Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Ferlinghetti, Woods, and the Invasive Species


The State of America: Tiger Woods automobile accident took over last night's news.  Commercially, I guess, it was a winner.  It was what mattered most to most Americans last night.  Who gives a shit?  Yet I found myself watching the coverage over dinner.  I was, I guess, reliving my own accident.  Being taken to the trauma center rather than the nearest hospital.  Being "packaged" and put on a body board.  Getting metal put in to shore up your body.  Etc.  

Otherwise, I mean for anyone who had not personal interest. . . why?  Is it really important to people that he plays golf again?  

Meanwhile, hardly anyone noticed this.  

Was Ferlinghetti a good poet?  I never liked reading him.  But was he an American icon?  Well fuck yea.  Any trip I've ever taken to San Francisco always included a pilgrimage to City Lights Books.  I've been going since 1975.  Ferlinghetti hung around for a long time and was apparently lively 'til the end.  The loss is significant to me.  

I didn't see anything about it on the evening news.  

Here is a wonderful tribute, however, put out today by the N.Y. Times. 


Funny to me. . . I don't think I ever took a photograph inside City Lights.  I don't think I have a single image.  Weird, that.  Last time I was there, though, I bought Ili and I some books.  I spent money there every time I went.  There was always more than I could carry home that I desired, though.  And now, it is one of the few bookstores left in S.F.  Crazy, right? 

I wonder how many golf shops there are?  

This is not what I had intended to write about this morning, however.  I am like a news channel, eh?  

Update: This just scared the shit out of me hopping across my floor.  

He is huge!  I don't want to deal with it, but I will have to.  This is an invasive species in my own home state and they are doing much ecological damage, or so I've heard.  The agricultural school of my state's major university has this to say:

"Cuban Treefrogs are pests, but they are living animals and should always be treated humanely. We recommend a two-part method to humanely euthanize these frogs and ensure that the method was successful. ... The frog will become comatose within about a minute, and will soon be euthanized."

I can't do it, though.  I can't kill it.  I don't know what I'll do yet.  For now, he is just hopping around behind the t.v console looking for a way up or out, I'd guess.  Problem is, these frogs shit like a baby goat. They leave big turds everywhere.  

Jesus, today's post has take a horrible turn.  This is not at all how it was supposed to go.  

What I wanted to write about is how good I felt after my first aerobic workout at the gym yesterday, a climb on the inclined treadmill and some elliptical training after.  I got my heart rate up for a sustained period for the first time in months.  My head cleared and my body felt more alive.  Shoot--I was almost happy.  

And today, I have a luncheon date with a woman from the factory who says she needs some career advice.  It is quite something to me, really, that she would ask.  As a matter of fact, she is the second person from the factory to come to me this week.  I spent over an hour on the phone with another administrator who wanted my take on an uncomfortable situation.  You wouldn't know it from the blog, but I have a good head on my shoulders.  It is wonderful to still feel of value.  

And even though I was an administrator, someone put my picture on the union recruitment page.  I was informed about this from one of the workers at the factory who sent me the link.  I was so pleased I sent it around to friends.  Bragging, sure, but it felt deserved since I put my own career in jeopardy early on in instituting a union.  "Tribute," I wrote.  One of my former department members, however, had a severe reaction to them using the image of a "boss" on the page.  I had a severe reaction to her's.  

We no longer communicate, but my image is still there.  

Holy smokes, this has become just a jumble.  I was simply going to write about how happy I was yesterday and how much fun it will be to eat out with someone today.  

But that's how it goes, isn't it?  The news and an invasive species can send you flying in an unintended direction.  I didn't even get to the part about my dreams.  

Whatever.  The sun is shining and lunch will be good fun.  It will put a smile on my face for a minute or two.  I'll take that.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Driving Far to the Same Place


I did it!  I hit the highway yesterday.  

I had forgotten a lot of things.  

I left the house around noon.  I had decided on a baby step, so I headed out to one of the tourist areas at the far end of the county.  It looked to have potential in the four trips I took to get my mother's and my Moderna shots.  I remembered those grand distances and blue skies and great monuments of tourist delight rising to meet them.  I'd forgotten, however, that things from a distance often don't photograph so well and that getting close to them is sometimes almost impossible.  Parking is always a problem, then there are fences and highways and large swaths of swamps and woods in the way.  Power lines and service trucks and all sorts of other visual rubbish become obvious, too.  In isolation, distances and the time it takes to travel them is condensed, but on the road, half hours are the common denomination.  Before you know it, the hours have flown by.  

I parked and walked and ended up in some weird little amusement place.  I took a couple of pictures before I realized I had not put on my mask.  There were others without masks, but they weren't carrying a camera bag and a bazooka of a camera across their shoulders.  As always when I have a camera in hand, I was getting suspicious looks.  

I headed back to the car.  I'd forgotten how heavy my Canon DSLR is, and how clunky.  Compared to my other cameras, it is just too much.  It is a great camera, but not to carry.  My little Fuji and Ricoh cameras weigh less together than just the lens on the Canon.  And to think that I used to carry that thing through the streets of NYC and San Francisco taking candid photos.  It is unbelievable.  

When I got to the car, I decided to abandon this spot and drive further down the interstate to a small town that used to house the Barnum and Bailey circus in the winter months.  Decades ago, once you got off the interstate, things got interesting real fast.  It was a redneck town, weathered and withered in the great southern heat and humidity.  I thought I'd see something there.  

I was wrong.  Like every place else in my own home state, foreign settlers have moved in and development has blown up.  The roads were jammed and travel was a slow crawl past the the same cheap shopping developments built in the same cheesy way that you see in every other newly growing town, and endless string of Bob Evans, Culvers, Popeyes, Dollar Tree, Big Lots, Walmart. . . .  All the necessities for modern times.  Giant roads leading from new housing developments intersect at red light after red light.  The half hours tortuously drift by.  

On the almost outskirts of town, however, I did spot one of those old motels that had not been sold for development yet, one of those places that houses criminals by the week or month, a horrible mustard colored prison with a toxic swimming pool appropriately named "State Motel."  I parked my car and headed off with cameras knowing what might happen as it always does.  Somebody was bound to come out of the office or a room and want to know what I was doing, and since I was creeping around on private's property, I would be susceptible to whatever harangue I was to receive surely from someone with a body full of tattoos and a meth hangover.  These cats don't want anyone taking pictures of their license plates.  I've learned that the difficult way.  I got a few photos and was headed deeper into the parking lot to photograph a ramshackle camper, some antique of a wreck in faded sea foam green parked in the further recesses, but I got caught mid-parking lot, cameras in hand, by a fellow coming out of one of the rooms.  I made a turn and headed toward the highway with him watching my every step.  

Back in the car, I looked at the time.  The day had slipped past with hardly a photo and I would have to hurry to make it back to town and to my mother's where I was expected for dinner.  I nosed the car back onto the slow, torturous highway.  

The road, I thought, ain't what it used to be.  But I knew that having spent a year in lockdown, my sense of time and distance had been greatly impacted.  I'd become habituated to the distances of the house, the yard, the community.  Car travel in my state is long and hard and full of sameness.  I will have to get far out of my zip code--no, area code--to find much of interest.  

