Now I am about as much of an omnivore as anyone. In fact, I have thought that perhaps a diet of a little bit of all things edible would be good for you. Except of course, poison.
Things that other people eat that I consider poisonous:
Green Peppers: I just can't understand them. It may be my body chemistry, but this is food of the devil himself. And they burn just as much.
Bananas: Not acute posion, just a little bit off to my sensitive palate.
Cilantro: Nothing can destroy a healthy garden salad like "Montezuma's Revenge". Excepting green peppers, of course.
Brussells Sprouts: This might be a freshness issue. Sulfur, anyone?
Rutabegas: Definitely of childhood trauma origin. My older sister and I could make each other throw up over these.
My Worst Nightmare: Attending a social function and the featured "Hot Dish" (cassarole) has ALL of the above in it. I take a big bite, realize what I've done, take a big swig of what I think is lemonade and discover it's Clam Juice! Oh the horror!
Now this kind of summer weather I like! Mid 80's, a little breeze, a little humidity - I can strut about Flippist World Headquarters™ in my short-shorts and nothing else. If it were not for the Weaver's presence not even in those. I wonder if Adam and Eve ever had wardrobe issues?
Eve: You're not going to go cavorting through the garden looking like THAT are you?
Adam: I feel pretty, oh so pretty...OUCH! Miserable mosquitoes...
Eve: Humph! Serves you right, now go get one of those fig leaves and put it on! Have you no shame?
Adam: Shame? What's that?
Eve: Never mind...are you hungry? I gathered some fruit...
Adam: Umm! Yum! (smack-slobber) ...oh dear! I'm naked!
Eve: Ha! Ha! Ha! Men are such foolish creatures!
God: What's going on?
Eve: Ouch, my heel!
Adam: Oooh, my head aches.
God: Beat it, you two.
Eve: He never takes me anywhere.
God: WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?
Eve: I wonder if these leaves make me look fat?
Up On Cripple Creek
In the mountains around Cripple Creek Colorado are a lot of old mines and the associated works. This part of Colorado was settled by miners in the 19th century, all looking to 'strike it rich', few did. Just a little below this site is the town of Cripple Creek, with its casinos and tourist shops. (where yours truly once stopped to eat, put his change from the meal into a nearby slot and walked out $80 richer!) Now the tourists and seniors' buses pull up and they are 'mined' for their silver and gold. Whenever the price of gold jumps, someone will try to open up an old mine, that lode is just a little further, don'tcha know?
We're all a little like that miner, finding a vein in the form of a job or career, working it until it no longer pays out or we've had enough. Once in a while someone gets lucky, there is such a thing as a 'free lunch', I guess, but not very often. It's the activity itself that brings rewards- as long as it isn't too hard. And is there any job harder that mining?
I watched a very strange, sometimes beautiful, movie last Saturday. Matthew Barney, the enfant terrible of the modern art scene, has created a series of 5 films, The Cremaster Cycle, in which he explores the concepts of conception, birth, life and death in a very oblique fashion. These films (I've seen two) are not entertainment in almost any sense of the word. The lack of a linear (or even non-linear) plotting and a paucity of exposition, makes viewing this a trying experience. That said, the visuals are always arresting, even stunning. Mr. Barney is concerned with themes of sexual differentiation (or lack thereof), mythology, history and an organic interrelatedness of disparate elements. Tying this together is his visual style, including set, property and costume design. These movies won't make it to the multiplex. They're just too of themselves, they refuse to reach out to an audience at all.
This is not to say they won't have any impact on popular culture. I've already seen television commercials which use his imagery and concepts almost verbatim.
Andy Warhol got a lot of flack in his early career for his then novel approaches to art. His work has been so accepted and integrated into the mainstream culture that it's harldy worth commenting on. Matthew Barney has a way to go to match that, but his fifteen minutes of fame has already been stretched out for a few years. I'm not recommending his work or these films to anyone. But if you want to be challenged in your conception of art, check him out. It looks like the future to me.
