Independent Publisher Online Highlights ‘The Guys Who Spied for China’

It is always nice to see when one’s efforts are rewarded.  In this case my novel, The Guys Who Spied for China, was just highlighted by Independent Publisher Online.   As this roman a clef took me long enough to write and long enough to live through, I am glad to see that publishing industry folk as well as critics and readers are taking notice.   Anyway, here is the press release, detailing the IPPY endorsement.

Independent Publisher Online Highlights ‘The Guys Who Spied for China

NewswireToday – /newswire/ – Los Angeles, CA, United States, 07/27/2010 – Independent Publisher Online (IPPY) endorses Minstrel’s Alley book, “The Guys Who Spied for China” as a highlighted title.
Independent Publisher Online Magazine has just endorsed “The Guys Who Spied For China,” as a highlighted title for the summer months. The book was published by Minstrel’s Alley and written by Gordon Basichis. It is based on his real life experiences uncovering Chinese Espionage Networks operating in the United States in the eighties and nineties.

“We are delighted that IPPY, as Independent Publisher is most often known, has endorsed “The Guys Who Spied for China,” said M.J. Hammond, publisher and president of Minstrel’s Alley. “This roman a clef is a most unusual spy book as it breaks the mold for this genre. It tells the story of what it is like to be suddenly thrust into the world of espionage. The book has received excellent reviews and was a Quarter Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.”
Hammond describes the book as quirky and authentic with touches of dark humor that will engage the reader. This is a timely book, given the ongoing headlines about Chinese Espionage and the growing tensions again between the United States and China.”

In endorsing the Minstrel’s Alley publication, Jim Barnes, Editor, Independent Publisher Online wrote the following–
“As if to demonstrate how the recently exposed Russian spy ring could exist, this timely and entertaining book explains how easily you might find yourself with a ‘spy next door,’ or even be recruited to be one yourself! ‘The world is indeed a strange place when your allies and your enemies are often the same,’ muses the hero in a quirky cast of characters involved in the full range of spy activities, from utterly boring surveillance to fiercely violent gun battles. Based on true events, Gordon Basichis’ book brings insight to news stories past and present, and points out just how commonplace international spying really is.”
Gordon Basichis is the author of two previous books, “The Constant Travellers,” and “Beautiful Bad Girl, The Vicki Morgan Story.” He is the co-founder of Corra Group, a Los Angeles based company that conducts employment background checks and corporate research for companies throughout the United States and around the world.
M.J. Hammond is a former entertainment industry executive who founded Minstrel’s Alley to publish popular books not found in mainstream publishing.
“Mainstream publishing has its purpose,” said Hammond. But the industry’s focus on celebrity and genre based books has left readers wanting. We hope to help bring a sense of adventure back to books and publishing.”

Background: Minstrel’s Alley ( is a Los Angeles based independent publisher that seeks to bring adventure back into the publishing industry by publishing books that have popular appeal but with more complexity than the standard mainstream fare. The new publishing group distributes its books through Amazon, Kindle, and assorted Internet outlets as well as through bookstores around the country.

The Planet of the Wanton Geriatrics

Life can be cruel at times.  Life can be filled with contradictions.  Contradictions that become paradoxes in our day-to-day lives and as the years progress  leave us wondering,  what the hell happened?   The cruelty part is that there is no going back, no modifying the order of things or adjusting priorities.    Despite all good wishes and inspiring messages to the contrary, in pure existential terms we are left at the end of a cycle in possession of our triumphs and losses, our insights and misgivings.    Life in hindsight becomes a mathematical puzzle of sorts, but with escalating complexity as our perception of events and their outcome is constantly mutating, leaving us to readjust the pieces as time goes on.

There are different versions of assessment and readjustment, each filled with mixtures of satisfaction and regret.   I am not talking about the macro stuff here, the atrocities and eco-disasters, the flagrant disorders of the world.  Catastrophe is relatively easy to assess and reconcile on the macro level than the universal eventualities that sooner or later enter our lives.   Aging is one such area where the large, universal picture eventually makes a very lasting acquaintance.  With aging comes its usual accessories, health issues, frailty,  culminating in an intimate howdy do with our own mortality.    Such concerns are all out there, until that one day when you look in the mirror and start to think, “do I know you?”