Obviously, I didn't find it yesterday.  But maybe I'm just out of practice.  More likely, however, I have become a Bobo shit.  

I'll work on it and let you know.  

Monday, February 22, 2021

Up to the Axels


It is Monday.  I'm not sure I ever write well on a Monday.  What is there to say after a Sunday night?  Sunday's are lethargic days, lumbering, pedestrian days big and empty as a balloon.  

The profound quiet of a Sunday night.  

After a lifetime of work, I cannot avoid the anticipation of the coming week.  Retirement has not been a vacation.  It has had its own routine.  

I experience the Monday dullness with regrettable familiarity.  

I just read that one in twelve people in my county have had Covid-19.  One in twelve.  Those are state reported numbers which many who would know claim to be low.  It is shocking to me.  The death rate is nowhere near that which probably explains many people's cavalier attitudes toward it.  The sudden 77% reduction in Covid deaths has so far been unexplained by government officials.  There are scientists outside the official governmental Covid teams who say that we are reaching a herd immunity, of sorts, and that infection rates should be very low by April.  Still, Fauci, et. al. are telling me not to move.  Not yet.  Wait.  If I move, they say, I will incite the virus.  I could start another wave of infections.  

I wish I had something to say, but after sitting here for so long now, wheels spinning, I am finally buried up to the axels.  I'll need a tow truck to get back on the road.  Either that or I need to start digging.  

I'd better start digging.  

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Internet Deep and Full of Excuses


I'm afraid people aren't taking me seriously.  It could be my hair or the way I dress.  My travel/art buddy says I'm a wimp, that I spend all my time on the internet when I should be out traveling and getting real stories.  Sure.  I know.  I'll get there.  I just have to get some things straight first.  Besides, the internet is fascinating.  I send a barrage of headlines and cuttings to friends every day.  Like this one.  

The report said the strongest associations have been found with hyperactivity, aggression, defiance, emotional reactivity, delinquent behaviors and other signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, after exposure to phthalates.

And infants who have had greater exposures to a kind of endocrine disruptor called phthalates have smaller penises, Swan found.

I mean. . . people need to know these things.  I could go on for pages here. . . but I won't.  

To wit: I am going to start dressing like a scientist.  

It has to be a clip on.  

But wait.  One more.  I have to.  Just one more.  

Looks like they are trying to move in on my girl Gwyneth's market a bit, but the graphic from the story looks pretty racist to me.  But hey. . . N.Y. Times.  

O.K, O.K. . . maybe my buddy's right.  Perhaps I have become too shallow.  Perhaps I am only internet deep.  Maybe "real life" would do me some good.  I should get off the thorazine and put some miles on the car.  I need to get my ass kicked by some redneck Oath Keepers to be more interesting.  I have plans.  I have some terrifying plans.  I've Google mapped the road to Interesting.  There will be nothing more titillating that reading about a septuagenarian adventure.  Hard days of fighting, wild nights of lovemaking, and mile upon mile of hilarious entertainment.  Just an endless river of hard-boiled adventure.  

Fuck yea.  I think I'll go pack right now.  I'm heading out, a man with a vision and a dream, your steadfast correspondent. . . . 

But first I have to finish my taxes, put down some weed killer, . . . .  

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Conspiracy Ain't No Theory


It's all too cute, this Mars Rover thing.  It has its own Twitter account which should tell you something.  Of course, we all know that the entire project is staged.  All those photos are being done in a studio in Roswell, New Mexico.  It is just another scam, a way of taking people's tax payer money so it can be used by the Alien Reptile Pedophilic Corporation to control U.S. citizens.  Why in the fuck would a government send something to Mars?  What's there?  It is cold and barren.  They are looking for water?  Why would you leave earth to look for water?  No, man.  The whole thing is fake.  

I couldn't remember "Roswell," so I Googled "place in New Mexico where they keep the aliens."  It came right up.  Obviously, it is true.  There are aliens in Roswell.  If you don't believe it, Google it.  The government can deny it all it wants, but the truth is right there on Google.  That is why governments are trying to break Google apart and shut them down.  Truth wants to be free.

Have you heard about the big Grape-Nuts scare (link)?  It's true.  I looked for some at the grocery store yesterday.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  What the hell kind of conspiracy is that?  There is really something fishy going on there.  

Have you noticed?  Everywhere you look, something is going on.  Weird, right?  And they call Shelly Duval nuts (link).  She may be the only sane one in the crowd.  

Oh, there are others, like my new girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow.  

She may be nuts, but in a good way.  Have you been to her Goop website (link)?  Holy shit!  Really?  Girl's got vision, man.  How can you hate on someone who sells a candle that smells like her vagina?  

I am enchanted.  I can smell her vagina for only $75?  Seriously?  I spent days looking through the website. It is endless.  I know what I am going to do now when I am drunk, alone in the house and feeling low.  Just me, the computer, and the old American Express Card.  If that won't take you out of your funk, what will? 

Now that I've perused her website, though, you should see the crazy ads that are coming up on my computer.  

I don't know if this video is going to play for you even though I've just spent too much time trying to place it here.  No matter.  You get the idea.  

About today's photo.  It is so much easier to get people to let you photograph them if you are a woman.  Should I photograph in drag?  I'll put on my Vivian Maier's costume--blocked print dress, heavy shoes, goofy hat--and hit the road.  

But I'd probably not do as well as a pretty woman in a polka dot dress.  And I'll bet you that Gwyneth Paltrow could take any picture she wanted.  

Friday, February 19, 2021

Chalk It Up To Being Blond


Where do I begin?  The smell of death?  Beautification?  The Revenge of the Faeries?  Reaching full immunity?  That all happened yesterday?!?  

I don't want to jinx it, but I think the smell of death is almost gone.  Not completely yet, but almost.  I've been afraid that the plumber lied to me or was just wrong.  What if there was a dead animal under the house but a sewage pipe had broken too?  That's the way I think, of course.  But yesterday, there were no sudden whiffs.  Oh, please, I prayed, please, please, please.  

I need to get some chicken wire and close up all the openings that go under the house.  I've meant to do that for. . . years?  But I tell myself I'm afraid I will trap something under the house that is already there.  Maybe the cat.  I will do it, however.  I will do it soon.  

But let's tiptoe away from that for now.  I should not have mentioned it yet.  

Oh, fuck.  Let me just skip ahead to the best part--for you.  Last night after dinner, I went out with a glass of scotch to check on the faerie lights.  I decided to walk down the street and see if they were they were visiting other people, too.  And sure as shittin', I saw them in my neighbor's trees.  And the farther down the block I walked, the more I saw.  Holy shit, the house two doors down was full of them.  It was like a pandemic.  I saw that my across the street neighbor was in his garage working out on his rowing machine, so I walked over and said hi.  I asked him if he had seen the Foxfire.  He quit rowing and said he hadn't.  We walked out to the street, and I showed him the lights.  I don't really talk to him often at all, hardly ever.   He is a psychology prof who has his own shop, I think, but as I say, I don't talk to him enough to know.  I showed him the lights in his trees and told him it was a luminescent fungus.  Then I pointed across the street where the trees were full of them.  He looked for a minute and then said he thought it was coming from the light being projected from that neighbor's driveway.  Just then I noticed that he had faeries on his shirt, the same lights I've been looking at for a week.  He passed his hand over it, and sure enough. . . holy fuck, holy fuck. . . it was light.  The surgeon who lived there had one of those projection things that shoots a pattern into the trees.  I was absolutely embarrassed.  I told my neighbor I felt like a real goof, told him that I had called the city's forester, etc.  My neighbor was good natured enough about it, but I know THIS will be a tale twice told.  

