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2013 & before edition
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weasel and the girl - 10.28.13

“You’re a weasel,” yelled the angry girl. The old man in the smelly sweater knew she was right. Yet, he was a man comfortable in his own weaselness. No, he wasn’t proud of it, but it was a label he was familiar with, and it worked well for those who knew him. The girl hated him, but she hated much in her sad life. One thing guaranteed, her life had never been a pleasure. Growing up had included few memories that rose above unpleasant. The years of her life sadly piled up into a sinking, stinking heap. She’d come to the basic assumption that shit is what she deserved, and shit is what she mostly got. Her life required her to always keep juggling, having to keep too many fucking balls in the air. Just to get by seemed to take so much, she wasn’t sure she had much more.

Many of her days personified a simple label—shit days. Appropriately, Weasel only showed up on the shit days. In fact, Weasel making an appearance, would, within a few years, become her personal dictionary definition of what constituted a shit day. He served as a black cloud for most everyone in his life, including himself.

Out of the blue, Weasel had asked the girl out to lunch at a local diner. She had sat there watching him out of the corner of her eye; all the while she was eating her tuna melt. Weasel was confused that a sandwich and a glass of milk was all she’d wanted.
“Pie?” he’d asked.
“No pie. No thanks,” she’d replied.

He ordered some anyway. This was all just way too civilized. The girl was waiting him out; to see why...why was the Weasel being generous? He found himself wondering the same thing. Life continued to be a mystery.

He never read those oxymoronic self-help books he found occasionally abandoned on park benches. Trying to better himself rivaled the pointlessness of studying the details of living on Mars.

It had been 11am, when the 23-year-old, sharply-dressed man had handled him the envelope, and quickly disappeared. Weasel's curiosity had overpowered any fear of a summons, or any other legal threat that might have lurked within that blank envelope. It had held only eight pieces of paper money. He tossed the empty envelope into the gutter, without any thought to why this fortune had come his way. Weasel’s mind raced with $74 possibilities.

Inviting the girl to lunch, “Hey, you ever get hungry?” had just happened. Her even more surprising acceptance had continued this strange journey into the unknown. To the hungry girl, the bread was satisfying, the tuna flavorful, but it was the milk that had absolutely floored her. Her frosty glass of unbelievably great, icy cold milk was a gift from the milk gods. Physically and spiritually lunch was shaping up to be very pleasing, just maybe things were changing for the better.

Then, Weasel fell face first into his waiting pie’s lofty meringue, and slide sideways off his chair. He ended up a messy, dirty collection of old wrinkled skin and clothes on the checkered pattern of the dinner’s scuffed floor tiles.

The girl quickly was out the door like a quickly clearing puff of smoke. She wanted to be far away, before people possibly became wise to the fact that the mess on the floor was her dad. She wanted nothing to do with all those tedious questions. Nobody knew about their relationship. Hell, sometimes they both forgot about it themselves...almost.

Surely some of the diner’s staff had seen Weasel out on the street, watching the girl through the front windows. His gaze could have been some sort of a sinister stocking, or just another street person staring at something without actually focusing.

Now, Weasel was dead and the girl was left alone. Again. She was headed through life without a parent who could deliver anything. At least she had part of a tuna melt in her pocket. “Damn, I wish I could have finished that milk before he died in the meringue,” she thought to herself. She walked quickly away from the last relative she had on the planet…thinking about that milk.


spam nuts

that seems odd - 8.26.13

Gregor had ginormous, uncontrollable feet. They lead him this way and that in life. Try as he might to guide them, his travels always turned into an adventure. Say he was headed to the bathroom; he would end up staring into the fridge for hours. Or headed to bed, and he could end up sitting outside in the limo for hours. No bother to him, he liked unexpected adventures.

