(no subject)

  • The boys at first were very polite about my medals and asked me what I had done to get them.  I showed them the papers, which were written in very beautiful language and full of fratellanza and abnegazione, but which really said, with the adjectives removed, that I had been given the medals because I was an American.  After that their manner changed a little toward me, although I was their friend against outsiders.  I was a friend, but I was never really one of them after they had read the citations, because it had been different with them and they had done very different things to ge their medals. (In Another Country; Hemingway)

The glass door of a row of apartments on Martin Luther King Jr Dr in Berkeley has a printed sign for the mail delivery person.  It was clearly written, almost childish, not as regards the writer but rather the intended reader.

Look here, it says.  Packages cannot be left outside the door.  When packages are left outside the door, they are stolen.  If this door is locked, then knock.  If no one answers, then the package should not be delivered.  Under no circumstances should deliveries be left outside the door, because packages left outside the door are stolen.

Thanks for your comprehension.

It occurred to me on reading this that practically everyone living in this building, and perhaps most other buildings in the neighborhood, had at least one degree from UC Berkeley.  It occurred to me, and perhaps also to the writer of the notice on the door, that the mail delivery person had not one degree from anywhere.

Upstairs is where our kids, Em and Casey, live, and they last night were hosting a New Year's party.  We brought orchids and oranges and nuts and dressed in red.  We sat for a time, all the parents, Em's and Casey's, building some exotic fish and pork dumplings, maybe two hundred of them.  Casey and I went for ice.  Then the guests, some attractive and dynamic folks, began arriving.  They were from Em's work, Chez Panisse, and some from Gerwick's, the engineering firm where Casey works.

After the time of the dumplings, and due to Niki J's social skills and my lack of them, I was left alone.  I feel that less now than before, still...  She was in the kitchen with Em and Em's mother.  Em's mother Merrill was a bit self-conscious, she said, because everyone there practically was an accomplished chef.  She needn't have worried; the grub was festive and delightful.  I had a spicy salad of shiitake and leeks and tea eggs and sasparilla and then I sat and smiled and watched.

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Timmie, forties

Flat as the Shade

In those days, and maybe still, you couldn't cross the Sierras in northern Mexico to the sea from Chihuahua.  So we continued past El Paso into Arizona, and went into La Republica at Nogales.  

But along Interstate 10, sparse in southern Arizona, we were forced to take a detour onto a service road.  First we saw a woman, her vehicle stopped, her standing inside the passenger side to gaze over the roof, her hand shielding her eyes in the sun.  She did not look up as we passed behind her.

On the main highway an auto was stopped, and a man lay still beside it.

We crossed at Nogales and took 15 down into the desert.  Somewhere below Hermosilla there was a turn into the lush and tropical.  It is May, and green is everywhere, and the heat of the forenoon is just coming on.

It's a seldom used thoroughfare in those years, and there is activity along the two-lane road in a community.  A little girl is rushing back and forth along the safety island between the north- and southbound.  Others hover near; panicked, hopeless.  The little girl's countenance, which I will forget sometime after I fail to remember my own face, is agony.

A little boy is in the roadway, face down.

A single police car enters the road ahead, some two miles down the highway, and starts back up north towards the accident.  He turns on his sirens, a slight and silly noise in a silent land.

Nobody in our vehicle says anything.

Reloj and I had the same mind in those days.  We are now past Guaymas, on the Sea of Cortez, perhaps all the way to Culiacan.

"The dead lie very flat," he said.  I had thought the very same.  So unlike their replicas in movies.

Yes, like the shade.

David Arquette

We go walking before dawn this season.  In the dark, right where we turn on San Lorenzo, there is someone I don't see.  She's standing near a driveway and she coughs, probably so she doesn't spook us.

"Good morning."

"Good morning."

We go up the hill, turn around, and come back.  Near the point where we had seen her, I hear something.  It's strange, like the sound of an animal you don't know. 

"I don't like to - but my ride was supposed to be here at six.  I'm supposed to be in a David Arquette film, and I'd sorta like to be there, you know?  He's waiting for me."  She's smiling, we can see now as the light begins, like it's perfectly understandable, her anxiety.  Young, and blonde.

"Sorry we're walking!  Hope he comes soon!"

At the corner, someone turns in a newly wagon, pauses at the drive where she is.  Her ride's here.

"You know who David Arquette is?"



(no subject)

I pick up a copy of Teen Beat in the waiting room of my ger·on·tol·o·gist.  There are valuable secrets stored everywhere if you know where to find them.  They are there if you don't know where to find them.

Britney worries that the universe is like a huge bus with a driver who doesn't care if he misses your stop.  She's quoting Locke, I think.  There are two divergent paths from this stop, both of them wrong.

One holds, hysterically in the manner of those who dangle over cliffs, that there is a merciful and loving Sky Chief who has only my own best interest at heart.  That's very comforting.

The other theory says the vast outdoors is everything everywhere and everywhen altered and illuminated for us humans, like a special stage setting.  And we as stars need not memorize any other lines but our own.  

Again, you hold most ardently to the grip less secure.

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Return the Ball?

Two passages occur in a forum far away which may or may not be entitled By-Play of American Character.  One of them is by a famous writer (FW), the other by an ordinary guy (OG).  My premise is that, were you to see them each signed by their authors, you'd read them differently.  Someone already has.  Now, don't presume the one which reads the most literary is necessarily the one by FW.  Also, don't guess the opposite.  Just read 'em and report.

  1. "But you have there the myth of the essential white America. All the other stuff, the love, the democracy, the floundering into lust, is a sort of by-play. The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted."
  2. "I can think of no more depressing prediction for future generations than the suggestion our progeny will fondly recall what is in construction and effect a tribute to or byproduct of homicidal psychosis."
Just hit the Comment button and write either (1) FW or (1) OG and you're through. 

Vladimir: Come on, Gogo, return the ball, can't you, once in a while?
- Waiting for Godot - Act I

Timmie, forties

Sunday Beach

I saw the year the whiners washed over the land like a Bois d'Arc flood.  I was there and I saw it.  After that, it was dead grass and little boys crying in the rain.

Conway was the last one standing.  He was just a kid then, but he had him some dispute with Tony Wright, who turned from violence to law at the last minutes, just as the gods intended.  But he was responding to the will of the gods on another front:  Wright was older, sh' 'nuff, but Conway was bigger and stronger.

"If ah's to whup you, they'd git me fer whuppin' a kid."

To which Conway replied,

"Mo'fo', if you whup me, ah'm jes' a whupt sunday beach."


On This Day...

On this day in 1965, T S Eliot died.  I spent that day, from a dreary gloomy 4:am, Paris, TX, bus station, traveling to a depressing Ft Polk, LA.  It was the most miserable day in my life until then, although what happened two days prior actually had a more lasting and ultimately less salutary effect.


Love Calls You By Your Name

On this day forty years ago I was standing in the front room of the little house on Liberty where I'd lived since 1949, the year I started to school.  I had no reason to believe, and I was not one to consider, my life would ever change from the current pattern.  I had no plans in those years...or after.

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Timmie, forties

Those Eyes

One day this week I saw horror in the brush just past Indian Garden, below the path to Promontory Point along Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon.  

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You Oughta Go To New Orleans..

A couple of dumb kids out on a lark.  One is 18, the other 20, both dumb.  They take out after their idols in the book On The Road, hitching to New Orleans.  One has a sleeping bag, the other only blankets, and it's February in that barren southern country, 1962. 

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