Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Hey, Brother. . . Can You Spare a Dime?

Can you imagine such a thing?  Nudity as entertainment?  It is quite a concept.  That all kind of died when hippies decided to just run around naked for all to see.  People went nuts for it, but the conservatives shut it down.  They liked the strip club concept best.  Why, you wonder?  Profit motive.  Don't give away anything you can charge money for.  People don't value a thing unless money changes hands, it seems.

Same thing happened with all sorts of hippie concepts.  Transcendental meditation.  Yoga.  Those were things that were given away.  Nobody charged money for that.  It was just to make you feel better and be healthier.  It didn't get popular until it was marketed and you went to a studio and paid to get in.  

Crazy, you would think, right?  But everyone thought to make money off the things hippies were giving away.  You could hear the Grateful Dead for free until that shyster Bill Graham saw a chance to make money promoting concerts.  Etc.  

Capitalism dies unless it grows.  How's that for a concept?  

I should have joined a fraternity instead of being a hippie.  Everything, it seems, is about the money.  Even art.  

I needed to take a file box of negatives out of the closet where they were stored in order to scan them.  Of course, the box was on the bottom of the great stacked pile.  When I took it out, everything in my poorly organized closet fell out spilling pictures and 8mm films and papers, etc. across the floor.  It was a daunting mess.  Yesterday, I began cleaning up.  I brought everything out into the living room to clear the doorway and floor.  Holy shit.  I have so many negatives.  I can't house them all.  I have another half closet full of hard drives that store my digital images.  

I will get it all put back together today, but I still won't be able to get to anything easily.  

I'm no artist.  If I were, I'd be making money like Hockney or Picasso.  I'm a hobbyist, apparently, spending my hard earned cash.  I should subtitle this blog, "Confessions of a Hobbyist."  Maybe I should say "Hippie Hobbyist."  

But, you know, if you go by that, Modigliani was a hobbyist, too?  

O.K.  The Modigliani thing is just a joke.  There are other factors.  

I watch YouTube videos about photography by people who take shitty pictures, but they make a living doing it.  "It" being making YouTube videos about photography.  They are quite popular, it seems.  

I don't know what I will do with all the shit I've accumulated.  I've burned a tremendous amount of prints.  I need to start ditching more.  People tell me I should get another studio, but nobody wants to pay for it.  And there are no cheap places to rent anywhere.  You have to be as rich as Annie Leibovitz to have a studio now.  

I feel a bit like Karen Blixon: "I had a farm in Africa."  It was a dream.  She went broke, too.  

But we're all going broke now except for the Big Boys.  The cheapest thing at the grocery store is $5.99.  That's the new standard.  $5.99.  We'll all go back to whittling as a hobby.  We won't even be able to afford to watch t.v.  

I've tried dropping cable.  I had Netflix and Amazon Prime.  What else did I need?  Well. . . that all went south.  Amazon now charges you for t.v. so you can pay for channels like Paramount, Hulu, Sundance, etc.  Everything I want to watch now requires a new subscription.  

I'm giving up t.v. altogether.  I'll just take walks instead.  

Which is what I am going to do now.  Nice segue.  

Here's some music I pay money for from Apple Music via YouTube which I also pay money for so that I don't have commercials.  Money, money, money.  

I give it to you for free.  Like everything else.  If I monetized, would all this be worth more?  


"Hey, brother, can you spare a dime?"

The picture at the top is a matchbook cover.  They gave away matches and matchbooks.  Remember?  You don't see those anymore, do you?  But you can buy a lighter.  

Monday, April 22, 2024

Do Not Disturb

I didn't leave the house yesterday until dinnertime.  I meant to.  The day was another one of a now long string of beautiful days.  But, as I told my mother later, I seem to have lost gumption.  What I did do, however, was work on the surf series.  I've scanned about 130 negatives now.  It takes a long time.  As negatives were scanning on one computer, I was cooking them up on another.  That is taking a long time, too.  As I near the end, I will need to consider buying a printer.  Well. . . I'll need to buy one.  The question is how much money will I spend.  There will be much more to do when I start printing as the paper tones are much different than the tones you see on the screen.  Some colors are "out of gamut" and are translated into colors the ink can handle.  The paper tone and texture make subtle changes in the image, too.  If I really wanted to go all out, I would take on producing the images as platinum/palladium prints.  That would be the thing to do, but I would need to buy a whole lot of materials including an exposure unit that takes up a lot of room and is expensive.  The process of making one print takes a whole lot of time.  If I was all set up and worked an entire day, I could probably make eight or ten small prints.  The other way I could go is to use the photo gravure process.  I would have to buy a printing press and all the accouterments.  It is no quicker a process, really.  Each of those, however, make spectacular prints.  

For now, I will have to satisfy myself with inkjet prints.  

Money and time.  I'm running out of both.  

Just as I was walking out the door to go to my mother's, Tennessee called.  I had not heard from him since he went to the Earth Day concert.  It was weird and strange, he said, and he partied long and had not been up all day.  Now he wanted to take his boat out for a sunset cruise.  

"Sorry, dude.  My mother's making dinner."

I was glad I hadn't gone to the concert.  I was still recovering from the two previous nights.  I would have liked to take the boat ride, though.  

"Let me know when you leave your mom's house.  I'll come pick you up at the dock."

But I knew it would be too late.  

I took a bottle of wine as my contribution, and before we ate, my mother and I sat outside and had a glass.  The air was gentle, the light soft.  A bit of breeze would move the leaves slightly from time to time.  Mom seemed to be in good spirits.  I told her measured tales of small debaucheries from the past few days.  She told me about her friend, three years younger than herself, a woman with whom she used to travel, who is having terrible trouble with her leg.  The blood is not flowing to it. 

"She told the doctor that she is over everything.  She's just ready to be done."

"Yea. . . I understand that.  At some point, you just aren't having fun anymore, you can't do the things you used to do."

"She still plays cards," my mother said.  

"Well. . . at least there's that.  And we have the wine."

My mother is not the best cook, but dinner that night was delicious.  Steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes, and big fried pork chops.  We ate it all and finished the wine.  

We went back outside and chatted until it was dark.  

Driving home, I got a text from Tennessee.  It was a picture from the boat.  Was I glad I didn't go?  There was Black Sheep holding a girl who was steering the boat from behind.  Two more women were sitting in back.  It looked like trouble.  

Later, when I was home, Tennessee called to explain.  Black Sheep had met the women in a bar and brought them back for a sunset cruise.  It was his boat, not Tennessee's.  

"Oh, shit.  Black Sheep is calling.  I'll call you back."


I was down for the night.  My phone goes to a "do not disturb" setting early in the evening so that it doesn't ring or announce text messages.  I only know I have a call or text if I check my phone.  This frustrates some of my friends, but it is better for me, I think.  I'm only open from eight to eight.  

I will hear all about the last two nights today, I'm sure. 

Of course going on the boat would have been better for the blog.  I would have some kind of story to tell.  And for that reason, I am sorry.  But for all kinds of other reasons, I really am not.  I need to get this surf series done and get onto the next thing.  It is tedious and time consuming.  I hope I am pleased with the outcome.  I'm a pessimist, of course.  You surely know that.  I am always ready for disappointment.  That way, anything good is like a miracle gift from the gods.  

Sunday, April 21, 2024

How Does It Feel?

This is what I missed yesterday.  We'll get to that.  

Black Sheep came over in the morning to get his car.  Dressed for tennis.  He had scholarships to play in college.  He was sipping tea, awake and sober and back to the prep school manners from which he came.  He sat down and stayed for about twenty minutes chatting.  I had the Chet Baker album from which yesterday's song came playing.  When he later told Tennessee about coming over he said, "He was reading and listening to classical music when I came over."  That's how things get confused.  That picture wasn't accurate.  

