22 Apr 04


My brain is feeding from literature at rates faster than the jailhouse booklice. I've read twenty-nine books in three months, some over 1,000 pages long. I read for over twelve hours a day, and depending upon the size of the print I can manage over two-hundred pages.

Bookworms face two difficulties in here. Bleeding bedsores - I have one on my left buttock. And dealing with the mail staff, who periodically frustrate my book deliveries.

Last year, the mail officer rejected Security Analysis, a thick hardback book. The Mail Rejection Notification stated the book was not a book, but "a weapon." Last autumn, I was initially denied The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels. The Mail Rejection Notification stated I was "jeopardizing the safety of the jail operation." Last week, I was denied three books my aunt Ann ordered from www.traderspress.com. The Mail Rejection Notification stated "books must be delivered directly from the publisher or on-line dist [sic]." As www.traderspress.com is both a publisher and online distributor, I lodged a complaint, using an Inmate Grievance Form. I was visited by a friendly hearing officer who stated that the mail officer had made an error and that the jail would accept redelivery. I reordered the books at the cost of an additional redelivery fee and I thought that would be the end of the matter. Unfortunately the mail officer had been offended by my complaint and I received a threatening note taped to my Wall St Journal. The note stated, "You need to contact the Wall St. Journal and advise them of your new facility /bunk No. All papers from now on will be thrown away...Mail Officer."

Upon analysing all of my Mail Rejection Notifications, it's obvious the mail officer has determined I am a weapon-seeking revolutionary. The threat to throw away my newspapers seems to be a call to arms. I never imagined that an affinity for books could be so dangerous. Hopefully, my newspapers will not be thrown away and the three financial books will be successfully redelivered this week. Without something to read, I would be reduced to playing with las cucarachas, which can be hazardous to one's mental health - not that I've ever been well-stocked in that department.
8 Apr 04


On Saturday evening, I resolved to fast on Sunday. What caused this? A combination of factors including general boredom, sympathy with my atrophying cell mate, being inspired by Gandhi after reading one of his biographies, reading yoga teachings advocating overcoming our desire for food and letting the digestive system rest, and getting to shock my neighbours by offering them my chow.

Over the past two years, I have slimmed thanks to jail food. But bear in mind, I was slim to begin with. Since my arrest, my trips to the toilet have more than halved.

On Sunday, I donated my Ladmo bag to my neighbours.
"Good lookin' out, dawg!" they both said, and fought over the food.
At noon, my stomach roared nonstop. I drank plenty of water, sucked on a few slices of grapefruit, and told Mark I was determined to make it through the day.
"You're not enjoying fasting, are you?" Mark asked.
"Its quality suffering" I said, unable to offer a relaxed smile.
By 6pm, my hunger subsided and I felt better.
The frequency of my urination increased and it became clearer.
I slept fine.

I was satisfied with the books I received from the library. The Prince by Machiavelli, The Trial and Death of Socrates by Plato, and I Ching.
April Fools' Day 04

Being fairly new to this game, Mark is stuck at the unable-to-eat-the-jail-food stage. Never in trouble before, he was arrested three months ago for conspiracy to commit murder. Since then, he has shed thirty pounds and no longer resembles his booking photo. If it wasn't for the Cheez-Its, chips, granola bars and mixed nuts available from the store, he would be skeletal.

The prisoners call their meals chow. Chow is served twice daily. Breakfast is delivered around 8:30 in what we call a "Ladmo bag." It includes six slices of stale white bread. The mould on the bread comes in a range of beautiful colours, and most of us just scrape it off because we are starving all of the time. Raw breakfast meat, usually green bologna. Rotten grapefruits or oranges collected from rat-infested neighbourhoods during clean-up campaigns/publicity stunts for Sheriff Joe Arpaio who runs this jail. Slices of cheese that melt into oil if you don't eat them immediately. A half pint of fat-free milk.

The warm meal in the evening is cold by the time it gets here. We call it “red death.” It’s a mystery-meat slop that looks like carroty blood mixed with vomit. It comes on boiled potatoes – often just a mound of potato peel encrusted with rot and hairs. At Towers jail in 2002, dead rats were sometimes served in the red death. The vegetable is the same every day for months on end – the worst being the leathery eggplant. The salad is stale, as is the bread. Sometimes the mould on the bread comes in fantastic colours, and looks like works of art.

Being a yoga-practising vegetarian, I receive peanut butter and veggie burgers instead of meat. The peanut butter often has the foul taste of burnt peanuts, and the veggie burgers are as hard as discuses.

This week, more of my neighbours became ill due to the heat. On Sunday morning, a diabetic collapsed and was stretchered from the pod. As temperatures rose, so did the tempers of the inmates and guards. Two fights broke out as a result of guards shoving inmates.
Library books are delivered next week. As some of my neighbours can't read, I've purchased their allowances - three books each, payable in cookies upon delivery. An Inmate Request Form only allows topics of interest to be selected, so I requested philosophy. I am hoping for a repeat of last month's success when I received a Gandhi biography, Plato's Republic and the third volume of Winston Churchill’s The Second World War, which includes the ferocious North African desert battles, in which my Grenadier Guardsman grandfather sustained life-threatening shrapnel injuries fighting the Nazis to preserve our freedom.