His sister, Sasquatch—no, not seemingly a pretty name to most, but she was big-boned and excessively hairy—had the power. Unknown to Gregor, she was the one controlling his feet. Like most of us, he had never taken the time to put the facts of his life together. You see, when Sassy was asleep or out of sight, he could pretty much get his giant feet headed wherever he wanted. Yet, whenever she was near, it was always no control, no way. Because they slept together and seldom left the compound, his life was generally uncontrollable, but still uncommonly happy. Contentment reined, because, after all, they loved each other.

Known only by Gregor, he held a power over his abnormally large and hairy sister’s mind. He could make her think any disturbing thought he might create in his twisted little brain. Their competing powers were a wee bit of a revenge of nature. Sassy would be singing a happy song, by, say Lou Reed, and suddenly she would be fixated on how handsome Senator Ted Cruz was ... in a provocatively Eddie Munster sort of way. Or, maybe Sassy would be steering Gregor’s feet out into a horrible storm, and she would become totally freaked and distracted by the unsettling belief that her entire body was made of Spam®.

In stark difference to their offspring, the parents were completely normal. Well, normal for a couple of Wiffle Balls®.

Wiffle Balls®, Spam®, Ted ‘Batshit’ Cruz, a ‘happy’ Lou Reed song, mind-control, Sasquatch, and misbehaving feet … all in all they were pretty normal, for a family who lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Thank God® they weren’t like their old neighbors. Those people drank Tang® constantly, ate dust bunnies for dinner, and voted for turnips in any election. Their youngest son had been repeatedly busted for spray painting TURNIPS RULE on any inviting wall. Now, THEY were odd.

Sorry. What kind of a dream can the average guy expect when he consumes imported Macadamia Nuts with Spam® Classic Flavor before bed? Also, I just may have a turnip fixation. 



dreaming - 6.7.13

For years I have had a very pleasant and reoccurring dream that was so very relaxing—I was a turnip. Yup, a turnip in the ground. Sometimes, I would have the dream at least once a night, for weeks and weeks on end. I could will myself to dream it. I was in control. After a while that control went away, yet the dream will still occasionally return to my sleeping mind. I’m still hoping the control will return.

There is something oh so extremely comforting about being a live and vital tuber in the ground. While there isn’t much for dramatic action, or any stirring arc of a storyline, it is a great place to be. In some ways the pleasure was like a meditation, you didn’t want to think or judge, the thing was to just BE.

The Dream:

I could feel myself as a large turnip, stretching out my greens under the warm sunshine. My action was a gentle swaying of my greens in any breeze, oh, and the occasional visit from some insect. But that’s not all. I had roots large and small in the soil. My roots were reaching out, growing their way into the welcoming dirt. We were all in nature and working together. It was a peaceful process as my tiny hair-like roots snuggled in between the grains of dirt in search of some life-giving moisture. There was no invading—this was all about peaceful co-existence. All my turnip parts were happy and healthy.
   I was kissed by the sun,
       brushed by the wind,
          and nurtured by the moist soil ... I was a BLISSED OUT TURNIP.

The Confusion:
One possibly ironic twist to this—I don’t like eating turnips. I’m not sure if that arises from self-loathing or a fear of cannibalism. 


babywalking the stones - cemeteries, family, & the memories of life - 1.28.13

I often think about my disappearance from my family’s world. In the late 1970s, I left my home state of Vermont for the adventure of California. I was a young man with my tennis gear, a small inheritance, and my Vermont wife. Now, I find myself, after a divorce, and the loss of my parents, with a growing sadness about my reduced connections to the east. My family is, in some ways, a distant concept. We three remaining siblings don’t communicate much. Those 3,106 trans-continental miles separating us, severely limit how much relating we relatives do. 

Walking through graveyards always brings me pleasure, but it also saddens me. Thinking of myself, I know there will be no record of my life, or my passing—there.  But, who would have visited? Graveyards are mostly full of the unvisited stones of forgotten people. That loneliness could explain some of my perverse pleasure in walking the stones. In my own way, I’m paying some respect to these unknown dead. They’re most likely never visited by anyone else, other than people like me, and those who cut the grass. I’m there with them, reading names and thinking about what their lives might have been like.

