362. Connectivity

The first text on my smart phone was from my downstairs tenant who scarfs my wifi at work… “Heads up:  Your wifi is down.” Wow, the first message of my day tells me that I have been disconnected from the world of Facebook and email and… oh no, my blog. I can’t be cut off from my psychic crutch!! What will my three secret followers held in a North Korean gulag do? I’ll have to call Dennis Rodman and Tom Cruise later to reset the linkage. International back channel diplomacy/espionage is not for the weak willed or timid tummied. It’s time to Growaset!

Well, it was coffee nation morning so I had to be off to the monkey cage. No time for silly things like cyber-connectivity. I was on my way to the beaten up couch and chairs where six of us would huddle and talk a bit too loud to be considered mannerly. Joel the rabble rouser was not in residence. He’s traveling in warm places this week and next. It’s a rendezvous with Sheila the mule in the Grand Canyon, which I will share in another post, after the preliminary hearing and terms of bail are set. Last week he tried hard to start an insurrection, suggesting that if he won the lottery he’d buy us all coffee for life, thus unseating and usurping my imperial rule. I had to beat back their fantasies of democracy. What if mules got the vote?  Do you think they would keep hauling fat tourists in and out of the Grand Canyon?  NO!!  I will never be usurped while I am busy surping my Sumatran blend. No coffee nation, no banana republic, no fundamentalist theocracy is or ever will be a democracy. But tyrants are people too. We serve a useful purpose among herd animals. Joel came to his senses and repentantly bought my coffee last Friday. A small but sincere gesture of rapprochement, which is French for detente.

Rob the young blood was already in coffee mode when I arrived. He apologized for asking me a serious question on No Thinking Thursday, but I allowed it due to the fact that we were technically ten minutes early. After all, I am a benevolent dictator. Steve rolled in wearing jeans and sneakers. Another paid day off for him. Sort of. He volunteers his accounting skills to the high school band, which he plugs shamelessly. “Hey, we’re having another spaghetti dinner next Friday. We raised all kinds of money for the marching band competition, which we hosted and won last year. FAMBU accredited. So we are.”

“And what does FAMBU stand for?”

“Oh, the Federation of American Marching Bands Unlimited. Don’t make the mistake that the last treasurer made and call them BAMBU, which is the Brotherhood of American Marching Bands Unlimited. They are posers to the throne of Martial Music. He was escorted off school grounds and roughly de-badged, that guy. Whew! We had to start with all new passwords. Lemme tell you, it was a hot mess.”

Mercifully Doug rolled in and shook hands around. I quickly diverted the band conversation to Rob and the Steelers. “So, Rob, the Steelers are done now, eh?”

“Yeah. I guess I’ll be pulling for the NFC team in the Super Bowl. I can’t get behind New England or the Broncos.”

Steve, “New England cheats all the time, right?”

All, “Yep. Steve, you go to one Ravens game and now you are a sports guru.”

Steve, “I don’t think Brady should even be allowed to play after deflate gate.”

Rob, “Yeah, the MVP of last year’s Super Bowl and he was almost suspended four games. You know the Seahawks lost that game because they were trying to make Russell Wilson the hero and not Marshawn Lynch. Wilson is nice and Lynch is not, i.e., marketable. And it backfired. So the cheater got the MVP.”

Lance, arriving fashionably late. “Let me strut my swagger, gentlemen.” Handshakes around.

Rob, “The Seahawks have never won a Super Bowl.”

BS,” Correction: they won the year before, remember? They crushed Peyton and the Broncos.”

Rob,”Oh, right.”

BS,”Doug, here is a trivia question for you. Name the only Doug who was the Super Bowl MVP.”

Lance-a-blurt, ” Doug Williams, Redskins.”

BS,” Thanks for your blurtation, Lance. You didn’t even raise your hand!”

Lance, with both hands in the air now, doing some full body butter churn torso wobble. “And, that was the strike shortened year… late 80’s, Super Bowl 22…”

BS, “Just shut up now! We were doing fine with our low football IQ until you came in showing off.”

Steve, “Deflate yourself, Lance.”