So much for my faeries.  I still can't believe that the light is coming from so far away.  I should call the police.  

Giggle if you want, however, for I got greatly beautified before that.  I'm sure my neighbor just chalked the whole thing up to my being blonde.  And I am.  I really am.  While I was at the salon, my beautician said she wanted to hook me up with a true Russian/Ukrainian beauty.  

"You already said I don't have enough money for a Russian girl."

"You do for this one."

"You mean she needs a green card?"

"Well. . . I mean we want her to be able to stay in the country. . . ."  

I told her that wouldn't work for me, that I was too shy for such a thing and that I was still kind of not over my breakup.  

"You will be as soon as you sleep with someone," she said, and I'm sure it is true.  She has the wisdom and secret knowledge, I think.  She says she is a Russian Jew, but I believe she is really a gypsy.  They are one and the same thing anyway, aren't they?  

"Well," I said, "the problem is, I'm not really supposed to be close to schools."

She looked at me for a minute, then laughed.  

"Yea, that is a problem for you, isn't it?"

When I left the salon, I got in the car and took about a hundred selfies of my blonde locks trying to get one I could text.  But don't tell anyone.  I don't want to seem vain.  Vanity is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.  And truly, I prefer Sloth.  

All of this on the day I reached full immunity, or at least the fullest immunity I will attain.  So why do I still feel vulnerable?  I still feel a paranoia about being around people.  Q the blogger says I should tell women I have become fully immunized and can no longer transmit STDs.  There's a thought.  

Today is Friday, the end of the long work week, a time for celebration.  Maybe I'll get some sushi tonight. Maybe I'll sit at an outside table and eat it there.  But no, I don't think I will.  What would that look like, an old blond eating alone?  Loser.  That's what that says.  

Not that I'm vain, but still. . . . 

O.K.  Let the band begin to play.  I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for some good fortune.  Sunshine and blue skies coming my way. . . etc. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021



I want to lie to you and tell you that this was the only Valentine I received this year.  That is not factually true, but there is a truthiness to it.  I just wish I'd found this photograph on Feb. 13.  

There is something wrong with me.  I don't know if it is the gloomy weather or the gloomy documentaries I've been watching lately, but with so little to do, there is too much of me to go around.  I mean I am unable to motivate myself to do anything at all.  Yesterday, a writer I know from NYC was in town.  He texted me and wanted to get together for lunch or a drink.  After struggling with it, I wrote back and told him I wouldn't be able to make it.  Oh. . . I was free.  I had nothing to do, and that is exactly what I did.  My entire body ached with not wanting to go.  It took a while for me to gather up the courage to admit that.  I felt better after declining the invitation, but I had no more motivation to do anything than before.  Again, perhaps I am too affected by the weather.  I am a sunshine boy.  Maybe it is my PTSD from having my house destroyed by Hurricane Charley so long ago.  But when the clouds move in, doom and gloom grip me.  My blood turns to molasses, my brain goes numb, and I just want to hide.  So yea. . . maybe.  

But it might be The Year of Living Cautiously.  I am routinized by doing little.  Up too early, I read, write, exercise, shower, eat, nap, rise, get groceries, go see mother, cook, eat and watch t.v.  Anything that disrupts this now seems to cause me trauma.  This is one of the saddest admissions I've ever made, but yea, I think I could be damaged goods.  

Last night, I watched a documentary on Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher.  Why?  Because I can't watch the news any more.  I am thankful to have a boring president, but I don't want to watch him made a hero every night for being "normal."  And I have Fauci Fatigue.  Once an American Hero in the Time of Trump, he is now put on CNN and MSNBC every night to tell us that things are not going as well as predicted but we can still protect ourselves by wearing masks, social distancing, and washing our hands.  I can't listen to him say it one more fucking time.  And it is not just him.  The entire slough of news doctors has to say it, too.  I am all for it, but at some point they are doing more harm than good by repeating it.  For me, that point has cone and gone.  

So, after watching what passed for a lead story, I searched HBO for documentaries.  I pay for HBO but never watch it.  I keep saying I am going to cancel it and save the money. . . and I will. . . but as soon as I do, there will be some great new series I will want to watch.  

I don't know why I chose to watch the Reynolds doc.  I am no fan of her or her daughter.  I never liked Princess Lea and thought Jabba the Hut should have had his way with her.  I thought they should have played up the incest thing a little more, too.  And to me, the movie always looked like a made for Saturday morning t.v. show.  I did enjoy that Chewbacca looked like Jeff Bridges, but nobody else seemed to acknowledge that.  

When Carrie Fisher went (famously) nuts, I didn't even notice.  

No matter.  There was nothing else that intrigued me on HBO, so Reynolds it was.  

I thought I'd only watch a few minutes, but there was something intriguing about the mother/daughter thing.  And at one hundred or however old she was, Debbie Reynolds still had a weirdly attractive charm.  She would go out to those auditoriums and put on a show for a few hundred septuagenarians brought in on the AARP bus like it was Vegas.  Somehow, as hideous as that could be, it came off somewhat delightful.  How much could they be paying her for such a thing?  Surely it would not have been financially rewarding.  She might as well have been doing dinner theater.  But, you know, the straw and sawdust must still have been in her veins.  

So I got sucked in and watched the whole thing, and, of course, crawled deeper into my depression.  Reynolds died shortly after making the documentary.  I don't think I'd ever watched a movie she made, not even "Singing in the Rain,"but after an hour and a half, I was sad to have lost Debbie Reynolds.  

On having never seen "Singing in the Rain," there is a scene in "Wonderboys" with Tobey McGuire smoking a number and eating powdered donuts and watching a movie and singing, "Good morning, good morning," with rapturous glee.  I didn't know where that song came from until last night, though I have sung that snippet since I saw the film a hundred times when it came out.  Funny, that. 

After pouring an after documentary drink, I went outside to look at the faeries.  And holy shit!

One was attached to the house!  I've gone to look this morning, and there is no trace of anything, not a mushroom nor a stain of fungus nor a mark of any kind.  I'm sorry, kids, but it can only be a faerie.  Maybe she's the one giving me the old Valentine's finger.  I don't know.  It is getting spooky.  

See the light coming from the attic vent?  I forgot to turn that off two months ago when I went up to confront the wolverine that I thought was living there.  Maybe I'll get motivated and climb the ladder and turn it off today.  Just like I'm going to fix my mother's leaking toilet.  My body aches just thinking of doing anything.  You know what I want to do?

Get up, read, write, exercise, shower, make lunch, nap, go to the grocer's, visit mother, cook dinner, and watch t.v.  

I'm really fucked up.  

Today, however, I get beautified.  

When I showed this picture to my mother, she wanted to know if my beauticians breasts were real.  WTF? I don't know, I said.  I never really get to squeeze them the way I should, but I will tell her you are curious, and who knows?  Maybe she'll let me play with them a bit.  

