This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 24 JoJo 0004 (June 9, 2015)

 
Sam Spade: “Ten thousand? We were talking about a lot more money than this.”
Kasper Gutman: “Yes, sir, we were, but this is genuine coin of the realm. With a dollar of this, you can buy ten dollars of talk. “

Happy Birthday Good/Bad David

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN VENETO:

Back in Sacile and Tamai:

Following my return from Venice, I awaited news whether HRM would be joining me here. On June 2 he arrived in Milan. I was very disappointed when I heard that he would not be coming to Sacile before I left for Rome. So, I moved my departure date up to June 5. Sadly I realized I probably would not see him again this summer.

On the other hand, my son Jason, through the formidable efforts of his wife Hiromi, finally notified me that he will be able to join me on this trip. That made me happy.

In the meantime, I spent my days roaming around the farm or walking in the mornings to Tamai about two miles away for coffee and a brioche.
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Vittorio plows his fields

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The farm. Barely visible in the haze, Mt. Cavallo rises in the background about 6000 feet above the flood plain, hiding the Dolomite and the Alps from view. From its slopes on clear days, one can see Venice and Trieste.

Some barnyard humor: Hens lay eggs. Roosters become dinner.

Vittorio once told me that Tamai was named after the sheds in which the local farmers dumped their cow feces to be reused as fertilizer. You may amuse yourself, as I have, thinking up ways to translate Tamai into English. My favorite, Cowpattyton.
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The cafe at which I enjoy my espresso and brioche and the Tamai clock tower in the background, tall enough for all the farmers in the area to see the time from their fields or hear the bells.

In the evenings, I joined Vittorio and his family for dinner. I have forgotten what daily meals in extended families were like; full of talk and noise, lots of arguments, some laughter and bits of unintentional cruelty. The food was always enjoyable and hardy and the wine mellow. I missed the presence of Vittorio’s father who died about a year ago. He would not consider the meal ended without a healthy dose of grappa.

Often I sat on the porch dozing or watching the intellectually challenged sister endlessly sweep the tile pathways that Vittorio laboriously installed the last time I was here.
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One evening I joined Vittorio for band practice in the nearby Town of Porcia. He plays Tuba in the Porcia Symphonic Marching Band (not its real name). I enjoyed myself immensely.
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Another evening we traveled to Pordenone, a somewhat larger city and the administrative center of the area. Vittorio disgustedly told me that the town of about 60,000 has over 400 lawyers. They were having a town wide antique sale that evening with booths lining the streets in the center of town. As we walked from booth to booth, I stopped at one specializing in antique sword canes. I used to collect walking sticks. I picked up some of the more interesting ones to examine more closely, then regretfully put them back down because I no longer could afford such extravagances.

On June 2 the holiday celebrating the foundation of the Italian Republic, Vittorio, dressed in his band uniform, invited me to join him in Pordenone to listen to the political speeches and occasional band music. I declined and instead spent the day wandering about Sacile taking photographs of things I have photographed before and a few I haven’t.
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One scene I had not photographed before.

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And one that I have.

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Where I had pizza and of course, prosecco.

While sitting outdoors in one of the cafe’s in the piazza, a cheeky pigeon landed on my table and boldly stared me in the eye. It then arrogantly strutted, as only a pigeon can, across the table. After looking into my eye once more as if challenging me to stop it, it dipped its beak into my espresso and flew off. I sat there staring at the cup wondering if I were enough of an environmentalist to view this as an opportunity to mystically bond with one of nature’s creatures and drink the rest of the coffee. I decided, in agreement with Bill Yeates, that I was not and left to continue my exploration of the city.
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The piazza with the cafe on the near left where my espresso was attacked by the pigeon.

One blissful evening while wandering through Sacile, I happened on a concert in the piazza. The Trieste Percussion Group, led by composer-director Fabian Perez Tedesco, performed a number of interesting pieces. They were fine musicians. One piece, performed by three drummers got everyone’s blood racing.
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Thursdays were market days in Sacile. The streets of the town were covered in stalls selling just about everything. I would linger by those selling flowers, cheese, fruit or leather enjoying the color and aroma.

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After shopping and completing our tour of the stalls, we would visit our favorite bar/cafes for coffee, prosecco and whatever before returning home to Tamai.

There are three bar/cafe’s in Sacile that I along with Vittorio and Anita frequent; Lucia’s with the happy Prosecco; Nadia’s near the piazza where the young man with the Elephant Boy’s disease can sometimes be found. Despite his facial deformity, it seems to me that when he speaks his voice is magnificently beautiful and angelic. He sounds so compassionate and humble that people gather around for the sheer pleasure of listening to him. He also owns the most spectacular tricked out Moto Guzzi I have ever seen. I did not see him this trip and Vittorio indicated that he had not seen him around in a while.

The third cafe is Maria’s. It is always open. From daybreak to about midnight every day, Maria is there behind the bar. That day, when I asked her if she served lunch, she brought me some wonderful chicken croquettes and local wild mushrooms that she had prepared for her family and which I washed down with two glasses of prosecco. She did not charge me for the meal. One evening I was at the cafe drinking some pear juice when Maria confided how much she likes the music of Queen.
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Vittorio, some of the regulars and I sit and smile in front of Maria’s cafe.

Another afternoon Vittorio pointed to a man who drops by Maria’s every day and sits in the bench by the window drinking wine and reading the newspaper. Vittorio said he was 99 years old and has been following this routine for many years now. He does not even wear glasses.

Like most of the bars and cafes, Maria’s has an electronic slot machine at which some of the local pensioners spend all their money within the first few days after receiving their checks and spend the rest of the month cadging drinks from their friends. Vittorio told me that when he asked a few why they did this when their pension money would allow them to live well in a low-cost jurisdiction like Thailand, they usually respond with something like, “Ah yes, I know, but this is home and this is what I choose to do and where I want to stay.”

In addition to Professor Hank, another of my American friends here is Brian the Teacher. He is the science teacher for the high school students and the American army base. He grew up in South Dakota somewhere near the Good/Bad David.

I love the towns, Vittorio and his family and the people I meet at the three cafes.

Across the street from Maria’s, behind a hedge of sweet smelling honeysuckle, there is a large palazzo originally owned by a man, now passed away, who most likely made his money manipulating the government (he may have started as a plumber or perhaps a farmer or a plastic fabricator). His wife I understand, now old and leaning toward infirm, lives there alone. Sometimes when I sit at the small table outside of Maria’s and look up at the palazzo I speculate whether or not she ever stands at the window looking down at us with our glasses of wine in hand laughing and talking and wonders if that life she had convinced herself was so much superior to that of her childhood friends, really was.
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And suddenly it was time to leave.

B. Book Report:

Although I am traveling, I still manage to put in time reading novels. Recently I read Arturo Perez-Reverte’s latest. Perez-Reverte whose taut but lush adventure and mystery novels generally take place in Spain during its long sad decline from world empire until the old order was finally snuffed out by the armies of Napoleon. His series of books, featuring the melancholy but indomitable soldier and peerless swordsman Captain Alatriste, are classics.

The Siege, as its name implies, takes place during the interminable multi-year siege of Cadiz where the armies of Napoleon and his brother Joseph, the imposed King of Spain, had chased the government of the tattered empire and its inconsistent allies, the English. Cadiz, however still had access to the sea and many of its merchants, smugglers and privateers flourished even while the bombs daily rained down on parts of the city. The plot revolves around the attempts by the brutal and corrupt Chief of Police to solve a series of exceedingly vicious murders.

Unfortunately, Perez-Reverte introduces a sub-plot, a bodice ripper straight out of Danielle Steele — A romance between the dashing but crude and dangerous, curly haired, handsome and muscular captain of a privateer, Pepe Lupo (Joe Wolf) and his employer, the refined, learned, capable, aristocratic, accomplished and almost beautiful owner of one of the city’s premier shipping companies, Lolita Palma. Lolita, virginal from to tip of her leather boots to the top of her lace mantilla, unfortunately is 32 years old and unmarried. In the Cadiz of that time, at 32 she hovered between the twilight of fuckable and the onset spinsterhood. Perez-Reverte, damn him, shamelessly introduces a scene where Joe confronts Lolita at an elegant ball, causing her to snap open her fan and rapidly cool down the rising warmth of a blush.

“At least,” I thought, “he does not have the poor woman wet her drawers.” Alas, not more than a couple of dozen pages later, as Joe Wolf’s cutter heads off on another venture in legalized piracy, the still virginal Lolita, standing behind the crenellations of the tower above her Palacio and staring at the corsair’s ship as it disappears over the horizon, does just that. Arturo Perez-Reverte, you should be ashamed of yourself

Nevertheless,
Pookie says, “check it out.”

“…all things have their allotted time in the suicidal order of things— in life, and in its inexorable outcome, death.”
Perez-Reverte, Arturo. The Siege: A Novel (p. 358). Random House Publishing Group.

Note: Reading this book makes me wonder if getting involved in the shithole that was Spain at that time was not as great a mistake for Napoleon as his march into Russia. It is usually the inability of empires to know their bounds that bring them to ruin. I wonder if that was the genius of Augustus Caesar; to recognize there were limits to expansion of empire beyond the need to establish secure boundaries. It probably enabled the Roman Empire to survive for another 1000 years until the thugs of the Fourth Crusade finally put it out of its misery.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

Will history repeat itself?

“In the west with which we are concerned here, there was a climate change after A.D. 200, marked, it would seem, by a retreat of the polar icecap and the polar area of high pressures; this allowed the prevailing westerly winds and rains to move northward so that they passed over the Baltic Sea and Scandinavia, with great growth of forest in all northern Europe, and with greatly reduced rainfall in the Mediterranean, North Africa, and east of the Caspian Sea.

In the same period, war and disease resulted in a decrease of population of up to 60 per cent in Europe or in the Roman empire from about 200 to after 800, that is to say over six hundred or more years. Careful studies of the population of the Roman empire seem to indicate that its population fell from about 70 million persons at the time of Christ to about 50 million in 300. The wars, migrations, spread of plagues, and abandonment of much family life, including the spread of chastity for religious reasons and of sexual perversions for other reasons, all contributed to this decrease. This had a very adverse influence on economic production as well as on defense, especially when it was combined, after 200, by a flight from the cities to the rural areas, and a movement of economic activities toward self-sufficiency.