Lance, “I think not. My tee shirt says, Grown a set.”

Steve, “Don’t get me started…”

BS,”Uh oh, looks who’s riding into town. Cowboy Chuck!”

Chuck canters through the chairs with horse swagger, handshakes around.

“The girl asked me if I was in Coffee Nation. How’d she know?”

“Lucky guess or you look like the other five circus clowns in the back room.”

Chuck, “So have we solved the world’s problems yet? Cuz ya’ll was loitering like this the last time I was here…”

BS,” Which was two years ago.”

Chuck, “I can’t remember if it’s the second or third Thursday of the month…”

BS, “Shut up! Look, this is why you are a bench warmer and not a starter like Steve. He leaves one of the largest multinational corporations in the lurch almost every Thursday at 8:30 so he can run on our squirrel wheel. No excuses from Steve O. He leaves it all on the field, Chuckie. He’s a team player not some lone wolf who rolls along like a tumbleweed…”

Chuck, “I’m sorry, man.”

BS,”It’s alright, man. We just need to hug our way through it. We’re all glad that you’re here.”

Chuck, “Yeah, I need me some connectivity.”

All, “That’s right, right on. Come on down.”

BS, “As the late great Marvin Gaye said…

What’s goin on? Tell me what’s goin on. You know we’ve got to find a way, to bring some love in here today….what’s goin on?”

 

 

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318. Pine Street

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I lived upstairs on Pine Street in Richmond for a year or so while I was in my sophomore year of college. That whole block has since been torn down and redeveloped into modern campus buildings. Back in the 1970’s it was a bleak block of row houses. Ours was a wood frame with an add on kitchen out the back. Our kitchen had been built over a sloped first floor roof. The resulting floor was so slanted that, even when quite sober, you’d toddle downhill in agreement with gravity. If you were intoxicated, everything was fine; you just had to lean against the house lean. Simple. The back kitchen door/ fire escape from the death trap led to a steep set of wooden stairs facing due east and busy Belvedere Street. From the top step I’d sometimes smoke a cigarette and laugh out loud at the huge sign over the used car lot on Broad Street. It featured a slick mustachioed sales cad, Mad Man Dapper Dan the Used Car Man and the saying, “I’d give them away but my wife won’t let me.” His face seemed to view all of Richmond, as if he were some Middle Eastern despot watching for moral failures in the populace.

“Dan, you are the man. I trust you, Dude.”

It still cracks me up to imagine an evening in Dapper Dan’s company, cigar in one hand, bourbon in the other, telling tales of great car deals and trips to exotic Roanoke. “Boy, the things I seen and dun can’t be cataloged  by a million monks in a million encyclopedias in a million years. You know, I just love that word, MILLION.” Fading like old black and white photos, my memories sort of bleed into one another as my neural pathways move in together to cut expenses in retirement.

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We had no air conditioning, of course, and the Richmond summers were the equivalent of hippopotamuses in weather terms– big, fat, wet, sloppy, and dangerous. The wiring would likely have melted if we’d tried an a/c window unit. So we would climb out on the porch roof facing Pine Street on hot nights and drink a few cheap beers while we listened to music blast from inside. It was often a pathetic portrait of perspiring almost, nearly, slightly, okay dammit-ghetto ennui. Our porch roof aligned with the rest of the row house porch roofs all the way down the block, until the line jutted out to the sidewalk at the up and coming new restaurant and potted palm tree bar called Bruce’s, with skylights in their roof. Well, it was not out of the ordinary for one of my crew to walk down the porch roofs past sleeping neighbors to wave in on the diners through the skylight. Later, the diners might see us as they came out to get in their cars. We were not hassled as much as we deserved to be but merely shooed away like annoying city pigeons. College communities have a high tolerance for the ludicrous, I have learned.Image result for boys scrambling on city roof pictures

Often while listening to Clapton or Hendrix or the Beatles, we could watch people doing things on the street or sidewalk that they thought no one else could see. We had no television and this was in the dinosaurlike pre-personal computer age. One boring rainy night my roomie Jeff and I were in our porch roof positions beneath metal awnings as a couple came out of the above cited restaurant/bar, walking slightly sloppily. It was clear that they were tipsy. The man opened the door of the dark sedan in the rain and his Betty Boop jumped in to the passenger seat, giving me and Jeff a clear view of what was about to go down. The tipsy strange man started the car and the windshield wipers began flapping. The car remained in park while the passengers got into gear.

