Local author and former 5th District Congressional candidate Mike Palecek is traveling much of the country by car this season on a book tour for his latest novel, "Cost of Freedom." Along the way, he is penning a daily reflection for Pilot-Tribune readers.
"It was Christmas in prison and the food was real good, we had turkey and pistols carved out of wood."
- John Prine, Christmas in Prison
LAS CRUCES, NEW MEXICO - "Wilmaaa!"
The homes in New Mexico look just like the Flintstones' house.
This is Bedrock.
I've already had a few "I can't believe I'm here" moments on this trip. Yesterday was another.
I drove past my old prison, La Tuna. It's just west of Anthony, Texas.
It looks pretty much like I remembered from 1986. It's a big, white adobe with a Spanish mission design. I don't know what La Tuna means.
I came there from the Omaha county jail, and the high-rise federal prison in downtown Chicago. We took a white prison bus from Chicago to Leavenworth for an overnight, then to the federal prison in El Reno, Oklahoma, then on to extreme west Texas.
I was there for a few months. The whole thing was a nightmare, but when I dream of La Tuna it's more like remembering a fond old neighborhood. It was warm there. I eventually started to settle in and sometimes it wasn't so bad. The Sunday morning Mexican brunch was really good.
It was so far from Nebraska that I really had trouble imagining that the moon I saw at night was the same that Ruth was seeing.
The Mexican Mafia was in La Tuna, and Italian guys, mob guys? I suppose.
I was there for stepping over a white line outside Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, in protest of the spending of money on nuclear weapons to kill rather than the poor in north Omaha.
It was a misdemeanor. Try telling your prison buddies you are in on a misdemeanor.
Just south of La Tuna is the Rio Grande and Juarez, Mexico.
There were men from Juarez in the jail and also from El Paso. There was also a group of young black men from Washington, D.C.
I refused to work one time in protest against money sent by the U.S. to the military in El Salvador. That was interesting. And later I learned that Fr. Larry Rosebaugh had spent a much, much longer time in that hole area of the prison.
They had a baseball team at La Tuna, but I got released before I got a chance to play.
There are many people on this tour who are telling me they are concerned about the United States government. They think that Bush will attack Iran, possibly with nuclear weapons.
I hear much talk about the Bilderberg group and the corruption of the Clintons and the Bushes.
I have no reason to disbelieve what I am hearing. I don't have any inside information though.
The desert is cool.
Wiiide open spaces. Makes me want to take a long walk to see what's out there. Maybe find God, or maybe Fred and Barney, sitting behind a big rock, smoking, hiding from Wilma and Betty.
I'm listening to a lot of music on my iPod. My daughter, Emily, was kind enough to let me take hers along.
Wouldn't you love to be able to play the lead-in guitar lick to 'L.A. Freeway"? How about "Rocky Mountain High"?