One of the chief characteristics of an economic depression is a reduction in roundabout modes of production by a decrease in investment, although not necessarily in savings, along with a reduction in the specialization of production and exchange of products. The links in any chain of activity from the original producer to the final consumer are reduced in number; individuals retreat from very specialized activities to more general ones; the use of exchange and of money decreases.

All of these changes are to be found in weapons systems and in defense, where we find a similar tendency to fall back on the simpler, less complex, and more general forms of weapons, tactics, and organizational arrangements, including, for example, the belief that the same man should produce food and fight (peasant militia) or a reduction of defense to a single weapon or only two. We may not notice these military consequences when the depression is brief, as the world depression of 1929-1940, but these effects do appear when such an economic collapse continues for centuries, in a dark age.

The effects of such a change are also important on the non-material aspects of the society, where we find a tendency for people to turn toward a more personal and existential life, with emphasis on day-to-day interpersonal activities, decreasing emphasis on planning for the future in this secular world, and a decrease in abstract thinking and generalizations, but instead, a great emotional and intellectual emphasis on a few symbols and words. Life tends to polarize into almost total absorption in momentary empirical activity, with intellectual life reduced to a few large symbols.”
From Weapons Systems and Political Stability (1976) by Carroll Quigley.

It appears that many of these things are occurring again today except for the population reductions, although in Western Europe and English-speaking North America immigration is all that is keeping those areas from experiencing a precipitous population decline.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Crises like climate change, food sufficiency and water availability probably cannot be resolved if human population continues to increase. Hydrocarbon emissions, food consumption and water use are not increasing on a per capita basis anywhere near rate of growth in the total use of those resources. The direct approach to dealing with population growth has been to provide greater access to birth control. This is a good thing and should be continued. Still, despite decades of trying, the growth of human population continues out of control. The only successful population control other than war, famine and plague has been the liberation and education of women. Wherever women are free and informed, rates of population growth decline.”
Trenz Pruca

C. Today’s Paraprosdokian*:

Some people are like Slinkies … not really good for anything, but you can’t help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.

*Paraprosdokian was not the name of a Governor of California.

D. Today’s Poem:

Watching blue mold of bread grow,
Birds fly, cocks crow,
Autumn leaves come falling by,
How many days before I die?

(As one wag said after reading this poem, “The sooner, the better.”)

E. A Skype message from The Old Sailor in Bangkok

“I have been drunk now for over two weeks
Passed out and I rallied and I sprung a few leaks
But I’ve got to stop wishin’, got to go fishin’
I’m down to rock bottom again.

 

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 22 JoJo 0004 (June 5, 2015)

 

“What we fear too much we often bring to pass.”
Koontz, Dean. Odd Apocalypse: An Odd Thomas Novel (p. 95). Random House Publishing Group.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN VENETO:

Venice and the Biennale.

The next day I left Sacile by train for Venice and the Biennale. The sky was overcast but my spirits were high. I was excited because the Biennale was something I always wanted to visit, even though I was never sure what went on there. As I discovered, it includes the visual arts, music, a film festival and architecture exhibits. Menotti’s Festival of the Two Worlds was another I longed to see although I had no idea what two worlds he was thinking of (actually the US and Europe). I imagined I would walk down the streets of Spoleto with strains of Vivaldi alternating with snatches of Amahl and the Night Visitors cascading down upon me from open windows.

I always try to remember when I visit Wonders of Nature or the Glories of Humanity that they also usually are someones home and that pride of place is not all that it is cracked up to be.

By the time I arrived in Venice the sun was shining. There may be cities with more canals or more bridges than Venice, but there are none more picturesque. Every time I come here, I am overcome with an uncontrollable urge to snap pictures of the same buildings and scenes that I have taken perhaps a hundred times before. It is either Venetian magic, hypnosis or some dread disease that crawls out from the foetid canals at night.

I could imagine some old Doge sitting in an elegant room in his palace surrounded by his architects and engineers, looking up at the paintings by the Republic’s greatest artists and saying, “You know guys, someday everyone will be able to make a picture of this town just by pressing a button. At least, it will rid me of those arrogant overpriced artists cluttering up the piazza — they flit around like locusts, worse like lawyers. So remember, whatever you do make it picturesque so that should this town ever sink under the sea everyone can still recall the glory of the Serenissima.”

And so, I plunged into the mass of tourists, taking photographs along the way.
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First photo upon arrival.

As usual, whenever I visit Venice, I try to lose myself in the tiny and dark passageways of the city. Yet no matter the mysterious lanes one explores, or even if you, like a character in a Thomas Mann novel, feel compelled to follow a flash of color of someone crossing a small bridge and disappearing into a maze of alleyways, you always end up at either the Rialto or Piazza San Marco.
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In case you doubted that this is the Century of the Woman, I came across the following election posters in a plaza along the way.
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Near the Academe Bridge, I stopped for a glass of cool white wine at a tiny cafe where, a few years ago Hayden, Nikki and I stopped for some wine and sandwiches. Sitting next to us at that time were two middle-aged teachers from England who shared a home together in Venice. We talked and drank more wine until I became tipsy and tripped over the sign in the alley outside as I left.
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Pookie’s selfie on the Rialto

After pushing through the crowds of tourists thronging Piazza San Marco and taking the requisite photographs, I walked along the waterfront that Canaletto painted almost as many times as I had photographed it.
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The light was typically Venetian, luminous and indistinct that made everything shine like it was lit from within and, unlike the sharp lines of the chiaroscuro light further south, turned the shadows gray and fuzzy. I stopped at the church of La Pieta to pay homage to the Red Priest (Vivaldi) and his teenage all-girl marching band that used to delight the Venetians with the Baroque version of a rock concert.
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I always liked this much-photographed scene.

It was lunchtime as I passed beyond the Arsenale, so I searched for the restaurant that Professor Hank recommended. Eventually, I found it and sat down. From the waitress with tattooed arms, I ordered the Sarde con Saor that Professor Hank suggested along with a side dish of eggplant and peppers and a glass of Prosecco since they served the Pinot Grigio Professor Hank suggested only by the bottle and I was not prepared for either that expense or to get that drunk.
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The Restaurant is on the right.

The Sarde con Saor was quite tasty although sardines are far down on my personal list of favorite foods. The dish is prepared by covering the sardines with onions cooked in olive oil until they are soft and drenching them at the table with wine vinegar and is accompanied by some polenta.
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Following lunch I continued along the embankment toward the park (Giardini) at the far end of the City in which much of the Biennale’s visual arts were displayed.

In the many times I had visited Venice, I had never ventured beyond the Arsenale before. It is surprisingly comfortable neighborhood that is much less overrun with tourists than other parts of the city.
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Many of the Biennale exhibits and performances are spread throughout the city in museums, churches and storefronts that, due to the Italian notorious genius for hiding their entrances or misstating their opening times, I unknowingly passed by, but I thankfully found a few. Here are some.
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A sculptress who likes balancing big rocks on their narrow end.

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An art commune that specializes in reusing refuse.

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An artist who paints her buildings strange colors.

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An exhibit of ancient musical instruments.

There was even one by an artist named Tsang Kin-Wah called, The Infinite Nothing (I think it was the Hong Kong exhibit). It contained a totally lightless room. As I stood before the door, I became very frightened especially because I could not see one inch into the room even though the hall in which I stood was well lit. Despite the urgings of the hostess, I refused to go further and left. I guess I will never become the reluctant hero of a science fiction novel or ghost story.

The main venues for the visual arts exhibits, however, were grouped in the Giardini and the Arsenale.
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The entrance to the Giardini.

In the Giardini there were many pavilions, some permanent and some constructed just for the Biennale. Most pavilions featured a single artist or a small group of artists and most were installations. I dislike installations. They always remind me of industrial junk yards but not half as interesting.
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Spain                                                                        I don’t know this one

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The cafeteria

The US pavilion contained a pretty good installation by an artist who did things much like my brother in his installations 30 years ago. What it had to do with All the World’s Futures, the theme of the Biennale, I had no idea.
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The US pavilion

By far most of the art displayed was self-important and bombastic but, now and then, one came upon a piece that gently rolled down your socks and kissed your feet.
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An apotheosis of self-importance and bombast, from Britain

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This Japanese installation tickled my toes

Speaking of apotheosis, there actually was a pavilion entitled Apotheosis. It was either Czech or Polish or something. I never found out.
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Upon entering you found yourself in a large white room with a big blank white canvas-like feature at one end, perhaps 20 feet high and 15 wide. Most people would stand there, attempt to puzzle out what they saw, give up and leave. But, if you approached the slab you would find an elaborate painting the same size behind it. Unfortunately, the slab and the painting were so close together that you had to squeeze in between them to see the painting and then you could only see it by looking into a mirror pasted on the back of the white slab. The painting itself was a reproduction of a somewhat well-known allegorical painting of about 50 years ago entitled, “Apotheosis of the Slav rising from Slavery.” (I’m not kidding.) The current artist who prepared the installation had added to the painting things like a chain around the neck of the main figure, a tattoo on his arm that said, “Revolver” and a lot of other graffiti. “Obviously,” I thought, “there’s a whole lot of symbolism here longing to be free.” Alas, I was far too exhausted at this point to try to figure it out, so I moved on.

Completing my tour of the pavilions and exhibits in the Giardino, I retraced my steps to the Arsenale.
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There the exhibits dealt mostly with the arts of war and were pretty gruesome so I passed through them quickly and on to the few others not dedicated to the subject.
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A Russian artist built this.

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At first, I thought this was a covering for some remedial work on the walls of the Arsenale, but I was assured by a placard that this was a work of art. There are times I wish that Marcel Duchamp had been strangled in his cradle.

After this, I thought it was time to head back to the station. I decided to first explore the area to the northwest of the Arsenale that had been the haunt of Dibdin’s Aurelio Zen before he was exiled to Sicily for solving a crime no one wanted him to.
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Having walked across the length and breadth of the City, my aging legs began to fail me, so eventually I collapsed into a Bellini. That is, I fell into a chair at a cafe that specialized in Bellinies (?). (If the plural of Bellini is Bellini then shouldn’t the singular of Bellini be Bellino?)
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Pookie and his Bellino

After this short rest, I staggered back to the train station taking one last photograph before I left.
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On the train, I mused about the many more artworks and innumerable musical performances and movies included in the Biennale that I had not seen or experienced. But, I contented myself with the knowledge that checking off an item on my bucket list is not that bad a day at all.

I arrived back in Sacile at dusk, tottered over to Lucia’s and drank glasses of Prosecco until Vittorio arrived to drive me back to Tamai.