My mother is used to me, I guess.  She just laughed.  

O.K.  I must go and pull the garbage cans to the curb.  Jesus.  Such a lot of work.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Wellness, Travel, and Accounts Unknown

Two things struck me today as I read the morning papers.  

1.  People are hungry for "mindfulness" apps.

2.  The vaccinated over 65 crowd is now traveling.  

One of these things effects me more than the other.  I'm readier than ever to get out of my own zip code.  Seems, however, that I will be traveling with a certain crowd.  
“There’s a lot of pent-up desire among seniors, and a sense of life running out,” said Jeff Galak, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. “There’s a theory called mortality salience: When your own mortality is brought to mind, behaviors change. We’re going to see upgrades to better cabins on cruise ships, and booking of better hotels.”

Yes, I have become aware of my own mortality, and I can tell you, it sucks.  I preferred the youthful worries about getting old and dying when you abstractly knew it would happen and pretended you knew what it meant in story and song.  But a first year of retirement spent in lockdown gets you thinking about things like the big hourglass of time.  I keep thinking of the one set for Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz."  

 Which brings me to Mindfulness.  I had friends at the factory who were student/teachers of the art.  They used to do demonstrations at work seminars.  I was always dismissive.  I mean, I'd been through this once already as a hippie.  This seemed to me to be a capitalistic redo.  I told them that masturbation provided the same benefit as sitting in a chair trying to think of nothing.  Studies showed, I said, that kids who masturbated before an exam did markedly better.  Their responses were as expected.  

Corporate wellness programs emerged in the 1950s to help workers cope with alcoholism and mental-health issues and encourage them to lead more healthful lives — in order to increase productivity and cut back on the ballooning costs of medical plans and the number of days people took off from work.

The factory was all for Wellness as long as it didn't involve masturbation.  

Don't get me wrong.  I am not against Mindfulness or masturbation, and as a matter of fact, I meditate as often as I can.  We will be appropriately delicate in speaking of the other.   We won't.  But as good as either of them are, there is nothing like the romantic possibilities of travel to cheer you up and make you better.  

Still, the Ministry of Information is warning us that there are more mutants out there than previously thought, and their numbers are growing.  Now is not the time to let down our guard.  Now is not the time to travel.  

I'm still waiting to see my new phrase in the N.Y. Times--Covid Lockdown Syndrome.  Will I ever be secure enough to step outside my zip code, or will I need to download the app?  

I know what all my friends will recommend.  

I am being dramatic, of course, because I am putting together a narrative that needs some conflict if there is to be any artistic tension.  Rising action and all of that.  

What I am really looking forward to is for my stars to realign.  I mean, the astrologer told me that things will start to look up as the year goes along.  And maybe this has already begun.  First, the plumber, then. . . and dare I confess this?  Yesterday I found an unknown source of wealth.  In pulling together my tax information, I found an account that I did not know existed.  You are aghast?  Not nearly as much as I.  In truth, it caused me nightmares.  I do not like money, do not like to think about it, make it, lose it. . . . but I am good at losing it.  I truly am.  I need an adult around to look after things.  I have accounts that I do not know how to access, but this is the first one about which I was completely unaware.  How I bumble through life is a real mystery.  

I should note, however, that it is a most sincerely wonderful thing that I do not know how to access my accounts.  Put that one on the left hand side of the ledger.  

Wait.  Is that side for benefits or deficits?  Pros or cons?  

Whatever.  You know what I mean.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Lingering Smell of Death


I fear saying this, and I do so with much trepidation as I believe I could call down the wrath of the universe for speaking it. . . but yesterday didn't completely suck.  There.  I pulled my punch at the very last moment.  I won't say it "went well," but some weight was taken off me.  

So I'll tell you what I have been keeping ashamedly secret.  Remember the story of Job?  Sure you do.  

Job is a wealthy man living in a land called Uz with his large family and extensive flocks. He is “blameless” and “upright,” always careful to avoid doing evil (1:1). One day, Satan (“the Adversary”) appears before God in heaven. God boasts to Satan about Job’s goodness, but Satan argues that Job is only good because God has blessed him abundantly. Satan challenges God that, if given permission to punish the man, Job will turn and curse God. God allows Satan to torment Job to test this bold claim, but he forbids Satan to take Job’s life in the process (source).

 OK, OK, OK. . . I used Spark Notes.  But I remember the story well-ish, for it turned me when I read it in a freshman humanities course in college.  It just didn't seem like something I would do to someone I loved.  Not even to someone I didn't.  However, it did seem to reflect something of my life, I thought, the old "woe is me."  My life had been shitty for years and had only just begun getting better.  

The worst part of the story to me was that Job began to stink.  That is something hard to overcome.  As someone who likes to cuddle, I was horrified by the thought.  

To wit: remember the death smell I told you about weeks ago?  It hasn't gone away.  Truth.  And worse, my house had been invaded by bloat flies!  Yup.  It happened after the maids came, or left, I should say.  They leave my doors open when they clean though I've told them over and over to keep them closed.  They are horrible and I would get rid of them and find new ones if I weren't so terribly (a) loyal and (b) lazy.  When I woke Saturday morning, however, there were flies all over the kitchen.  It was like a miniature version of "The Birds."  I mean, it was terrifying.  

I sprayed them with bug spray.  They didn't like that much.  Later, however, when I opened the doors to the laundry, they were everywhere.  Again, I sprayed.  That afternoon, there were dead flies littering the house, on countertops, on the washer and dryer, on the stove, and covering the floor.  Well, I thought, at least that is that.  

Nope.  That night as I was speaking with my mother, I saw them all over the living room walls, on the lamp shades, on the furniture.  Motherfucker!  Gotta go, ma.  I hung up and sprayed.  In the morning, again, dead flies littered my house.  

We have to go back a bit in the story here, though, to explain.  When the odor hadn't gone away after over a week had passed, I began suspecting with a growing sense of impending doom that a drain line had rotted or broken under the house.  Read sewage line.  My house is one with a crawl space, but for some reason back in 1926, they made that space really small.  I tried going under the house once when I was much younger and not all broken up.  I squeezed myself through the tiny opening belly down and shined my flashlight into the total darkness.  It wasn't what I thought it would be.  At seemingly random places there were batches of bricks upon which sat small pillars under the floor joists holding up the house.  You couldn't just shine your flashlight from front to back.  You had to crawl around these stanchions on your belly to get anywhere.  It would be impossible to crawl on your knees.  I went a few yards and got a little claustrophobic and maybe even scared.  Fuck this, I said, and awkwardly backed out in a reverse crawling motion.  

Not many plumbers want to go under the house to work.  But there was one, years ago, when I had a waterline that was leaking.  Back then, the water line as well as the sewage line ran under the house.  I called a plumbing company and said, "You need to send out a skinny midget to work on this one.  The space is really small."  

"We don't have any midgets," the man on the phone said, "but we'll send out the skinniest fellow we've got."

What they sent was a young man who hadn't filled out yet.  He was a great kid, and when he looked at the space, he said, "Well, that was made for me."  He crawled to the farthest corner of the house where the leak was, and fixed it.  But it still leaked.  So he went under again.  And again.  And again.  Finally, he said, he realized that the glue he had been using on the pipes was no good.  The kid had spent all day crawling in there and back.  He was wiped out.  He was spent.  But in the end, he had fixed it.  When it came time to pay, I gave him a big tip.  