When we had drinks with my old buddy at the Italian place, for instance, I said that Tennessee lived next door to a a "famous" comedian.  

"The one who started doing 'roids after you jacked him up agains the wall in the bar?"

"You jacked him against a wall?"

I didn't.  I strongly urged him to get away from the table.  But you know. . . that's how urban legends begin.

"Old C.S. listens to classical music and jacks famous people up agains the wall."

"Really?  He seems so peaceful."

"That was before the accident."

"I didn't know he even liked classical music."


Saturday was pretty much a wash.  I was hurting from the previous two nights.  I DID manage to get to the shaved ice place.  The fellow remembered me right away, my name, what I had last week.  He asked what I wanted this time.  He suggested the 420 special.  It was Weed Day, so I said sure.  

"It's a combination of sweet and savory," he said.  "I even put a slice of dill pickle on it.  It pairs well with the long hi."

It wasn't my favorite thing, though.  I almost broke a tooth on a frozen M&M.  

At 4:20, I got a text from my former secretary.  She sent a meme. 

It was a little joke between us when I was working.  I was probably a lousy employee, but I was a good boss.  We liked to let one another know when it was 4:20.  Many days, that is when we would sneak out of the building to go home like a couple of cat burglars.  

Tennessee and the car guy were going to an Earth Day concert that afternoon.  I wasn't about to go to that.  Bad music and a big crowd?  Not for me.  I HAD thought about going until the car guy told me they wouldn't let me bring my camera in.  I thought I might go for an hour and make some pictures.  Later, when the two of them started sending photos, I got a little jealous.  Looked like some weird shit going on.  

I was tired and lazy.  Picked up a Greek salad and half a roasted chicken at the good Greek place.  I ate too much and sat on the couch the rest of the night.  

Somehow, I have to find the right path.  Maybe I'll find it today.  

I have to say, though, that my imagination is on fire when I am at home alone.  I map out countless projects that never see fruition.  But they make me happy at the moment.  And they WOULD be good.  Last night, I thought about putting some of the musicians I know together to record a song, a tribute to all the once semi-famous.  One of my buddies was in a band that used to open for mine.  He owns a bunch of bars and antique Indian and Malaysian home furnishing stores now, but he still plays drums in a band.  He has recently opened a club with a big stage.  I conceived of the video we could shoot to go along with the song.  

You should see what's in my head.  Oh, Lordy.  

Some of it, anyway.  

But maybe you get enough of that here.  

"How doess it feel to be all alone, a complete unknown?"

Saturday, April 20, 2024

I Went Out on a Friday Night

When I woke up this morning, there was a brand new BMW in my driveway.  WTF?  Oh. . . yea.  I went out on a Friday night.  Shit.  

As I told you yesterday, that was not my intention.  A quiet night home--that's what I wanted.  The day began poorly enough.  I don't think I ever did clear my head.  I tried going to the gym.  The crew was there.  Nobody felt good, but I don't think they were feeling as off as I.  

"We need Pediolyte," I said as I went through the motions, kind of.  Everyone agreed, though, that it had been a good time.  "I'm getting too old for this shit," I moaned.  

"Drinking or the gym?"


Tennessee said he needed to clean his boat.  "It's a mess, man.  I left the cover off it for most of the year.  I've been gone and haven't used it at all.  $150,000 boat.  My wife is going to kill me."

Since he keeps saying he's going to come over and fix some things around my house and apartment, I thought it was only right to offer.

"I'll come over and help you."

He didn't turn down the offer.  

His boat is on a big lake docked at a condo complex that is a collection of white buildings that lead to the water.  It is 1950s Miami cool architecture.  Once an apartment complex, the places have been bought up and renovated.  When I was getting divorced oh-so-many years ago, I thought about moving there if I lost the house.  They were cheap then.  They are not cheap anymore.  There are always young women lying out at the pool overlooking the lake.  They paddle around on paddle boards and sit out at the dock with cocktails as the sun goes down.  

"Aren't there any men who live here?" I asked Tennessee once.  

"Not so many."

He rents his to a young yoga instructor in her twenties but he keeps the boat dock for himself.  

When I pulled into the parking lot, he called.  

"I just got here."

"What?  Shit.  I wanted you to swing by my place and get the shop vac.  Some fucker stole the one out of the boat.  I've got everything torn apart and laying on the dock.  I can't leave it like this. . . ."

"O.K.  I'll go back and get it.  But I have to get something to eat.  Man. . . I'm fading."

I thought I was getting the better end of this deal.  It was the hottest day of the year so far, somewhere in the nineties.  I was glad to avoid scrubbing a dirty boat as much as I could.  I needed to eat, but I needed to make it quick.  In my muddled state, I made a decision.  I pulled into a McDonalds.  

Big Mac, fries, and a coke.  I hadn't been to a McDonalds in at least thirty years.  They had the calorie count on the order board.  What in the world was I doing?  I was eating about 2,000 calories. . . but my oh my. . . it went down easily.  

"It's o.k." I told myself.  "You needed that."

Nobody needs that. 

By the time I got back to the boat, an hour had passed.  There were mats and boat cushions lining the dock.  Tennessee stood pressure washing the empty hull, music blaring from the big speakers mounted on the crossbar.  

"Turn that shit down, cracker," I yelled.  

"What a fucking mess," he said.  

"What do you want me to do?'

"I've sprayed the cushions.  Just start pressure washing them."  He handed the hose to me.  I started on the cushions, but nothing seemed to be coming off.  

"Get the nozzle closer," he said jumping off the boat to show me.  

"O.K." I said and began again.  Of course, I'm about as handy as a three petered goat as my uncle used to say.  After a few minutes he noticed that I was ripping the vinyl with the jet stream.  Not ripping, really, just removing the top layer.  


The music plays.  I sit on the wooden steps leading down to the water.  They are hot.  I'd be sweating like a drunk if I had any fluids in me.  

"Are we going to eat tonight?" he asks me.  


"You'd better get over to see your mother then."

"What time is it."


I'm glad for the excuse to go.  

"I'll finish up here and call you." 

Driving to my mother's, the phone rings.  The screen shows a number but not a name, so I don't answer.  Then I get a text.  At the light, I read it.  It is from Detective Decker.  He wants me to do something.  When I get to my mother's, I call him back.  He needs me to clarify some details on the written report about the cameras.  It is important, he says.  He is going to start things in motion on Monday.  Well, hell, I think.  O.K. 

My mother sits rather listlessly.  It is not a good day for her, she says.  Fuck.  I feel bad, feel myself a bad son going out and carousing.  We talk for awhile, then I get a text from Tennessee.  He's hungry.  He's on his way to the Italian place.  

"I gotta go, mom.  Do you need anything?"

Rhetorical.  I'm feeling bad about leaving.  I want to tell her I promise not to enjoy myself.  I kiss her goodbye and slowly shuffle to the car.  

When I get to the restaurant, I don't see Tennessee.  He had called and said the bar was full, so I said get us an outside table. I look around.  I walk to the other side.  He is sitting at a table away from the street against a blank wall.  

"What the fuck. . . did they put you in time out?"

He looks at the hostess.  "I told you."  Then to me, "This is Miranda's section.  I thought you'd like that."

Miranda is the pretty barmaid we like, the Jersey girl who just took her Bar exam.  

"She passed,' he tells me.  

"No shit?" 

When she comes to the table, she smiles a far away smile.  I look at her.  "So you passed the Bar?"


"What are you going to do?"

"I've got a couple offers."

One is working for an insurance firm.  Another is from a law firm.  She's not sure.  

"I lived with an attorney for awhile.  It looked like she was writing term papers every night.  They'll work you to death," I said.  