Jeff was picking along to the Beatles “I Want You” on his black and white Fender and amp as we glommed on to the steamy car action unfolding in front of and below us.  We laughed as the couple began some rather heated making out and mutual fondling. Jeff cranked up the volume and continued picking, “I want you, I want you so bad, Babe. I want you so bad, It’s driving me mad, it’s driving me mad.” Though the impassioned couple could not see or hear us, they complied with clumsy choreography on the beat. It was amazingly synchronized even though this was in the pre- music video era. All live action.i want GIF

Let’s just say that the steamed up couple reached a crescendo as the guitar raged into the curtain of droning summer rain, pounding out an urgent beat on the aluminum awnings above us. Jeff shifted with the bridge to “She’s so heavy, heavy, heavy, etc.” while the wipers worked in time like a metronome.Related image

We thought it couldn’t get any funnier as the song ended and Jeff set his guitar down. We stood up and clapped for their performance. I suppose our dual stand up against the stained yellow light behind us caught Betty Boop’s eye. She lifted her head up and made a most amazing face.

We couldn’t hear the scream but we saw her mouth open and her teeth bared. Obscenities were mouthed through the steamed up window.  In just a couple of seconds the sedan lights came on and the car peeled away without looking any which way. I can imagine it was an awkward verbal ending to a their gymnastic achievements.

Well, that is a great story to tell when folks mention compromising positions, but I feel like Mad Man Dapper Dan when I repeat this double indiscretion. I have no cigar or bourbon, but I feel like a sleazy used car salesman anyway. I suppose that conviction is caused by some decency knocking on my conscience’s door. If I answer it, I might wind up in jail. Just turn the lights out and stay quiet. (In a whisper voice… “I’d give them away but my wife won’t let me.”)Related image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

305. Narcissus Maximus Trumpus

I don’t like politics and politicians in general. Whether they are lefties who want to expand government and make the world politically correct at all times for all people or they are righties who need another tax cut while contracting the parts of government that don’t enrich them, I am generally disgusted by their self promotion. Plus, they can never answer a straight forward yes/no question.  It’s always an exercise in CYA. But on top of all these disgusting hacksters there is the supreme narcissist, the gopher pelted, angry, rude, hostile Donald Trump, who lacks a filter of any sort. He is like the diesel pick up truck that billows clouds of black smoke from an oversized exhaust pipe with a sexually suggestive bumper sticker on its tail gate. Essentially these overblown high maintenance idiots are compensating for some major deficit in their lives, but their egos are so inflated that they cannot face the possibility that they are responsible for their own problems. Nope, gotta find someone to blame– immigrants, gays, Islamists, Democrats, POWs, the Chambers of Commerce, the media, the Pope. The problem cannot be in the mirror. So they just keep on blowing smoke.

Which brings me to the Donald who would be king. I don’t believe he wants to be president any more than Robert Mugabe wanted to be president. At least not in the USA. Maybe there is room for him in an African nation. I get the sense that Sir Ronald the Mc Donald wants to be Dictator for Life and King of Scotland, like some Idi Amin fantasy.

You see, in an American style democracy there is a supposed to be a balance of power among the three branches of government. However, since the Donald has to be the smartest, richest, smuggest moron in the room, there is no oxygen left for anyone else to breathe. So in a Trump presidency we’d have to close Congress, shut down the press, and send the courts home till he died. Why?  Because the Donald will take care of all things all the time. Like a Roman emperor/dictator. “Believe me, I have negotiated with the toughest negotiators on the planet and I’ve won. Now they work for me. Do you know how rich I am?”

