713. The Russian Flu Blues

I was wondering about how Michael Cohen is doing in prison these days. According to Google articles, he’s doing great in Otisville, New York. He’s among his crowd, I guess, sort of a jail house celebrity like Bernie Madoff in one of America’s top 10 cushiest prisons. Not sure if he has concierge service on his wing or a tanning bed, but reports claim he’s fit and tan these days. Good to know. When a white collar White guy goes to prison, we wouldn’t want him to suffer the indignities of real incarceration that apply to common criminals of other colors.Image result for otisville federal correctional institution pictures

I was sort of hoping he’d be playing an old beat up guitar by now and singing “Some gotta win, some gotta loooooose, Michael Cohen’s got the Blues”, a rip off of Danny O’ Keefe’s song from the way back machine. As I wonder about this mournful song, I realize that it could very well be the theme song for the 2020 Trump campaign set in a post apocalyptic Washington, D.C. The Apocalypse being ushered in by Donald Trump. Image result for michael cohen in prison pictures

Everybody’s goin’ away
Said they’re movin’ to LA
There’s not a soul I know around
Everybody’s leavin’ town
Some caught a freight, some caught a plane
Find the sunshine, leave the pain
They said this clown’s a waste of time
I guess they’re right, he’s wastin’ mine
Some gotta win, some gotta lose
Michael Cohen’s got the blues
Michael Cohen’s payin’ dues
Ya know my heart keeps tellin’ me
“You’re not a kid at fifty-three”
“Ya play around, ya lose your word”
“Ya play too long, you’re just a turd”
I got my dues that I must pay
Can’t find a true word left to say
I’d love to try and settle debts
But everybody’s cashing bets

I like to imagine the Big Man DJT singing it alone in an orange jumpsuit too as he realizes all his sycophantic rats have scurried away once their powerball cheese is all gone.

“I always win even when I looose, Baby Donnie’s got an excuse.”Image result for trump in prison garb images

Then again I thought Dylan’s I Shall be Released would be a nice tune to play in Otisville or wherever Manafort is bunking these days waiting for his pardon. Oh, Loretto, Pennsylvania. The homeland of Fred (Mr.) Rogers and the Johnstown Flood Museum. Let the prison quartet strike up the tune.Image result for manafort in prison clothes pictures

They say everything can be replaced
They say every distance is not near
So I remember every face
Of every man who put me here
I see my pardon come shining
From the west wing to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released
They say every man needs protection
They say every man must fall
So, I swear I see my reflection
Somewhere inside these walls
I see my pardon come shining
From the west wing to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released

Image result for rudy giuliani as a rodent imageLying rodent Rudy Giuliani next comes to mind. When did he stop taking his meds? He is truly batshit crazy, like eating guano three meals a day crazy. It’s a real thing, you know, called histoplasmosis, though the mental deficiencies can’t be blamed on guano consumption alone. Still, it seems he’s been sleeping upside down for a while now. When Rudy goes to jail, his theme song…hmmmm,

Let’s go with Arkham Knight.

(Out of dark a hero forms
City’s knight that serves no throne
Saves a life for every ghost
That still haunts him in his bones)
To the past owes a penance
People’s hope is his vengeance
When the sun fades from the sky
Through the black shines a beacon
Right at home among demons
Justice fails what’s wrong or right
Isn’t always black and white
Out of dark a hero forms
City’s knight that serves no throne
Saves a life for every ghost
That still haunts him in his bones
Just wondering if he has registered as a foreign agent yet, and if not, why is he not celling with Manafort or Cohen already?RT: Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks at the 2018 Iran Freedom Convention in Washington, U.S., May 5, 2018.
According to Ukrainian developer Pavel Fuks, Giuliani had been hired to work as a “lobbyist” for the government of Ukraine, as well as for the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. “This is stated in the contract,” Fuks told the Times. The claim backs up local media coverage of the relationship, with one Ukrainian magazine writing that Fuks hired Giuliani in order to create an office in the U.S. for “supporting investment” in Kharkiv. As Mother Jones reported, Giuliani connected with Fuks via TriGlobal Strategic Ventures, a New York-based company that has “advised Russian oligarchs and others with Kremlin ties.”Image result for russian flu pictures
That Russian flu seems to keep going around and around in the Trump administration. Jeff Sessions caught it and then Mike Flynn. Of course Manafort is the likely patient zero who transmitted it along with his underling Rick Gates. They must have contracted it in the Ukraine while doing political lobbying work. It must be an airborne thing that you catch if you’re in the same room with an infected carrier like Papadopoulos. He was simply the coffee boy in a meeting with Sessions, but he caught a case of it. Let’s not forget Don,Jr. and Turkey Jerky Boy Jared. They had emails regarding their meetings with Russians, and still they could not recall the incidents. What is not known so well about Russian flu is its effects on memory. All these folks forgot that they had met with Russians, even on their applications for security clearances. That’s some bad flu…both highly contagious and able to wipe clean human memories at the same time.
Today the whistle blower’s complaint leads once again back to Russia and Ukraine like an old Blues line that repeats and repeats.
Everybody’s goin’ away
Said they’re movin’ to LA
There’s not a soul I know around
Everybody’s leavin’ town
Some gotta win, some gotta looooose,
The orange swamp monster’s got the Blues.
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712. The Locked Door Mystery