Yoda Meets Yeats
I was casually doing an image search for "Ireland" on Google, when I discovered this. If you're familiar with William Butler Yeats, you'll be delighted to know this is his grave. What I'm wondering is, when did Yoda have time to appreciate Yeats? You would think he would be exhausted from training Younglings to use the Force...
cleaning the basement
old 8mm projector
reels of film
the kids - Juggler Lake, 1986
load it up
aim the projector at the wall
turn to 'play'
watch for awhile
were they ever so little?
searching for bears on the logging road
turn it off
it's just too much
i can't go back there
life is short
The Batty B&B™
Welcome world travelers! For that "home away from home", the Batty B&B™ is up and running. No matter what your taste in accomodations may be, the Batty B&B™ has it all- and then some! The words "créme de la créme" best describe this French-Italianate-Óskemmtilegur used-to-be white mansion located in the historic Swedetown district of Anoka, Minnesota.
As you approach the front door, surrounded by its deep verandas, you may run into the pet llama, Pierre, and his trusty sidekick- the donkey José. They are almost harmless. (Watch your step! And your fingers!!) Entering the foyer (artfully salvaged from a turn-of-the-century clam boat) you make your way over the shells on the floor to the sign-in desk, a converted vintage Canadian fish-cleaning station. The lobby is charming, with its exposed beams (where an unexpected leak in the roof enabled the plaster to fall), the library- with classic editions of the great masters of literature (Louisa May Alcott, Emily Brontë, Henry David Thoreau and Erica Jong) and a unique fireplace- there is no mantel, it's just a corner of the house where a small conflagration erupted from the antique electrical system. The wolverine that lives there doesn't mind the charred timbers.
Proceeding to the formal dining room, a morning visitor may be treated to the smells of a traditional Batty breakfast, with sausage-spinach frittata, lemon-blueberry bread, assorted toaster-pastries (only slightly burnt- they're good for the voice!), and Cocoa Puffs swimming in Fresca. Yum!
On to the rooms! Each room is named for a previous inhabitant, the Charles Manson is handsomely decorated with artistic designs, rendered in a blood-red hue. "Helter Skelter", indeed! The Donald Rumsfeld, or "Little Guantanamo" as we sometimes call it, has an unusual array of 'exercise' equipment in it. Note the Arabic-motif in the book-shaped toilet paper dispenser. The Madonna is tastefully decorated with previously-worn undergarments. The Charles Bukowski is a stunning re-creation of a San Franciscan "flea-bag" hotel room, replete with flickering neon signs and a period refrigerator, stocked with beer.
For those into recreation, the basement has a full 24 lane bowling alley, Olympic pool, AND polo field. If games of chance are your forte, there is a nightly craps game in the alley behind the garage- I'm certain that "Big Tony" and his companions would be happy to have you join their little "club". Try your luck! A six-person hot tub (clothing optional) will soak your blues away after a night 'on the town'. (Don't be alarmed by Uncle Eddie- his rash isn't very contagious.) After one particularly boisterous splash-session a local quipped: "The Wild Bunch is alive and well."
The Batty B&B is only a few minutes away from the garbage incinerator (just follow your nose!), the feral cat refuge, and other local landmarks. The next time you're in this neck of the woods, stay with us - your room is
In perfect sync with the calendar, the arrival of summer has come with that steamy weather one forgets about during the depths of winter. The heat is one thing, but when the air doesn't cool off over night is another. I suppose I'll dig out the air conditioner tonight, I hate to start it, but when you can't sleep, it is almost a necessity. Some years here have only a few days like this, but we've been overdue for a torrid summer. So I'll 'fire up' the old AC, and they'll throw another boxcar of coal into the power plant. Heat=cool. No wonder the climate is so screwed up.