"I know.  I'm not sure what I want to do yet."

She was a little slow, had a far away look in her eye.  

"Are you O.K.?"

"I don't know.  I'm sweating.  I shouldn't have eaten that donut."

I realized she was high.  

"Did you eat a gummy?"

"Noooooo," she said.  But she had smoked it up a bit just before her shift.  

"You're in for a long night," I said.  

"I know."  

When she walked away, Tennessee's phone rang.  Just then I saw an old buddy walk in that I haven't seen in many years.  He didn't like my girl at the time and so I chose the girl.  No hard feelings.  I just didn't contact him after that.  But I didn't have the girl anymore and we had been friends for thirty years, so I got up and caught him at the door.  

"Come have a drink with us," I said.  

We sat down and I made introductions.  It was awkward for a few minutes, but that awkwardness faded soon enough.  Miranda came back to the table.  My buddy knew her well.  Food was ordered.  The night was cooling off.  My buddy and Tennessee got on O.K.  Tennessee was interested in our common history, especially all the outdoor adventure stuff we had done together.  But the conversation turned to why we hadn't seen one another for so long, and my buddy spilled some information that I hadn't heard before, something that was quite disturbing.  It's going to take me awhile to digest it.  Things were, perhaps, not what they seemed to be.  

He had ordered a meal to go, and when Maddison brought it to the table, he said his goodbyes.  

"He's a good guy," I said.  

"Yea. . . I can tell."

More wine.  Salads, then meals. 

Miranda comes over.  Tennessee is good at chatting her up.  

"Where'd you go to college before law school?"

Turns out she went to Country Club.  Hmm.  She has the look, the manner, of a Country Club girl.  She was a soccer player.  Tennessee asks her to come to run with his running group.  He hands her his phone and she punches in her number.  WTF?  The girls love him.  It REALLY pisses me off.  

She asks me if I am coming.  

"I can't run anymore."

Tennessee has told her I am a shaman, that I have things at the house."

"O.K." she says. "We'll run then come over to your place and smoke a J." 

When she leaves the table, I just look at T. and shake my head.  

"Where do you want to go now?" 

"Nowhere.  I'm going to sit on my porch and have a scotch."

"O.K.  Let's go there."

The black sheep of a good family calls.  T hands the phone to me, but I shake my head.  

"What are you doing, homie?"

"We're going over to sit on C.S.'s porch and drink."

Oh, fuck no.  No, no. . . . 

Black Sheep is at the racquet club for a members and guests event.  He's been there all day, drinking.

"O.K.  I'll come over."

"Fuck you guys.  No!" I say, but T is laughing.  This is not what I wanted.  

We're sitting on the deck when Black Sheep comes squealing down the street.  He sits in front of the house revving his engine.  He wants tequila.  Once we're all settled, a police car drives slowly by.  We all look and he flashes his lights.  

"What the fuck was that?"

"They're probably looking for him," I say pointing my thumb at Black Sheep.  

That's whose beamer is in my driveway this morning.  He was too drunk to drive, so Tennessee took him home.  Not without an argument, though.  T was trying to leave him here with me.  He thought that was funny.  

"I'm starting not to like you," I told him.  

Just before eight this morning, I get a call.  It is Tennessee.  He's going to meet his running group.  The biology prof from our group has started running triathlons and is already there.  

"Who's on the phone?"

"It's C.S.  He's drinking coffee and watching porn."

I hear the laughter in the background.  

"Fuck you.  You're a child."

He wants me to go to the Earth Day rock concert with him and the car guy tonight.  Uh-uh, I say.  You have fun.  

"Ah, man. . . you gotta go."

"Nope.  Not happening." 

It is 4/20.  It is weed day.  

The day has broken now, hot and bright.  I'm slow.  I hate that I can't run.  I need to run this shit out of me.  I need to run with Miranda.  I've gotten fat and consequently lazy.  Things need to change.  I should quit drinking and go on a diet.  I should. . . I should. . . I should. . . . 

What I need to do is get out of here before Black Sheep comes for his car.  I don't want him knocking on my door.  

I'm still chewing on what my old friend told me last night.  It seems I might have been getting a dirty deal.  

Whatever.  I just got a text from someone who used to like me.  Well, now. . . that's a more pleasant way to start the day.  And so. . . onward.  

I think there is shaved ice in my future!

Friday, April 19, 2024

Can't Go Out on a Friday Night

Oh, fuck. . . I'm paying for my sins this morning.  I wasn't even going to go out at one point.  I was feeling "down."  I was feeling bad enough that I called my mother and told her I wouldn't be over that afternoon, that if I was going out that night, I was going to have to take a nap.  I lay down at two and opened my eyes, reluctantly, at four-thirty.  I didn't want to get up, but I was already getting texts from people who were at the bar.  I still needed to shower.  

I rolled into the refurbished hipster bowling alley at quarter to six.  Everyone was ahead of me.  I got what they were having, a Paloma--tequila, grapefruit juice, and lime with some spicy stuff on it.  Our waitress was a Jersey girl.  We were boys but for one.  She handled it well.  When I looked at her and started stuttering my order, the catbirds came out.  Shitbirds, I should say.  

"Glass eye. . . palsy. . . c'mon old timer. . . spit it out."

She just looked at me and smiled patiently.  I shook my head.

"Hear that?  These guys say, don't worry, we've got your back.  Then when a girl shows up, this is what I get."

Her eyes were dancing.  She was laughing.  

She brought the finger foods that were ordered before I got there.  I ordered a pressed corned beef sandwich.  Then champagne.  Then another Paloma.  Then a Cuba Libra.  Then another.  I had a bottle of scotch in the car.  

Stupid.  Just stupid.  

It was loud.  Everyone was shouting.  The bowling lanes were psychedelic with lights flashing like an electric circus.  Girls in short skirts were turning heads as they ran bent over down the lanes.  Giant t.v. screens in the room where we sat broadcast sporting events.  I was mesmerized by the professional wrestling.  The entire table stopped when a commercial for a professional pubic hair trimmer came on, a woman with a flat belly in tiny underwear shaving her pubes.  

"Where does the leg end and the vagina begin," asked the car guy.  

"C. got a Brazilian wax.  Ask him."

"I wouldn't recommend it," he said.  

"You don't know where the leg ends and the vagina begins?  Really?"

"I'm just. . . you know. . . in a commercial."

Brilliant things like that.  

A masked man came flying off the top ring rope.  He must have weighed three hundred pounds.  He took down two waiting fellows with his outstretched arms.  

"Look at that!" I screamed to Tennessee and the car guy, both trained fighters.  "You sissies couldn't brawl like that."

Tennessee had his phone out.  He was showing some of my photos to the film professor's wife, a Malaysian from Singapore.  Talk turned to my camera work.  Things were getting hazy.  I got up to walk around.  Tennessee and the biology prof and the film prof's wife had me take a phone pic.  I cooked it up the way I do before I sent it to them.  The film guy came over.  He wants me to make some pictures of him for his website.  I told him I would some day.  We stepped outside so I could photograph him in front of the bowling sign with my phone, but the lighting was really bad.  

"Wait," I said.  "Let me get a camera out of my car."  I grabbed my digital Canon with the plastic toy Holga lens.  I made a few snaps of him.  He said I should bring it into the bar. 

Suddenly I was popular.  Everybody wanted me to make pictures of them.  The lighting was from small 30 watt bulbs.  I mean, it was bar dark inside.  I tried to hand hold some, but the exposures were five seconds and between my shaking and their moving. . . . Still, they ooed and ahhhed.  

There were water bottles on the table.  I tried using one as a tripod.  That worked better, but the fucking drunks couldn't hold still for five seconds at a time.  They were all ADD.  They wanted me to keep trying, though.  I was having fun.  

