ^ Repeating the Amidah “Be-Kol Ram”
  46. ^ Ber. 29, 57b; Pes. 104a
  47. ^ Student, Gil. “Innovation in Jewish Law: A Case Study of Chiddush in Havineinu”. Orthodox Union. Retrieved 17 April2016.
  48. ^ Machon Shilo; Bar-Hayim, David. “The Havinenu Prayer: Lost in the Shuffle?”. Machon Shilo. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  49. ^ See, e.g., Ta’an. 2b; Ber. 33a.
  50. ^ However, the custom of Jews in Djerba was to begin saying on the 7th of Chesvan, like in Israel. Source (section 19)


  • Elbogen, IsmarScheindlin, Raymond P (1993), Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History, JPS
  • Feuer, Avrohom Chaim (1990), Shemoneh Esrei, New York: Mesorah.
  • Finkelstein, Louis (1925–26), “The Amidah”, Jewish Quarterly Review, new, 16: 1–43.
  • Harlow, Jules (Winter 1997), “Feminist Linguistics and Jewish Liturgy”, Conservative JudaismXLIX (2): 3–25.
  • Joseph Heinemann “Prayer in the Talmud”, Gruyter, New York, 1977
  • ——— (1981), ‘Iyyunei Tefilla” Magnes, Jerusalem.
  • Kaunfer, Alvan (Winter 1995), “Who knows four? The Imahot in rabbinic Judaism”, Judaism44: 94–103.
  • Reuven Kimelman “The Messiah of the Amidah: A Study in Comparative Messianism.” Journal of Biblical Literature 116 (1997) 313–320.
  • Zev Leff Shemoneh Esrei: The Depth and Beauty of Our Daily Prayer, Targum Press, Jerusalem, 2008.
  • Paula Reimers, “Feminism, Judaism and God the Mother” Conservative Judaism Volume XLVI, Number I, Fall, 1993
  • Joel Rembaum “Regarding the Inclusion of the names of the Matriarchs in the First Blessing of the Amidah” Proceedings of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards 1986–1990 pp. 485–490

Bereshit 1

Bereshit Chapter 1

  1. Creation was an effortless act of self awareness and defining.
  2. In the beginning of creation there was an astonishing and lonely emptiness.
  3. Such arose a need to name subjects and objects. A need to categorize indefinite matter into types. A need to make the vast darkness known and knowable.
  4. In the emptiness of the universe forms required definitions.
  5. Thus the unified creator named the universe of space “the heavens” and the spinning objects within that space composed of matter; “the earths”.  
  6. Thus in definition God created the heavens and the earths.
  7. With the utterance of “Let there be light” God shared knowledge of the infinite with newly emerging forms.
  8. God separated matter from space, and darkness from light.
  9. The light would be called “Day” and the and darkness “Night”. Thus was created heavens and earths, a conception of days and nights.
  10. All this was accomplished by the morning of a second day.
  11. On some earths there was pure liquid matter which God called “Ocean” and the ocean it was separated with dry matter called “Land”. On the second day was accomplished the concentration of dry and wet spaces.    
  12. God conceived of time, dividing seconds, minutes, hours and days, creating seasons creating Suns to give energy, warmth and light, creating moons to illuminate the darkness of the night.
  13. God then created vegetation in the seas and on lands by seeds which became herbs, fruit trees and all manners of non-sentient living forms.Thus ended the third day.
  14. On the fourth day God created creatures for the air and sea which multiplied and on the fifth day God created creatures for populating the land and they too multiplied.
  15. On the sixth day God created Woman and Man who embodied characteristics of self awareness, empathy, beneficence, mercy and possessed creative instincts. Of all the creatures in creation none were more like the essence of their creator.
  16. God separated earth from heaven, light from dark, day from night, it created time and it populated the universe with living things called plants and animals it then divided its unity into woman and man bestowing them with complementary sentience.
  17. Thus God created humans in its image, thus God being a personified pure good with a thirst for self-knowledge and mighty creative instincts so also was human kind.
  18. Such it was evening and morning of the sixth day of creation and on the seventh day God rested happily having brought definition to darkness and endless possibility in the from of woman and man.                 
1In the beginning of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth. אבְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ:
2Now the earth was astonishingly empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water. בוְהָאָ֗רֶץ הָֽיְתָ֥ה תֹ֨הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ וְח֖שֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י תְה֑וֹם וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים מְרַחֶ֖פֶת עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם:
3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. גוַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים יְהִי־א֑וֹר וַֽיְהִי־אֽוֹר:
4And God saw the light that it was good, and God separated between the light and between the darkness. דוַיַּ֧רְא אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֶת־הָא֖וֹר כִּי־ט֑וֹב וַיַּבְדֵּ֣ל אֱלֹהִ֔ים בֵּ֥ין הָא֖וֹר וּבֵ֥ין הַחֽשֶׁךְ:
5And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night, and it was evening and it was morning, one day. הוַיִּקְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים | לָאוֹר֙ י֔וֹם וְלַח֖שֶׁךְ קָ֣רָא לָ֑יְלָה וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם אֶחָֽד:
6And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water, and let it be a separation between water and water.” ווַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים יְהִ֥י רָקִ֖יעַ בְּת֣וֹךְ הַמָּ֑יִם וִיהִ֣י מַבְדִּ֔יל בֵּ֥ין מַ֖יִם לָמָֽיִם:
7And God made the expanse and it separated between the water that was below the expanse and the water that was above the expanse, and it was so. זוַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִים֘ אֶת־הָֽרָקִיעַ֒ וַיַּבְדֵּ֗ל בֵּ֤ין הַמַּ֨יִם֙ אֲשֶׁר֙ מִתַּ֣חַת לָֽרָקִ֔יעַ וּבֵ֣ין הַמַּ֔יִם אֲשֶׁ֖ר מֵעַ֣ל לָֽרָקִ֑יעַ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן:
8And God called the expanse Heaven, and it was evening, and it was morning, a second day. חוַיִּקְרָ֧א אֱלֹהִ֛ים לָֽרָקִ֖יעַ שָׁמָ֑יִם וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם שֵׁנִֽי:
9And God said, “Let the water that is beneath the heavens gather into one place, and let the dry land appear,” and it was so. טוַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים יִקָּו֨וּ הַמַּ֜יִם מִתַּ֤חַת הַשָּׁמַ֨יִם֙ אֶל־מָק֣וֹם אֶחָ֔ד וְתֵֽרָאֶ֖ה הַיַּבָּשָׁ֑ה וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן:
10And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas, and God saw that it was good. יוַיִּקְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים | לַיַּבָּשָׁה֙ אֶ֔רֶץ וּלְמִקְוֵ֥ה הַמַּ֖יִם קָרָ֣א יַמִּ֑ים וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־טֽוֹב:
11And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, seed yielding herbs and fruit trees producing fruit according to its kind in which its seed is found, on the earth,” and it was so. יאוַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים תַּדְשֵׁ֤א הָאָ֨רֶץ֙ דֶּ֗שֶׁא עֵ֚שֶׂב מַזְרִ֣יעַ זֶ֔רַע עֵ֣ץ פְּרִ֞י עֹ֤שֶׂה פְּרִי֙ לְמִינ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר זַרְעוֹ־ב֖וֹ עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן:
12And the earth gave forth vegetation, seed yielding herbs according to its kind, and trees producing fruit, in which its seed is found, according to its kind, and God saw that it was good. יבוַתּוֹצֵ֨א הָאָ֜רֶץ דֶּשֶׁא עֵ֣שֶׂב מַזְרִ֤יעַ זֶ֨רַע֙ לְמִינֵ֔הוּ וְעֵ֧ץ עֹֽשֶׂה־פְּרִ֛י אֲשֶׁ֥ר זַרְעוֹ־ב֖וֹ לְמִינֵ֑הוּ וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־טֽוֹב:
13And it was evening, and it was morning, a third day. יגוַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם שְׁלִישִֽׁי:
14And God said, “Let there be luminaries in the expanse of the heavens, to separate between the day and between the night, and they shall be for signs and for appointed seasons and for days and years. ידוַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים יְהִ֤י מְאֹרֹת֙ בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם לְהַבְדִּ֕יל בֵּ֥ין הַיּ֖וֹם וּבֵ֣ין הַלָּ֑יְלָה וְהָי֤וּ לְאֹתֹת֙ וּלְמ֣וֹעֲדִ֔ים וּלְיָמִ֖ים וְשָׁנִֽים:
15And they shall be for luminaries in the expanse of the heavens to shed light upon the earth.” And it was so. טווְהָי֤וּ לִמְאוֹרֹת֙ בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם לְהָאִ֖יר עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן:
16And God made the two great luminaries: the great luminary to rule the day and the lesser luminary to rule the night, and the stars. טזוַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֶת־שְׁנֵ֥י הַמְּאֹרֹ֖ת הַגְּדֹלִ֑ים אֶת־הַמָּא֤וֹר הַגָּדֹל֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַיּ֔וֹם וְאֶת־הַמָּא֤וֹר הַקָּטֹן֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַלַּ֔יְלָה וְאֵ֖ת הַכּֽוֹכָבִֽים:
17And God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to shed light upon the earth. יזוַיִּתֵּ֥ן אֹתָ֛ם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם לְהָאִ֖יר עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ:
18And to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate between the light and between the darkness, and God saw that it was good. יחוְלִמְשֹׁל֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם וּבַלַּ֔יְלָה וּֽלֲהַבְדִּ֔יל בֵּ֥ין הָא֖וֹר וּבֵ֣ין הַח֑שֶׁךְ וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־טֽוֹב:
19And it was evening, and it was morning, a fourth day. יטוַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם רְבִיעִֽי:
20And God said, “Let the waters swarm a swarming of living creatures, and let fowl fly over the earth, across the expanse of the heavens.” כוַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים יִשְׁרְצ֣וּ הַמַּ֔יִם שֶׁ֖רֶץ נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֑ה וְעוֹף֙ יְעוֹפֵ֣ף עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ עַל־פְּנֵ֖י רְקִ֥יעַ הַשָּׁמָֽיִם:
21And God created the great sea monsters, and every living creature that crawls, with which the waters swarmed, according to their kind, and every winged fowl, according to its kind, and God saw that it was good. כאוַיִּבְרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֶת־הַתַּנִּינִ֖ם הַגְּדֹלִ֑ים וְאֵ֣ת כָּל־נֶ֣פֶשׁ הַֽחַיָּ֣ה | הָֽרֹמֶ֡שֶׂת אֲשֶׁר֩ שָֽׁרְצ֨וּ הַמַּ֜יִם לְמִֽינֵהֶ֗ם וְאֵ֨ת כָּל־ע֤וֹף כָּנָף֙ לְמִינֵ֔הוּ וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־טֽוֹב:
22And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters of the seas, and let the fowl multiply upon the earth.” כבוַיְבָ֧רֶךְ אֹתָ֛ם אֱלֹהִ֖ים לֵאמֹ֑ר פְּר֣וּ וּרְב֗וּ וּמִלְא֤וּ אֶת־הַמַּ֨יִם֙ בַּיַּמִּ֔ים וְהָע֖וֹף יִ֥רֶב בָּאָֽרֶץ:
23And it was evening, and it was morning, a fifth day. כגוַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם חֲמִישִֽׁי:
24And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kind, cattle and creeping things and the beasts of the earth according to their kind,” and it was so. כדוַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים תּוֹצֵ֨א הָאָ֜רֶץ נֶ֤פֶשׁ חַיָּה֙ לְמִינָ֔הּ בְּהֵמָ֥ה וָרֶ֛מֶשׂ וְחַֽיְתוֹ־אֶ֖רֶץ לְמִינָ֑הּ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן:
25And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kind and the cattle according to their kind, and all the creeping things of the ground according to their kind, and God saw that it was good. כהוַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִים֩ אֶת־חַיַּ֨ת הָאָ֜רֶץ לְמִינָ֗הּ וְאֶת־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ לְמִינָ֔הּ וְאֵ֛ת כָּל־רֶ֥מֶשׂ הָֽאֲדָמָ֖ה לְמִינֵ֑הוּ וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־טֽוֹב:
26And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and they shall rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the heaven and over the animals and over all the earth and over all the creeping things that creep upon the earth.” כווַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה אָדָ֛ם בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ וְיִרְדּוּ֩ בִדְגַ֨ת הַיָּ֜ם וּבְע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֗יִם וּבַבְּהֵמָה֙ וּבְכָל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וּבְכָל־הָרֶ֖מֶשׂ הָֽרֹמֵ֥שׂ עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ:
27And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. כזוַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים | אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם:
28And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the sky and over all the beasts that tread upon the earth. “ כחוַיְבָ֣רֶךְ אֹתָם֘ אֱלֹהִים֒ וַיֹּ֨אמֶר לָהֶ֜ם אֱלֹהִ֗ים פְּר֥וּ וּרְב֛וּ וּמִלְא֥וּ אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ וְכִבְשֻׁ֑הָ וּרְד֞וּ בִּדְגַ֤ת הַיָּם֙ וּבְע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וּבְכָל־חַיָּ֖ה הָֽרֹמֶ֥שֶׂת עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ:
29And God said, “Behold, I have given you every seed bearing herb, which is upon the surface of the entire earth, and every tree that has seed bearing fruit; it will be yours for food. כטוַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים הִנֵּה֩ נָתַ֨תִּי לָכֶ֜ם אֶת־כָּל־עֵ֣שֶׂב | זֹרֵ֣עַ זֶ֗רַע אֲשֶׁר֙ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י כָל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְאֶת־כָּל־הָעֵ֛ץ אֲשֶׁר־בּ֥וֹ פְרִי־עֵ֖ץ זֹרֵ֣עַ זָ֑רַע לָכֶ֥ם יִֽהְיֶ֖ה לְאָכְלָֽה:
30And to all the beasts of the earth and to all the fowl of the heavens, and to everything that moves upon the earth, in which there is a living spirit, every green herb to eat,” and it was so. לוּלְכָל־חַיַּ֣ת הָ֠אָ֠רֶץ וּלְכָל־ע֨וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֜יִם וּלְכֹ֣ל | רוֹמֵ֣שׂ עַל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־בּוֹ֙ נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֔ה אֶת־כָּל־יֶ֥רֶק עֵ֖שֶׂב לְאָכְלָ֑ה וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן:
31And God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good, and it was evening and it was morning, the sixth day. לאוַיַּ֤רְא אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֔ה וְהִנֵּה־ט֖וֹב מְאֹ֑ד וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם הַשִּׁשִּֽׁי:



The Sustainability of Asymmetrical Warfare

Walter S. Adler

Hunter College

War and Strategy


The Sustainability of Asymmetrical Warfare

A Paper by: Walter S. Adler


The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are generally regarded internationally as a premier fighting organization and have decisively beaten virtually all its Arab adversaries on the battlefield, often simultaneously. In a conventional military capacity the IDF is exemplary, but throughout the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon from 1982 through 2000 as well as during the latest round of Arab-Israeli warfare that took place in the summer of 2006; Israel was unable to gain a decisive victory against one key regional player: The Party of God (Hezbollah). Infact, it seems Hezbollah’s defiance of Israel and their ability to survive the two wars has earned them immeasurable credibility on the Arab street as the only Arab organization to hold their own against the IDF on the battlefield.

The central thesis of this research paper is that Hezbollah is a sophisticated threat because not only operates with full population support, is well armed and externally supplied, and is more like an internal nation than a mere insurgent group; Hezbollah is the future of non-state conflict in that it can successfully hold off the armed forces of a great power and force the international community to pay attention to a third world crisis while providing for the population that shields it.

Hezbollah will not be easily defeated by the IDF and may export its modal to other regional conflicts.  


The Theory of Asymmetrical Warfare

There are two theoretical frameworks we have to understand when we examine the Hezbollah organization and its military arm Islamic Resistance. The first is a look at a piece by Ivan Arreuin-Toft attempting to understand how the weak sometimes (and increasingly) win in guerrilla confrontations. The second is Michael Walzers’s conception of the relations between a guerrilla force and the civilian population. With their frameworks in mind we arrive at a more realistic perspective on how the Hezbollah organization has withstood two wars with the Israeli state and why its phenomenon as an organization differentiates it from virtually all other jihadist movements

On Asymmetrical Warfare

In analyzing the outcome of a military confrontation between disproportionately matched forces the following observation is made by Ivan Arreuin-Toft: in regards to strategic interaction weaker powers can win conflicts when they employ tactics that minimize direct confrontation with the enemy, cultivate and maintain civilian support, and prolong the duration of the conflict. The key factor according to Toft goes beyond the will and interests of the two parties. It relies on applying the proper response to the enemy’s tactics that favor the conditions suitable to resistance by the weak; that is to say a favorable to irregular warfare and a guerrilla campaign.

The Toft analysis is seen in light of Andrew Mack’s ideas of interest asymmetry. This understanding of asymmetrical warfare has three key elements: 1. “Relative power explains relative interest”, 2. “Relative interests explain relative political vulnerability” and 3. Relative vulnerability is why strong actors lose”. Summed up, Mack is saying
that weak powers have a high interest because it is the survival of their people that is at stake and their political freedom where as strong power’s are viewing the conflict through a prism of expansion, a theory of political dominos, or an issue of credibility. This makes
them more politically vulnerable because the rational for waging a long war has to be justified on the home front to an increasingly adversarial population. The stronger power will often, according to Mack, abandon the war because of unrest at home on behalf of
population or local elites. Toft introduces the idea that while interest is a factor it is not the sole factor. The decisive element to the equation is known as strategic interaction.
In a conflict there is always a grand strategy (the totality of an actors resources devoted to the military, political, and economic objectives of the engagement) and the tactics (the art of fighting battles and specific instruments of war employed). According to Toft the objective of war is to compel the other actor to do its will. To understand this combination of grand strategy implemented through the tactics employed Toft identifies four specific types of engagement: two offensive, two defensive. Direct Attack is the use of force to capture an opponent’s values (cities, strategic assets, economic centers) and eliminate the opponent’s armed forces’ ability to resist. Barbarism is a systematic violation of the laws of war (War Convention) directing violence at non-combatants via rape, torture, and genocide to achieve the military or political goals of the campaign. Direct Defense is the use of armed forces to thwart an adversary’s capture or destruction of values.  The goal is to cripple the advancing force. Guerrilla Warfare is the organization of a portion of the society to engage in irregular warfare while avoiding direct confrontation with the enemy. Since every strategy is presumed to have an ideal counterstrategy Toft argues that these four strategic interactions in varying combinations are at the heart of explaining asymmetrical warfare scenarios where the weak win.

In a situation of Direct Attack v. Direct Defense nothing mediates the imbalance of one side’s armed forces. The defending, weaker power as a result most is almost certain to lose the interaction.  In the situation of Direct Attack v. Indirect Defense ie; guerrilla warfare; the forces of the attacker tend to kill large numbers of non-combatants in their attempt to uproot an irregular force. This stimulates weak-actor resistance. The defender has sacrificed values for the ability to engage the attacker when he is least prepared to resist. Values are sacrificed for time. In this scenario the weaker actor can win. With Indirect Attack v. Direct Defense attacks on civilian population centers generally harden the resolve of the defender and general acts of barbarism stiffen resistance to the enemy. In the case of Indirect Attack v. Indirect Defense where barbarism is used to repress an irregular campaign cases prove that the stronger power when willing to use barbarism on an occupied population soon make the costs of the guerrilla campaign too high to sustain. These are Toft’s strategic interaction outcomes.

In general Toft’s thesis supports the idea that each side is always better off using a mixed strategy; that is to say by using the opposite approach of the one being offered in resistance or attack. Anything that allows civilian participation in resistance, prolongs
the conflict, and avoids direct engagements deflects a stronger conventional force. Whenever a stronger force can directly meet a weaker enemy or resorts to barbarism in the face of irregular warfare the weaker party is likely to lose. Toft therefore believes it is
interaction not interest that explains the phenomenon of why the weak sometimes win.

On the Use of Guerilla Warfare

Surprise is the essential feature of Guerrilla Warfare. In a circumstance where one cannot beat ones enemy in a direct confrontation the best approach is to draw out the conflict, attack when unexpected, and rely on civilian support. Passing off one’s forces as civilians but functioning as combatants; Walzer suggests that this challenges the War Convention (on acceptable conduct under arms) by blurring the definition of combatant/non-combatant. If surrender is an explicit agreement and exchange: an actor stops fighting for benevolent quarantine. Than in guerrilla war the actor allows occupation (surrender) but carries on all the activities of a war. Guerillas don’t subvert the war convention by attacking civilians (as terrorists do): they invite the enemy to do that by hiding in their midst.

Walzer states that resistance is legitimate and the punishment of resistance is therefore also legitimate. There is a twofold justification for guerrilla action which serves as a framework for those that fight it. First, the people are no longer being defended by an army; the only army in the field is the army of the oppressors; the people are defending themselves. Second, if you want to fight them you are going to have to fight civilians and you won’t be war with an army you’ll be at war with a people and a nation. In this kind of war the lines are blurred.

To be eligible for war rights guerrilla fighters must wear a fixed distinctive sign visible at a distance and carry arms openly. Few if any guerrillas would do this because it would make them targets. Says Walzer, “Soldiers are supposed to protect civilians who stand behind them; guerrillas are protected by civilians among whom they stand.”


The Failures of the Israeli Military Strategy

The IDF, by all accounts, is superior to Hezbollah in funding and firepower. Yet, despite its superiority in strength it has twice failed to uproot Hezbollah. The strategic failings of the Israeli military ventures in Lebanon are many. This section will survey the Israeli strategy in both Lebanese conflicts and look to illustrate failures in four fields; Intelligence, Over Reliance on Airpower, Embrace of Effects Based Operations, and High Civilian Casualties.


There have been numerous lapses in Israeli intelligence when it comes to accurate information on Hezbollah and its armed wing Islamic Resistance. Obstacles emerged for the IDF’s General Security Service (GSS) to obtain pertinent data on Hezbollah for a myriad of reasons. Faced with the Palestinian Intifada and a potentially nuclear Iran; the intelligence budget for Lebanon had been cut significantly. After the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah attacks had been largely limited to the disputed Sheba Farms area and the threat level had not been viewed as great. There are numerous factors that led to deteriorated flow of accurate information on the group:

Whether it was do to ranking Hezbollah lower on the intelligence gathering agenda; budget cuts for intelligence gathering in Lebanon; or formidable challenges in agent infiltration into Hezbollah, the gathering capabilities that Israeli intelligence had with regard to the organization, its activities, and deployment were significantly curtailed. The lack of human contacts to provide real time intelligence prevented Israeli intelligence from producing a viable product at the tactical level (Hendel, p.2).

As a result the IDF was in the dark at the beginning of the Second Lebanese War in three crucial intelligence arenas. In regards to weapons; Israel failed to document the enormous traffic of arms from Iran and Syria into Lebanon prior to the war. This left many unknowns as to the type and quality of weapons available to the Islamic Resistance. Despite intelligence reports available that aircraft bringing supplies to the Iran after the massive earthquake in 2005 were returning to Lebanon with weapons; Israel was unclear as to the exact routes of arms supply and transfer blaming geographic distance and strict adherence to communication security on behalf of Hezbollah and Iran.

In regards to forces and command; the IDF had trouble putting an actual size to Hezbollah’s membership with figures ranging between 2,000 and 8,000 active supporters. Active membership is reported in the range of 100,000 with the Islamic Resistance itself numbering closer to the Israeli totals. The other critical failure lay in mapping the group’s hierarchy and accurately determining its chain of command. Hezbollah has succeeded in keeping all but two (Nassrallah and Mughniyeh) of its top leadership hidden from the Israelis as a response to their assassination campaign and has hidden the command structure of the Party from the GSS.

Finally, in regards to combat and defense tactics; the IDF trained in scenarios largely based on combating conventional force invasions from Arab states and Palestinian terror cells found themselves in an “unfamiliar work environment” when the final deployment of IDF ground forces occurred toward the conclusion of the second war. Simply put Israel was not prepared for the sophistication and training of the Islamic Resistance fighters because intelligence reports underestimated not just their size but depth of training.  

Critical failures in intelligence prioritization on behalf of the GSS and strict adherence to communications security on behalf of Hezbollah left the IDF unprepared to deal with the Party once hostilities resumed in 2005. Underestimation is a critical failure in asymmetrical warfare especially when it leads to gross unfamiliarity with the organizational structure of ones adversary.      

Reliance on Air Power

The Israeli engagement in the Second Lebanese War was largely limited to air power. The IAF proved quite capable on pin pointing high signature firing of medium range launchers and neutralizing the launchers often before they could finish delivering their payload. The reality is however that while Hezbollah is certain to lose the firing mechanism (the launcher) anytime it fires a medium or long range missile; the IAF has proved incapable of contending with Hezbollah’s short range missile batteries where the signature is low, the firing mechanism simple and expendable, and the volume far higher. As long as Islamic Resistance Fighters can set up and fire short range Katyushas close to the blue line the IAF can only cope with a part of the missile threat. That is to say, failure to seriously commit ground forces led to a Hezbollah military arm still very much intact and the missile threat undiminished.

Long and Medium Range rockets need to be fired from trucks or installations especially outfitted to fire missiles of this size. Since the Hezbollah rocket campaign is more psychological than material (there were only 42 Israeli civilian causalities over the course of the whole 34 day war); further enlarging its short range arsenal allows Hezbollah optimum psychological impact in Israel without exposing the lives of its fighters to retaliatory strikes.