Image result for movers handling a couch on stairs picturesMaybe ten years ago I moved from the downstairs unit in my two story office building to the upstairs unit. It was a warm rainy Friday night in June as I recall. The movers came from a local furniture store; this was their after hours gig. Must have been eight of them. My upstairs tenant, the psychiatrist, had initiated the move and made the arrangements. She wanted easier access for her unsteady clients. I had no preference beyond the increase in rent, so away we went.

Image result for empty moving van picturesFortunately the movers came with a big empty box truck. So step one was to unload all the Doctor’s furniture onto the truck. All of her files and desk and chairs fit. I was impressed with their efficiency in the same way I’d marveled as a skilled bricklayer turned loose bricks into a wall or a sidewalk. Order over chaos prevails and often brings beauty along for the ride.

Image result for moving couches up stairs picturesHere’s the mystery, however: when the crew came for my furniture, I had two very large couches that had barely cleared the downstairs doorways when we moved them into place. Now the magic happened as these professionals glided out of my office with each 8 foot couch. The choke point I imagined was at the top of the stairs, on the landing with the metal fire door entrance. With hardly any angle to tilt into or away from, these Houdinis managed to turn my couches into soft pretzels, so it seemed. They pushed up the dropped ceiling and scraped the hallway walls, but by God they relocated those couches into their current bearings. Which is a problem now that the couches are worn out and not worth repairing.Image result for old couch pictures

So, in preparation for my exit into retirement next year, I’ve been trying to identify and rectify problems for the business and building that I own. I want to leave both in good repair so I’m not haunted by issues that could’ve and should’ve been remedied in the present, i.e. now. A new floor, a paint job, a new ceiling with halogen lights… good for tenants or for resale. But the elephant in the room is a pair of couches that must go. Here’s the problem involved in the problem:  When I called Habitat for Humanity to take them, the guys they sent were more than happy to try to remove the smaller couch. After 45 minutes of wiggling and waffling, they could not recreate the magic of the Houdini movers. The leader guy offered his apologies, “I’m really sorry, sir, but we just can’t figure out how your movers got this in that doorway.” I told him I could not remember their decade old tricks. He suggested that his supervisor might be able to solve the mystery, so we agreed that he and his supervisor would come back the following Friday afternoon to try again.Image result for old couch pictures

A week later the two ambitious young men took out tape measures and measured doorway and hall widths and heights. They projected angles of where they thought the couch would wind up. After several failed attempts they stopped and admitted defeat. “Your movers were craftsmen. I cannot fathom how they did this.”Image result for two guys wrestling a couch upstairs photos

“Well”, I replied, “the bigger one is in the next room and I guarantee it came in one piece.”

Image result for a cloud of awe picturesA frustrated cloud of awe came over us as we pondered the seemingly impossible, the same feeling that would prompt one to inspect a magician’s hat after he had pulled a rabbit and three doves from it. There it is and there they are… and the trick defies the laws of nature. Hmmmmmm. Okay, goodbyes were said, and I concluded that I’d have to cut the couches into pieces with my skill saw some day soon. Not nearly as elegant a solution as the magic trick which brought them into my space. Image result for magician photos rabbit in hat

As I considered this sequence of events, it dawned on me to just leave the couches for the next tenant or owner to dispose of. Then they could enjoy or maybe solve the mystery of the locked door couches….

Image result for sherlock holmes and watson photos“Did they bring them through the window?  No, too small. Is there a secret passage in the roof where they lowered them down with a crane? No. How about they assembled them like Ikea furniture, you know. That’s it!! Find the bolts and screws that hold this puppy together. What? Nails and staples?  That’s no good. Maybe there’s a hinge or the back slips off. Uh, hmmm. No. Dang!!”

