Sunday, August 9, 2020

A Day in the Covid Life

  

I managed to get out the house yesterday, indeed, out of my zip code.  It was a Herculean feat, really, for I lingered long in languorous routine, unable to muster reasonable interest in the great beyond.  I waited too long, really, not deciding to leave the house until after eleven.  That is the time to be finishing activities here in the brutal August weather of the tropics, not starting them.  But in a flash, I grabbed camera bags, film, lenses, sunscreen, a hat, and a can of water, and headed out for a beach town.  

My idea was that I would find the old world, the old south, and make wonderful photographs that would be the envy of others.  I've lived here a lifetime, and I've traveled these roads forever, but even forever changes.  Roads are widened, stop lights installed, the old gives way to profit, budget apartment complexes, shopping centers, Home Depots and Walmarts. . . nothing I couldn't photograph in my own hometown.  

The beach town to which I traveled is a hillbilly place full of crackers and rednecks, coke whores and crack addicts.  They are either working class or part of the welfare state.  The beaches are not peopled by the leisure class.  Rather, they are lined with those low stucco 80's style four or five story condos of unimaginative design, the stucco smeared with water stains, long walkways and balconies falling apart from poor drainage and construction materials, everything done on the cheap without imagination.  

It was after noon when I arrived.  I parked a couple streets over from the beach and walked the small downtown realizing immediately that I would not be photographing what I had imagined.  The thing is, the place looked like it always has, just ugly, worn buildings filled with restaurants and bars.  Mexican, Tex-Mex, and Italian restaurants were on ever other corner.  Bars with Irish names and sticky, modern counters where people sat on high, backless stools.  Surf shops, and stores full of gimcrack.  

And Trump.  Everywhere you looked--Trump.  

Eventually, I made my way to the beach.  Packed, as were the beach bars.  Masks here and there, but no in abundance.  There probably have not been many Covid-related deaths here.  You can see why small towns across America say the pandemic is a media event.  You can't shut down beaches where people don't believe you.  

By god, it was hot.  Scorching.  From a boardwalk in the dunes, I looked out upon the beachgoers huddled under umbrellas and small portable shelters, sticky, sandy, sweaty. . . snacking.  They surely snacked.  You could see that without watching them eat.  The things they wore. . . well, I am not in the mix, but wow!  

I got back into my car and drove south to the old Air Force Base on the beach.  They had some old rockets and airplanes on display by the highway that I thought to take pictures of.  

Nope.  Gone.  Nothing but vast fields and and airstrips.  Blankness.  Nothing.  

I drove further.  I thought to drive by my ex-grandmother in law's house.  She surely would not be alive any more, but I wanted to see the house where I spent many weekends with my wife.  

I couldn't find it.  I couldn't remember where to turn.  Everything was different.  The old landmarks were useless.  

I drove by the place I used to camp in my VW bus next to the beach.  It had been a large stand of Australian pines that sheltered the van from the sun.  I would take my surfboard and a Coleman lantern and a sleeping bag.  I would surf, then use the outdoor shower at the surf shop down the road.  I would go to Lums on the beach with its big glass windows and schooners of beer in icy mugs and their famous beer steamed chili dogs.  

Gone a long time ago. 

I decided to head home.  

But I hadn't eaten anything but a bowl of cereal with Biblical grains early in the morning.  I'd only brought a can of water with me.  I wanted to eat something.  Dare I say?  I had some mania for an Impossible Whopper.  I kid not.  What can I say.  And so, if I saw a Burger King, I would drive through.  Otherwise, it was a hungry drive home.  

I drove through town.  Nothing.  I drove through the big intersection to the main highway.  Nothing.  I was headed out of town toward the port and the toll road home, the road lined with small businesses, convenience stores, scuba and bait shops, Gentlemen's Clubs.  Just before the port, a Wendys.  Nope.  Then a McDonalds.  Nope.  That was it, but wait!  The last business before the highway--Yes.  

I got special sauce all over my shirt and pants on the drive home.  But man, that was good.  Best of all, afterwards, there is no burping up of the animal fat, no tasty belching that makes you wonder.  

And a cherry Coke.  

I stopped by mother's since her house was on my way home.  It was earlier than I usually go over and sitting outside was oppressive.  I thought I was getting whiffs from he garbage can, but it was me.  I smelled like a day old pizza.  Mid-afternoon.  Windless misery.  

First thing when I got home, I showered away the stench of the day.  God, I swore, never again would I go to that beach, that town.  It is the place where stupid goes to never die.  Ugly zombie life.  More soap.  More hot water.  

Now comes the bad part of the story.  What, you ask?!?  I thought that was the bad part.  Well. . . it should have been.  But after the late day Whopper, I wasn't all that hungry.  I decided to make a salad concoction out of diced cucumber, split cherry tomatoes, slivered red pepper, and garbanzo beans topped with feta cheese, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  I made a really big bowl.  

And ate it all.  

I was tired by nine and could barely keep my eyes propped open.  I was watching videos about the cameras I want to buy though after the photo day I just had I wondered why.  And then it hit me.  My stomach started to rumble and spasm.  Cramps.  Holy smokes. . . I guess I'd eaten a lot of fiber for one day.  A scotch would have helped, I am certain, but I am not drinking right now as my consumption has become outlandish, so I drank a big glass of water.  Oh, boy, that was dumb.  

Sleepy and crampy and miserable, I went to bed, ending a perfect day.  

The sun is shining.  I should get out and make some pictures of another hideous place.  I know one close by, a highway full of used tire shops, used appliance stores, a Salvation Army, and some dollar stores.  I should get there before the crowds.  

Saturday, August 8, 2020

A Productive Morning. A Fanciful Night.

  

I am not myself this morning.  Last night, I nibbled on a brownie that a friend had given me.  Just the tiniest of nibbles, for I know how that stuff affects me.  I did it before dinner, and of course, it didn't hit me until well after.  I was sitting on the couch when it began to hit my head.  I would have preferred something more body oriented instead, but this was just a head thing.  

O.K. 

So I sat back on the leather couch to watch some t.v.  Unfortunately, I watched seven episodes of the new "Perry Mason" in three nights and there was only the season's finale left, but I would have to wait until week's end for its release.  What then?  YouTube.  Cameras.  Medium format digital cameras.  I've decided that I want a Hasselblad, but there are two models, each compelling.  One is simply a beautiful and wonderful camera.  The other is unique and has a digital back that will fit on any film Hasselblad camera, but on its own it is gorgeous.  They are expensive.  And the lenses are more so.  I watched videos that compared them to the Fujis, then I watched videos about them alone.  I watched Hasselblad's ads about them.  They are too expensive.  They lack many modern functions I would want.  

I decided that I should get both of them.  

That is what I decided after eating another bite of brownie before I took myself to bed.  All night long, it was me and those Hassies.  They were great.  I had them both.  Everything was trippy.  

This morning, I am sluggish.  I don't know how people who are habituated to brownies function.  I feel like Brad Pitt in "True Romance."  Feel. . . not look.  

I've decided to see if I can find one to rent for a couple days to try out.  The camera, not the brownie. Maybe that will dissuade me from making a purchase.  Or maybe it will inform me.  Either way, that is the plan.  

Or, I might eat another brownie and just order one.  Or both.  

Before the brownie fiasco, though, I had a pretty productive day.  I got up, read, wrote, prepared the house for the wrecking crew, then exercised.  I was showered and out of the house by eleven as that is when the maids were coming.  I had cleaned my car out of excesses, too, and so I headed to the car wash to have my newly repaired auto cleaned.  I stepped up a notch to the hot carnauba wax.  Carnauba is the wax hardener I use in my encaustic pieces, so I have an affiliation.  

After the car cleaning, I went to the photo store and dropped off some film for developing, then went to the bank to deposit a check.  I went through the drive-through, of course, and it was thrilling to be able to let my driver's side window down rather than pulling forward and opening the door a crack like the hillbilly I have been.  Oh, yes, I was proud as punch, as Hubert Humphrey used to proclaim. . . proud as punch.  