Even in the cases where the launcher was identified after the launch, in itself a complicated operation-particularly when dozens of such launchers operate simultaneously in a large area-the question arises whether there was any point in attacking. A launcher of this sort is largely a one-time device. Hezbollah has a limitless supply of these launchers an in contrast with larger launchers stationed on a truck, they are relatively easy to improvise, even in the middle of a war. Was it right to invest resources and effort in attacking a barrel that had launched its load, and was unlikely to be used again by the enemy? The answer is no (Ophir, p.6).     

The expectation that the IAF could single-handedly dispatch a highly organized guerrilla army on the ground gave rise to false expectations. The solution to short range launchers is better intelligence and the commitment of ground forces. As long as the Islamic Resistance controls the area from which short range rockets can hit Northern cities; air force retaliation is not an effective deterrent.

The options available are not attractive. Using ground forces to reoccupy Southern Lebanon will alienate Israel in the international community and commit the IDF to a method and theatre of fighting for which Hezbollah is better prepared to inflict substantial casualties. It’s the choice between the method that is ineffective and the method for which ones enemy calls the terms of engagement. Being that the Israeli public is not likely to allow a reoccupation of the South due to the risk of life involved the remaining option remains with air power whose limitations we have illustrated above.      

Embrace of Effects Based Operations (EBO)

The IDF has zealously embraced the American tactic of EBO. The aim of Effects Based Operations (EBO) is to paralyze the enemy’s operational ability in contrast to destroying its military force. According to Col. John Warden, the author of The Enemy as a System in which the idea of EBO was first developed; there are three preconditions to EBO use. First, the enemy has a system-like structure; second, the system has critical junctions; and third, there is sufficient familiarity with the enemy’s system and its critical junctions. The EBO system is designed to reduce casualties by using “Shock and Awe” Tactics on key elements of the targeted actor’s infrastructure. This could include elimination of the leadership or bombardment of key communications components. This strategy failed with the Israelis for three reasons. First, Israel was unfamiliar with the Islamic Resistance command structure; second, the Islamic Resistance command structure is designed to reduce operational confusion by eliminating critical junctions; and third, failing to utilize ground forces effectively Israel did not neutralize the bulk of Hezbollah’s bunkers and fighting groups.

EBO works when coupled with an overwhelming use of force on the ground and Hezbollah has organized itself to function even in a break down occurs in its lines of command. Each sector is organized with the supplies it needs to hold out for long periods of time without needing to be re-supplied or issued orders from a central command. In this way Israel would have to seek out and destroy each and every combat group and not rely on overwhelming aerial force to neutralize its ability to operate.

High Civilian Casualties

The IDF has been less than scrupulous over the years in waging its wars against Hezbollah. Instances like the massacres of civilians at Sabra and Shatilla (where the IDF allowed the Maronite Christian Militia to massacre 2,000 Palestinian civilians), the tank barrage at the Qana UN Compound which killed 109 civilians in 1996, and the 1,056 Lebanese civilians reoprtedly killed in Second Lebanese War have all been turned into overwhelming public relations victories by Hezbollah to paint the IDF as a brutal aggressor. In the Second Lebabese War over 900,000 Lebanese were internally displaced, over 30,000 homes were destoyed in the conflict, and the IAF knocked out critical infastrucure throughout the country to prevent Iran and Syria from resupplyin the fighters.   

Both Hezbollah and IDF accuse each other of war crimes and of the indiscriminate targeting of civilians. Israel claims that Hezbollah fighters hide weapons and command centers amid civilian neighborhoods and fire rockets from within civilian population centers. And Hezbollah does not deny this at all claiming the basic principles of a guerrilla war. Hezbollah claims that firing rockets at Israeli population centers is a reprisal for murdering civilians. Israel thus finds itself in a difficult situation. It is dealing with a popularly supported guerrilla army that is willingly shielded by the Lebanese masses. Rather than engage in a text book hearts and minds to win Lebanese support for the peace process or its proxies (the former SLA) Israel continues to engage in tactics that lead to the deaths of non-combatants further radicalizing the Lebanese in favor of the Islamic Resistance.


The Hezbollah Military Strategy

In retrospect it is safe to say that Israel greatly underestimated the strength of the Hezbollah military arm, Islamic Resistance. Since the IDF withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah reorganized itself diversifying its military approach from guerrilla assaults and short range rocket attacks to an expanded arsenal of mid to long range missiles that could hit deeper into Israel. As it expanded its operational capabilities Hezbollah also improved upon its communication security and training of its fighters. The result is a guerrilla hybrid organization that is to date the first to stand up to the IDF (twice) and fight to an indecisive standstill. The following are the operational points Hezbollah has embraced.

Advanced Training and Discipline

The armed wing of Hezbollah is divided into two parts; the Islamic Resistance and the Security Organ which have distinct memberships from the political functions of the Party and operate on a separate command structure. The Islamic Resistance is a guerrilla army used to fight the IDF and the Security Organ is two part apparatus designed to hold Party members accountable for their activities and prevent enemies of Hezbollah from penetrating the Party’s structure.

The basic element of Hezbollah’s Islamic Resistance hinges around collective leadership interspersed throughout the Shi’a region. Each group is self contained and semi-autonomous. Thus, if one is plucked from the main branch, the others cannot be discovered easily. In structural terms, groups communicate through military sector commanders who in turn communicate through a military regional commander who is usually a member of Hezbollah’s military operations headquarters (Hamzeh, p.71).   

In this way a central leadership can enforce a strict discipline and chain of command, but regional sectors cannot compromise each other if captured because they are supplied and led by sector leader only familiar with a single regional contact and not with the membership of other sector’s fighting groups in their region. Hezbollah keeps discipline like an army but fashions each group like a cell. Organizationally it is a complicated fusion in of Leninist democratic centralism, Maoist organizational principles, and Jihadist theological reasoning.   

The Islamic Resistance is comprised of two sections; the Enforcement and Recruitment (E&R) Section and the Combat Section. The E & R’s responsibility is to instill in the fighters an ideological indoctrination that enforces the religious and political beliefs of the Party; that is to say Pan-Islamic Shi’ism and an understanding of revolutionary martyrdom. It is important to understand the Shi’a religious significance of the Martyrdom of their Imam Husayn: the grandson of the Prophet Muhammadpbuth. It is this theological underpinning that Hezbollah has tapped into to link the sectarian religious sympathies of its membership to the broader goals of the political struggle. The E & R Section provide an ideological enforcement of a key concept in the Shi’a faith which is to die for the good of ones community. The one year long ideological training the Section mandates precedes all formal combat instruction.   

The Islamic Resistance Combat Section is divided into four organs to which fighters are assigned based on the outcome of a fighter’s training. The military training of the Islamic Resistance is facilitated by mobile training camps that are relocated throughout Lebanon. Hezbollah also sends its elite commando to Iran for training in both advanced guerrilla warfare tactics and the use of more sophisticated hardware. Islamic Resistance training includes martial arts, marksmanship, medical support, and the use of various weapons.

The first Combat Section Organ consists of what is known as Istishadiyyun or Martyrs. Individuals in this organ are willing to under go suicide missions for the resistance. This is not to suggest that Hezbollah endorses or has carried out suicide bombing attacks on civilian population centers. Islamic Resistance martyr operations are ones where the likelihood of survival drops to zero percent: but the tactic has generally taken the form of vehicle bombings of checkpoints or military installations, not nightclubs, bars, and restaurants. While Martyr Operations generally do not target non-combatants; Israeli, American, and French losses from vehicle attacks have had devastating results.   

    The second Combat Section Organ includes the commandos of Special Forces: Iranian Revolutionary Guard Trained fighters familiar with a wide range of guerrilla tactics who have distinguished themselves from the rank and file of the Islamic Resistance. While rank and file are trained in Lebanon; Islamic Resistance smuggles the officers of its Special Forces to Iran for training in special military academies. The Special Forces are the backbone of Islamic Resistance’s guerrilla striking force and make any Israeli occupation of the South extremely costly via an attrition strategy.  

The third Combat Section Organ consists of rocket launchers and specialized weapons operators that form the back bone of Islamic Resistance’s retaliatory capabilities. Islamic Resistance rocket groups operate surface-to-surface, surface-to-air, and general artillery batteries concealed across Southern Lebanon in Hezbollah “nature reserves”. This Organ is trained to fire its rockets from numerous locations simultaneously to confuse the IAF and make reprisal attacks inefficient.

The fourth Combat Section Organ is composed of regular fighters that handle Islamic Resistance surveillance, logistics, and medical support. This Organ’s primary responsibility is to compensate a lack of supply lines with a series of bunker, or “nature reserves” from which a sector’s fighting groups can be supplied. These four Organs are entirely composed of male Shi’a Muslims extensively screened by the security organ. Their class demographic within Lebanese society is quite wide as there is a relative consensus even among non-Shi’a Lebanese that a member of the Resistance is to be awarded a special social esteem and significance.    

If Islamic Resistance is the fighting branch of the military arm of Hezbollah, then intelligence is managed by the Security Organ.  The Security Organ is divided into two parts; Party Security (Amn al-Hizb) and External Security (Amn al-Khariji). The explicit function of both is to prevent foreign and domestic infiltration into Hezbollah and enforce tight internal discipline.

 Party Security keeps extensive files on each member of the Party. Party leaders and general membership are required to file operational reports to inform the Party’s Security Organ about the meetings they attend, their contacts, and their relations with all individuals and groups. Failure to file these reports can result in expulsion or arrest. The Party Security’s goal is not only to keep an eye on Hezbollah members, but to have them constantly self evaluating their work and improving their ability to do their job for the Party. Most Hezbollah members file these reports not out of fear but of belief in takalif al-shari which is a Shi’a conception of rigid adherence to leadership.

According to Sayyid Nasrallah, “Israel and the United States have made great efforts to penetrate our organizational structure through recruiting party members, promising them money, women,  glory, and power positions. Both they [Israel and the United States] were always confronted with rejection because, for Hezbollah’s members, there is a self immunity resulting from faith, religion, and ideological commitment. Accordingly, the synthesis of a powerful security organ plus ideological commitment by party members has made it extremely difficult for the party’s adversaries to succeed in penetrating the party’s iron-gate security (Hamzeh, p.73).      

External Security or Encounter Security turns the focus not on party members and Lebanese civilians, but to the activities of foreign countries. The External Security section works closely with Iran’s intelligence the Sava’ma and maintains cells throughout the Middle East. The External Security section also keeps agents in Cyprus, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, England, the U.S., and Canada. Three Hezbollah agents have been captured inside Israel proper and extensive contact is kept with Palestinian Resistance groups in West Bank and Gaza strip to aid the Palestinian Intifada with material support and training. Hezbollah’s External Security section has remarkable reach and sophistication for a non-state actor.   

What is important to realize in dealing with Hezbollah is that the Party indoctrinates its fighters prior to arming them and that it maintains strict codes of conduct and a rigid yet self critical internal system. This has led to the creation of a military force with a hardened resolve and glorification martyrdom within its ranks. What differentiates this from numerous other Jihadist movements is the technical sophistication of the tactics. Because Hezbollah can rely on Iran for gross material and technical support; the Islamic Resistance has been trained to act as formidable and disciplined military force operating quite like the armed forces of state actor.

Bunker Systems

Since Israel’s withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000 Hezbollah has wasted no time in constructing elaborate fortifications throughout the South and building bunker complexes along Israel’s Northern border. Hezbollah calls these bunkers “nature reserves”.

Although it was suspected that Hezbollah was building defensive fortifications, neither the UN peacekeepers nor the Israeli military had any idea as to the scale. When Israeli troops discovered and dynamited one of the bunkers days after the cease-fire, they found a structure consisting of firing positions, operations rooms, medical facilities, lighting and ventilation systems, kitchens and bathrooms with hot water-sufficient for dozens of fighters to live underground for weeks (Blanford, p.7)  

Not only do the numerous Hezbollah bunkers allow the Party to conceal its low-signature mobile fleet of short range Katyusha rocket launchers, it allows the Islamic Resistance to remain hidden long after the IDF crosses the blue line in an attempt to reoccupy Southern Lebanon. That is to say these sophisticated bunkers build with Iranian funding and technical support prevent the IDF from effectively neutralizing the Southern command posts of the Islamic Resistance without a protracted occupation and an unacceptable amount of casualties.

The oddest deployment of ground forces took place in the last sixty hours of the fighting. The ground forces were deployed after the political campaign ended (Security Council resolution 1701); in other words, the deployment was not intended to achieve any political objectives. The forces were deployed without the area being cleared of enemy combatants, i.e., the aim was not search, destroy, and inflict damage on Hezbollah’s firing capacity or its forces. When the ceasefire came into effect, IDF forces were interspersed with the enemy forces, and hence there were difficulties with land and air supplies (Tira, p.5).

Hezbollah was able to fire over 100 Katyusha rockets a day at Northern Israeli cities and Settlements because these bunkers allow them to unveil and quickly fire without the IAF being able to successfully pin point firing locations to neutralize the launcher and crew. The bunker complexes also serve the vital function of concealing the Islamic Resistance Fighters. The several hundred active Hezbollah fighters could never hope to stand a direct confrontation with several Divisions of the IDF. In absence of centralized command or fixed fronts and positions the bunker complex allows fighter units to wait out Israeli advances and attack the Israeli supply lines once the IDF has passed deeper into Lebanese territory. Basically, the Hezbollah bunker system allows the Party to make the best use of its guerrilla training and assets by forcing the IDF to fight on its terms in a theatre it controls and maintains civilian support.

Decentralized Guerrilla Units

Apart from the victims of guerrillas, few still identify irregular paramilitary warfare with terrorism but the two activities do overlap a great deal in their operational characteristics. The tactical logic of guerrilla operations resembles that in terrorist attacks: the weaker rebels use stealth and the cover of the civilian society to concentrate their striking power against one among many of the stronger enemy’s dispersed assets; they strike quickly and eliminate the target before the defender can move forces from other areas to respond; they melt back into civilian society to avoid detection and re-concentrate against another target. The government or occupier has far superior strength in terms of conventional military power, but cannot counter-concentrate in time because it has to defend all points, while the insurgent attacker can pick its targets at will (Betts, p.8).   

All Hezbollah fighters are mainly civilians that do not stay in the field outside of specific combat engagements. Thus, the Islamic Resistance is a reserve army that is sheltered by the Shi’a population making it even harder for Israel to pinpoint specific members or sector leaders.  Islamic Resistance fighters are students at universities, farmers, and professionals in the major cities. Sector leaders can instruct a fighting group’s members to report to an Operational Headquarters where they receive their instructions before deployment. Once assembled the group is instructed by a Sector Commander on the specific nature of the operation. Fighters are then armed, uniformed, and put into the field.  

Hezbollah has a relatively flat and decentralized organizational structure, and compromises a network of territorial units operating almost autonomously and, generally, without the need for maneuvering forces or transporting supplies. The fighters, weapons, and supplies are deployed in the field in advance and blend easily within the civilian populations or in “nature reserves” (concealed bunker systems in valleys). On the other hand, Hezbollah does not have an operational center of gravity whose destruction would lead to the collapse of the organization’s other organs and obviate the need to destroy them individually (Tira, p.4).

Except in instances of an Israeli incursion onto Lebanese territory where Hezbollah dons camouflage uniforms and defends fixed positions, Islamic Resistance fighters then are indistinguishable from civilians. Each member only has knowledge of the few other men in his combat group although Hezbollah keeps roughly 10,000 fighters in reserve. Because the Israeli army is trained for large scale engagements with aggressive Arab armies fighting from fixed positions this structure makes it difficult for the IDF to effectively stop Hezbollah because they are not fighting on the same playing field. That is to say Hezbollah maintains an indirect defense.

Rocket Attacks

After the Israeli Operation Grapes of Wrath in 1996; Hezbollah anticipated that Israel had shifted its operational focus to the EBO modal, downplaying large ground force mobilizations, and relying primarily on artillery and air power. In response to the Revolution in Military Affairs, Hezbollah has shifted its primary striking ability to its mobile rocket fleet to strike Israeli cities and settlements. Hezbollah’s rocket attacks are launched from three major fighting formations.

The force responsible for the bulk of the rocket attacks in the Second Lebanese War were Hezbollah’s short-range artillery array which can fire the Katyusha rocket at most of Israel’s northern cities. The Hezbollah rocket arsenal consists of a rocket force of some 13,000 Katyusha rockets, including the 122mm BM-21 rockets capable of hitting targets at a range of 25km. These launchers are easy to move and low signature meaning that retaliatory strikes are hard to deliver because Islamic Resistance Fighters can quickly move and conceal the launcher, or abandon it altogether at little material cost. Few of these short range launchers were destroyed during the fighting which allowed Hezbollah to maintain its 100 Rocket a day quota that was responsible for the evacuation of over 100,000 Israelis from the northern cities. While few casualties resulted from the rocket attacks the psychological impact and paralysis of the Israeli north had a considerable effect of the Israeli masses.  

Saturating the area with (short range) rockets, and therefore over recent years Hezbollah stockpiled thousands of Katyusha launchers and rockets. The goal was to ensure a situation whereby Israel’s destruction of multiple launchers, even dozens of them, would not inhibit Hezbollah’s ability to sustain firepower. Thus, launchers were spread out both in villages and in open areas, and indeed, the organization managed to maintain this formation and continue generating massive fire into Israel throughout the war (Kulick, p.2).

Hezbollah also employed a mid-range artillery formation from positions just south of the Litani River. These launchers fired the mid-range rockets; the Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 which have a range of 45km and 75km respectively. It were these formations that were responsible for the strikes on Haifa, Afula, Beit Shean and southward as the launchers can fire 220 mm Syrian Rockets and extended range Katyushas. Israel succeeded in destroying almost every mid-range launcher that was fired as the firing signature was higher and the launchers were harder to move. The psychological impact of these launchers was negated by how quickly they were neutralized.

Finally, Hezbollah had two long range rocket formations capable of hitting Tel Aviv and the South located between the Litani River and Beirut which were not utilized during the War. Hezbollah is in pocession of 30 some Zelzal-2 missles which have a range of 100km allowing Hezbollah to hit Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. A Zelzal launcher was attacked and destroyed in Beirut during the Second Lebanese War. These were meant as a deterrent designed to strike Israel’s soft underbelly; the coastal region between Haifa and Tel Aviv, but require a more complicated firing mechanism and possibly necessitate direct operation by the Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen. Hezbollah knows that the signature of firing a Zelzal rocket will lead to IAF destruction of the launch site and thus does not want to use this weapon except as a last resort.

Because the IAF was so successful at eliminating medium and long range launchers Hezbollah is likely to carry out a two-part operational policy in preparation for the next war. Hezbollah realizes the psychological impact on the Israeli public of its rocket attacks and will concentrate its forces in two areas. Namely, Hezbollah will develop and enlarge its guerrilla capacities to hold Southern Lebanon as a launch site and will enlarge its arsenal of rockets to hit further inside of Israel.

The IDF’s systematic elimination of mid-range rocket launchers in the region south of the Litani and the (somewhat more limited) damage to the long range rocket array north of the river may push Hezbollah to build a massive infrastructure for arrays North of the Litani, possibly even in Beka’a and north of Beirut. The objective will be to saturate the area with rockets (based on the same logic that has guided Hezbollah in setting up the short range rocket array) in order to compel the air force to operate in multiple areas and thereby increase the array’s survivability (Kulick, p.6).

Hezbollah’s leaders know that their rocket arsenal is the key to any deterrent capability when dealing with the IDF. As long as they can strike Israeli cities with rocket fire Hezbollah will be able to de-legitimize the Israeli Knesset’s claims that security can be achieved without an occupation. And as we have demonstrated an occupation puts the IDF right where Islamic Resistance is best prepared to engage them.


The Hezbollah Political Strategy

To better understand the depth of this conflict we must examine the political dimensions of Hezbollah. While it is the military strategy of the Islamic Resistance that earns Hezbollah attention in the media it is the political steps in makes on the ground that ensure it continued loyalty from not just the Shi’a but numerous confessions within Lebanese society. It is these functions that make Hezbollah far more multifaceted than simply being a guerrilla army; Hezbollah is a state within a state.

Foreign Sponsorship

Iran and Syria have long term policy interests in a strong and militarily formidable the Party and both countries have been formative in nurturing and supplying Hezbollah with anything it needs. Both Damascus and Tehran have facilitated various forms of to the Party as a means of power projection in Lebanon and in pursuit of their common enemy Israel. Over the years Hezbollah as made use of both foreign aid and training as a surrogate while it maintains its long term goal of an Islamic state in Lebanon.

Syria is not interested in another head-on military clash with Israel that it is certain to once again lose. Its support for Hezbollah falls in three main areas of concern. First, Hezbollah serves as a thorn in Israel’s side and reminder over the annexed Golan Heights that Syria seeks to keep in the focus of any peace settlement with Israel. Second, cross border war is bad for the Lebanese economy which in turn could displace the hundreds of thousands of Syria workers in Lebanon. War by proxy minimizes this risk Third, Syrian provoked wars with Israel further tarnish the Syrian relationship with the Lebanese people while working through Hezbollah promotes pro-Syrian policies from an indigenous party.

 From the very beginning in 1982 Iran’s Revolutionary Guards supplied Hezbollah with the material and ideological support it needed to grow as an organization. As Hezbollah’s skill and arsenal developed it continued to rely on Iran for the tools it needed for its war with Israel. A product of the “export the revolution” policies of Khomeini; Hezbollah is dependant on Iran for all of its arms and much of its funding. Lebanon is home to the largest Shi’a Arab community second to Iraq and Hezbollah gives Iranian policy a platform in Lebanon.   

Both Syria in the way of logistics and Iran in the way of funding seek to use Hezbollah as their proxy in Lebanon. The Party over the years has exploited this reality to its advantage retain its own autonomy in voice and operations.

Social Programs

Hezbollah’s Social Unit is responsible for a vast network of social welfare programs that form the foundation of the Party’s ability to serve as a state within a state. While Hezbollah’s armed wing relies on the population to aid and conceal its members from the Israeli forces; the population of the dariyeh, the Beka’a Valley, and Southern Lebanon rely on Hezbollah for the majority of their social services. No other Lebanese faction or the government itself comes close to providing services of this magnitude and it is these services that win Hezbollah the crucial support of the Shi’a Muslim population.

The Hezbollah Social Unit directs the work of four semi-autonomous organizations that provide for the Lebanese people. The most prominent is called Holy Struggle Construction Foundation (Mu’assat Jihad al-Bina). Between 1988 and 2002 the foundation worked on over 10,000 projects ranging from hospitals, to school, homes, mosques, and agricultural cooperatives. In the aftermath of the sixth Arab-Israeli war it was the foundation that was almost solely responsible for the rebuilding of homes and infrastructure destroyed in Israeli air raids.

The foundation also provides electricity and potable water to its constituency. 45% of the dariyeh’s water supply is pumped by the foundation. It installs power generators throughout the areas Hezbollah controls and during periods of crisis has provided round the clock refilling of the water reservoirs it has installed with a fleet of tanker trucks with generators mounted on them to allow citizens to pump water from private cisterns.  

The Martyrs Foundation (Mu’assasat al-Shahid) is a charity established to provide for the families of Hezbollah fighters killed in battle. This foundation provides the children of dead Hezbollah soldiers with education and healthcare and since its inception in 1982 has provided for 2,000 families and fourteen hundred children via its programs. Over the years the foundation has provided job assistance, vocational training, health services, and counseling for the families of those killed fighting for the Party.

The Foundation for the Wounded (Mu’assasat al-Jarha) and the Khomeini Support Committee (Lujnat Imdad al-Khomeini) both serve as welfare agencies for civilians hurt during the civil war and conflict with Israel. The Party pays to put thousands of students through school, provide medical care tens of thousands, and rebuild the lives of the downtrodden in war torn society.

The activities of Hezbollah’s Social Unit emanate from a strong ideological commitment because social service is a fundamental tenet of faith. This committee has contributed to the success of Hezbollah in boosting the size of its constituency and its skillful penetration of Lebanon’s society, in particular the Shi’a community. While the Lebanese government has almost ceased to offer social welfare services, Hezbollah has been delivering such services, thus increasing its popularity at the expense of both the Lebanese government and Amal Movement (Hamzeh, p.53).  

     Across the board Hezbollah has skillfully implemented programs via its four principle foundations along with units of the Party directed specifically toward Education and Islamic Health. These Social Programs are the most valuable weapon the Hezbollah arsenal because they win the hearts and minds of the Shi’a masses who gladly sacrifice for the Party. 

Grassroots Advocacy

Hezbollah has earned a reputation for championing its vastly underserved Shi’a Muslim constituency. During the period of the civil war and after Hezbollah has created fact finding teams to bring government and international attention to the crisis of poverty and subsequent interventions. Beginning in 1991 over the issue of water pumping to the dariyeh; Hezbollah began organizing committees on issue specific grievances to make facts better available to its representatives in Parliament and its social service providers like Jihad al-Bina. These fact finding teams equip the Party’s governmental representatives with the facts they need to lobby for badly needed social services and allow the numerous Hezbollah social service providers to reach out to who needs their help the most. This service of actively seeking out the exact conditions of their constituency, coupling a grassroots analysis and a material support solution with a practical plan of national political action is a cornerstone of the numerous Hezbollah campaigns and mobilizations.   

The grass roots organizing that Hezbollah engages in has led to a large and well organized staff that can stage large demonstrations to bring attention to Hezbollah domestic policy and regional issues. The Party can put large numbers of people into the streets for sustained periods of time and this have been an invaluable tool in bringing attention to the Party’s political demands.