Image result for community center road edenville pa farmhouse photosStrangely enough in an associated memory… when my wife and I first moved to PA in the late autumn of 1980, we rented a huge farmhouse in Edenville, the real name of a quaint little village outside of Turtletown, which is not a real name of a place that does exist. It had been a log cabin that was added to over the preceding 150 years. The staircase to the second floor was narrow and had a low ceiling. If you did not lean into the angle of the stairs, your head would polish the plaster. In any event when we attempted to bring our queen sized box spring up those stairs, no matter how we configured things we could not get it up to the second floor. That’s when we called the landlord.

“Oh, yeah. I forgot to tell you. You see the master bedroom picture window that looks out to the east?  You have to remove that to get large stuff into that room. Shouldn’t be too hard. Just toss your box spring on the shed roof below and then slide it in the window opening.”

“For real?”


Related image“Oh”, my wife added, “there’s this plaster doo dad in the center of the bedroom, an acorn with leaves coming out. And one of the  leaves is broken, just so you know that’s how we found it.”

“Yes, thanks. I knew that.”

“By the way, what is that thing?”

“Oh, way back in the 1800’s folks put fertility symbols over the parents’ bed to ensure lots of children.”

“Okay, thanks.”

There were no speaker phone options then, so I asked my wife what that last part was about.

She said, “The plaster thing is a fertility symbol.”Image result for stunned woman's face

I laughed. She didn’t. In fact she looked worried. I asked what the worry was about.

“Don’t you remember?  I pieced it back together for a moment.”

“I don’t think that’s how fertility totems work, hun. There was no flirting, seduction or foreplay.”

“Well, we’ll see.”

In June of the next year our first child was born. Now that, folks, was some magic trick!Image result for infant in crib pictures



711. Yes, the store chain

Image result for 7-11 store picturesBack in the way, way back day time machine… there was a 7-11 convenience store at the Y in the road between Telegraph Road and South Kings Highway on the way to Hayfield High School, my almost alma mater. It may still be there for all I know, the store that is. Telegraph Road separated the local high school catchment areas. Edison kids lived just across Telegraph; to the west, I guess. They migrated toward Franconia Road and Van Dorn Street establishments on the way toward Springfield Mall. Our 7-11 sat behind the Esso gas station, which should be an anachronistic clue, since Esso became Exxon in the 1970’s, I think. Either way you approached the 7-11, it was downhill from our neighborhood, the inglorious Virginia Hills.

Image result for lonely road into woods picturesOn endless, hot and humid summer days we boys would walk along the ditches of Kings Highway collecting soda bottles that had been thrown out the windows of speeding cars. Littering was a major problem then. Each bottle could be redeemed for a whopping 2  cents at the 7-11. That meant if you found 5 bottles you could buy a pack of gum or a small soda when you arrived at the home of the Slurpee, also a big deal back in the day. There was a certain mathematical correctness built in to the search for bottles: Two boys, five bottles each… this balance was arrived at organically since there were only two ditches to glean and five bottles were about as many as a kid could carry comfortably.

Image result for two boys in 1960's photosChris Young was my usual partner in crime, he of the burning cemetery post 306. Burning the Dead. I guess we were bored or curious together at the same place and time, both lacking adult supervision or imbued with massive parental trust. Let’s go with lacking supervision. There was not a lot of traffic on South Kings Highway on those summer mornings. We’d usually walk to the elementary school one block away, and then across the upper end of the gravel pit before the day got too hot. There was a chained off entrance that opened onto Kings Highway at that spot.  Also, we could possibly see a snake or catch a lizard and then re-prioritize our not so busy schedules.

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South Kings Highway was a long hill comprised of several smaller hills. Just riding a bike down that hill was a bit risky because of the speeds you could reach without even pedaling; the sharp ditches on either side; and the hopelessness of surviving a crash. We had no helmets, of course; no hand brakes, no multi-gear bikes. No, just single gear/ banana seat/ butterfly handlebars– accidents about to happen. Kids weren’t worshiped then and we knew very well that we were expendable middle children in larger litters. If your chain jammed or fell off, you were toast.

Image result for hill hopping car pictures

Later in the teen years many a young driver hopped those same hills and caught air while destroying the suspension of their dads’ cars. I know, I was in several of those airborne rides, never imagining a negative outcome in a car at higher speeds where I had feared death on a one speed bicycle as a kid. Hmmm, gotta process that one. As a boy gets older, he gets dumber, I suppose. I never took physics. That’s it. Probably wouldn’t have made any difference.

