a terse message on the answering machine:
not coming home today
mother won't wake up
tell the boys
a terse message on the answering machine:
It was like sawdust, the unhappiness: it infiltrated everything, everything was a problem, everything made her cry - school, homework, boyfriends, the future, the lack of future, the uncertainty of future, fear of future, fear in general - but it was so hard to say exactly what the problem was in the first place. -Melanie Thernstrom, The Dead Girl
Finished up a sound system installation today: A new restaurant, Spoonriver, located across the street from the new Guthrie Theatre complex. The creative forces behind the project are Brenda Langton and her husband, Tim Kane. The opening of any restaurant is an exciting, chaotic affair; thousands of little pieces of an interlocking puzzle that must be fit together, the sound system is but a small part, simple compared to the food handling and prep, or even the lighting, decor and furnishings. Still, the audio component is one of the five senses, in a restaurant setting its role is to mask neighboring conversations, while not stepping on your own. There are some tricks and gizmos that help to even out and keep the music in the background, it always annoys me when I go into a place where the sound system is not adjusted properly- it's loud, but you can't understand anything.
Big Swan Lake, Todd County, Minnesota, Summer, 1962.
"Why does anyone write but in search of a soul mate? A good ear readily lent to what the writer has in mind. A confidant on call to respond with the right sigh or shudder or chuckle when the writer has, to his or her own tentaive satisfaction, made things clear. It is childish to expect this imaginary friend, the ideal reader, to be embodied in another person, perhaps especially another writer, whose expectations are comparably - which doesn't mean compatibly - childish." - Roy Blount Jr.
I grew up in what seemed to be Beaver Cleaver's neighborhood. Lot's of kids, Mom at home, Dad working during the day. Divorce happened to other people. One thing that Ward and June Cleaver didn't have was booze. All our folks had their stash. Mine kept a bottle of Windsor under the sink. When he had a beer it was only in the summer- when I was young he favored Hamm's- as he got older he could be caught with a bottle of Cold Spring or Special Export. These were all lagers, but not really the same as a good German beer. We'd sneak a taste now and then but didn't drink much as these local beers were a bit heavy on the hops; the watering down of American beer didn't really take off until the end of the 60's.
Hi you, two booths down
Driving home from work on the back roads has its virtues, but one drawback. The railroad crossing. I wasn't in a rush that day last week; the trains are fun to look at, in sort of a geeky train-spotting way. (That last sentence speaks volumes about the ease of keeping me entertained!) The rail cars, often in colorful decorations by illegal artists, roll by in a steady stream, their contents a catalog of the economy. Many of the cars, the older shabby coal cars, had been filled with scrap metal. Headed to Pittsburgh for recycling into new ingots? No, these were going west, to China. I had an uneasy feeling about that. The nations' wealth being outsourced to a foreign country, to be processed and sold back to us? This makes a much sense as the 1.6¢ penny. But as least there is some activity. I have a nagging doubt that once this boom ends, we will be stuck without a viable industrial base, and our paper wealth of stocks and futures will vanish, along with my retirement. Let's hope I'm wrong.
Tonight I listened to the NPR radio show A Prairie Home Companion which had been recorded earlier this week in Reykjavík. Garrison Keillor, its host and writer, brought a mixture of music, drama and nostalgia to Iceland at the urging of his friend, the writer and virtual "Poet Laureate" of Minnesota- Bill Holm. It is kind of hard to be objective about GK when he has been a part of your life for thirty years, the good and the bad start to even out. His morning radio show in the early 70's (pre PHC) was positively sublime, and I've seen him at his best, in person, speaking in my town (our town, he grew up here) when he spoke brilliantly for an hour at the behest of the Anoka Philolectian Society- a group of elderly librarians who gave him literary encouragement when he was just a shy teen. I've also seen him at his worst, causing real anguish to people I know who have had to deal with him professionally on his show.
Driving home, past a freshly plowed field, I spotted three crows among the furrows. They were scavenging (grubs?) a maintaining a conversation among themselves concerning the other creature on the scene- a wily coyote. Visions of The Roadunner came to mind, this poor canine looked just as clueless as his cartoon namesake, the crows just as cunning, and the bare earth was as close as Minnesota gets to the painted desert. The traffic came to a stop, so I could study the tableaux at length. The coyote was standing still, just looking at the cars on the highway, completely unafraid; perhaps he thought the UPS truck behind me had a pair of ACME™ rocket powered rollerskates for him.