Use of Information Technology

Hezbollah has benefited from its sophisticated amalgamation of guerrilla warfare and the use of information technology. Its extensive coverage of not only its own guerrilla operations, but of conflicts in the region has made its television station one of the most popular in the region. Al-Manar (The Beacon) satellite television station, four radio stations, and five newspapers serve as the broad based propaganda effort to win Muslim hearts and minds. While aimed at a solid Shi’a audience,

It offered a muscular mixture of revolution and religion. However, with news bulletins, political commentaries, and announcements of martyrdoms and casualties, including those of the Israeli army and the SLA. Supplemented by clips of resistance activities shot on site by al-Manar’s intrepid flak-jacketed, camouflaged cameramen, Hezbollah has brought the battle against Israeli home in uncompromising fashion. For the first time in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1948, Arabs and Muslims have seen Israeli soldiers inflicted with death and injuries at the hands of Hezbollah’s Islamic Resistance (Hamzeh, p.59)

Run by an Information Unit created by Hezbollah to disseminate information on the movement’s behalf, al-Manar and the numerous other Hezbollah media outlets serve the dual role of a people’s news network and psy-ops campaign on their Israeli enemy. Hezbollah gives a voice to radical Islamic organizations both Sunni and Shi’a to broadcast their message and struggle to the Muslim masses. During the second Palestinian Intifada which began in 2000 al-Manar broadcasted some of the most extensive coverage of the uprising along with recycled clips of the Islamic Resistance fighting Israel during the Lebanese occupation as a veritable how to for the Palestinian fighters. Rejecting over 400 years of sectarian infighting the Shi’a programming of al-Manar was expanded to give Sunni Islamists and leftist Palestine leaders’ free airtime to voice their ideological doctrines and Resistance strategies. Coupled with the training and support Hezbollah has extended to the Palestinian resistance organization Islamic Jihad and Hamas; this was the continuation of the post Iranian revolution trend of Shi’a support for Sunni resistance coming from a position of comparative strength.   

Hezbollah also uses al-Manar and its other outlets to do segments in Hebrew designed to demoralize the Israeli public and convince IDF soldiers of the futility of Israeli occupations and aggression. This sophisticated psy-ops campaign has included television slots in Hebrew with names like; “Who’s Next” and “The Upside down Picture”. Hezbollah explained to the Israeli public that Katyusha rocket attacks on Israel’s northern cities and settlements were a direct reprisal for civilian casualties in Lebanon and ran a constantly updated photo gallery of dead Israeli soldiers with a blank space and question mark for who the next casualty would be.

Hezbollah cameramen often filmed right at the confrontation point. This left no doubt about what tactics were being used against the Israelis and backed up (Hezbollah’s) report that Hezbollah’s targets were military personnel inside Lebanon, not innocent Israeli civilians. Besides the obvious damage to the enemies’ morale, the television coverage also boosted Hezbollah’s national, Arab and Islamic revolutionary images to all-time highs in a region searching for heroes (Harik, p.133).

In 2003 Hezbollah released a video-game for Muslim children called Special Force; a first person shooter in which one can play an Islamic Resistance fighter and the enemies are IDF soldiers. Assassination missions on Israeli politicians can also be undertaken. The game operates on a Genesis 3D engine and has sold over 100,000 copies throughout the Middle East. The game can be played in English, French, Arabic, and Persian and is another example of Hezbollah’s sophistication in understanding modern trends and delivering its message with the latest technologies.

The tangible result of al-Manar and its numerous print and radio satellites is the enforcing of an anti-Israeli socialization process for its Muslim viewers and a direct message to the Israeli public portraying the resistance fighters as individuals with no fear of death. If the tactic of imbedding Party journalists to film operations enthralled the Muslim masses with resistance fever it served well the second vital purpose of horrifying the Israeli public and turning Israelis against the Wars in Lebanon.


To anyone who seeks to objectively looks at Hezbollah there can be no denying that the Party has won may tangible victories against Israel. These victories are the result of an integrated military and political strategy that takes an indirect approach to Israeli attacks while maintaining population support via social programs. It is the careful fusion of a guerrilla army with the trappings of state. Looking again at Walzer; anytime Israel fights Hezbollah, Israel is fighting the nation of Lebanon because attempting to destroy Hezbollah is to destroy the only viable social welfare structure the poor of Lebanon have.

In terms of military sophistication Hezbollah poses a serious threat. Not in that it can physically destroy Israel, but in that it can lead to repeated instances of future regional destabilization. In this sense Hezbollah is a regional military force that needs further consideration and a great deal of better intelligence gathering on how it works.

In terms of political sophistication Hezbollah could in the not so distant future be the governing party of Lebanon and this would put an uncompromising Islamist regime on Israel’s Northern border. This integration into mainstream Lebanese Israeli politics is a mirror of what the Hamas Movement achieved last year. It is the logic of picking radicals who can provide a stable society over secular and corrupt bureaucrats who won’t. If anything Hezbollah cannot be ignored any longer. Its emergence is the evolution of the Jihadist Movement from terrorism to state craft or perhaps a fusion of the two. Hezbollah over the last thirty years has demonstrated the sustainability of asymmetrical warfare and is theoretical modal for the future of what non-state actors might do when properly organized and funded.


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Famni Lavalas

Lavalas: Completing the Revolution of 1804

Walter Sebastian Adler

28 February 2014

Social Movements for Emancipatory Development


In 1986 a social movement based in the Little Church (Ti Legliz) used liberation theology gospel, strikes, demonstrations, and targeted assassinations in an uprising referred to as the Dechoukaj to force Jean-Claude Duvalier (Baby Doc) to flee the nation of Haiti. Led by a Salesian Priest named Jean-Bertrand Aristide this movement succeeded in dismantling a hated seemingly intractable regime, carried out the nation’s first and only democratic elections and dissolved the army that had since the time of the American occupation had been used to violate the human rights of the Haitian people. The only social movement that truly represents Haiti’s 8-9 million impoverished peasants is called “Lavalas”, or “the cleansing flood”. Since the fall of Duvalier, Aristide has been twice elected (1991 & 2001) and twice exiled (1991 & 2004) in two bloody coups. Fanmi Lavalas, the political arm of this movement is officially banned from elections. A neo-Duvalierist pop singer was elected to the office of the President following the devastating earthquake of 2010. This briefing paper will attempt to analyze the historical foundation, rise to power, fall to repression and current capabilities of the Lavalas Peasant Movement and its underground political party “Fanmi Lavalas” (Lavalas Family) and what its actions will mean for the future of development, human rights and political landscape of Haiti.

Introduction: What is Lavalas?

Lavalas is a movement based on the idea that Haitians must triumph over their internal and external enemies, free their nation and win their promised human rights.

On January 1st, 1804 the nation of Haiti was born but to this day an illiterate peasant can speak of it and its leaders as though it had just recently occurred. That is because the history of Haiti is the history of how the European hegemon powers moved to contain an uprising and idea that is as threatening to globalization as it was to slavery and colonialism. The people of Haiti and their partisans in the Lavalas Movement are fighting to win a struggle begun over 200 years ago between the masters and the slaves.

Currently, 1% of Haiti’s population owns 45% of its wealth. Its President Michel Martelly is a former pop singer with deep ties to the previously toppled Duvalier dictatorship. Life expectancy is 56. Haiti is occupied by a UN umbrella army called MINSTAH. A disease called Cholera has killed over nine thousand people and infected over 700,000. There are over 10,800 NGOs operating in Haiti with little central coordination or planning. Of the roughly 9 billion delivered of the 16 billion pledged in development & reconstruction aid after the 2010 earthquake; most went directly to NGO or foreign military expenditures and a full $224 million was used to build a 60,000 person capacity sweat shop complex called Caricol Industrial Park (Buss, 2008)(Farmer, 2011)(2012 MINUSTAH Reports).   

One should not be dispassionate about the birthplace of Human Rights as a fact on the ground. For the “Rights of Man” as understood by the French Jacobins were for all people, but if Napoleon in 1800 turned that revolution into his personal bid for empire; shortly after an army of slaves would win the first stage of a campaign to make these rights a world order in the Americas. Lavalas is continuum of this historic effort. It is the majority supported, banned and persecuted underground movement for democracy which began in Haiti in the1980’s. Clearly with facts before us we see the birthplace of a Human Rights revolution that took simultaneous aim at slavery, colonialism, class structures and race relations. In 1815 Simón Bolívar and a group of Haitian guerrilla fighters exported this uprising to the entirety of Latin America.

Not until the socialist revolutions of the 20th century had there ever been a more direct threat to contain. And admittedly the masters, the elites of the metrolpol hegemons have contained populism, socialism, and national self-determination in near totality. A victorious indictment of the exploitation that emanates from European greed truly began in Haiti. Paul Farmer claims in his book The Uses of Haiti; her greatest modern use is to continuously discredit an idea (Farmer, 2005).

There was a slave general named Toussaint L’Ouvature who believed that the liberation of San Domingo could shatter a global structure of brutal exploitation. As described so eloquently by C.R.L. James in Black Jacobins:

Leader of a backward and ignorant mass, he was yet in the forefront of the great historical movement of his time. The blacks were taking their part in the destruction of European feudalism begun by the French Revolution, and liberty and equality, the slogans of the revolution, meant far more to them than to any Frenchman. That was why in the hour of danger Toussaint, uninstructed as he was, could find the language and accent of Diderot, Rousseau, and Raynal, of Mirabeau, Robespierre and Danton. And in one respect he excelled them all. For even these masters of the spoken and written word, owing to the class complications of their society, too often had to pause, to hesitate, to qualify. Toussaint could defend the freedom of the blacks without reservation, and this gave to his declaration a strength and a single-mindedness rare in the great documents of the time. The French bourgeoisie could not understand it. Rivers of blood were to flow before they understood that elevated as was his tone Toussaint had written neither bombast nor rhetoric but the simple and sober truth.” (CRL James, Black Jacobins). 

The truth about Haiti is every conceivable effort has been taken by aggressive, capitalist European powers to break her people and annihilate the spirit of the original revolt (Rotberg, 1971) (Farmer, 2005) (Hallward, 2007).

Since independence was declared on 1 January, 1804; the world’s “first black republic” has been plagued by economic quarantine, endemic socio-racial fragmentation, civil war, periodic coups and foreign backed totalitarian dictatorships. The office of the President has been persistently utilized to expropriate the national treasury and keep the Haitian people in a condition of permanent underdevelopment. Haiti is currently the most impoverished nation in the Western hemisphere. The Haitian people, who are largely illiterate subsistence farmers, are not consulted or even included into Haiti’s narrative. Its history is a permanent rebellion from slavery toward a desperately yearned for, but forever fleeting emancipation. The Lavalas Movement with the Haitian people firmly behind them behind are getting closer to that collective dream than any before them. Their movement was able to conquer Duvalier, but has yet to vanquish the entrenched forces of Duvalierism (Dupay, 2007). To know the mind of the Haitian people it is important to understand their collectivism, their fearlessness, and their full connection to their real and imagined history.

The Lavalas Movement and its aspirations cannot be understood unless in context of historical events for the Haitian peasant’s claim of readiness to “complete the revolution” reflects a mental continuity of events that we too must grasp are we to be a participant not a perpetrator.

Micro brief on Haitian History; Part I: (1791-1857)

“The poor have long experience in creating a third way. They face death and death every day. They survive. In Haiti we have survived for hundreds of years this way. This may be a jarring notion for those who believe the poor are poor because they are stupid. If one believes this, one will always feel that the solution to poverty will not come from those who are poor. But in fact, if we are alive at all it is not because of aid or help from other countries, rather despite it. We are alive because of our tremendous capacity for survival.” (Aristide, Reflections, p20).

To understand what is happening today in Haiti one must always separate its people completely from their hyper-predatory government, but never ever separate the people from their history. The Haitian collective memory is product of resilience to trauma inflicted throughout the entirety of its past; it colonial existence, its revolution and it’s periods of repeated occupation.

Mats Lundahl, in his book Poverty in Haiti traces the track of economic and social devastation to five key historical events. I have included five more. The first was the European discovery of Hispaniola in 1492. Within 50 years of arrival 100,000-8 million indigenous Taino Indians had been eradicated by forced labor and disease. They were replaced by a slave labor kidnapped & imported from 40 African regional ethnicities which on the eve of the revolution numbered over 450,000 slaves. Slaves were perishing via the structural violence of the St. Domingue colony at such rates that by 1790; 40,000 new slaves were being imported per year (James, 1963). The second event was the Haitian Revolution itself which from 1791-1804 took the lives of an estimated 140,000 slave, mulatto and colonial inhabitants; as well as over 57,000 French, Irish, Polish, English and Spanish soldiers sent in to suppress it. A plantation economy that was once providing 60% of the world’s coffee; was a vital supplier of sugar, indigo, cotton and made up ¼ of the Pre-Jacobin French GNP was reduced to ashes and absolute ruin. The third event cited was the 1809 Land Reform of President Alexandre Sabès Pétion who broke up most of the major land holdings established by the post-revolutionary leadership and laid the legal foundation for mass peasantry whereby only through periodic government taxation could any form of agricultural exploitation occur. Two events (of my own addition) are the 1822 enslavement of the Dominican Republic compounded with the 1825 imposition of the French Indemnity, an estimated 21 billion dollar debt that Haiti would continuously pay until 1947 to France for “compensation” of its lost territorial and human property. From 1843 to 1915 Haiti had no less than 22 Presidents, 11 of which were in office less than a year little of this had much effect on the peasantry (Rotberg, 1971). The 1809 Land Reform sealed the fate of Haiti underdevelopment according to Lundahl, but it also made the bulk of the population cultivators of their own land without any firm infrastructure to engage in state predation. The fourth main event was the American Occupation which lasted from 1915-1934. The most tangible effects of this occupation were the forced conscription of the Haitians into infrastructure building projects, the full repayments of foreign debts, and the creation of the military forces that would soon after occupation become the Forces Armees d’Haiti, the Haitian Army (FAdH). It was this army and infrastructure that would set the stage for the fifth event sealing the nation into predatory state underdevelopment; the Duvalier Dictatorship of 1957-1986. I will identify the chief attritions of that father-son regime in the next immediate section.

The final three devastating events to Haitian development & democracy were the Coup of 1991, the Coup of 2004, and the Earthquake of 2010 which killed between 100,000 to 316,000 people and reduced the country to full blown a “Republic of NGOs”.

Micro brief on Haitian History; Part II (1957-1986)

The regime that Francois Duvalier built reflected a keen understanding of the Haitian people and the power centers that held the traditional predatory state in check. He maintained power and presided over (father then son) a period of state predation and totalitarian control unrivaled by any previous Haitian despot (Rotberg, 1971). Using “Noirist” political rhetoric and strategic brutality he contained the mulatto elites. Using the army he came to power then brought the army in line by creating his own hyper-violent personal army; the Tonton Macoute. He played on Cold War tensions to secure US aid for his militant anti-communist repression. He neutralized the Catholic Church by replacing all higher clergy with his own loyalists. He wrapped his entire brutal regime in the trappings of voudoun. He established a systematic network of local bosses called Section Chiefs on every level of the 9 Haitian departments. Through systematic killings, torture, rape and massacre he drove most of the intelligentsia and professional class into exile. When his son Jean-Claude Duvalier was handed power at age 19 an intensified period of looting began.

After the U.S. occupation from 1915-1934; via roads, rural pacification, and the creation a new Haitian proto-military; the necessary infrastructure was in place to transform Haiti’s illiterate peasant class into a vast pool of cheap, expendable labor for use in an envisioned island wide export processing zone focused on garment assembly in Haiti and on the Dominican side; sugar cane harvest. Both Duvaliers and their Dominican counter parts Trujillo/Balaguer played on racialist rhetoric to consolidate rule, but both regimes found common cause in conscription of Haitians to work Dominicans sugar plantations. With the exception of the Parsley Massacre in 1937 both sides used their militaries exclusively to make war on their own populations (Wucker, 2000).  Backed intermittently by US aid, plunder of state assets and narco-dollars during the height of the Cold War, the Duvalier Regime which lasted from 1957-1971 under Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc) and continued under his son Jean-Claude Duvalier (Baby Doc) 1971-1986 presided over one of Haiti’s longest periods of organized internal violence and state looting. Backed by foreign aid and reinforced via a vicious secret police (Milice de Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale/Militia of National Security Volunteers/MVSN, better known as the Tonton Macoute) over 50,000 Haitians were viciously annihilated, hundreds of thousands were driven into exile and hundreds of millions dollars were funneled out of the country into private slush funds in foreign banks.

There were by 1980 only four strategic fields that the Haitian peasant could use to resist the brutality of the regime; popular mutual aid associations called Konbits, the spiritual field of liberation theology via the Ti Legliz; urban youth gangs and the resources of the Haitian diaspora.

Haiti’s Konbit System

Haitians survive via a vast informal economy providing subsistence for 70% of the urban workforce (Lundahl, 2011). No public assistance from any government has ever meaningfully replaced this framework.

In the late 1980’s US subsidized rice replaced Haitian grown rice. The 1985 US Farm Bill began subsidizing 40% of the cost of domestic rice and dumping it via “aid” on foreign recipients. By 1996 Haiti was importing 196,000 tons of US rice up from just 7,000 tons in 1986. Eradication of the Haitian black pig began in 1982. International aid agencies told Haitians that the pigs were sick and had to be killed and they were over next 13 months. Replaced with a larger Iowa pig “prince a quatre pieds”. This effected numerous issues. Decapitalization of peasant economy, soil and agricultural productivity, and the people didn’t even like their taste. These two events are often associated as the Haitian peasantries first mass interactions with globalization (Hallward, 2007).

In 1809 Petion’s Land Reform Act transformed the newly liberated Haiti into a nation of small-holding rural peasants. The cycle of political coups and violence centered around the capital Port-Au-Prince and due to lack of infrastructure and mountainous topography the Haitian peasant was until the American occupation an almost ahistorical actor. Until roads and the military were in place, until Section Chiefs and Macoute were available to extort and coerce, until NGOs and missionaries arrived with “development projects”; the Haitian peasant relied on his or her village Konbit to survive.

A Konbit is a collective labor framework utilized on nearly every level of rural Haitian society to extend mutual aid to secure basic support for education, healthcare, agriculture, and other needs. These agreements and their associations were one of the four mechanisms that allowed clandestine organization in the face of Duvalierism.

Less important to the resistance are the various arrangements of Konbits that existed at the time of the 1986 uprising or continue today. More important was and is the Lavalas ability to harness these collective frameworks into strikes, demonstrations, social programs and until 2004; votes.

The Little Church: Ti Legliz

Rhetorically Lavalas organizers are liberation theologian priests and/or young leftist grassroots activists that draw on the messages of the Christian gospel to reinforce socialist conceptions of economic distribution and social justice.

Under the Duvalier most of Haiti’s traditional power centers firmly squared away. The mountainous interior was under the control of a Macoute infiltrated voudou hierarchy and the notoriously exploitative ‘Section Chiefs’. The army and Macoute tortured and disappeared an estimated 50,000 citizens. The official Catholic Church, once recognized in Haiti after the Duvalier purse of all non-Haitian clergy was a mouth piece of the regime. In this was physical repression, spiritual repression, and civil political repression were absolute. But Jean-Claude Duvalier (Baby Doc) was more of a playboy beholden to technocrats than his strong man despot father ever was.  

The average Haitian living on less than a dollar a day finds more use for a konbit than any non-existent civil service. They turn to a god that will give them justice and since the Macoute infiltrated voudoun and Catholicism the Ti Legliz became the predominant platform to organize the assault on the regime.

Chimères & Diaspora

Haiti is a place of extremes. There is no traditional middle class to speak of. A tiny mulatto and noire elite of un-apologetic Duvalierists, or post 1986 neo-liberal “neo-Duvalierists” have lorded over the larger peasant population via the Macoutes and the army. Lavalas was and is a peasant movement which harnessed Konbit collective frameworks and liberation theology to mobilize the people into the streets. The overwhelming numbers belayed the fact that this movement had neither the arms to fight the army or the finding to play international politics, but defeated both for a time.

Haiti has nine geographic “departments” and over one million expatriates abroad make up the 10th department responsible for between 400-600 million in remittances. The Haitian diaspora with major population concentrations in Boston, New York, Montréal and Paris are not only disproportionately wealthy and educated as a diaspora, they have been highly excluded from Haitian politics. The diaspora support would prove vital to restoring President Aristide after the military coup of 1991. It is vital to the future of the movement to harness this 10th department.

Unfortunately the Haitian Diaspora is fickle. Dual citizenship is illegal and as many in Diaspora fund or support Neo-Duvalierist candidates (such as Martelly), or are completely disinvolved; as place support behind Lavalas.

In Cite Soleil, the largest slum in the western Hemisphere 400,000 people live on but 2.5 square miles, sleeping in shifts for lack of space. Aristide and other Lavalas leadership could rely on both the slums and the diaspora for support intermittently in crucial ways. In place like La Saline, Bel Air or Cite Soleil Street gangs of young urban men rallied behind the Lavalas flag. These gangs which were never any military match for the FAdH, FRAPH or MINUSTAH but they were the only violent counter balance Lavalas has had to the sheer volume of repression used against the movement. They are referred to the Chimeres.

Lavalas strongholds have been most consistent in the places of greatest desperation. Numerous military efforts have been directed against these youth gangs under the auspices of “security” since 2004 and the French/American press uses them as evidence that Aristide ruled also with terror and force.

In the time leading up to the uprising of 1986 the Chimeres were perhaps the most audacious and violent counter balance available to fight the Macoute. The slum gangs and peasantry carried Lavalas via Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the office of president in 1991. The diaspora has yet to decide completely what if any side they are on in Haiti’s future.

Dechoukaj: “The Uprooting”

“One does not adhere to Lavalas as one becomes a card carrying or dues paying member of a party. One joins freely a movement which transforms the eternal vassals, the serfs into free human beings. We are all free human beings. Lavalas was the chance of all men and women…it was the opportunity for the army, the mercenary institution yesterday, to become united with its people. It was the chance for the bourgeoisie to opt for a democratic transition rather than a violent revolution. It was the chance for the church to come closer to its people. The idea of Lavalas – the torrent that cleans everything in its path- was growing in the people’s opinion- unity; the unraveling of the Macoute system. To unravel. To uproot. To be born again.” (Aristide, Prophet and Power, p.91)

The dechoukaj affected every intuition and population center in Haiti, especially the institutions of the Haitian Voudoun religion, whose principals and traditions had been directly tied to the dictatorship; the Section Chiefs, the army and all known members of the Tonton Macoute (Wilentz, 1989).

From the fall of Duvalier to the election of Aristide in 1991 the Lavalas Movement directed and encouraged mobilization in defense of civil rights, but not attacks on known members of the brutal secret police and security forces that so immediately preyed on the masses. This occurred rather spontaneously. Haitians all over the country took advantage of the uprising to execute or apprehend as many agents of the regime as possible. “Necklessing” was the preferred means. Placing a burning tire around the neck of the captured Macoute. While accused by Western media of contributing to the violence Aristide and Lavalas largely directed efforts at sustaining the popular movement while over thirty years of tyranny were assailed in the streets (Hallward, 2007).

Duvalierism had driven the population into previously unknown levels of deprivation. The Little Church aggressively mobilized against the regime and worked hard to ensure that the military could not impose a new president for life upon them. The movement was highly decentralized and took form around a variety of priests that utilized their congregations as mobilizing platforms. After a cycle of mass protests and retaliatory massacres escalating to a point of possible revolution Jean-Claude Duvalier fled in 1986 leaving the army in control of a completely bankrupt country on the verge of total class war.

Election and Coup Pt. 1 & 2

In 1991 Aristide was elected with 67% of the vote in Haiti’s first truly open and democratic election (Hallward, 2007). He defeated a full range of other candidates backed by the army, the United States, neo-conservative backers and overt Duvalierists. Lavalas as a movement had no structures political machine, no media platform, no foreign funding even from the diaspora or party apparatus. But the Haitian people elected him with a mandate to defeat Duvalierism and defend free Haiti. The United States State Department and intelligence community, long Duvalier supporters were not very pleased.

“We are not against trade, we are not against free trade, but our fear is that the global market intends to annihilate our markets. We will be pushed to the cities, to eat food grown on factory farms in distant countries, food whose price depends on the daily numbers game of the first market. ‘This is more efficient,’ the economists say. ‘Your market, your way of life is not efficient,’ they say. But we ask, ‘What is left when you reduce trade to numbers, when you erase all that is human.” (Aristide, Reflections, p.10)

A C.I.A. backed coup carried out by the army toppled Haitian democracy in just 8 months forcing Aristide to flee the country for his life as the military killed and tortured an estimated 5,000 Lavalas activists and supporters between 1991-1994.

The Lavalas Social Movement in Haiti was responsible for toppling the Duvalier regime, later dissolving the military in 1995, introducing unionization, raising minimum wage and establishing widespread social services while carrying out Haiti’s first period of democratic elections bringing Jean Bertrand Aristide, a liberation theologian priest into the Presidency in 1991. Eight months later when was toppled and exiled in a military coup the diaspora rallied behind him and the US restored him to power in 1994. He was reinstated via U.S. military intervention and he was forced to adopt neo-liberal trade polices upon re-assuming office. His term ended in 1996 and he stepped down in the first peaceful transition to opposition Haiti as ever had. He was re-elected in 2001 with 90% of the vote. During this tumultuous period the newly formed Fanmi Lavalas party incarnation of the Lavalas Movement under the leadership of Aristide implemented major reforms in healthcare, education and human rights attainment with Cuban support. The US cut off aid to Haiti and the Lavalas government was without any funds. In 2004 Aristide was exiled yet again in a second coup. This time he was kidnapped by US soldiers and placed under house arrest in Central African Republic as right wing FRAPH paramilitaries stormed the country (Sprague, 2012).