My cemetery fascination began when I was a small child helping my mother plant flowers on the MOORE family plot. Later, I spent years with different girlfriends, searching cemetery stones for offbeat names for the children I thought I would eventually have.

I still have especially fond memories of a small, Civil War era cemetery, on a narrow dirt road. The road ran through the thick woods to our family’s camp on Maine’s Lake Sebec. A few dozen markers were tucked into the woods on the side of the road. The graveyard didn’t receive many visitors or much attention. Its remaining fencing was slowly being overgrown, yet most of the old stones still stood up proud. Those moss-covered stones caught the sun’s rays for just minutes a day, when sunshine was able to find its way down through the surrounding tall trees. Having been born in the 1950s, Civil War era gravestone dates always seemed more significant to me—they were becoming one hundred-years-old, just as I adopting my graveyard fascination.

My mind is constantly figuring life spans when I’m reading headstone inscriptions. The long-gone practice of carving the exact number of years, months and days that someone lived, seemed so precise and sweet to me. I also love it when the headstone lets you in on where these people came from. Where somebody started out in life, before they ended up there, beneath you in death. Matching up family members (Baby, Father, Sister, Wife), is another preoccupation of mine, especially when the family’s plot is bordered by all those old funky carved edgings, posts, fences, corners and steps. Granite and marble, in all its colors, textures, and patterns, has always caught my attention. Growing up near the stone quarries of Vermont gave me an early pride in rock.

Packed away, I have a collection of books that help me understand the many styles, rules, history, and symbols found on gravestones. There are so many layers of code, custom and tradition at play in our many bone yards.

Many times a monument of rock seems too much of a boast, but as something to visit, something pleasing. A unique stone or structure, a striking inscription, always seemed a welcoming thought. All those cemeteries that I’ve spent countless hours in, were once research for the possibilities of my own edifice. But, our custom of moving tons of soil—moving heaven and earth—to lift rocks resting peacefully underground, only to shape it, carve it, and place it on some green lawn in a park setting, seems wasteful and dated, but kind.

The stone rises into sight only to mark the long-decayed and dissolved body of a person who will only be visited for a generation or two by their survivors. Family members are so often scattered so far away. Myself, I still consider part of myself a Vermonter, though I’ve lived most of my life in California, while all my family remains in Vermont.

One finds fewer and fewer newer multiple-generational plots. Fewer people can visit the grave of a close relative and find a gravestone for Uncle John, or a great grandmother nearby. They’re simply not there, people have moved away.

Then there’s the expense, environmental concerns, spiritual issues,  whatever, that leads to so many cremated ashes being carried away by the breeze and never having a sharply-defined resting place for tomorrow? It does beg a significant question. Where are we all going?

If I had a grave marker, I’m quite sure there would be nobody stopping by to look down on my name carved into the stone. Because I left my family and the land of my ancestors in my twenties, any gravestone I might have in California would only really be another form of saying DEAD END.

So, crisp me up and toss me to the winds on some glorious stretch of California coastline…maybe near a graveyard.

Bitchy aside: Reports of headstones coming from China and undercutting quality Vermont stone angers and depresses me. How screwed up can economies and trade rules be when shipping tons of rock halfway around the world is cheaper than native stone? It’s screwed up.


