Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Reader’s Vacation: A Weekend in Reality

wow, Wednesday, huh?  This week has gotten right away from me, and it’s not just that Monday was Soldier Appreciation Day - I’ve had a fistful of busy jammed down my craw from sunup till gloamdown and more on the way, so I’d best take advantage of a moment or three this evening to catch you up with the general doings and goings-on and suchlike.  Let’s recap:

First, a note of general authorial orientation: I’m writing less lately, though I’ve got plenty of notes for essays and such in my little mini-moleskine.  The problem is Jamie.  He’s this dude who is at the center of a blasted skellitch of a series of novels that, with no great pride on my part, I cannot stop reading.  I’m on volume five of six - this one is 1400 pages long, but I’m sucking it down like, oh, I guess Jamie would say, like cold porter on a hot July morn.  It’s just your basic Scottish time-travel action adventure romance medical-historical mystery hogwash, and if you want to know more, drop me a line.  Otherwise, suffice it to say, I’ll be writing again soon, once that damned kiltie has been laid to rest in my bookshelf where he belongs. 

So, with that out of the way:

Saturday was a day of frolics and delights.  Z and I spent some quality time at Rossi Playground in the morning, where I hoped to tire him out in advance of a trip to the museum in the park with Shariar.  It was a good time at the playground and a good time at the museum too - we visited some galleries we don’t often frequent, lingering over the mesoamerican doodads and some of the modernist freakouts like this:

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There was also a great exhibit of art by kids ranging from very tender years up through high school, much of which was really museum-worthy.  I took lots of photos but they don’t capture what I saw, so I won’t bother you with them.  Suffice it to say, they were good and Zach in particular seemed charged up by them.  Once Zach’s energy level exceeded my ability to manage him inside a museum, we went out to the gardens to let him romp.  We started in the sculpture garden, which is actually a little barren I think, but it does have that awesome skyspace area where Zach frolicked and squealed with a delight we all shared but were too restrained to express.  Here’s how he looked just before leaping up with an echoing shout:

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We next wandered over to the east garden, which I really like; for a small space, it’s got great landscaping with lots of “features.” One of Zach’s favorites is the lawn that’s watered, not with sprinklers, but with misters.  NO, not like “Mr.s” - I mean like this:

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Sha returned to our home with us to await Helena.  Before she arrived, or shortly thereafter (things got fuzzy after a while), the Paiges also showed up to share some giggles and agitate our boy, thusly:

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Helena had brought in an enormous feast from one of our longstanding favorite but too-long-neglected east African restaurants, whereof we supped, once the Paiges had left for their own supper, far beyond our reasonable capacities.  (That’s the thing about Ethiopian food; you eat it with bread that’s very spongelike and once you’ve finished eating it keeps on swelling and expanding inside of you, taking you from “comfortably full” to “grotesquely stuffed” without the necessity of taking any additional sustenance.) The remainder of that evening was a dead loss.

Sunday was a day of housework, a run in the park, a buttload of more housework, and a stroll back in the park during misty hours that lent themselves to some more pastoral photography.  Here’s a selection of my favorites:

A twig, hanging down from a tree, cloaked in spikes of moss:

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A log, with moss swirling in its whorls:

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A sculpture we stumbled across in a service yard - broken and bizarre (is that a face I see on that young woman’s head?  If so, why is she so disturbingly deformed?): 

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Sunday concluded quietly, with Zach bright-eyed in anticipation of a picnic the next day.  And he was fain disappointed, because (as intimated in an earlier post, for those of you paying attention) we spent much of Memorial Monday waaaay out the other side of the bay up in Tilden Park with the Paiges and the Penns and a bunch of other families with young kids whom we did not know but liked from the outset.  Kel and I ate delectable sandwiches from our favorite gourmet deli, and drank excellent beer, and ate much pineapple and strawberry, and generally lounged and relaxed.  But there was more: active gaming, also, took place!  I’m not the first guy you might think of when it comes to ball-and-bat games or football tossing or that sort of thing, but I had at it with gusto and it was an absolute blast.  Even though I was in the presence of someone who was a) a stranger, who was b) much larger and in better shape than I was, and c) really really knew what he was doing with a bat or a football, I had a great time.  It even sort of loosened up my tense, aching back.  (pause for pity (("pitypause"))).  We hung out till 4 pm, by which time the cold breeze and overcast skies had cleared to warmth and sunlight, and then we rounded off our day with a pit stop at the Paige’s nearby lair.  Supper was consumed back at our home, including my now famous squash fritters (see below).  I got Zach to sleep at 8:30 and went directly to sleep myself thereafter.  I got 10 straight hours of sleep that night and it was fan-freaking-tastic. 

This brought me to Tuesday, a day of “to’s”: I went TO Z’s preschool with him TO drop him off, then TO my office TO do my work for a few hours - then I left TO take BART TO the east bay for my annual physical.  I am, by the way, fine - a healthy weight for my height and still too young for a prostate exam, which my delightful friend Dr Andy tells me is no longer an effective diagnostic tool anyway so I have that not to look forward to anymore.  After an amusing chat with Andy I re-applied my pantaloons and wandered a few blocks down Berkeley’s Shattuck Avenue ("where the shat is uckky") to a cool brewpub and cafe where I met an old friend from High School.  We’d gotten back in touch with each other as a result of that cover story in Newsweek about my graduating class (actually, I’m not kidding), and finally arranged to share a table and some beverages and see about catching up a little.  It was a provocative, entertaining, sobering and amusing conversation, and I hope to have more of them with her.  But by then it was time to catch my train back to the city, and my bus back home, and to make my fried tofu with green beans, and to call it a goddamn night.  Which, by then, it was, and more power to ya. 

Oh yeah, the fritters: check the extended entry if’n ya want the recipe.  They’re damned tasty.  But if you’re done by now, I can hardly blame ya.  Wish me luck with the stupid goddamn novels, and I’ll have something of literary value for you someday soon, I hope.  Till then, dinna fash, sasquach - the good stuff is just around the corner. 

that's just the way it seems to me at 09:03 PM
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Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Alien Next Door

I’m torn - I can’t decide between stories of Zakular cuteness, a recipe for tasty fritters linked up with the story of my fabulous (FABulus) weekend, or if I should just just spit out a story about extraterrestrial visitations.  But the first one is not challenging and will ultimately bore the three or four of you still poking under this dank flat rock in the forgotten sideyard of the internet; the second one would be premature as I’ve still got a picanik to attend tomorrow; and that leaves you with my old friend Bashar.  Hope you guys get along real good. 