Image result for 7-11 store picturesThe 7-11 was an important stop on the way back from football practices in August for a cold drink. If you had a ride home, great. Otherwise we’d hitchhike until somebody we knew picked us up on their way home from work at Fort Belvoir or Lorton Prison. Sometimes soldiers would stop; or hippies spreading the love of randomness and psychedelics might pick us up while driving wasted. The Sixties, man. No cell phones or air conditioning. Lots of faith and phone booths. After all, faith is free and the phone was just a dime.Image result for jesus freak in a phone booth pictures

Over the years into the early 70’s that 7-11 became a place to try and buy beer, which was cheaper than soda then… 99 cents for a six pack of 7-11 gold can brand beer. I recall the local druggies hanging out there about the same time, trying to sort out cold capsules into the color that would get them buzzed. I never figured out if it was the yellow or the red beads. Seemed like a lot of work even if it was legal. I’m sure many a weed buy went down there outside an idling flower power Volkswagen van.Image result for cold medicine capsules photos

I believe Richard Cooper wrecked his vintage 67 Volkswagen Bug near that intersection. It had to happen somewhere, sometime. I still have a few fillings that came loose from riding shotgun with him on Old Telegraph Road and various other daytime outings. I won’t even detail the night rides.Image result for lonely road photos

As the years went by I wound up driving past the 7-11 on my way to Interstate 95 South to Richmond and the other world of college, where, unbeknownst to me, adult life and my future wife lay. The road map of childhood faded over decades of no reinforcement. I’ve walked along my childhood home street, Dorset Drive, once since my mother moved to a retirement home in the late 1980’s. It was a strange time capsule experience as I recalled which families lived in which houses, impossibly small by today’s standards and so close together. When we ran through those yards in the 60’s, they seemed to be vast acres, but we were just little boys then. Dougie Fontaine, the original bully… Pat, his older brother who beat me for pouring a bottle of water in the cup of his putting green at the urging of the prison road crew parked across the street. There’s that hawk eye of parental supervision theme again. Bored kids hanging out with guarded convicts in their neighborhood!! The parents would be arrested today for neglect. Paul the cheapskate Pruitt who probably still has the gas money he collected for any driving he did. The Burringtons’ house on the corner, where Mary stood as a one woman volunteer neighborhood watch committee for the local school and playground. All fade like the sun baked sign over the 7-11.

Image result for vintage 7-11 store signs

710. A Clear Liquid Diet

Homemade beef bouillon recipeThat’s what the instructions said for my pre-colonoscopy procedure. No eating today or tomorrow morning… only clear liquids, not even red or orange colored stuff. And then in the final three hours no water, gum, candy, breath mints, mouthwash, vaping, smoking, chew, liquor, or drugs. That’s a long time for an old fat guy to go without proper nourishment. The reward for all this is a fire hose analysis of my lower plumbing lines. Ah the joys of aging! The one upside is the medication that knocks you out pre-scopy. The last time I came up from under the effects of the knock out drug propofol I was singing James Brown’s “I Feel Good”. My wife slammed her hand over my mouth until my drugged brain regained a semblance of control. She is a trouper if ever there was.Image result for woman holding a man's mouth shut pictures

But diet can mean many things as Webster’s says…

dietwas used in another sense too in the Middle and early modern English periods to mean “way of living.” This is, in fact, the original meaning of diet’s Greek ancestor diaita, which is derived from the verb diaitasthan, meaning “to lead one’s life.” In Greek, diaita, had already come to be used more specifically for a way of living prescribed by a physician, a diet, or other regimen.

Image result for anorexics picturesSo, one can live a life of clear liquid, inoffensive and easily digestible thoughts, feelings and actions that have no meat, no fiber, and no integrity. Like a ghost or a shadow they leave no mark. I’d call such a diet  anorexia of the soul. For irrational fear of unwanted consequences and weight, the anorexic sips black coffee and diet yogurt and vigilantly denies him/herself the good warm feelings that come with proper nourishment. Instead, stubborn control is the empty thing that fills the anorexic’s stomach cavity. It’s an unsustainable nutritionless idea driven by impervious will. Avoidance and deception are baked in to this rigorous diet. The hunger is welcomed as an inferior chess player to be worn down and defeated over time. The life urge of survival is wrapped up like a mummy and suffocated when the last five pounds finally slip away. But the mummy can’t see her distorted image any longer in the dark sarcophagus of her precisely perfect death.Image result for sarcophagus pictures