davy jones
what was it about Davy Jones?
- 2.29.12

Why does his death seem to get to so many people? Yes, he was a very cute, young man. And The Monkees music and TV show were all about youthful energy, humor and music. But, will Justin Bieber's death, if it comes in fifty years, grab a hold of as many people? I have my doubts about that. The abundance of media sources nowadays has split the public into so many fragments, it seems hard to equate cable's 500 stations, everything available online—with those old three networks worth of stuff. 
I was listening to The Monkees at the same time I was getting into Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and the that other pop music icon—Frank Zappa. OK, these last three didn't have any TV shows and weren't cute at all, and pretty much ran from pop music. The Monkees were my very definition of Pop Music at the time.
Around the time I entered junior high school, I got my first cheap stereo. It was one of those pull-down-the-front-to-expose-the-turntable models...crappy sound, but you could turn it up loud. I was enjoying my grandmother's old show tunes, my LPs of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass AND the wilder, Baja Marimba Band, WHEN my sister bought me a copy of a Bob Dylan album...Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits. Bob won my heart immediately and I have never stopped buying his music since then. This all took place in northern Vermont, which wasn't a hotbed for new music at that time. Our local, lame radio station, WIKE, was aptly named after that wild man, and rebel, President Dwight Ike Eisenhower. And the only source of new music was a FM radio station out of Montreal, a station that tended to drift in and out with the shifting Vermont winds.
You weren't going to ever find Dylan, Young, or Zappa on the four and a half TV stations (the half being a French-speaking station out of Quebec) we were lucky to get in Newport, Vermont. I remember being excited about the Baja Marimba Band being on Ed Sullivan's show one Sunday in 1969. I also remember going to my hometown's only music store, to return a badly warped Beatles album that I had bought there. Nobody working there was under fifty (that seemed SO much older then) and this woman tried to convince me that the needle was simply pushed out of the groove by that awful, loud music that they were "playing".
And then there were The Monkees. From 1966 to 1968 they were right there on my TV—young, funny—and they became one of my guilty pleasures. Of course the last half of the 1960s were a sea of guilty pleasure on TV: Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, Get Smart, and so many others. Everyone was talking about the same shows the next day at school. You knew that none of this was great programing, but it was amusing and something to watch with the family, over a Coke and some popcorn. The Monkees always had a happy song or two, with a beat, and there was a lot movement. You didn't think about what was going on too much—you just let it wash over you. Mindless pleasure, everyone deserves some of that. In the end, I bought all their albums, looked at the jackets as I listened to them, and was happy. They were safe and comfortable, they weren't about rebelling much, just having a good time. Rebellion came latter.
So all these many years latter, this formerly cute actor/singer dies at 66 and it really hits me. Maybe a safe part of my life has somehow been taken away from me. Was I missing some of my innocence? It's never pretty seeing the 60-70 year-old versions of those squeaky, clean faces we remember from our youth, but the deaths are so very final. Oh, memories. You keep them, and maybe you shouldn't be updating them with the wrinkled, pasty-faced, fat present-day versions. And, dead versions of Davy Jones don't make anyone feel better.
Back to Davy. A brother-in-law here, a son-in-law there, are joined by the countless people (OK, over 30) I have heard online and on TV talking about how Davy's loss hit them much harder than they would have ever thought. Some of them may have caught The Monkees TV show from when MTV rebroadcast it all again in the 1980s.
Nobody wants their youth stolen. I'm keeping my memories. Mr. Jones is remembered.

— Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan) died back in 2004...I got to wondering...so I looked it up  
— first Dylan song I ever played on my stereo - Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 

turn your radio on
- 10.29.11

There I was in bed, when I turned on my radio for a hit of NPR. This scary voice was reading. It turned out to be William Blatty reading from his book, The Exorcist.  He then went on to tell about how badly the book sold when it first came out. His publisher had taken him to a that's-all-we-can-do-goodbye lunch at the Four Seasons, when they brought a phone to his table. Seems that Dick Cavett has had a last-minute guest cancellation for his TV show and he needed somebody quick. Blatty goes, they go on the air and Cavett says that he hasn't read the book and could the author describe it. So, for about 40 minutes Blatty reads from, and describes his book—basically he does a monologue . He thanks Cavett for this wonderful opportunity and leaves. A week passes and Blatty picks up a TIME magazine—his book is number four on the national bestsellers list! It goes on to become number one, has a great run, and is latter made into a major projectile vomiting, blockbuster movie. I just love these stories of chance happenings.