“Inside Haiti Aristide’s government had been ‘denounced by virtually every element of the coalition that supported his rise to the presidency in 1990’. This is true if ‘virtually every’ means ‘everyone except the poor’. The anti-Aristide movement united a broad spectrum of the elite, from Marxists and anti-globalization crusaders to Duvalierists and sweatshop owners. But every indicator, from Gallup polls to the relative size of demonstrations, showed that the government enjoyed solid support from the vast majority of Haitians who were not an ‘intellectual or artist of note’. The anti-Aristide camp knew this, and so refused to allow legislative elections. The ease with which Haiti’s leftist elite and its foreign supporters joined sweatshop owners, Duvalierists and the Bush administration in a crusade to overthrow Aristide says more about the fluidity of their own political commitments than about Haiti’s government. The real cleavage in Haiti has always been not left-right but up-down. When push came to shove, class allegiance trumped any professed commitment to social equality or democracy.” (Concannon, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti)

The UN “stabilization mission” began shortly after. Since the 2004 coup Fanmi Lavalas has been banned from participating in elections. Neo-liberal development reforms have been reinstituted under a “Republic of NGOs” and a mulatto pop singer and open Duvlaierist has been “elected” President but Lavalas remains the predominant social movement and party representing the poor in Haiti.

“On the tarmac in CAR, Aristide thanked the Africans for their hospitality, and then said: ‘I declare in overthrowing me they have uprooted the trunk of the tree of peace, but it will grow back because the roots are l’Ouverturian.’ (Chompsky, Goodman, Farmer 2004)

The Banned Majority

Why does Haiti a ruined and impoverished nation and an underground movement of peasants matter?

In January of 2011, a year after the devastating earthquake, both Aristide and Duvalier ended their respective exiles and returned to the country. Aristide was greeted fanfare and thousands of supporters, Duvalier with barricades and an “arrest for his safety”. Both are now on trial for corruption with ongoing highly politicized proceedings. Both represent diametrically opposite ideological schools of opinion on what will determine the future of Haiti under the “build-back-better” era of Michel Martelly.

Lavalas is till banned from elections as of March 2014 and remains highly polarizing in Diaspora, but widely supported in Haiti.

There are a staggering number of challenges facing the people of Haiti. They have many enemies and many more indifferentists. It is vital that those who are defenders of human rights and allies of the Haitian people support the only movement that has ever represented the impoverished of that long abused nation.

The rhetoric of the “development enterprise” and the full misery of poverty hides the underlying reality that for over 200 years the Haitian peasant and Haiti herself are via their very survival are a revolutionary and existential threat to colonialism then and globalization of today. Therefore, Lavalas is not just a “preferential option for the poor.” It seeks victory over oppressors internal and international; its views its survival as an act of resistance; and it seeks to wash away, to uproot the mechanisms that keep the Haitian people still as perpetual serfs.


Aristide, B.  (2000). Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization. Monroe:  Common Courage Press.

Buss, T. (2008). Haiti in the Balance: Why foreign aid has failed and what we can do about it. Washington D.C., Brookings Institution Press.

Dupay, A. (2007). The Prophet and Power. Lanham. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Chompsky, Goodman, Farmer (2004). Getting Haiti Right This Time: The US and the Coup. Monroe: Common Courage Press.

Farmer, P. (2004) Who Removed Aristide? London Review of Books, 15 April 2004

Farmer, P. (2005) The Uses of Haiti. Monroe. Common Courage Press; Third Edition.

Farmer, P. (2011) Haiti after the Earthquake. New York. Public Affairs.

Hallward, Peter (2007), Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment. London: Verso Books.

Human Development Report 2013: Rise of the Global South.

James, C.L.R. (1963). The Black Jacobins. Toussaint L’Ouvature and the San Domingo Revolution. Second edition, revised. New York: Vintage Books.

Lundahl, M. (2011). Poverty in Haiti: Essays on Underdevelopment and Post Disaster Prospects. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Rotberg, R. (1971). Haiti. The Politics of Squalor. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Sprague, J. (2012). Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti. Monthly Review Press.

Wilentz, A. (1989). The Rainy Season: Haiti since Duvalier. New York: Simon & Schuster. 

Wucker, M. (2000). Why the Cocks Fight. Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola. New York. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.



In the Ridge Woods between the border of Brooklyn and Queens

какими судьбами

Pronunciation: kaKEEmee sud’BAHmee

Literal translation: by which fates

Meaning: how surprising to meet you here


Friday morning of the Labor Day Weekend, Newyorkgrad is sizzling with fete and fever. Thousands of people are about to be gunned down in the streets of Brooklyn. They just don’t all know it yet. Most of the high class Blan are still in the countryside. Most of the Neg have a three day weekend they don’t understand. The sun is shining and also baking us all alive. The late summer humidity. It remains oppressive. The Flushing Avenue highway leads from Brooklyn deep into the greener pastures of Queens passing through a vast industrial district along the border. In a sense it and the Dutch Kills creek are the East to West Breuklyn-Queens border. A heat wave of unprecedented proportions has been ravishing the city for the entire three weeks.

They put that little bitch Greta on TV again, to talk about Global Warming. She mumbles something in Norwegian about using planes. But really it’s all just Capitalist Modernity. You can only rape the earth for so long before she begins to die inside. And then die outside too.

Dozens of multicoloured tents have been erected at the top of green hill whose perimeter is a steel fence. At its north side a small Dutch historic home and the rest a camp ground in the badlands of Industrial Bushwhack. A big band stage is almost finished in erection to blare live Gypsy Latin music is being set up and sound tested. A four day proclamation of lawlessness has been posted, but only the social club staff and its regulars will truly be encamping. At forty dollars a day, it’s a rather pricey venture to go camping in a field in the heart of a barren industrial wasteland between Breuklyn and Queens know for salvage yards, construction material stock piling, biker gangs, and various front operations. A railroad to somewhere and poisonous green river called the Dutch Kills Creek separating Breuklyn and Queens officially.

Slavi, stone faced with black hair until he cracks a jovial grin only to those he knows is Sasho’s brother. The sometimes grinning Bulgarian enforcer is at the gate nominally charging people whom he doesn’t recognize as the spoken for “regulars”. Justin O’Azzello, “the General Manager” is cooking up “kielbasa” and barking grinning efficient commands on set up.

“What are the kielbasa made of,” asks Viktoria, who has booked all the bands and done much of the production work to make this Bohemian Festival occur.

“What are they made of Pendaho,” repeats her husband Raphael.

“Special Chicken,” says Justin with his mouth, but ‘people’ with his teeth and she refrains from trying.

 At various points Justin Toomey O’Azzello has come and gone as Mehanata’s General Manager. He’s quit, gotten fired, quit, gotten sober, quit found HaShem, rehired, lost haShem, gotten wicked drunk, gotten very sober, and now, he seems to be conducting business well enough and is back in good graces of the management. Which means Sasho, and maybe to a lesser degree in reporting and accounting; Misha Kishbivalli, but Sasho is the boss. The Onderdonk Fields are now held by a colorful gypsy mafia. Sasho and his young son join a game of football game now underway.

Around 4pm Kawa Zivistan shows up carrying a large red medical tech bag. The big red bag contains various of basic life support that should hopefully not be utilized, and also two bottles of red wine. He joins Victoria and Raphael on the top of the hill by the main encampment. Raphael and Kawa comrade embrace as they always do. They grin because they know what is coming in the next 72 hours. Debauchery punctuated with sedition.

A large and gregarious man rises to introduce himself as Oleg. A slinky, slender dark brown haired woman at his side does not introduce herself at all. Also seated in the main encampment at the hill top are Lia Monteleone with her big French tits. Georgie Rabanca and Dasha Andreavna Skorobogatova. Daria ignores his arrival completely, as though she doesn’t know or care who he is. The burly Post-Soviet Oleg with a cropped beard and fashionable dress with a camera around his neck steps up and offers his hand.

“Oleg Medved is my name,” the big Russian fellow says.

“Kawa Zivistan,” Zivistan replies, “this is my ambulance partner Jared Forgetter, medical partner for the encampment, not homosexual lover to be clear.”

Oleg grins and pours everyone drinks. Zivistan takes out a large bottle of Spanish red wine and uncorks it. He passes out real wine glasses wrapped up in socks.

They all then dance and dance and drink and steal and make art and chat about the world. The fearsome, but utterly kindhearted in disposition Ukrainian Illubadori gangster Oleg Medved ‘from Boston’ takes a wide assortment of photos of former and Post Soviet models. Victoria has arranged a series of photo shoots and allegedly Alan, who most call ‘Oleg the Bear’ is local celebrity “up in Boston” and he takes tons of fashionable pictures. Kawa in his blue paramilitary style E.M.T. uniform with a red bandanna arm band is soon dancing the half tango, half salsa with Dasha clad in a yellow mesh cocktail dress with blue Indian war paint under her eyes; it makes for a lovely picture.

“I didn’t recognize you in that faded blue uniform and your cute little partisan cap,” Daria exclaims.

The four day Bohemian Gypsy Festival is in Friday day one full swing by evening. It’s a very Old Soul-Old School movement of a moment. They’ve taken a barren camp ground in bad part of warehouse district and turned into something of a cross between the Gypsies of Patagonia and or a cold war partisan encampment. Zivistan has little actual medical work to do. Zivistan begins working on sketch of Georgie and the big French tits on Amelia. Georgie with a laugh mentions he found black and blue marks all over his woman’s body the night she went back to Kawa’s home two weeks prior. ‘The night Dasha nearly killed you.’

“I fell down some stairs,” is all Amelia says. Georgie laughs it all off because he knows Kawa is very tragic man. A good man but a tragic man. Kawa doesn’t have it in him to have any affairs. We barely even asks anyone to dance. Georgie who is a C.U.N.Y. Graduate Center professor and also a computer scientist has affairs all the time, but he is not an American, or tragic, or rarely ever sad. However, Amelia’s black and blue marks are from someone fucking her dirty and rough. Not fucking her with love making. Just one week ago.
Georgie wonders when it will be that Dasha Skorobogatova gives him the opportunity for a good fuck. How much will that cost? Admittedly such a conquest seems expensive in a few regards. Probably a grand an hour. Georgie feels sad for Kawa at times. He buys him drinks periodically with an ugly Romanian smile. Recently he became aware of the possibility of the small and short affair between Kawa and another regular Tavern mistress, the French girl named Amelia. He was shocked that any beautiful women could find pleasure with such a sad, broken man. Kawa can’t dance and Kawa doesn’t ever smile. 

 Low and behold Dasha and Kawa are dancing up a storm tonight. To the Latin Gypsy Ska Jazz Band Eskarioka now playing a cover of the ‘DumDumbanza. Followed by brass jazz of the the Sunny Side Social Club. Their front man blows through coke like a champion snow blower. George has never even seen the ‘Kawabumga man’ dance more than two or three highly forced times. No use of hips at all!

Daria is a woman at the tavern that turns all the heads. Even more so than that American girl Jessica who always takes off her clothes and climbs the downstairs stripper poles. Even more than Amelia who has slept with almost everyone. Even more than the Moldovan twins who kiss all the time. Daria arrived perhaps six months ago and now certainly has a very regular card. Kawa turned his card in for some time and has just begun to reestablish it.  A Mehanata regular doesn’t just show up early and stay late two of three weekend days open. They make themselves part of the tavern’s ecosystem. They have riotous affairs. They get in fights with the Albanians. They make a scene.

“Now I could not have seen that happening,” says George to Raphael, “he never ever dances!”

“She’s fucking that hot, Prosto,” Raphael says. Prosto is Russian for simple.

Daria Andreavna is never far from the fact that Kawa not only has steel toed boots and two left feet. She takes him up on his hand to dance over and over. Kawa is so happy to be dancing again. He aims to do it well. He swore to her on the night she almost killed them that he never dances anymore. So that night before the fall, she made him two-step in a mirror as she watched and pressed her weight against his hip until he came correct.

“Your hips man! Move your goddamn hips.”

He almost crushes her bare foot with a steel towed combat boot dip.

Rafael is wearing a gold baseball cap and sits watching with his wife Viktoria manically try and direct this shit show. Bands not showing up, nothing going to schedule everyone getting more and more furiously drunk. In yester year and future year Raphael commanded men, now he mostly makes life. With his music twice a week at the tavern as part of Bordel Dali and he also makes love with his camera twice a week and always maintains a slave job at a boutique blue jeans fashion repair shop where wealthy clients sent their favorite expensive jeans for salvage. But, a revolutionary is a revolutionary and when asked by the resistance three weeks ago to activate his cell and raid the big blue tower to deposit the transmitter for the Fire Switch Station to broadcast orders and shut down government coms during the Labor Day Parade, he agreed. Jumping out of planes, carrying out raids and building non-lethal bombs, or taking hostages is like riding a bike, you never forget how to do it.

“I like to see him pretending to be happy,” says Raphael to Viktoria.

“They are too tricky. A thing moving too fast,” states Viktoria as she watches out the corner of her eye. Viktoria is very happy with herself for it was she who made this four day festival come together. It is mostly out of control, of course money was never Sasho’s aim this time. She has no idea her husband and most of the Peruvian Ska band Eskarioka are about to stage a raid on the tallest building in Queens. She has no idea that Oleg Medved and Yulia Romanova are poisoning half the camp with vodka based neurotransmitters. She has no idea there is dead hooker in the tent next to hers. She has no idea that an Iranian sleeper cell is carrying a bomb into the heart of Times Square to black out the city in a electromagnetic pulse early Monday morning. She has no idea that 2 million black woman, men and children are coordinating their revelry amid an armed uprising. She just isn’t aware of those things.

Viktoria doesn’t know about all that many of her husband’s affairs. She certainly doesn’t know he used to lead a guerrilla band in Peru. Called the ‘Bolivarian Hotshots’. They had gunned down many capitalists in the Fujimori Years. She loves Raphael her husband with all her heart. She partially likes Kawa Zivistan as her tragic brother. She loves but also hates Sasho who gives her a platform for her fashion, art and music. She came to this city and got a job at the Tavern as events producer and tavern has taken over most of her life and time. She doesn’t see the world like Raphael does, or Kawa did before his friends put him into sleep. ‘Sleep is the cousin of death’, but not physical death. It is simply reducing the size of the world one can see, third, fourth and fifth and sixth dimensionally.

    Kawa and Viktoria can only really see a couple days into the past and future. Whereas people like Raphael, and Dasha Andreavna can see things much further back and forward, see things happening in other realities. It makes them very, very functional in this reality. The more one drinks, the less they see. If Viktoria Contreras was aware of any of the danger near her, she’d have a baby heart attack. Probably move back to upstate New York where the world is a bit safer. Back to her hippy parents Alpaca farm. Way out of the coming crossfire.

She can’t be tamed by any man,” states Raphael in Spanish.

“He will try, but when he fails I’ll have to pick up the messy pieces yet again,” states Viktoria. She’s already had to coax him gently from his old Russian geisha Ms. Maria Parsheva. As well as his Yelizaveta Aleksandrovna and then to freedom and then through the affair where he broke the French girl Amelia’s heart. It’s now back to the bondage of his wanton reckless emotions from the look of it. Kawa’s habit of loving early and often is the source of his exceptional art and writing. She admires that about him though, she’s a hopeless romantic herself. It is Viktoria’s shoulder where Kawa does his most cathartic crying over the past three years since they all met on Floyd Benet Field at the original Bohemian-Gypsy-Tabor festival on the abandoned tarmacs of the abandoned Idlewild airport. A cool breeze breaks the city’s August humid heat wave.

“Spin me faster man!” commands Dasha.

He is under her spell.

She feeds him still more red wine. He can be known to drink in uniform when a General like Sasho gives him the green light to do so. Kawa has at least some discipline, but like a regular rank and file loses this discipline if the drinking lets him and the front seems far. And surely it takes a lot of drink to render him incapable of splinting extremities or dealing with overly intoxicated people, the most likely of injuries. But now, he’s really not good for much but chasing this woman. He knows nothing of Nikholai’s “great big hectic job.”

As a card carrying ‘Banshee member’ he has several local ambulance crews on speed dial worse comes to worse. There are endless bottles of wine and vodka miraculously stashed away about the encampment. All need more than tasting.

Kawa Zivistan is no obvious martyr today, or yesterday. Obviously for all his past mountains of zeal he’s built up, he saw the loveliest girl in the camp teach him how to dance and then try and kill him two weeks prior. He cannot be unaffected by the contrasts there. And if he was aware that his closest circle is up to something very large and possibly violent, he “is asleep.” He is out of the chain of command until reactivation after his paramedic graduation. Which is in Nivôse.

After his work in Haiti, the brought him to the bathhouse, they submerged his consciousness in the great waters of a temple buried in the earth; and to keep him safe they closed his eyes and made him aware only of what was around him in a small circle of seeing. A hint that there was a close bout with death has been made. Did our protagonist antagonists actually plumed to death off a roof top? The night Daria and Kawa boxed ferociously after he yanked the cigarette from out her mouth, she shoved him off a roof.  That was two weeks prior from the night before the Blue Moon now. He grabbed out for her and they both died falling into the deadly drop pit. She did shove to kill, but rather than make suicide assembled he pulled her along, to death. They definitively toppled off the roof into that pit of death. But angels quickly and immediately came to their rescue, in some form. Only Nanoseconds after lying broken and dead in a pit of death having killed each other over nothing. Over posturing and arrogance and lack of respect for physics. For the pair reality reset. ‘The angels’, on behalf of ‘the spirits’ took their two souls from their corpses and went back in time five seconds. Put the souls impolitely into two new bodies of Kawa and Dasha, waiting in a clear blue white chemical bath. It took just five human seconds to re-load them.

A near death experience was now near life experience. Because ‘the spirits’ were protecting them both. 

Panting hard, as if post-coitus she grabbed his right hand.  Daria then bit down into his right index finger to draw blood. He made no reaction his animal soul hasn’t fully absorbed itself into his new body. Then they lay panting by the edge of precipice staring each other down, bitten hand clasped and bleeding; and then she confessed to him things that were highly unnerving.  Some were true. And some were white lies.

Now, back at festival!

Now, “she remembers nothing” and keeps urging him to explain their first night of misconduct under good night almost blue moon and tell her what happened on the “roof of the financial district.”

Had they fallen into that pit having no spirits or angel to aid them you could have taken their bodies out a side basement door and it wouldn’t have even been real news. Senseless tragedy only bothers all of the living as everyone is missed by someone. So now they dance and self-seduce, she would say she is incapable he above it, so they self-seduce. They are engaged in a passionate stare down, but it is more playful than hot. She is very used to drunken men desiring her. He is very used to being a sober gentleman and sometimes also a drunken man.  

Viktoria Lynch can see the steam and glow from the tent camp at the top of the hill. It reminds her vaguely of the wild passion that came over her several years ago when she wrested Rafael from the arms of wealthy temptress and got the ring of marriage around his ways.

Kawa is a marvelously incompetent, albeit enthusiastic dancer. Dasha drags him off here and there and they imbibe relentlessly without even seeming to stagger.

Night comes and the darkness falls.

“Tender to see you saving the life of Sasho’s son,” Dasha had whispered earlier making a dry Russian joke out of his earlier handy work.

He had put an ice pack on a not that sprained ankle of the eleven year old son of the club’s owner. But, it was a smash hit. Calling an ambulance can cost between $475.00 and $4,000.00 in Newyorkgrad.

“Saving lives is much easier than taking them,” he says with a grin, “in the long run anyway.”

“So what happened again on your fateful roof! Tell me the whole story!” she demands.

“So no one meta died, or really died. Only almost died. Because when dawn broke two weeks prior we were still standing, I called you a cab and we begrudgingly agreed to meet again, only by fated coincidence, as we are both members of the same social club.”

“Fascinating,” she says staring out into the bonfires of the encampment. Pouring perhaps the fifteenth glass of wine. Knowing behind her bluff they were about five three dimensional seconds were warm, bloody broken and dead.  

They had gotten quite drunk on wine then Astika, then Rakia and then Russian Standard Vodka, eventually.

Again she pressed him for, “The whole of the story blat.

“We boxed out. You drank hard and boxed me harder. Then we fell twenty stories to our deaths in a sub-basement pit,” he explains, “Prosto.”

 “And now we dance like two lovers who could have been just two separate funerals, in two separate languages, with Raphael Rafael and Victoria being the only overlapping guests of note,” she notes and winks at him.

The festival has become an alcoholic blur to all involved by midnight thirty.

Dasha and Sebastian dance, dance, and dance like they almost died for nothing just a week before. Under a bog moon taking shape in the night sky above the border between Queens and Breuklyn.

Earlier in the day Oleg Medved took a good many pictures of her and the three lesser former and Post Soviet models from Bucharest, Bulgaria, and Transdeisnester Republic. And also of lovely Victoria who always looks lovely and charming and caring for this rowdy band that gravitates to the tavern. While refusing to let the sometimes dirty laundry of her marriage ever be aired in public views. Though there had been improvements lately.

Kawa kisses Dasha’s hand in the end of the song, then lets her swoop low and he catches her in his arms as she gets an inch from the ground with her long golden locks. It is not a smooth or graceful motion, but he tries the best he can. They nearly topple over.

Then she has her lips pressed to his neck. And they eye into each other, taking in the passion that they are generating without necessarily acting any further on it.

I will call you Sebastian!” she declares. “My name for you from this point out will be the name on your passport, the name your given at your Trinidadian birth.

“I will call you Dasha.  As I have from the beginning.”

“You like a devil have way too many names,” she smiles.

Drunkenly they declare what each had planned to name to the other already. Then more dancing, dancing and more dancing; sway and grind like they almost died for nothing. Kawa kisses her hand in the end of the song, then lets her swoop low and he catches her in his arms as she gets in inch from the ground with her long golden locks. For the second time now with not much more grace than before.

Then she has her lips pressed to his neck. Again. I could fall for her quite hard, he thinks, but he obviously, has thought such thoughts before. A rather ferocious amount of wine first. Then the Russian Standard Vodka Oleg the Bear has in a large Casque and also numerous Astika beers are consumed. These are not amateurs by any means.

A little party never hurt nobody! An Old Illubadori slogan” says Oleg.

Finally around 3 am the camp gets quieter, the Bohemian festival dies down enough for Dasha and Kawa to sit almost on top of each other, leaning in, coloring the sketch he’s made of their near fall and of her beauty over two pages of his black archive.

Daria then colors away at his sketches enthusiastically. She smiles radiantly and takes each color rendering his work into a superior rendition via the brightness of the combined war effort. Then they go and dance their asses off. 

Finally around 5 am the camp gets quietest, the Bohemian festival dies down enough for bonfire calm without drumming. Rafael , Dasha and Kawa sit at the edge of a terrific fire now also dying down. They are quite drunk. “Derangedely” speaking on the subject of “phantom physics” and “meta reality”. Kawa is waxing philosophically, as Dasha’s eyes roll, on the theoretical possibility of parallel reality and past lives. He pulls this from somewhere, according to Dasha, “His own ass.”

A little faux-intellectual rant positing his personal theory of existence.

Raphael Contreras nods in agreement, adding his own deductions. His own Mayan prophesies mixed with some Peruvian socialist folklore of the Arequipa Province.

“What if there are other lives running right alongside this one!” exclaims a dazed and inebriated Kawa Zivistan, “other possibilities, other potentialities had tiny little digressions been made on the course we follow in this waking life? What if, mind you the slightest digression and decision had yielded a vastly different outcome from what we experience now? And, what if there was some way to step from one reality to another. Moving about time, changing your body while keeping your soul and memories intact?”

Ironically, like as if he had ten thousand spoons and all he needed was a knife; Kawa Zivistan has in his drunken stupor articulates exactly what has happened to both he and Dasha just two weeks before.

“Fascinating talk boys before we die,” remarks Dasha yawning.  

It is to Zivistan like one of those grand conversations he once one had in the East Village coffee house Yaffa Cafe over red wine when he was younger. Or on the Golan Heights hills in Syria. Sweet and danger filled mental nostalgia.

“Do you believe in past lives?” asks Rafael .

“Well certainly! It’s so primitive to think this is all a show down between god and the devil over souls, one person, one life one try! How pedantic!”

“So then you believe in alternative realities, and also reincarnation?” Rafael asks.

Dasha makes faces at Kawa as they go on. The fire continues to die down.

Tovarish Philosopher I’m tired and have need to be put to sleep,” she says.

“Soon, soon,” Zivistan says.

“The Old Soul is what I heard it called once,” says Rafael , when I was boy in Arequipa Province, “the body is but a vessel my father and mother said. Like a suit for the soul strolling across time, across many lives. An Old Soul remembers these lives and in doing so has a mission to accomplish, what the Hindu call a dharma.”

“Boys! Bed!” yells Dasha.

Kawa asks her for five minutes to finish his idea. She scowls and gives him three and takes off in a pout.

Raphael Rafael with a devilish smirk says, “Speak of reality later. Go after her or I will.” Kawa catches up with her mid hill and takes her hand.

“Lie with me,” he says.

“That conversation was a lot a lot of bullshit you know,” she says.

“It’s fun to speak about this bullshit sometimes.”

“Where will there be the best sleep for us?”

“I have a blanket,” he says forgetting about the inflatable mattress.

 Dasha and Kawa sit almost on top of each at the top of the hill under the trees. He pulls a black and green Arabian blanket from his ruck sac. She finds anther bottle of wine as if out of thin air. Pours them both glasses. Watches him prepare the bare accommodations. She pages through and returns to late night coloring the sketch he’s made of their fall and of her vastness over two pages of his black archive.

She stares into him with Old Soul eyes.

“Will you be my sweet Tovarisha for the whole of festival?” he asks her, “We can share our wine and food and I will watch over you.”

“Ha, ha. Tovarish is gender neutral. It is not changed to “Tovarish-a” for woman. We are equals in Russian. Only word in Russian without gender inflection. Also I need not to be watched after. I am always safe.”

“Be my Tovarish then and look after me then.”

“We will see. For now; this an okay plan. Likely I will leave you in the morning.”

They draw closer into a cuddle and then complete spoon. She wraps herself within his arms and he holds her like it is his duty, but it is also a thrill of some buried passion. He holds her tight like a little partisan as the trees whisper and the two double blue moons that are out late can blot out reasonable doubt. He likes to hold her.