No, no, no. I can’t live like that– spineless and opinionless; numb to the world in which I live. First of all, it’s not living but slowly dying, one calorie and cell at a time. The dynamic interactions of mind, body and soul turn to vapors for such hunger artists. Image result for hunger artist imagesKafka’s short story A Hunger Artist comes to mind. What a strange tale of a carnival freak show focused only on a caged man starving for 40 days at a time. At first, village audiences were intrigued by the skeletal man and suspected that he was secretly eating. No, he was proudly abstinent and got upset when the fasts were forced to end. Eventually he went for his personal  best, which ended in death. His deathbed wish was simply that people would have admired him. He confessed that he never found any food he liked, so starving was easy for him. In sum total he didn’t admire himself, and I suppose that was his only higher power– seeking genuine admiration from others. In his final success he failed to solve the impossible problem he set himself: to be loved or admired by others when you don’t love or admire yourself. You can’t climb Mt. Everest in flip flops, my friends… successfully, that is.Image result for mt everest pictures

Disappearing, hiding, evaporating, avoiding are all actions that I’d rather not pursue.  Sure, there are inherent risks when you put yourself out there for others to scrutinize, when you are the lone liberal in a rabidly conservative environment. Blending in is easy if you just drink the clear poisoned kool aid and agree with things that grate your soul or maintain a strategic silence. Likewise if you are the only believer in a secular setting, it would be more comfortable in the short run to smile and nod as your own truth evaporates… leaving you starving in limbo.

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Instead of those unsavory outcomes I prefer to comment here and there to reduce the building pressure, knowing that the manure spreader of the majority is going to spray me whether my mouth is open or closed. Screw it! Jesus told His followers that man does not live by bread alone. Which is not to exclude bread but to mark that it is insufficient.  Something more is necessary. The rest of the warning went … “but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Therein is the meat, the sustenance, and the weightiness of life.Image result for all types of bread pictures

Obviously there are as many interpretations of God as there are types of bread. Folks choose according to their culture, family faith, and life experiences. Usually they follow their family’s faith practice, whatever that might be, including scientific atheism. We all believe in something after all. Still, some claim that they don’t believe, don’t want to be pinned down in one type of faith. What if they are wrong? they ask. Not choosing anything to eat from the faith buffet is still a choice, however. It is the triumph of the will or massive fear over the drive to survive.Image result for pictures of survival

The clear liquid diet promotes a transparency that permits your gastro doc to find cancer in the nooks and crannies of one’s intestine. Every ten years, if you are lucky, is the frequency rate. Trying to maintain such an empty diet for any length of time, however, is to disappear in body and spirit.

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709. 50 Shades of Sugar Daddy Grey

Image result for easy rider photosYep, it’s Joel time again. He’s been away on the highway grieving the untimely death of his cult hero Peter Fonda, the original Easy Rider. It is a little known factoid, more on the -oid side than the fact side, that Joel was originally cast as the second sidekick in Easy Rider. His character, Wilbur Steiglitz, was cut out of the movie at the last minute when pre-release audiences threw sodas and buttered popcorn at the screen in his scenes, and only in his scenes, causing small riots that had to be covered up in the trade papers. This caused the producers to delay distribution while Wilbur was photoshopped out of the first half of the movie. In case you were wondering how Wilbur/Joel fared, uh, let’s just say it did not go so well for him. As Wyatt and Billy were camping out in south Texas, Wilbur began to serenade them with his mini-travel tuba, playing “Eight Miles High” the way a high school marching band would perform it inappropriately at half time during a Friday night football game. “Bomp bomp BUUUUUMP, bump bump bump bump bump…” Wilbur got what was coming.

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It could have been the drugs, and it could have been plain old justified homicide, but the pair of bikers turned on Wilbur and cut him into bite sized pieces that they fed to the coyotes. They shot the tuba and buried it in an unmarked grave. The next morning they said to one another, “Man, that was a bad trip” and hopped on their choppers headed for Mardi Gras. And the rest of the movie is history, kind of trippy and anarchic, but a big hit movie nonetheless. Who knows how great it could have been if Joel had not been deleted strictly for mercenary reasons. History may have taken a different course. Hippies might have marched in brass bands instead of mobs.