But like it or not, we have all been programmed to deal with aging and mortality.  For the most part we think happy thoughts.  You turn on the TV and there is some saccharine commercial to remind you of all the tender moments you experience with friends and family in your approaching dotage.   We get the Lion King Circle of Life Routine , and we are encouraged that our brief blip on the radar screen may be filled with meaning and purpose.    We take heart in the acts of familial succession  and the belief we will reincarnate as we have before.    We project in the back of our thickening skulls that upon our return we will access the lush life, refusing to believe that in past lives and the ones beyond it we were meager peasants whose greatest triumph was now getting trampled by the noble’s horses.

Without all this concern for mortality and the afterlife there would not be much of a market for religion and corny movies.  All those Hallmark Cards and Kodak Moments may be selling at a discount on the dusty back bin of the  Dollar Store.   Mortality is perplexing.   It gives us food for thought and a sense of spirit and a glimmer of eternity.   It keeps us in line.  Or it doesn’t.    But few ever scoff at the notion that somehow, in some way, I am paying the price for my deeds and misdeeds.

But honestly, this is all the easy stuff.   Life and death; there’s nothing to it.  Whether you are stuffed in a hole or return again to repeat the same mistakes or make different ones, this concern is really a piece of cake.   Because at the end of the day your beliefs may give you comfort, offer solace at that heavy trafficked intersection of doubt and faith.   But the morning after, whatever you believe becomes moot.  Unless you hit the jackpot by guessing correctly on the Eternity Betting Pool  and then your journey to the other side rests comfortably on auto-pilot.

What isn’t easy is sex.   Sex is fraught with cruel paradox as if the great creator did some custom body work on Adam and Eve as if for the purpose of a practical joke.   Doesn’t really matter if it is Adam and Eve, Adam and Adam, or Eve and Eve, or any combination therein, the fact that each group is victimized by biology and its staggered time frame for sexual desire.    It is no secret that men are more interested in sex at an early age, their late teens and twenties.  Men have sexual thoughts about once every twelve seconds, barring distractions like earthquakes and fires.   And even then….  Women on the other hand may have sex at an early age but according to one study in the British Medical Journal that was also reported in Time Magazine, that for women that full blown libidinous activity doesn’t kick in until their late twenties.   The article reported that women are not having more passionate sexual fantasies between 27 and 45 but they are actually having more sex than women 18 to 26.   Sounds hard to believe, but, hey, its Time Magazine and the British Medical Journal, after all.  Who would know these things if they didn’t?

The theory is associated with evolution.  In a nut shell, in her younger years, a woman didn’t have to work so hard at sex to become pregnant.  It was only a matter of time.  Fewer times.   But over time and with aging having children was a greater challenge and as women had children at an older age, the sex fantasies and desire kicked in to accommodate the advancing years.

Here is the passage from Time Magazine

Here’s how their theory works:

“Our female ancestors grew accustomed to watching many of their children — perhaps as many as half — die of various diseases, starvation, warfare and so on before being able to have kids of their own. This trauma left a psychological imprint to bear as many children as possible. Becoming pregnant is much easier for women and girls in their teens and early 20s — so much easier that they need not spend much time having sex.”

I believe there is more involved that physical evolution.   Reportedly, in women, the libido takes a breather, while for men it keeps right on going.    Boomer women especially, having been programmed to behave themselves in order to appear decent and marry the right sort of fellow, became sexually active a little later than the younger women of today.    Boomer women had to keep their legs crossed if they were going to be the good girl.  For extra money, the only call girling they did was to call their parents and beg for a larger allowance.   Or they worked in the college cafeteria or took a job as a waitress.  Alright, so come college they met a boy and the boy was nice…and they started to fool around.

It is only later in life that Boomer women start to smarten up and ease off the guilt that was fire forged and ice hardened by concerned but fearful parents.   Time is passing, and opportunity is dwindling.  Before you end up having heart-to-hearts with a pet iguana there is time for a virtual fling.   Some women, to avoid labeling and scrutiny even move to different and distant places.   Santa Fe in the years I lived there was fraught with single Boomer women on the prowl.  The difficulty was there were so few men, and the men who were single or available made the Peter Pan Syndrome appear the lexicon for ancient and sage-like wisdom.  Like I say, life can be cruel and full of paradox.   Even the married women aged 27 to 47 have more sex than younger or older women.  Sexual peak and all that.  As for the fantasies, let’s say more than a few do not involve their present partner.