THE ALIEN NEXT DOOR

It didn’t feel like the beginning of anything - much less, an era.  Maybe “era” is putting it too strongly, though.  Maybe “phase” is more like it.  Still, it didn’t feel much like the beginning of a phase, either.

It basically felt like a living room in Studio City, though now I suppose it’s called “Valley Village.” I drove through the area again not too long ago and all they changed was the name - unchanged were the ranks of residential streets with their regular geometry, four long blocks up and eight narrow ones across, separated by four-lane arteries and filled with tidy houses all possessed of their own modest universality, a breastpocket comprehensiveness to every hearth that rendered each one an archetype of what had once truly been an era, the midcentury boom that exploded the SF valley and similar infra-urbs throughout America - infill tracts, stucco-studded and driveway-cleft, each home a prepackaged dream come true and consequently a delight for drivers cruising the boulevards but a little spooky sometimes for a solitary pedestrian like myself as a kid.... In those streets, among those houses, I was never confident that I had any idea what my neighbors were up to - or, rather, I was absolutely sure each one of them hid a terrible secret that I’d be better off never knowing.  Everything looked too neat for them not to be hiding something.

It was in this world I grew up, and in it that my friend and fellow sentient Tanja gave me a call one night when I was home from college to see if I was open to checking out Bashar - she had two invites for a local event and thought it might be up my alley.

I asked the same question you’re probably asking now - Bashar?  Apparently there was a nebbishy guy who was getting a lot of attention as a channel, an entity through which another entity could perceive and communicate.  In this guy’s case it was a very distant alien being called “Bashar." He had a message or a perspective or a frequency or something that was said to be new and powerful.  He had a following.  These invites of Tanja’s had not been easy to come by. 

The event would be local; the cost, “reasonable.” How much?  Twenty.  Okay, I’m in.  And let me tell you something - back in the early ‘80s, a $20 was really worth something.  But I was committed - to the experience if nothing else.  Tanja came over that night in her little Civic and off we went to scope out the oracle. 

I can’t tell you a thing about what he said that night - some gobbledook, some Robert Heinlein, some Deepak Chopra - but the message was not what really stuck with me.  Neither was it the thin reedy voice nor the spasmodic facial tics that wracked the human intermediary’s face as he channeled.  Rather, it was the almost tangible feeling that reverberated in the room itself. 

Once again, this was the early ‘80s - Shirley McClaine was still mostly known for acting and dancing.  Crystals were for bedazzling, not for aura clarification.  Astral projection happened at planetariums.  Guys like Bashar were pretty few and far between, but they were rapidly getting a lot more popular.  The Bodhi Tree was coming into blossom and truly it was the dawning of a New Age - one might even say, the New Age.  When we walked into that unprepossessing living room, that typically inert ceremonial space built into every home in my dreamtract neighborhood, which is to say, just a regular living room in Studio City - when we opened that front door we found dozens of people sitting on a thicket of folding chairs and all the remaining floor space, somewhat subdued in dress and manner but chattering breathlessly, waiting, an undercurrent of anticipation crackling in the air.  Something was happening here, hidden amid the stultifying regularity of my immediate world. Or, it had been hidden, but I had stumbled into it. 

But that just begged the question - if I had uncovered this one secret, of disembodied space aliens preaching the doctrine of cosmic harmony, in one erstwhile unremarkable living room - what about the secrets that remained concealed?  After aliens, what next? 

that's just the way it seems to me at 10:09 PM
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Word on the Street

It’s not like I make a regular practice of handing out change, but when I do, this guy is a likely beneficiary.  He’s out there more often than not, putting in some serious hours selling the Street Sheet - and that is difficult work, though he seems to bear up under it impressively well.  He’s slightly built, his hair thin and lank but still barely more black than grey, deep wrinkles in his weatherworn face surely exaggerating his age. He wears jeans and a plain twill worker’s shirt with a shapeless, slightly-too-small sweater.  But his pedestrian wardrobe is not what you notice.  What you notice is how he stands.

His posture is swayed, his legs rising to the side instead of up, his hips rotated away.  His spine wrenches up to compensate, so he peers at you as if he were rolling over upon waking up in a bed not his own.  His face, too, seems twisted, his mismatched remaining teeth giving a slant to his grin that accentuates the hip-twisted sideways direction from which his gaze originates.  He’s got a complicated physiognomy, but a guileless, steady smile and a self-deprecating approach that’s somehow a retreat, backing away along with you with gracious wishes for you to have a good day.

And if he gets you ear for half a second, craftsman that he is, he’ll have you hip-deep in conversation, getting you talking about the weather or the Giants or the new building they’re putting up down the road… the conversations are not oppressive, and he never exceeds the bounds of propriety in what he says or how long he says it for.  I never hear him complain about things.  His hands, when I occasionally gave him some help, are delicately constructed and very soft.  He has a soft touch all around and helping him out never feels like enabling him.  Nice as he is, this dude needs some help sometimes. 

Earlier today I encountered him in the mid-afternoon, which is to say, I saw him swaying his earnest gig at the corner and just walked on up to accept his cheerful greeting.  I could have avoided him but I didn’t, and in that I felt generous already.  He asked me how it was going, and I told him that I was doing pretty well, and returned the inquiry.  I was suddenly struck by a fear that this had been an insensitive thing to ask when I noticed a faraway look come into his eyes, and he said something like this:

“Well I’m all right, you take the good with the bad and I can’t complain, I woke up this morning and thought, that’s a good start. You know I was in the hospital, I got stabbed - well really it started out and I was up in the marina, of all places, three-four months back, and I see this scuffle on the street, but I just stay away from all that and it sort of breaks up, but then this one fella sees me and he just flips out and comes at me, that’s all I remember and I wake up seventeen days later with my spleen took out, he’d gone and stabbed me for no reason at all, they’d had to put a hole in my throat so I could breathe and no food or water for all that time, I woke up and my family was there, they was crying, and I ask’em, why you crying?  And they tol’me: ‘cause you woke up, and I says, it’s only been a day, and they says, no, it’s been seventeen.  And my mouth and my throat, they was all full of blood.  But the whole thing only cost me forty-eight dollars, since I’m a veteran and all.  I lost fifty pounds in seventeen days, and then I went out and visited my brother in West Virginia and he runs a Dairy Queen, and I put on a pound a day, a pound a day.

“And people ask me,” he paused, looking contemplatively at a new building they’re putting up down the road, “they ask me what I’d do if they found the guy who did it, ‘cause you know the police never did find him at all, but if I found him would I come to him with forgiveness or out of revenge, and you know, I just don’t know which one I’d pick, but I hope it never comes to that, because each day, you know, now it’s a gift to me, it’s an absolute gift when you wake up after seventeen days in a coma, and I’m not going to let that guy who stabbed me get in the way of that.”