Another personal note. I first saw The Exorcist in college. Me and a good friend had to walk a couple of miles in a Vermont snow storm. We got there late, just as the film was starting. The only seats left were in the very front row. Yes, images blur when the action moves quickly across a big screen, but we were ready to deal with that. There was something else. If you've seen the movie, think of the opening scene. It starts with a man hammering away on some metal on an anvil. The theater had a great sound system and we were just about sitting on those giant speakers. After our winter walk, all wrapped up in winter clothes, hats and scarves, struggling through the soft, muffled sounds of a snowfall...there was this incredible clanging, smashing, deafening ROAR. It was intense. It's still one of my life's defining moments for an intense moment.
And yes, the projectile vomiting scenes seemed almost to be in 3D for those of us stuck in the center of the front row. That's another time when seeing a movie on TV is nothing compared to the big screen experience.

I need more blades

Costco sizes & life expectancy - 7.28.11
Yes, we still shop at Costco. We joined years ago while managing a bed & breakfast, and starting the bookstore. Massive packages of TP, and mints for the pillows.

Today we went again. I was looking for a package of razor blades, as my old cartridge was becoming increasingly sadistic on my neck, and I wanted to buy these ridiculously-expense blades in quantity. I found a plastic bubble pack of them at $48 for 24. That's a lot of money, but that's a lot of blades.

This is my step back in time.
These are Mach3 blades...ONLY 3 blades. I admit it, I'm a dinosaur. On the shelf above mine, where the newer 5 blade cartridges. Shaving technology has gone way beyond that old Saturday Night Live skit that took it to three blades, and explaining how it all worked "grabbing whiskers...stretching...snapping back" and that great closing line of "The Triple Trac, because you'll believe anything."

So, back to my purchase...remember, we were at a lot of money, but lots of blades.
My question is, should I start to take into account the fact that I'm 57 when I'm buying in bulk like this?
Will I live long enough to need 24 cartridges? Should Costo bulk packs be included in wills?
Maybe I do need five blades.


an old man's tale of horror - 4.23.11

His eyes were heavy.
They seemed to be pulling themselves out of their sockets.

There was a ringing in his ears.
If he tensed his ear-wiggling muscles he could create that great stereo effect from the Who's song
Baba O'Riley where the sound goes from speaker to speaker. (It's really a headphone thing.)

He studied his skin.
It had been evolving, developing extreme "character"...as in liver spots, pigment-free zones, copious wrinkles, and skin tags.
It's like hair growing out of your ears, nose, and growing in waves across your back.
Has your body kicked into some hyper-drive production of skin and hair, when just covering the old areas, just isn't ambitious enough?

There it goes.
His right eyeball has slid out of the old socket and and is sliding across his cheek.
Whereas this would surely be grounds for a severe freak-out.
But he simply thought to himself—"It can't go far, and anyway, I have 2 of the damn things."
Besides, it was such a strange trip to be still be seeing out of the wandering eye...the escaping eye.
Here was a truly new perspective on life.
One from his cheek...looking into his own ear.
Just LOOK at that damn HAIR there!

Then using his socket-confined, and fixated eye, he noticed something odder — the array of bumps living on his ankles were creating shifting patterns.
He sat and he pondered to himself—"Would my skin communicate? Would it form words? Ask me questions?!"
What would ankle bumps have to say to the big galoot?
Like so much of what your body tends to tell you...would this too be a warning of things to come?

Soon there were letters.


Great! Possibly, no, most assuredly, the first time skin abnormalities "speak"—it's some sort of pyro-Marxist nonsense.
Or, were they instructions?
"Let it all burn baby!" Set fire to all that "the man" controls.
It could be the beginning of the revolution, the destruction of the world as we think we know it.
All because of a skin flaw.