But then, as the report contends,  after that hot and heavy decade or three of sexual desire, replete with fantasies and late night longing, the warranty on the libido begins to lapse.   The Cougar business notwithstanding, the  hunger is  more for the lascivious display at Yogurt Land than the sexual encounter.   The report, or the study, as with any other study, has its flaws.  Older women may be divorced or widowed, or are less inclined to gab it up at gray haired mixers.  I don’t know.

And there are the men.  Their trajectory is dramatically different.  They start off strong and then start to flag as they approach or enter middle age.   It is a mixed bag of reasons.   This is not to say men of this age have allowed women to corner the market on sexual fantasy and romantic pursuit.   But it just ain’t the same.   Suffice it to say they are far more interested in 3-D than a D-Cup.  Unless the D-Cup is actually on the 3-D Television, and then the may go off on his lonesome to remember old times.

But then something kicks in and as men get older they get horny again.   Go figure.  Just when you thought it was safe to crawl back between the sheets.   Back a few years in history,  a man confronted the dreaded reality that the brain may still be filled with desire, but the penis has downshifted to a lower gear.     Lust over limpness, if you will.  So in was once upon a time the awkward but somewhat natural order of things, both spouses acclimate to the new conditions of age and erosion and spend more time showing their friends more pictures of their grandkids or that wing ding at Lake Havasu.

An equilibrium of sorts had been established.  But along comes Viagra.  Men become randy old fools and, according to the report, women tend to other matters.  Statistically,  67% of the men between sixty-five and seventy-four were sexually active.   Only forty percent of the women in same age group were sexually active.   A third of the men in the age range of 75 to 85 said they had sex within the last twelve months.  Only 17% of the women in the same age group can make the same claim.  Frankly I am impressed by the men, not so much that they had sex but at that age they can still remember they had it.   As for the women, as noted before, the report did not take into consideration some easily identifiable extenuating factors.

Alright, so what has this been doing to senior America?  And you believed their main concern was losing their Medicare.  Unh uh.   Aged boners are messing up the fire drill.   Older men are zipping up the Sansabelts and jumping the reservation.   At an age when their physical activity may be a a vigorous workout on the treadmill, they are sowing sin in Sun City.   Talk about an alliance among the willing.   They are jumping off their electro carts and cruising the streets for desperate hookers in a down economy.     According to an article in the Daily Beast, they are bringing back sexually transmitted diseases to hearth and home.    Imagine this doctor’s surprise when an eighty-year-old guy shows up with the clap.   They are leaving their wives,  and they are cheating on their wives.  Or, worse, they are forcing themselves on their wives.

The result is mixed.  According to the article, some women are enthused.  But most are not.   They thought this part of their lives were over and now the long retired  Jumping Jack Flash has nothing but time on his hands and a chubby.    Many women find such entreaties annoying.   But then, if they don’t for a few bucks or a couple hours distraction someone else will.  So leave it to good old American know how to produce a female version of Viagra.   The intent was to utilize  Boehringer Ingelheim’s  flibanserin, a drug for premenopausal women, as the new boost for women who report a lack of sexual desire.  Let’s follow the credo, even if there isn’t a market, create one.   Lots of high hopes.   But in two different studies the drug failed to show any increase in sex drive.  The elusive search continues.

Like I noted, there are exceptions to all of this and there are certainly extenuating factors.   But there is still no denying that life is cruel and full of paradox.   Not only as Elmore James once declared does he love her, but she loves him and so forth…but the sexual trajectories of men and women are so different their sexual encounters are torn asunder by bad timing and nature’s doctrine.   It’s hard enough to find love, and then when you do it’s sexual manifestation can become a total pain in the ass.  Perhaps in the end, our desire for satisfaction had disrupted the natural order of things.   At this time of life, Bill Maher joked, “maybe people shouldn’t be having sex.  It has to hurt,” he said. ” It hurts just to stand up.”

For me the bottom line is like all challenges, time will eventually sort this one out.  Or not.   And maybe those who resort to prayer, asking the Lord or the Goddess or the Universe, whatever, to sort out the rights and wrongs, to give them things, bring peace and prosperity, should beseech that same supreme being  that it would really be nice to rethink the math on the cycles of human sexuality.  Life is hard enough.

The Civil Rights Lesson from a Randy Chinese Swinger

When you think of China, you don’t think of it as a particularly sexy place.   Probably the Chinese don’t even think of China as a particularly sexy place as they tend to take their lead in sexual conduct from the West.   Nevertheless, with nearly 1.5 billion people, China is the most populated country in the world.   All those babies have to be coming from somewhere.