Once in awhile, an image would emerge from the shadows.  Now they were all directors and creatives.  They all had ideas.  I was now, according to them, reduced to cinematographer.  

When the waitress came back, though, I looked at her and nodded.  

"Stand over here," I said holding up the camera.  I didn't know how she would respond.  I handheld the first one.

It was a smear, but she clearly liked it.  

The boys were all looking on with eagerness now.  They wanted in.

"He'll send you the photo," they offered.  "He's not really a creep.  He's a good photographer.  He's really good."

"Fuck you guys.  Don't listen to them.  Suddenly they've got my back, right?"

She was smiling.  Much to my surprise, though, she slid into the booth so I could sit the camera on top of the bottle.  That is the photo at the top.  Turned out pretty good, but I had to crop Tennessee out of the picture.  Oh, yea. . . the boys were like a pack of jackals in heat.  

I showed her the images on the camera screen.  She wanted to know if she could use her phone to take a picture of them.  

"Sure.  After I get them off the phone, I'll get you copies."  

Now this is the part where my shy, paranoid personality comes into play.  I have no desire to be creepy, to ask her for her phone number, so I say, "Next time I come in, I'll put them on my phone.  Do you have an Apple phone?  That was I can just Air Drop them to you."

"You can send them to me," she smiled.  I handed her my phone.  "Just type in wherever you want me to send them."  She could use a work email or her boyfriend's number or whatever made her feel good.  

She typed in her phone number and name.  

"O.K.  I'l get those to you," I said.  

When she went back to work, Tennessee might as well have been on Adderall.  Beauty boy was beside himself.  

"It's O.K., slick.  I know what I'm doing," I said.  "This ain't my first rodeo, son." 

Being a bowling alley, all the servers were wearing bowling shirts.  There was a gift shop, so I announced, "I'm going to buy a bowling shirt."  I left my camera with the boys who were all wanting to be photographers now.  I went to find the waitress to pay for my part of the tab.  

"It's already been taken care of," she said.  "That guy in the green shirt paid for everyone."

The guy in the green shirt was a friend of the car guy and his buddy.  I'd been out drinking with the three of them before, but he didn't know the rest of the crowd.  The car guy who usually picks up the tab said, "It's o.k.  He's a lawyer."

He had, however, left his credit card.  

"Can we use this for the rest of the night?" I asked our waitress.  

When I went to the gift shop, it turned out they only sold t-shirts.  

"What?  I want to get a bowling shirt."

"I can only get you one if you want to work.  I can hire you."

The girl was all smiles.  This was a very friendly place.  

In a bit, our crowd got up and wandered toward the parking lot.  Slow goodbyes were being said.  The film guy's wife came over to hug me and whispered, "I want you to photograph me."  

"You've seen my photos?" I asked to be clear.  

"Yes.  I don't want to wait until I am fifty."

She told me she has been losing weight.  She was serious.   "O.K." I said, "we'll make some pictures."

If I had a studio.  

Then there were just three of us standing outside kibitzing, me, Tennessee, and the car guy.  There was a recap of the night, and of course, they talked about the waitress.  She had been well compensated for serving us.  The other servers would envy her wildly. 

As is inevitable, there was the lingering of drunks in the parking lot at the end of the night, but eventually the conversation wained and reluctant goodbyes were said.  

I was tired when I got home, but I had to dump the photos into the computer to see.  It was after midnight now as I sipped on a glass of scotch.  I perused the pictures and cooked up the ones of G., the waitress.  I got my phone and looked up her number, then sent them to her with a message.  I thanked her for being a good sport and putting up with the group.  I told her that the camera loved her, that she was very photogenic, and that I would photograph her any time she wanted.  She wrote back. 

"you guys were a great time and you’ve definitely got some talent. love the black and white. i’ll definitely let you know i’d love to do more shoots !"

 I'm glad the film prof talked me into bringing my camera inside.  Everybody wants me to make photos.  I should get back on the horse.  I let someone destroy my confidence.  It was wrong.  I like looking at people.  I'm good at it.  And as always, everybody has fun.  I should get out and about more, too.  But not tonight.  It is Friday.  I need my rest.  

"Can't go out on a Friday night.  I got the A.A. blues."

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Wine Through the Mouth, Love Through the Eyes

It's about to be another fine and sunny day, another fine and sunny weekend.  I am going out with the gang tonight to a refurbished bowling alley.  I've never been, but it was my suggestion.  I want to see it.  It was a big place with a million lanes from way back in the Bowling Era, but bowling is not so popular anymore and there are not many bowling alleys left, so in the interest of all things Hipster, they have kept only eight lanes for bowling and have put in restaurant seating and a big bar.  So I hear.  And it is popular.  I may take a camera, but I am not sure.  I've just got the shutter bug.  

I am up for another weekend of exploration and fun in my own hometown.  I spied a new place yesterday, a sake bar.  I went to their website.  A hundred types of sake.  The place looks lovely.  I need to send a link to C.C. who loves all things "yentl."  

Don't bother looking it up.  It's not a real word.  

As I write, a banner flashes at the top of the computer screen: "Why People Are Fleeing California."  There is a funny sort of migration going on in this country.  I read earlier this morning that they are going to South Carolina.  People are leaving Blue States, they say, for Red ones.  Huh.  I live in a Red State.  We can't say gay, go to tranny shows, or lend banned books.  The Governor has forbidden things like Nude Night.  He wants to shoot Haitians illegals who show up on our shores.  He awards big state contracts to his buddies without allowing other bids.  My gay and lesbian and Woke friends all want to run away.  And yet. . . I just read that Gen Z, who the press has made out tome Woke, are favoring Trump in the coming election.  They favor Palestine over Israel.  

"It's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world. . . except for Lola."

You figure it out.  I just wanna have fun.  I wanna find somebody who wants to go get shaved ice with me.  Mahalo.  

That's a self-portrait at the top of the page.  That's what I looked like before I got fat.  Long blonde hair, powerful legs and arms.  Fierce, really.  I love this photo, but you know. . . not everyone will.  The people who should like it probably won't.  The model did, of course.  She came to me.  She wanted me to take that photo.  We were in agreement.  As always, no money exchanged hands.  I could have charged her, but I didn't.  Gratis.  

Not that one, exactly.  That has been sitting in my files untouched since I took it.  I gave her ten other photos, I think.  She had been a professional dancer, ballet and modern, but as she aged she became a dance instructor.  

That was a long time ago.  When I was popular.  Somebody has replaced her now, I'm sure.  Somebody has replaced me.  

Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes. . . the pipes are calling. . . . 

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Ain't You Had All the Pain You Can Hold

The smart money is on Trump.  Nobody thinks prosecutors are going to find twelve jury members who all agree.  Such a thing is impossible now.  There is no way Trump will be convicted, ever, of anything.  It is fairly grotesque to see how giddy the people over at MSNBC are that we have such a historic moment: "The first president ever to go to trial on criminal charges."  

"We've got him this time!"

They say they live on "Earth One," and that everyone else is living on "Earth Two."  They need to take a drive through Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  

I'm no Trump supporter.  I'm just saying.  My planet blew up a long time ago and I can't go home.  All I can do is live on the one I've landed.  And this one, my friends, seems pretty fucked up.  I've been pissing plenty of people off with my brilliant take on the state of the world recently.  I may get kicked off this one soon enough.  


Some say you can't predict the future.  That's ridiculous.  Sure you can.  You will suffer and then you'll die.  There is no mystery.  As many writers have said, it seems that this fact alone would make us a bit kinder to one another.  But as Wallace Stevens said, "Let be be finale of seem."  Or as my grandmother used to say, the proof is in the pudding.  