1. in geometry, a figure bounded by three lines, containing three angles, and having three points. If all three sides are equal, it is an equilateral triangle. If two sides are equal, it is an isosceles triangle. If all three sides are unequal, it is a scalene triangle.
2. anything having a triangular form; ie, a musical percussion instrument.
3. a group of three involved in some situation as one in which two women are in love with the same man, generally pointless - see: waste of time.
The term was coined by a couple of writers more studied in the subject than me, but I'll summarise it here.
Imagine that you had to build something to carry loads over a long distance. Imagine having to reinvent the wheel, the axle, the cart bed--
Or imagine trying to calculate something and having to recreate differential calculus from the ground up.
You'd never get anything done. By the time you finished recreating differential calculus, you'd be an old man going through philosopause.
No. Instead, you'd go to the library and dig up the books you need to find out about differential calculus (or possibly how to make a better cart).
Intelligence is the knowledge inside your head.
So what is extelligence? That would be the knowledge outside - the knowledge that we keep in books, or online, or even passed on by word of mouth.
Extelligence is libraries.
Language enables me to pass knowledge to you, and vice versa, but language alone is not extelligence. Extelligence must be non-volatile; it must be able to not only pass from me to you, but to your children and grandchildren and so on until you and I are both long dead.
Extelligence is the intelligence of those long past, encapsulated where we can access it, and what we learn will become extelligence for those that follow.
Of course, it may not always be right. That's why I protest so much against those who lie in service of an agenda.
The local Catholic Church ended its "Summerfest" last night. What used to be a funky, family affair, has turned into another bland carnival, with low rent rides and professional carneys hustling the gulllible. Most of the special touches are gone, there just aren't many little old ladies left to bake home-made pies. The rustic games of chance are long gone, replaced by the same ones you see in dozens of other little fairs. But for many of the kids, it is still new, still a little scary, with chances to try things for the first time. The merry-go-round, with sculpted horses in contorted poses, give the younger ones cause for a little nervousness, with many kids looking around for mom, just in case.
With a world of computer games, movies with special effects, and non-stop cable TV, how can a local carnival compete? The real fund-raising is made in the Beer and Bingo tents, with help from pull-tabs and lotteries. Can't buy a thrill, but a little Budweiser and a few dollars winnings can get you a little closer to heaven, I guess...
Safe Sex Gear
It has come to my attention that many participants in sexual activity are not using the proper equipment. Did you know that most accidents occur in the home, and in the bathroom or bedroom in particular? (And the kitchen, but that kink is for another post.) Let's run through a basic list and see if you have what it takes for Safe Sex:
#1. Helmet - concussions during a particularly rambunctious session?
#2. Knee and/or elbow pads - two words: rug burn
#3. Heart monitor - not those little ones joggers wear, a full EKG rig with attendants.
#4. Goggles - optional if you have a full helmet w/face shield
#5. Ben Gay - let's stop those aches BEFORE they begin!
#6. Surgical gloves - the doctor uses them in exams, shouldn't you?
#7. Betadine - don't forget the rubbing alcohol, too!
#8. Grief Counselors - if you don't quite measure up to expectations.
#9. Catholic priest - they KNOW what's forbidden, and will tell you if you err.
That wasn't so hard, is it? Still in the mood? Good! Now you can surf the net for porn or chat rooms in complete safety. (You didn't actually contemplate doing it with another person, did you? That would be, like, so gross!))
Happy, Happy Birthday!
One distingushing feature of Minnesota culture is the fact that there is a 'special' Happy Birthday song. Not the usual "Happy Birthday To You", but another, completely different tune. It is always amusing when an 'outsider' attends a Birthday party here for the first time and everyone sings THE OTHER song. It was written by Jim Robbins and popularized by the late Roger Awsumb, who was the host of a children's television show "Lunch With Casey", wherein he portrayed the legendary train conductor 'Casey Jones'. 'Casey' would take time out from his busy railroad engineer job to have a video-lunch with the children of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St.Paul) metro area. He would usually have a sandwich, perhaps some soup, and finish off with a Twinkie® or a Cupcake® (sponsors of the show). At the end of the show he would scroll a list of all the children who sent in their birth dates, with this song playing in the background:
Happy happy birthday
to every girl and boy.