Or, it's all about aging.
An old man observing what decades of tennis under a hot sun has made him into.
Sorry, didn't mean to scare you.

                                       footnote - for more information on the song Baba O'Riley and it's inspiration


the Reading King's castle

the Reading King's castle—a sad fable - 1.8.11

Once in time, there was a fresh, bright castle on a hill. People had learned to come from near and far to this special place. Great books were held up on pedestals, and entertainment, amusement, fellowship, and learning were in abundance. There was a richness of knowledge brought to the land by the distant, Reading King. His Queen ran the castle with her loyal, talented troop. The castle glowed brighter and brighter as time moved on.

But hints of an ignorant threat appeared in the land, and a dirty curtain of fear descended over the good people. The dark forces of the neighboring little minds worked to seduce the distracted King, to gain control of his fortress. The forces of the ignorant night were near, already on the castle side of the moat. The beautiful Queen fought hard to open the King’s eyes to the threat and keep the menace out. She would reinforce a gate here, make a logical argument there, but the Reading King was distracted by happenings in his vast realm. The fair Queen tried to focus the King, but alas, he allowed the hoard of little minds to take over the castle.

The Reading King’s forces were cornered and feared what the ghoulish leader of the ignorants would do to them and their rich lands. Occasionally the little minds’ leader would slink into the castle and just watch, like a vulture eying a corpse. That was it, he would just watch, just stare. It became clear why he was the leader of the little minds, as he was the most arrogant, the most ignorant, not even knowing his own age. His leering wasn’t without effect, he made the King’s people uneasy, and the womenfolk feel dirty.

Some of the King’s men were tortured with long talks with the little mind’s leader, as he seemed to speak in tongues (Swahili some say) and seldom made sense. While he promised no book burnings, he kept repeating, “Less is more.” A wise grasshopper he wasn’t, more an annoying hoverfly buzzing around aimlessly. Soon a shroud of depression descended to cover the land. The barbarians spoke of tearing down the castle walls, looting the glory of the Reading King’s castle, and replacing it with the ignorant wares of their own barren, lifeless land. The small minds wanted to attract even more small minded peoples and saw no worth in the literal beauty of the castle.

One of the King’s men, and the Queen’s extremely sexy lover, sent out a warning to friends near and far, of the barbarians’ plans to use their essence and plunder their very names for ill-gotten gains. The man and the lovely Queen were quickly banished from the castle. Their fight was over.

The Reading King’s people were left trapped inside the grieving castle with the angry small minds. The future looked dark as the forces of ignorance strove to remake the Reading King’s glorious castle in their own bleak image. People of the surrounding lands hung their heads and lamented the once proud bastion of the best of the literary arts and culture, being brought down by the small minded barbarians and their ignorant leader.

Sorry, not every story can have a happy ending. larry


retail in America - 4.25.10

I'm currently reading a very well done book, Eaarth - yes, that's way it's spelled - to stress that because of climate change our planet is a very different planet than the one that we were born on. It's by Bill McKibben, and last night, as I was reading, the following fact struck and disgusted me - the amount of retail space per person in the United States doubled, from 19 to 38 square feet, between 1990 and 2005. That explains so much of why retail is so screwed up in this country - no thought was every seemingly given to think about this overbuilding as overbuilding, it was "let's build the sexiest, flashiest, newest, newest, newest stores and malls - and they can't help but come"—and the hell with whatever stores were nearby there before, and the hell with the community fabric of all those towns and cities..

      update - Think of this in relation to our present down economy. All the chains that seemed to be omnipresent—now have someone dancing on the sidewalk with a CLOSING EVERYTHING MUST GO sign.


that's odd - 4.13.10

There I was shopping and browsing around the Danville Safeway when I saw Hunter S. Thompson looking through the cracker aisle. Yes, H.S.T. has died and been blasted into space, but my eyes saw him. Well ... a suburban, low-key dressing, shorter, heavier, average-looking, cracker-fixated  version ... OK, my mind races at times when surrounded by processed foods.