Then it was off to do some much needed marketing.  The grocery store was fairly empty, and I followed the arrows as I made my way up and down the aisles.  Every aisle.  I was feeling almost normal.  

When I got home, the maids were gone and the house was sparkling.  A clean house and a clean car at one and the same time.  I felt it a golden moment.  

After I put the groceries away, I ate the three pieces of fried chicken I had bought at the grocery deli.  Don't judge me!  I hadn't had such fare in many, many months.  I wolfed them down.  And then. . . I fairly wished I hadn't.  To settle my stomach, I ate some jellied candies I had bought, too.  

I lay down for a minute and an hour later, I got up.  

I read an article in the current issue of Vanity Fair about Ghislain Maxwell.  She's in trouble for "grooming."  I was interested in what that means.  It seems an indeterminable term to me.  Apparently it means befriending with intent.  Oooo. . . she's in trouble now. 

When that was done, all that was left was to go over and visit with my mother and watch the afternoon storm roll in.  

And now you are caught up.  

I keep trying to photograph an old fashioned barber shop, but they are all modernized now.  What the hell does that bird have to do with a haircut?  Still, it is cool.  Murals like these have been popping up all over town for a couple years.  The city sanctifies them.  I guess it is supposed to placate the graffiti gangstas.  I don't really know.  

The sun will shine for the next couple hours.  So they say.  I should get some cameras ready and go take more pictures of emptiness and nothing.  I am getting better at it, or at least I have more theories and philosophies around how to do it.  Lately I've realized that I should photograph the space around the object and not the object itself.  If that makes sense.  

I should go now and give it a try. 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Bland

 

Have I told you how much I hate this new Google Blogger format?  It was created for frustration.  It is the Covid version of the old one.  

The only thing as boring as hearing about someone's hopes, dreams, and desires is. . . well, maybe nothing.  I almost fell into the trap here, but saved us at the last moment.  

Whew. 

Let's just hear about what happened, see.  Tell us a story, woncha?  Or give us some good critical analysis. 

I don't have much of that today.  Nothing happens that is of great or reasonable interest.  I got the new washer yesterday.  It's a real, cheap dandy.  There is nothing exciting about a washing machine.  

I got my car back yesterday, too.  My travel/art buddy took me to get it, so I didn't have to walk.  The price of things is always more than you expected unless you are shopping at Aldis or Trader Joes.  The $445 washer cost over $600.  The car was over $700.  That's a fine day.  At least the washer is new.  When I picked up the car, I was excited to drive it home like it was a new car.  It wasn't.  Same old car, only with good brakes and a driver side window that now works.  

So let me load you up with pictures from my walk back from the repair shop two days ago.  Many of my Covid walks have been down the same streets I walk ever day, the most beautiful ones.  The walks were pleasant for months.  But the beauty, though still present, was disappearing from my sight.  I needed new streets, new things.  

There are a lot of streets you can walk in four miles.  There are many ways to go, and though perhaps not as beautiful, they often many surprises.  

The walk back from the auto shop was brand new.  I walked down a major transportation artery for quite a way, six lanes with a medium, a hundred stop lights, new business offices, giant apartment complexes, and old buildings that were built long ago when the road was less travelled.  I took photos all along the way, but they looked just like what you see from the car, just that drab commercial landscape built for expediency and profit.  

As soon as I could, though, I turned off into a small industrial strip that led to the neighborhoods I was familiar with. 

At a large building with no real identification about what went on there or who was inside, I spied this weird statue of a buck, back arched, neck stretched long,  in the middle of some ancient, primal howl.  From the look of those antlers, he is desperate to attract a mate.  The statue was hideous, and I had to wonder who would have thought to buy such a thing.  I couldn't see into the big, reflective plate glass windows, and there were probably people watching me photograph the buck just on the other side who wondered why someone would take a photograph of such a hideous thing.  As always, I expected someone to come out and yell at me for taking pictures.  

"Oh, hi, yes, well. . . you see, I'm from the Antiques Road Show, and I wonder, do you have any idea what this thing is worth?!?"  

As I say, this is an industrialized area and not a desirable part of town, for residences but just a block away, across from another industrial building, there was a residential property with a. . . what do I call it?. . .  a tall sign declaring "ART" in the backyard.  I think it was the backyard.  What the hell, I wondered, is this the residence of an artist or of someone named Art?  I may go back one day to find out.  I'll stand outside and yell, "Art. . . Art. . ." until someone comes out.  

While I was on the highway, as I passed under the train tracks that ran overhead, I saw this. 

A hobo camp!  What a place to live, I thought, in the great southern summer heat and humidity.  The mosquitoes must be terrible at night, and who knows what other biting insects.  Well, at least there was shelter from the rain.  I took a couple pictures, but I didn't stay long.  I had no desire to strike up a conversation with the resident.

The August storms have come, and they are intense.  The lightning strikes, according to everyone, are worse than ever.  My neighborhood newsletter was abuzz about a particular strike the other night that seemed to have the same impact as the Beirut explosion, rattling houses for far too long.  It seemed an earthquake, everything in the house rattling and shaking.  People speculated much about what it might have been.  I was on the phone with my mother right after it happened, and each of us wondered if something hadn't exploded.  

Last night, lightning and thunder lit and rattled the house for a very long time.  

Now I must prepare for the wrecking crew.  I get to wash my sheets in the new washing machine.  That is about it for excitement in my drab existence.  But drab, I think, is a blessing right now, for far worse is on the horizon.  The Armies of the Night are on the move.  

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Luxury



The new Blogger is shit.  I can't control it.  Many of the functions do not work.  I don't think Google wants to support blogs any more.  So it would seem.  

But onward.  My day went pretty much as planned but f,or one thing--my car had to stay in the shop overnight. The master cylinder for the breaks won't be here until today having to be imported from another city across the state.  I wonder about that.  Is my 2005 Xterra that old?  Would the dealer have told me the same thing?  

I told them to fix my driver's side window, too.  The motor went out.  I haven't been able to roll it down for six or seven months.  There have been times when that is embarrassing.  It also means I can't roll down the window and shoot pictures from that side.  So I'm in for a heavy repair bill.  

I walked home from the repair place.  It wasn't so bad.  As a matter of fact, it is what I need to do more of, not for my health, but as a photographer.  The world surprises you with things you never would have seen.  Photography in the world is about what they used to call "shoe leather."  Now it is whatever toxic material they make the soles of most shoes from.  But you have to put in the miles, I think.  The world looks different from street level.  I will be showing you some of my surprises in the coming days.  

So I look forward to getting my car back in good shape.  I will drive to far away places to walk and make pictures.  So I think, anyway.  Not having a car is a bit strange, of course.  I don't go anywhere except to my mother's and to the grocery store in the Time of Covid, and am usually home alone all the live long day, so what difference did not having a car parked outside make?  Psychological.  I was trapped, or so it seemed.  I am part and parcel of the Car Nation.  In Europe, it would be different.  But here?  

Today's photo is another of the little shotgun shacks that made up the community across the tracks from the "other" part of town.  They are disappearing.  Good or bad?  No such thing.  It is simple economics.  Greed rules.  My ex-wife is one of the gentrifiers of that part of town.  She and her husband have bought up several of the old buildings and have brought them up to speed, so to speak.  He is a builder and now, I guess, a developer.  

I was in Mexico with my Yosemite buddy eons ago to climb Pico de Orizaba.  In a nearby town, we met a couple other climbers who worked for Outward Bound, like my buddy, but in Colorado rather than Cali.  They, too, were there to climb the mountain, so we decided to go together.  When we got to the hut, it turned out that someone had stolen my climbing boots, and I would not be able to go.  The morning of the climb, however, the weather was so treacherous that the three of them made it only part way up the mountain before turning back, so in the end, I had really missed nothing.  A year or so later, I went with my buddy again, and we climbed it in fine fashion.  