Did she say "pudding" or "putting"?  

Either way, I got her drift.  We are not so very nice to one another.  We form groups and factions and fight like hell as if it all matters, as if there is something at stake.  There is and there isn't.  

I read today that Bonobos, those peaceful apes, are not really so peaceful at all.  They are not "hippie hominids."  Uh-uh.  Researches say they are more aggressive than chimps.  So much for that.  I guess it's just a "doggy dog world."

Or was that "dog eat dog"?  

I know which one I'd prefer.  

Ain't you had all the pain you can hold. 

You know the  bottle don't love you no more.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Gender Study

I wrote a bit of today's post, then I got interrupted by texts from my conservative buddy.  Now I am glad.  I deleted what I had written.  I was on a rampage.  Political.  Sort of.  The sort of thing I am swearing off of in print.  Let me begin again,  

It was another lovely day in a string of lovely days.  When I went to the gym, everyone was there for the first time in a month.  It was supposed to be one of my "strong" days, but when I lay down on the bench and hoisted the bar, I knew it wasn't going to be.  I am smart enough now not to try to fight nature.  I went through the motions and took it easy on myself.  I wasn't up for it.  I was off.  

As the boys at the gym like to say, "his ovaries are bothering him."  Yes, sexist, but they are essentially correct if you don't take it as a lesson in gender studies.  I wasn't in the mood for outright banter.  But I didn't mind when people interrupted my workout to chat.  I chatted as much as I exercised.  I was fine with that.  People were glad to see one another again.  There was a feeling of bonhomie.  

"The band is back together," someone said.

"Yea. . . a boy band."

And we were.  More "boy-like" than "man-like" I mean.  

"You want to get lunch?" Tennessee asked.  

"Sure," I said.  

"Bolle or the Peach?"

"The Peach?"


"What's the Peach?"

"Peach Valley, that. . . ."

"Oh, oh. . . yea.  Let's go there." 

"Follow me to my house.  I just saw on the Ring camera that the lawn guys are there.  I have to put the dogs up.  They run from window to window barking and tearing the place up."

The waitress was one of those twenty-two going on thirty-three types, already getting worn down, but there was still a spark of life deep down inside. . . somewhere.  She came to the table with the downturned mouth and scowl of "her type" and asked coldly, "Can I get you started with something to drink?"

"Coffee and a water," I said.  

"Same for me, but I'll have a lemon in my water."

"It helps him cut the bitter taste of his meds," I said with one raised eyebrow.  That made her grin.  

When she came back to take our order, I got the Western omelette with grits and toast.  Tennessee said, "I'll have the same but with a biscuit and a little gravy for it."

"Sausage?" the waitress asked.

"No. . . my friend likes the sausage."  

She looked at me and laughed.  I hadn't been paying attention and it took a minute for me to catch up, but by then she was gone.  

Like I said. . . we were being boys.  Gender specific.  

When the waitress brought us our food, she was all smiles.  Both Tennessee and I are like that.  Friendly.  Funny.  Interactive.  I think neither of us can stand to be ignored.  Something wrong with us, probably.  Something broken somewhere inside.  

It was two by the time I got home.  I was tired.  Maybe I had something.  I decided to lie down.  When I rolled over and opened my eyes, it was four.  Shit!  I needed to get to my mother's.  A quick shower, then a stop at the liquor store.  I was later than usual.  

My mother has not been feeling well much of the time.  She just gets exhausted.  She had had a "bad day," she said.  

"When do you go to the doctor?"

"I need to make an appointment soon."

"You need to tell her about this."

"Yes. . . I will."  She sounded despondent.  I had that helpless feeling one has when there is nothing one can do.  All I can do is be around.

About the time I was ready to go home, the neighbor's came across the street with a bottle of wine.  The wife comes over every day, but they hardly ever come together.  They wanted company, it was clear.  They had been to the vet with their dog who has a broken tooth.  They were told it would cost $3,000 to extract it.  

"Sure," I said.  "When I was a kid and a dog went lame, blind, or otherwise infirmed, they would just put the dog down.  Now people spend thousands and tens of thousands of dollars on removing cataracts, replacing hips. . . ."  The dog is twelve and not in good shape.  It doesn't look like it has much longer before its time is up.  

"Well. . . it isn't hurting her, so she's just going to have to live with it."

They were not going to pay the $3,000.

As we sat outside drinking wine, the pretty woman from down the street came by with her two big dogs.  I grabbed the leashes of the two little ones belonging to the neighbors.  I had seen the shit show that happened before.  She is a forty-some year old banker who looks like a million bucks, always walking the dogs in shorts or leggings that reveal her very good figure.  My mother and cousin think I should go out with her.  I laugh.  

"I don't think she is going to ask me out.  I'm assuming she has no shortage of male attention."

"You should ask her out."

"I don't do that.  I can't stand rejection."

"You'd rather sit around the house alone?"

"No.  I'd rather be asked out.  But, you know. . . ."

But she is always friendly, always stops to talk, waves big when she sees me in my car.  We talk about food and hair. . . all the important things.  She has a gorgeous smile.  

"I've got these beasts, Stacy. . . you're safe."  

She smiled that big smile and waved.  One of the little dogs started barking.  

"Shut up," I said in a low voice.  "Don't chase away my new girlfriend."

"You wish," said the husband.  

That sort of riled me.  I wanted to say, "You dumb fuck. . . she is JUST the sort of woman I go out with.  Just because YOU. . ." but of course I stopped myself.  Go ahead and underestimate me, you dumb rube.  

But, you know. . . it is not a competition.  Moreover, he was probably right.  I'm beginning to think so.  


We chatted about the wife's visit to various doctors.  She was once a beauty herself, you can tell, and she loves to talk about it, her crazy life, going out, what she wore and where.  The husband, her second, came later.  She has two daughters by her first husband.  I've eaten Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinners with both of them.  They are knockouts, each, so it is not hard to imagine their mom at a certain age.  But now she is sick quite often, has stints in her heart, and it has recently been suggested that she make an appointment with a psychiatrist.  

"Well. . . that's a hell of a lot better than seeing a psychologist," I said.  

"Why's that?"

"All you are going to do with a psychologist is talk.  Real shrinks can give you drugs."

She lit up at that.  

"Oh. . . good!"

By then I had stayed for much longer than I had intended.  The sun would be setting soon and I wanted to get home to make dinner.  I stood up, kissed my mother, and bid them all a good evening.  

When I got home, the cat was waiting.  

"Yea, yea, yea," I said.  "You're the only girl who loves me, and even you never ask me out.  But no, you don't love me, either.  Still. . . you're my gal."


"O.K.  O.K.  Let me get the food."

Monday, April 15, 2024

Another Beautiful Day

You know what it was--another perfect day.  That's a lot of days in a row, an entire weekend and more.  But I'll warn you kids.  One way to diminish the day is by doing drugs.  They can leave you lazy and morose.  Well. . . maybe not you. I have friends who love to do drugs.  They say that they enhance their experiences.  For me, though, a straight, healthy day is one to be treasured.  You can have a mimosa.  I can, I mean.  But even that can slow you down.  If you want to be a Ready Teddy, though, I'd say stick with the wholesome life.  Sip your tea and eat a healthy salad.  Your day will be just fine.  

I was stupid and ate part of one of the gummies my cousin left me the night before.  I don't know how people enjoy such things.  I slept poorly and was hung over all the live long day.  