Skip ahead.  A couple years later when I had the house re-plumbed, and they opened up the walls, there was a smell coming from beneath the house.  The plumbing company sent out the same kid.  O.K.  Good, I thought.  I know he can get under there. 

But when he showed up, he had doubled in size.  

"Jesus Christ, kid, what did you do?  Get married?"

He looked kind of embarrassed.  "No," he said.  "I got a girlfriend, though.  I guess I filled out a little." 

Filled out, I guess.  He couldn't get through the opening to go under the house.  He didn't look like he wanted to, either.  He called the office and told them his problem.  It is a family business, and I heard his uncle tell him that he would need to enlarge the opening and get his ass under there and fix it.  And that is what he did.  Again, just a great kid. 

So when the smell didn't go away this time, I began to think with dread that it might be a drain pipe again. Maybe the kid hadn't done such a good job last time.  Maybe no one would go under there to work.  What if they said they couldn't?  Maybe they would trench?  My mother said that they might dig a hole and then tunnel under the house.  Maybe, I said, they would have to go through my hundred year old pine floors. 

After the last fiasco in the bathroom, I just wasn't emotionally prepared to go through this.  I waited, but the odor didn't go away.  Withe complete and total dread, I called the plumbing company on a Thursday.  They couldn't come out, they said, until Monday.  Dismayed, I had to agree.  It turned out, however, that that was the day I was to take my mother for her Moderna vaccine.  I called the plumbing company to see if we could change the time.  

I would have to wait another week.

There was a point where the odor began to fade, and at times, I didn't think I could smell it at all.  But the house was filled with candles and odor eaters and my olfactory memory associated those smells now with the other.  

Then came the flies.  

Yesterday was plumbing day.  I was a mess of nerves.  I had to take some nerve medicine the night before and still barely slept.  I waited until noon for the plumber to arrive.  My hands shook.  I was in deep depression.  I took more nerve pills.  

When the plumber showed up, it was the kid again, only he was less of a kid than he was before.  

"Hey bud," I said in greeting.  "How're you doing?"

He had the same great personality.  I asked him if he was married, and he said no.  It looked like he had lost weight since the last time I saw him.  He asked me if I was still with my girl, asked about my mother.  What a kid.  Really.  

And after a little chat, he said, "Well, let me get under there and see what's going on."  

I waited in nerve pill anticipation.  In a little while, he was back at the door.  

"I thought I remembered I'd fixed those pipes before. They are fine."

"So. . . I don't have a leaking pipe?"

"No.  It's a dead animal.  As soon as I got under there, I could smell it and see the flies.  It must be something big.  It dug a deep hole.  I pushed some dirt over it.  That should help some."

Who has ever been happier to hear that something very large has died under their house?  I can't imagine anyone.  Oh, brother.  It wasn't shit, just death.  I thought of a line from a Bukowski poem. 

"Shit and death are everywhere."  

But not today.  Nope.  It was only death. 

The kid stuck around and talked awhile.  He told me he worked a bunch and didn't have time for a girlfriend.  On the weekends he drove up to the next state where he has bought some property where he hunts.  Quail, I asked?  Oh, he'd shoot them if they were there, but usually deer and wild pigs.  When I paid him with cash, he said nobody had done that for a long time.  I told him I was trying to hide my money trail or something like that which got him going about the government and guns.  Of course, he would be a Trumper.  Right out of high school, he went to work for the plumbing company.  He didn't spend his time reading.  I told him about my scooter accident and we talked about opiates and he said that he had at least twenty friends from high school who had died from opioid overdoses.  They started with prescription drugs, he said, used oxycontin, then went on to heroin.  His uncle was an addict, he said.  He himself had stayed away from it all.  And so, here was one of the Oath Keepers or at least a sympathizer, a gun toting plumber.  He was a great kid, and I liked him fine.  Just another cowboy, the kind I always admire, polite, good natured, and the rest of it.  Ready to overthrow that imposter King Biden when the time is right.  

What can you do.  It is easy to hate people and hard to hate a person.  And that day, once again, he was my hero.  

When he left, I called my mother and told her with glee that I had a big, dead animal under the house.  The great weight had lifted.  All that was left was the wobbly feeling from the nerve pills.  Suddenly it seemed they were working.  I sat back and reflected on the fact that there would not be another huge construction project.  My floors would stay intact.  I was free, if I wished, to leave my home for awhile.  I could go somewhere, begin to travel.  

And just like that, the sun came out.  It had been cloudy and gloomy all day, then, just as in a story employing the pathetic fallacy (link), the sun began to shine.  The weather was changing.  It was turning into a lovely day.  

After the gym, and after a visit with my mother, and after a chat with one of her pretty dog-walking neighbors who seems to be attracted to me and to whom I have given thought of recent, I came home to shower up and make dinner.  But first, I poured a beer and sat on the deck to think about my good fortune and to do that silliest of things and send a picture of my beer to friends to convince them that I have a happy life.  

And then I started thinking about Ili.  Yea, I can try to shit you about that, but you know. . . I haven't gotten over that yet.  I had wondered if I would hear from her on my birthday now that she had unblocked me.  I then wondered if I would maybe hear from her on Valentine's Day.  Well, fine, but sitting out on the deck with a victory beer was the usual time when I would send some dead end message to her blocked number.  And so, after the scotch that followed, I wrote her a message.  

"Perhaps you should block me again.  I kind of like sending messages here."  

I guess for me it is sort of like a digital prayer flag, just sending things out into the universe.  

I needn't have made the request.  The message didn't go through.  I had been blocked again.  Why, I wondered?  For what reason would she do that?  I had not sent her another message.  

Maybe she had a boyfriend.  Maybe?  Well, maybe she had quit being mad at him.  Whatever.  My request was preceded by an answer.  Was I happy?  

What do you think?  

Another dreary morning.  It must have rained in the night.  The land is slick and grey.  

And, of course, there is still the slight smell of death that lingers.  But it will pass, right?  Surely, this will pass.  

Monday, February 15, 2021

Hamburgers for Valentines


I didn't get flowers for my mother.  I got us burgers instead.  Valentine Hamburgers from BurgerFi. Nothing says Hallmark better than that.  

This week is a difficult one.  I am not looking forward to it.  If everything turns out fine, however, I will be floating a little freer.  That is what I say, but it seems there are always more stumbling blocks than there once were.  It takes more effort to get from here to there, wherever "there" is.  I am acutely aware, however, of "here."  

I am all nerves and no thought today, so I won't try.  The picture is cute, I think.  House porn.  Have at it.  

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Be Mine, Valentine


 I couldn't help myself.  Q sent me this a week or so ago and I turned it into a V-Day card.  It is horrible.  It is blasphemous.  I can't stop myself, though.  It makes me laugh.  

I wish I had gotten to caption it, though.  It should be "Oral or Anal."  Saying "Or oral" is difficult.  

I knew girl once who told me she thought all men were gay.  Why's that, I asked.  Because the first thing they want to do, she said, is stick it in your butt.  

Well, now.  

I think I'll start quizzing my male friends on which they prefer.  

My Valentine's Day will be quiet with flowers and a card for mother.  