They curl together on an inflatable mattress and a green Arabian blanket. They are both, for a variety of reasons unaccustomed to the perfect fit of a well intentioned cuddle.

The fall into what passes as sleep, her first. As if on demand.

“We almost died for nothing,” he says.

What if I just kill all your hope,” she mutters in a whisper.

What if I love you until you know just what hope truly is good for?” he responds to her in muted tone.

“Don’t speak now of such goddamn stupid and impossible things,” she whispers.

They lie together in that Gypsy camp draped into each other on the air mattress and floating on a dream the only two partisans without tents. He dreams of escaping the struggle against the reaper to be forever in her arms and she dreams of a big black cat with a fiddle while a man on the moon plays the world’s smallest violin just for her little Amerikanski. No that’s just a romantic little literary device. He dreams of her and she dreams of nothing at all. Nothing at all she will ever, ever talk about to a man. And that nothingness is a subjective, but not the objective of her “inebriations”.

A good night for Kawa is not to dream at all his dreams are clusters nightmares. She has thus has rendered him peaceful. A good night for Dasha is to drink and dance until the night is blur of happy smiling, swirling dance movies and escaping in a peaceful haze. He watches the moon and feels her breathing heavily against him. He is reminded of some great peaceful moment. Whether that is because a beauty lays in his arms, or something more ephemeral, magically real forms an underling narrative, he cannot say.

“We will leave these bodies and make our way to higher ground,” is the last thing she tells him in primal low Ivory. Almost Aramaic. Strange that she speaks any Ivory at all. Being so fucking Russian and surly. And mad. And also quite Blonde.

She snores at him just a little. Makes unintelligible little cute moans. The last thing he thinks holding her looking up at the huge blue moon is that if some hideous monster or bandit came from the tree line, if bad men, werewolves, monsters or devils came to hurt them, if they sky fell out above them, if the blue moon became a meteor, he’d never, ever leave her behind. He’d fight on whatever level he had to keep this woman safe, to marshal every ounce of his abilities to deliver her from any impending strife.

It all felt like a terrific over powering déjà vu, as if it happened a few, or perhaps very many times before this very moment. Daria sleeps indifferent to his hold or his guard. Daria has survived a nation of thieves to get here and scuttled through a den of vipers since arrival. Sleeping in a park, with or without “protection”, with or without a mattress or a pillow, these are not so high on her hierarchy of concerns.

Amid many other pressing troubles, the Vodka and his many yarns sung her eventually  to sleep. The big blue full moon lit up the sky marking on the lunar calendar the end of an epoch and beginning of a functionally existential war for what will ultimately be the fate of this backward species. So much work to emancipate a mostly self-interested race of violent monkeys with space guns.

The partisan Kawa Zivistan, named such by the Arabs and Kurds of Rojava who’s American passport documents say he is also “Sebastian Adoneav” has also an Ivory name. So does Daria Andreavna Skorobogatova. Amid all the slumbering carnage of the Gypsy encampment, two old souls are re united. Their breathing synchronizes chest to chest. There beating hearts match up, and then. Then, there is no beating, no breathing and also no heart beating anymore. Two very attractive husks clasped to each other. As if they had done it so often, for so many lives it was now just a drill. To die and become reborn where ever and when ever they pleased.



In Brighton Beach, Brooklyn

час от часу

Pronunciation: chas at CHAsu

Literal translation: from one hour to the next

Meaning: just keeps getting better (sarcastic)


Make another fucking dirty movie, blat, or we’ll slow kill your fucking mom,” he said. So she ended up fucking nineteen guys in series of movies. “I’ll kill in in front of you bitch and make you eat from her corpse.

In pre-revolutionary Czarist Russia a beautiful woman of the gentry, with a powerful father and a substantial dowry even if she were so inclined, was not able to release thousands of photographs and short videos of her pretty face and enormous ripe breasts indiscriminately to potential suitors, horny aristocrats and common serfs, and petty criminals. The technology simply did not allow it in the 18th and 19th centuries. And frankly speaking then, never mind honor and propriety and the status of women; it would not have been strategic for an adventitious coupling. From a matrimonial happiness point of view, but we are not in the 19th century certainly we are not. It is the future now. Woman have no dowry, they have rights! Our gentry is far harder to access but not as bound by protocol and convention.      

“Sometimes I’m highly classy lass, and sometimes I take off enough off my clothes over a smile.” That’s what Dasha’s private Instamatic declares. In the City of Penza where she grew up she was a brunette, but now while in America a meticulously dyed blonde. Her name at the agency is ‘Gold Fish’.

So she sits there in her modest Brighton Beach apartment, sometimes in suites paid for by suitors in the then Atlas Park Hotel or the Waldorf Astoria, the Benjamin or the Sofrietel.  By the hour she has to work, and she takes a lot of pictures of herself. Thanks to technology, thanks to the future over 160,000 men, well they get these pictures immediately. Sometimes with a selfer stick, sometimes on remote, sometimes she has a professional photographer, but it’s hard to make men do things on a long enough timeline without putting them in.

She’s never depicted of course with her john’s only where they take her. It’s sophisticated art showing strangers on the internet that you’re classy and upper middle class and unavailable for immediate purchase, but you like things.

She has a shape that wins her many admirers. 176/57 93-61-95, serious measurements to shape her like a highly erotic, but angelic doll, one social media account is more doll and one is more tits. But the modern man, maybe all men like doll and tits in tandem. It’s hard to say whether this venture is actually sustainable, but she is getting popular. It sure beats working. As a student, a model and lover of fitness this has been a good racket so far. She’s just 24 in this life. It’s sensitive but not impossible to get the kind of man who will send a 100 rose bushels across town, to you know, buy groceries and pay your rent.

It’s hard to get in her head, that’s the idea. Her smile is a perverse fake smile, it’s not a happy smile, and you have to work real hard to have a good and winning fake smile. Often thanks to technology men in London or Newyorkgrad can see her rub her enormous breasts and do strange little things with her belly, or play with a cat, she does it all from her iPhone, links it into VKontackte and Facebook via Instamatic to two accounts. And then the offers come in. Most of them are just kind of disgusting. Well at least she can afford to fly her mother here once a year.

She’s never walked a European run way, that’s for sure. What she is a student of no one could guess. Her father thinks this is beyond dishonorable, but she’s the favorite daughter. And honestly despite having big baby eyes, and a tiny, tiny waist and ‘tits for days’ as she says, truly massive breasts for a petite figure like hers, and everything is real. Well suggestively is the color she paints with. It’s gotten her an international following.

Because that is how the modern commodification of flesh works, the horizontal voyeurism, but not consumption, of designer curves and suggestive. On SUPE you can get more, shall we say intimate with Daria Andreavna’s form.  

“You’re getting way too skinny,” Sergei Abromovich once told her, it was almost the first thing he told her and you have be careful telling a woman like that she’s anything but perfect. “It’s totally normal” she told him,” and referred him to a website of Russian models, but honestly none were as slim as her.

Sergei supposedly works as an accountant at the Atlas Park Hotel in Midtown. Though that is dubious. He pays for her classes, her rent in the shared apartment, he pretty much pays for everything. He loves her too much to be a legitimate sponsor.

Now no one wants to believe they are exploited, or being manipulated. No one likes to be deceived, you want to get what you paid for, you want out more than you put in, this is capitalism. Exponential reward for diminishing volume of work.

I worry that in your desire to please your clients you take on dimensions that are unhealthy. And I mean not say this so boldly, you must consider your own health and longevity above the peering eyes and thick wallet of the fans,” Dmitry Khulushin her top sponsor wrote.  

What a stupid, almost Ivoryish thing to say, she thought looking at this message from the Atlas Park Hotel. I am adored exactly how I am. In all my skinny and all my round. I will make someone send my favorite dumplings, she says. Or roses, or new victory bras for my big and beautiful, you know. Maybe Red bottoms, also a new puppy. New Years is coming, options, so many options. Hopefully a brand new life, in a brand new time and place. In a brand new life, everything could be okay. It would all be simply amazing. Should the impossible become possible, the untrue become true and the nightmare somehow transmogrify into a happy dream.

“I’ll tell you what though. Whatever they do, did, are still gonna do to me. My sisters had it much worse in long run. Because I was eventually allowed to die. They both had to live with what out father was capable of.”

If I give in and I marry Dmitry I can move to the City and put all this ugliness behind me. He will be able to secure me. Stupid people say that money cannot ever buy happiness. But it certainly can buy one options. Thus, with many options you can get about as close to happy as human life can get. But when you are cold and hungry and have no green card. Both options and happiness are abstracts. First comes security at all costs.



On 189 Chrystie Street

взять себя в руки

Pronunciation: VZYAT’ siBYA v RUki

Literal translation: to take oneself into one’s hands

Meaning: to pull oneself together; to calm down


‘I’m not fully happy with some central elements of my life’, thinks aloud Siegfried Sassoon the actor. I cannot exactly say that I am satisfied, though I do have many elements of a good life going; I am not using my human potential; not as an actor and not as a man. Siegfried Sassoon, the Cuban American actor is a begrudging friend of the resistance. He works as bartender in the night club called ‘The Red Fox Box”.

There are only several places where they cannot hear you, see you, record you and file you by number. And these places are not one hundred percent secure, they only make your detection harder and prolong your date of capture.

Bathhouses, fitness clubs, loud electronic music venues, camping & wilderness activities, dancehall parties and in the back of municipal ambulances.

I take to the woods. There are so many things we forgot to do when we became civilized; we lost innate mechanisms for our self-preservation; we became reliant on government, on governance on divisions of labor so infinite that we no longer possess any intrinsic individual use. Well, a great deal less any way.

I am following a new serial on Netflicks and Chill. I have no stomach for film or TV! I was classically trained in Moscow for the stage! For the fucking stage, but that is a dead medium now. I have bachelors in philosophy, I wrote my thesis on the history of time travel. I work as bar tender at an elite supper club in the Isle of Mann. I have a pleasant and attractive girlfriend, she is not as amazing as my last girlfriend, but she makes me happy and keeps things mostly drama free.

My father works for the military industrial complex. I rarely see him. My mother is a hippie still. It’s peace love and light, and then you marry rich; it’s good for your future, your children’s future. My father has a job I don’t know the details of; his company holds patents to space craft and commercial airlines, it builds them for the United American States; the U.A.S. has been the name of the 87% of the U.S.A. that was not lost to socialism during the Separatist Wars of 2012-2015. The Capital is now in Chicago. The 13% lost is called the Autonomous Administration of North and East America, the Isle of Mann is just over the river from the so-called ‘Breuklyn Soviet’; which is one of the most heavily armed hot beds of the sedition. The Bronks and Queens are confederated with it; Staten Island is an enormous military garrison, it got very blood for three years, now it’s all quiet. The rebels threatened to use atomic weapons and took hostages, I will tell you what appears to work; terrorism it seems to work every single time. It is actually understood to be far less bloody than conventional war, and a lot less expensive. Who fundamentally funds these rebels is a subject of great debate in the high class circles I run in. Oh yes, the upper classes are composed of big brained thinking men.

My particular club, like many of the establishments in cash rich, high stressed Isle of Mann, high tower living; caters to the millionaires and billionaires that compose what you might call were you to site rather populist rebel propaganda; the 2%. Wealth in the United States of America and subsequently in the United American States is a maldistributed slope like absolutely anywhere else in the 206 habitation sectors, em, countries. In virtually all 206 national harvest units the distribution is about the same; though there are sharp gradients in the peripheral and semi-peripheral zones; social welfare systems and trickle down economies have enabled most of the 46 Core nations to eliminate all obvious forms of extreme poverty; life below $1.25 a day. Underclasses of course exist; the Muslims in Europe and the Noires and Mestizos in the U.S.; but they are not volatile, starving underclasses, but observe the slope; same in peripheral zone Kenya, as Semi-Peripheral zone Brazil, same are core zone France; a slope of the underclass and “middle classes” that in raw net wealth and assets are not radically disparate. Suffice to say you could call much of the middle class, the working poor. And in any society the distribution of reported wealth, emphasis on reported wealth would show that with welfare, with subsidy; the majority of the citizens of any county; 80-90% are all on slope that tapers off at its highest mark at annual earnings of $100,000 per year; then you have a 5-10% of the Bourgeoisie, the Upper Middle Classes, white collar managers, athletes and celebrities with earnings let’s say between $100,000 to 1 million per year. This still is not a radical accumulation of wealth, not in the scale needed to exercise power. Control of political and productive mechanisms. And then you have a class in itself, what they called in Occupy the 1% is actually 0000.1% of the remaining population; a Kleptocracy; more appropriately called; the Oligarchy. Organized into clubs and factions that see national boundaries as mere human resource brands, or more appropriately the names of various large scale mega plantations.

I did not come to any of that by reading the manuscripts or hearing the speeches of Zivistan, Solomon, DeBuitléirs and other famous rebel orators. I am no prole, nor were their Partizan songs written with my class in mind.

These Oligarchy men do not even come to my supper club. But I pour their managers drinks. I pour their entertainment drinks. I stay sober sometimes while their supervisors drink and I know about things like robots, clones and the great salt mine. I knew that the ‘new Panama Canal’ had already been built in the 1980’s. I knew this from the mouths of babes. The call girls these lackeys bring around. I have smoked joints with fellow help and shared what we’ve all heard about the great wide world.

Zivistan tried to recruit me no less than twice to twenty three times a year in round about and direct appeals to my level of awareness. I long suspected he would ask to spy for him, or something trickier. I’m a man of privilege, but not impervious. My father is well connected because of his company’s trade in trains and planes and missiles; but if the secret police took me there would be not very much he could do. I have friends too from the Club in which I work; but honestly when they take you they take you away. Your body is found in a tragic accident or a suicide, but that’s not your real body; you end in a container ship and then in a secret prison and that’s all she wrote.

I once wondered if “Kawa Zivistan” could ever analyze the sacrifice of his own privileges. Being white, being raised upper middles class from a family with land. Well his father is no lesser oligarchy but still they were the House of Zivistan! Excuse me, the House Adoneav. An esteemed lesser Ivory house allowed into certain elite clubs, given lands in both the District Financial and the Hamptons. Allowed in professional trades despite being Ivory. Well, suffice to say that house was eventually outlawed and obliterated after the Great Revolt.

They stripped his Ivory father of all his land and military rank. Then they executed his entire extended family. This is all I read in the underground papers. Sometime immediately after the Great Revolt began. The 803 Martyrs of the House Adonaev. They even hunted down and killed and tortured many of Sebastian’s past lovers. 

‘The world to come’ is not a much changing world from the worlds’ before it, though Sebastian Adoneav now more infamously known as “Kawa Zivistan” is still working overtime to make his many enemies pay for their crimes. There are always barbarians at the gates, slaves in sex cages and unrest in the colonies. It has always been this way, it will always be this way; who am I or Zivistan or any in the Resistance to clamor for ‘a new world and a new way’. Zivistan and I used to sit in the downtown bathhouses and I would hear his yarns. I could hardly believe much of it was real. We were in university together, though I never joined his movement officially. Never took the plot outside the steam room. The House of King and House of Zivistan were of relatively equal social stations. He seemed to disregard my sympathies to him and grow angry as we got older that I didn’t wish to die on some barricade like him; but there are not barricades now; there are only strange events. Strange changes to reality that happen to keep up with the future science and black magic making war.

Nothing is what is what it seems! Are these vast plantation camps or are they so-called developing nations? Is democracy about speaking freely or is about governing together? Why has the winter not ended for three years in grim Massachusetts? Why do proles take trains to serve others in the Isle of Mann and those trains take 45 minutes, but I know and Zivistan knows that to get from Manhattan of Breuklyn Soviet you need a plane or a 40 mile base jump down a mountain. Are you a citizen or are you a serf? Did America win the Cold War? Why is it half of the lesser, and one third of the greater oligarchs all have Russian names? What is a Princeling? What is the Bohemian Grove? Who are the Free Masons? When is it time to smoke a joint and join a conspiracy theory, or get your cock rubbed via Netflicks and Chill? How much is a human life really ever worth?

Make us a good price! I came to much of these realities during my senior thesis called ‘A History of Time Travel; which explores the metaphysics behind parallel reality states, fourth dimensional travel and such themes of Pre-Soviet parapsychology.    

My ex, I can’t say her same as it was so painful to lose her. Her father is a Greater Oligarch. From she and from Kawa Zivistan and also from the whispers of the lower echelon elites assembled at the Red Fox. I learned that truly nothing is as it seems.

Kawa Zivistan, before he embraced the Baha’i nonviolence teachings of Sheikha Saadiya Usmani and was inducted into the Blue Lodge. He was a killer. I watched him evolve. I saw him go between talk and action over a period of ten years, he was changed by his experiences in the colonies. Palestine first then in Haiti, then Syria and into the imagined wilds of Greater Kurdistan.

I think almost nobody knows what year it really is. How far in the future we actually are. But this actually was the profound elegance of the New Social Gospel, it is open ended and egalitarian. Disciplined, principled but wildly inclusive. Most importantly as it tidies up mythology, religion and science; it grounds all who approach it. Ground you in the now as well as the infinitive continuum of being.  

I will not speak to what did or did not happen during ‘the Millennium Theatre Hostage Crisis’. There are wildly different accounts. I never saw him again after that night when the whole country first learned his name. They say he died. As did thousands of hostages being held all over the country that night! Then a calm. Then a great gold mist blew over North America. The internet turned off. The world outside our country was blacked out. In that gold happy mist changes were made. There was no more Zivistan. There was no more United States; the entire population was put to sleep. When we woke up out of the dream, out of the week following the Millennium Hostage Crisis. Some estimated 13 % of America was a wild rebel free zone, and 87% was called the “United American States”, had always been. And you couldn’t take a 45 minute train to Breuklyn, no this violent anarchic thing called Breuklyn Soviet was a 40 mile drop off a cliff where the East River used to be. There was mile high wall between the edge of that cliff; and I was still in the U.A.S., which had always been the U.A.S. But, Breuklyn, Queens, and the Bronks were no longer Federal territories. These were now autonomous zones we were prohibited from traveling to. Rebel cantons. Lawless zones of sedition. American Soviets.

I got a letter in the mail from Kawa Zivistan, after he supposedly “died”. I guess a courier moved it across the lines. The letter stated he was interned in a special engineering camp not far from Boston, another recently liberated City State. He told me that shortly his compatriots would be taking him out of the camp ad returning him to “Breuklyn Soviet, which was of course he claimed now ‘free.’ And what did he want, why had he written? Of course he wanted something. He never was capable of just having a normal friendship. He had taped a micro USB chip to the letter; it contained god only knows what. Nothing would shock me. He letter asked to go to 7th F.D.N.Y. E.M.S. Outpost in Chelsea. To a paramedic named find Anya Drovtich. To buy her a drink and give her the chip. Just commit treason, matter of flatly.  

I had met Anya Drovtich once before the letter said. ‘A bad Muslim sexy Polish chick with the dreadlocks and red Hijab.’ That narrowed it down quite a lot. What the rational person would do, despite having knowledge of a highly irrational world, even sympathizing with the resistance secretly. Having bathed and been friends with supposedly dead public enemy number three, behind DeBuitléirs and Solomon, ahead of famed Jamaican Rebel Tabor commander still at large in the so-called Breuklyn Soviet Mickhi Dbrisk. I remembered this Anya, I let them both in the Red Fox Club once on night against my better judgment. They were planning to take hostages. In the end they were ordered to stand down. Zivistan got drunk and pole danced for her in a private room. He wasn’t always so dower, unsmiling and totally humorless.

I look at this letter in my hand and I wonder what I should do. Turning it in means incriminating myself. The televisions have said he was killed in the hostage crisis along with co-terrorist Emma Solomon. This is proof of sorts he is alive; maybe his prints are on this hand written letter. His security culture is sloppy I know. Maybe throw it away? What’s on this micro USB chip? Should I even open it? Maybe this all a setup, maybe the Joint Terrorism Task Force is looking at anyone Zivistan used to know and I used to Banya with him twice a year, he’s been to half my theatrical openings. Maybe it’s another purge. And why would he send this to me? All of these years later. He’s been officially dead for over three years.

Yes, the hostage tragedy happened in 2015? I think so. 2017? Maybe, they say never forget but I do forget. So much happened, so much was changed. So many people died in the Millennium Theater Hostage Crisis. I know, what the public doesn’t know which is that the rebels were very close to using nuclear warheads against major Americans cities. Leveraging that was what allowed the Separatist victories. I know that Department of Homeland Security pumped gas into all of the hostage points, four if I remember and that gas killed most of the hostages, not the rebel small arms fire.  I know the official story is that Emma Solomon, a citizen of Spain and Kawa Zivistan a dual citizen of the USA and Trinidad, some allege, also Illubador lead some forty terrorists into a packed showing of a new Broadway play and held hostage some 850 people, mostly the Crème de la Crème of the lesser Oligarchy in New York and celebrities; and then coordinated seizures of buildings happened in Las Angeles, Atlanta, Houston and Chicago; and then there was 48 hour five site siege; and the terrorists called for an end to the three year Separatist Wars and independence for 13 Soviets; 13% of USA’s territory, including all of the Puerto Rico sex colony. Then, blood, fire, gas and then as if nothing had happened all. Just like a mass shooting or a bombing in Baghdad.

I ask myself, I ask you; what would you do? The world is falling apart, the wars are closer and closer to the top of the mountain; no one is safe. What is on this USB could be highly consequential, or could be a test or a set up. Plot upon sinister plot.

Anya Drovtich who I have met only once. How consequential is her role in the Resistance, how close is she to Zivistan. What should I do? We all know at the Box that the Secret Police are cunning; 17 whole agencies spying on us. You never know when you’re being filmed only when you’re maybe not being filmed; we carry these fucking phones everywhere like the mark of the beast.

In the woods I am free; there are of course cameras in the woods too, there are even cameras I read inside dogs and cats; inside bees! It can make you a little insane to keep reading. There is no conspiracy your rational mind declares! There is no oligarchy! There is just the high, the middle and the low classes; a product of their merit and work ethics. Whites are on top because they work hardest, we all know that! And life is certainly better in the United American States, which has always been the name of our country; then anywhere. Definitely better than that corrupted, vile violent mafia federation of Russia. Which I do live dearly having studied their as an actor for a year. And evil red China with its pollution and one child woman killing polices, which I do love dearly, my ex the love of actual life being half Russian, half Haan. I digress. Well most of the proles have never left America. Most of the upper middle class if they have left America they’ve gone to Europe or the tourist garrisons of the Caribbean. Or banal Costa Rica, the C.I.A. eco-colony/ sugar brothel. Who can say they’ve seen the world! Who has laid eyes on the Salt Mines! On Kandahar! On the night train of Beijing to Moscow. Almost none, and thus they cannot believe the things the resistance says are happening, are even real.

One year, maybe Gregorian 2010 Zivistan and I went to the Russian bathhouse on 88 Fulton and maybe he liked the Banya so much cause we can talk freely, no phones no hidden mikes, you’d hope, no cameras, you’d hope. Or at least the illusion of privacy in the stream and sweat. He took out an envelope and showed me pictures of the atrocities in Syria. He told me they were preparing to send fighters and medics would I go? Would I raise money? Well I feigned enthusiasm but ultimately contributed nothing. Like when he’d asked me to carry out some operation on the trains they were planning. Well anyway, everyone they sent into Syria was killed. He was shortly after arrested and tortured for sedition. And by Fructidor 1st, Labor Day 2012 the Great Revolt had begun and the rebels soon took Breuklyn, Queens and the rest.

History will absolve almost everyone! I have looked this man dead in the eyes in the steam of the baths and heard him say seditious things and never informed. I am still absolved. One day people may look back at their uprising and say they committed atrocities, they were extremist, anarchists even! They tipped the arch with their fuckery! If you showed me video of Zivistan executing four men with a shot gun, like the one they played on TV. If you tried to tell me Zivistan was really a Persian sleeper; a Shi’a triple agent. Like they said on TV. I wouldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t believe he’s killed a single person. They just seek to ruin him so his words mean nothing.

I ask myself again what on this latest USB? A list of names? I could bring it to Haan Town, they would tell me for a pretty small price. Or maybe I’ll bring it to Anya Drovtich. Hand it over to the Banshee Underground to get it where it need to go. Those people can move anything.

I want this last thing clear. I am an actor. I am here to capture the human experience and make it relate. But the craft on stage is dying, it’s a bourgeoisie fringe event. That Hamilton brought back black face-white face, claiming to empower people of color, forgive me while I quietly vomit in my hands. I am making the last round of drinks on the Titanic, and knowing what I know, seeing what I saw; you cannot escape the coming war. Too much was accumulated for too long and now, well now I need another drink.

A New Orleans whiskey or a Mescal maybe. Something mega Smokey. I’ll just head to work and if I can think of a clever way to get Ms. Drovtich this token of our mutual friend’s appreciation, I’ll do it not for some cause, not because of the atrocities, not because of anything. Because if Kawa Zivistan is alive, if he’s passing women notes again. Well a loyal droog, and I think myself a loyal droog to him; I will pass his note along.

I am not an old soul, but I do remember the past. I did write a book on time travel; I know that Kawa is a serious person who has suffered a lot. That he is also a mad man and possibly a terrorist, well cheers he is also my friend.

Comrade, I know you cannot hear me. I know it is not safe or prudent to hand Anya your calling card. I will either follow her after her shift ends on the ambulances, or I will call 911 fake a medical emergency have her take me, or some accomplice to the hospital and in the back of the ambulance where we believe no one is filming us; I will hand her the USB.