Hope this very special day
brings you lots of joy.
Hope this birthday presents
you get from Mom and Dad
will make this very special day
the best you ever had
"...the ...[eccentric] is motivated by personal taste, whereas the latter is moved to action by some intellectual doctrine... The extremist either is part of a larger organisation... or, like the Unabomber, he sees himself as acting in the service of a cause, even a movement, larger than himself."
- The Age of Extremism, James Gardner.
Well, that says what I've been trying to articulate for some time; more accurately, what I've been thinking without words for some time.
It also says that I'm not an eccentric. I'm merely an extremist in an organisation of one.
The Nudes From Link w00t-Blog-On
It was a quiet week in Link Woot-Blog-On. The regulars down at the Sidebar Tap were idly surfing, some clicking on 'next-blog' button on the toolbar , mostly coming up with those odd product-name blogs, existing solely to increase something's Google rating. Once in a while someone would click on a promising newbie or two, but for the most part, it was the same old same old.
"Tis a world of misery out there, my friend", muttered the old professor in the corner to no one in particular, "Why, in my day, we had paper and pencils and postage stamps and sealing wax and such!" The professor was tolerated for entertainment value- if he had a Glenlivet or two in him, he could be persuaded to sing "Just a wee doch and dorrit" and perform the little jig that went with it. Just then a cry of "WOOT" went up- one of the younger fellows had hit upon a stash of vintage pinup girls, hidden in a movie trivia site. "Broadband!" came a shout from the back of the room, and the chattering of laptop keyboards was the only sound. Even the old professor quit his nattering and took a peek. Finally, he spoke; "Nothing new under the sun m'boys. Just that in my day, as you can see, t'was done with a little more style."
Whole Wheat Bread And Clover Honey
A picnic in downtown Minneapolis in February is a difficult proposition at best, in 1970 it was near-impossible. Still, my companion of the moment, the lovely Robin, was determined. Robin of the broken tooth, Robin of the asthma inhalers, Robin of the irrepressible joy and goofy grin. We stopped at Cayol's organic food/health store and picked up our supplies. Heading out into the sleet and slush, we crossed the street and ducked into Dayton's, the leading department store in the Upper Midwest. We managed to find ourselves a little respite from the elements, a bower if you will; in reality just a stairwell for the adjacent parking ramp.
Suddenly it was spring, the winter's fury forgotten as we ate the nectar of the gods spread upon the staff of life. A beautiful young woman beside me, our hearts beating in time. Wasn't that the sound of birds singing, wasn't that the sun shining so brightly?
No, sadly no, it was only a security guard with his radio and flashlight, telling us to leave. It would never do to have so much happiness on display in a parking ramp during a Minnesota winter.
Coming Back Down To Earth
"…How's life treating you anyway?"
A little line received in an e-mail, a thoughtful gesture, and very much appreciated by yours truly. It gave me pause- I wondered: just how have I been treated by 'life' lately? People who follow this blog may well wonder; the last few weeks have found me careening between topics like the steely orb in a pinball machine. But that is just the nature of the blog. It's a place for ideas and observations to crawl out from the dark depths of the sub-conscious into the bright light of 'reality'(virtual or otherwise.) So that's good! (I think.)
Work: Good. A little better renumeration in the employment scene would be nice, but just about everyone could say that.
Family: Not a problem.
Health: The obvious concern of that question, both physical and mental. Physically, good, after what was probably the toughest winter of my life. When you turn 40, you wish you were 20 again. When you turn 50, you would settle for 40. When you approach 55, 50 looks pretty good. That said, the old bod is doing all right.