After the failed attempt, we were invited to visit the fellow we had hired to watch our packs at the bottom of the mountain.  His home, it turned out, was a shack on the side of a cliff with a great view of the valley below.  He was nervous when we got there, but he took us in and introduced us to his wife and children.  Their lives were pretty primitive, without many of the luxuries we take for granted on a daily basis.  As we sat outside the house chatting, one of the fellows from Colorado began to opine about how this is the sort of life we were rapidly destroying.  He was touting the life of the primitive, the purity of it, etc.  I decided to argue to the contrary.  

"What do you think our host would say if we asked him if he would like the conveniences of a Walmart down there?  Do you think he'd say, no, we do not want those modern conveniences here?  You want to keep him living this way so that you can visit.  It is colorful for you and romantic, but you do not want to live this way yourself.  You just want others to live this way for your own good."  

This kind of set him back a bit.  I might mention that he was a black man, so maybe this was a bit of a double whammy.  

I experienced the same sort of feeling in China back in the early part of the century.  The old Chinese residences were being torn down at the speed of light.  I went into them.  It was the old way of life with shared toilets and alleyways with running water where people spent most of their social time, the places where they got their hair cut and did their laundry.  It is what I wanted to see, to photograph, the idea of China that I got from old movies and filmstrips.  Disappearing.  

I don't think I would have cared to live in them. 

So the shotgun shacks are disappearing.  People are selling them, taking the profits, and going elsewhere.  Who can say if it is "right" or if its "wrong"?  We are losing something historical, perhaps, but who wants to live as a symbol?  Oh, I want them there so that I can drive by and look and make pictures.  They serve my purposes just fine.  But I have hillbilly relatives that live in such places, and I can tell you, they aren't really all that much fun.  

The new washer arrives in a bit.  I need to prepare the area, as they say.  It will have been an expensive week for a fellow who hasn't a job, but I have it better than most.  And, if I'm lucky, I may get my car back today, too.  

I'll be back in the lap of middle class luxury.  


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

My Time Ain't My Time



I'm miserable this morning.  I have to leave in a minute to take my car to the fix-it shop.  My brakes are going out.  The other day, the pedal went to the floor without stopping the car.  Weird feeling.  I was able to pump the brakes and get them to work.  Trouble?  Master cylinder, they say.  But I have to have the car their early.  Worse, I have no way home and will have to walk.  Oh, I walk every day, but when you must, it is no longer a game.  I don't know how far the shop is from my house, but it seems a long way.  I have become accustomed to my leisurely morning routine.  I don't even have time to get through the papers.  Or my pot of coffee.  I will be carless all day.  Now, I don't usually go anywhere in this Time of Covid, but not having the option will be maddening.  

How will I pick up my car, you ask?  I haven't figured that out yet.  I might Uber.  

I bought a new washing machine yesterday.  The $445 washer cost me over $600.  Don't ask.  Once you are there, you just do it.  They will deliver it tomorrow, another day of waiting.  Then Friday, the Wrecking Crew comes.  Three days of. . . of my time being. . . not my time.  Oh, man, it feels like work again.  

And so, I must away.  But before I go, what an explosion in Beirut.  Once the Paris of the Middle East because of its beauty and liberal ways, it is now a burnt out wasteland.  Religious zealotry can ruin anything.  

Right?  

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

A Sucker Born Every Minute



Blogger has changed to a new format that I must get used to.  I may make some mistakes for awhile.  Just so you know.  It seems that the "Preview" button isn't working, so I won't know what my post looks like until it is posted.  

I shared a new story today about cicadas that have become infected with a fungus that acts like LSD in their system, and while it destroys the bottom half of their body, they don't know it and they become little sexual demons who like to mimic the opposite sex like a lot of old gender bending, acid taking hippies (link).  What I got back from an old pal who hasn't lived in town for about twenty years was interesting.  

This reminds me, not sure why, of your counter to Earnest Angley and his send me Jesus money. You come on as the devil with a phone book in hand and randomly choose names from the book for eternal damnation if they haven’t sent tribute. You could have a daily blog distributing depressing or deeply troubling stories to start the day. You could also co-market with despair.com.

I've tried to keep most people I know from hearing about the blog.  It would have done me no good at work, of course, and when people I know read the blog, I can't write about them.  That really cuts out the majority of my interesting stories.  Q faults me for "living in the Bat Cave," but for me, it is better this way.  

I wrote back to my friend, "Uh. . . I'll use that on my blog today."  Indeed, he is the one who should write a blog.  He is far more clever than I.  But so are most of my friends.  

Here's a quick clip to Ernest Angely for those of you who never knew of him (link).  I can't find any videos of him healing the sick, but man, that little fellow was something.  When I first came across him back in the '70s, I couldn't get enough.  That soft talking little fellow would fly off the handle and slap and punch the devil out of people. They would fall down into the arms of his "catchers" and be healed.  The deaf could hear.  The paralyzed could walk.  I'd never seen anything like it.  He was a forerunner of much to come.  Later on, there was another healer, Benny Hinn, who was based right here in my own hometown.  A fellow I hired to work in the video department later went to work filming his ministries around the world.  An M.D. who I played basketball with (he played college ball and was really good) on Saturdays was a real Christian, and he went to work for Benny Hinn, too.  Several of the fellows from the gym got jobs "catching" for him, too.  He was probably the richest of all the faith healers up to that time, but I don't think he would ever have had a chance if not for Ernest Angley.  

Of course they both got into trouble because they couldn't keep their peters in their pants, like many well-known evangelists, and they lost their flocks.  Selavy.  

But I was inspired, and I told my friends that I was going to start a t.v. ministry in which I held up the phone book from different cities across America, and I would randomly select names warning that if they didn't donate to Christ today, they would face eternal damnation.  Tell me, now, would I not have made a fortune?  

Oh, I used to be full of good ideas.  I'm an idea man.  

Fear, despair, and hope.  These are the formula for taking money from the throng.  

Or becoming president. 

"There's a sucker born every minute."  P.T. Barnum. 


Monday, August 3, 2020

The Hurricane That Never Came



I spent the day waiting for a hurricane.  Not really, but I thought that the Weather Chanel couldn't be so far off that it wasn't even going to rain, so I prepared for a day inside.  Stupid.  Really, really stupid.  Never, ever rely on the Weather Chanel.  They are liars pure and simple.  Either that, or they are morons.  It barely rained.  By afternoon, I even saw a patch of blue sky.

It wasn't even a hurricane.

I am not complaining about that.  I am glad.  I'm just pissed that I wasted a day.

But it wasn't really wasted.  I sat at the computer and worked on an idea I have had.  I've always wanted to make pastel photographs.  I lost myself in invention.  I drank coffee and Machadas.  I didn't even eat.  I just kept working at making the colors what I wanted.  It was a long process, but I learned much.  I think I have found a "signature."  I'm not sure how I will use it yet.  It doesn't work for everything.  But there are certain subjects that are ripe for it.  Now I must decide if I truly like the look and when do I use it and how much.  It certainly works for anything that is tropical.

All in all, I am pleased and proud.

In the end, the day was not a waste at all.

This photograph, by the way, is in what used to be the shopping area of the black part of my ritzy town.  Zora Neal Hurston mentions it in "Sweat."  Maybe in other places, too.  I am no Hurston scholar. But it was where "colored people" went to go to "the stomps."  Dances.  For most of my life here, there was a bar where you could buy Colt .45 Malt liquor in the 16 oz. cans for less than a dollar sitting at the bar.  There was a "Gimme a dollar" man who would pester you there.  It was not a place for white people, but they served you if you went.  It has been gone for years, replaced by a yuppy bar in the redevelopment of the area.