Then, walking down a wet street—maybe an hour after a brief rain—I was startled by the deep sounds coming from a street drain. It reminded me of the stories of a vast underground city under the snows of the campus of the University of Vermont, back in the 1970's. Walking across the main campus in the frigid weather of a winter, meant passing by huge billows of steam-smoke venting up from small melted-bare grates placed periodically around the central campus. At times, depending upon my state of mind and/or alteration, I stared into the white clouds and listened intently for the sounds of huge underground machinery and the sounds of subterranean men (I always thought of a sweaty Ernest Borgnine in a dirty undershirt) barking out orders to the drones to keep shoveling. But, these post rain shower streets did smell innocent.


ebooks ... there's something ... just NOT a book

Don't think me a total Luddite,
but the thought of an ebook being a book
is like a photo being a movie,
or a photo being a painting,
or a bike being a car ... OK OK ... I'll stop.
                       They just aren't the same technology,
                       they don't really serve the same function,
                       and they don't contain (please allow me) any of the same aesthetic pleasures. 

I've been reading books for more than fifty years (look everybody an old fart) and if I had to push a button instead of touching paper to turn a page—I would have stopped reading years back. The tactile pleasure of holding, feeling, touching, and then smelling a book is a vital part of the sensual experience of reading. It is an ingrained part of the whole happening of reading. The thought of replacing that with the smell of plastic and depressing a button...is just that ... DEPRESSING.

you've got to read ___ !

Ever had somebody tell you that you just MUST read some particular title, "IT'S GREAT", only to have it utterly fail to interest you?

Then, maybe days, weeks or months go by—and you return to the book for another try.

And it fails to grab you again.

Maybe your friend is continuing to tell you that you MUST read it, "it's one of the BEST books ever written." So, bowing to peer pressure (maybe fearing that you just aren't "getting it" or aren't smart enough) and because you want to be a good sport—you give it another try.

At this point, or after many more attempts, the book gods smile upon you and you find yourself reading ONE GREAT BOOK. This is just another wonderful thing about reading—some books will be glad to wait years until you're ready for their pleasures. Your mind just has to be in the right place.

It's like that old Steve Martin routine—it's all about ti-Ming
Or, it's one of those books that just has no there—there. And your friend is wrong.

how does the next book come into your life?

With me (remember, it's all about me) titles come at me from all directions.
There is always the easywhat else has the wonderful writer of what I just finished written?
   or, there is the huge list of books that I've been looking for for years
   or, it's that juicy book that just came in at the store
   or, something intriguing I've just read a review of, saw an ad for or got listed somewhere
   or, a fascinating title that a customer came in to order or was talking about
   or, while straightening the store I come across some gem that MUST be read NOW
   or, Vicky read something and loved it
   or, an ARC (advanced readers copy) arrives from the publisher
   or, there it was in one of the stacks of books by the bed, something I forgot all about
   or, some random thought during the day, or in a dream, steered me towards my next book.
There are more ways that titles jump into my hands, but I must stop myself...and go read.

I'm addicted to reading

"My name is John, and I'm a reading addict." I'm one of those people that is constantly looking for something to read, someone who has a burning need to keep my mind occupied with the written word. As a kid, I devoured the old magazines in the dentist's waiting room, read the pamphlets at the Ford garage, and lived in a house full of readers and their books. Passing books around the family was a way of life. Giving books as gifts was perfect, because you should always try to read the gift—to just MAKE SURE it was the CORRECT gift. For some still unfathomable reason, I stopped reading for a number of years in my early teens, only to come back at it even more intensively ever since. For years (or rather decades) I find myself always reading several novels and some nonfiction, as well as all those New Yorkers, NYT newspapers, and so many other things throughout the house. Our is a well-read house.