At this point a well-built man in his 20s or 30s stepped up to us.  He was simply but very neatly dressed, and presented himself with polite diffidence.  “Excuse me sirs,” he began, “I am sorry to bother you but I must return to Mexico and I have no money to do so.  Can you help me?” The Street Sheet guy almost scoffed but restrained himself, saying only, “I’m selling the Street Sheet to get by here, I got nothin’ for ya – but maybe if you came back in an hour or two, I might be able to help a little....” I reached into my pocket and pulled out seventy cents in change, dropped it in the putative Mexican’s palm.  He nodded gravely and walked away. 

It was time for me to go back to work, so I took my leave of Street Sheet guy and walked back up the murky arcade toward my building.  I felt as if there were something more that I ought to be doing, but I couldn’t think of what.  I was out of change already, I’d bought a Street Sheet earlier in the week, and I was still using my spleen.  I settled for picking up my son from day care.  You may not see the connection, but I do. 

that's just the way it seems to me at 12:03 AM
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Monday, May 19, 2008

Show 4: Phil Closes the Warfield and I Was There

Mondays are Fundays!  They’re the days you get to get paid to sit on your ass and think about all the great stuff you did on your own dime over the previous two days.  And for me, that means I can think about having just completed book 4 of the six-book “Adventures through Time, Saw-bonesery, Warfare, Doing It and Scotland” series (Book 3: they traveled through time, treated some gross illnesses, shot and stabbed folk generally, did it, but mostly avoided Scotland), but that’s not why you tuned in.  You want details about the Warfield show and I am here to give them to you.  Because I care.  About talking about myself.  So shut up already and let me go on. 

The Warfield is an old movie palace that’s been hosting live music for 50 or so years.  Many of the truly great rock shows ever played in San Francisco were here, including some amazing String Cheese shows I saw and a Trey concert with Santana sitting in that is still blowing me away five years later.  But this isn’t about the dead and distant past (or about Scotland or time travel, technically), it’s about this past weekend, so let’s focus, shall we?  SHALL WE? 

That is a little better.  Let us continue.  The Warfield is in the mid-market district of SF – that’s a very scungy, derelict district.  There are lots of old theaters up and down the street, closed and shuttered; most of the businesses that remain look very run down and cut-rate.  I noticed Kaplan’s Army Surplus and Camping – the shop was empty and dust-draped and the neon box sign in front was missing letters from every word on it except the phrase “since 1938”.  Somehow I found that both comforting and sad, but definitely typical of the area.  Mid-market is a district waiting for revitalization, biding its time by marinating in untreated biowaste.  Makes its own gravy, and smells as good as it tastes. 

The Warfield occupies a large part of its block, a block on which many street dwellers have taken up residence or at least maintain skulking privileges.  So, surrounding the line of aging hippies and fresh-faced neohippies (there is hope for America yet) there were all these wretched, toothless, grimy people begging for meth money.  It reminded me of so many other lines I’ve stood in at the Warfield.  Good times, people.  By which I mean the television program.  You know, Taxi

The Warfield: Inside were the many amazing mounted photos of great concerts gone by, including the great shot of Neil Young playing with Booker T and the MGs where his hair is standing out from his head as if he were channeling Nicolas Tesla; there’s the shrine to Jerry; there was a nice arrangement of skeletons and roses on the landing of the balcony stairs.  The place still had a lot of charisma.  That doesn’t mean it’s still be going strong though – my understanding is that the show I saw on Saturday was the penultimate concert to be held there, and it closed down as of last night, the last of the five-concert Phil and Friends series.  The Warfield, as we know it, is no more. 

Phil and Friends: I’ve seen them a few times but never with this line-up – the band changes every few years.  Currently they’ve got a front-man who’s much more like a front-boy – Jackie Green, the rockin’ baby.  Okay I just checked and he’s 28 but really, he sounds like he’s been playing since the “old days” but he looks like he’s cutting high school to sit in with the band.  It was great to see the age range of the players on stage, and to have a kid like Jackie giving direction and assignments to old hands like Lesh and Molo.  He really carried off the very heavy burden of leading that band with style and incisive guitar licks. 

Also, it was very exciting to hear some classic old songs played with a totally new feel and style.  Neither of the Phil and Friends guitar players sounds at all like the old G.Dead crew.  Of course, Phil’s thundering baseline brought it all back to the roots – several times I literally felt my kneecaps shaking and my teeth jangling when he’d level a really solid chord on us – but the guitars were new and different, and I enjoyed the hell out of them.  Plus, they brought out a talking drums guy and a freaky electric mandolin guy to chime in on some of the later numbers.  There was a lot of music going on, I tell you what. 

The show itself: When you hear that P&Fs did a five-concert series, I assume you understand that those were all very different shows – there’s no memorizing the song list and playing it till the tour ends.  But this particular series was a little different-er, if you will.  The first night was two sets: the first set was the G.Dead’s first album, played beginning to end; the second set was their second album.  The second show consisted of their third and fourth albums.  The third show was the fifth and sixth albums, but those were acoustic albums and I’ve heard that the show was fairly mellow, not blazing with vast gouts of molten music like I needed.  And that left me off at show number four: Album number seven was Skull and Roses, which gave us a first set songlist of: Bertha, Mama Tried, Big Railroad Blues, Playing in the Band (into) That’s it for the Other One, Me & My Uncle, Big Boss Man, Me & Bobby McGee, Johnny B. Goode, Wharf Rat, Not Fade Away, Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad. 

That was a two-album LP, completed in one set, brilliantly.  BLAZING.  Really.  Replace-your-fire-alarm hotness.  But the night was still young.  The second set started around midnight and skipped a whole bunch of albums, picking up the discography in 1981 at album #18: Dead Set.  This was an evocative choice because much of that album had been recorded live at the Warfield, and they played it, again, from start to finish:

Samson and Delilah, Friend of the Devil, New Minglewood Blues, Deal, Candyman, Little Red Rooster, Loser, Passenger (completely blew me away), Feel Like a Stranger, Franklin’s Tower, Rhythm Devils, Fire on the Mountain, Greatest Story Ever Told, Brokedown Palace. 

That’s another two-record collection, split over the second and third sets.  The concert let out around 2 am and, once home, I slept very peacefully indeed.  You want photos?  They’re attached to the bottom of this set list.  See, I come through for you.  Even if it kills me.  Which this didn’t so I shouldn’t complain.  As if that’ll stop me. 