This yard is just a block away from that place.  It is the last holdout on this street.  All around it are redeveloped buildings and rich white people places.  I've never seen anyone out in this yard sitting in those chairs, but it always looks impeccable.  One day, I might just inquire.

Tonight and tomorrow are predicted to be rainy.  So it seems.  I will have to go with that.  No photography, but I will have to exercise.  Now that I have a new process, though, I am anxious to see if I can make photos for it.  Pastel Covid Time.

* * * * * 

I wake this morning to the Hurricane That Never Came.  But oh, man, did I prepare.  I started drinking early and watched this last night (link), the story of Leonard and Marianne.  I cried twice, once in the beginning and once at the end.  In between, it was another rollicking ride through the crazy times of sex and drugs and music.

This morning when I got up, made my coffee, and sat down with the laptop, I looked over and saw this.


Apparently, I had a party.  I feel puffy.  Do I look puffy?  I may need to quit drinking.  I don't know what I will do instead.  Just look at the sharp edges of reality all the time, I guess, and become a bore/boar/boor.

Have you noticed that all the lefty columnist are now writing op eds that Sleepy Joe shouldn't debate Crazy Donald?  Yea, the satellite is watching me.  They are following the blog.  They are also warning of making the wrong VP choice.  Again. . . .

Now it is time to make up for yesterday.  I need to move.  Apparently, I have a lot of calories to burn. Until then. . . Selavy.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Murder or Sex and Hurricanes



In school, when we had to eat in lunchrooms at long metal tables, Sloppy Joe day was the best.  Everyone loved those cheap-ass Sloppy Joes, a slather of some unknown but tasty meat-like substance in a zesty tomato sauce served on a big, white bun.  I remember loving them.  They were really good.

Today I realized that I had some ground beef in the refrigerator that I had forgotten to put in the freezer.  It had to be eaten tonight.  I don't know what made me think of it, but I Googled recipes for Sloppy Joes.  It was the menu item du jour.  After visiting with mother, I went to market and got what I needed.

Ingredients: green pepper, onion, ground beef of choice, salt, pepper, garlic salt, Worcestershire, catsup, mustard, and brown sugar.  I used chopped garlic instead.


I was dubious, but it all came together.  And man, it was good.  It was nothing like what I had in school, though.  I don't know if that can be recreated.  Mine was a bit sweet, and I think next time I will cut down on the amounts of catsup and brown sugar.  And I know I will use bourbon.  Bourbon was the missing ingredient.


A simple loaf of bread and some wine, though not the right one for this meal.  It was my first attempt, however.  Next time everything will be mo' better.

Two nights of dishes I ordinarily wouldn't eat.  Carbonara and Sloppy Joes.  Look what happens in the Time of Corona.  You have to find pleasure where you can.

Since March, I have had two meals at my neighbors and two take-out orders with my mother.  I've gotten take-out for myself three times.  That is in six months.  My meals are much better than the take-outs, of course, but I get tired of doing all the prep and cleanup for a serving of one.  I've done that for 180 days or so.  Times however many meals per day.  It is like living in olden times.  That is what I keep thinking about.  If I lived here in the sunny south in the days before WWII. . . well. . . I don't know how they did it.  Reading "Killing Mr. Watson," I marveled at the madness it took to withstand those summer days and nights.  There were few if any luxuries.  All they had was killing and fucking.  The rest was just sheer misery.  So take my whining with a big pinch of salt.  I know.  I know.  I am living in the lap of luxury, even if prices are rising and it is difficult to find everything.  There is still more than enough.

But we know that too much is never enough.

Carbonara and Sloppy Joes modified will become part of my new mix of meals, things to cook when I am feeling low.  They are party foods, even if it is a party for one.

* * * * *

Pow!  Kaboom!  I wasn't even drunk when I wrote that last evening.  I was just excited.  It doesn't take much now.  There has been neither murder nor sex in my life for months, and I'm starting to wonder which will come first.

The hurricane approaches.  It is difficult to determine what will happen by watching the news.  They are driven by profit, and they profit when we stay tuned to the latest provocative forecast.  That doesn't mean the danger is not real, it is just difficult to judge by the melodrama on t.v.

We'll know tonight.  But if this passes off the coast and does little damage, there are other developments off the coast of Africa to watch.  Yes, that is what we do here in the summer.  We watch the slow motion disasters come toward us for weeks, the spaghetti lines of probability moving around from day to day like odds at a the track.  Those of us who have not gone mad with Corona Time will surely be broken by the weather.

I watched this last night (link), a documentary ostensibly about Banksy but really more about the lineage that led to him.  It was quite informative but dry.  If you were anywhere near that scene, though, in any of the decades, you will be better informed by watching it.  It draws a nice distinction between graffiti and street art.  I was not a fan of graffiti, but I always liked street art.  I can better tell you why now.

I got so excited that I texted the drummer from the old band.  His street art style was quite ahead of the curve and had a lot to do with what made us well-known.  He could put up flyers with nothing more than a Neutron Bomb or Bad Jets (our two most "famous" songs) and everyone knew it was us. I had to give him kudos last night.  He sent me some of his recent work at his house near San Francisco.  He says that the neighbors keep taking them down.


I should mention that he has an MFA in photography from the U. of San Fran and taught art before he  went into the tech business.

So that was my pre-hurricane Saturday night party.  I was in bed by ten, my head and belly full.

If I have power, you'll be hearing from me tomorrow.  If not, I'll probably slit my wrists for not having bought a generator like every other person in the neighborhood.  Most of the doctors and lawyers and dentists here have the big ones that are plugged into the natural gas lines and can run the entire house, including the a.c.  The sound of those things chugging when I sit in hot, moist misery will determine weather it is murder or sex that comes first.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

August, the Mundane, and Beautiful Disasters



Welcome to August.  I began writing a blog post last night, but I am going to wait to finish it.  It wasn't topical, not time sensitive, and I want to use a photo that I don't have yet with it.  The one I was going to use is too specific and literal.  Just letting you know that I do think sometimes.  On the rare occasion.

I am late to the party today.  I didn't get out of bed until after eight.  I slept well until four-thirty when some industrial grinding sound woke me up.  I think.  It might have been part of a dream.  I believe that I was awake, though, lying in bed trying to figure out what was going on.  Then the sound went away.  I got up and drank some water and went to the bathroom and went back to bed.  And thought.  Dreamed.  Think/dreaming.  I'd think about something and then come to to another dream wondering how I got there.  Then I'd think and wake. . . . At six, I thought to get up and get the day started, but that is when I fell back to sleep.  Had a hell of a time finally getting up.

In my thinking dreams, I re-imagined my old Polaroid process and wondered why I hadn't tried to apply it to other films.  I knew why, but something occurred to me there in the dark that I mulled over in my half-consciousness.  I couldn't be sure I was making sense, but I was anxious to try it.  Fortunately and impossibly, I remember it all.  How often does that happen?  I think it might be interesting, but odds are very poor that it will yield a good result.  The exciting part is that I was thinking/dreaming of it and remember the whole thing.  So, not a bad restlessness in the end.

Maybe.

I made Carbonara last night.  It is only the second time in my life.  I don't remember the first time, but I'm pretty sure there was one.  I stopped at Fresh Market and bought some slices of freshly sliced bacon, fried them up outside on the grill burner, and crumbled them.  I sautéed garlic in the grease and dumped the cooked spaghetti in with two whipped eggs.  I topped it all with shavings from a block of cheese.  It was pretty darn good, I'd say, but next time I will add red pepper flakes and use an arugula topping.  It won't be long.  But that was my Friday night party.  Dinner for one.

I'm sick of it.