Postscript: In the Andorran display (yes there is an Andorra and it has at least one artist) hidden somewhere among the haunts of Aurelio Zen, I saw this broom leaning against a wall. It was not the exhibit but could well have been.
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(The actual exhibit was a bunch of ruined canvases tossed into a corner. I assume the broom was to be used on the exhibit at the festival’s close — come to think of it, perhaps the broom was part of the exhibit after all.)

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“There have been three periods in the history of Western Civilization during which we have been overwhelmed by lawyers and judges, who tell us again and again that we cannot do certain things because they are illegal, even if those things are absolutely essential. The first period would be from 1313 to about 1480; the second was from about 1690 to the French Revolution; which was a revolt against a mass of confused, legalistic rigidity preventing necessary reforms. The third is our own day, when judges and lawyers are running everything and we are obsessed by legalism and litigation.”
Carroll Quigley Ph.D. Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, A.D. 976 – 1976.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Most wealthy individuals are scoundrels. Only very few admit it and they usually are already in jail.”

C. Today’s Paraprosdokian*:

When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

* A pile of paraprosdokians is called a stand-up comic.

D. Today’s Poem:

The frost has known,
From scattered conclave by the few winds blown,
That the lone genius in my roots,
Bare down there in a jungle of fruits,
Has planted a green year, for praise, in the heart of my upgrowing days.

Written by Dylan Thomas when he was only fourteen years old.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Republicans continue to refuse to extend [unemployment insurance]. You know what, I am beginning to think that they’ve got a point. If you want to get paid while not working, you should have to run for Congress just like everybody else.”
Barak Obama

 

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 15 Jo Jo 0004 (May 30, 2015)

 

“Fearlessness is for the insane and the arrogant.”
Koontz, Dean. Deeply Odd: An Odd Thomas Novel (p. 132). Random House Publishing Group.

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN LOMBARDIA:

1. International Food EXPO.

I spent the night in Nikki’s apartment in Busto Arsizio, a nondescript residential suburb outside of Milan.
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It took a day to sleep off jet lag after which we went to the International Food EXPO being held in Milan until October. If you get a chance, you should go also. It is fabulous. What is more enjoyable than a festival celebrating food and wine? It’s also gratifying to attend an international exhibition that replaces “my technology is better than yours,” with, “welcome, eat my food and drink my wine.”
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The exhibition is immense. A large covered promenade extending well over a mile lined with pavilions featuring form over function architecture (buildings with no conceivable use) formed the focal center of the EXPO. I especially appreciated, given that my aging legs soon gave out, that the whole fair was amply supplied with places to rest, to sit or lie down and, of course, to eat and drink.
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The Promenade                                             The mechanized EXPO centerpiece

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A Pavillion

In the twelve hours we spent there, we were able to visit only about six or so of the national pavilions.

At the Czech pavilion, we drank some excellent beer. The pavilion seemed to be one of the party centers of the fair. In front was a large shallow pool surrounded by beach chairs on which fair-goers would sit in the sun sipping their beer. Late at night, tipsy young people would jump into the pool and splash around. Nobody minded.
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At the Czech Pavilion

The Rumanian exhibit featured a log cabin on the roof of the pavilion at which Nikki and I sat, ate some Rumanian native foods and drank a bottle of strong almost black Rumanian wine.
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The Rumanian Pavillion

By the time we got to the Turkish pavilion, I collapsed in a small gazebo type structure with a fountain in the middle where I slumped comatose on the pillows until Nikki revived me with some strong Turkish tea.

We, also visited the USA pavilion (mostly meh!), the Brunei Pavilion, Slovenia (more beer) and one or two others. The various Arab pavilions, which we did not visit, seemed very popular, but I was told they did not serve food or wine. What they did in there I never found out.

By far my favorite place was the immense EATALY pavilion. EATALY, the company that builds and operates emporiums featuring Italian regional foods, created a site containing about 20 restaurants, each featuring foods and wines from a different region of Italy, along with a fabulous collection of artworks. Food, wine, and art, what is more civilized than that? We ate lunch and dinner there and drank lots of wines, Prosecco, Sauvignon Blanc, Chianti and a wonderful red from Piemonte.
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The EATALY Pavilion

We met up with a friend of Nikki’s, the last Count Visconti. The great Visconti family ruled Milano from the Thirteenth to the Fifteenth Century until one of their sons-in-law established the Sforza dynasty. The Count’s father managed to eat, drink, whore and generally misinvest the family fortune leaving Marco, the present Count, penniless and forced to seek work. He is, along with Nikki, a pilot for Alitalia. He was accompanied by his girlfriend a successful attorney, her son a precocious six-year-old who, when tricked into it, speaks English without a noticeable accent and the Count’s daughter, an adolescent who knows her own mind.
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The Count on Nikki’s left, the lawyer on his right, the Count’s daughter and, the Little Prince, Giacomo, above.

The next day I took the train into Milan to meet with Marco Gallo. Marco is the son of my friend Luigi who lives in Sicily and who I expect to visit in about three weeks. Marco is a doctor of nutrition specializing in sports nutrition. He is deeply in love with an attractive young woman the way only the young can be.

We went to the Piazza del Duomo, where we had lunch at a superb restaurant specializing in Neapolitan cuisine. The restaurant is located in an alley off the piazza right next to the Galleria. Unfortunately, I do not remember its name except that it ended with the word Ciminio.
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We at an excellent Mozzarella in Carroza and the most perfectly prepared Eggplant Parmigiana I have ever tasted in a restaurant. When I commented on it, Marco suggested that maybe Americans use the wrong type of eggplant for the dish. Sicilian eggplant has either more or less water, I do not remember which, than other types. We finished off with a Neapolitan pizza and of course espresso — the wonderfully thick kind from southern Italy.

After lunch, I visited Marco’s office located in the city’s canal district. As we passed through central Milan, I noticed a number of extremely tall, thin and unusually long-legged women rushing along the sidewalks. Although they were undeniably attractive, their thin bodies and exceptionally long legs made them appear deformed. When I mentioned this to Marco he explained that most of them were fashion models hurrying between photo shoots.

The canals of Milan long ignored and long derelict are being restored and a new urban waterfront is being created. 40 years ago, I lectured and wrote about the unrealized social, economic and environmental values of the urban waterfronts that most cities had turned their backs on or used for industrial sewers. Since then cities like Denver, San Antonio, New York City and a few others have enjoyed an urban renaissance along their waterfronts. Now Milan is having a go at it. Real estate prices have already sky-rocked.
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According to Marco, the original canal was designed by Leonardo da Vinci to carry Carrara marble from the quarries in Tuscany to Milan in order to construct the Duomo. From this bit of socialism emerged one of the sources of the West’s rise from also-rans to the economic and technological colossus that dominated the world for the next five hundred years.

Marco’s studio, located in the district, contains a consulting room, a waiting room and a small garden. While he met with a client, I dozed off.

We then left the office in search of one of the rent-a-cars (like Zip cars) parked around the city. On the way, we said hello to Marco’s friend, Italy’s arm wrestling champion who owns a vitamin supplement shop nearby. We soon found a car. They are operated by the national energy companies and are quite inexpensive. During the drive back to the train station Marco showed me some of the sights of Milan and demonstrated why he was at one time a championship race car driver.

3. Nikki in pain

The following day Nikki had an operation on his wrist for a cyst so I spent the day as his nurse, chauffeur and companion.
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Then it was time to leave and head for Sacile, Venice and the Biennale.

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN VENETO

Sacile

The train slid across the plains of Northern Italy — the Alps looming all dark gray and white on the left. I arrived in Sacile late in the afternoon.

Sacile is an attractive little city at the base of the Dolomite. A photograph of it adorns my Facebook page. During Venice’s heyday, the river that formed one of the main trade routes between the Venice Lagoon and the North passed through Sacile. The series of rapids located there required trade goods be off-loaded and transported by land above the rapids. As a result, a port and town grew up around the portage. As often the case, first the workers moved into the village, then the merchants and finally it became a favored spot for Venetians themselves to locate their summer homes in an effort to avoid the miasmatic atmosphere of the lagoons. Eventually, it began to be called “Il Giardino della Serenissima.”
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My friend Vittorio picked me up at the train station and we drove immediately to one of my favorite places in the world, Lucia’s bar, “Le Petite Cafe.” Some wines achieve greatness because of the quality of the grape, others because of the location of the vine, still others on the ability of the winemaker, here in Sacile the greatness of the Prosecco is based on the person who pours it into your glass and that person is Lucia who adds a lot of happiness to the wine. If I were asked to recommend places to see before you die, Lucia’s bar would be right up there among the top.
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Lucia and Vittorio

Vittorio, Lucia and I were joined by Professor Hank and a friend. Professor Hank is an economics professor at a college in New Jersey who used to also teach at the huge American military base a few miles north of here and lives part of the year in Sacile. Not only do I enjoy his company and stories but I appreciate his gentle and passionate belief that his economic theories (with which I, less gently but also less passionately, disagree) are a force for good.

After lifting very many glasses of Prosecco, laughing too hard and talking too loud, we said goodbye to Lucia and Hank and set off for Vittorio’s farm in the Village of Tamai where I was to spend the next few days.

The next day was market day in Sacile. I happily lost my way among the flower, fruit and clothing stands that lined the streets of the town until I turned down a quiet little lane that smelled of honeysuckle and found myself, not surprisingly, at Lucia’s bar. Vittorio, Professor Hank and a number of other aging American ex-pats and their Italian wives joined me there. After some espresso to clear my mind, we began on the Prosecco and talk until it was time to return to Tamai for lunch.

After lunch and a brief nap, I walked around the small farm and spent some time talking to the chickens before returning to the house, sitting on the porch and for the next few hours staring at the traffic passing by.
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PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“The economic expansion of industrialization has been based on plundering the natural capital of the globe that was created over millions of years: the plundering of the soils of their fertility; the plundering of the human communities, whether they were our own or someone else’s, in Africa or anywhere else; the plundering of the forest. In 1776 the wealth of forest in North America was beyond belief; within 150 years, it has been destroyed and more than ninety percent of it wasted. And it had in it three hundred years of accumulated capital savings and investment of sunlight and the fertility of the soil.

