Author Archive | Guido Mina di Sospiro

Homegrown Terrorism: How I’ve Lived Through This Before

guidoTerrorism spreads quickly, and is viciously efficient: it takes very little to do a lot of harm. The knowledge of how it developed recently elsewhere, and how it was eventually defeated, can only be of help.

It’s orientation day for foreign students at the University of Southern California, late August 1980. I am assigned a room in a dorm to share with a fellow international student, a Palestinian 300-pounder whose father is “not as powerful as President Carter, but almost.” The first night in the dorm he keeps me up playing “beautiful Arabic tunes” on a recorder because “I like Italians, they’re very nice people; we train them in our camps, you know, the Red Brigades, and others.”

Back to the present.

The Boston Marathon bombings and the events following them have made the prospect of homegrown terrorism become a reality. Although the 21st century has begun with multiple acts of terrorism on an unprecedented scale, it has been perceived all along as a threat that comes from the outside.… Read the rest

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Hands-on Tikal

Embraer 110 Bainderante small twin-turboprop

The Embraer 110 Bainderante doesn’t look exactly brand-new. Later on I’ll read that this small twin-turboprop was last produced in 1990, which means that the one we were flying on was at least 23 years old, though I’d say a few more. The din inside is deafening, so even if I wanted to say some (famous) last words to my wife, she wouldn’t hear them. It’s strange how we shy away from risk at home, wear seatbelts religiously, pay insurance on this and that, but throw all caution to the wind when traveling to exotic places. The thing is, Tikal remains a difficult place to reach, and even when flying in, the airport of Santa Elena is about seventy minutes away by bus from the archeological marvel.

Once inside the minibus a guide tells us that the Petén, the vast region that makes up Northern Guatemala, used to be all jungle, but then was deforested only to find out, after what must have been a herculean task, that the soil was not suitable for farming: too thin, sitting on top of limestone ridges.… Read the rest

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(Reminiscences from) The Music Scene in LA in the Early Eighties

Ray Mankarek, keyboards player of the Doors, at his home beside his beautiful blonde piano - March 1984

I have recently published The Forbidden Book, a novel co-written with Joscelyn Godwin, the noted scholar of western esotericism. Before publication, when our publisher was looking for blurbs, the name of Gary Lachman came up, himself a distinguished author in the field. He read the book and wrote a wonderful blurb. Then I noticed on Google that he went under another name, too: Gary Valentine, which opened the floodgates of memory. The Gary Valentine? The bass player for Blondie? We used to know and frequent each other in LA in what must be, for both of us, another life. I wrote to him to thank him for his blurb and refresh our friendship; he replied, “Dear Guido, my God it’s a small world! Yes, I remember meeting you and Stenie a few times back in the early 80’s with Lisa.… Read the rest

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A Colloquy with COUN-HA-CHEE of the Miccosukee Tribe

During both my childhood and adolescence I read countless books—some historical, most fictional—on the struggle “Red Man vs. White Man,” always rooting for the designated loser, i.e., the Native American. Despite that, here in the US I never sought to meet with a Native American. It took the Editor-in-Chief of an Italian travel magazine to make me do just that. When I lived in Miami back in the Nineties, he asked me as a favor to write an article on the Miccosukee, of Creek descent, who dwell in South Florida’s Everglades. I drove out to meet with their public relations manager, who in turn directed me to their village. There, he introduced me to various members of the tribe, including a meek and serene man, a “promulgator of the Old Ways.” As it turned out, he came from a family of healers, or medicine men, as he himself called them.… Read the rest

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