reading freedom

While the concept of discussing books in a book club has some appeal to me, I don't participate in them because I don't want to HAVE TO READ something. The staggering and lurching from book to book, with only my personal choice being the determining factor, is much of the joy of reading. (Computer, software and tax manuals are the only things that aren't a part of my reading freedom...and I won't describe what a joy they can be.) To me a book is the perfect BEING IN THE MOMENT sort of thing...that could just be because of my short-term memory limitations. Now I forgot what I was writing about ....


footnote on Baba O'Riley -
The song's title is derived from this combination of the song's philosophical and musical influences: Meher Baba and Terry Riley.
Parts of the rock-opera Tommy (1969) were inspired by Townshend's study of Meher Baba, to whom the album was dedicated. The Who's 1971 song "Baba O'Riley" was named in part after Meher Baba, and on his first solo album, Who Came First, Townshend recorded the Jim Reeves song "There's A Heartache Following Me", saying that it was Meher Baba's favorite song. "Baba O'Riley" was initially 30 minutes in length and was planned to be used during the concerts at the Royal Festival Hall in London, England. When Who's Next was being arranged "Baba O'Riley" was edited down to only the "high points" of the track. The other parts of the song appeared on the third disc Pete Townshend's Lifehouse Chronicles as "Baba M1 (O'Riley 1st Movement 1971)" and "Baba M2 (2nd Movement Part 1 1971)"

Meher Baba (1894–1969) was an Indian mystic and spiritual master who declared publicly in 1954 that he was the Avatar of the age. He led a normal childhood, but at the age of 19, brief contact with a Muslim holy woman began his process of spiritual transformation. The name Meher Baba means "Compassionate Father". He also conducted wide-ranging travels, public gatherings, and works of charity, including working with lepers, the poor, and the mentally ill. In 1931, he made the first of many visits to the West, where he attracted many followers. In 1962, he invited his Western followers to India for a mass darshan called "The East-West Gathering." Concerned by an increasing use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs, in 1966 he stated that they did not convey real benefits. Despite deteriorating health, he continued what he called his "Universal Work," which included fasting, seclusion, and meditation, until his death on January 31, 1969. From July 10, 1925 to the end of his life, he maintained silence, and communicated by means of an alphabet board or by unique hand gestures. Meher Baba often spoke of the moment "that he would 'break' his silence by speaking the 'Word' in every heart, thereby giving a spiritual push forward to all living things." Meher Baba said that the breaking of his silence would be a defining event in the spiritual evolution of the world. He is said to have never spoken again before he died.

Terry Riley
Born in 1935 in Colfax, California, Riley was a musician and composer associated with the minimalist school of Western classical music. He studied at Shasta College, San Francisco State University, San Francisco Conservatory, and the University of California, Berkeley. Riley made numerous trips to India over the course of his study. Throughout the 1960s he traveled frequently around Europe as well, taking in musical influences and supporting himself by playing in piano bars, until he joined the Mills College faculty to teach Indian classical music. Also during the 1960s were the famous "All-Night Concerts", during which Riley performed mostly improvised music from evening until sunrise, using an old organ harmonium ("with a vacuum cleaner motor blower blowing into the ballasts") and tape-delayed saxophone. When he finally wanted a break, after hours of playing, he played back looped saxophone fragments recorded throughout the evening. Over the course of his career, Riley composed 13 string quartets for the Kronos Quartet ensemble, in addition to other works. In the 1950s he was already working with tape loops, a technology then in its infancy, and he has continued manipulating tapes to musical effect, both in the studio and in live performance, throughout his career. A Rainbow in Curved Air inspired Pete Townshend's synthesizer parts on the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Baba O'Riley".

lengthy footnote in honor of David Foster Wallace


my Visconti fountain pen

This is my favorite fountain pen. I use it to write the first drafts of many of the the reviews and other creations of mine that you find all over the website. It's my
red Rembrandt by Visconti. — John

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