It's O.K.  I have never been good at these sort of days, anyway.  Birthdays, Easter, Valentine's Day. . . they all got me in the doghouse.  I am not good at making celebrations.  I'm good at cuddling, but that is not what is called for on certain days of the year, I guess.  When I am in a relationship, I feel the coming of these days with dread.  I have no feeling for them.  Flowers, candy, a card. . . these are not enough.  A Bugatti, maybe, or something in a little Tiffany Blue box, and endless bottles of Cristal champagne.  A room at the 4 Seasons and dinner at the Flagler Steakhouse.  

O.K.  Maybe I know what to do. . . I just can't afford to.  

So maybe it is good to celebrate with mom and my own broken heart.  

I'm ten days into my second vaccine now, almost fully covered.  I made a beauty appointment for Thursday.  I want to get everything.  I want a massage and a facial.  I should just book a day into a spa.  But. . . did I ever show you a photo of my beautician?

She likes Lamborghinis and the rest of it.  

I've been thinking about my upcoming travels.  I am going to begin with driving trips around the state.  Yesterday while visiting my mother, I started talking about sleeping in the Xterra.  People do.  The only trouble in my state is the heat, the humidity, and the bugs.  I Googled camper air conditioners while we were talking and found a bunch of little ones that run off 12 volt batteries.  It got me thinking.  And dreaming.  So after dinner last night, I searched for Xterra camping videos on YouTube.  Lots of people do it.  There were plenty of cool DIY modifications for sleeping and storing things.  My blood was pumping. 

And when I woke this morning, it was what I was dreaming about.  Slipping out of the car and sitting in a camp chair with an apple and some yogurt.  I was actually smiling.  

I think that I may try it.  I'd be saving a lot of money.  And I don't have to do it every night.  Motels and hotels and Air B&B will always be there.  

Who knows. . . I may actually do it and not just sit home watching YouTube and dreaming.  Just as soon as I beat this CLS.  

One day at a time.  

O.K.  I need to get flowers and a card and some champagne for ma.  That's my life.  It's what I do.  

Saturday, February 13, 2021

An Expurgated Mess


Jesus, I just wrote a long post about poverty that turned into an expose of my mother's family.  It devolved into an indignant rant in the end, lacking both sympathy and reason.  Somehow I managed to weave in Trump's defense team's performance in the Senate and the total lack of critical thinking required of anyone once they get out of school which only two of my mother's family ever have.  It turned into an indictment of the dumbing down of the American mind.  And I blamed republicans most, though I challenged the knowledge that went into Biden's $2,000 give away.  Oh, yea. . . it was a mess. 

A deleted mess.  

There is too much on my clouded mind this morning, and last night I took a little early V-Day gift that fucked me up and kept me in bed until almost eight.  The morning is warm and wet and uninspiring.  My mind is a piece of spongy moss.  

The faeries were everywhere last night.  They scared and enchanted me, so I stayed out with them as long as I could with my magic elixir.  It contributes to today's muddle as well, I think.

Talking to faeries can be dangerous.  Of course.  Talking to luminescent fungi may be worse.  I read somewhere that they might be edible, but I'm not ready to take that chance.  

I have a mess of trouble that I am not reporting here right now, and I am quite paralyzed by it all.  I am trying to deal, but daily I am breaking down a bit more.  I feel like a man holding onto a ledge.  How long can the fingers last?  It is a life, you say, but it is not one to be envied or desired.  My feet search for a foothold.  If only I can find a foothold, I think, I'd have a chance.  But now, it is all fingers and fear.  

It is hard to think that God doesn't hate me.  It is not so hard in guessing why.  

Jesus, I just went on another rant that got deleted.  I can seem to make no progress with this post today.  And now, midmorning, there is thunder and darkness.  I think I should have stuck with the faeries.  The picture was supposed to go with the long post I deleted.  No matter.  It is pretty good.  It can stick.  

Friday, February 12, 2021

My Hippie/Bobo Ways


Yesterday, being a week into my second vaccine injection, I took a step toward whatever normalcy is going to look like in the coming months.  The sun was shining and it was nearly hot, somewhere in the mid-80s.  The day began as usual, coffee and "papers," writing, then stretching before the gym.  After my workout, I took a walk that led me down the Boulevard.  I decided to stop in a shoe store that sells crazy expensive shoes like Mephisto.  I asked if they had Birkenstock Arizonas in my size.  Indeed they did.  

"I'll be back," I said.  

At home, I made lunch, a wonderful Greek salad and added garbanzo beans, but oops--I was out of Feta cheese.  I dumped a can of chicken on top.  Salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  Healthy.  Yes, I was going to get healthy.  I would lose weight and become svelte like a sea otter (having given up on becoming ropey or rangy) and begin practicing yoga again.  I would align myself with the sun and the moon and the stars.  The wind would guide me.  Salt water would run through my veins.  At night, I would drink herbal teas and rich chais.  I would wear sandalwood beads and get a twine ankle bracelet (anklet?).  Maybe I wold get a convertible or perhaps another Jeep.  There was a fishing pole in the garage.  I wanted to get into nature.  Fuck yea, baby.  It was time to live.  

After lunch and a shower, I put on a pair of jeans and one of my finest black t-shirts.  O.K.  I've worn nothing but t-shirts all year, but the jeans felt weird.  They didn't expand at the waistline the way my China pants do.  They felt heavy.  I'd have to get used to clothing again.  It was just another step toward normalcy.  

I went back to the Boulevard and parked at the far northern end.  I wouldn't mind the stroll.  Back at the shoe store, the clerk was ready for me.  He brought me two pairs of Birkenstocks in my size, one dark one light.  It was summer for god's sake.  I chose the lighter color.  Stepping out of the store, sandals in hand, I was on my way to being a hippie again, or at least a Bobo (link).  Yes, Bobo is correct.  I was on my way to Williams and Sonoma.  Making my way through the crowded sidewalk tables and around groups of strolling shoppers felt strange, for this past year,  I have walked on the other side of the street bordering the park to avoid them.  Now, with my vaccine superpowers, however. . . . 

Stepping into Williams and Sonoma felt strange.  I haven't often gone to the store without a girlfriend with whom I might buy pots and pans and expensive knives and tablecloths of outrageous prices.  I made my way to the glassware.  All I wanted was good, heavy whiskey glasses, but I was disappointed.  Still, I needed something, so I chose two that were the plainest and least expensive on the shelves.  

"Are you a rewards member," the clerk asked me.  I didn't know.  I could have been.  I think Ili was.  But I didn't remember ever signing up for anything here, so I just said no.  It made no difference.  I was only spending ten dollars.  

Back on the sidewalk, two big bags in my hand, I was a thing to be desired, a real and true shopper doing his part to keep the economy rolling.  

My next stop was on the other side of town.  I was going to what used to be called "The Health Food Store."  Yes, it was where you bought health food, not that poison they sold in grocery stores.  Long before everyone began buying organic, you could get it here, little malformed pieces of fruit and vegetables that seemed stunted in growth.  The store was cavernous, the shelves filled with strange brands of snacks and weird peanut butters you had to stir, and other nut butters too.  Long shelves were stocked with every vitamin and mineral ever named and jars of herbs and spices recommended by holistic homeopaths.  There were ear candles and crystals and vegetarian recipes and books on astrology.  Before this all became mainstream, going to "The Health Food Store" was an adventure into the unknown.  