The next night, the final night of the series and of the Warfield, didn’t seem to follow the pattern of album re-visitations.  Sounded like a good show but I think I caught the best one.  Sunday was relaxing and I cooked an excellent pot roast.  No not like that you degenerate.  Just regular pot roast.  But delicious.  The end. 

Next: something about a dude on the street.  Time for me to even out the story karma, I think. 

that's just the way it seems to me at 06:05 PM
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Thursday, May 15, 2008

sublime to ridiculous: EOB notes

Sublime:
Now that it’s 2008, you can have your jet pack.  Bonus curiosity: he’s Swiss!  What do you make of that?  Flying at 180 mph about a mile over the alps, the most important thing he has to do is stay relaxed.  File under “easier said than done.”

Ridiculous
The following LPs (ask yer granpappy) were left on the sidewalk of 6th Avenue just north of Clement, and undoubtedly represent the non-liberated remainders of someone’s old dumped collection.  Can you sniff out the common thread?

Mac Davis: I Believe in Music
George Benson: Breezin’
Hooked on Classics
Hooked on Swing
The Best of the Mills Brothers (2 record set!) (but no gatefold)
Paul Williams: Here Comes Inspiration
Glen Frey: The All-Nighter
Patti Austin: Every Home Should Have One
Barbara (you know which one): Color Me Barbara
Bellamy Brothers: (apparently eponymous album, featuring “Let Your Love Flow")
Cleo Laine: A Beautiful Thing

Question (repeated for dramatic effect): What is the common thread among these unredeemed items of auditory jettison?  Answer: THEY ALL SUCK! 

Well that was fun, come again next time and I will try to have something more engaging with which to engage you.  In the meantime, Barbara, if you’re reading, you know I didn’t mean you.  Color me sycophantic! 

that's just the way it seems to me at 06:01 PM
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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

heads up

hey bless my soul i went and got some photos posted at the photo page of this ‘yere blog.  knock yourself out (but make sure you pronounce the first “k” in “knock").  No wait, here’s a few to get you started:

Zach on Mother’s day.  He’s a good’un.
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Zach enjoys painting.  Zach enjoys painting Zach.
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and finally, bowing to popular demand: a photo of the tramampoline. 
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wordosity will ensue.  drive friendly. 

that's just the way it seems to me at 09:08 PM
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Monday, May 12, 2008

One Mutha of A Weekend

Let’s do some ol’ fashioned blogstering here and catch y’all up on a few Mother’s Day Weekend delights that might have skipped yer focus, seeing as how you were not hanging out with me the whole time to keep your knowlege-levels all bulging and fierce like mine am.  SO:

Friday night was distinguished by Zach greeting me at the door with delerious cries of “1-2-3!  1-2-3!” And in fact that’s just what he meant, because NetFlix had just delivered TMBG’s latest compilation of juvenile smartiness-enhancing music videos.  It is fair to say that, since about 45 minutes since I walked in the door on Friday night, I’ve had songs about zeros, fours, and especially sevens and particularly especially 11s-and-12s stuck firmly in the tarry matrix of my worn-out haid. 

Saturday morning Z and I took a stroll on Clement, where we encountered wonders and miracles!  Anyway, we encountered weird groceries and action figures, which is almost as good… We made our first stop at Heroes Club, where Z took care to inform me which guys were good and which were, um, not good.  (Mostly they were not good, except for spiderman and one smiling astroboy; even Batman was Not Good because he was all frowny).  After a few surreal minutes amidst the mannikins, we wandered further on down the street and then crossed over to take a gander at New May Wah, wandering a few aisles to see if anything caught our eye (mental note: what will I make with a can of sweetened mangosteens in syrup?).  Among things I did notice were the following:
* The slogan of Orion Choco-Pies is “It’s NOW!”.  I like that.  Very anxiety-producing.
* One particular corn puff snack comes in flavors that include “Karl Cheese Flavor.” Karl is actually shown in cartoon form on the front of the bag and you can totally imagine how cheesy he is.
* “It’s So Wonderful" Candy comes in three flavors: Orange, Lemon and Ube! 

We also made a side-trip to a fishmonger to mong at some fish.  Z was intrigued but a bit put-off by it too.  I can’t say as I blame him, but they did have some really nice looking ahi for $15/lb so I might go back on my own at some point. 

Saturday afternoon had been originally built around our going to a nice pikanik with some nice friends of Kel’s who have a big crazy pickanik in the park every blame year since, um, for, okay, well this was gonna be the 11th one anyway, you do the math.  We packed up sausages fer grillin’ and fruit salad for coolwhippin’ and the adorable childboy for running around with dogs, and we drove out to the meadow where the festivities were to be held.  We did see the signal red-n-yellow balloons and a lot of folk with kids and dogs and grills and such, but not anybody Kel knew.  We took a little walk and came back, and Kel’s friends were still MIA.  Dang!  So we wandered over to the powerboat lake for to watch the RC powerboats wipe out in spectactular roostertails (turns out they get’em back by casting a line out past them with a tennis ball on the end, and just reel it back in - clever, those geeks can be).  We also visited a little concrete island in the lake where lots of little turtles haul out to get some sun, and happened to see one of these too which totally freaked us out.  It’s massive.  It’s reptilian.  AND IT’Z IN YER BOATLAKE! 

The big reptile made us hungry so we got some hot dogs at a stand, and then goddamn it we went back home via some noodling around maneuvers so Z would fall asleep, and then everybody got a nice comfy nap - and if that’s not a decent stand-in for a pikanik with strangers, well, you are probably doing one of them wrong. 

Saturday night was an actual date night (DATE NIGHT, cue theme song) - the first we’ve had in over a year.  Z got left at cousin Bex’ place, and we hit the road to go 3 blocks away for supper at B Star Cafe which was really very nice, except for Kel’s meatball jook, which was SPECTACULAR and I will order it forever until it or I cease to exist.  Afterwards we wandered a little, checked out Park Life (great art, fun books, scary music) and Green Apple and then got a beer or two at the Plough and Stars before grabbing a very rich slice of cake at a Martha & Bros and finally wandering aimlessly back to pick up Zach, a mere 2.5 hours later .... but man it felt like a solid 3 hours and fifteen minutes of child-free relaxation.  Par-tay.  Zach and Bex had a great time together and I think it’ll be a regular thing, eventually… I hope so, anyway.  One date with the wife every 13 months is a bit rough on Daddy. 