Related imageFast forward fifty years to today. Joel and his homeboys were cruising to that wild and crazy Sodom of the south, Asheville, North Carolina last week… on my Spyder no less!! Without my permission, putting unauthorized miles on my prized inheritance. Yes, I was ticked and let him know of my displeasure. He brushed me aside and told a story to distract me.Asheville North Carolina  Bears and Spring Flowers Art image 0

“Well, there we were in Asheville and Shelly, Dana’s motorcycle bitch, said she needed to get her hair colored. Which is why I ride alone, you know. I don’t want to be tied down to hairdressers and salons. I’m a lonely rider, on a steel horse I ride. A rider on the storm. Into this world was born, into this world was thrown. Like an actor out on loan or a dog without a bone, I’m a rider on the storm.”

“How original, Joel. Did you want to footnote credit the Doors?”

“Where was I Burrito? You know jealousy is such a bad trip, man.”

“Joel, under those leathers is a man clothed in Scottish tweed. Don’t give me that Dennis Hopper crap! You are not hip!”

Image result for hair salons in Asheville n.c photos“Okay, man. So we found a hip hair salon in Asheville for Shelly. I was gonna split to shop for some wicked wingtips with Dana when the twenty something front desk girl caught a whiff of my machismo. She had tats and a nose ring, cute in a professional wrestling kind of way.”Image result for pictures of professional wrestler women

“She was a manly woman?”

“No, no, Burrito. She was young and vibrant and well-endowed.”

“I see. Please carry on. This can’t end well.”

Image result for sean connery older aged picturesAu contraire, it only gets better.  She began to chat me up. First she said that she used to color her hair my exact same color of salt and pepper grey. I asked her why in the world she would choose to do that. She replied that it was very in fashion to rock the faux grey look these days with Gen Xers and Millenials.”

“Joel, do you even know what those words mean?”

“It doesn’t matter. She was into me, dude.”

“No, she was into your wallet.”

“Don’t you pop my balloon or rain on my parade, jealous bro. The next thing she said was my tortoise shell glasses were totally throw back cool and that I was STYLIN’. Me, 70 plus… STYLIN’. Well, Dana and Shelly began to laugh and doubled over with guffaws and chortles.”Image result for old folks laughing pictures

That’s when Marlee the barrista girl at the coffee shop offered her expert young person analysis. “You know, that’s a thing, Joel. Girls my age are going after sugar daddies. I know a couple of girls who are paid to go to dinner with geezers, Joel. Hundreds of dollars. It’s a real thing.”

“Well, I’m sure that’s not the case with this young, attractive, highly desirable woman. I never showed her my wallet. Plus, I am very cheap. I like to say thrifty in a Motel 6 kind of way.”

“If you ask me it’s a form of Popstituion.”Man with two women in bikinis

“No one asked you, Burrito.”

“I know, I was just stylin’, you know, free stylin’. Running a flag up the pole to see if anyone bothered to salute.”

“Your metaphors are cumbersome at times, bro.”

“Don’t call me bro, bro. It just does not fit our demographics, okay?”Image result for two old men arguing photos

“I forgot this town lacks the cool factor, dude.”

“Seriously, I’m going to punch you if you call me bro, dude, or any other modern slang term that you have never uttered before this trip to Sodom.”

“Don’t be a drag, man. It’s all good if you just let go of your handlebars and embrace the good karma of the universe.”

“That’s it!”

A death match struggle ensued for about 8 seconds. Marlee helped me cut up the pieces and put them in the dumpster. I salvaged the Spyder key and his plastic squeezy coin purse, the tortoise shell glasses and his wallet. There was just enough cash to pay for me to get my hair colored. You know it’s strange how life imitates art.Related image




708. The Stones

Image result for pictures of 1972 rolling stones tourIt was 1972 and the Rolling Stones were coming to RFK stadium that summer. I was 16 and full of myself, sporting about in a primer grey 1959 VW bug with yellow shag carpeting inside. I so hoped that it would be a mobile love shack with shagging in the shag. I even got rid of the passenger seat to enable easy access to the inner sanctum of anticipatory coolness. I’m feeling like Austin Powers here in this time travel post, “Yeah, Baby!”  Yep, it had an A.M. radio with an honest to God antenna, kids. Ask your grandparents what those were. When you’re 16, it’s not so much what is that matters; it’s the grandeur of what might be that motivates and almost fulfills you like the smell of pizza on the boardwalk when you are penniless. I could gain present joy just imagining my fire red final paint job from Earl Scheib Paint and Body shop for only $39.99. Local guys were getting their bugs painted for that low, low price as long as they did all the prep work. I think Earl Scheib is the fast food equivalent of automotive paint jobs, sort of a drive through like a car wash tunnel–only you got a paint job instead of a wash. Brilliant stuff. Image result for grey primer 1959 volkswagen beetle pictures