O.K.  So I am a little bit like that.  Have you heard of the healing powers of honey?  Not just to eat, but to put on wounds?  Weird, right?  You might remember that my surgeon was against antibiotics and told me not to use any antibiotic creams or ointments.  He hadn't said anything, however, about honey.  But it seemed weird to put honey on a wound.  It sounded scary.  

I Googled it.  Indeed, WebMd and the Mayo both had pages on using honey on wounds.  WTF?  The recommended honey is called Maluka.  Apparently it has different powers than other honeys.  In fact, there is a product called Medihoney that is sold commercially (link).  Amazon sells it, and I read that CVC drugstores sell it, too.  Again. . . WTF?  I figured that if anybody in town sold it, it would be "The Health Food Store."  

In fact, they didn't.  They used to, but they hadn't had it in for months.  They were going to try to get it back in stock, they said.  They DID have Maluka honey.  I told the lady who was helping me, "You know, when I Googled it, I found a page asking, 'Is Maluka honey a scam?'  You know what it said?  It said, well. . . there is more Maluka sold than is produced."  I looked at her and grinned.  She grinned back and bobbed her head up and down.  "I am told that all of our products are carefully researched and screened," she told me.  "Oh. . . I have no doubt," I said picturing the team of scientist in the back of the store hared at work.  But I'd come across town, and I wasn't going to leave empty handed.  

I bought a very expensive CBD oil to soothe my hippie soul.  Bobo, I mean.  

O.K.  Maybe CVC had Medihoney.  I doubted it, though.  I seriously doubted it, but I made my way to the nearest one without hope.  Now where would they put such a thing.  They didn't have a cult homeopathic medicine aisle that I could find, so I wandered around the shelves until I saw one that said dressings for wounds.  Next to it was the usual antibiotic creams and ointments, and. . . fuck me, if they didn't have a Maluka Honey Bandage.  It was CVCs own brand!  CVC makes a fucking honey bandage.  My knees gave a little.  WTF, WTF?  I looked around me.  Yes, there were some pretty "special" people shopping here.  CVC is cashing in.  I almost asked the pharmacist if they sold healing crystals, but there was a line and I didn't wish to wait.  

It was mid-afternoon.  The sun was shining and the air was more than warm and the university jazz station was playing Billy Holiday singing a song about the cold snow and blowing wind.  Why, I wondered, would they play this in the middle of summer.  Then I remembered it was early February.  Yup.  The dead of winter.  

Even though I was entering my hippie health period, I pulled into the liquor store to get a bottle of scotch. I was out, and even though. . . you know. . . you need a bottle in the house.  You can't just not have it or you go nuts, right.  Yes, a backup bottle in case a friend dropped by.  And I might have one before I put on the kettle for tea.  But yoga and tea and CDB oil and Birkenstocks were my thing.  Clear eyes, youthful skin, a body like a well-toned seal. . . . 

It was early, but I was on her side of town, so I decided to stop by my mother's house and argue with her about the senate hearings.  No, that is not what I thought, but it is what happened.  She's great.  She teaches me things.  Like if your only source of information is Fox News and nothing else.  Then you can have an opinion.  And she has learned to argue like a Fox huckster, too.  If I say Trump is bad, she says, what about Biden?  

"He's going to let tens of thousands of them across the border!"

"Tens of thousands of who?"

"That caravan that is headed our way."

"You mean they are in the country now?"

"No, they are getting ready to.  They are on their way.  You haven't seen them?"

"But I thought we were talking about Trump?  What does that have to do with Trump's culpability?"

Classic Fox move.  

When I go home, the sun was still out and I had bags full of Bobo stuff, and I felt like celebrating.  I decided to make a margarita, a very cold one.  I sat on the deck with the cat and drank it as the walkers paraded by.  Speaking of the cat, I got quite a surprise two nights ago.  I went out to look for the faeries and sat down with my cheroot and scotch to peer into the darkness.  I was surprised by the cat who I don't usually see at night, but there she was by the tree.  She reached up with her front paws so that I thought she was going to scratch to pare her nails.  Rather, she made a leap and scurried up the tree.  Holy shit, I think she might be sleeping in the crook of the branches at night like a leopard or a lion! Do cats do that?  She didn't come down the entire time I sat there.  I began to wonder--was that actually my cat, or was it some other.  I couldn't really tell in the dark.  I am going to have to Google cats sleeping in trees today.  

When my margarita was done, oh so quickly, I decided to make another.  And as I sipped at this one, determined to go more slowly, I thought, "You know what would be good?  A big plate of nachos would be good."  I still have money on my Uber Eats account from when I had my accident and the members of my department gave me an account with a bunch of money in it.  Fuck yea, I thought.  Nachos.  

I pulled up the app and scrolled through the restaurants.  I looked at menus.  I ordered tacos and nachos from a place that looked intriguing.  Within twenty minutes, they were at my door.  

You can't eat tacos and nachos without something to drink, so I poured a beer.  Those tacos and nachos were great, too.  I ate them while watching the news which began to repeat itself in short order and the pundits began to say what all the pundits had said before, so I turned it off and switched over to YouTube to watch some art documentaries.  I poured a scotch and watched a long doc on William Eggleston.  I've been intrigued by him for a long time, but as I watched the doc which had no narration and just followed Eggleston around recording what he did and said, I decided he was an alcoholic on the spectrum.  He claims to be a genius which became less evident as the doc went on, but I began to realize that the power of his pictures is that it gives us a glimpse into the mind of someone who can't recognize social cues, somewhere between autism and Asperbergers.  I've tried to copy his photos on my own and found it terribly difficult.  Now, I think I know why.  

The doc was over an hour and a half long.  I don't know how many times I poured more scotch, but when it was over at nine, I was no longer able to keep my eyes open.  Early as it was, it was time for bed.  

I think I am paying for the tequila and the beer and the tacos and nachos and the scotch this morning.  I never made the tea, didn't take the CDB oil, didn't use the honey patches.  

I will begin my hippie ways today, though.  Yes.  My life will be sweetness and light and Birkenstocks and tea and strange but healthful elixirs as the vaccine continues to do its work.  Soon, you see, I will be the Man from Krypton.  

Thursday, February 11, 2021

The American Dugum Dani


I watched the last two hours of the senate impeachment trial last night.  I've changed my mind.  The prosecutors have done an incredible job in making their case that Trump not only inspired the Capitol riots but was derelict in his duties after they began.  An impeccable job, really.  They are not finished yet, and the defense team has not made their argument, but I have been swayed.  Proving a direct line of culpability,  I thought, would be impossible, but now I can't imagine how anyone but a a partisan hack could avoid casting a guilty vote.  

The senate republican caucus is made up of partisan hacks.  They have no conscious outside their radical agenda.  Trump, despite the incredible prosecution, will be found not guilty. 

I am not saying The Woke created the insanity of the right.  Go back to Reagan.  Go back to Gingrich.  It really fired up during the Clinton presidency.  The ugliness of it has been growing ever since.  It was obscene during the Obama administration.  When Hillary and The Woke took center stage, however, that really got those white gangsters living in compounds for the last twenty years fired up.  Then came George Floyd and the BLM movement and Antifa and Portland and CNN and Cancel Culture and then Trump let the dogs out.  