I did something yesterday that I have never done before.  I sold a camera for a profit.  I have made a life of looking for camera bargains and getting them reasonably.  All my cameras and lenses were bought used.  And now, I have so many I can't begin to use them all.  I've been trying during this Time of Covid, but it truly is impossible.  And I want a new camera.  Now that I don't have an income, though, I find myself becoming prudish about spending money.  I had a stern conversation with myself and said that I would have to sell something before I could buy something.  So I put my Hasselblad Xpan up for sale.  Yesterday, I got a good offer and took it.  Yesterday afternoon, I picked up my last roll of film that I shot with it at the photo store and got a twinge.  Why did I sell it?  It is such a rare and unique camera.  As I pack it up to ship it, I have my regrets.  I'm not even sure if I want the other camera now.  I always have buyers remorse, but this is my first experience at seller's remorse.

Still, I made a lot of money.  I wish I were more interested in making money.  I've never been.  I'm more interested in what I can do with it than how to get it.  But I am becoming economically conservative.  I am getting ready to cancel my cable service.  It is expensive and I never watch commercial t.v. except for the news.  Otherwise, everything is on Amazon, Netflix, or YouTube.  I am not willing to pay for the other stuff any more.

And still. . . I hesitate.

Today is bright and beautiful.  It is the day before the storm.  We will begin feeling the effects of the hurricane tomorrow and that will last through Monday.  It is hard to enjoy something so beautiful when you know the disaster behind it, but that, I believe, has been the story of my life.  I've always found beautiful disasters to be irresistible.  That is love, however, and this is weather.  I have PTSD after suffering through Hurricane Charlie who brought so much disaster to my home and checkbook.  When the skies turn dark and the wind picks up, I experience a primal, hard to dispel terror.  The next few days--nay--the next few months, will be very, very rough.

It is late and the day is underway out there.  I can feel it.  I need to pack up my camera and send it on its way to the lucky lad who purchased it.  And then, I need to take my Leica and saunter while the light is good.  I am documenting the mundane and the ordinary.

I mean, someone has to do it.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Infinity



Infinity focus.  That is working for me.  It places objects in the distance, enforces the isolation of the Covid experience.  The world is there but not near, not intimate.  If you can't focus at infinity, you are too close.

I won't see skies like the one pictured here for awhile.  The storms are coming.  Now Hurricane Isaias is headed our way.  I told my mother yesterday not to worry, that this would not become a hurricane. WTF do I know?  In preparation, much of the state is closing its coronavirus testing stations.  In the southern portion of the state, hardest hit by the virus, there is the worry of moving patients in already over capacity hospitals.  Shit gets real.  I may be sorry I didn't buy a generator this year.  Everything in this country is a mess right now.  In some fantasy, we predicted days like these, but that is all it was supposed to be--science fiction.  We thought the Trump presidency would be a disaster, but not this bad.  He is the beast that slouches toward Bethlehem.  In a matter of years, the country went from being the world's leader to existing as a significant catastrophe.  I worry about Trump being given the nuclear codes every day.  He is the King of Fools.

What happens next?

I used to watch movies like "Sorcerer" from the comfort of my home and desire to go to those jungles and sweat and drink beer in rundown bars full of whores and dangerous criminals.  I mean, for a week or so.  And I did.  But I was always able to come home to my "Leave It to Beaver" American existence and marvel at how clean and efficient everything was, how well things worked, what conveniences there were.

Everything was taken for granted.  Now, the grant is up.  We've depleted the account.  More and more, even on t.v., the world looks grim.

I can't see out my windows this morning.  They are fogged and dripping with moisture.  The sky is gray.  This is not promising.  Disease and disaster are everywhere.

But, I think, I've posted a pretty good picture.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

C'est Ci Bon



I made this photo with my phone.  There are very cool apps on it, but the thing is, anyone can do it if they play around with the apps enough.  There are endless combinations.  I just settled on this out of sloth.  I posted it somewhere on the internet, though, and it got more "likes" than my "real stuff."  Maybe I should just stick with iPhone apps.  I mean, I like them, and I like this.  I like grunge.  An image is an image no matter how you make it.  Right?

I work too hard at the "other" shit.  I am swimming against the zeitgeist right now.

I will write my post (mostly, probably) tonight as I have an idea of heading to the coast early in the morning to make pictures.  It will be hard, of course, to leave the comfort of my home, but I feel the need to get out and do more.  There is not guarantee, though.  We shall see.

I went to a store today to look at new washers.  Now I just want to fix mine.  My mother scoffs at me, but it is an idiots work, and I am nothing if not an idiot.  Three screws and a hose.  I know I will fuck up the hose part, but what the hell.  It is a man's work.  My dick will surely grow.

Kidding, that.

I mean, I am a broken machine.  The parts are fragile.  Some are broken.  Nothing works as it should. It is terrible.  But tonight I was watching Anthony Fauci on t.v.  Which one of his eyes is functioning?  One of them is not.  It is like watching an interview with Jim Harrison.  One of his eyes is blind for sure.  He is 79 years old, and though he has access to the best doctors in the world. . . .

I have many more problems than that.

* * * * *

Morning.  I did not finish writing last night.  Or maybe I did.  I don't think I'll be going to the coast today.  I decided to take a walk yesterday despite having a bad left calf.  I was going to wear a brace, but I forgot to put it on and didn't realize it until I was some ways down the road.  It seemed to be doing fine; that is, until I got to the furthest point from home.  I had to walk slowly and baby it all the way back.

When I got out of bed this morning, it wasn't just my calf that hurt.  Apparently, I screwed up my knee walking funny.  It hurts to walk through the house.  Like I said last night, I'm a broken machine. The parts are wearing out.  When will I be able to wander and make pictures again?

The feral cat is weird.  Sometimes she doesn't show up for a day or two, but her boyfriend does.  He is on the deck now, alone, as he was last night at dinner time.  Where does she go?  What does she do?  One would think free food would do the trick.

She's done this before.  She'll turn up.

I'll leave you with a song.  A real rocker.  I heard it on the college channel driving home from mother's.  No head banging now.  Just something sweet, like the romance between Peter Gunn and Edie.


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Dull Light



The washing machine repairman (yes, he was male) came yesterday afternoon.  I paid $98 to have him tell me it would cost almost as much as a new washing machine to repair this one.  I had suspected that, but I didn't think I had any options since the company that makes my machine is in Covid-out-of-stock mode.  When he told me the repair would be $364, I suddenly felt more options.  I asked him what was wrong with the machine, and he said the drain pump needed to be replaced.  I asked him if the chassis needed to be removed to get to it, and he said no, that you could reach it from the bottom once you laid the machine on its back.  It was easy to get to, he said, three screws and on hose.  I will look up the price of the pump online today.  I will also go to a couple stores to look for a new washer that will look o.k. with my dryer.  Right now, I have a matching set.

There is a thing called a "home warrantee" that anyone can get that covers your appliances.  Why I don't have one, I can't tell you.  I've known about them for years.  If I had one, I would have paid $50 for the repair and they would have paid for the rest.  If you don't have one, look into it.

Shit.

Why is it such a priority to bring back professional sports during a pandemic?  Oh, yea. . . those leagues are worth billions of dollars.  They are like big-time pushers.  All those fat boys and wannabe athletes need to plunk down their money for a fix.  I guess.  I have always thought it was weird that they try to make athletes into heroes.  They are, by and large, knuckleheads.  That is being born out in the attempt to reopen leagues.  Those boys (and we are talking about boy sports) can't stay home and follow the rules.  They act like privileged little shits, going to parties and sneaking out to go to strip clubs and, in doing so, are picking up the virus and spreading it around.  What do you expect?  We've been feeding them a steady diet of shit and money their entire lives.

Heroes.

But I guess they can throw better than Anthony Fauci.  Apparently he spent too much time in class.

The tropics have gone gray.  The skies will be cloudy all the live-long day for awhile now.  One storm will be followed by the next one, and the next one.  The Weather Channel casts odious predictions of what could happen, of what might be, in dramatic fashion.  Reporters stand in raincoats as the wind blows sideways.