That brings the mental health question. Coming from a long line of worriers, depressives and pessimists (read: scandinavians), I still get the darkness once in a while. I can deal with it pretty well by now, although the middle-of-the-night visits are the worst.
Just when I really could use some sleep, all my shortcomings and fears start jumping around inside my head. It really is nothing compared to episodes in my younger days. I could fly higher then, but the return to earth was always a crash, whereas it's only a little bumpy now.
Thanks for asking.
"…the groove between the upper lip and the septum…" a Eyak word, from the article "Last Words" by Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, June 6, 2005
The language of the Eyak, an Alaskan Indian tribe, is now only understood by a handful of people. Faeroese is spoken by about fifty thousand inhabitants of the Faeroe Islands, located Northwest of Scotland. There are many other languages and cultures that are slowly fading from the earth.
This is a darker side of globalization. As a parallel to extinction, the analogy is perfect. In effect, languages can be thought of as an organism, reproducing, mutating, interbreeding, and eventually dying. Well, who cares if a tongue is silenced? Why not let only the strong survive, and forget the rest?
Well, when it comes to language, which is a form of thought, we need all the help we can get. The danger of one-mode thinking has been proven over and over throughout history. We need the little things, the ideas that can only be expressed in a certain way, to give our existence vitality and substance. About a year ago I had a series of correspondence with a young 'Libertarian' from Iceland. He was definitely for unfettered commerce and the end of any government subsidy of art, culture or the humanities. He was particularly enraged that Iceland had a state-supported National Theatre, and as proof of the viability of free enterprise, listed a group of concerts by international pop musicians that had taken place recently in Reykjavík. The groups all performed in English. I had been to the National Theatre a few months before, and was mesmerized by the performance- in Íslenzk! A world class production done in a country with about the same population as my county. Without the subsidies, there might still be theatre there, probably road shows and probably in English. Within a few generations, another culture would be extinct (there was concern about this in Iceland after World War II, when American broadcasting from the military base in Keflavík threatened the social order).
So, what am I getting at? I don't know, except that diversity is not a bad word in my vocabulary. It is what makes life interesting, it renews our spirit and gives added meaning to the things already in our lives. We can let it flourish, if we remain aware that it is as fragile as an endangered species, and give it a little protection and cultivation.
One of the more inspired (or insidous) concepts to emerge from modern psychology was the idea of Stimulus Progression, the study and application of stimulus patterns to influence behavior. The most successful use of this idea was made by the Muzak subscription background music system. The gist of it was that changes in music tempo, orchestration and timbres could be programmed to elicit a desired subconscious response in the targeted group: shoppers, resturant patrons, crowds in public places, etc.. It worked fairly well, at least the Muzak promotional material said it did. It's alterations of classical and pop music tended to drive people with musical training crazy. It has been used with cows to improve milk production.
The other main use of this idea worked on a different level and that use was for the manipulation of crowd response during musical performances. I was guilty myself of this on many occasions in my career as a 'sound man'; although my intent was to enhance the experience, not to exploit a human weakness. It worked, in a simplified way like this:
Playing in a small or medium sized club, special surround speakers were placed in the room, to augment the main speakers and the performers' instruments. Most of the night these surround speakers were silent, or only had a light reverb effect to liven up a 'dead' room. As the night progressed, and toward the end of a set, parts of the musical signal would be routed to the surrounds, either delayed, straight or otherwise altered. Done with restraint and tact, these effects would cause the perception of the music to change from being "up there" on the bandstand to its being all around the listener, or even going directly in the head of the listener. I was a lot of fun, and if the crowd was into it at all, it could be quite cathartic. Toward the end of my career, I became somewhat disillusioned with these manipulations, especially when the music was not deserving of the response it got.