Okay, then, Sunday: We were planning on doing a hike out at Pt Reyes but we reevaluated at the last minute and did some of the 49 mile drive instead.  Oh, first we started off with blueberry pancakes, but of course you expected that of me, right?  THEN the drive - out to the beach to start (first exciting attraction: accident with car upside-down!  whoo-hoo!) and then to Ft Funston (scroll down to that log-ladder and realize as I did that I’d have to carry Z all the way back up it) for some fresh air and hang-glider-watching action.  Then down around Lake Merced, up to Noriega Street, and out to Polly-Ann for some frozen dairy luncheon (I had a cup of turkish coffee and lychee, and then a swirled soft-serve cone for dessert), which Z seemed (...seemed... ) to enjoy very much. 

We let Zach fall asleep on the drive home (added bonus sight: 9-11 Truth March!) and I tried to put him down for a nap but as soon as he hit the horizontal he started pitching a fit about watching more of his new favorite DVD.  I was reasoning with him very effectively and I think he’d have calmed down if he hadn’t suddenly horked up his whole ice cream lunch on the couch, his clothes, some blankets and towels we had lain down to protect everything, and a fair amount of floor space besides.  HAPPY MOTHERS DAY because kel was asleep and I dealt with it on my own as best I could. 

Once I’d ignited the couch and steam-cleaned the child, it was time to go shopping for supper (with a stop first at the Arboretum , because it’s just such a nice day outside that we might as well see what’s growing).  We wound up getting some trout that I grilled in the new electric grillpan, which I LOVE, and it came out great - a little crispy-brown on top and nice and juicy and soft throughout, with grilled onions and a little lemon-wine reduction… With that I served some asparagus with shaved fennel, and rounds of well-fried mushroom polenta.  It was deeee-licious.  Dessert was a handful of baked goods, including a huge brownie and a hand-dipped moon pie, and then we put the boy to bed and I read my novel instead of catching up on Survivor.  I didn’t feel like turning on the television.  Sometimes a weekend is full enough without it, you know? 

Pictures, maybe, later.  For now, enough.  Later, maters. 

that's just the way it seems to me at 05:45 PM
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Friday, May 09, 2008

The Wet Fish

It is a wise fish who knows it is wet.  some kind of famous damn proverb.

It was a humorless ride on a well-packed limited bus.  Most of us were office and retail drones, jealously husbanding whatever strength we had left for the home stretch, cautiously entrusting each other to make it an easy ride for us all.  Among us were a scattered handful of tourists - tall slim eurotypes, well-dressed with good skin and clear, cynical eyes.  A pair of them took the floor in front of my in-facing bench, holding gracefully to a single steel pole and exchanging silently voluminous glances back and forth that made me feel crass and underdressed. 

I was reading a fat paperback and, optimistically, had omitted to insert the ‘buds to my iPod, in view of the apparent discretion of the ridership.  It was a nice change to immerse myself in the white noise of the bus engines instead of stuffing my ears with syncopated plastic plugs.  Of course, it was not to last.

At Kearny there boarded a ragged man.  He was tall and his belly swelled out dramatically above teetering legs and below a narrow chest and shoulders; a silvery van dyke spilled down from his grizzled chin over a ratty red sweatshirt, the beard seemingly as much spittle and food as hair.  In the side pocket of his crusty cargo pants he’d secreted a plastic bottle that had once held soda but clearly, by the fumes that emanated from his every pore, now contained some low form of spiritous liquors.  But his eyes were bright and cheerful and he came on board as if he were arriving at a frathouse reunion.  To say the least, he did not fit in - and the least was the least that he said. 

Swaying dangerously, he waded through the other standees, causing the elegant tourists in front of me to raise their eyebrows judgmentally.  The shabby man didn’t go much further, stopping just a few feet past us on the other side of the long bus’ articulation, which was itself equipped with a pair of seats to either side.  On those seats, opposite me and to my left, were sitting a young man and woman with stolid business-ready grimness etched deep on their features, clad incongruously in athletic garb: fresh sweatshirts and running shorts cut high on the thigh, their faces now gone from dour preoccupation to horrified revulsion.  I hadn’t barely noticed them before, but the shabby man who now teetered beside them trained his bleary focus on them directly.  “Heh - how ya doin’?” he cheerfully inquired, but received no response.  “Ay com’ on, we’re all in this together, right?  Right? He wouldn’t take “no answer “ for an answer.  Each word he spoke filled the air with boozy vapors.  The woman in the running shorts locked her grimace even more firmly in place, her eyes glowering with disdain and aggravation, even as the shabby man kept tossing off conversational gambits.  “Y’r goin’ runnin’?”

The man in the running shorts then did something remarkable: he turned in his seat to the lush standing behind him and answered the question.  I couldn’t hear the answer but it was clearly just what the shabby man had wanted to hear.  “Tha’s righ’? Fantastic! Fantastik! Tha’s great!! You know, I usta run track!  High school champ!” with this he gestured with knowing dismissivness to his ruined physique, his filth-stiffined clothes, his general uncleanliness.  “Hah!,” he laughed crudely, looking around the bus for confirmation.  Finding none, he roared it again to the ceiling, “Hah!!”

By now I was fishing in my coat for the iPod again, unwrapping the ‘buds and readying myself to put a layer of sound between him and me.  The sophisticates before me watched this operation with bemused approval.  “Good zhoice,” the female half of them said, with a tacit, knowing nod from her confrere.  All three of us glanced down to the voluble drunk.  “I’d thought to leave them out this time,” I superfluously explained, “but it doesn’t seem such a great idea now.” The gym-short woman, beset by stench and blather, and further antagonized by her friend’s inaudible conversational goading of the drunkard short me a glance of icy rage.  She couldn’t see anything to do but to ride it out for the time being.  She wanted out, but she didn’t know exactly how to get there. 

We were pulling up to the Powell Street stop, just three down from where he’d boarded, when the drunk snapped to attention.  “Powell Street?  Tha’s me!  I gotta get out!  Aw, I won’t have time to get to th’ door...” The bus was just creaking to a halt, the doors weren’t open yet - but there were a lot of people blocking the way.  “Sure you can,” both the shorts-wearers assured him, a desparate hope barely masked in their voices.  “Yeah?,” the sot looked fore and then aft, assessing his options. His past athletic prowess again aroused, he was rising on spindly legs to the challenge. “I won’ be able to make it back there,” he assessed frankly, looking back.  “Try that one,” the shorts-wearers urged in an excess of helpfulness, pointing up the aisle in coincidental synchronization. 