"Bob, if we can pan the camera over this way. . . you can see how the water levels have risen.  Those steps are not usually underwater.  If the wind gets any stronger, we could see a tidal push. . . ."

"Jesus, come look at this, honey.  We'd better get some disaster supplies.  It seems like we are in for it this time."

For days, sometimes weeks, you watch the spaghetti lines predict where the storm is headed, always hoping it does not head toward you.  This year, nerves already frayed, could be torn apart completely.


Photography: writing with light.  I will need to shift gears.  There will be no shadows.  This dull light will need enhancing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Quiet and Waiting



There is a line in Steinbeck's "Chrysanthemums" that says, "It was a time of quiet and waiting."  That is the time I am living now.  That story was set in the Salinas Valley out near where Q lives.  If you have ever been there, you know that quiet.  There is an emptiness to it, a vast space waiting to be filled.  That is how I feel about the photos I've been taking.  They are stage settings without actors.  The audience watches and waits.

As I will today for the washer repairman.  I don't want to try to fix the washer myself.  I've watched about twenty videos and am not sure if my washer has a belt or not, not sure if I must take apart the chassis or not.  I found a new washer like mine online on sale at the same place I bought this one.  I called to have it delivered as it was probably not going to cost much more than the repair will.  It wasn't in stock, I was told.  How long would it take to get one, I asked?  They were out of stock at the manufacturers warehouse, he said.  Production was slowed due to Covid.  Three months, maybe.  Maybe longer.

Hence the repairman.

I have had to wait a week from the time I called for this repair day to arrive.  This may be his "first visit."  It depends on what he finds, on what parts he has or needs.

A time of quiet and waiting.

I said "his" in referring to the repairman.  It may be a repair person, a "they" or a "her."  I still get stuck in the bad old world.  Anyone should be allowed to do whatever they want.  That used to be a mixed construction, using the singular and the plural pronouns to refer to the same subject.  Not any more.  "They" is now an acceptable way to refer to one.

I wish "they" had done that sooner.  Grammar has gotten much easier.  Most of the things that once were considered "wrong" are now referred to as "common usage."

Yo.

I strained or tore another tendon running on the exercise course yesterday.  This is a strange one on the outer side of my lower left calf.  It felt like something got caught and then clicked just before my foot hit the trail.  The strain was immediate, and because I have had so much practice in hurting myself, I knew not to take another step.  I stopped right away.

Now I cannot walk.  Rather, I should say it is painful to walk.  I can hobble around the house, but walking long distances is not possible at the moment.  This should heal quickly as I did not try to continue running and did not make it worse.  But I will not be out on long strolls making pictures for a few days .

To wit, as I have mentioned, I have not been feeling well of late.  I have had vertigo that won't disappear.  I feel tired all the time and sleep more hours than I should.  I've had some other complications, too, that keep my off my game, so last night, I took an Advil PM before bed.  The instructions say take two, but I take one and it knocks me out.  I slept nine hours last night, and that is after a two hour afternoon nap.  I am still muzzy this morning.

I am a drug wimp.

My car is in disrepair, too.  I hit the brakes the other day and they didn't want to stop the car.  I checked the brake fluid, but that is fine.  It sounds like there is air in the brake lines. I will have to take the car into the shop.  Fine, but how will I get home?  And how will I get back?  I don't want to Uber in a Covid-19 car.  The shop is not so far from my house, really.  I actually would be fine walking the distance, I think, if my leg heals quickly.  And now that I have written the idea, that is what I will probably do.

Probably will do.  That construction is still considered incorrect.  Harrumph.

I got a pretty good yield of photos from my Saturday walk.  Not masterpieces, but nothing to be ashamed about.  I will have to use them here until I am whole again.

In the meantime. . . it is a time of quiet and waiting.

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Yield



I read an article in the Times today--no, not an article. . . I don't know what to call it.  It was just a selection of pictures of celebrities taken from video chats.  Like most celebrities, they had placed themselves in front of bookshelves to seem serious.  The "author" of the "article" then picked out a few books on the shelves to point out.  It is dumb, but here's the link (link).  Maybe this "article" will help some realize that the difference between people and between cultures might be directly related to the books they read (or don't).

I wasn't intrigued by any of their books.

I went walking yesterday in a part of town I haven't gone to much since my accident.  I parked at one end of what serves as the boulevard for this neighborhood, a stretch of shops on either side of the road, and walked to the other end a little over a mile away.  Of course, I had my camera.  You know what they say--"You do best what you do most."  Well, that is what I say, anyway.  It is hard to pinpoint what I do most in the Time of Covid.  But I DO take a lot of pictures.  I do it every day.  Yesterday, walking, I took around fifty.  Out of fifty photographs, if there are one or two keepers, you've done an awesome job.  Maybe you get a keeper out of a hundred or more.  Some you'll like for a minute or two, but later, looking again, you realize that they are not so good after all.  Sometimes it works the other way, something you overlooked you realize was much better than you thought.  But making something you would put "in the book" is really very difficult.

I tell my mother that I go walking with my camera every day, but I have no idea what she thinks of that.  She doesn't see any of the photos I take.  Maybe once in awhile I'll send her something, but she never comments unless there is someone or something in the picture that she knows. She shows me pictures, endless photos from Facebook of babies or relatives doing something somewhere that have absolutely nothing of interest in them except that they are people she knows.  She'll bring the phone over to me saying, "Here's Rodney in Colorado.  He went out to see his kids."  And sure enough, there's Rodney in someplace supposedly Colorado.

Maybe I will send her the picture I am posting here this morning.  She won't say anything about it.  Certainly she wonders why I would take a picture of a wall as would the rest of my relatives.  Sometimes this realization strikes me when I get home and download the pictures I've just taken, and a cold chill creeps up my spine and I begin to wonder the same thing as I look at all those photos that will go into the trash bin.  "What the fuck are you doing?" I will wonder.

People will stand in front of a photograph by Ansel Adams, and they get it.  My mother and relatives would get it.  The same thing with a Clyde Butcher photo.

"Look at those clouds!"

They understand photographs of nature.  But a wall?  A car bumper?  A reflection in a busy window?

In isolating these things though, I see them.  I don't see them otherwise.  In the larger context of our sweeping vision, as we pan across the vast suburban milieu, the crowding of shapes and colors and the small repetition of patterns escapes us, or at least has to be ignored so that we can drive or cross the street without being overwhelmed.  We don't have time to isolate and focus on the pieces and the parts.

That is what I tell myself, anyway, as sit down to take a look at the images from the past day or two.  In the main, I don't do a very good job at isolating and focusing, either.

But sometimes, now, I do.  The yield is getting a little better, I think.

You do best what you do most.

That doesn't mean you are the best, however.  So I keep trying.

My problem is time.  Not that I don't have enough of it, but that the time for good photography is not usually when I am thinking of going out.  Light, you see.  It is really good early in the morning as the sun comes up if the day is clear.  It is best when I am sitting in my house drinking coffee and marveling at the shadows the sun is casting through the blinds in patterns on the floor and walls.  Oh, that is a dandy light, and that would be the time to go out and photograph, not later when I am ready.  My life is too comfortable.

You would think that I could make it out for the sundowner light much easier, but I like sitting on the deck with a cocktail then, watching the shadows of the trees and the perfect blue of the sky deepen.  It is so lovely and emotional.

When I get to the cool places, the sun is overhead, not over my shoulder.  I wish nature would comply with my timeframe.

And that was why I enjoyed the studio.  We could shoot when it was dark, or we could shoot in the middle of the day.  I could control the light then.  It worked on my schedule.

If I want better pictures of this suburban landscape, I am going to need to forego some of the comforts I so enjoy.

Like now,  The light is perfect, but here I sit.  I'll be ready in another hour but this light will not last.

I should have stopped writing six or so "paragraphs" ago.  This last part, this confession, does nothing to add to my claim to be getting better yields.  It is just a confession aimed at an audience of one.  But. . . oh, well. . . another cup of coffee and a croissant now.  I'll get out early tomorrow.