Still, champion caliber that I am, I got out fairly early for a long camera walk to try and finish up the film in my two cameras.  I was headed to Gotham, but stopped along the way to walk the fast growing area around the street where I was run over almost to death.  High rise condos and apartment buildings have been built there by the lake, and things are hopping.  There are restaurants and bars and coffee shops galore.  I parked in the lot of the Fresh Market store and started my stroll when right away I saw a house with a familiar sign.  It a simple letter that is the logo for my ex-wife's husband's development company.  What was this, I wondered?  I walked around the block to see.  To my surprise (if not chagrin), the sign announced it as a club house for the company.  I guessed it was for the company, anyway.  Fucking holy hell, I thought.  She's got it all.  

I think she should offer to give me back the money she took in the divorce.  She should have at least that much regret . 

Whatever.  I turned around and limped on down the trail.  Yippee ki-yi-yo.  

As I was passing my buddy's camera shop, his car was in the driveway.  The shop is not open on Sundays, so I was surprised.  The shop is comprised of two cute houses and a courtyard that is to die for.  He's done alright.  When he saw me, he put the car in park and got out.  He might have thought I was coming to the store.  

"Hey. . . I just came by to feed the cats."  

"Hello.  I'm just wandering trying to finish off this new Scala film I got."

We chatted about the film and other things until another fellow with a camera came up the sidewalk.  It was someone my buddy knew of course, and Asian with a Nikon F3 film camera.  After introductions, I began telling my buddy about the shaved ice at the old seafood market.  He told me that the place was just down the street from him.  No, I said, it is the old seafood market.  They have another one, he said, in a giant warehouse just down the street.  It just opened.  I mentioned that they have a ton of space and I would like them to rent me some for my studio.  

"Oh, you should ask them.  They'll do it."

I was surprised.  "I wonder how much they would charge me?"

"Are you kidding?  You're a legend.  Tell them you'll work on commissions, that you will be bringing them a lot of business."

"Notorious, you mean."

In a minute, my buddy said goodbye and I was left with the Asian.  I think he was probably Chinese.  He was very polite and decided to walk with me to see the new warehouse shop.  He was an electrical engineer and we talked about cameras and scanners and how he thought he could repair old electronics.  Of course, I took no photos.  You can't be a photographer when you are with someone.  You can't divide your attention that way.  So we strolled and chatted, neither of us taking photos.  

When we got tot he warehouse, as with the other, there was no signage to let you know what the business was.  Just a big, blank structure.  We searched around and found the entrance.  The place was closed, so I pressed my face against the window to look in.  Wow.  This place was even grander than the last one.  It had a small bar and a wine cooler.  I would need to come back to look around.  

My new pal and I turned back in the direction from which we had come, walking along the banks of the big lake that bordered the road.  The day was pleasant, and I wondered what sort of pictures the fellow took.  Would he wander around the park and take photos along the bank of the lake?  I spied a pile of tires "sombre y sol" and walked over to make an image.  That is when we said goodbye.  The day was getting on and I still hadn't finished a roll.  I decided to cut across to an urban trail I hadn't been on before in order not to be walking into my new pal again.  It was a mistake, though.  It was a boring path shaded by the apartments or condos on its east side.  I had half a mile before I would come back into the sun.  

When I did, I cut through a mall that housed a bar and a coffee shop.  People were sitting at outdoor tables eating breakfast.  I crossed the street to a brewery that was having some kind of shitty clothing market in its parking lot.  There were lots of poor hip-hop looking kids picking through some off brand jeans, flannel shirts, and the like.  This is where I finally finished a roll of film.  I still had half a roll in my other camera, but there was nothing much to look at here, so I headed back to my car.  I decided to drive to the big Farmer's Market on the lake in Gotham.  Surely I'd finish shooting the rest of the film there.  

I drove around for awhile looking for a parking spot.  I drove for miles, looking.  But Gotham is changing.  Here, too, the big apartment buildings and condos have gone up and the place is crawling with young professionals.  The town has always been ancillary in many ways to the tourist parks and has suffered for it.  Every new food chain tries its stuff here at the crossroads of tourist America.  The city has been alternately crummy and bland.  Trying to find something like shaved ice, as silly as it seems, has been like searching for gold.  If you live in a town with funky restaurants and dives that are offbeat and not the Olive Garden or Captain Ds or other garbage, you wouldn't understand.  But things are changing.  On my walk earlier, in a one mile stretch of road, I passed at least a dozen--no exaggeration--age defying, IV drip/injection, lip filler and non-surgical face-lift places.  As I've reported from my readings, young people want to stay young.  This is their thing.  Botox.  Lasers.  I don't know what all.  But they also like funky fun stuff, and so the bars and restaurants are blooming.  

And that is why I could not find a parking place in Gotham.  And so. . . I bolted.  

I was shaky.  I hadn't eaten anything.  I thought a mimosa would be just the thing, and so I headed to the Cafe Strange.  The pretty milk chocolate complexion girl was working the counter.  She always looks me in the eyes, smiles, and asks me how my day is.  And then she chats.  She's a friendly girl for sure, and while she talks, I think about how much I'd like to make photos of her.  One day, maybe. . . . 

One mimosa and it was time to bolt.  I was making a seafood stew for my mother.  I still needed to shop.  Celery, carrots, potatoes, and leeks.  Canned crushed tomatoes, clam juice, chicken stock, cheap wine.  Cod, scallops, and shrimp.  I had the spices at home.  Chop the vegetables and sauté them in the Dutch oven.  Add the stock and the wine, clam juice, crushed tomatoes, seasoning, and bring to a boil.  Then turn down the heat and go take a nap.  Yup. I was beat.  Later, get up and shower, bring the pot back to a boil, cut the heat and put in the seafood.  For once, I didn't overcook it.  Rather than disintegrating, big chunks of cod floated alongside the now pink shrimp and scallops.  Wrap the Dutchmen in a thick towel and take to the car.  And a bottle of wine.  

My mother was pleased.  I nailed it.  Good God, it was delicious.  

For some reason, I did not sleep well last night.  I was up at five.  And now, with sunrise, I will go back to bed.  It is to be another spectacular day.  And it will be a busy one.  I mean. . . it is Monday after all.  The start of another work week.  

Sunday, April 14, 2024


"You like you are at the beach a lot."

"I haven't been to the beach for awhile."

"You look like you surf."

"It's the bleached blonde hair, I think."

We'll come back to that.  

It was another beautiful day.  Bright.  Brilliant.  Everything you could ask for.  I wanted to go places, do things.  Fun things.  Serene things.  I wanted to saunter.  I wanted to be groovy.  So after coffee and writing, I grabbed my Leica with the roll of black and white slide film I seemingly will never finish and headed out the door.  Long walk.  I decided on the streets running behind the Boulevard.  Small streets, short streets, not big ones.  Some were mere alleyways behind the shops lining the Boulevard.  Here and there I would see something to shoot.  I walked a good long way before I turned back to walk through the park toward the Farmer's Market.  Crowds of people milled about among the cut flowers, fresh vegetables, breads and cheeses.  I was out early.  The air was still a bit chill.  I was bouncing along fine.  

Gym, shower, lunch.  I needed to go to Home Depot to buy an S-trap for the sink in the guest bathroom.  Mine is leaking.  It is corroded and I am not sure how to get it apart without screwing something up.  Tennessee looked at it and said he could fix it in ten minutes.  He told me to get the parts.  He is going to replace a threshold at the apartment, too.  

It is a mistake to send me for parts at the Home Depot.  I have no f'ing clue what I am doing.  I stood around in the plumbing isle for a longtime looking at things.  They were fascinating, but I had no idea what anything was.  I stood long enough that one of the employees came over to ask me if I needed help.  I told him what I was looking for.  He showed me the PVC pipes.  Then he took me to the metal ones.  Thee were other things he said I'd need to attach them.  Since I didn't know what I needed or wanted, he told me to buy them all and bring back the ones I didn't use.  Good idea.  