“Yeah, right,” said the driunk decisively; “G’by now have a good’en” - and with that he locked his wavering gaze on his destination and started pushing forward, bellowing “Comin’ Out!” to encourage those in his path to clear him some room as if they needed any encouragement.  The frenchies in front of me wore a shared expression of relief and disgust as he made his odiferous, boisterous way past us. 

He reached the doorwell as the doors began to slide shut on him, but he reclaimed some of his erstwhile athleticism in a diving reach to stop them.  Repulsed as if by anti-magnetism, the otherwise apathetic commuters in his way leaped aside to give him access to the exit. 

Laughing, roaring, tumbling, he blustered his way down the stairwell and out to a stretch of sidewalk lined with pricey boutiques and galleries and a five-star hotel.  I glanced up to the french couple for a fraternal exchange of smirks; but they were having none of it, staring pointedly at their cuticles.  The couple in the trackshorts were already spatting in the aftermath of their disparate responses to the wino.  I didn’t need to put on the iPod anymore.  People were going to leave each other alone from here on out. 

A burst of hilarious laughter drew my attenion from those restful thoughts to the milling crowds outside.  One man was its source - the newly-exited slob, who stood monumental at the busy bus stop, the foot traffic ignoring him as best they could.  His arms were raised triumphantly overhead and his pants had fallen down; they lay in a heap at his ankles and his exhausted jersey barely covered the uppermost portion of a pair of wrinkled, overworn old black boxers that hung to mid-calf.  He hooted his mirth to the impassive faces of the bus riders seated just a few feet from him on the other side of the impenetrable protection of a window.  “Come on!,” he enjoined them. “Laugh!!  It’s funny, isn’t it?!!”

And it was. So I, alone of all around me, did.  Not only that, but it felt good, too. 

that's just the way it seems to me at 09:06 PM
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Postlet: People Fated By Their Names

Justice is a lousy poet:

The man accused of driving with a .23 blood alcohol content and ramming another vehicle because he thought, erroneously, it was being driven by his dad: He’s Litt

The woman gearing up for litigation over having been exposed to inappropriately sexual materials at an Urban Outfitter’s store: She’s a MILF

This post brought to you by People Fated By Their Names: “I blame society, sure, but mostly I blame geneology.”

that's just the way it seems to me at 10:13 AM
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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Philadelphia Freedom: The Mostly Photographic Version

This is going to be a long one.  I’ve got enough photos from my trip to Philly to remind me of a lot of damned good times, and what the hell, I’ma gonna share the joy.  I’ll try to organize this in the order in which I saw and did things, so you can trod the ancient colonial whatzis right along with me.  Just act like you know what you’re doing.  They eat tourists like you for breakfast, I’m told. 

I arrived late friday night and just got to the goddamn hotel, right smack in the center of center city, which is a fairly, um, central location.  I awoke at leisure and breakfasted - stupidly and expensively - at the hotel, and then wandered the streets for a few hours just refamilarizing myself with the city, which was a lot of fun and very relaxing.  Among my stops was City Hall, a magnificent beaux-arts chateau, where I took several crappy out of focus photos of gorgeous architectural details and this cool shot of the outside of an abandoned (I think) subway entrance:
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I also found this obscure message set somehow into the very pavement of the very streets down the road a ways:
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... so, you make sure you do that, okay?  (I took plenty more photos too, and visited the old Wanamaker’s for an organ recital too, but I won’t bother you with all that.  We have places to go, man!)

That afternoon I got back to the Reading Terminal Market, which is a nice old food-boutique sort of reminiscent of the Farmer’s Market in LA, but indoors and with better architecture.  Outside the market, I encountered this easy rider:
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I also bought a disappointing cheesesteak, but I knew I’d do better later on in the trip so I didn’t let it bring me down.  Finally it was time to nap, lave my filthy self, and get ready for T-Con.  The festivities were being held out in the Northern Liberties district, a decent but do-able walk from my hotel.  The stroll took me east through chinatown and the historic district, and then north through a great neighborhood, a fairly vacant industrial area, and back into a happenin’ zone that hadn’t even existed back when I were a lad.  Here’s some shots from that journey:

Pungently reminiscent for me - a genuine steam grate, which was steamy and great:
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In the window of the Trocadero Club (I think that was what it was, anyway): Dirty Barbies!
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Melted into the pavement out near the river, evidence that Erich Von Daanken was right - Freemasons Rule the World:
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A pylon of the Ben Franklin Bridge, apparently last painted by Ben himself, while on a serious madiera bender:
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Past the bridge, in the creepy industrial emptiness zone (CIEZ), this mural leaped out at me and gave me hope, and the jimjams:
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I knew I was getting close when I found this directive scrawled on a security door, pointing me in the correct direction:
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At the edge of the N.L. neighborhood, several of these cheerful handbills urged me to guard my purity, or something:
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And thus at last I found myself at the startlingly hospitable North Lounge and Lanes or something like that, a clean and pleasant land full of enormous balls and $3.50 pints of PA’s own Yuengling Lager.  The hostesses were gracious and gorgeous and the company - honestly, in a post this snarky I can’t even describe it.  Bloggers are nice folk, present company excepted, and the 50 or so of us who made it to T-Con ‘08 restored my faith in humanity - and I hadn’t even realized I lost it.  I’m not going to troll through all your names, but if I spoke with you for more than 30 seconds, I would have your baby.  Or your sandwich.  Probably your sandwich, but regardless, you guys rock.

T-Conners, en situ:
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the place was pretty dark so this was a long exposure, which has the benefit of actually depicting things as they appeared to me - vague and ethereal.  Please note the ghost of Jen, from Run Jen Run (hit up my blogroll if you want to find her) - the primary event organizer and a truly great humanitarian.  Jen, thanks!

The lanes themselves:
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it was pretty cool to see people bowling in Tron.  ‘Nuff said.  Or at any rate, I’m unable to say more.  There’s some kind of nondisclosure thing. 

The next morning I sure as hell was not going to the hotel buffet again so I wandered around for about 90 minutes looking for a decent breakfast - the one I’d wanted in Reading Market was closed (those damned amish and their sundays!).  After covering a few miles of cityscape looking for something to eat, I wound up just returning to Reading for a ginormous glass of carrot juice.  Actually, that really hit the spot. 