The energy which gave us the Industrial Revolution — coal, oil, natural gas — represented the accumulated savings of four weeks of sunlight that managed somehow to be saved in the earth out of the three billion years of sunshine. That is what the fossil fuels are. This is not income to be spent; this is capital to be saved and invested. But we have already destroyed into entropy — a form of energy which is no longer able to be utilized — eleven or twelve days of that accumulated twenty-eight days of sunlight. And we have wasted it.”

“Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition:A Thousand Years of Growth, A.D. 976 – 1976” by Carroll Quigley Ph.D.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Lying to oneself is necessary for survival. If not, how would anyone make it through puberty? “
Trenz Pruca
C. Today’s Paraprosdokian*:

“You’re never too old to learn something stupid.”

*Paraprosdokian is a sickness that begins with a tickle in the back of the mind.

D. Today’s Poem:

Rhyme and alliteration

The sun sits
on worried wings
and soft sings
of dreams of fire
and ghostly things
with deep desire.

Without desire
for all those things.
he banks his fire.
Burned wood sings
through smokey wings
where he sits.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Normal human behavior, honed during evolution, is to meet people in the village center — dancing, competing, gambling, sharing food, or just getting water from the well. Those are the people you invite to your house, not a stranger.”
Naida West

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 14 JoJo 0004 (May 26, 2015)

 

“…a cheapskate always pays twice.”
Rus, D. The Clan (Play to Live: Book # 2) (p. 302).

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESSICA

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN NEW YORK CITY:

1. A brief stop in San Francisco:

As I sat on the train from Sacramento to San Francisco grieving about leaving HRM behind, I amused myself trying to understand what I find so objectionable about the golden hills. Compared to most places, it is a paradise; well-designed subdivisions with ample natural areas and parks, stately homes, excellent schools and recreational facilities and large automated gates. What are the gates protecting? Attacking hordes of tattooed skinheads and black insurrectionists would sweep then aside with ease. The sneak thief who traveled all the way from the city to rifle a chosen house will not be hindered. The lunatic or the drunk, those are better handled by neighborhood policing, less expensive than the building and maintaining of gates and walls. But, that would require associating with one’s neighbors and trusting them as well.

My first stop in San Francisco was Bernie’s Coffee Shop in Noe Valley and a conversation with Peter Grenell. I learned that the navigator of the clipper ship Flying Cloud, when it made its record 89 day run from New York to San Francisco around Cape Horn, was a woman, the captain’s wife. And, that the ship’s owner was named Grenelle. Later we had pepperoni and pepperoncini pizza. Still later we had dinner at Peter’s house where we drank Pacific Star Winery Charbono. I did most of the talking. When I got to the airport I discovered my flight was delayed.

2. New York, New York:

I took the A Train from Kennedy Airport. We passed Brooklyn stations with mysterious names like Schermerhorn, Rockaway, Nostrand, Van Siclen and Euclid; places rarely visited by outsiders. In fact, there are neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens that have not seen outsiders for almost 100 years. Google Street View still probably has not penetrated some of the by-ways of Bedford-Stuyvesant. In all likelihood, many of the video-equipped cars and vans that ventured there probably lie about 25 yards within its boundaries, burned, on blocks, stripped and the expensive video equipment sold to the Russian Mafia in Canarsie.

I left the subway in the old Garment District where rolling racks stuffed with dresses used to have the right-of-way over everything even automobiles — no longer, unfortunately they have disappeared. When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I’d accompany my grandmother, who I lived with at the time, on her monthly buying trips to the district. She owned a dress shop. I would crawl around the racks of clothing, slightly drowsy from the fibers in the air, reveling in the feel of the cloth sliding across my skin and dreaming of becoming a dress designer.

It was always my secret ambition to become a clothing designer. I used to design some of the outfits for the women who worked in my bar in Thailand. I had hoped to open a boutique featuring my designs called “Dress Like A Bar Girl.” Alas, it never happened, the Thais stole my designs whenever I returned to the US.

After bribing the bellman $20 to check my luggage at the hotel, I set off walking the thirty blocks up Broadway from Herald Square to Lincoln Center to meet Terry Goggin for lunch.

The walk amazed me. New York City has the ability to transform itself every score or years of so — this time into an ongoing outdoor street festival. All along Broadway, the street’s uptown lane was closed off and converted to bicycle lanes, table and chairs and markets.
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Times square has become one great urban park with events occurring everywhere, delighting both tourists and city dwellers alike.
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I saw a group of people standing on the sidewalk beneath a Revlon display so I joined them.
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Every once in a while, a camera would turn on the crowd. They would wave and scream at their images on the giant screen above.
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Where’s Pookie?

As I continued north, a beautiful woman with a derby hat, bow tie, cutaway jacket and black tights tap-danced across the sidewalk to present me with a brochure for a new production of Chicago. I began noticing places I had known that were no longer there, like black spaces in an aging smile — The Stage Door Deli, several blocks of buildings, Power Memorial High School. Even my old law school at Lincoln Center, where I was a member of the first class in the newly built building, was gutted. I remember Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) walking by the law school after school at Power Memorial next door. The coach at Power had prohibited Lew from ridding the NY Subways because at that time they still had rotating ceiling fans.

I sat in the park across from Lincoln Center recalling my time at the law school located on the Center’s southern edge (Juilliard sits on its north border). The old needle park near by lost to gentrification and the deteriorating hotel that was priced right for assignations by performers at the Center and law students, now remodeled as upscale accommodations.
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At lunch, Terry reminded me that the US Constitution was constructed to make it difficult to get anything done or as the case may be undone. Difficult to get things like Obamacare and Social Security enacted and difficult to repeal them. One has to work hard to get laws passed and equally hard to defend them when nature of the political environment changes.

After lunch, I walked back to the hotel.
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A typical NY scene along Broadway today — a woman fiddling with her Smart Phone, rental bicycles awaiting riders and a guy giving me the finger.

That evening Nikki, Terry and I had dinner at a Barbecue place that served meat and more meat. With apologies to Bill Yeates, I have included a photograph of our meal.
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The meat                                                         Nikki and Terry

The next day, I had coffee in the park on Herald Square.
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Nikki and I then walked south on Broadway past more street markets and festivals to the Strand Bookstore one of the World’s great bookstores. Browsing through the Strand makes me want to throw away my Kindle.
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Nikki sitting on the dog sofa and standing in front of Strand’s

After we left The Strand we walked to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. It was graduation day for some Students at NYU. We had coffee at Figaro’s.
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We then walked over to High Line Park and strolled along the park until we returned to our hotel where we hurriedly packed and caught the bus to Kennedy Airport.
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Nikki was the Captain of the flight and I was his guest. Alas, I was not able to join with him in the cockpit during the flight, but I did enjoy eating the first class food and drinking their wine with the crew. And so, about 8 hours later we arrived in Milan.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

1. “All men who have made history have been socialized. Thus they respond to desires and not to needs. In fact, it is very doubtful if men have any innate recognition of their needs, except as they have been socialized in a particular social context to respond to drives (which are innate) by desires (which are socialized responses).”

2. “Men have no more innate appreciation of what makes security or even when they are secure, than they have of what objects are edible or poisonous. The desires which a society or a tradition may associate with security are not only often self-defeating, but they are usually unconscious, so that a people may know that they feel secure or insecure, but they often do not know what it is in a situation which engenders such feelings or what security is made up of in their own traditions and experience.”

3. “In most periods of human history, exploitation of natural resources to satisfy human needs could be achieved with less expenditure of energy and with less danger, even in less desirable territories. In other words, war has never been a rational solution for obtaining resources to satisfy man’s material needs. …

…But of course, men have never been rational. They are fully capable of believing anything and of adopting any kind of social organization or social goals, so that warfare became at least a minor part of life in most societies.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Western civilization’s eternal quandary: How does one evade responsibility without feeling guilty?”
Trenz Pruca

C. Today’s Paraprosdokian*:

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”

* A fat bigoted paraprosdokian drunk on brandy and lying in bed smoking a big cigar is a Winston Churchill.
D. Today’s Poem:

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?
Langston Hughes

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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It is hard to imagine how much time and effort went into creating this work of art for our edification. The next time when you feel your own efforts have no value, make someone laugh.

 

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 4 JoJo 0004 (May 19, 2015)

 

“When men cannot change things, they change words.”
Jean Jaurès, speech at the International Socialist Congress, Paris (1900).

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. A BRIEF SOJOURN IN SAN FRANCISCO:

After tearing through the Sunday NY Times in the morning and downing some strong black coffee, we left Mendocino for The Cool Grey City of Love to visit my mom for Mother’s Day.

The 98-year old’s short term memory may be in decline and her heart weakening but she gave as good as she got in the exchange of good-natured intra-family insults that characterize our family get-togethers.
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The matriarch and family.

After leaving the nursing home, I visited with Peter Grenell at Bernie’s Coffee Shop in Noe Valley. Peter just had part of his shoulder replaced and was still feeling a bit of pain. We sat on a bench outside, drank our coffee and, in the increasingly halting style of the aging, swapped tales. Given that anyone over 70 has passed his dispose-by date, I lamented that our age we have become little more than cartons of curdled milk. Peter responded by advising, “when all you have is curdled milk, you might as well make cheese.”

On the way back to Peter’s house where I was to have dinner and spend the night, Peter pointed out the incredible prices commanded in the Techie Paradise that Noe Valley has become. The following photograph shows a house about three doors down from Peter’s that is on the market for four million dollars.
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A Four Million Dollar House

At dinner that night, I played with their granddaughter a one-year-old two-fisted eater whose Hawaiian name I do not recall but it sounds like Aurora. I also learned that Barrie, Peter’s wife, swims an hour every morning in frigid San Francisco Bay. I was shamed. I refuse to swim anywhere the water temperature is below 80 degrees.

In the morning, riding on the J Church on the way to the Amtrak office downtown, a large androgynous African-American female and a small, skinny equally androgynous white male began a loud altercation right above where I was sitting trying to avoid eye contact. They were shouting at each other about something; or rather the larger of the two was shouting and the other cringing while pleading with the driver to call the police. I pictured myself appearing on the local television news as the unwitting and unwilling victim of an only in San Francisco perplexing racial and gender contretemps. Luckily for me, at the next stop, the larger combatant ran off while the smaller continued trying to explain to the driver what happened.

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

I am back in El Dorado Hills. Alas, adventure does not seem descriptive of anything one does here. I get the impression that even a change of seasons can cause anxiety among some of the denizens of these golden hills.

It has been four days since I have returned and I can happily report the rose bushes in the back yard are in bloom — now the weekend cometh. I leave for NY next Wednesday.