Now concert DVDs are all in surround, some are better than others, some are just plain noisy. Television has a ways to go to reproduce the live experience; it is really expensive (and somewhat impractical) to have a full-range (both frequency and dynamic) sound system. What is kind of sad is that so few bands (and clubs) are even aware of the possiblities inherent in this approach. The one thing that smaller venues can do is create an acoustic intimacy that is nearly impossible to achieve in a large room. Of course, many people that go to clubs are there for a different kind of stimulus, and that has its own progression.
Tenth grade was, in our school district, the time when you left the junior high and began to attend the high school. It was also the time when you began taking classes with the older students- and heaven help you if you weren't in one of their 'cliques'- you were either vermin or, if you were lucky, invisible. I took a Speech class- there was one other sophomore in it and her name was Diane.
Speech was oral interpretation, debate, drama and oratory all wrapped up in one. It was taught by Big Karl, who was a fierce bear of a man, always challenging and pushing his students. He was a great teacher. I was mouthy, opinionated and a bit of a misfit(some things don't change) and loved the class. Diane was painfully shy, had zero self-esteem, was dowdy and overweight. No one spoke to her. The other kids, the juniors and seniors, were jocks and their girlfriends, and were merciless in their disdain for anyone not in the 'in crowd'.
This made for some tough days in class. Karl would orate a bit to start the class, 'The Mechanics of Speech' was a favorite topic. Then he would get called out of class for some reason, and the class would go into the 'socialization mode', discussing parties past and future, who's seeing who, etc., until Karl returned. Diane said nothing. Then we would give our speeches, or other projects, and the students would snicker and Karl would comment. Diane said nothing. When it was her turn to speak, she was barely audible, stammering and blushing. Karl always took time to comment and suggest things for her to work on.
Later, I heard that she had been abused for years. She didn't get much joy out of her childhood or her schooling. The sad part of this story is that I never spoke to her either.
Don't Wait Too Long
"Baby you and I got a lot to learn,
don't wanna waste another day...
Maybe you gotta lose it all,
before you find your way..." -Madeleine Peyroux
The divine, sublime Ms. Peyroux seems to speak for a generation of waiting, non-committing twenty-(and thirty and forty)-somethings in her song "Don't Wait Too Long".
Liz Phair stated it a little more bluntly over a decade ago in "Fuck and Run":
"What happened to a boyfriend,
the kind of guy who tries to win you over and
Whatever happened to a boyfriend,
the kind of guy who makes love 'cause he's in it?"
It seems that our biological imperatives have been short-circuited, whether by design or happenstance, the level of commitment among the young seems to have been steadily eroding, or is it just a phase that all generations go through- just prolonged by an extended adolescence?
Again from Ms. Phair:
"I can feel it in my bones,
I'm gonna spend my whole life alone-
fuck and run, fuck and run,
even when I was seventeen-
fuck and run, fuck and run,
even when I was twelve..."
Regardless of cause, to a lot of people, this is THE PROBLEM of modern existence. Of course it is nothing new. What is new is the postponement of further emotional development. The phrase "leading lives of quiet desperation" isn't a new one either, but is more appropo than ever. Going back to Ms. Peyroux:
"Take a chance, play your part...
Make romance, it might break your heart...
But if you think that time will change your ways-
Don't wait too long..."
...oh, by the way, Liz Phair is now a mother and presumably happily married. I guess time can change your ways.
"What good are brains to a man? They only unsettle him." -P.G. Wodehouse
When I was quite young, the world was a very mysterious place to me. I lived in a odd little neighborhood, a few dozen houses built around what had been, in pioneer days, a way-station on the the west river road, a place where you could get your horses tended to, before you left civilization altogether. The city sprang up around it, but there were still swamps, dumps and overgrown areas all around us. With a non-overprotective mother, I found myself on my own alot, exploring my own private Eden.