A sign of summer, to be sure. Crisp, bleached white cotton, a little stiff, oversized, so she can sit curled up inside of it; it becomes a little tent to shelter her from the twilight and my desirous eyes. Still, just the whiteness of it causes me to remain transfixed, the dark skin of her hands and feet making its iridescence even more impossible to believe. A slight rustling as she turns to speak, and the enchantment which is her voice emanates softly from that alabaster shroud, making me a believer in the gospel of her. The sky darkens, the rest of the party heads indoors, but there is nothing on our little patio to fear. The air is still warm, the breeze is just strong enough to keep the bugs away, and as the vision in white continues speaking, the angels sing.
Seventh grade was, for me at least, quite possibly THE watershed year in a boy's/young man's life. The tipping point, as it were, of many things. Puberty and the physical and mental changes that came with it . Gym Class- and the exposure to enforced sadism, collective nudity (and potential homosexuality) and the need to be subservient to the "the big kids" who had already gone through "the changes". And, of course, gangs. Whether they were benign, evil or a combination of the two, seventh grade saw the clustering of boys around potential leaders.
As I handed over breakfast to my father yesterday morning, he looked at me and said, "You're getting married at 29." I stared at him and then began railing. It was a rant of denial, my friends, and although I'm not too sure I remember, I might have sounded something like this -
So I hear you've been struggling with the meaning of it all lately...but you've got a career going at least, something you can count on as much as anything these days. And the drinking, you've dealt with that too...things are looking up. But there is one thing, one thing you need to do, it's time that you supported her completely in what she wants, to put your desires second... you made a mistake years ago, and then made another, but it isn't too late to correct them...but it is almost too late.
Untold Stories of Amnesia.
My chance to write history! Usually reserved for the victors of war and dedicated academics, the rise of Wikipedia, like most things on the internet (bless you, Al Gore!) brings with it a host of new opportunities and challenges. Researching an ancient branch of my family tree, I discovered this entry with a fair amount of information about one of the founders of the Mormon religion. I had done work on this subject while in college, so this was more of a fact-checking endeavor rather than a search for new information. For those who don't know (nearly everyone that isn't a Mormon) Oliver Cowdery was a central figure in the first schism in the history of The Latter Day Saints. The article was fair enough- taken mostly from Mormon sources- but the reference to "a letter of resignation" spurred me to action. I have a copy of the letter; I thought it appropriate to insert it, and let the poor man speak for himself. When ever I read histories that ignore the actual words spoken by the person in question concerning an event, I always wonder- why has his or her voice been silenced? So now I have written (rewritten?) a piece of history- with a footnote! I'll be interested in seeing how long it remains on the site. The LDS are thorough, controlling, doctrinaire and relentless, but perhaps now this one dissenting voice from their past will be heard again.
Twenty-five years gone, mon. Quite possibly the most spiritual pop icon of the late twentieth century, Bob Marley died a quarter century ago. A somewhat diffuse theologist, but still enormously influential around the world. A champion of the down-trodden, the third world and yes, Rastafarians, Mr. Marley's music is his message and legacy. All that is needed now is someone to catalyze this energy into a mainstream religion. Not easily done, but then again, elevating a cult into an institution never is.
The rain had begun to fall. Luckily, I was wearing the new rain jacket and was apathetic. In fact, the jaunt now had purpose. Let the rain wash away my restlessness and let the jacket catch the extra droplets of relief. The bars on West Main were hopping most metaphorically, and thanks to a sharp eye, I know where to catch one of my former professors in case I have a question on the shapes of galaxies or wormholes (sometimes I do, y'know).
chloroplastically peeling bananas to feed her long lost sister she wobbles through the desert of the flipper flopper penguin and gives him a big kiss on his beak before ripping his blubber right out of him and using it to insulate her dead baby.
To comment or not to comment, that is the question...
ATTENTION! THIS POST REFERS TO MATTHEW BARNEY- CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED!
She shows no mercy on her enemies. Pity the foolish Dandelion or Creeping Charlie. She is out in full force today, with strange implements of weed destruction. Each year a new flowerbed to create, maintain and defend. Her tenacity is legend. The neighborhood watch always slows when their patrol goes by her corner. "Nice Sedum." She barely acknowledges the comment. She is on a mission.
You stopped in just to see me? It's great to see you! A little hug, why not? So what's with this guy you've been seeing? He's only 33?! My goodness. So that's why you haven't been writing on your blog. One last fling? You sent the Queen a card on her birthday! If your hair-do was any more flamboyant, you'd be on fire. It really was very nice of you to think of me. I'll have to remain content with being the best boyfriend you never had. Next lifetime...
I'm ashamed of myself.