On Thursday evening, the rains came. I was eating pepperoni pizza at Mama Ann’s in Town Center when the storm hit full of lightning and thunder. Like in the tropics, the deluge flooded the streets but lasted only about two hours. It departed as suddenly as it arrived leaving the air clear of pollen and dust. I slept well that night.

I read somewhere a doctor observed that patients as they aged experienced an ever increasing series of maladies most of which were curable but eventually they begin to occur so rapidly that the body simply gives up the fight. Today while eating breakfast at Bella Bru Cafe a piece of a tooth fell out and embedded itself in my bagel. Since I leave in a couple of days, I will be forced to travel with a dark black empty space in my smile until I find a reasonably priced dentist to insert a bridge.

The weekend flew by like an osprey falling on its prey. The weather was cold and overcast so no swimming for me. Instead, I went to see Mad Max: Fury Road to get my blood pumping.

HRM’s flag football team lost the championship game to the hated Seahawks 34 to 6. The coach was devastated. The kids were happy with their ice-cream after the game.

Since I seem focused on aging this week, I thought I should mention the three phases of aging among old men: First you forget to zip it up; then you forget to zip it down; then you die. I am at phase-one. I’ve taken to wearing long shirts outside my pants because, no matter how much I try to remember, at least once a day I forget.

Monday came in cold and cloudy. I leave on Wednesday, so I set about on last minute things, the bank, the pharmacy and tackling the conundrum of how to pack a single carry-on for a two-month trip.

The last day before I bolt town. What have I forgotten?

 

 

TODAY’S FACTOID:

According to a study by Microsoft Corporation, human attention span has supposedly dropped from 12 seconds in 2002 to only eight seconds in 2013, which is a second shorter than a goldfish.

If this is true, perhaps we would be better off running a goldfish for President. I’m sure the goldfish would win the Republican presidential nomination debates hands down. Wouldn’t it be wonderful then to watch the goldfish and Hillary to go at it in the general election.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

Sovereignty

“Sovereignty has eight aspects: DEFENSE; JUDICIAL, i.e., settling disputes; ADMINISTRATIVE, i.e., discretionary actions for the public need; TAXATION, i.e., mobilizing resources: this is one of the powers the French government didn’t have in 1770; LEGISLATION. i.e., the finding of rules and the establishment of rules through promulgation and statue; EXECUTIVE, i.e., the enforcement of laws and judicial decisions. Then there are two which are of absolute paramount importance today: MONETARY, the creation and control of money and credit — if that is not an aspect of the public sovereignty, then the state is far less than fully sovereign; and lastly the eighth one, THE INCORPORATING POWER, the right to say that an association of people is a fictitious person with the right to hold property and to sue in the courts. Notice: the federal government of the United States today does not have the seventh and eighth but I’ll come back to that later.”
Carroll Quigley Ph.D. ”Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, AD 976 – 1976.”

B. Artie’s Death:

Stevie Dall commented on the death of the dragonfly riff in my previous issue of T&T:

“Similar moral quandaries here, too. I spent quality time this morning rescuing, drying, and relocating the spider who occasionally falls into the shower because last night sweet Artie, a cat who hung out at the canal beside our house, died.

Though Artie would eat treats placed for him on the counter outside our kitchen window, he would never allow himself to be caught.

Last week Artie pranced into the backyard carrying a deceased adolescent gosling. By the weekend he seemed under the weather, but he still evaded capture, and by last night he was a goner.

I’m thinking of giving the spider a name.”

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“In the United States we have often elected to public office the stupid and at times the crazy. It has only recently, however, that most of those we elect happen to be both stupid and crazy.”
Trenz Pruca

(Note: Trenz Pruca is not me — nor is he my alter ego. Trenz is my Harvey; but instead of an invisible rabbit, he is a six-foot-two-inch invisible white rat with dark glasses wearing a black fedora and a red and white striped scarf. He carries a Mac-book with him wherever he goes. He can usually be found sitting in the dark corners of lightly patronized coffee houses in San Francisco or during the winter months, Marrakesh, typing away on his Mac-book and obsessively downing endless cups of strong doppio espressos. I only see him on my name day, March 15, when he stops by to celebrate with a glass of wine. Otherwise, he sends me reams of emails each day, most of which are gibberish. Every now and then, however, I find he has written a clever bon mot or an interesting sentence or two that I share with you in T&T or on Facebook.)

D. Today’s Paraprosdokian*:

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

* A paraprosdokian with a mustache and a cigar is called a Groucho Marx.

E. Testosterone Chronicles:

“The dwarf lives until we find a cock merchant.”
Line from a recent episode of Game of Thrones.

(Note: a dwarf’s member is considered an aphrodisiac in certain parts of Westeros, similar to the way some East-Asians regard a rhinoceros’ pizzle.)

F. Today’s Poem:

I live on borrowed things

I live on borrowed things
On stories and songs
On breath and brawn

Borrowed then left
When I move on.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

worldpopulat

This is perhaps one of the more informative charts explaining the source of many of the seemingly intractable problems we are facing today. Since 1915, only 100 years ago, population has grown from somewhat over 1 billion people in the world to slightly less than 8 billion today. About a seven-fold increase. It the next 35 years that population is expected to increase by almost 1/3, close to 10 Billion.

During the same one-hundred year period, the per capita use of energy has barely doubled but total energy use has increased more than twelve-fold.

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 22 Capt. Coast 0004 (May 12, 2015)

 

“Take everything as a compliment. You can never be insulted.”
Abercrombie, Joe. Half the World (Shattered Sea Book 2) (p. 106). Random House Publishing Group.

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. IN MEMORY OF WILLIAM (BILL) HOEY.

Bill Hoey, a lover of trains and social justice and a devoted reader of T&T, passed away recently. He was 73 years old and died of pulmonary fibrosis/pulmonary hypertension. I will miss him and our exchanges on Facebook.
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B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Another weekend crept in. For the retired, it promised little different from any other day of the week. On Sunday, however, as I was swimming laps, a beautiful iridescent dragonfly flew by. During its beguilingly aerobatic performance, it dipped too low and splashed into the pool. After making my turn, I swam by again and spotted it entrapped in its aqueous meniscus struggling to rise from the water and failing. I took a few more strokes before I suddenly stopped like I had been netted. A feeling of need to save the dragonfly engulfed me.

“Why?” I thought. “If it were just a fly, I would let it die and a mosquito I would try to kill even before it hit the water.” I felt caught as Tuesday Next would say, “within a dense cloud of moral relativism (Fforde).” Nonetheless, a belief that I had to do something for this particular creature overwhelmed any internal debate on the nature of ethics I may have contemplated. So I cupped it in my hands and brought it to the edge of the pool and placed it where I hoped it could recover.

As I watched it struggle to dry its wings and rise, other thoughts struck me. “It would probably die here too weakened by its dunking; a death perhaps worse than if had it had died in the water. So, what had I accomplished except to prolong its agony?” “What about the possibility one of the many birds in the area would swoop down on it in its weakened state and devour it?” “So,” I inquired of myself and generations of existential and moral philosophers, “why did I do what I did in the first place?” Suddenly everything began to go dim as I found myself standing on the edge of the abyss staring into a solipsistic nightmare.

I jumped out of the pool and rushed home where I buried myself under the covers in the hope they would muffle the screams of dying dragonflies, long dead metaphysicians and legions of moral philosophers.
______________________________________________

My travel plans continue to change. I may fly out to NY on the 21st — then again, maybe not. I had planned to visit my sister in Mendocino for the Memorial Day weekend, but in an effort to avoid further annoyance from HRM’s mom, I may spend most of next week there instead.

C. A BRIEF STOP IN SACRAMENTO:

On Tuesday, I left the Golden Hills for Sacramento on my way to San Francisco to meet my sister and her husband who were driving me to their home in Mendocino. In Sacramento after breakfast at the coffee house across from the Capitol that I like, I walked around my beloved Capitol Park until lunch time. Then I ambled over to K Street to have lunch with Bill Yeates. Bill, as you know from my last T&T post, is fresh from victory in his age class in the Big Sur Marathon.

We had lunch at a vegetarian restaurant called “Mother.” The food was very good. We reminisced, swapped stories, played ain’t it a shame and generally had what passes for a good time among aging males. One bleak note, I learned his wife is having serious medical difficulties.

He then drove me to the train station. I rode the train to Emeryville where George and Maryann picked me up.

D. POOKIE’S MENDOCINO TRAVELOGUE:

On the ride to Mendocino, we stopped for dinner at a wonderful restaurant in Geyserville named Diavola.
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Mary and I at Diavola

The next day, it was beautiful outside. Brilliant yellow flowers filled the field at the back of the house.
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The view from the house.

I spent the morning with George watching someone who actually works for a living mill the lumber to be used for the house remodel. He milled the lumber from the cypress tree that fell and crushed the pump house last winter.
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George supervising the milling.

In the afternoon, it was too windy to walk about on the bluffs, so George and I went to Ft. Bragg’s spiffy new community recreation center. I swam laps in the tarted up pool with the Mendocino Coast Sea Dragons Girls Swim Team while George exercised on the machines.
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The following day the winds died down so I went for a walk along the bluffs and into the town. Spring wild flowers of every color were in bloom. The ocean, a deep aquamarine and winking white foam, sparkled in the sun. At times, I sat on a bench and day-dreamed. At other times, I practiced taking selfies.
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On my way back I met up with George. We spent several hours in the lumber yard and the hardware store. Feeling very rural and manly, I walked back home, took a nap and contemplated the nature of contentment.

Later in the day, I went swimming again. The Aquatic Center had been funded primarily by the trust of a man who was born in Fort Bragg and worked in a local ice cream parlor before heading off to Shanghai where he started a company selling insurance to the Chinese. That company eventually grew into AIG the largest insurance company in the world. AIG was one of the chief culprits in almost destroying the world’s economy in 2008.
______________________________________________

On Friday, although the day began sunny, clouds from the South skittered across the sky settling softly on the village. The cooling temperature turned me away from the ocean bluffs and through areas of the tiny town of Mendocino that I had not seen before in my more that 40 years visiting here.

That evening we had dinner with some neighbors who are planning their first trip to Italy. I drank a lot of Charbono and talked too much.
_______________________________________________

On my last full day here in Mendocino, the skies were overcast. I sat an hour or two holding on to a cooling cup of coffee while staring morosely at the gray sea.