I remember touching things- stones, frogs, and plants of all kinds. When I would touch certain plants, those with feathery spines or needles, I would get a very strong bitter taste in my mouth- almost to the point of gagging. I didn't think too much about it, just about everytime was equally amazing to me at the time. Years later I learned about Synaesthesia, where the brain mixes its sensory inputs with interesting results. I've regrettably lost this facility, not even my pharmocological studies in the early 70's could recapture it. I had it once, I can still remember it, but I cannot experience it again. So is what I experience now the 'real' sensation? Or is it what I felt/tasted then? It is too late- my brain starts spinning like the rainbow disk icon when my computer has locked up- I'll go to bed and let the night shift handle that problem...
Four years ago, June was just as green and exerberantly luscious as it is nowadays. The deer were lying in wait for the apples that were awaiting just the right moment to sprout. I had already sprouted myself, in terms of height, and I still remain a giant at 5'3. The breeze hinted at potential visitors, and that day when I looked out of my window, a white Honda Civic pulled into the bare driveway. My mother was away at work, and instinctively knew the car had come, but did nothing in protest.
Requited love stepped out of the car, and wore a high school junior's smile, laced with braces. Unsure of my first move, I took the lad's hand and led him over the tall, uncut grass into the wilderness that is the backyard. Two Guardians, a.k.a. the apple trees, stood guard. They, being much older than us and wiser, were reluctant to allow two youngsters walk past, but they knew it had to happen.
I stammered on and on about subjects that are faint to me now, and displayed my gift to him: the Grove. A clearing hidden from the world. The nosey sun managed to sneak in a few sunbeams, but we were alone there, but together. I explained how much I loved the place and finally finding my icebreaker, I showed him my herb tree, the circle of stones for small fires, and the stone seats that were nestled neatly around the "fireplace".
Silently, my bonnie lad investigated, being a child of Nature, and left no nook unexamined. He grinned and his braces twinkled at me again.
He fell in love with the Grove and I fell in love with him. We embraced and stood in the middle of the greenery for what seemed like hours. The trees whispered, and the rocks stared.
Then, at that moment, he kissed me, and all the insecurities and fears that came with puberty vanished. I was complete.
Cleaning the garage. A rite of spring- all the stuff that gets stashed and piled all winter long is finally dealt with. Among the ice scrapers, jumper cables and other sub-artic gear was a small cardboard box. Inside were some things of my parents that were left behind after they passed on, those items with no worth and no particular sentimental value for my sisters and me. Still, I can't quite throw them away, not after these many months, these traces of their lives that aren't quite grand enough to warrant display. The biggest item is an old peanut butter jar, filled with buttons. My mother's button jar, she had it for as long as I could remember, and she used it occasionally, mostly for a dress shirt that had lost a plain white button, or for a child's hand-me-down jacket that had to make it through one more winter, no matter if the button matched.
But it is the other buttons, the fancy ones, old fashioned, probably from clothes she had bought when she was young and single, working at the arsenal during World War II, that stir my emotions. She had left the farm and gone to Minneapolis, gotten a job, and for the first time in her life had money and things to spend it on. There were a few pictures, taken at night clubs and bowling alleys- out with the girls, in her new clothes and permed hair, but these humble fasteners were the only physical reality that she had of those times. Before she became too ill, I wonder how many times she would open that jar, finger a few special buttons, and recall what once was.
Now, I can buy an armful of clothes at the thrift store for the equivalent of what she spent on a simple blouse, or a few pair of nylons. When I lose a button, I usually toss the shirt. I've never mended a pair of socks, and never had my shoes re-soled. And I have no button jar of my own to remind me of my now-spent youth.
Learning To Fly
After years of furtive groping and disconnected attempts at passion, somehow I managed to get into a relationship that had other problems, but intimacy was not one of them. Throughout my younger years it was almost as if a hoary priest (and I wasn't even Catholic!) had a room in my brain, which he would emerge from whenever my poor little body actually managed to achieve arousal with a partner. I had to kill that guy, or else neither I nor my partner would ever be happy with each other. We managed to escape from the world's purview in our hidden place, there to create a "summer of love" for two.