There is nothing that can't be done tomorrow.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Barbarian Days



This photo hangs on a wall in my house.  You may remember it from years gone by.  I kept touch with her and her boyfriend, the photographer, who live in Belarus for a long time, but I wouldn't know how to reach them now.  Belarus is a most repressive state.  Who know what has happened to their lives.

I always liked that photograph and still do.

There are others.

Tonight, I have grilled a beef kabob and some oiled and spiced Brussels sprouts, and I have cooked some jasmine rice.  The evening had enough of a breeze that I decided to eat it on the deck with a bottle of blended red wine by Chloe.  There are some nice blended reds, I think.

While I cooked, the cats came for dinner.  Fed, the neighbor's cat vanished, but the fat feral cat stuck around.  She is jumpy when I move or do anything too quickly, but tonight she came close to ask for more.  I gave her some of the steak from the kabob.  She ate it, then moved into the yard some fifteen feet away to primp and clean and give me the same look I've seen on satiated lovers.

As I ate, a young couple from NYC walked by with their baby stroller.  They are the nicest kids in the  world.  They always pause for conversation.  His parents live around the corner, though I don't know who they are, and the couple has rented a house just up the street in the opposite direction.  They are a handsome pair to be envied, and I don't know why they take an interest in me except that he remembers me from the gym when he was in high school here.  They moved back from Manhattan when the coronavirus hit.  They said tonight that they want to invite me over when it is safe.  I said the baby will be walking by then.  Yes, they said, that could be.  We chatted a bit longer.  They said I looked like I was enjoying myself.  I said "as much as can be expected."  They lingered longer than necessary.  I've fairly fallen in love with the idea of them.  Such things.

Now it is time for scotch.  Q wrote me something that I will steal and paraphrase for my own.  Scotch is like a lover--the sickness and the cure.

L. sent me a book, "Barbarian Days," by a war journalist about his surfing days.  I started reading it before I cooked.  It is one of the reasons I ate outside tonight.  He writes in an essayist's style rather than a poetic one, but the story is good, and it moved me to eat outside. . . in nature.

* * * * *

Q FaceTimed me last night at the end of the last sentence.  I never got back to writing.  Q called to serenade me with his guitar again, I guess, and to criticize my blog on its recent posts.  C- for some, he said, and Fs.  Mostly Fs.

"Well," I said, "that's bad news.  I thought some of them were lovely."

He poured another whiskey.

As I've often quoted, Frost said that "everything must go to market."  It is the place where value is assessed.  It is useless to argue with the market.

The Top 10 U.S. Magazines by Circulation

AARP The Magazine. ...
AARP Bulletin. ...
Better Homes And Gardens. ...
Game Informer Magazine. ...
Good Housekeeping. ...
Family Circle. ...
People Magazine. ...
Woman's Day.
National Geographic
Time

O.K.  Selavy.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Beautiful Friday



How do you turn a better day into a worse night?  Follow me.  I'll teach you.

I've been suffering lately from a physical malaise that might be part mental but has its deeper roots in my physical being.  I think much about late life things, about those I've admired who are gone.  I have no distractions from this, for I am profoundly alone.  You know your status when most of your fun conversations are with the fellows at the liquor store.  They have a rewards system at the one I most often frequent.  I told the clerk tonight that I didn't really know how to check mine, so he looked it up.

"Wow.  You've achieved gold status!"

That's supposed to sound good.

"What does that mean other than I am a drunk?"

He laughed at that.

"That means you get access to the vault."

The Vault?!?!   Holy shit, I've joined some kind of cult, it seems.

"What's the vault?"

"You get to select from special editions produced in small batches by certain distilleries and wineries."

"You mean I qualify to spend even more money on liquor?"

He laughed.

"They are really good."

I don't know if I am a "Vault" kind of guy.  I've never really desired to be part of any special clubs.  I'm really just a Man of the People.

But where are my people?

I took a chance today and bought "craft" tacos from a highly touted place.  I got a couple cans of beer to go with it and headed over to my mother's for lunch while the wrecking crew did their business at my house.  I wasn't sure my mother would eat takeout, but she was like Hoover on the tacos.  Good old mom.

But I had run the exercise course earlier, and I had done one extra lap as I try to waylay my malaise.  It was difficult, but I kept telling myself, "This will keep you alive."  And so, after that and a shower and the tacos and beer outside at my mother's in the deep southern tropical heat. . . I was tired.

I came home, had a digestif scotch (or two), and took a nap.  Waking at five is weird.  The sun was shining.  The air was like a crystal chandelier, just sparkling.  What to do?  It was a beautiful Friday.  I wanted something.  I took a scotch to the yard and strolled the property.  It is not a long stroll.  The cats showed up for dinner, so I gave them vittles and decided to smoke a little cheroot to accent my drink.  I sat on the deck and chatted them up, but they were not in a talking mood.  The neighbor's cat walked along the top of the fence for a bit and disappeared.  The fat feral mooned after him.  Me, a scotch, a gorgeous light, and thinking.

I didn't need the thinking, but there was nothing for it.

The girl of my dreams did not appear.  She seems to slip further into the distance, so much so, I can't make her out at all.  She is a ghost.  She is smoke.

We've all been there, a day so beautiful, you cannot live up to it.  A beautiful day can be the worst thing imaginable if you are not prepared.

I was not prepared.

The beautiful day lingers.  I am home from the liquor store and am drinking a Campari and soda trying to slow things down.  The streets are still.  I imagine people in their houses preparing dinner and drinking wine, chatting with husbands or wives, or if they are lucky, lovers.  There may be children, but again, if they are lucky, there are not.  Perhaps people have gone to work somewhere, or maybe it is just the end of a workweek at home.  Still, it is the weekend, and they may decide to make that special cocktail, the one that signifies release.  Perhaps they will be amorous, wildly if they are lovers, enough if they have been together for a very long time.  They sit down to eat and talk about the virus, about politics, about all the places they want to go.  There is a movie that they will watch together later, and then, in the darkness, they will reach for one another with drunken sensuality.  There may be a final scotch afterwards, and perhaps the unconscious, truncated love whispers before they give way to slumber.

I?  Well, there is that British fellow in the dinghy that I can watch while I eat my dinner, then, perhaps, some episodes of "Peter Gunn."  And then, having had one or two too many scotches, I will walk heavy-footed to the bedroom and fall into my bed, praying not to wake before dawn.

Friday, July 24, 2020

If We Had World Enough and Time



I have decided to let the repairman fix my washer.  I took some clothes to my mother's house yesterday to wash and dry.  When I put them in the dryer, after a couple minutes, there was a terrible thud. A little later, another.  I realized it was the dryer.  My mother looked at me with bug eyes.

"Well, maybe I didn't do as good a job fixing it as I thought.  It sounds like the belt might be doing something funny in there.  Either that or the tub is not seated properly.  I could take it apart again, I guess."

She laughed.

That is pretty much the way with all my repairs.  I always want to get the job done.  I am not patient.  I rely on luck.  When I was a kid, I was the same way with coloring.  My pictures had lots of white space where the crayons didn't hit when I was "done".  When they put them up in the classroom with the other kids', it was pretty embarrassing.  Mine didn't look finished.

And so this morning, I am using the tenants washer to wash the sheets before the cleaning crew comes, and I am in a bit of a rush.  I didn't clean up the house yesterday, and there is very much to take care of.  I don't want to, but I must.

What I want to do is tell you about the movie I watched last night, "First Cow."  Wow.  It is a most subtle movie in every way.  Shot in square frame, it is in large part a series of beautiful photographs set in a dark and muddy landscape.  The edits are slow so that the eye can linger.  The plot is complimentary to the movie's themes.  It is a study in character.

I want to say more, but I don't have time.  It would take much crafting of language and cadence to do the film justice, and I just can't.  Not now.