Later, we drove up the coast and stopped in Fort Brag to see the new extension to the ocean front park near Glass Beach. For about 40 years since the demise of the logging industry, I and many others have urged the city to focus on their magnificent natural waterfront to replace the lost lumber economy. They ignored the advice and attempted many other development schemes that ultimately failed. Now with the new extension, the waterfront natural area extends from more or less Noyo Harbor to the north end of 10 Mile Beach about 15 miles away. Although it is poorly marketed, people already are coming from far away to enjoy the experience. The Glass Beach area parking lot was full and we even met some Italian tourists who heard about the new park somewhere.
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Mary and George at Glass Beach

On the other hand, the land around Glass Beach was gifted to the city on a not so long term lease by the Koch brothers who bought the huge old mill site adjacent to the coast. I assume the Koch’s plan to develop the portion of their property nearest to Highway One and as the value of the remainder of the property escalates along with the popularity of the park, either take over and develop the leased park land when the lease ends or, force the city to buy it at the expected inflated values at the time.

We then continued on north to Pacific Star Winery to sample their wares and spend some time with the vivacious Sally, the owner and winemaker, and Marcus her boyfriend/partner. Marcus is one of the sweetest people you would want to meet. I hate him deeply for his relationship with Sally, a woman I have secretly loved for the past three years. Alas, at my age love is something best avoided or at least indulged in with moderation and in silence.
IMG_20150509_143758_603Sally, George and Maryann at Pacific Star Winery
We sat outside at a picnic table, ate some salami, cheese and grapes, drank some wine and gazed at the ever-changing ocean while we argued about the proper response to the earthquake in Nepal.

A pod of female seals swam by, each with one flipper extended out of the water. A bob of males sleeked toward them like heat seeking missiles. When the two groups met the water erupted in a frothy frenzy. The happy orgy drifted off to the South until they were lost from view.
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The view at Pacific Star Winery sans seals

That evening, after we returned from the winery, we attended the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department Spring Pot-Luck at the firehouse. For those who know Mendocino know downtown contains a one-hundred-year-old fire house with a large bell in front to call the volunteers to the occasional fire in town. I was surprised when we drove across Highway One to a new modern firehouse about the size of a small shopping center containing at least 8 fire trucks, 5 boats, two humongous ski-boats and enough equipment to provision a small army.
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At the pot-luck dinner, I sat next to a board member of the Fire Dept., who also is the NRDC representative for the North Coast Marine Sanctuary and who helped construct the handicapped access-way along Jughandle Creek, the Conservancy funded that was allowed to fall into ruin. His daughter, a recently minted Phd., has opened a yoga studio in Fort Bragg.

Toward the end of the pot-luck, I sat back and looked around at the denizens of the small town milling about the room. I got the sudden and frightful feeling that I was trapped in a David Lynch movie. I fully expected a mysterious dwarf to appear and saunter across the floor.

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

1548– The Hispaniolan Edible Rat becomes extinct.

A few years ago, I lived in a Bangkok apartment infested by rats (the non-edible kind). At night, after the lights were out, they gaily scampered about the rooms. At one point, the maid put out an anti-rodent device consisting basically of a plastic sheet covered with glue that traps any rat unlucky enough to step on it and produces, I am sure, a cruel and painful death for the creature.

My feelings about the Rodentia situation in my apartment were somewhat ambiguous. I felt neither fear, sympathy nor disgust for either the infestation or the rodenticide. It was more like the feeling I have when I try to avoid meeting someone I prefer not to meet. On the one hand, I always feel a bit cowardly skulking away while on the other, I generally am aware that forcing a meeting through some misplaced moral sense is probably as stupid a thing to do as can be imagined.

This ambivalence about rats I find strange given my history with the species. Growing up in New York, I generally fell asleep with the sound of rats scurrying through the walls. As a child, I was never able to settle on whether these sounds in the walls by my bed frightened me or comforted me.

When I was about six-years-old my family was homeless for a while. Ultimately, we found an abandoned store that we moved into and soaped up the glass front for privacy. There was neither heat nor hot water in the place and at night the large Norwegian roof rats would slink into the room through the spaces between walls and the various pipes and plumbing servicing the residential apartments above us.

Every night, while my brother and I slept, my mother armed with a bread knife would remain awake to chase away the rats. One evening while so armed and on guard she fell asleep sitting beside the kitchen table. Suddenly she was jolted awake by the sound of rats scrabbling to get into a cake box on the table. The rats startled by her movement leaped on to her face and head as it was the highest point in the room between the floor and the exposed pipes available to them to make their escape. She fell to the floor and had an epileptic seizure, beginning a multi-year period of seizures and hospitalizations.

After my mother was taken away in an ambulance that night, I spent the next four years living with various relatives and strangers who took me in, but mostly with my grandparents. I never knew where my brother lived during this time.

After a few years and many hospitalizations of my mom, we began living together again but her periodic fits continued until I was about 17 years old when, in a surprise to everyone, mom became pregnant with my sister and the seizures suddenly stopped. She considered both the pregnancy and the curing of the epilepsy a miracle. I was not so sure.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“Since most government officials felt ignorant of finance, they sought advice from bankers whom they considered to be experts in the field. The history of the last century shows, as we shall see later, that the advice given to governments by bankers, like the advice they gave to industrialists, was consistently good for bankers, but was often disastrous for governments, businessmen, and the people generally.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“The ability to lie to oneself is nature’s compensation to those she has cursed with consciousness.”

(Note: I have been asked if Trenz Pruca is me. No, nor is he my alter ego either. Trenz is my Harvey, but instead of an invisible rabbit, he is a six-foot-two-inch 220-pound invisible white rat with dark glasses and wearing a black fedora. He carries a Mac-book with him wherever he goes. He can usually be found sitting in dark corners of lightly patronized coffee houses in San Francisco or during the winter months, Marrakesh, typing away on his Mac-book and obsessively downing endless cups of strong dopio espressos. I actually only meet him on my name day, March 15, when he stops by to celebrate with a glass of wine. Otherwise, he sends me reams of emails each day, most of which are gibberish. Every now and then, however, I find he has written a clever bon mot or an interesting sentence or two that I share with you in T&T or on Facebook.)

C. Today’s Paraprosdokian:

I’ve got all the money I’ll ever need, if I die by four o’clock.

(A paraprosdokian with a violin is called a Henny Youngman. [IF you understand this you probably are even older than I am, from New York City and Jewish.])
D. Today’s Poem:

VOX POPULI

When Mazarvan the Magician,
Journeyed westward through Cathay,
Nothing heard he but the praises
Of Badoura on his way.

But the lessening rumor ended
When he came to Khaledan,
There the folk were talking only
Of Prince Camaralzaman.

So it happens with the poets:
Every province hath its own;
Camaralzaman is famous
Where Badoura is unknown.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

 

 

E. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

1. Ruth Galanter, who remembers more about my life than I do, reminded me that Jason had been in Italy 18 years ago and not 30 as I reported in my last T&T post. I apologize.

2. Gail Osherenko pointed out that I misspelled Antarctica by leaving out the first c. My mind and my spell-check failed again. I apologize.

Gail, by the way, is another intrepid traveller. Unlike the others I mentioned in the last issue of T&T, she travels both for pleasure and as part of her professional responsibilities. Like Ruth she visited Antarctica a few years ago but also stopped off at the Falklands and South Georgia as well. She often posts photographs of her travels on Facebook.
 

TODAY’S CHART:
CalWater3

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Marco Gallo

Marco is the son of my friend in Sicily, Gigi. He lives in Milan and is a Sport’s Nutritionist by day. My sister says he looks like a movie star. I love the jacket he’s wearing. It is Milan after all, the city of the well-dressed.

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Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 14 Capt. Coast 0004 (May 1, 2015)

 

“We live in a distressed culture where anything like a conspiracy theory will be embraced by more people than will the simple and obvious truth,”
Koontz, Dean. Odd Hours: An Odd Thomas Novel (p. 178). Random House Publishing Group.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Another weekend rolled down from the Sierras bringing cool rainy days until Sunday when the warmth slowly returned. The dregs of my cold kept me wheezing and coughing and in and out of bed. Saturday we attended HRM’s flag football game.
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On Sunday, we visited the Archery shop where we bought HRM some new arrows and watched him shoot at targets for almost an hour.

That evening, feeling outdoorsy but unwilling to submit myself to the whims of nature, I began to re-read one of my favorite novels Blood-Sport: A Journey up the Hassayampa. It is a comic novel about manly men at play (see below).
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Speaking of manly men, I learned from Facebook that this weekend Bill Yeates ran in the Big Sur Marathon and won Best in Class. Way to go Bill. I hear that after the race he rode his bicycle all the way back to Sacramento stopping only to clean out a nest of meat-eaters attending a barbecue somewhere near Vacaville.
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Karen Cogan, Dick’s long-time administrative assistant and someone who I have known for almost as long as I have known him, has achieved what I call the “Delightful Life.” She travels to exotic places she likes and paints. When she paints a picture of, say a restaurant, she tracks down the owner and gives them her painting. This has allowed her to meet many interesting people ( e.g., the Cipriani’s of Harry’s Bar fame).
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The office manager of one of the law firms of which I was a member (and a recipient of T&T), Aline Pearl, also spends her vacations traveling. In her case, often places rich with wild nature, like Africa. Her art is professional quality nature photography. I remember the pleasure I got from sitting in her office and looking at the wall full of well-mounted pictures of African animals in the wild. Alas, I have no examples of her photographs to post.

Ruth Galanter, on the other hand, likes to add the truly exotic destinations like Antartica and Mongolia in between trips to Nantucket.
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Ruth by her Ger
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Regarding travels, it is time for me to begin to seriously focus on this summer’s trip to Italy, Sicily and Thailand. I hope to spend a few days in New York also. This year I will be traveling through Italy and Sicily with my son Jason who, although he spent much of his childhood there, has not returned in almost 30 years.

In Milan where I will begin the Italian portion of my trip, Expo 2015 Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life will be under-weigh. Marco Gallo the son of my good friend Gigi and a renown expert in sports nutrition has invited me to attend the festival. Marco sometimes posts a few of his recipes on my Facebook page. If you would like me to forward them to you, please let me know.
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On Tuesday, it was warm enough and the severity of my cold had diminished enough for a swim. The next day we all went to the passport office to submit the complicated application for HRM’s passport. And so it went until another weekend rumbled around again.