A bunch of us bought general admission tickets for the princely sum of $25.00, or $150.00 in 2019 dollars when adjusted for inflation. Our imaginations soared with unreal expectations of wild girls and party substances all tangled together while whirling dervishly at the altar of the Freakin’ Rolling Stones! I have a vivid memory of listening to Sticky Fingers on the stereo of Bobby Doering’s dad’s Porsche 911T with Bobby and Richard Cooper while skipping school and racing around the Beltway at crazy speeds over 100 mph. Man! If that was prerecorded Stones, my imagination overheated when attempting to envision the Stones live on the Fourth of July!!!! They were debuting Exile on Main Street on this tour. Image result for teens driving a porsche pictures

Early on it was great to be me that summer. Our older friends would drive over to D.C. to Meade’s Liquor Store and buy beer for us underagers who would drink it in Wilton Woods, trying desperately to impress the cute girls who lived there. (Actually, the beer delivery system of those days presaged Amazon. Very personal service as well.) Most nights that summer we’d sit on the hoods and fenders of our cars near Bobby Doering’s house. He had a pile of siblings, but I can only recall 16 year old Mimi, who was sort of cute but had lots of cuter girlfriends. As I think back on these teenaged outings, they seem more like fishing trips. We were the fisher boys and the bait all in one, hopefully casting our coolness lures and swag along darkened, girl heavy streets. Image result for teen agers hanging out on cars pictures

Glen Barret had his shiny red Nova with chrome wheels. He was so proud of that car and his signature move of coasting in with the engine off, and then jump starting on the way out. So cool… until he did the clutch in, reverse down the street with the driver’s door open exit. Patented to produce jealous oohs and ahhs from those privileged to witness the sacred ceremony. So cool until the shiny red door caught the immovable fire hydrant and bent the door back onto the front left fender. Awe turned to raucous mockery and wild laughter on that humid Virginia afternoon.Image result for red chevy nova 1970

One of the girls in the neighborhood gaggle whose name I cannot recall was in a frantic frenzy after her boyfriend had broken up with her. Her name? Sissy or Missy or Shelly or Kelly or Millie, it doesn’t matter. She was desperate to win him back and willing to do most anything, so I heard. She was cute and had a sassy sexiness that I vaguely remember. Out of nowhere she began to show me unnatural interest. Seems I had what she wanted. “Yeah, Baby. Shagadelic! The grey primer VW with golden yellow shag carpet wore her down.” I was chewed gum in the palm of her hand; faintly pink putty that had lost its flavor. Imaginary wonderings were pumping my false pride just ahead of my car doors being ripped off. Image result for 1970's teen girl talking to a teen boy photos

She asked me for a favor. “Oh, yeah, darlin’. Ask me anything.”

“Can I have your Stones ticket?”

“What? I uh, uh, what?”

“I want to give it to my boyfriend. I’ll pay you for it.”Image result for ferris bueller photos

Dumbfounded and disappointed and deceived… I tried to play it cool. “Sure. I’ll get it to you tomorrow.”

“Oh thanks so much. Twenty five, right? Here ya go.”

“I uh, uh, you see, okay. Never mind.”

It was years before that Meatloaf song “I’d do anything for love, but I won’t do that” so I didn’t have a canned excuse line to rely on. I just felt pick pocketed by a cute little grifter.  She set me up and I felt compelled to be the good guy, unselfish, and kind… unlike Mick Jagger as he sang “Under My Thumb”. But I also wanted to be Mick Jagger and dive headlong into the pleasures of a rock and roll lifestyle, and tell her “No, dammit! Why don’t you just be my little baby and cruise around in my bug mobile?”Image result for mick jagger 1972 photos

It’s down to me
Yes it is
The way she does just what she’s told down to me
The change has come
She’s under my thumb

Well, I took the cash and swallowed my stupid imaginary schemes. Everyone else, so it seemed to me, went to the revelry that was The Rolling Stones 1972 tour. They told me all about it to the point that I lost interest in the Stones for many years. I conflated them into my false start with the cute girl, somehow holding them responsible for my geekiness. Which makes a lot of adolescent sense, right? Nope. I displaced my anger at Misty the Grifter and at myself. Why if it weren’t for the Rolling Stones, I’d be a made man.Image result for james from derry girls photos