I did the same thing with thresholds.  Bought three of them.  I am pretty certain that none of them are right.  

Laugh if you will, but I figure sending me to Home Depot to get parts is like me sending Tennessee into a classroom to teach Faulkner.  

"What the fuck, it's easy.  It's an introductory course.  Just have fun."


Across the parking lot was a Racetrack gas station.  I pulled in.  Just as I got out to pump the gas, an old car pulled up behind mine.  A fellow stuck his head out the window and said, "Do you mind if I ask you a stupid question?"

I shook my head and grinned.

"Would you like a home theater?  I've got an extra one."

I kept grinning and shook my head no.

"What?  You're kidding."

"No thanks."

He was kind of pissed off at that and said a few things as he pulled away.  Fucking crooks are everywhere.  Certainly he was a thief.  At the very least, a scammer.  

I headed for the REI store.  I had some coupons in my pocket and I was feeling outdoorsy.  It was that kind of day.  

When I walked in, I heard a voice call my name.  I turned.  It was Travis and his wife. He was in the market for some river shoes.  He was going rafting with his brothers down the Green River soon.  I drifted through the store to the men's department.  I looked at shirts, shorts, shoes. . . and I don't know. . . it was just all overwhelming.  Too much stuff to look at, too much that I wasn't interested in, too much that wasn't right.  It seemed they made things for everybody who wasn't me.  

Travis didn't buy his river shoes, either.  

Back into the gorgeous day, I decided to drive to one of the more mysterious places I knew of in town.  I am not entirely sure what it is.  I stumbled upon it one day riding my bike around.  It is a plant store. . . sort of.  When they first opened, there was a coffee shop inside.  There were seats.  But that's all gone now.  It is in a huge warehouse building that once housed the most famous seafood supplier in town.  

The sign is still there though the seafood place moved to a new location years ago.  But it and the building were landmarks, so, I guess, the owners left the signage.  I've always been impressed that, unlike most places, they used the apostrophe.  It isn't a good sign, though.  The fonts are all off.  

It is difficult to get to this building.  You have to really want to go, and it is a mystery to me how people know the new business is here.  As I say, the building is huge, and now they do events, weddings, parties, etc.  When I first came upon it, I wrote here that it was like discovering one of those fantasy businesses somewhere off 4th street on the waterfront in Berkeley, a place with marionettes and tarot cards and Japanese papers, expensive futons and exotic cloths and essential oils, and you don't know what the hell the place is but you love it.  

Yea.  It's like that.  

When I pulled into the parking lot, there was an addition, a small trailer with an umbrella and some outdoor seating and a sign that said, "Everybody Welcome."  

I grabbed my Leica and walked over to take a photo.  A group of people were just sitting down.  They looked at me and said, "Nice camera."  A man came around from the other side of the trailer and handed a woman a big bowl of something.

"Have you tried this?  It is delicious."

"What is it?"

"Shaved ice.  He has an old machine that grinds the ice very fine."  

The woman held out her bowl for me to photograph.

I walked around the trailer to see what was on the other side.  

The whole thing was screwy.  The serving side was facing away from the lot and the road where you couldn't see it.  While I was looking at the menu, the fellow in the trailer said, "Mahalo."

"Hey, man. . . pretty cool."

"Have you had one before?"


"Let me give you a taste," he said.  

"I'll come back in a minute after I shop inside," I said.  People were starting to line up to order.  

I wandered around the big warehouse just looking and chilling.  I decided to buy a candle.  "Gypsy Summer."  That sounded right.

Back outside, I put the candle in the car and went over to the shaved ice cart to make an order.  There was a bit of a line.  There was a couple in front of me.  They ordered and walked away without bowls.  It was my turn.  

"I'm back."

"What are you going to have."

"I'll have the chef's special."

There was no such thing, but he knew what I meant.  

"Do you like mango" he asked?


"Condensed milk?"


"I'll bring it over to you."

He didn't ask me for any money.  

I turned and saw an unexpected seating area in the drive on the side of the building, teak chairs and lots of plants.  The couple who ordered before me was wandering around with their phone.  

"I don't want to mess up your photo," I said pointing to a chair.

"No. . . we're just, no. . . " they said and smiled.  "Oh. . . that's a cool camera."

"Thanks, yea."

More people got in line to order.  My new friends and I sat down to wait.  In a bit, a woman walked past us down the drive to the back of the building, then back up.  I heard her say something to the seated couple.  She had a strong accent, but I couldn't tell where she was from, but like everybody here, she looked pretty "hip."

The woman stood up out of her chair and was walking the foreign woman to the front of the building to show her the entrance, but I had the feeling the foreign woman wasn't retarded and had seen the entrance when she pulled up.  

"Are you looking for the fish market?" I asked.  


"This isn't a fish market any longer.  The fish market moved."  I told her how to get there.  I looked at the female half of the couple and said, "It's weird that they still have the seafood sign showing but nothing of their own.  How do people even know they are here?  How do all these people know about the shaved ice?"

"The ice truck used to be in a different place.  He just moved here a couple weeks ago.  He was over on. . ." 

It had been in the back yard of a house that was a sort of hippie store.  I'd been there one night when they had music.  I remembered seeing the trailer there as she spoke.  I took a photo of it that night that I have somewhere."

"We found out he moved on social media," said the male half of the couple.  

I was a little weirded out by this.  What pages are they going to?  I don't know.  I find out about everything a day late.  I miss all kinds of things that other people know about.  Earlier in the day, I had a text from an old buddy asking me if I was going to the Gardens that night.  I had no idea what was going on there.  

How do people know?  

In a bit, the shaved ice guy brought the couple their bowls.  Then he brought mine.  He stood looking at the Leica.  

"Cool camera," he said.  "Do you take film?"


"What do you photograph?"

Now there was a question.  

He chatted a moment then ran back to the trailer and the waiting line.  

I took a photo of my chef's special, then I took a bite.  Holy moly.  

I'll just say it was good.  Really good.  You should get one.  I'm not kidding.  The ice is shaved as fine as ice cream.  It was perfect for the day.  

I got busy with my phone texting photos to friends telling them about the place.  I ate and chatted with the seated couple.  It took a while to eat the big bowl.  It was surprisingly filling for being a big bowl of shaved ice with a bit of topping.  After I had licked the bowl clean, I went up to pay.  

"I don't have a card machine.  I have Venmo and. . . " he pointed to his sign with the scan codes on it.  "You don't look like you're into tech, though," he said.  

What?  What does he mean?  Was he calling me old? 

"How about cash," I said pulling out my rubber band wallet.  We chatted a bit more and I told him I'd be back.  Saturdays and Sundays.  

"Mahalo," he said.  

It was still bright and beautiful, and I had other places I wanted to go, but it was time to see my mother.  She wasn't feeling so well, she said.  Some days now, she just feels done for.  It is usually after she has done something physical like cleaning house or taking a long walk.  

"I'm going to get you some Pedialyte," I said.  "I have a feeling you need electrolytes.  I'm betting when you feel like this it would pick you right up."

I stayed and talked the usual hour and she seemed to be picking up a bit.  I felt bad leaving, though.  I think she misses having the 24/7 company of my cousin.  When I left, I hugged her and told her I loved her.  

I had decided on having a light dinner, so I headed off for Fresh Foods to get a poke bowl to take home.  The route took me by the Gardens.  There was a guard at the entrance and a sign that said "Tonight's Performance Is Sold Out."  It didn't say what the performance was, so I asked Siri.  It was an outdoor jazz festival on three stages set around the fifty acre park.  So this is what my buddy had been asking me about.  The town is jumping for sure.  How can one keep up?  The big Film Festival started this weekend.  There are events on the Boulevard, and even a Duck Derby in the preserve near my house.  What the Duck Derby is, I don't really know.  Maybe there is gambling involved.  There were these things and the big charity golf tournament I had seen earlier when I drove by on my way to the Home Depot.  There are festivals far and wide.  