I had to change hotels after two nights (a priceline exclusive!) and found myself down at the gritty foot of Penn’s Landing, just off the Delaware River.  After checking in I arranged to meet Billmo, with whom I’d lived for two years in college, at a deli near his house down in West Philly on the other side of campus.  On my way to the train that would hie me thence, I found these charming fellows out selling barstools:
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This was also along the way, on lower north 2nd - a colonial horse trough, with which I’ve taken certain hue and saturation liberties.  Hey, give me liberties or give me Yuengling, or, preferably, both, as our founders valiantly slurred into their inkwells…
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A surprisingly quick train ride and I was back on campus, where I wasn’t too impressed with the bookstore or its offerings but did rather like the gate that has been cast for the new Addams Fine Arts building - here’s a detail:
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The rest of campus was more interesting to me than to you, probably, so I’ll spare you the exhaustive photocoverage.  However, quicker than I’d anticipated I got out to 43rd and Locust, where I rejoined my past at Koch’s deli. 
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While waiting for Bill to arrive I loitered outside the small commercial strip, where I nabbed this shot of one of Philly’s “lifers in tile” mural-memorials:
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Koch’s: that place is truly the best.  No chairs, but plenty of samples constantly being passed around on sheets of wax paper, the highest quality deli meats, and the best, most substantial sandwiches I’ve ever had.  A lovely young woman had the misfortune of being tapped by the manager to serve as cold-cut distributrix ("Hey Blondie!  Where are ya?  Hot ham, get over here and pass it around, beautiful!” - eventually she went outside to call her mom just to avoid the abuse).  I got brisket with onions and pepperjack on a kaiser roll, with pickles and real deli soda,
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which I enjoyed mightily on Bill (and wife Mande)’s lovely back porch.  I also got a t-shirt, which I discovered was too small right after lunch; I went back to exchange it and got three more meat samples, a cheese sample, and some pickles for the road.  I tell ya - Koch’s is the place!

Bill and Mande and I went then from Koch’s to the foot of Chestnut Street, for Belgian beers at Eulogy (which was great, especially the third pitcher of Gulden Draak - a beer I loved even before I was already buzzed on other very good beers) and a stroll along the waterfront to look at war ships from the last century or two.  Finally we re-boarded the conveyance and went back up to No.Libs for supper at Standard Tap, a real pubbly pub with big steaks and tasty beers on tap, even if the staff was unable, when asked directly, to tell us where the beers came from.  By now it was getting late and B&M dropped me at my hotel, where I crashed profoundly and motionlessly till the dawn. 

Upon arising I breakfasted enormously on the free buffet (yay free breakfast buffet!) and took the hotel courtesy van back to my old hotel where I caught a train to the airport.  I wound up traveling 11 hours that day, which was palliated by the following factors: I had free drink tickets out the wazoo and damn well used’em; I shaved 2-1/2 hours off my connection in Chicago by getting bumped to a sooner flight; and my flight attendant from Chicago to Oakland was probably the nicest, most professional, most attentive, and prettiest by which I’ve ever had the pleasure of being serviced.  I got home before dark and was able to help put Z to bed. 

Today was a decent “day back at work” sort of day, with baked goods and cognizable accomplishments.  And now it’s late so I declare this vacation recapped, but in summary: TequilaCon ‘08: excellent.  Philadelphia in general: awesome and getting steadily better.  Old college friends: ever close to my heart.  Koch’s deli: as good as it ever was, and that’s saying a lot.  New Bloggy friends: come on guys, you know what you mean to me.  I love you, guys.  Don’t make me cry on my own damn blog. 

The end. 

that's just the way it seems to me at 10:27 PM
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Monday, May 05, 2008

Mix It Up

Hey welcome back me, I’ve been to a blogger meetup in philly and damn but I had a good time with it.  I’ll have photos of buildings and graffiti and rust stains and all that chuckly sort of thing soon enough (ie, once I’ve gotten around to it), but now I’m sort of tired and just want to slap a new post up here so I can sleep easy tonight.  Lucky for me, I’ve got here a letter I wrote to the local paper about a story they recently ran, which I had sort of intended originally to make into a blog post.  And just that easily, it is one!  Enjoy and watch this space for Photodelphia, upcoming soon....

Partly, it was because it was a physical thing you’d made yourself, a companion that had been with you through the great times that made the mix special, an inextricable association of specific perfect moments with that particular plastic case, that handwriting on that label.... the musical aspects became confounded with the historical aspects, all of it somehow investing the cassette itself with an actual personality. The mix tape was, in a sense, as much about the tape as it was about the mix.

In 1991 I celebrated Thanksgiving for the first time with a close group friends whose weddings I’ve witnessed, children I’ve cradled, lives I’ve shared ever since.  It was an extravagantly gluttonous affair, a great, raucous, soul-satisfying feast.  We started having these Thanksgivings together every year, starting in 1991.  Funksgiving ‘91.

That was the mix I produced as an honorary soundtrack to what I knew would be a momentous event.  I really worked hard on it and it came out great - all the segues and builds combining seamlessly into 90 perfect minutes of auditory entertainment for the best dinner party of the year.  I gave a copy to our hosts and listened to my own copy for years thereafter, annually adding a new edition each Thanksgiving day, all painstakingly executed, each a proud achievement in its own right: Heal This Chicken ‘92, Gallinaceous Boogie ‘93, Funky Drumstick ‘94, Chipotle Salsa, Hot Yams, Savory....

Ten years on: the medium of ferric oxide had grown moribund, almost irrelevant.  I would hand someone a tape and they’d no longer be set up to play it.  Though I’d craft new tapes as a gift from my heart, they were increasingly seen as something quaint and pitiful.  With Oven Ready 2001, the series staggered to a halt.

Now I’ve got more music than I’ve ever had before, freed from analog fetters and the clunky inconvenience of physical objectification.  My iPod holds more of a library than I’d possibly have been able to manage on LPs and cassettes, and I can slap together mixes in moments, adjusting song orders and sound levels with the click of a mouse instead of painstaking cue-ups and re-recordings.  The process is now so simple that I no longer save the effort for Thanksgiving, and make new mixes all year long.  The Thanksgiving mix is now just my current “on the go” playlist, celebratorily renamed.

I’d built some great new playlists, too, both holiday-oriented and more general, but when I moved my e-library to a new external drive I accidentally ruined them all.  Dozens of cleverly named, hard-driving mixes were suddenly rendered empty and null.  I didn’t even mind much - they were too easily built to merit mourning.  As I deleted from my hard drive the titles that now referred to vacant shells, I thought back to some of those dusty old cassettes I still keep archived in a shopping bag in my closet, persevering, unplayed, in spite of the technoglitches that negated newer, less storied, playlists.  The music is still great, though by now a little dated… I can’t quite put my finger on it but it seems that, in the midst of musical plenty the likes of which I could never have imagined ten years ago, something has been lost.  I know where it is, but I don’t think I’ll ever really get it back. 

that's just the way it seems to me at 09:10 PM
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Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Devil and Mr Johnson: Conclusion

Part I here.