In truth, the citizens of China have practiced pre-marital sex for quite sometime now.   They may not have the long legacy of erotica  found in the West, initiated since time began and fortified by the art and literature,and ruminations of the Victorian Era, leading up through the pornographic “French Decks” of playing cards to the grand institution or erotica we extol today.   The Chinese may not even share the Japanese legacy, the artful and colorful paintings of lovers in bold colored silk robes contorted in every imaginable position, most of which having their visage in defiance of logical perspective.

Beauty shops and massage parlors permeate most Chinese cities, with each being the code word for a brothel.   While technically against the law, Chinese authorities tend to look the other way when it comes to the long stand presence of “beauty parlors,” kind of like what California does with its medical marijuana shops.  And like the medical marijuana shops, unless there is political pressure from a self-righteous group of do gooders with too much time on their hands, or the owner of the “beauty parlor” manages to upset someone in the bureaucracy, business goes on with little fanfare.

There is a preponderance of “adult health stores”.   These health stores are not to be confused with American health food stores where you can buy your granola in bulk.  Chinese Adult Health store is the given name for purveyors of every imaginable type of adult sex toy.   To say these stores are easy to find, is to equate their proximity with the nail salons of American.  If there isn’t one on every corner, then the sex toy shops are ubiquitous enough to assure no one will be waiting in line.  As for pornography on the Chinese Internet system, that is also forbidden.   But needless to say, thanks to the wonders of modern technology and with necessity being the not only the mother of invention but a matter of getting off, the Chinese can acquire software that can circumvent the government blocks.

As with most countries on an economic upswing, social regulatory efforts, if not necessarily the actual letter of the law, tend to liberalize in practice as well as theory.   When people are starving and struggling to survive, they have little time for sexual diddling.  Or if they do have time, it is because it is there only diversion from a dreary life, and those impromptu episodes usually result in the begetting or more children, which puts even more pressure on the family and its struggles, and makes for far less time in the exotic pursuits. A win-lose situation, for sure.  But when the good times are rolling, leisure and vice become a heady pursuit.

So what’s the big deal over the Chinese college professor, Ma Yahohai, who was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for having the temerity to engage in sex orgies and practice sexual partner swapping.?   Ma and his girlfriend were members of a group  of 22 persons that had some 35 swinger sessions over a two year period.  Frisky devils.  Ma participated in about half of these sessions.    Most of these sessions took place in Ma’s two bedroom apartment.   Ma shared the apartment with his girlfriend and mother.   What the adventuresome couple did with Momma during these libidinous occasions is anyone’s guess.   Maybe she took video.   Or like a good caring mother, washed off the sex toys to eliminate disease.  One can only imagine.

But the fact is that out of the twenty two arrested and charged with Criminal Law 301, Sexual Law 301, Crowd Licentiousness, eighteen of these randy souls were sentenced to prison.   While the defiant Ma was sentenced to his three and a half years, others were sentenced up to two and a half years.   No slap on the wrist, and no mention whatsoever about community service or making an anti-sex film.  The Chinese prison system has never been known much for luxury living.    So a couple of years in jail can give you a lot of time to ponder wistfully the sex orgies you will be missing.   As for the three defendants who got off without a jail sentence, I have no idea how they got so lucky.  Maybe they were only there to watch or serve hor dourves.

It could be worse for Ma and his swinging associates I suppose.  Back in the good old days of Chairman Mao and his successors,  various types of sexual congress, including group sex, could be construed as “hooliganism.”     “Hooliganism” was catch all charge for crimes that made you realize you were in big trouble.   Big trouble meant a lengthy jail sentence at a slave labor facility not of your choice.   You were looking at possible execution.  So by those draconian standards, I suppose, a couple years in jail is a slap on the wrist.

According to reports, there are 100, 000 alleged swingers in China out of the  1.3 billion population.  In terms of Chinese population this is but a measly few.    The measly few engage in group sex and brag about it by posting on the Internet.   Many more beyond the 100,000 read it as it provides if nothing else some vicarious thrills in a country that has yet to develop the 900 sex number.   But still, we are talking a small group of enthusiasts.   Not particularly threatening.  I would consider the group grope of twenty odd people in a two bedroom apartment more of a threat to the integrity of the carpet than to the burgeoning Chinese economy.