 So why are we bothering? No sane person could possibly consider the Donald for anything other than a circus, which maybe is what the bigger political picture is. If we are ready to blow up our fragile democracy, then let’s all vote for the Narcissus Maximus Trumpus. He can reinstitute the gladiator fights at RFK stadium, and when the tired ones fall, the Donald can hold his thumb up or down, “You’re fired!” the hordes can all shout as the defeated warrior is cut into shish kabob chunks for the lions to  snack upon.

Some obvious questions  arise when we consider electing Donald as our Emperor Divine for life. Who would be vice emperor?  Certainly we would not need one because the Donald is all powerful and eternal, just ask him. We would, however, need a new government Department of Admiration, which would essentially be a 1,000 woman harem who had graduated from the Trump University of Cosmetic Lobotomies and Idol Worship. They could be housed in the empty Congress building. Who would be able to tell the difference between these ladies and the ones currently “working” there?

The White House would have to be demolished since it is far too small for such a large man. Emperor Donald could move into the Pentagon, the largest office building in the world, after a proper makeover, mostly triumphal arches wide enough for his chariot themed limos to drive through. At the same time the Secret Service would need to be grown by ten thousand percent because there is such an important man to protect now, a man who doesn’t sleep and never shuts up. A man who has alienated even retired nuns who have taken vows of silence and perpetual peace… who are buying guns at record levels. Who doesn’t want to shoot him?

With the Donald as our reigning Divine Emperor of All Things we could finally rename the Redskins to something more politically palatable. I mean, the Donald did own the defunct New Jersey Generals. Let’s see, the Washington Donalds, the Trumpettes, the Toupees, the Emperoritas, the Ignoramuses, the Blowhards, or the Pompous Asses. Maybe we should just ask Donald, since voting will be outlawed by then.

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Donald’s Divinity will be good for tourism also, once he has remodeled. The Washington Mall will need to be redone. The Trump Temple will rise above the Washington Monument, which will function like a speedometer needle pointing to the vortex of Donald’s inflated shrine to self. “Oh the humanity!”, cried the radio announcer when the Hindenburg exploded. Oh, if we could be so lucky and Emperor Donald could self combust from his own bombast blasts.

But I suspect that the Donald will do just that. He is the propane filled Mothra drawn to the flame of  public attention. His inflammatory rhetoric will be ignited by static electric shock from his frizzled coiffure and Boom!!

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“Bye bye Don
Bye bye  crappiness, hello selflessness
I think I’m-a gonna cry
Bye bye Don
Bye bye crude impress, hello happiness
I feel like I could sigh
Bye bye bully boy, goodbye.

I’m-a through with ignorance, I’m a-through with self love
I’m through with polling this clown above
And here’s the reason that I’m so free
My arrogant Donald is gone, you see.”

 

 

 

 

256. Shameless Blog Comments like slugs on pecan pie

Permit me to ask for your forgiveness at the beginning of this post so neither of us feels conflicted at the end.

If you write a blog, you already know that non English speaking scammers from around the globe send illogical and ungrammatical comments, hoping that you will respond to their “insights” at obviously commercial addresses. They are chomping at the blog trough to separate cyber fools from their money. The most common ruse is the standard fake design engineer who, completely unsolicited, tells you how to improve your blog technically by adjusting terms that you don’t know to begin with. I delete those without even reading them. They are a cut and paste universal app, apparently. I suspect that these mystery elves don’t even know the text of what they post; they are simply trolling for gullibelly fish in the internet ocean.

Arkvek: What have you caught, my darling cyber-butter slug?

Schmucktiel: Oggggggggle Eyes, two American bloggers and someone from the NSA.

Arkvek: MMMM, tasty. How much you think? They buy our bamboo toothpicks and tongue depressers? Maybe we get VISA number and buy new bucket of honey lard sludge.

Schmucktiel: Ullllugggllll, of course they vill vonce I slime their computers virally. I vill make them madly anxious to click on my button vonce they take my sweet bait.

Arkvek: You push my buttons, my big mug of slug.

Schmucktiel: Arky Baby, vait von minute vill you?