Now, with America on the ropes, France is reacting (link).  They are pointing the finger at the American academy and the agenda of the far left.  

The N.Y. Times is struggling with the issues of The Woke, too (link).  

It seems we will need to cancel the past at some point (link).  Those were very bad times.  

Oppression is the issue.  What is at question is the definition.  All sides feel they are being acted against.  People generalize then categorize.  Then we deal with false equivalents.  Those verbalizing the argument aren't always the best prepared to represent and so we pick at the flaw in the argument.  

Add in some religious zeal (or its "spiritual" equivalent) and a little crank and then give the asshole a microphone (social media), and stir.  

Start with Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" and the birth of the Tea Party and you will inevitably get The Woke.  Tolerance is a casualty.  You can't throw a brick without breaking a window.  

But maybe it started with the hippie movement in the '60s.  As Nixon's Attorney General John Mitchell predicted then, "This country is going to go so far right you will never recognize it." 

Now the U.S. is like the Dugum Dani Tribe of New Guinea--an endless cycle of offense and retribution.

"Ritual small-scale warfare between rival villages is integral to traditional Dani culture, with much time spent preparing weapons and treating resulting injuries. Typically the emphasis in battle is to insult the enemy and wound or kill token victims, as opposed to capturing territory or property or vanquishing the enemy village." (link)

 This is not at all what I had planned to write today.  Indeed, I had intended something completely different.  I will have to change the photo for today as a result.  Perhaps tomorrow I will get to what I intended.  It was the senate hearings that did it to me.  The prosecutors have made their case, and I can't imagine that the defense can counter it.  But we shall see.  A juror does not get to cast a vote until all the evidence has been presented.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A Fellow Walks into a Sushi Bar


They should require that t-shirt 

Hold on.  I need to get another cup of coffee.  I don't know why, but I slept very late this morning.  Unusually so.  I'll be right back, 

It is damp and gray today.  Perhaps that kept me in bed.  It certainly was nothing I did yesterday.  It was so much like every other day I couldn't tell the difference.  I got up, read the "papers," stretched, took a walk, went to the gym, showered, went to lunch, came home and took a nap, got up and went to my mother's, picked up a sushi dinner, watched the news, poured a scotch, took a cheroot to the porch, watched some t.v., and went to bed before ten.  

What can I say.  It is my life.  

There were some virtual things and a gift came through the mail.  And I had two birthday cards.  One came from the attorneys who handled my accident.  The other was from a bar in Palm Beach.  Bradley's has been sending them to me since the 1980s.  If I'd been there, I could have had a free drink.  They are really swell.  

In the afternoon, I got a big box on my front porch.  A friend of the blog sent me a picture frame diorama using one of my Lonesomeville prints.  It was quite elaborate.  

My mother gave me money for a pair of Birkenstocks, if you can believe that.  I haven't had a pair for years, but I think it is about time to get some again.  I believe they are in vogue just now, but even if they are not, I will sway the crowd.  

When I walked into the sushi restaurant to pick up my order, the place was fairly empty.  The staff were all up front when I came in.  They greeted me by name.  I like that, of course.  I don't spend enough money there to warrant that, but you know, long blonde hair and all. . . . 

There were three girls sitting at the bar close by.  One of them said--and I know you will think I am making this up, but I shit you not--"Ooo, nice hair."  

"Thanks," I said through the black mask that makes my hair look even blonder.  

One of the women, maybe the manager, maybe the owner, I'm not sure, asked, "What are you doing for Valentine's Day?"  I thought it an odd question, really, but I put my hand over my heart and hunched a little in the pose of a heart attack and said, ". . . I don't know.  Maybe I'll find a girlfriend."

Immediately the woman at the bar who had commented on my hair shot her hand into the air and said, "I'll be your girlfriend!"  

I haven't been around people for a long time now, and my instincts and reactions are a bit off.  I was searching for something to say.  Just then, the girl beside her pointed to her and said, "And today is her birthday!"

I shook my head as if trying to clear it.  It all seemed a bit surreal.  

"Really?  Today?  That's weird.  Today is my birthday, too."

The women set up a chatter.  I can't remember any specific words, just the excited tone.

"Did you have a good birthday?" I asked.  

She looked down rather seriously.  "Not really," she said.  

"It must be an Aquarius thing," I offered.  "Mine was nothing special, either."  

The waitress handed me my go bag, and the manager/owner said, "Wait a minute.  I want to give you a present."  She dashed behind the bar and came back with a bottle of sake.  "This is really good," she said.  "Do you know how to open it?"

I just looked at her, stupefied.  

"After you take this off, you have to press down with your thumb here.  Then the ball will fall out. . . ."

I got lost in it.  It was some special Japanese thing.  

"If I have trouble, I guess I can Google it."  

"Oh. . . she's a Google expert," someone said, pointing to my birthday partner.  

I laughed and thanked everyone and waved as I reached for the door.  I had really run out of things to say. 

Back in the car, I called my mother.  "I had to call you to tell you this.  You won't believe what just happened. . . ." 

There were a few more texts that night and a phone call.  Some scotch and a cheroot, as I said.  Birthdays are hard.  They are truly awkward things.  It is a day that rarely brings me any peace or happiness.  I don't feel worthy of anyone's attention knowing it is mostly forced or token, but having none is disconcerting, too.  I realized that on this day last year, just days after my retirement from the factory and the fantastic party they threw, I had another party at one of my favorite restaurants with a small group of them.  It was the last time that group got together.  It has been a year.  A year since I have really seen anyone.  A year of solitude and quiet.  A year of deformation and hardship.  And maybe a little loneliness, too.  

Late, Q wondered if it was my birthday.  Yes, I said.  Somehow I have gotten old.  It seems cruel, all this aging.  But hey. . . did you hear the one about the fellow who walks into a sushi bar. . . ?

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Nights of Memories and Retribution


Sometimes alone at night in bed, your head just wants to explode with details of your past life.  Last night was one of those.  It was one scene after another, little events of great significance remembered in vivid detail.  A brain works in microseconds.  My memories extended back to childhood and came at me like the history of art in the "Classical Gas" video from the 1960s (link).  It was too much.  I was up just before five.

There was a lot of disturbing shit in there.  I'll be a tired boy today.  

There have been a string of cloudy days without rain here.  There will be more.  Desultory weather, desultory mind.  

This photo was taken in Cuba a couple years ago.  Can't be sure what's going on here, but I don't think she's Cuban.  There were lots of moneyed LatinX tourists there.  How was I not going to try to photograph her, though?  It would have been impossible.  I should have asked that fellow to step out of the frame, however.  What's the harm in asking?

It is dark and I am blank.  The Impeachment Trial begins today.  Without direct evidence, not even I would convict Trump on this charge.  We all know he is responsible, but there have been no direct links provided yet.  Everyone is waiting for the prosecutors to show one.  I don't think they will.  But what do I know.  All my legal training has come from watching cable news shows.  I'm not sure I'm ready to take the Bar Exam.  

O.K.  This is a bit of torture for me today, as it surely is for you.  I'm going to hang up now until I have something to say.  Until then. . . .