They used to say on the TV; ‘if you have nothing to hide why do you care if we watch over you’. Then there was fucking Snowden. Who defected to the Russians and testified that every single cell phone call, text, email, even ToR and snap chat was stored in National Security Agency server warehouses. Filed and linked to social security numbers. Even when Patriot Acts I, II and III came out; basically canceling out whatever proud rights Americans thought they had; we said we were not terrorists, who cares, drink booze, and watch Sports; Netflix and Chill! They used to try and tell us on TV Democrats and Republicans were different somehow. Well they things they say are different, but now both parties are suspended under the War Powers Act of 2077. Who’s the President of the U.A.S.? That’s what Anya the F.D.N.Y. Paramedic will ask me or my accomplice. After our name and ‘if we know where we are and what day of the week is it. The orientation questions. If she asks me ‘who’s the President of the United States of America’, instead of asking me who is the President of the United American States; well that’s resistance code.

Kawa told me in the letter, ‘When they take you, pretend you’re very, very drunk.

I wonder if I will see my old supposedly dead friend ever back to happy. What would make a man like him happy? A nice girl. A life on the beach? A fast car? A published book? Well everyone has a price do they not, we all have a price. Sadly, what I think will make my old friend happy, as happy as he can be at this juncture. “Falsify a medical emergency, avoid detection by using some proxy you seduce and pass off that card to the underground. That would make me happy.”

Well he put as much in explicit pamphlet writing: “The aim of the entire Great Revolt therefore is to take full control of the means of human development at the most localized levels without using unnecessary violence to do so. Thus we harness our collective might to secure our human rights entitlements once and for all.” But there was something more to what he was doing than all this rhetoric. That’s why people listened to him and risked their lives for his various visions. Albeit sometimes very begrudgingly.

One time he was very, very drunk. And he told me about the execution. The very brutal execution of his first love and co-conspirator. Some woman named Emma he had known in the Jewish Military Colony, when it existed. On the eve of the dark years.

Initially. I helped him because of that story, not any political idea. I was moved by how much they had taken from him and how far he was willing to go to hit back. Thus my sympathy with the resistance was not based on an ‘imagined community’. It was a basic human bond. Something inside me knew this man was going to take this up the mountain as far as he could and we all need something to believe in.



At the Tea Room above the Tavern

собраться с силами

Pronunciation: saBRAT’sa s SEElami

Literal translation: to gather with the forces

Meaning: to regroup, to gather the strength, to get the nerve


The infamous Bulgarian Tavern has roughly four doors in and three tunnels out. Also a roof hatch. You could completely miss the whole place if you weren’t looking for it. For the nine to thirteen million rats in their various stages of the great race to make it here, this city never fucking sleeps. Its go, go, go, go, zoom, zoom, rush rush! Slaves and Serfs to the trains for wage service. It’s all an illusion its fun here. With no currency, with endless wage work the place is bleak urban hell. It’s a filthy place except at the very center. The Isle of Man. Getting in early with red eyes and leaving late. Back on the cattle cars. The masters dangling enough to cover the rising rent and some groceries if you’re lucky. You’re so lucky to here in this cage! The hope dies out. You whore yourself somehow. You have to! You drink more than you should. It feels worse if you’re not from here. Even the yellow cab driver have more education than most of the rest of the country. The black sports utility vehicles, with tinted windows and important people that don’t want to look at you. The constant sirens. Everyone running somewhere not making eye contact. Always a fucking siren going off for some emergency that isn’t probably real. The city itself was built on the very top of the mountain. Its highest towers hold more rich and powerful people than anywhere on earth. Except maybe Moscow and London. This apple is all poison and rotten. The high octane hyper diversity is just a sex circus. Plus a racial death trap. Plus an ugly over crowed sprawl more regularly breaking then making those who arrive from the interior or abroad.

Nikholai Trickovitch is bleary eyed. He stinks of cigarettes, some cheap men’s fragrance and also of raw smoked Rum. The climate here is repressive towards the end of summer. Rum Barbancourt Nine Star on the rocks isn’t served in this part of town. So he brought his own bottle to the tavern. For their troubles were about to mount exponentially. Their bravest battle was about to arrive. ‘Heroes will be separated from hooligans. The cowards from the brave. The sacred from the profane.Well anyway so said the voice of their leader Emma Solomon on the Fire Switch Radio. 

Nikholai by very early association with the even more militant Kawa in the early days of the Resistance is part of the inner most core of the leadership of the Z.O.B. The clandestine network of insurgent cells and for a time the editor of its underground newspaper, ‘the Banshee News Service.’ He highly prefers conducting his revolutionary duties from the computer of his uptown Penthouse. Moving things about the internet, correcting pamphlets and public movement speeches Kawa and their comrades give in soap box parks and on the trains. Nikh was persuaded to manage the logistics for the very First Haiti Operation.  He did pretty well. Only two had gotten killed. He was then later persuaded to manage ground logistics in Port-Au-Prince for the expeditionary forces. Still later, he joined the medical guerrillas in their ill-fated expedition into Gran Colombia. Where most of the partisans were wiped out and he barely survived the long walk home. But, he has only so much will power to back up such walk and warfare.

‘I might need yet another drink!’, thinks Trickovitch. He knows it will be a long meeting and the A/C won’t work well in the private upper club house. The night is really just getting started work wise even though it’s past 4am. They’re erring toward minimal street traffic, but even the rats and pigeons here work in shifts. Well that same night Nicholai Trickovitch put together a little squad to do, “another messy little big job.” There were big jobs and little jobs. There were protracted campaigns that took many years. Some jobs where social engineering was needed. Others where brute force was the best approach. A job that has a lot of force commitment is called ‘an Operation’. Several coordinated large scale operations are dubbed a ‘Campaign’.

Nikh has to get buy in. No one is ever fully in charge of the structure. Now, outside New York the Resistance gets very eclectic with who is involved. It would be inaccurate to say anyone could possibly ever lead it. It is bad in New York where well over 70% of the population wasn’t even born here. A lot of players. They all “Relied heavily on Neg, Blan and Gray magic to keep this whole thing together,” as Nicholai was fond of saying, “But in New York Fucking City, we still do things the old fashioned way. By having a real tight crew.”

Based on the Kurdish origin of their military doctrine, their “crew” was typically organized into a “Kol” or ‘section’ of 7 to 10 gender mixed fighters. Two or three ‘Kols’ were organized into a “Takim” or ‘squad’ of up to 30 people. 2 Takims make up a “Tabor” fighting group or “Platoon” of 40 women and men. It had been some time since the Z.O.B. deployed a defense structure of any larger size inside the country.  

For many, many years Newyorkgrad was not “the old Newyorkgrad” that so many who had never visited imagined it to be based on movies and television. In the dead of something, where night creeps toward dusk, around a table on the fourth floor of 113 Ludlow Street, they met. That is to say the restaurant immediately above the Mehanata Tavern. A little talk is underway, a briefing. Maybe also something of a sale pitch.

“There are thirteen elected leaders of the Z.O.B,” Trickovitch explains, “Two have disappeared. We don’t fill their seats, but we consider them probably, most likely dead. One is living in a submarine somewhere hidden. Two are sleeping. That’s a polite way of staying they were thrown in a filtration camp and badly tortured. Most of them kill themselves sometime after. That means at any given period nine are left. Left in charge of all the cells in the division. Greater Newyorkgrad.”

The table is wooden and plates of tapas have all been cleared. Nobody got in from the street. They got in from the various tunnels. It’s time for black tea.

“Let me tell you how this is gonna go down,” says Nikh to his fellow partisans which include the tall well-polished Jamaican Gangster Mickhi Dbrisk. He is wearing a black suit with no tie after coming from work at previous engagement. Where girls were still jiggling.

Mara Fitzduff is a half pint Fenian. Barely ever smiles. A dirty blonde rebel famous for her firebrand speeches on the Fire Switch Radio. Also present is Rafael Ernesto Contreras, the Peruvian disk jockey. A photographer too. Retired child soldier and lesser officer of a defunct guerrilla band in the Arequipa Province. The fifth member of this add-hock unit is Mr. Siegfried Sassoon. He speaks very well with great emotion in his face. He should be expected to as he is an actor classically trained in Moscow. He too is just getting off work as a bar tender at a flashy supper club up the street called the ‘Red Fox Box’. A dashing swaggerous man of Cuban descent. The sixth man in this last minute, late night call up was the light skinned Haitian smooth criminal Watson Entwissle. The seventh at the table wasn’t made yet. A smooth young blood from East New York. Says his name is Joshua Hunter. Has okay references and they are going to test him out. Could be a plant.

Watson is pretty pissed. You can tell when he’s pissed, he doesn’t pay attention at all. It’s based anyway on the past midnight hour. He left his favorite ‘sexy chocolate’ in bed in Yonkers for this “very tedious bullshit.” He doesn’t get to see his old lady enough. She lives in Boston. Ms. Charlotte from Uganda.

In the confusing and albeit vaguely disjointed chain of command Mara, Watson, Mickhi and Nicholai are all title holding inner leadership. Only one is from the inner nine. Siegfried Sassoon, Hunter and Raphael were called in as ‘hevals’. Though technically Hunter was not even a ‘provisional member’. Hasn’t made rank or been sworn in. Not written in the book of life. But they were told he can do good work by Dbrisk.

“The Labor Day weekend begins in 72 hours and you all know what’s coming,” explains Mickhi, “The West Indian Day Parade ain’t heading south at the Grand Army Plaza. Oh no, they’re gonna head north right over the bridges and attempt to occupy the mostly empty City on Isle of Mann.”

Everybody except young Joshua Hunter knows that already. They are gonna stick Hunter with Watson and Watson will keep him working this weekend until he is trust-able, or dead. They are all aware of the score.

“As most of us know this revolt is a three stage campaign in Newyorkgrad is being coordinated mostly by the Pan-Africanists, the Garveyites, the N.L.M.M., some of the liberal and radical medical trade unions, the I.W.W. of course, the Shi’a Muslims, the Occupiers, the Anarchist Black Cross Federation, the various affiliated radical student movements in C.U.N.Y., the 1199 Trade Union, as well as the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and of course, our faction Uhuru and greater we,” explains Mickhi, “Namely the Brotherhood and the Banshee Group.”

“The dry runs were the messy occupations on Wall Street and around the country last year to assess the state defenses. Phase Two is Labor Day where we liberate Breuklyn, the Bronks and Queens. Phase three will be to hold ground and liberate ‘the City’ just before New Year’s Eve,” he continues, “The goal is to declare a whole series of confederated cantons up and down the east coast. Hunker down and defend them from federal counter assault.” 

“Hectic shit,” mutters Raphael.

“Our role then is quite basic in phase two,” explains Nikholai Trickovitch, who knew indeed that the General Rising was close in coming, but not actually a mere five days away.

“We all know what was revealed about the C.D.C. conspiracy. The h1n1, AIDS-HIV, the Malaria, the Chikungunya, and of course Ebola. We’ve all seen the damn reports. The documentation has been widely circulated and now our people are really ready for fight. Enough outrages have occurred to spark something bigger than riots. The ‘Stop and Frisk, the weekly shootings, the manufactured Fars and Illubadore war, conscription and the new walking police drones of course. This time almost everyone expects death camps and prolonged urban warfare, not Capoeira,” Mickhi explains.

“The Z.O.B. has called up eight hundred light infantry organized into 20 Tabors. Snipers, Combat medics, anti-drone rocketeers and agitation propaganda officers will all support the needs of the parade redirection. Our convoy of marauders. They will be attached to each major island band truck. 40 to 80 fighters per band. Each truck has been outfitted with bullet proof siding and once we pop off we’re going to mount PKM machine guns to the tops.” 

Trickovitch unfolds a diagram.

“Flying columns are on the ready in all five boroughs. Though we do not expect much action on Monday in Staten Isle, Queens or the Bronks,” says Nikh, “An additional three hundred and forty women and men will support A.B.C./ Occupier actions in the Financial District as well as set up casualty collection points in Brooklyn and Isle of Mann.” 

“Listen!”, declares Watson, “Watson knows all of this shit. Done known the plan for weeks. So brother please come to conclusion so I can get Bronks bound with this new jack,” says Watson, “he can wash my car before we die in the coming melee.”

“Watson, we just need this young blood briefed. You can get out the door in fifty minutes,” Mickhi tells him. Used to his friend’s way.

“Watson needs this to happen in way less minutes,” he replies with a grin.

“As usual,” continues Mickhi, “The two Haitian Convoys will bring up the middle and the rear. Unknown to the City parade organizers. And also unknown hopefully to the police intelligence forces that there are actually three Haitian bands this year of 10,000 masqueraders a piece. About ¾ up the route the Middle Convoy which is gonna be twice as big will initiate the raid across the Grand Army Plaza and then fight their way up Flatbush hope fully with the people behind us. That is when the uprising will begin.”

“What’s our precise goal tonight,” asks Siegfried Sassoon. Siggy, never goes to that many meetings. He never votes in Otriad elections except with his feet for Kawa. When Kawa is leading he steps back and when Kawa is sleeping her steps up. He did however vote for keeping Kawa asleep after the last Ayiti job, when the Hospitaliers took him very hard. Kawa is a serious knock around guy; best estimates think he’s been taken to the camps over 21 times. About three years’ worth of his life. Siggy, like Watson does jobs not meetings. Neither ever-ever tries to be at these meetings. Rarely even the candle light salons in Breuklyn. Which are sometimes cute.

“We’re gonna install Fire Station Transmitters on four very, very tall structures,” says Mara Fitzduff. She has over the years been the club’s ‘Chief of Staff’, worked in the  propaganda bureau, in academy on the ‘Science of Women’ and done much of the fund raising for the past ten years. She’s not always officially even in the Z.O.B., but she is always very dependable. She has no salty broag. She’s got one kid with a soldier who ran off somewhere. Another kid with the Russian-Ivory loan shark Donny Gold who Kawa and Nikholai went to high school with ‘way back in the day’. So in that regard she’s double tied down.

“Then Monday we’re gonna deploy some troops and blow up some infrastructure,” says Dbrisk. 

“Where we doing all that on Labor Day weekend?” asks Joshua.

“Alot of what ifs,” Dbrisk replies, “But, focused on likely scenarios. We expect the initial uprising to punch through police lines and make it as far as down town Brooklyn before its..liquidated, pacified by drones and E.S.U. machine gun nests.”

“So you don’t even expect us to make it into the City,” Hunter asks them.

“In short. No. It’s probably gonna turn into a blood bath,” says Nicholai, “But getting into the city on Monday is not really the goal. While the Labor Day Parade gets routed toward to Bridges up Flatbush Ave the Anarchists and students are going to try and storm the trading floors on Wall Street itself. To facilitate operation we’re gonna again have embedded fighters and medics, less but still 4 tabors. We’re gonna blow some things up to confuse the N.Y.P.D. efforts to guess what we’re really doing. Such as four Con Ed stations and the two big N.S.A. biometrics and data warehouses.”

“What about the E.M.P.?”

“That’s just to terrorize them,” states Mara.    

“Hitting the Consolidated Edison building puts most of Manhattan in the dark anyway” says Mickhi Dbrisk, who has been the club’s Operation’s Chief since nearly the very beginning. Nikholai holds the official position of Logistics Coordinator, but he’s more hands on than many before or after him as a good logistic fixer should be. He’s the one who arranges a lot of the supply raids and bombing targets. Now that Kawa lives in a dream or a nightmare.

“The fire switch transmitters will override both the police and commercial radio system and turn whatever frequencies we feel like into dancehall tunes or rebel broadcast stations. We need them well hidden and we need them high as possible,” explains Mara, “so we can keep broadcasting when they shut the internet down again.”

“We’ve gotten the four spots picked out well enough,” Nicholai explains, “each transmitter is about the size of a football. Pretty much get it high up, turn it on. We can transmit the Fire Switch Station over Wi-Fi from the West Indies. Downstairs at coat there are Silenced Macro-Uzi blasters with rubber knock down rounds and also live ammunition. There are iridium phones, radios, transmitters and flicker masks. One for each team,” Mara says.

She continues, “When we conclude here you buddy up and head to the staging points on thee hand notes here. Get in doors before dawn. In about two hours. You wake up again when it’s dark again. One team per location. Before you surface again, your masks go on to obscure your faces, before you head to staging. At staging and leaving staging. Those masks don’t come off in elevators, in lobbies, on streets anywhere near that building. The cameras are everywhere, as you know. You’ll live die or get tortured by that mask. Each team has a high rise structure. How you get on top of it, well each of your team leads known that route. You will get up the roof and turn on the transmitters.” 

“Try to hide them somewhere,” Nicholai mentions. Don’t just leave them lying around, they’re booby trapped anyway. Whoever tries to turn them off will is gonna lose their arms and face,” says Mara.

“Watson you’ll take Hunter with you to Manhattan North staging,” explains Nikh, “Siggy and your crew you’re setting up the downtown. Jon Denby and I will set up in Manhattan Central. Raphael and crew in Queens will be setting up the Long Island City installation which is quite tricky because there’s nothing residential in the CITI Corp building so we’ll have to social engineer it. Dbrisk and your crew will go after the High tower on Atlantic Junction Downtown Brooklyn also with the same predicament.”

Mara continues “Once you get to the safe houses you’re staying at feel free to relax and take a long nap. You’ve all been up all week. Some of you all month. This doesn’t have to happen at once or tomorrow. It just has to happen before we blow up the power stations on Monday morning. So enjoy, thank god it’s just Tuesday” grins Mara. 

“We’re working out of the apartment brothels yet again?” asks Raphael. The joy in his voice is real for he so loves the Manhattan apartment brothels. You can’t properly afford them as an internationalist Disk Jockey.

“We need these devices set up real high,” says Mara, “If we can knock out their power grid and maintain alternative systems of communications we’re keeping to our end of the mutual aid agreement with the Garveyite Movement, Uhuru and the ABC; the tip our spear. Without blowing our arsenal and fighters prematurely,” she says, “as you all know this is phase two of three. We’re only fully mobilizing forces and taking this national if we manage to take the City or if we can hold Breuklyn longer than a month. Otherwise it’s 1st Nivôse.”

“Joshua, you gonna ride with us on this?” Watson asks him.

“Yeah one hundred,” the kid replies.

Mickhi Dbrisk chuckles.    

“The Four transmitters set us up to broadcast the good word from Ayiti. They allow us to speak to the people. We expect the masqueraders and Uhuru light infantry tabors to reach Grand Army Plaza around 11am and begin the redirection maneuver toward the bridges by noon. As soon as we get confirmation from our people on the ground, then we are going to blow the Consolidated Edison power stations, the N.S.A. Data aggregation depots and finally, we will E.M.P. Police Plaza One and all of the the district financial at noon thirty. Put the whole fucking city in the dark. In coordination with the Anarchist Black Cross who will be simultaneously lead the assault on Wall Street. If they mange to breech an hold. Which is a big if. Well we push the spear deep in the beast as we can.”

“If the Garveyites and Uhuru are not all gunned down before they even reach the bridges,” says Watson.

Mara says, “Another real big fucking if.” 

Watson just watches the size of the pupils on young Joshua Hunter, watches him breathe and counts the breathes. Because all of this is one big act of science fiction. One big feigning maneuver. Joshua Hunter from East New York is an informant. A police spy. None of the locations and targets being talked about are real. The Department of Homeland Security knows about the Labor Day Uprising and so so do the police. They know about the A.B.C. Wall Street take over march. They know just about everything because they have informants in all of the groups and factions except the Z.O.B. Mara and Anya have been feeding loads of misinformation for months about what will happen on Monday and where. There will be an uprising in Brooklyn. There will be a coordinated attempt to re-occupy Wall Street. There will be a non-stop Fire Switch Pirate broadcast of the New Social Gospel. There will be bombs going off in power plants, data aggregation depots and a black out down town with or without use of the Electromagnetic Pulse Ordinance build by sympathizers in Stony Brook. But this is still all one big, bloody feigning operation because the revolution will actually begin until 1st Nivose. Gregorian New Years Eve. This is all still a drill.   

“ Real Big Monday,” says Michkai Dbrisk, “I’ll be on the Parkway early with Watson and the rest of the squad.”  

Mara says, “All of you are in the trenches and I’m running the dispatch with Anya out of a secure location in the Bronks. Things are going to pop the hell off. We’ll do the best we can to keep up with impossible expectations, any questions?”

No one has any. Except Joshua.

“Where did ya’ll get them E.M.P. from?”

“Joshua. That’s not a very adult question,” says Mara.

“So we just gonna done black out down town and hit from two sides?” he asks them.

“Yessir,” says Watson, who honestly just wants to get back to Yonkers.

“I love centralized democracy,” exclaims Mara, “All of you please grab your gear at coat check and get out via the tunnels you came in on,” Mara tells them, “Good luck. Don’t get needlessly killed this weekend. Shahid Namaran!

Things were about to go smash bang! Then fully explode. In flame and death in the night. To the sweet blaring tunes of the Wild West Indies.



A Tavern on Ludlow Street

уходить с головой

Pronunciation: uhaDIT’ s galaVOY

Literal translation: to leave with the head

Meaning: to be fully engrossed/immersed (in something)


The Isle of Mann has a place to drink just about every 12 feet prices vary radically on who they want in. The Tavern is open for business officially only on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Though typically and unofficially there are underground lap dancing parties happening late Wednesday night in the basement.  The lights are kept dim no matter what happens. You need that to hide subtle stains from fluids. You can dance all night if you have to, but eventually someone has to herd the cats out the door and hide the bodies on the floor. The Mehanata Social Club is tucked away discreetly on 113 Ludlow Street on the lower east side of Manhattan. This is their second location. Numerous police raids and finally a raid which transformed into a brawling melee succeeded in burning to the ground the original location on Canal and Broadway. In an ugly incident that took place in 2005 the lights of the “Bulgarian Bar and Cultural Society briefly went out. The new location is about six times the size over three levels. Surely it will not be the final location, given the tumultuous nature of the existing times. Sasho the owner has already begun planning an even larger Breuklyn location, a whore house in Kiev with the same name and a ‘School for Alcoholism in the mountain hills of upstate New York.

At an infamous establishment such as this you ought to always know the names of the men standing watch or the women pouring your drinks. Or the people holding down of your bags and coats. Most importantly you ought to be cautious of the seductive forces marshaled via awkwardly inexpensive liquor and the black magic to lead you to things you ought not to be playing around with. Such as foreign persons in needs of papers. Or creatures that like to drink blood.

There might was well be signs on the wall telling you anything not tied down will be carried away into the night, your bags, your souls, and virginities of nearly every kind. Come to think of it, there are such overt signs hanging everywhere! Literal not figurative signs. One claims three teeth are needed for entry. One says anything not checked will be stolen. One says “get naked get a shot, get fucked on the bar win a bottle”. That is hardly a bluff, but the bottle is never top shelf stuff.

It’s a ‘Gypsy Bar’, they claim to the public which sometimes romanticizes Gypsies, but often does not. But Gypsy’s all steal. Gypsy’s will trick you with music and some dance, lure you for tarot cards and then steal you internal organs and you will wake up in an ice bath in Bratislava missing some elements internally, then die of blood loss. The name of this place literally means ‘the Tavern’ in Bulgarian. And it lives up to that designation splendidly.

You wouldn’t find it unless you were looking for it. The entrance isn’t loud and the clamor inside is well insulated by its system of layers. The Lower East Side area is a drinking dancing seven day a week shit show anyway for university students and the children of the upper middle classes. Mehanata is the club of choice for New York’s newly arrived undocumented immigrants from South America, Central America and the former Soviet Union. You’d only be looking for it if someone told you about it. Perhaps you’d hate them for it later, but very few people are not amused the very first time. There never is just a first time. But, in the New York wilderness a tavern of eclectic wilding foreigners and untamed domestic people dancing to the tunes of South America, the former Soviet Union, the Balkans and the Roma can draw to it both angels and demons by word of mouth. Since 2000 it has been surviving pogroms, police raids and venue changes via fire. The police department is doing everything in their human power from keeping the Breuklyn location from obtaining a liquor license. Sasho has been trying to open it for three of four years it seems.Who is Sasho? He’s of course the boss.

There are three floors to the Tavern. The website extols patrons to “meet their future green card holding spouse.” There is live Mestizo music. Live fire juggling. Bulgarian contortionists on Thursday alongside with Bordel Dali. Rafael and his business comrade Georgie who is from Bucharest, Romania. Or maybe he just says that knowing no Americans know any other cities there.

“But I’m not freaking Gypsy!” he declares. He’s getting a PhD in Computer science. His specialization, the tracking of petrol futures purchasing and predicting in relation to major airlines. The cast of characters around here boggles the mind.

The club has the look of a vast lawless pirate ship or a wilderness brothel. It is sometimes dim red and under the cloth tarps of the upper galley level which looks down with little tables in the dance floor. The main floor has a dance floor, a bar and a kitchen. The downstairs has stripper poles, blue light, a bar and an Ice Cage.

The Ice Cage has bottles of wall to wall Vodka, which is all the same Vodka, but when people pay $40 to enter the cage and slam that wall to wall Vodka orgy in Soviet officer uniforms; they don’t notice. Vodka drinkers of repute, do not go in the Ice Cage, which also sits above a hatch to the abandoned railways under lower Manhattan. So one can walk or take a private train to Breuklyn or New Jersey. That is also why the place is only officially open Thursday through Saturday, to facilitate that traffic.

The waitresses and bar tenders are skinny or shapely, all Post-Soviet Bucharest or Sophia girls just arrived recently though generally well educated and for now, un-indentured. Some claim they are ‘from Moscow’. But they are not from Moscow at all. They are from shitty little Eastern European towns no one has ever heard of. They mostly don’t stay long and the reason for that is partly because of the mental and physical demands of the work and because their boss is the devil himself. The club is only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Things that go on during the week here are private and mostly didn’t even ever happen. There are private parties in the basement you’d do well not to crash unexpected or uninvited. Like the one on Wednesdays which is sort of high stakes a gang bang contest. There have been cock fights, dog fights and also bear fights. There are a lot of meetings happening upstairs right before the place fills up in Eastern European languages that you’d do well not to hear.  The musical talent is highly various. Normally three or four live acts a night on Friday and Saturday. A lot of live horns. There’s a rather Pall Mall esthetic of transcontinental bacchanalia.