Other groups are considered far more threatening.    There are all sorts of radicals and terrorists groups who actually blow up things and don’t just brag about some sexual exploits on the Internet.    There are people trafficking in illegal everything, from counterfeit prescription drugs to counterfeit invoices.   There are myriad labor strikes and worker unrest, including violent demonstrations.   The citizens of the more rural provinces are restless and prtoesting the state appropriation of their lands.   This has resulted in massive riots.  In one riot recently, hundreds were killed in Sichuan Province.

There is airline corruption and all sorts of financial swindling.   Chinese law enforcement has been very busy as the nation pays the price of progress. Even the questionable menace of the Chinese Uighur population  would present more of a problem than a  couple bunches of swingers.   There are many millions of Chinese Uighurs, a Muslim group that is viewed by the Chinese Government as a radical faction and periodically subjects them to surveillance and harassment.   In Xinjiang Province alone, nearly half the population of 23 million are Chinese Uighurs.    I would venture very few Chinese Uighurs are swingers, but that is another story.  The fact is the swingers of China make up but a small but determined faction that you could probably fit into the Beijing Subway.  A chance at getting off at every station.

To be sure, I am not promoting swinging.  I am not promoting it in China or anywhere else.  In fact, mere photos of the swinging Internet set threatens to drive me to the monastery for contemplations of  semi-theistic metaphysics and far less carnal pursuits.  Watching the few happy partner swapping examples on the Jerry Springer Show made me seriously consider celibacy for the next millennium,.   Fortunately, reason took control of my senses.  I only took a shower, instead.   Here in America,  swingers can live large and lounge about in communal congress inside the often tacky but spacious environs of a split-level sub-tract with enough garage and driveway space for all those Toyota Camrys.     Meanwhile their kindred Chinese swingers must dangle their dongs in a measly two bedroom apartment.   Here you get to be on Jerry Springer or at least have your fat, naked ass plastered all over the Internet.   But in China you get a couple, few years in jail.

To loosely paraphrase Voltaire, I may not like swinging and partner swapping, but will defend to the death your right to engage in it, no matter how nauseating it may appear.   Alright, maybe I won’t defend it to the death, as I have better things to do than defend the randy rambling of a bunch of refugees from Wal-Mart looking for distraction in a down economy.    But at the very least,  I will give it lip service, even when I grimace and fumble with the shower faucets.  Why?

Because everybody should have the right to get laid.   It is a right, after all, and not a privilege.   Okay, so maybe sometimes it is less of a right and more of a privilege, a treat even,  a pathetically rare one, depending on the disposition and predilections of your spouse or lover.  I realize that sometimes your significant other does not find  either you or your entreaties as significant or otherwise as you might either hope for or come to expect.   So I guess like other debates over rights and privleges, there is at least a little wiggling room.  But once you do work it out with your lover or significant other you have the freedom to fire away, anytime, day or night.  Even if twenty two people are involved.

But as in China, there are some here and in parts of the world who don’t really see it that way.   They allude to some intelligent design and a divine plan where you must only do it with restrictions.   They ascribe the  damning words immoral and degenerate to a variety of sex practices that were apparently never detailed in the master plan.  Otherwise, I suppose, the master plan would have been just plain old porn and not some divine edict from the heavens explaining explicitly where Daddy and Mommy or Daddy and Daddy or Mommy and Mommy may put their thingies and Woo Woo’s.   In some cases they want to rearrange your thinking; they want to straighten you out.

Oppression always begins somewhere.   Usually in the stupid places, the places that make us wince.   But then they graduate to places where we are concerned where transgressions are made against our privacy and thought process.     We suddenly find our rights intruded upon and threatened by a group of ideologues who truly believe in this world of infinite choices they are so graced with absolute answers.   We find ourselves being subjected to embarrassment and thrown in jail for acting out on our natural impulses.  Oppression begins in the dumbest of places, and it ends somewhere else.   And we don’t know how we go there.

Chinese Professor Ma Yaohai has resigned from his teaching post.  He now lives off his savings and his mother’s pension.   He is appealing his sentence of three and a half years for “group licentiousness,” which translates into getting his rocks off with a couple dozen people.  As we have seen recently in this country, some of our own social issues that we thought were long put to rest, sexuality, racism, the right to live and breathe as you so choose, have resurfaced and been challenged by perhaps a well intentioned but vehement minority.  Given that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, we should never take the good professor’s condition all that lightly.  No matter who you are or where you sleep, something  may be lurking beneath the sheets.  Something besides your partner’s cold feet.