Meanwhile, the valley heat slowly crawls up the slopes making the golden hills appear like old melted wax candles slumping beneath a deep deep blue sky empty but for columns of brilliant white mushroom clouds standing motionless on the mountains far to the east.

B. BOOK REPORT:

In 1974, Robert F. Jones an editor for the magazine Field and Stream, wrote a critically acclaimed but relatively unknown satiric novel on acid (it was 1974 after all) about a manly man obsessed with hunting and fishing who takes his almost pubescent son on a camping trip in order to toughen him up. The trip takes them up the mythical but mighty Hassayampa River to its headwaters and back. The Hassayampa winds its way from eastern China through upper Wisconsin until it flows into Croton Lake near the sleepy town of Valhalla in Westchester County NY. During their trip, they manage to slaughter and eat a goodly number of representatives of most species that now live on earth, some that do not and never did and a few such as aurochs and mastodons that no longer exist anywhere other than along the river. They also dispatch a few Communist Chinese troopers and various criminals until they run into the famous, feared and immortal bandit, “Ratanous.” Ratanous persuades the son to abandon his father and join his band of brigands. In order to save his son’s soul, the man tracks down the bandits and challenges Ratanous to a deadly duel to the death by fly rods with poison hooks.

This is not a novel for the esthetically, intellectually and morally squeamish. Its violence would make William Burroughs proud and its gonzo style cause Hunter Thompson to blush. There is a certain amount of cannibalism complete with recipes. Also there is a morbid fascination with vaginas and their infinite variety. After all, to manly men a woman is merely a vagina with tits, everything else is superfluous. It is a man’s book even as it satirizes them. There is no sentimentality about killing and little risk avoidance — and almost no women (other than participants in orgies) except for an absent wife and daughter, a lusty Ukrainian laundress and a young bandit named Twigan.
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Pookie says, “Check it out.”

“My madness was total: sublime, ecstatic, unmarred by any doubts or sulks. At no point during the months I roamed that mean, lean country, killing for food and pleasure, do I recall one moment of reason, one instant of unhappiness. It was as if a caldron of liquid laughter had come to a slow, steady boil behind my eyes, perking joyfully there, sending shots of giggly steam down my nostrils and up my throat, exploding from time to time in scalding, superheated guffaws that left my vocal cords raw and aching with delight. I felt no fear, no hunger, no worry— only the immense, ridiculous power of my freedom.”
Jones, Robert F. Blood Sport: A Journey Up the Hassayampa . Skyhorse Publishing.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

During the past decade or so in America, we may have witnessed an extremely rare event in history. Not since the hay-day of JP Morgan and his cronies has such a small group of oligarchs managed to stage a, more or less, bloodless coup over a major democracy. What makes it so unusual is that this time they have captured control of two of the significant instruments of ideology in the society — the media and religion — while silencing perhaps the most potent voices in opposition, the scientific and intellectual community. In doing so, and with the assistance of the Supreme Court, they have arranged to assume almost absolute control over one of the two major political parties in the country such that all policies of that party must now meet the needs of that select group.

In order to achieve this coup, it was essential that growth of certain groups underpinning the middle class be halted — such as those in the intellectual trades (teachers, researchers, artists and the like), the technocrats (engineers, scientists and technicians) and very small business owners (shops etc.) and replaced with a smaller middle class primarily made up of clerks, financial analysts, and accountants, in other words those servicing the financial and service industries. As a result, the middle class not only has collapsed but what remains lacks the vibrancy to even be considered a politically significant class. The poor and the working class and in between what used to be called the lumpen proletariat, as they always have been, are usually servants of the dominant ideology that is now firmly in control of this small group of oligarchs.

 

DAILY FACTOID:

Today: In the state of Kansas, poor people soon may be prohibited from swimming in public pools but not from buying guns.

(I wonder if they can trade in their food stamps to buy guns?)

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“The state is a good state if it is sovereign and if it is responsible. It is more or less incidental whether a state is, for example, democratic. If democracy reflects the structure of power in the society, then the state should be democratic. But if the pattern of power in a society is not democratic, then you cannot have a democratic state. This is what happens in Latin America, Africa and places like that, when you have an election and the army doesn’t like the man who is elected, so they move in and throw him out. The outcome of the election does not reflect the power situation, in which the dominant thing is organized force. When I say governments have to be responsible, I’m saying the same thing as when I said they have to be legitimate: they have to reflect the power structure of the society. Politics is the area for establishing responsibility by legitimizing power, that is, somehow demonstrating the power structure to people, and it may take a revolution, such as the French Revolution, or it may take a war, like the American Civil War. In the American Civil War, for example, the structure of power in the United States was such — perhaps unfortunately, I don’t know — that the South could not leave unless the North was willing. It was that simple. But it took a war to prove it.“
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability,

 

 

B. Xander’s Perceptions:

“I was an idealistic 13-year-old who went with my mom to a Democratic Party club in Southeast San Diego. The United Community Democratic Club met on Sunday evenings at Johnson’s Barbecue, and it was there that I began my keen interest in politics. But when Bobby Kennedy campaigned that June in the California primary, it was for all of the marbles. Kennedy’s win in the hotly contested primary election on June 5th, 1968, presaged the movement that would carry hm to the White House and restore Camelot — the representation of the hope of a nation that we could be better and needed to be better.

Kennedy made a mad dash through San Diego on Monday, June 4th, even including a swing through the South Bay Plaza shopping center in National City. When school ended that afternoon, I ran the approx. 1 mile from my junior high to where Kennedy’s car was making its way slower than a snail, through the throng of people who had showed up to see Bobby in person. In fact, just as I had my hand grabbed by Kennedy, I was shoved off my feet by the crowd pressing against his car, and I dangled for a split second before Kennedy made sure I landed on my feet.

Kennedy’s victory celebration and speech at the Ambassador Hotel in L. A. was more of a sports story — Dodgers ace Don Drysdale had set a major league record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched, and THAT seemed as much a part of Kennedy’s victory as anything else. He congratulated Drysdale, quickly thanked everyone for their support, and said “. . . and it’s on to Chicago!” He flashed the peace sign to the crowd.

Minutes later, he had his head blown apart by SIrhan Sirhan, and America was never the same . . . nor was I.”
Pete Xander

 

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Today the absence of government simply means government by private corporations.”
D. Today’s Paraprosdokian:

Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination whatsoever.

(A Paraprosdokian is not an extinct species of bird.)

E. Today’s Poem:

Moses was a strange man

Moses was a strange man.
He lost his way
in the desert
for forty years.
He told his people
they were better off
in the desert
for forty years
than in Egypt
where they had
running water
and food.

There was no food
in the desert.
Moses did not know
how to farm so,
God had to feed
his people.

Moses told his people,
he would,
lead them out
of the desert
to a land
where people
had milk and honey.
He said
they should kill
those people,
take their land,
drink their milk
eat their honey.

When some of his people thought
another God
might get them out of the desert sooner,
he killed them.

Moses brought God’s law
to his people.
One law said
“Thou shalt not kill.”

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“I’m feeling sorry, believe it or not, for the Speaker of the House as well. These days, the House Republicans actually give John Boehner a harder time than they give me, which means … orange really is the new black!”
– President Obama

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

CalWater1

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

Django&Grappelli

Django&Grappelli

 

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 9 Capt. Coast 0004 (April 24. 2015)

 
“There’s nothing more dangerous than to give an American hope.”
Caldwell, Ian. The Fifth Gospel: A Novel (p. 103). Simon & Schuster.
In Memory of the Armenian Genocide — 1915:
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Armenian Women Crucified During the Genocide*

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S SLIGHTLY MEMORABLE OVERNIGHT ADVENTURE:

On Wednesday, I left the golden hills for the Bay Area to meet with the trustee of some coastal property in order to advise him about options available to the trust. We met for lunch in a building that survived the ’06 earthquake. The building was the home of a men’s club established in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century.
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Club membership includes the captains of industry and commerce in the area. About 50 years ago many doctors and dentists were also allowed to join, as well as some Italian-Americans. I recall that when I was growing up the emphasis was exclusively on the word before the hyphen. Then, through the efforts of some of the least ethical and most dourly aggressive and greedy members of our community, some of us gained enough wealth that American began to gain prominence in our minds and in the minds of many of those exclusively pale hyphenated Americans whose ancestry did not include the word Native.

I remember when the darkness was bleached from my soul and I simply could call myself an American and look down in sadness at the dark souls of members of other hyphenated communities who had not yet received the miracle of the Blessed Bleach. I remember fondly that day when I noticed that my skin had gotten two shades lighter than it was the day before

In all likelihood, there are only one or two members of the club that are Democrats. On the other hand, most of the staff are.

I learned that many of the members also belong to an organization called the Greco-Roman Dentists’ Fishing Society (truly, it was organized by the Greek and Italian dentist in the club). They gather once a year somewhere in the northeastern part of the state for a weekend of fishing and other things.

Since I was to sleep that night in one of the club’s guest rooms, I ate dinner there and met a few of members. One guy was referred to at the “Corn King,” another owned a string of radio stations. He was forced to sell because Rush Limbaugh was not pulling in the listeners like he used to. I had a pleasant conversation with a man whose parents came from Genoa. Like many of the club members, he had a few vacation homes. One was on the beach in the Italian Riviera.

I met the manager of the club. He used to manage the well-known men’s club in Sacramento. When I worked in that city, I received some minor notoriety by refusing to attend meetings and conferences there because of their policy on women members. Of course, I would periodically slip in there for lunch. My moral standards permit minor acts of hypocrisy and one or two large ones now and then.

All the governors that I was familiar with had been members and used the clubs facilities extensively — except Jerry Brown who refused to step foot into the place. Apparently, Governor Arnold used to impress the club members by carrying a large marble chess table from room to room. The members were not so thrilled when the same immigrant governor placed armed guards at the elevator and prevented the members from using the floors where he lounged about — relaxing, I assume, between feats of strength. The members told the muscled one that, if he ever did that again, he would be publicly thrown out of the club.

That night after dinner we played poker. I also thought it would be appropriate to celebrate the recent diagnosis clearing me of lung cancer by smoking a cigar. At the table with me were the Corn King, the Media Lord, a dentist, a retired gynecologist and a few others whose professions I did not know.