The booking agent for Music is petite and elegant Viktoria Lynch often wearing the hat of a Soviet officer the shoulder length locks of her hair falling over well fashioned skirts or flowing dresses. She was born in the Catskills, but has recently gotten her New Yorker residency card much to her delight; eight years later. The primary live acts are Gypsy Jazz, Spanish Ska and Balkan mostly. Roma meets Latin American for the most part. You get dance hall and reggae tone periodically from the Selectors, but for the most part ‘the brothers’ stay out of the place. The doughty wine happens, but as international as everything remains, there are almost never black people at Mehanata. Which no one has a problem with except maybe Kawa Zivistan who keeps bringing them there? But, they have one drink and politely leave after meetings. For some reason the charms of the venue are lost on the brothers.

Since 2001 the Z.O.B. has made Mehanata its unofficial office and also its social club. It’s meeting spot and its drinking spot. Sasho allows all kinds of people to meet under his roof and being there has connected the movement to darker things. There is a power the club has to draw in the very worst and best of people. Mehanata is thus a fitting place for the Z.O.B. leaders to draw towards since many of the group are hardly saints. Its members are generally able to lumped into the categories of ambulance workers, criminals, sex workers and also some leftist radicals. Sometimes a cadre is two or more of those things.

The Balsa, the Wango, Rumbia, sometimes even a little Zouk are played by the various selectors, but ‘the brothers’ always immediately depart when the meetings are over. No one can say exactly why they don’t like the place, but they really don’t. But as it is a central location for all five boroughs, it’s remained an unchallenged haunt.

Sasho and Kawa allegedly go all the way back to 2001, but they don’t always remember or talk about all the events in between. The most popular disk jockeys are Raphael Rafael Contreras Lynch also called Selector Rafflex and Georgie from Bucharest also called ‘Selector Mishto’. As stated Romanian but “not a fucking Gypsy”. Recently booked is the bearded, crazy eyed Serb Adrian Jankovitch. The most famous of the current bartenders is moxy Martina Hella Dubreskaya. She has been here a good deal longer than the others. A black haired Bulgarian journalist, music blogger and BDSM enthusiast. She has the special constitution that a bartender needs to work the shit show around here longer than a month. Though many suspect she will quit soon. Perhaps go into Real Estate. Martina smiles at everyone in hate. She is technically speaking the first person to publish the work of Kawa Zivistan by putting his sad poems on her website. She regrets that she encourages him, but secretly likes some of his work.

Outside and inside is James Burns the feisty retired Fenian cop on ¾’s pension. They call him James White, because he’s white. After his ACL was torn chasing down a perp he retired to bouncer work. His partner is James Behemoth Brown Pererez a smart talking, burly Mestizo from the Bronx. They call him James Brown, because he’s Mestizo. Always outside is Slavi the stone faced brother of Sasho, but no one trusts they’re actually brothers. Until sneaking a sly grin the Bulgarian strong man collects people’s papers, cans their IDs and directs them to be retina scanned via this Illubadori device at the door which biometrixes all the guests. He collects the cash or the directs drunk patrons to use the external ATM which charges an extortionist ten dollar service fee, the highest almost in New York actually. The irregular admission charge never gets a smile, because Slavi doesn’t charge people he knows in money. Then he sneaks a sly happy grin, has a quick smoke and sometimes, only sometimes asks people for money to come inside wearing a black Soviet wolf fur ushanka hat except during the summer.

You should pay cash up front for everything. Unless you’re a card carrying regular. Giving them your credit card is simply a horrible idea. It means you’ll just keep drinking and very often, leave without your card. James White and James Brown are sometimes easy going on admission for just about anyone not over weight and female. The regulars never pay. The various mob tough guys never pay. The Z.O.B. members never ever pay. Sexy young girls never ever pay. The endless Korean bachelorette parties never pay except to ride the Gypsy Bus. The guests of regulars, mobsters, musicians, D.J.s, rebels and girlfriends of friends never pay. It’s between 15-35 dollars though if you’re just sort of showing up. Except on Thursday when everyone is in for free.

James White, James Brown and Slavi sometimes have to get fierce quick to squash the brawls which happen, generally around 2 AM, generally instigated by the Albanians, but often before and after. They can’t seem to keep the Albanians from breaking people’s faces over stupid things. But that’s part of their cultural charm some say.

Justin Toomey O’Azzello is ‘the General Manager’. He is full blood Fenian and has ‘wandering hands’ people say. He is quite jovial and likes to tell elaborate stories about his days in the Air Force flying bombing missions over former Yugoslavia. He blames his flirtations with alcoholism over the years on bombing runs he inflicted over Bosnia. But Justin was never in the air force or ever in Bosnia. His hands do wander though. Recently he has taken up painting. Some say he’s Sasho’s top Capo.

The owner of this place is a fearsome Bulgarian half Ukrainian Ivory named Sasho, but is real name is Alexander Dmitrievich Perchevney. He was born in Kiev, lived in Belaya Tserkov, Ukraine and moved to Sophia, Bulgaria before arriving here in 1992. He used to be a dentist. He used to be a person of importance in the now defunct U.S.S.R., in the Inner Party. He thus has something of soft spot for revolutionists. The debaucheries of fallen men too. As well as a hard spot for undocumented woman of theatre. Misha Kishbivalli, the long haired millionaire playboy from Georgia also is his silent partner. No one ever knows of asks what Misha does for a living. But the answer is blood diamonds. The Mehanata “cooks” are all from the tropic of Capricorn but nothing is ever very good eat except the beet soup or the Bulgarian salad; cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and pepper and white cheese. The feta cheese over fries is pretty safe too. Some type of Borscht which is rumored to sometimes contain menstrual blood. The pork dishes are outright made of people.

Sasho’s wife Tanya isn’t the cook anymore. It’s always undocumented Mexicans Sasho brings on over the years through the under tunnels. They say the Breuklyn venue, when it opens, will have ‘traditional Bulgarian food’, but no one knows what that means exactly. Tanya is not a vindictive person, but she cannot stand this ‘so-called Kawa Zivistan’. There is very valid reason for that contempt, beyond him being something of a trouble maker. They have history in other lives.

“Stop cooking people and more people would eat here,” Kawa once suggested.

“Stop being a fucking Democratic Confederalist, Blat and Daria will perhaps date you, yet again,” was Tanya’s response.

It is rumored, also that there is vast tunnel system running from under the Tavern to multiple places unknown. Some nights, Misha Kishbivalli has pontificated outside of the club with clearly manic eyes that an ‘American engineered mega tunnel system runs under the entire country in case of insurgency, general emergency or nuclear winter.’ The traffic around here is always hard to predict. ‘Of course I’ve been to camps’ Misha exclaims, ‘let me tell you, one time I followed the tunnels all the way back to Bulgaria!’

There are tall glass pitchers of apple cider ginger vodka that sit atop the bar, sitting there for haShem only knows how long. There is a sign informing people that “get naked get a shot, get fucked win a bottle” and people seem to win all the time. Also the rule that patrons ‘must have at least three teeth to enter the establishment’, that is untrue. You just need to have cash money. Preferably American type. Or be vouched for by a regular. But, things are always pretty fucking negotiable.

The music is playing loud at the Mehanata Social Club where Daria Andreavna makes eyes then orders a Vodka based energy drink confection. She then slides up to Kawa at the bar. He is wearing a black suit this time. A week since his death, no one acknowledges or recognizes them.

I thought you were dead,” Kawa says.

Martyrs never die,” Daria replies and she winks.

“It seems that we have found each other again,” she whispers.

“You completely misbehaved I dare tell you,” he says, “you got us both killed yet again. This time for true bullshit.”

“I was bad. Bored? Rude should I say? I am told, the other night, I insulted your hospitality, greatly.”

“That you certainly did.”

“What are you drinking,” she asks.

“Astika,” he replies. The Bulgarian beer that is never in stock, hasn’t been in stock since 2001, but he always asks for it. Knowing they one squirreled away.

She catches Martina’s attention, and get him his drink. Martina winks at her. One man’s hot commodity, still is the cheapest drink in the house. 

“So,” she whispers again, “Cheers. I have no memory of anything last weekend. Forgive me for that. I don’t even know what I did. Or didn’t do, might have done.”

“You remember nothing?”

She just gives him a coy but devilish smirk. And she shakes her head.

“I drink a lot for fun. I don’t always remember my Friday or my Saturday nights. Outside work, where I also drink the week gets interrupted by school, and then I party hard on the days off. I was told I was really bad to you. So, I’m saying the sorry. For the being of bad. What are you really drinking? This is our custom. Astika is shit,” she says.

“Nothing? No single recollection?”

“No nothing at all. Oh, okay,” she smiles at him, “you were wearing a suit that’s a different color from the suit you’re wearing now, this I remember.”

Kawa is now in a black suit. The night she almost killed them last it was white linen. It’s almost always a cheap suit. Or a navy blue uniform.

“You never acted all that drunkenly. You were calm and in control throughout, your, shall I say, outbursts. My friends have told me that it’s too late to stop your vodka calamities from unfolding sometimes. But, you nearly killed us. And you bit me,” he says showing her the red ring around his index left finger.

“Well we all have our demons in there, don’t we? I’m good at drinking. Until I sometimes fall down. I fell down those steps one night,” she says pointing to a long downstairs plummet into the downstairs floor where the Ice Cage is hidden.

The Ice Cage is a freezer box in the basement where people pay forty a head to slam wall to wall cheap vodka over a period of two minutes. It never ends well for those who get in that cage. There is perilous flight of stairs down to the basement where they keep the stripper poles and the blue lit fuck cage by a second bar and dance floor.

  “That looks like if would hurt,” he replies, “if you remembered it”.

“I don’t remember it,” she smiles wide and seductively.

But that’s a silly thing to say. Seductively. Dasha is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Her proclivity for homicide aside, she is fascinating. Describing just how beautiful she is almost doesn’t fit in a later play he could end up writing. Her golden locks are like a lioness. Her eyes are capable of quick swing between fierce, curious and loving. She loves to hear men say it, how beautiful she is, but beauty isn’t where a man falls from when he falls from the heart not the groin. Beauty is a thing of lust. It has no bearing on love when that love is real love and not lust with imagined feelings. Love is energy, a wave crashing over you. Kawa has drowned several times before. He’d be very careful to use the word again. In that regard he is reckless to no end. He feels an attraction and can’t comprehend it, must be love. Previous formula for the same emotion dictated that whatever woman resisted his affections the most adamantly and then let down her guard to an elegant seduction of deeds and art, must be love. There were loves at first sight, or interaction as well as friendships that became romances and he was unafraid to say the words again. The words often came out without his permission.

Overtime several women had accused him of bastardizing the loaded phrase via serial usage. There were over a dozen women he’d uttered it to over the course of his 28 years. Generally after the conquest of kisses, but to a couple stupidly even before.

They were all very different women of course and they all brought out very different rolls to his emotional dice. Sides to his coin being a limited idiom. Supposedly in popular fictions man or woman is supposed to have only one true love in a lifetime, to marry them or be parted from them tragically. So Kawa was working hard by that standard, which truly in real life it can never be that simple, that limited.

“You’re really something to write about,” he says.

“Absolutely I am. And I never say sorry to men, but Rafael said he would cancel his friendship with me if I didn’t say sorry to you. Apparently I underestimated that you are the favorite host. The dashing revolutionary saint. The darling also of the owner. The grandeismo! Wait, I’m not sure what that word means blat! You’re great. Also as the confidant of Rafael Rafael and Viktoria, you should become my confidant too.”

“I’m just Kawa on my very best nights.”

“And on the bad nights? Tell me some of your other silly names,” she whispers.

“Zachariah, Valera or Vasyli Pveada, or, wait, wait, my memory is growing back, perhaps your papers really say: Sebastian Adonaev! Ha! A royal victory? Where did you concoct these strange and slightly atrocious monikers? Moniker, is that the right word?”

He nods slightly.

“I’m Kawa when the drinks flow and the desire to dance returns to my hard hips. All other times I’m at war. With myself and my nature, with a world of sheep and a den of wolves. In such circumstances I require a hard Russian name, and the luck of a royal victory.”

“Hmm. Well it sounds ridiculous the way you say it. I’ll call you Valera, highly  sparingly, it’s an insult you know! Some girl insulted you and you made it your Russian name. We can get you a new on. But, Kawa is okay too. I’ll see what rolls better off tongue. All that other stuff, well I have no idea what you’re talking about.

“Martina, two shots, Russian Standard please,” Daria proclaims dropping another twenty on the bar. Martina the bartender comes over and gives Dasha a little wink again. She pours them out.

“This is sorry alright,” she smiles “I have said the words sorry! Now I again reserve the right to be rude to you and forget about it later. Fair game, yes? You got two drinks.”

He looks deep into her blue eyes and gives a half smile wondering how much she really remembers. In her eyes he sees someone looking out at him below the swagger of her posture, behind her beauty is a much older beauty.  

“Well aren’t you impressed with my new manners?” she asks

I find you quite a bit stunning, he thinks and almost says.

“Of course I am.”

“What are you drinking next?” she asks.

They clink the shots and she proclaims, “Nazdrovia!”

She drinks like a fish, but really she just drinks like a Russian.

“Astika,” she orders for him.

She has years of recent training in anticipating the needs of men. By realizing those needs controlling them. And she thinks, what terrible piss but of course she orders him another one from Martina. The raven black haired Bulgarian bartender who knows exactly what she’s doing. Since Daria never buys men drinks. Because Russian apologies are based on acts not words.

“Are you coming to our little festival?” Daria asks him almost casually.

There will be a four day Bohemian Festival happening Labor Day Weekend where all manner of fuckery will take place in a park in Queens called the Onderdonk Public Historic Fields. Sasho the owner had let Victoria allow Kawa do a benefit concert for their Haiti efforts at Mehanata a month ago. So a week from now Kawa and his E.M.T., Paramedic in training comrade Jared Forgetter from Kalifornia will be freelance E.M.T.s covering the first two days of festival.

“Wait,” she pauses.

“You are working the festival as our paramedic,” she says as she presses her palm to his side burn and face side.

“Sharp as a dagger you are dorogaia,” he smirks.

She smiles with big bright eyes. Who the fuck taught you that word, she thinks.

“Don’t call me your dear ever again, I’m not so old! I’ll alert you that I may well come to some of that festival and if I fall down, drunk, I will ask for very intimate and professional service.”

“Hand pressed ice,” he promises reaching for her waist then thinking again.

“Hand pressed everything,” she demands.

“It’s at the service of all attending,” he declares.

“You are a true servant of the people,” she mocks with a wink.

“Dasha, you’re a tough act to follow.”

“You’re gonna keep calling me that are you?”

“That a problem?”

“It’s rather intimate. I don’t know if we know each other like this or that.”

“Well I suppose we can work on that over festival.”

She smiles a lovely, practiced smile.

Kawa, or whatever stupid name you’re calling yourself tonight. Press me best you can. The risk is completely yours not mine.”

A song about the great and noble Commandant Che Guevara by the Buena Vista Social Club comes on and she thrusts herself into his arms for a last dance. They take the floor to themselves.

I knew you back in Cuba,” she whispers in his ear.

I’ve never been to Cuba,” he replies with a stone face.

She Latin sashays with him across the dance floor muscling out the other couples with her buxom way. She’s part crass and part wonderful. She lets him lead and he does a fairly good job under pressure to keep up. It’s been over a year since he’s danced with a woman of any substance.

You dance like you’re actually from the Illubadore,” she whispers to him.

But I’ve never been there either,” he repeats.

He dips her slightly. She’s a gorgeous powerful woman who will always get what she wants in the end so it seems. Except perhaps happiness which no power or money can so far buy.

You’ve gotten much better at playing an Amerikansky radical,” she tells him in Ivory language. “You are even at better at playing a tragic Russian courtesan,” he replies and they dance the rest of the night.

It is past 4 am now and efforts begin to clear the worst kind of rabble out the tavern have begun. Only card carrying regulars and lovers of staff can remain and light things up or pound things down. It’s now with the storm shudders sealed just over two dozen left lingering around the bar. Smoke them if you got them. They count out the cash on the bar. For some reason, with almost no music, drunk as hell, Kawa and Daria are still dancing. Slumped into each other.

“Right never on schedule,” says Justin Toomey O’Azzello to Sasho, the burly owner smoking a cigar at the end of the ground floor bar passage way, packed up with intoxicated core circle patrons, tight except around his circumference.

“Hasn’t changed his cap or tune much in ten years,” Justin notes.

“I know him of course,” Sasho says without looking up, “with or without the ridiculous peasant cap. He’s been the same good man for over a decade. Dependable killer. Knocked the fuck around in Ayiti, that is for sure.”

“He’s dancing with Daria Andreavna, good for him! She’s got great big ones for him.”

“He’s always dancing with Daria,” replies Martina, “or at least trying to dance with her anyway.”

“You’re thinking of…” notes Justin.

“No my O’Azzello. I’m thinking exactly what I mean to be thinking. He’s always dancing with my Dasha right before things get interesting around here. And it sure will get interesting fast.”

“They just met boss,” says Martina.

Sasho almost yells,“You’re thinking of things three dimensionally and I am thinking of things fifth dimensionally, even sixthly or seventhly and I know that when those two dance. Fucking trouble. Niggers with fire and arms in the streets. Illubadori mind games. Decapitations on camera and lynchings to boot. Lynchings I say! Gays being flung of roof tops! And lots of piles of burning bodies. Walking dead and fucking flying robots. It’s time to call up all our troops, every single man to the front.”

Justin sometimes suspected the boss was fucking insane, but the old man had a gift for utilizing that insanity. The lights come on and the remaining guests not vouched for are herded like drunk cats out the secondary exit on to Ludlow street until no one is left inside but the staff, a handful of regulars and of course Sasho with his cigar. Daria and Kawa wander out into what’s left of the night on the Lower East Side. Wander out into the time before dawn.

Out of the corner of his eye Sasho notices the mini Mexican weight staff are carrying the body of a man out of the tiny room upstairs where people go to fuck whores, or their drunk lady girlfriends, or college students. Or, he supposed less frequently, but evidently in case tonight; kill a man, drain his blood and empty his pockets. A little room to the very back of the second floor mezzanine. You can fuck or even murder at the top of your lungs and no one would know.  Of the four little Mexicans none are taller than four feet a piece and they must carry drag the body down the stairs. The corpse is pale from exsanguination, being bled totally dry.

Into the soup or the soap?” asks little Enrique from Monterrey in Spanish.

Sasho nods. “Let the dead keep eating the dead, like they do out in the colonies.” James White and James Brown sit with their drinks in near silence. Tanya just counts money. Martina counts more money with a smoke in her mouth for some reason naked as they day she was born. Justin Toomey the General Manager sits on the bar next to Sasho wondering how many days the Tavern in its current incarnation has left above ground. 



In Bila Tserkva Oblast, U.S.S.R.

так и быть

Pronunciation: tak i BYT’

Literal translation: so be it

Meaning: so be it


Little blonde and gigging, wide eyed Yelizaveta Aleksandrovna Perechenova was born at the end of the U.S.S.R in the Ukrainian City of Bila Tserkva Oblast on Messidor 2nd,1987. The rest is all misinformation. Gypsy legends and mere ignorant speculation. The seemingly miraculous particulars surrounding her allegedly virgin birth were many fold and are to this day recounted. Her mother Tanya Ivanova seemed to have reversed in age by ten years over the course of the pregnancy. When she finally gave birth to her first child she bore the resemblance to a girl in her late teens. Not a woman approaching nearly thirty four. Sasho’s closest men patted him on the shoulder and told him, ‘very, very well played.’ But honestly, at that stage he not not even gotten his dick wet.

The second highly strange miracle occurred shortly after little infant Yelizaveta’s birth. All the animals in all of the forests surrounding Bila Tserkva Oblast began to show up at the city hospital. So congested with various fauna wandering about the city that a whole task force of Red Army men from Kiev were needed to attempt removal of this glut of birds and bears and deer as well as animals that the authorities in the Ministry of Social Ecology had long thought were rendered extinct. These animals seemed drawn to the hospital and for a whole lunar month after little Yelizaveta’s birth they were drawn to family dacha of the Perchevney family to the south a day’s journey from the city.

   The third strange miracle was that infant Yelizaveta was not only able to speak Russian within the third month of her infancy, but by her third year Americano English, Castile Spanish, Old High Ivory and a bizarre dialect of French called Ayitian Creole spoken exclusively on the Caribbean island ‘Republic of Palmares’ also called Hispaniola. So marvelous was this behavior an infant which spoke multiple complex foreign  languages that Alexander and Tania Ivanova agreed to conceal this from the world and hide the girl on a dascha as long as possible so no knowledge of this genius might alert the proper authorities to auspicious comings and goings which might result in the borrowing of their prodigious infant. Although the phenomenon of animals and birds flooding the forests and airspace of the dascha made a clandestine upbringing quite hard to arrange.

        The fourth miracle occurred at Yelizaveta’s fourth birthday when she turned to her mother and said that as long as the family stayed happily in Bila Tserkva, no one in that city would ever die. So it was for a time of around two years.

           In 1989 the Soviet Union began to completely unravel. The despotic red dream crumbled country by country and the quality of living markedly dropped off.  Life as they understood it in relation to the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ came to an inglorious end. There was not one instance of a reported death in an hundred mile radius of Bila Tserkva Oblast though for the two years leading up the fall of the Berlin Wall. During this time Alexander was away from the family for extended periods of time. As the only Ivory left in Bila Tserkva his admittance to the inner Party was highly unorthodox. Also, his admittance to Medical College and his marriage to Tanya Ivanova who came from a prosperous Ruus family of Slavic Russian intellectuals close to the local seats of Communist power in Kiev. To court, win and impregnate Tanya had been a complicated and also costly venture. Men lined up longer than the ration lines of the 19080’s for the chance to date the daughter of this local Party boss. Alexander was not only a half Ivory by paperwork but from a family that had devolved slowly from yeshiva benchers to raw smuggler high way people and then back into lazy migrant Rabbis.

      By forging a passport and bribing several dozen people Alexander was able to change his ethnic designation from “Ivory” to “Bulgarian” and then later with more bribes to “Russian”.  And thus was able to arrive in Kiev at age 18 to begin his medical training. It was there in university that he encountered the affluent and ravishing daughter of a party boss. Ms. Tanya Ivanova who was studying engineering in the same college.

    After a lengthy and tumultuous courtship he gave her a tiny watch encased in a gold heart. He said that if she ran away with him to the Sakhalin Soviet upon completion of their studies, an island to Russia’s far east past Siberia, north of Japan then they would one day escape to Illubador and eventually to America as soon as the Cold War ended in seemingly inevitable capitalist victory. This was the end of the eighties and the writing was written clearly on the Berlin wall. One night she secretly packed her bags and joined him in a waiting car and they finally eloped in 1984.

      He told her that by the time the watch stopped running they would be in Amerika and by the time it started up again they’d never want for anything again. They barely made it as far as the city limits. Goons in black caps in the employ of her father Ivan Ivanovitch’s stopped them at a check point. They beat Alexander rather badly. They returned a crying distraught Tanya to her father and threw the covert Ivoryish doctor Alexander Perchevney into a jail for special prisoners who committed crimes that were handled in the cold and quiet.

The night of this attempted elopement and calamity the father of Tanya, Ivan Ivanovitch had a terrible dream. He dreamed an army of many of thousands of four-foot Mayans were parachuting out of the sky and attacking Bila Tserkva in an effort to rescue the young Alexander. He dreamed of the strange days of nightmare and plague about to wreak havoc on all of Kiev and the whole Soviet Socialist world if necessary should the detention of his daughters lover go on. In the dream his daughter Tanya fell into some inexplicable coma and for each day of Alexander’s captivity ten men disappeared without a trace. Then twenty men. And so on. Until by the end of the dream month of Alexander’s imprisonment, there were virtually no Russian or Ukrainian men left alive in Kiev. The strange wave of disappearances swept through the local Party apparatus and military an d leaders of state owned business cooperatives and even the secret police and soon like a strange and miraculous and ghostly purge had been carried out. Finally, finally Alexander was not just the only secret Ivory in Kiev, but conspicuously the only person left alive with a passport that said “Russian”. Finally, after the third lunar dream month, it began to snow. To snow with such determination that obstruction and paralysis took hold. Throughout the eerie disappearances, the drop in temperature, the sky falling out, Ivan Ivanovitch’s daughter Tanya hovered in a mesmerized trance. Alexander languished in prison although there was no one left to guard him besides Ivan though he did not even three months into the nightmare connect his interference with the love of his daughter for this Ivoryish medical student to anything so, other worldly. Yes, people did disappear from time to time, but not often the entire Inner Party Cadre of a major Soviet capital city. Yes it did snow but not with the endless and unceasing siege of white deluge they were experiencing, or in month of Prairial!

Finally, in the dream the sun itself ceased to rise. And without party leaders, bureaucrats, draped in over forty feet of snow, Kiev underwent forty days of night. During this time Ivan never left the dream police garrison where he and Alexander Perchevney would bond intermittently over Chess, Go and Vodka. Bonding begrudgingly, for Ivan spoke no Ukrainian and by the fourth month of these phenomena no one was willing to speak any Russian anymore under the superstitious belief that it would bring death. So Alexander the Ivory and Ivan, party boss of Bila Tserkva spoke for the first time. First, on the subject of haShem, then on the subject of the devil. And then also a bit on women which both agreed were stronger in will than either HaShem’s or the craft works of some lesser spooky devils.

“You love my daughter, but what do I care, fundamentally speaking? Love, is after all, just bullshit and chemicals. You offer her and as importantly me nothing, really, at all,” Ivan informed young Alexander.