“Dear Web Administrator, I notice in website you have dormant widget where active fidget should be. To promote great use of you web site and increase traffic immediate, I reroute your tetrameter and inculate the obfuscator. With such new technologic advance, you can be great even. Just click icon above and I do the rest.”   Bob Vealson. Ve vent to high school together, remember me broski?

Schmucktiel: Ven dey cleek, I peek. Oh ho ho, huh, huh.

Arkvek: Oh Schmucky! You make me happy proud slug wife.

Schmucktiel: Stop or I blush. You know old slug sayink, “You blush; I flush. I don’t van to flush, Arky.”

Of course I ignore these idiots. Delete permanently. A pound of salt should do it. They are like bed bugs that live in the mattress of the internet. When some warm blooded mammal is sensed, they scuttle toward the steamy streams of electronic life and feast opportunistically with impunity.

I want these parasites to starve and die. It is high time for some international punity. A salt pox on you Schmucky, wherever you are!! And your ugly slug wife.

Other creepers attempt to compliment the post which they have not read and get you to click back to their site out of gratitude I suppose.

“You have said something so true. Your content speaks clearly what everyone thinks and agrees to. Please to keep writing, if you would thank you.”  Zsa zsa @ knock it off coach purses cheap.

These shameless hacks deserve something more than a simple delete. But I can’t think of what fits the crime. Maybe posting their insipid comments internationally with their yearbook pictures next to them on-line would give them the shame they seem to lack. A Hall of Shame for Parasites. Ugh!  They can certainly turn you off to that world wide spider web.

So I’m halfway to my 1,000 word goal line and I ‘ve just referenced two nasty critters. For proper balance I need two more that somehow tie into blog terms.  Hmmm, bar flies, gnats, mosquitoes? No.  Spiders, scorpions, cicadas, preying mantis?  Oh, maybe black widow spiders.

More than one of these disreputable uninvited guests has attempted to get a hit back to an obvious sex site. That sort of thing creeps me out. Naturally I delete those without any hesitation. How gross to troll internationally with lurid sex talk in the vain hope of getting a desperate American blogger to respond to sizzlekitten@ hotsex.net. I feel like I need a shower and then saniwipes for my keyboard after one of their visits. Yuk!! I like freedom folks. I also like good taste and not tawdry raw venery. That’s a double meaning word– hunting in medieval times plus sexual indulgence. In this case it’s more like trapping than hunting, but never mind. You are the prey.

Blatant disregard for others. Like the internet equivalent of a neighbor who burns his trash after you have hung out your fresh laundry. And the wind causes them to collide. Now your laundry is not bothering his trash, but  his incinerator is bothering your laundry. This stuff is not hard to figure out.  I don’t want your toxic crap. Okay? I just wish I could exact some justice in the matter.  I don’t want to hurt these guys too much, just enough to make them stop.

Finally, let me thank the awful programs that slink into one’s computer somehow disguised as Windows Updates or add ons of some sort. I’ve spent most of this day turning my computer on and off trying to get around some Pro Optimizer. They seek to help you fix problems you don’t have. Which ought to be a tip off. If someone offers to cure you of cancer but  you don’t have cancer, run. Call Schmucky. Put out a hit on him. Punity for all and all for punity.

What creature would represent this last type of vermin?  Ah, yes, the unkillable cockroach.

 You don’t think you could possibly have roaches, when one day in the dark as you press the power button on the keyboard, you hear a distinctive crunchy squish. Yep, you gottem. Pass the saniwipes again. I’m sorry you had to hear that, but I apologized at the beginning.

“First off I want to say superb blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind before writing. I’ve had difficulty clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints? Thanks!|掲示板}” at Boutique Nike tn 2013.

They are crawling all over me.

 

 

 

174. Shadows across the parking lot

PictureOutside my second story office window is a charcoal parking lot that holds maybe thirty spaces. Beyond that is the unspectacular three story beige southern wall of a large church. It looks like a rectangular cruise ship stuck in asphalt and concrete. A rusted green dumpster sits at the left side of that wall where the alley runs through north/south behind the church for easy trash pick up on Monday mornings. There is a utility pole exactly halfway between my window and the wall, with utility wires running horizontally across the townscape framed by my square window. Traffic rumbles up and down the poorly paved alley and zooms by the opening of Route 30, between the end of the church wall and what used to be the Salvation Army store. It’s the sort of view that only a New Yorker could love. In the upper left quadrant, blue sky completes the picture. Two streaks of grey-bottomed clouds stretch diagonally northeastward this October morning.