Back home, back on the deck, back to the cat and dinner together once again.  

"Should I go out, Scar, or was that a good enough day?"

It had been a good day.  It was what I needed.  What I wanted.  

Later, I would turn on the television to SKY t.v. and watch Iran's missiles over Israel.  I would watch that and I would make mistakes later on.  

But that is for some other time.  I don't wish to spoil the report of a marvelous and miraculous day. 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Dinner on a Golden Day

The weather was beautiful.  After a brief workout, I lay by the pool for an even briefer 20 minutes, ten per side.  It was lovely.  Then home to get cleaned up and eat a salmon salad sandwich., drink water which I then turned into wine, and scan more film.  It was early-ish when I went to mother's.  We sat outside and drank a beer.  I wondered what I might eat for dinner.  I had two invitations to go out, but as reported, I have been living a quiet life.  And that is what I told each of my friends.  I wasn't in the mood for rowdy boy company.  

When I got home, I drank a Campari on the deck with the cats.  It was nowhere near dark as the sun doesn't set here until very late now.  Though I didn't want boy company, I also didn't feel like sitting home alone with another solitary meal.  I thought I looked swell, so I jumped in the car and headed the half mile to my favorite Italian restaurant.  It would surely be crowded.  I had no hope of finding parking nearby nor a seat at the bar, but I was chill about it.  I'd be good.  

But I did find nearby parking.  "Score," I thought.  And walking up the street, I saw two seats at the outside bar--which a couple nabbed just before I got there.  The inside bar was full, too.  I stood behind a group of people who were standing and sitting and milling about in a general Friday night way.  The barmaid, not one I am on kibitzing terms with, smiled and mouthed, "Can I get you something."  I don't think she actually spoke.  I ordered a Chianti Classico.  The wine is rough in the mouth, and though I never buy it for the house, I almost always have it here.  

"Do you want to keep the check open?" she asked.  

"Yes.  When I can get a seat, I'm going to eat."

The man standing before me was wearing some hideous fashion version of a Hawaiian shirt, probably from Tommy Bahama.  He was loud and animated, but to be friendly I said to him, "I think I am on your tab now."  He didn't laugh.  He just turned and looked at me, then turned away.  


But in a minute he said, "Those women are hairdressers.  They are going to leave in a minute.  They have to go back to work."

"O.K.  Thanks.  It's a nice evening.  I'm chill."

In a minute, one of them got up.  The man turned to me and said, "One of them just left.  You'd better hurry.  You can't sleep around here."

I nodded and sauntered the few feet down the bar.  The man yelled down, "Did she leave?"

She had.  I smiled and slid in next to a pretty, petite woman in a black skintight dress and what I must say were the most beautiful tats on her hand I have ever seen--and I am not a fan.  She smiled at me and turned away to face her friend.  Her back would remain turned to me for the rest of the night.  On the other side of me were two women that the man in the hideous shirt had been chatting up.  They were the typical 50's matrons in this town, not unattractive but of the well-worn mindset of their social clan.  Now that I was seated, I asked the barmaid for a menu.  I wanted something light.  I scanned the menu, but nothing jumped out at me.  

"What can I get you," she asked when she returned. 

"I can never pronounce it.  I'll have the chicken scarpialan something or other."

She laughed.  "Yea, I know what you mean."

The women on my left were talking about hair.  The one on the other side of the girl in the black dress was big and loud.  A short Italian man with grey hair walked over to greet them.  I heard the big girls say she just had a hip replacement.  On my right, the man with the hideous shirt was talking to the women about tennis.  

"Oh, I play a lot of tennis.  I did."

"Where did you play?"

He told them.  Then he pointed to the vertical scars on each knee.  He had fallen down the steps at the club, he said, right on his knees.  His patellas were pushed up to his thighs.  He'd had surgery.  They had re-attached his tendons and ligaments.  He had been in leg braces for five months and had months of therapy.  I looked him over.  He didn't look like an athlete.  He looked like a guy who had never exercised much in his life.  It wasn't just his legs.  His entire body looked bloated and soft.  His pot belly hung inside his Hawaiian shirt like a tub of guts.  His face was fat and bloated.  

"I was really pretty good," he said.  I doubted that.  He had a face that couldn't quite seem to smile.  When he tried, or at least I thought he tried, it came as a grimace.  

"Have you tried paddle ball?" one of the women asked.  

"No.  I've seen it.  It is a stupid game," he spat.  

"Oh. . . it is a social thing.  It is fun."

The woman who said that had apparently spent a lot of time in the sun.  Her bare arms showed it.  She was from West Palm Beach, she said.  So.  A piece of the puzzle.  Not Palm Beach.  The other side of the river.  She said she played tennis.  She was on a team.  I wasn't familiar with the concept.  The man in the hideous shirt said his sister played on a team.  Did she know her.  They kibitzed about that for a bit.  

Just then, the barmaid brought me some bread and olive oil with Basalmic and smiled.  I mention the smile because the other barmaid was the strikingly beautiful one with the killer eyes who seems to hate me.  She will be friendly to other patrons, but when she looks at me, she just nuts up.  She has never smiled at me once.  She was definitely not going to serve me.  I have no idea why this is, but it is.  Maybe one day I'll ask her.  

The woman from West Palm turned to me and picked up the menu beside me.  She looked, then said, "Oh, I thought this was the food menu."  

"I just gave it back," I said.  

"You got bread.  That looks good."

I slid the tray toward her.  "Here," I said.  

"Really?  You don't mind?"

"If I eat all that, I'll be big as a house.  Well, I already am, but, you know. . . two houses."

"Oh, no you are not," she laughed.  "Thank you," she said as she dipped in.  "What did you order?"

"I can never say it."  And I repeated my messed up version of the name.  Then her friend said it correctly.  

"I love that," she said.  I nodded.  

Just then, the barmaid brought my plate of food.  

"Oh. . . that DOES look good."  

The girls on my left were still talking about hair, something about a foil, two foils and color. . . .

"I think you should just charge by the hour.  That's a complicated thing.  I want to make at least one hundred dollars an hour," said the one with the new hip.  

"I love my job," said the pretty girl with her back to me.  "There is only one other thing I would enjoy doing." 

She wanted to learn to be a tattoo artist.  She was going to buy a machine.  They were fairly expensive.  She wanted to do small tats, little things like hearts.  She needed people to practice on.  

"You can practice on me," said the girl with the new hip enthusiastically.

"I could just do these little tattoos on my day off, on Mondays, and make like a thousand dollars."

On another night, I might have been in misery sitting between these conversations, but I wasn't.  The late afternoon/early evening was beautiful.  I wasn't putting out any energy jousting with the boys.  I was just chilling, eating dinner, and drinking wine among the throng.  

Just then, down the bar, the couple I saw last time I ate here took two chairs.  It was the woman with the tight, shiny skin.  She was facing me now and I could see that she was attractive, at lest from this distance.  Her face was distinctive, the sort you would remember seeing.  She looked at me for a moment then looked away.  

I signaled the barmaid.  

"Could I get a Sambuca please?"

I looked around.  The sidewalk tables were full.  People were standing in line, waiting.  I checked my phone.  It was 7:30.  The sun was still shining.  O.K.  I called for my check.  I was glad I came out.  And without a girl of my own, I was glad I had come alone.  I felt good, relaxed.  

That night, I had the most wonderful dreams.  I didn't wake up, but I remember them, remember smiling in my sleep.  I want to keep that vibe going today.  I just want to keep smiling.