Jimi’s question hung pregnant in the humid air; Jimi swayed a little as if re-hearing it over and again in his head. Robert wasn’t sure he wanted to answer it. His comeback question seemed an appropriate rejoinder under the circumstances: “Whazzat, a guitar or what?” For truly, Robert had never seen such a thing before. It reminded him of a guitar, since it had six strings and a fretted neck, but after that the resemblance evaporated - creamy as milk, slim and solid as a plank of wood, shiny and forked like frozen flames glistening in the night’s blackness. Jimi lowered his gaze to the instrument dangling from his hand and raised it to his groin, leaned back his head, wrapped his right hand around the neck and began to flail. The sound of the steel strings was quiet and jangly but Robert could make it out clearly enough.  Notes and chords raced after each other, changes chasing changes, a rapidity of picking from long sinister fingers unlike any he’d every seen or even imagined before. The riff lasted only a minute or two but comprised an aggessive, inventive musicianship that left Robert literally openmouthed.

Jimi let the axe back down again, rocking his head forward to upright; his eyes seemed focused intently on something that wasn’t there. “You gotta show me how to do that,” Robert whispered. “I ain’t ever seen that before.”

Jimi grinned with a grin that almost went all the way around his head and sat down next to Robert on the old tree stump. “You got any licks to show me first, brother?” Robert had actually forgotten about his own guitar resting in the road beside him. He hoisted it, brushed off some dust, settled it high on his hip like a nursing mother her babe. The fingers of his left hand caressed the neck as his right hand located itself over the sound hole. His eyes slid shut and his foot began to beat a soft 4:4 in the dirt. Pickless, his long thumbnail caught the F string and nailed it with a wicked snap; with his left hand he trapped the twang and sent it wailing back. A bucket of notes followed in jangled pursuit of each other like hornets turned out of their nest. Jimi’s eyes couldn’t open wide enough, it was as if he was listening with every sensory organ he possessed including his skin. Hee was silent and motionless as Robert laid down his groove - a jam that started nowhere, ended nowhere, but went everywhere in the interim. It was like nothing he’d ever heard, the skeletal essence of everything he’d ever wanted music to be - clean, strong, fast and passionate. As the last note faded into the dark, Jimi felt as if a dear friend was taking leave of them. All he said in response was “Damn,” and that he said quietly.

For a moment or two they just sat together, looking at each other’s guitars and each other’s hands, fingertips pink and igneous, knuckles blacker than the sky above them.

Robert broke the silence: “So what kind of guitar is that, anyways?”

Jimi laid it out on his lap, long fingers invoking an aura over and around it. “Fender stratty, and I string it backwards.”

“It looks loud. Why is it so quiet?”

“Man, it’s electric. I need an amp to make it wail.”

“‘Lectric?”

“Yeah man.  Like Clapton, man.” Robert’s eyes were guarded but respectful, as well as uncomprehending. Jimi pursued the point: “Clapton? The Beatles? You don’t know any of them white dudes?”

Robert smirked a little, gestured gently to the night. “Man, this is Mississippi. If white folk knew what kinda music I play, they’d pro’lly string me up on morals.” A flicker of humorless laughter shuttled between them.

“Well, whateva’ cousin, you here an’ I’m here so let’s groove it on up a little,” Jimi offered.  “I want to watch where you go with this. You know ‘Crossroads’?”

Robert lowered his brow and gave Jimi a hard look. “I can learn it if you can play it,” he challenged. Jimi’s eyes hardened for a moment and then both broke out laughing. Jimi asked wordlessly for Robert’s guitar and tweaked the tuning, returned it to him, and slipped into the lead.  Robert leaned forward to grasp the music with his eyes in the noctilucence. Two stanzas, a riff, and then a lead change; Robert now knew where he was going and played the line with his own burning brand. Both men focused the entirety of their energies on showing something worth seeing and seeing everything that was being shown. It wasn’t a duel, it was a competitive duet. The lead kept shifting back and forth - the riffs sliding from one player to the other as they sometimes wrestled for the front spot, sometimes handed it over willingly, and sometimes played hot potato with it as if both were so contened with learning from the other that neither wanted to teach. Robert’s lines rang crisply while Jimi’s were muffled by his lack of an amp, but as far as they were conerned, both men were picking on a single mutant dual-necked object, the sounds that each of them produced and the patterns of their fingers clear as the aapproaching dawn.

Dew began to form on the strings, which lost their tuning more and more rapidly. The hot night was fugueing into a clammy morning. The men were tired, and both let the music that had grown up between them slide gradually into a silence. Nearby a cricket greeted the day as they found their feet and rose in place.

“Robert,” Robert said, extending a tired hand. “You play aroun’ heah or somethin’?”

“Jimi,” Jimi answered. “I play everythere, man. I’m playing right now, what you just showed me.”

“The devil you say.”

“The devil I be.” With this, Jimi let go of Roberts hand and started walking backwards uup the road. “See you in ya dreams, brotha.’ He turned to face the road before him with Robert’s smile nearly blinding his mind’s eye. Shaking his head with a chuckle, Robert began on his own trek down the dirt track back to the roadhouse he’d left the night before, a lifetime prior.

*****

Jimi stumbled back to the studio and lay down on the hood of his car, eyes closed against the sunlight and to hold in the images of Robert’s picking. After a few minutes an engineer poked his head out and, seeing him, exclamed his relief. “Damn Jimi, where you been? We’ve been looking everywhere for ya!”

Jimi kept hs eyes closed, internalizing what he’d witnessed.  “I been down to the crossroads, Lester,” he said quietly, “and I don’t think I’m ever comin’ back.”

*****

Robert reached his destination at about the same time, just as the sun began to pour glaringly down on his tired eyes.  The shack looked even shabbier in the unflinching sunlight. The place was deserted, save two or three men left to sleep off their own drunk. His old Model A was sitting dusty and alone under a tree, and he went and joined it, lonesomer yet, to catch some sleep. He had a gig to get to that evening, he knew, and he was pretty sure it was going to be a good one. He’d learned a few new tricks the night before. Hell, he’d learned a whole new way to play guitar. He didn’t know who the devil it had been, but somebody schooled him and things were going to sound different from then on. 

Leaving tomorrow for TequilaCon and fun in the Philly sun.  Got any recommendations the itinerant and hung-over sightseer?  I’m mostly thinking about visiting campus, hitting some delis, and gazing at the architecture of Frank Furness.  However shall I otherwise occupy myself?  Limit your answer to one bluebook; show your work. 

that's just the way it seems to me at 09:18 AM
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