      “As I have never loved or even thought to love another woman so do I love your Tanya!”

      “You will never be accepted here or anywhere as a damn Ivory! Even a party Ivory is suspect. Even with a new name and a medical certificate. Your Ivoryish horns and tail cannot hide!”

     “You could sponsor me. You can sponsor me to the Inner Party and allow me to marry her.”

  “I’m not frightened by the evil weird  Ivory magic outside. I know these are only cruel vodka lullabies, whispers in the ear of a man made hard and hateful by life. I will awake in my bed tomorrow! There will be no Mexican invaders, no disappearing apparatchiks, no endless snow or black endless night. You will be sent to deep Siberia for some infraction. Tanya will wake up and marry a Russian Calvary officer. Or someone from the foreign bureau.”

   “How can you be sure?” asked Alexander Perchevney, “How can you know if your dreams are real or if some dark power has unleashed itself against your house for obstructing our basic and sincere love?”

“Because there is no love or magic allowed here. Those are of course bourgeoisie inventions. I will wake up soon, I feel it. And then order you shot.”

For nearly two fortnights General Winter took full hold of Bila Tserkva. It did not stop snowing. It did not become day again. By third fortnight of his imprisonment and Tanya’s mysterious coma there were no Russian anything left in the darkness. Ivan in his solitude became like a prisoner too. The heavy snows then cut Bila Tserkva off from all of the rest of the Soviet world and the wake field Ivan hoped would come; nearly a year later still had not transpired, nor had he ever slept.  

“You damn cursed Ivory! What kind of dark magic have you unleashed?”

      “This is not my doing,” muttered Alexander defensively.

      “When will I wake from this perverse nightmare of ‘upsidedownhood’, of idiotic dragfootery?! You cannot ever marry my daughter. You are not a whole man. You will never give my daughter a good secure life.”

       “This is not my doing man! Not by any means! You’ve brought this damn nightmare upon yourself. I have no such powers like these.”  

“A typical Ivoryish response.”

Lost and asleep an endless nightmare Ivan Ivanovitch turned to mankind’s oldest imaginary friend. He implored the Russian Orthodox HaShem to end this plague of darkness, deprivation and Ivoryish parasitic blight!  But as we all know, if there is a haShem, it is a Mayan long gamed if not vaguely Soviet haShem, a go without understandable morals or temporal reward for the seemingly righteous. Whatever lesson it wishes us to learn is like algebra to an ant farm. It has been lost on us completely in it magnitude and scale. For ten years little auspicious Virgin born Yelizaveta was kept with her mother Tanya on the family Dascha, studied by the K.G.B. then its successor the F.S.B. Eventually between 1989 and 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed and the Iron curtain was briefly lifted.

The sun never rose and Ivan Ivanovitch never yielded. At the beginning of the spring of the third year of Alexander’s imprisonment there dropped from the sky blue and red parachutists of four foot stature. One a day. Grinning bandoliered Latin American Pararescuemen each gliding down into the outskirts of town and taking up position in the woods. One a day. With all the Russians gone, the Ukrainians began hiring these men as day laborers and yard workers. Ivan Ivanovitch began to suspect that there was a growing secret army of these Latino Pararescuemen waiting in the shadows awaiting the right moment to break young Alexander out of prison and spirit him into the wilderness of North America. Slowly Ivan Ivanovitch lost his mind and ordered an endless torture on Alexander. And in the tumultuous days of the Mafia Wars and Shock Doctrine anyone could have had anything done to anyone.

While Alexander ‘Sasho’ Perchevney sat long miserable five years in confinement punished for his love and his allegedly part race. The young aspiring dentist, had nightmarish dreams and vision. A voice would come to him after midnight as he hung by his arms in solitary. The voice, a female voice from an ephemeral belly dancer would whisper, “And I will raise you up an make you richer and more powerful than any living man. And three daughters will you have by the spirit of HaShem, all born without intercourse to three women I will show you. And therefore you will be made mighty to protect and raise the children of G-d. Three candidates for Messiah. One to defeat the dragon, one to defeat the eagle and one to tame the bear. And you will know the lord is with you. And your house will be most feared and respected among the houses of man. Now you are weak from torture, but next year you will have American dreams.”  

The future founder of the fearsome Bratva that would bear his family name and that would so loot the banks of the world stayed only a bit longer in the hands of his tormentor. He sat in his own thoughts and the belly dancing spirit laid out for him a most elaborate plan. Awaiting rescue and reunion with his beloved Tanya. A most auspicious woman to be sure. Along with Yelizaveta his little bear cub. While languishing in solitary confinement it was revealed to him a way to steal the very most secret secrets of the ancient tribe called the Ivory. Thus when and if, a big if, ‘the world to come, eventually came, it would be a world completely under his control. Subservient to his whims and ambitions.

“Once someone or something has successfully attacked you, mauled your face. Has violated your family. Fucked up your pocket. Fucked up your reputation or your life. You make sure. You fucking make sure! You will never be in that position. Not ever again. You will never ever be a Suka, not ever,” sums up Sasho, “I just took that idea one step further. I sought to make the whole world my little bitch.”

Neither HaShem nor the Mossadnik agents facilitating his protracted revelations cared at all about the dubious morality or the long term motives of Mr. Perecheveney. There was a need in 1991 to give people something to believe in because very dark days were right around the corner.



In the Crown Heights Ghetto of Brooklyn

смотреть правде в глаза

Pronunciation: smaTRET’ PRAVdye v glaZAH

Literal translation: to look the truth in the eyes

Meaning: to face up to something; to face the truth


At a brutalist six story brick row house on 256 Schenectady a very well attended meeting is happening in the basement fall out shelter. The room is jam-packed. Church goers as well as Yardies. People are sitting on the floor, on the tables, people are out in the hall craning their necks. Many of the apartment blocks on Schenectady Ave have concrete inner court yards, have multiple means to get in and out without keys, lot of places to run and evade the police. The followers of the Reb Menachem Mendel Schneerson and the Chabad Movement congregate near Kingston Avenue and the large Afro-Caribbean community stays more toward Uttica Avenue. But, for the most part the Noires and Ivory live right on top of each other.  They for the most part ignore each other. With the exception of a bloody three day riot in 1991 this is virtually the only neighborhood where two completely different people share a ghetto. But in the bunker basement here, not a white face in sight. They are all pressing closer to hear the words of the man that so many people had been talking about. The basement of the apartment block fallout shelter has a maximum occupancy of a hundred and fifty people. Nearly three hundred had filtered in, a hundred more are waiting upstairs. Most people had just gotten off work, some neighborhood kids, boys off the block, had dropped by to see what all the commotion was about. They heard this man was “gonna tell it like it is and how it could be”. Lay it down for them in words they could understand. The harsh white neon lighting grid in the basement flickered its blinding light. Suddenly there was a real hush. Three men dressed in baggy black fatigues pushed forward through the masses. One of the men put his hand up in the hair, a call for silence. For some people in the ghetto there was religion, for others some little hustle, for a tiny talented tent make music or athletics for the whites. But lately for the struggling Jamaican, Ayitian and West Indian diaspora lower classes there were the motivational words of the movement man. The sometimes a killer, sometimes a healer, always a Shattah; Mickhi Dbrisk.

“Sisters and Brothers! If you saw the enormity of the blessings en-stowed upon our people, then you would comprehend the magnitude of the struggle we are about to fight and win,” declares Dbrisk to those assembled, “I do not need to tell you how much our kind has willed. I can only assure you, that the time of our liberation has arrived.”

“You know what the trouble is these days?” he begins, “we work ourselves to death at the door step of incredible plenty. As we starve spiritually, we are paid scraps for thankless toil divested of meaning. We fight amongst ourselves constantly. We embrace another civilization’s G-ds and we sing to hymns to white man on a cross. We work more, we hustle more, and we get sucked into criminality, negativity and vice. They lock up one in eight of our young men, they break up our families and they use as their slaves. We always lose, and the white man never relinquishes his hold on the thinly veiled apartheid, white racist power structure. My name is Mickhi Dbrisk and I am here to tell you brothers and sisters not just how it is, but also how it could be.”

Every voice dies down to hear what he would go on to describe.

“The Blan says we need schooling. That we are descendants from savages. But not a single one of our ghetto schools is well funded or functionally intact. So we try go to strive our way to college, but the majority of the colleges where actual opportunity is found are not even open to us.”

“The Blan says get jobs! So we go try to get one. But most of the jobs we have to take are the jobs they don’t want, the only jobs open for us. Menial slave jobs”

“The Blan says you ain’t a slave anymore! That you can get some, equal opportunity, but as we all know. They on some real bullshit. Equality is propaganda. We are willingly participating in a bondage system that get more work out of us than chattel slavery ever did!”

“Now, I ain’t some redundant brother. Here me now. Do not. Do not I repeat blame the Blan for all your problems. The white man doesn’t want to hear it, can’t hear it, so it won’t do no good for the community. Ya see, lots of brothers out there will tell you that blame needs to be cast everywhere but here.  They say “Buy Noire!”. They say “Go Muslim”. They tell you “Neg Lives Matter.” Hell, I say it to, our lives definitively do matter. But it is the language behind the diction that’s important.” The cops can kill us in the streets. They can humiliate us and strip our rights in the court rooms. They can lock up entire generations and take away our votes systematically. The time for resistance was before they took us out of Afrika actually, but the solution now is not needles confrontation and protests we never stand to win. We must focus ourselves on control of our own development and intuitions! Like out Ivoryish brothers and sisters right upstairs do.”

 Some of the youth began to leave.

“Hold the hell up,” says Mickhi Dbrisk, “You wanna go play gangsta, you’ll end up in a damn coffin or a penal colony. You wanna be a man. Hold the fuck up. Let’s drop this glorified criminal shit today. We will teach you how to fight with mathematics. With science, with economics and with some actual strategy.”

A few people, mostly young hoods walk out, but the people there are mostly becoming enthralled, this man Dbrisk can hold court. The Noire know a prophet when they see one. They know how fast they are cut down.

“I come before you with a simple message. We as a community have suffered the injustice of being begotten by slaves into a new modified slavery. We can’t hold onto that, but we must not ever forget it. We, the descendants of black Afrikan people are no better or worse than these white people in our hearts. But bear in mind, when I say Blan, I’m not talking about the color of the skin. I mean the establishment here of a white supremacist oligarchy does not mean that all oligarchs are white, or that whiteness is anything besides a skin privilege. The men at the top, they are mostly white, but they are as diverse as the oppressed in their colors. There are many types of people and situations and circumstances dictate the state of current affairs. But learn to think about beyond class and race. So many out there will fight and die for their race or their religion. What I say is don’t get blinded by your race. White people are slaves too. Yellow people, brown people, Muslims and even the surviving Ivory tribe are all bound as slaves on in this world system. The majority of the human race 5 in 7 billions are wretched and miserable below $5 a day. We need allies for our liberation, but do not hear my words and think we plan to start a plantation razing race war. We are here to defeat the oligarchy, not just some plain devilish white man.”

There is a great pause. Every eye is on him now.

   “Never forget what our system does to maintain itself,” he began again.

“Never forget that as an American, black, white, and yellow you all on that slave ship and our goal is our own ship not to burn the ship and all drown together. What oppresses one man oppresses every man, here and abroad. Our chains are not of lead but of the illusion of gold we are promised every day. It’s said in America that history has been a progression towards ever-greater freedom for humanity. “Name a better society than this one” is a common statement made to anyone who criticizes the system of modernity. But if no better system than this one has ever existed does that automatically recommend the status quo? What if, on a scale of 1 to 10, with most countries in the world currently scoring a 4, modern America is a 6 for its whites and a 3 for everyone else? What if humanity started out as driven slaves with a whip-master behind them; progressed to a stage in which they were only driven but not whipped, then to a stage in which they could stand enchained on their own? What if modern society is only one in which we all wear really shiny chains? Should we be satisfied with this state of existence? Is This Just The Way It Is? I cry incredible bull shit!” He pauses. “I am here to say, let us get free together.”

If anyone had the audacity to speak up now it was young ‘Tina Shabazz’. The latest code name for T-Bird Tall Flame Luv. A highly skilled agitation propaganda officer for the Cooperation Jackson faction of Uhuru Movement.

“So you talk a big game Mickhi, but what do we do?”

She was standing now, her trim and beautiful Nubian frame sliding out of her seat and pushing to the front of the crowd.

“We stand up and we dig deep inside ourselves and community, we marshal our resources and we prepare for autonomy, ghetto by ghetto,” he quickly retorts, “We prepare for a Breuklyn Canton based on communal self governance.”

“Like my grandpa died for?”

Tina would often claim that the assassinated Noire-Nationalist Muslim preacher Malcolm X was her grand father. But, that was total symbolic invented bullshit. Anyone who knew her knew she didn’t even know her father’s name let alone her grandpas’. In the hood she was treated like a crazy artistic teenager. But a lot of her connections to Cooperation Jackson. A major Black Internationalist network in Mississippi making big things happen down deep South.

“Tina. Tina. Tina. Always rabble rousing, but never achieving nothing for the community.”

“What fucking community Mickhi? Harlem’s way  more than half white now, in five to ten years district Bed-Stuy will be too. They completely displacing us.”

“Not if we unite and resist now,” he replies.

“You would burn down a brothers’ home before you let the white folks get it, is that it? That we must fight? You is on some shit. The only thing Brothas wanna fight fo’ is loosies and the next little big score. How you gonna rally um them? How you gonna wake up all the good striving Christ followers and them Separatist Muslims? What does Uhuru and your Ivory allies have to offer that don’t get more young people killed like that last time we got up?”

“It’s this very attitude sister that keeps us all oppressed. Disunity and prejudices. Artificial divisions that we have been socialized to accept!”

“Way to be optimistic brother! It isn’t the man that keeps us oppressed, we do a good enough job oppressing ourselves. You used to be Crip, you know the cycle.”

“Have you missed every word I just said?”

“I heard you loud and fuckin’ clear Mr. Dbrisk. RA, RA, RA! Up the Uhuru Movement! All power to the people!” the same horseshit my grandpa shouted.”

  “As you will be Tina. As you will be and as you are.”

She knew he wouldn’t argue with her long. After all, it was all a front. Dbrisk and Tina Shabazz were in the same squad. The community just didn’t know it yet.

“We have room for good Christians, we even have room for Bloods and Crips, and we certainly have room for the strivers, the newly bourgeoisie Niggas and room for Muslims. We have a ten point program that will be familiar to everyone. We have clinics, schools and training camps. I am here tonight to invite everyone to enlist fully in the Future. In liberation! In Uhuru Movement! As you may have heard on the wire there’s gonna be a show of force at the parade. We will keep everyone updated on the Fire Station, the underground press and via liaison officers.

“They are killing us man by man and isolating us in these ghettos to exploit us. If you can fight you fight, if you gotta run you run. This uprising is not black against white, we have allies among the Blan, the Muslims, the Ivory and even the Fenians,” he tells them.

“You go back to your churches and school and places of work, the snitches in the room can pass this on to the cops. We are fighting for Democratic Confederalism, for autonomy and also for our base line promised human rights. If you ain’t running’ wit it run from it.”

“Well niggle, how do me an’ my squad get in,” asks a tough young thug on the wall. Who on his government papers is inscribed down as ‘Joshua Hunter’.

“Well, you’ve got your gangster slouch down, now it’s time to master the revolutionary swagger.”

“We read ‘dem U.S.B. pamphlets. You write ‘dem? Or ‘dem Yids behind you?”

“Debuterliers, is blacker than me, blacker than you.”

“Who dat? ”

No life without a leader, that is what they say now in both Africa and in Kurdistan.”

“Who you really working for my niggle?” Joshua Hunter asks.

“I’m working for the cause of the Prophet Emma Solomon, as explained to Avinadav Debuteliers undisputed leader of our resistance.”

“What’s all that that mean to me and the rest of the Set?”

“Every single time we tried to resist alone, we were obliterated and look today at the vanquished state of all of mother Afrika. Do even count or bury the dead anymore? So I say, you have local needs and local grievances. You have a local rep. If you rock with us, when we fight this time and we will be fighting very soon! We’re gonna be hitting the local oligarchy with the combined forces of the Ivory; with the Fenians; with the Muslim alongside the Mestizos, the Queers, the hipsters, the occupiers, the commies, the brothers, the sisters. Absolutely everybody. Fully united. When the Labor Day Rising begins, we ain’t gonna be alone. When liberation comes we are all going to get our human rights together.”

“What kind of guns you got comrade Niggle?”

“Shouldn’t use that word brother. Makes you sound stupid. Like a slave,” Dbrisk replies.



A Tavern on the Lower East Side

шутки плохи

Pronunciation: SHUTki PLOhee

Literal translation: jokes are bad (with someone or something)

Meaning: not joking; not to be messed with


The dry run was on December 21st, 2012 and main main event took place two months later on February 19th, 2013. It was actually the world’s most impressive recorded bank heist to that date, but the culprits never even used guns or masks, never threatened anyone or even ever set foot inside a single bank vault. In two massive precision operations that mobilized hundreds of cells in more than two dozen countries acting in close coordination and with near surgical precision, thieves in law stole $45 million from thousands of A.T.M.’s in a matter of hours. In Newyorkgrad alone, the Dominikany clean out crews responsible for A.T.M. withdrawals struck 2,904 machines over 10 hours starting on Feb. 19, withdrawing $2.4 million. But, $45 million dollars really isn’t that much money, so for something that big to have happened with such widespread international collaboration, well something else must have been going on.

The world and the social media didn’t see it because they were not paying attention to any of the right things. All the money stolen was not even real money, it was all insured. But the unlimited operation job did have an objective much larger than the heist of course.

      In Gregorian calendar year 1999, because of technical glitch in computerized monetary systems sensationally depicted on proletarian media as Y2K, many system analysts were worried then about a system wide failure of the internet. Electronic military defense complex systems more specifically were to experience temporary shut down on New Year’s Eve’ December 31st, 1999 leaving anyone and everyone wide open. In order to protect critical defense and money changing infrastructure, major digitized commerce, and all sorts of civilian surveillance databases; governments and major corporations had begun scrambling to back up data on fixed servers. Secure from the effects of this Y2K glitch which many big brained computer engineers believed would wipe out digital control of commerce via internet and for a brief movement allow any country with nuclear missiles first strike capability on the New Year. Enter the ‘Perchevney Bratva’.

‘The Big Job’ took ten years to orchestrate. Planned in its grandiose entirety in a Bulgarian tavern on Lower East Side of the Isle of Man, the central most affluent borough of Newyorkgrad. A little tucked away place the called the ‘Mehanata Social Club. The man who planned the greatest theft in history was a Bulgarian dentist named Alexander Dmitrievich Perchevney, called “Sasho” by his closest confederates. In Slavic countries ‘Sasha’ is a nickname for ‘Alex’. Sasho and his wife Tanya were enthusiastic co-equal villains. At time of the plot, their human resources really just consisted of newly immigrated Alexander Perchevney and his scheming, but quiet brother strong man Slavi, a Krepki Mushik and serious tough guy. Along with his wife Tanya Magda and also three shady grinning characters named “James White”, “James Brown”, and “Justin Toomey O’Azzello” who all worked part time at “Bulgarian Cultural Center” on Canal and Broadway established in 1998. At first it was a cultural front for a “cash for marriage agency”, an extralegal dental coverage program, and also planning center for a highly lucrative racket called “no-fault-insurance”. Also a highly premium place to drink underage and dance naked, do cocaine; no questions asked. 

You had to have at least two teeth, a sign said. On the same wall was another sign, “Get naked get a shot, fuck on the bar, get a bottle.”

       Sasho and Slavi, alongside several hundred thousand of the newly admitted “Soviet Ivory” began immigration to Breuklyn immediately after the Berlin wall came down in 1989 and United States of America “defensively” began the total pillage of former Soviet Union in a Post-Cold War victory orgy of expropriation , naked theft and non-stop ultra-violence. They arrived on the coast of ‘Fun City Breuklyn’ with advanced degrees, speaking multiple languages, and instilled with a profound skill in extralegal entrepreneurship; cultivated in a Communist society where graft and bribes were way of life. When informed by Amerikansky immigration officers that these degrees not worth the paper they were printed on, well perhaps this is how it all began. In former Soviet Union, Alexander Perchevney was a dentist, which there was really more like doctor specializing in dentistry. His wife, Tanya was ‘an engineer’. That really could mean almost anything in former Soviet Union where almost everyone was some kind of ‘engineer’. But specifically, Tanya was computer engineer. Designing early algorithms for demographic counting, for deportations and for fuel prices, for self automated missile systems. Slavi, well Slavi was good with various machines and breaking man’s faces also with fists. This was a now non-existent empire where 53% of the population had a bachelors degree of higher education level. Alexander, Tanya, Slavi and infant progeny of Tanya and Alex, their four year old daughter Yelizaveta all moved from Brighton coastal ghetto to the higher ground of Williamsburg shortly after their arrival in the cold dark winter of 1991.

      It did not take Alex and Tanya long to realize that not only would they be treated like fourth class citizens of vanquished enemy nation, but that as immigrants their own people would arrive not just with advanced degrees and “dubious moral code”, but accompanied by violent thieves and Voorhees with links to privatization under way transforming the K.G.B., into a large and ruthless transcontinental  mafia, or in Russian parlance’ a Bratva.

It was shortly after his first brutal run in with a New Russian Voorhi seeking an overtly grand percentage slice for protection of black market dentistry clinic run out of Alex’s basement in Brighton, that Alex realized that one; his daughter would be raised outside the clutches of the new Russian ghetto, so called Little Odessa of Brighton. Second, to operate anything lucrative in this new soft country he’d need the help of the natives at least a few.

     Alex embraced a latent never practiced Orthodox Ivoryism and made friends with some ambitious Fenian tough guys, he got some cops on his payroll. This was how Alex met first met young Misha Kishbivalli. A young Bulgarian pretend Ivory like himself though much wealthier having gotten to America three years earlier and begun actively trafficking in uncut conflict diamonds traffic out of the failed state called Liberia. Over a round of Astika beers Misha and Alexander envisioned an establishment “where criminality and philanthropy, stealing and borrowing, culture and crime could all intertwine, voluptuously and thus ‘the Mehanata Social Club’ was born. By Winter of 1998 Alex and Slavi had rented out second floor loft space on the corner of Canal and Broadway and registered it as “Bulgarian Cultural Center”. Despite having no liquor license or paying any taxes to internal revenue service Alex hired a large menagerie of former Soviet women to work as “cultural hostesses”, and bartenders and “cultural attaches”. Also to dance the mother fucking go-go. Underground lap dance parties, the girl friend experience, whip its before they all went mainstream. Easy to make coke. Easy to import cigarettes in contain ships from their Albanian suppliers.

In the entire sixteen year run of Mehanata at its Canal Street location much was exchanged, culturally and financially. The enterprise itself was a careful gamble that under guise of “multiculturalism and diversity”, just about anything could follow. Keep everyone dancing in big fucking circle! Keep everyone entertained.

Alexander used the Russian language internet to recruit a wide range of medical professionals of former Soviet extraction to offer black market health care to other new arrivals, and long stayed arrivals without paper work. Next, Misha and Alex worked out a technicality called “no fault” where by accidents could be staged arranged all over Breuklyn and insurance companies could be divested of millions upon millions. They reached out directly to the Jamaican mob to help them. Later and alongside all of that they began importing cigarettes in container ships through the Albanians. They were recruiting a veritable Gypsy underground army all fueled by self interest, the music of Balkans, New York’s sanctuary city status, as well as home brewed Vodka-apple cider and Astika beer. They would forge an awkward ethnic alliance under the initial auspices of drinking, dining and dancing. They would rely on heavily the Post Soviet talent pool, particularly the warlike Albanians. They would set up the necessary conditions to achieve oligarch status in the Americas. The greatest expropriation was yet to come.

The $45 million job take was just the starting ante. A smallish bullshit score really. A sort of right of passage operationally, but Sasho Perecheveney wasn’t after “petty cash”. He was after premium antiquities! He was was after really old scrolls covered in logarithmic math codes and anyone he could hire from that very ancient tribe that survived just about everything world history had thrown at them. The Egypt Job, the First Temple destruction and the Babylonian exile, the Esther Job, the Maccabean Revolt, the Second Temple destruction, and the Roman Wars,  the Crusades 1 through 9, “the Spanish Inquisition” and “the purge in Germany”, the Arab Wars, the recent destruction of the Third Commonwealth. And of course they also then knew exactly where the latest New Jerusalem was really hidden. Deep under the sands of some desert? In a submarine under the sea? Thinly hidden in some mountain fort or on some island protected by natives with spears?

Sasho was in the end, after the key codes. After the activation rites to entire Systema Ziggurat. An ancient method of of human organization and tribute linked to deliberately forgotten Gods and perpetual masters. As far as he was aware only the Ivory had been there when the first one was built way back when in Ur. The very first Earth Man City, where the very first Ziggurat had been built up. Sasho needed to borrow trade craft to get in. To get up into the highest towers of the control room. Pull levers and press the buttons. Read the silver wrapped scrolls in the very first language. Thus, with the right circles, one could interpret the Gamatria codes, grok the protocols and drink the very recipes needed to live for ever and ever. But really, after the second great holocaust, the hidden Shoah of the Cold War Times, not that many of the real Ivory were even left to bribe, barter, interrogate, intermarry with or mobilize with the pussy. So he would have to find them. Find the very last hiding ones. His daughters could be compelled to help. There were not very many real Ivory left anymore, actually. You can’t appeal to their pockets. Their ego is also generally intact. If you can’t appeal to their big Jew puzzle loving brains, you can generally appeal to their circumcised dicks. As with virtually all men. “So don’t send a man to do a woman’s job,” claims Sasho, “an Old Bulgarian saying.”