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Before noon the shadows run right (East) to left (West). They straighten out and move backwards as the day wanes. I look out on this intersection of boxes planted around the black macadam streets, trying to supply the missing beauty. It could be beautiful in an urban sort of way, but no one seems to want to put on shutters or hang a nice sign in front of their building. No plants or flowers are evident. The paint choices are tedious– white, beige, green. Not that it’s worth the effort, but I think a hipster urban decorator could easily jazz up this boring patch of boro.

In the left third of my view is a narrow opening between two buildings that reveals a green patch of unpaved ground. It’s a little gem of a park in the middle of downtown Chambersburg where a branch of the Conococheague Creek tumbles past the remains of an old mill wheel. I think of a cherished ruby presented in a stained old cigarette box; the heart of our town deserves better presentation. Instead, the prettiest spot in town is surrounded by parking lots and the backs of sad buildings. Poor planning, I think.

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That beautiful spillway was a primary reason for the rest of the town’s existence. But now it’s just an afterthought, after the streets were paved and lit. After the industry had come and gone. After the money had been extracted from the intersection of Commerce and Greed streets. Still, it remains defiantly beautiful, like a prisoner who grows younger and more vibrant behind bars, wrongfully convicted by impatient, aging jurists.

It’s a funny thing, beauty. It seems to be reborn every year if not every season. Take that rusty dumpster, for example. Last fall I was walking by it and noticed an intense bluish-purple dash of color against the beige background wall. Growing up out of the gap between macadam parking lot and concrete block wall was a purple iris which had somehow taken root. I imagine that funeral or wedding flowers had been dumped sloppily and a single tuber had found its way into the sheltering gap. I took a picture of it with my cell phone. This accidental drop of beauty spoke to me of hope.Image result for purple iris growing out of concrete pictures

Then there is the stream that cuts through our town. I walk by it every day and wonder why it is not esteemed. It could be and should be so beautiful, except locals dump mattresses and shopping carts in its pure waters. There is your basic littering and then there is raping and scarring a landscape. I think willful polluting of a pristine stream deserves more than a civil citation. But then, we’d have to jail the strip mining companies, wouldn’t we? I wonder what the land would look like if it could be returned to the First Nation folks for one hundred years. That stream would be honored, I’m sure, because it provides water and fish and game and direction and transport, i.e., life. But we don’t see that any more. It’s just that wet thing below the bridge.

Again, we have jewels, pearls buried in the excrement of swine. Like old relationships that are taken for granted, we don’t even see the beauty of our blessings. We are a faithless bunch. This town owes its birth to the Falling Spring that feeds the stream that nurtured it… and we have literally turned our backs on it in the pursuit of speed and greed. Now the town fathers look to the torrents of Interstate 81 for more. Prime farmland is paved over for gaudy strip malls and convenience stores. No expense is spared to grease the path of the big chains who promise concrete jobs and progress. We are now a mecca of box warehouses that supply box stores along the arteries of rail and roads. And this display of beauty is the equivalent of a bleached blonde Hooters waitress. Alluring? Yes. Real? No. Come back in ten years and check it out when it will be as sexy as a cigarette butt.

I’m thinking about trees in planters out there. Heavy pots full of flowers. Window boxes spilling out petunias and ivy and such. Spots of beauty that say, “I see. This matters. I am renewing this urban desert.” Now I’m wondering about setting these signs of hope outside my office. I can’t stand vandalism, but I can’t let vandals stop beauty and hope. Yes, I could certainly add two more flower boxes, two potted trees and a whiskey barrel of flowers. These will not be accidents or after thoughts, not prisoners but free exclamations of life being lived. Isaiah 55:

You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn bush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”

I need to go to Lowe’s.