707. Hello, Jerry!

Image result for houses on camino abbey drive tucson az picturesSpent a week with the grandkids in Tucson earlier this month as they readjusted to their new/old digs. The house on Camino Abbey Drive had been rented for the past two years and not cared for. Okay, it was trashed, and that condition complicated the move back. Oh my, some folks live like shameless animals, needing zookeepers to clean up after them. That was certainly the case as my daughter and son-in-law had to repaint and re-floor their home after the skanky tenant moved out, leaving a stench of cigarettes on the walls and a profusion of non-contractual dog hair in the carpets. Fortunately I arrived after the largest part of cleaning had taken place.Image result for unfinished drywall next to fireplace pictures

My mission was to finish an expanse of drywall and repair another section that had holes kicked in it. After many years apprenticing to myself in the art of finishing drywall with the least amount of sanding, I feel pretty competent if not efficient in this endeavor. So I set about the taping and mudding process on either side of their living room hearth. Standard three coats of compound in each hole and across each joint seam, using a wider blade each time so that the compound gets thinner and thinner; so thin that the eye cannot detect the compounded area from the wall board.  Very little sanding is needed if you can slather the mud out like creamy honey or expensive shampoo. A little touch here and there and you are ready to prime and paint. Whoosh!! It’s all new again.Image result for finishing drywall pictures

So, mission one was complete and grandma peeled me away for fun times with the kids. Away we went on day three to the kids play place in a local strip mall, where you pay to use other folks’ toys and their playhouse scenes. A mini grocery store, a doctor’s office, a classroom, a pet store, and a post office were laid out across one side of this store space. A dinosaur slide and an open school bus were on the other side with various benches and mats in the middle. Accessories for all the stations were strewn about as kids are wont to do.image1352

Max and Leah tore into the various settings and let their imaginations go, go, go. The grocery store was good for a strong ten minutes, and then the plastic food lost its allure. Off they went to the mail truck in front of the post office to take turns “driving” the fixed wooden vehicle. My grandson Max became smitten with the wooden envelopes that he delivered to the big blue mailbox, only to retrieve them again from the open backside of the mailbox. He would make officious noises and gather up the four or five white wooden envelopes and then “drive” off in his truck possessively if not possessed by postal demons. Once he went through the routine a couple of times, he was no longer willing to share the mundane adventure with his older sister. She moved on to other play stations. Max hunkered down like a dog with its favorite chew toy.image2715

I laughed to myself as I watched Max go postal in the usual sense of the word. Over and over he delivered and redelivered the wooden mail. Other kids did not interrupt him, and he could not be persuaded to leave his beloved mail truck. At three years old he’d found his calling and passion, I suppose. As Max became lost in his postal play, I recalled the mad character Newman from Seinfeld. He was possessive and defensive about the mail also. Max’s mom and I had watched Seinfeld reruns together when she was in high school and college. Grace can do a pretty good Elaine impersonation should you need entertainment at a going nowhere cocktail party. (Private message me for more details and rates.) I just chuckled at the antigravitational way that apples don’t fall far from their parent trees, but farther than pumpkins fall from their vines.Ahahahaha GIF - Laughing Seinfeld Newman GIFs

Smiling at Max, it occurred to me that I was looking at the reincarnation of Newman. I walked over to Max at his mail truck and said dramatically, “Hello, Newman!” He did not know the schtick so he replied, “I’m not Newman. I’m MAX!”  After some explanation and history, I persuaded him to reply, “Hello, Jerry!” with matching dramatic emphasis. We practiced throughout the day until supper time, many hours later.Seinfeld Yes GIF - Seinfeld Yes Newman GIFs

We played and putzed about the house under renovation until Grace came home from work around 6 pm. After chit chat and crackers and wine, we sat down to eat. That’s when I offered my parrot project for Grace’s approval. I gave just a bit of background before introducing Newman.

“And so, watching him slavishly load and unload and reload the mail truck, all I could think of was Newman.”

“Oh, too funny, Dad.”

“And so I give you Newman… Hello, Newman”, I addressed Max.Image result for hello jerry gif with sound

“Hello, Jerry,” he responded perfectly on cue.Image result for hello jerry seinfeld pictures

Grace fell out in a fit of laughter. “Oh, oh, do it again.”

We complied with comic desserts.  Just another memory gem for my mental charm bracelet. Everything was as good as new man again.