It is a memorable film that ups the ante on Altman's "McCabe and Mrs. Miller."

That's it.  That's a perfect statement, as concise as I can be.

Now I have so much to do and so little will to do it.  But one must do things in life that one doesn't wish to do.  It does not seem justice, but if we got what we deserve. . . etc.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

No Nirvana



My hippie day didn't get to happen.  My washing machine broke mid-wash.  It started making a terrible noise and would do nothing.  It was on the rinse cycle.  The tub was full.  What to do?  Well, being the handyman that I am, I went online to see what might be the problem.  After looking at a bunch of websites, I called a repair company.  They asked me all sorts of Covid related questions, then said they could come out--Tuesday.  That's a long time for water to stand in the washing machine, so I looked for something with which I could bail it out.  You might think that is not difficult, but the spindle in the middle makes it difficult to put anything very large in the tub.  It took a while to find something thin enough and long enough to get much water in a single dip.  I finally settled on a ceramic wine bottle holder.

It took about twenty minutes to empty the tub.

At which point I thought to experiment.  I plugged the washer back in and reset the cycle.  Holy smokes!  It was working!

Until it filled with water.  Then nothing but the horrible noise.

So I bailed the tub again.  When I got most of the water out, I wrung out the towels and t-shirts and washcloths as best I could and put them in a garbage bag.  But I wasn't done.  I tried another cycle.

Einstein's definition of madness.  Same result.

I went back to internet research.  I learned all kinds of things.  I now know how to get the diagnostics of the washer.  It is a crazy combination of lights on the front of the washer corresponding to letters and numbers.  You do it twice, get two codes, combine them, and then look at the chart.  It may be correct, but no guarantees.  Oh. . . it is different for each type of washer.

I also learned that I wish I had the kind you don't need to take apart to get to the motor.  I don't know if mine is one or not yet.  If I am lucky, all I will have to do is tip it onto its face.  The motor and belts will be exposed from the bottom.  If not, I may have to remove some panels.  Worst case, I will have to remove the entire casing.

I am convinced that the problem is a belt that turns the drum.  There are two belts, I believe.  They are not expensive.  The repairman gets $90 just for showing up and doing the diagnostic.  Then the money clock begins.  The belt is about $20.

I don't really want to fool with it.  There is the disconnecting of the hoses and the little bit of leakage. I have to make sure I get all of the water out of the tub, which I am not sure I can do because this tub has a reservoir where it holds water to stabilize it during the spin cycle.  How much?  I don't know yet.  Then there is the tipping onto a pad so that I can pull it out of the pantry to work on it.  And then, if I am unlucky, I will need to begin to remove the panels.  And then, after all, it might not be a belt.

But I'm betting it is.  Am I willing to bet the time and frustration of trying to fix it myself?

Big Balls in Cowtown?

I have yet to decide.

I took my laundry with me to my mother's and rewashed and dried them there.

That is what happened to my hippie day.

When I got home, I watched The Trump Show.  It is not as much fun now.  They have him on meds, apparently, like Kanye West.  They've got him on the chain.  He's learned how to answer press questions so he doesn't get caught in follow-ups.  There is no real show.

Now begins his resurgence in the polls.  Hell, man, he can identify the elephant in the drawing.  What more could you ask for?

After Abe Lincoln, he's done more for black people than any other president.  He said so.

All I have to do is stay home, wear a mask when I do have to go out, and wash my hands.  That's all I have to do.

I read today that they have a shortage of beer cans.  There are shortages of everything.

I told my mother yesterday that we should be happy about needing to stay home.  If it weren't for this, we would be depressed because we didn't have anything to do at night, no place to go, no one to see.  We would feel like everyone else was happy and having fun while we stayed at home having none.  Now we have an excuse.  It's not us.  It's the virus.

Therein lies my greatest joy now.  It's a hell of a life.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Treasure Chest and The Coming



My father's treasure chest arrived yesterday.  The state sent the unclaimed contents of my father's safe deposit box.  It was heavy.  What in the world, I wondered?  When I opened the box, it was full of coins.

My father had been an investor, you see.  The state had labelled all the coins and put them into separate, thick plastic bags based on their types.  "Walking Liberty Half Dollar--1917."  Etc.  There was a stack of 1964 Kennedy half dollars.  Wheat pennies.  many others.

I went to the internet to see what they might be worth.

Forget about it.  Don't become a coin collector if you are thinking of it as an investment.  The value of the 1917 coin?  $15.00.  It was the highest valued coin of the lot.  I've been selling old Patagonia catalogs that I got for free and never threw away on eBay.  I just sold one for $55.00.  So far, I've made almost $700.00.  No investment.  Just romantic sloth.

But my father saw future wealth in those coins.

There was also a single $25.00 U.S. Treasury Bond issued in 1958.  It was bought for me by my great-grandmother for $18.50.  I looked it up.  It is worth about $200.00 now.  I'd say that was a piss poor 62 year investment.  I plan on having it framed.

And that was it for the treasure chest.  No fortune except emotionally.

Pandemic news is terrible, of course.  This fall is predicted to be the worst health care crisis in history with more than just Coronavirus being spread about.  You won't want to go outside if predictions can be believed.  People will be dropping in the streets.  I've been thinking about making preparations.  I may be only one third of the way through this social distancing slash isolation gig, and I am already suffering some mental anguish.

So. . . I've decided to prepare.  What do I need in the coming months?

Food, of course.  If this gets as bad as they say, the grocery stores will be even more empty of goods than it was before.  Cans of things.  Beans.  More cans.

Toilet paper.

Alcohol wipes and disinfectants.

But mostly what I have thought about is. . . going to the beauty parlor.  I've not been for seven months.  I look great and all, but. . . maybe I should go when the numbers dip again.  As I've said, I am beginning to look like Ted Kosinski, the Unabomber.  Parents call their children into the house when I walk up the street now.  I can feel them stare.

"There goes that disheveled man again.  What is he doing?  Why is he here?"

"Hi.  It's me.  Don't you recognize me?  Your neighbor.  I live just over there.  How're ya doing?"

Doors close.  Cops cruise.

O.K.  It's not like that, but it could be if I don't get beautified soon.  I'll just have to wait for a dip.

Now. . . get ready for the Trump comeback.  We live in America, people.  #NothingMattersVeryLong.  My mother is all for moving the Jackbooted troops into bust up these rioters and looters.  I tell her it is not a good idea, but she says they should send even more.  I tell her I think that most of the destruction of property is being done by Trump supporters trying to make protestors look like thugs, but she's not buying it.  It is a hard sell.  I'm just making that up, but it is as good as a QAnon conspiracy theory and more likely.  But Trump's handlers are beginning to spin their tales and reigning in some of Trump's most atrocious behavior.  It doesn't matter if Trump wishes Ghislaine Maxwell well.  People against her were never going to vote for Trump, anyway.  Besides, if something happens to her in prison like it did her boyfriend, Trump has an alibi.

"Me?  No, not me.  I wished her well."

The more brazen Trump is, the more he lies, the more he pardons his friends, the more he appeals to those who with authoritarian personalities.  I've been trying to find a percentage of the population who have some traits of it, but so far, I have been unsuccessful.  Google authoritarian personality and Trump together, though, and look at what you find.  It is scary.

Those Mary Trump interviews won't help, either.  Her sideways glance before she answers direct questions about Trump make her look like an old movie criminal being questioned by the police.

"I wasn't there, see.  I didn't do it.  It was that other fellow, yea.  That's right.  It was him who did it.  I wouldn't lie to you, fellows.  I'm giving it to you straight."

And then there's Bolton.

God help us.

O.K.  That's enough of that.  I think I'll have a hippie day of stretching and breathing and yoga, of reading and writing and cooking up old photographs, of drinking herbal teas eating soup and napping.  I have to get centered for the coming months.  I have a feeling things are going to get much, much worse.