And then it was over.
Like roller coasters, illicit drugs and and other intense experiences, worth a visit but not a good place to live. I've never been a believer in 'moderation an all things', if you are going to get anything out of life you have to apply yourself in a obsessed-yet controlled fashion to the subject at hand- be it school, work, hobbies or personal interactions. But the special relationship you have with your body and your lover's needs requires you to submerge your ego and trust your primal instincts. Of course, the possibility of betrayal and rejection is always there. The answer to that dilemma is as difficult as the problem of accepting intimacy. But, like learning to pilot a airplane, you train and learn as much as you can, and finally do take that leap. It's dangerous, it isn't easy, but when it happens, you have learned how to fly.
Fly On The Wall
...sees all, says nothing...
...in an empty room, quiet now, the echoes of the shouting have all faded out...
...rubs his compound eyes in disbelief...
...they don't have to spend their lives in excrement, yet they wallow in it...
...they can speak, yet they only scream...
...they can sing, yet they only cry...
...they can build, yet they only tear down...
...they can dance, yet they only fight...
...in another day he'll be gone...
...replaced by another fly on the wall...
...who will also rub his eyes in disbelief...
...and will see all, and say nothing...
A Yard Made For Cats
On this beautiful late spring evening, the temptation to sit on the front porch with my crossword puzzle and a glass of merlot is too great to resist. As the dusk deepens, I put down my paper and await the evenings visitors- the neighborhood cats, one by one, on their evening prowl, the bolder ones will come onto the porch, the more timid will stay under one of the the burning bushes that flank the path from the sidewalk to our front door. The yard is elevated, only about a foot or so, the bricks that define its perimeter are a highway for these felines as they make their rounds in the deepening gloom. All the plants become backdrops- an ars noveau tableaux for their silhouettes. A sudden movement in the shadows reveals yet another soul, sharing this pleasant evening with you.
The summer wind, came blowin’ in -
Yesterday: Miserable! Cold, damp, a pale spring that will ne'er end...
It lingered there, so warm and fair -
The next day: Glorious! All bad weather is forgiven and forgotten...
All summer long, we sang a song -
With Madeline Peyroux on the box...
Two sweethearts, and the summer wind
Days of sunshine, nights of bliss...
Like painted kites, those days and nights -
In our summer clothes, or out of them?
The world was new, beneath a blue - umbrella sky
How could life have been so hard? Or now is so easy?
Then softer than, a piper man -
Something changed, was it in the air?
And I lost you, to the summer wind
Or did we see the truth?
The autumn wind, and the winter wind -
One warns, one kills...
And still the days, those lonely days -
I remember days that were not so lonely...
And guess who sighs his lullabies -
The singer still croons her sad song...
My fickle friend, the summer wind
But she sings to an empty room...
Summer Wind - lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Interlineal interpretations -
Ride, Fool, Ride...
The Ranger One Speed (that one speed would be slow) has been getting a workout lately. 13 ½ miles, each way, between home and work. Each summer it becomes a little harder for me to get into bike commuter shape, but it's worth it. I'm not yet to century land (100 miles in a day), but I should be able to do a hundred miles per week. Long distance cycling is a curious pursuit. If you can escape urban traffic, you can attain some sort of mental state akin to heightened awareness. Certainly your senses are sharpened, and the wildlife along the road is more perciveable- if your bike is quiet enough you can get along side deer, fox, coyotes and other critters in the ditch before they are aware of you. I've often wondered what they think when they sight a scrawny human astride his pile of shiny sticks, whirring past, not hunting, not fleeing, never stopping- those humans must be crazy!
Yet ever still we pedal on. The most efficient mode of ground transportation ever devised and it's good for you too. (Was it good for you too?) I love my bike! (And if I did manage to cycle 100 round trips this year, I would save about $200 worth of gas!) Stay tuned...