Now, as a rule, I do not like gambling and avoid it whenever possible. It was one of my father’s most appalling vices. However, when I do play poker, I have a few rules:

1. It is always preferable for the other players to believe you do not know what you are doing.
2. Fold early and fold often. Unless by the first bet you know you have the best hand on the table, fold. Hoping to improve your hand is as worthless as drawing to an inside straight.
3. Never raise someone else’s bet.
4. If the game chosen by the dealer allows wild cards, quietly fold before the first bet.
5. Never forget that it is not how much you win that counts but how little you lose.

The retired gynecologist was the big winner followed by the Corn King. I was the only other winner.

That night I spent in the club’s guest room. For some reason, I was unable to sleep well and woke up muzzy. After breakfast, I headed back to the golden hills. Because I was so out of it, I kept taking the wrong turns and ended up in Stockton by way of the Delta. Normally I would enjoy a ride through the Delta, but not today. I was lost. This being California I knew that as long as you do not drive around in circles you will eventually cross a freeway. And so I did, except the on-ramp was closed for construction. So I continued east and eventually found another freeway and wound my way home, where I immediately went to bed and slept the rest of the day.

The weather is warm enough now in EDH to begin wearing the $2 shirts of many colors that I bought at the flea market. It makes me happy. I enjoy looking in the mirror at myself dressed in my new shirts.
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Another weekend slid by — breakfast in Roseville, a trip to Denio’s, a flag football game, one or two books, a lot of naps and, of course, a lot of time to feel sorry for myself — then it was Monday. Two days gone from the 3000 or so the actuaries say that an average man of my age has left to live.

The pool at the health-club was closed this weekend for annual maintenance. Perhaps that explains the depression gnawing at the edges of my consciousness.
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During the past few days the weather has cooled and I have come down with a cold so I spend most of my day in bed. This more likely explains the malaise I mistook for depression.

The photograph at the top of this page shames me. Given the nature and extent of the suffering going on in the world, here I sit (SOS) complaining about feeling bad because I have a runny nose or the pool is closed.
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The weather continues cool and the skies overcast. While I wait for my cold to pass, I spend most of my days puttering around the house. I have even taken to watching television to pass the time. I watched Rambo III. In it the honest and brave Americans befriend the engaging, non-Muslim, soon to be Taliban, noble natives in Afghanistan and slaughter the gross and evil Russians who for no apparent reason have been torturing and killing the peace loving Afghanis especially their non-combatant women and children. A few years later in the movie of life, it is the Americans who get to portray the Russians in the sequel and slaughter their erstwhile allies, the murderous, suddenly Muslim Taliban. The question, I asked myself was who got to play John Rambo?
_________________________________________
Speaking of glorious wars and martial memories, EDH is planning to build a large memorial park to celebrate, not those who have given their lives but the military as a whole. In it will be large memorials to, the Viet Nam War, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Cold War, the War on Terror (but not the War on Drugs or Christmas) with seemingly smaller memorials commemorating WWI and WWII. No mention or memory is made of The Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, or the Civil War or the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War or any other American imperialist military victories. I guess the good citizens of EDH are secret Anti-America radicals ironically seeking to celebrate wars we lost rather than those we won. I assume, however, if I complain vigorously enough I could get them to include memorials to the wars against Grenada or Panama.
_____________________________________________
As long as I’ve begun to rant I may as well get this off my chest. No matter what you may think of Hillary Clinton — the Devil’s Handmaid or the patron Saint of Feminism (there does not seem to be a middle ground) — don’t you think it odd that the speculation, even if true, that she somehow gave special consideration to the rich in order to take their money to give to the poor is somehow worse than the fact that almost every political critic of her alleged actions including those currently running for the presidency has also taken money from the rich, bragged about it, given them special consideration, but kept the money for themselves.

Also as to the Russian uranium deal in specific, besides it having to have been approved by many independent governmental entities other than the State Department, isn’t it odd that those in Congress complaining about this sale of American uranium assets to Russia never publicly objected to it at the time, even though they presumably knew or should have known all about it.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

A few months ago I wrote a series of posts here in T&T in which I pointed out that the current turmoil in the Near-East is, in many ways, a replication of events 1400 years ago when, following the drying up of the grasslands, some Arab pastoralists adopted an ideology (Islam) encouraging them to invade lands of the more productive societies nearby, take over their wealth and overthrow the ideologies and governments that controlled those lands.

According to Scientific American’s article regarding the Defense Department’s 2014 review of the effect of climate change on the area:

“Drying and drought in Syria from 2006 to 2011–the worst on record there–destroyed agricCulture, causing many farm families to migrate to cities. The influx added to social stresses already created by refugees pouring in from the war in Iraq, explains Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who co-authored the study. The drought also pushed up food prices, aggravating poverty. “We’re not saying the drought caused the war,” Seager said. “We’re saying that added to all the other stressors, it helped kick things over the threshold into open conflict. And a drought of that severity was made much more likely by the ongoing human-driven drying of that region.”

Arable land in the area has been drastically reduced over the past 20 years and expected to continue to decrease. Population, on the other hand, has exploded and estimated to double over the next two decades.

It appears more and more apparent that the immediate goals of the modern Arab insurgents (ISIS, Al Qaeda and so on) is, as it was in the Seventh Century, to capture the wealth of the richer societies that control the littoral areas of the Near-East (Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE, Israel, Yemen and the like) and replace the ideologies of those countries with their own.

It is no Arab Spring but it well may be the beginning of an Arab Winter.

Yemen, a country much in the news recently, is a key in the insurgents strategy. It has the second largest population on the Arabian Peninsula, dominates the southern entrance to the Red Sea and if controlled by the insurgents, forces the oil sheikdoms to face threats on two fronts.

The insurgents in Yemen have toppled the government and appear to be on their way to subduing the entire country. The Saudis responded with air strikes but shied away from commitment of troops. Without troops on the ground, they may impede but not halt the insurgency. Unfortunately, heavily militarized societies that spend a lot on military hardware have only too often proven incapable of successfully engaging in armed combat with a highly motivated adversary. American or other Western nations’ involvement with “boots on the ground” may defeat the insurgents but not the insurgency. I suspect some of the oil sheikdoms now are considering payment of “protection” in the form economic support for ISIS activities in Syria/Iraq in return for temporary relief from attack. This is the same strategy used 1400 years ago. It did not work then and it will not work now. Eventual adoption of the ideology, however, did preserve their wealth and power.

Of the three major non-Arab or non-Sunni regimes on the periphery, Turkey, Iran and Israel, none of them sees ISIS as a significant threat to its physical integrity. All of them see political and economic gains in the prolongation of the conflict and all three would be pleased if the oil sheikdoms find themselves preoccupied and under stress.

(It should be pointed out, the particular form of Islamic terrorism and ideology practiced by ISIS and others appears to be lacking [or at least, weak] in most non-Arab Muslim countries except perhaps Iran.)

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

A few years ago I traveled to New York City for some reason. I arrived in NY on the A train. After a few days, I left it by taking the A train again to Far Rockaway. “Far Rockaway.” It sounds exotic. One could almost imagine emerging from the subway onto a sandy beach by clear blue waters — perhaps there is a boatload of buccaneers waiting offshore to attack. One does not usually associate NY with broad sandy beaches. Actually, it is one of those few major cities with large beaches within its city limits, like Rio. True Rockaway Beach, Jones Beach and Coney Island do not quite conger up the same images in one’s mind as Copacabana or Ipanema, (or even Venice Beach in LA) but they do have their own quirky and gritty charm. In the summer, those beaches were packed with beach-goers and sunbathers like subway cars during rush hour.

When the train emerged from the tunnel and into the sunlight over a section of outer Brooklyn or Queens (I never could remember which it was out here near JFK) we rode above the rows of brick attached homes and trees, lots of them, and passed Aqueduct Raceway. I left the A train at Howard Beach and boarded the AirTrain, taking it the last mile or so to the terminal at JFK.

Boarding the car with me were two New Yorkers dressed in SF Forty-niners shirts on their way to SF to see the Niners play the Giants. One of them was a large pear-shaped man with a pencil thin mustache and wearing a Joe Montana shirt. He announced to everyone in a very loud voice that he was a Niner and Montana fan for all his life no matter what his friends and coworkers thought about it. In an accent that could only be from Brooklyn, he told several of the other passengers that he was a scraper, someone who scraps the paint off bridges in preparation for repainting and that this was only the second air flight he had ever taken.

So while listening to the two of them express their excitement and their plans about what they wanted to see when they get to SF (Fisherman’s Wharf and the Crookedest Street), I pleasantly passed the time until we arrived at the terminal where I boarded the plane and left NYC behind.

The Niners lost that game.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“Reich, a 42-year-old professor of law at Yale, is concerned with the mutual interpenetration of public and private power which constitutes the American way of life today and determines, within constantly narrowing limits, how resources are used, how we live, and what we hear, eat, wear, believe, or do. This nexus of anonymous and irresponsible power, which Galbraith called “the New Industrial State” is called by Reich “the Corporate State,” both unfortunate terms because the chief feature of this monstrous system, emphasized by both writers, is not public authority but a fusion of public and private power in which the private portion is by far the more significant part. The combination brainwashes all of us, influencing our outlook on the world by mobilizing social pressures and organizational structures to coerce our behavior and responses in directions which are increasingly destructive.”
Carroll Quigley. Review of Greening of America by Charles A. Reich.

B. Xander’s Perceptions:

“Whenever my kids made disparaging remarks about labor unions, I politely informed them that hundreds and hundreds of people DIED for the rights they take for granted today — child labor laws, minimum wage laws, mine safety regs [which are roundly ignored even today, since the fines are a pittance], job safety regs and laws, and on and on.

Millennials ought to study the goddamned history of this country and see just what “rights” they enjoy today came at a horrific price over many many years of suffering. The early 1900s were an especially violent time, when union organizers and strikers were clubbed by thugs hired by corporate owners, whether it was UMW miners, or Teamsters being beaten and killed, or UFWA grape pickers working for slave wages in horrendous living and working conditions, the short-handled hoe and pesticides just being two of the many horrors.

When the brave men who signed the Declaration of Independence pledged, “our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor,” they were committing treason for which they could have been hanged.

Could you imagine wealthy white men in America today, pledging THEIR fortunes for the benefit of common people and for doing the right thing?”

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“In America today. you can make more money inventing a new conspiracy theory than you can by curing cancer.”

D. Today’s Paraprosdokian:

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

(Paraprosdokians are found in the darkest places of the mind right next to the root cellar where puns are kept.)

E. Today’s Poem:

From childhood’s hour
I have not been
As others were;
I have not seen
As others saw;
I could not bring
My passions from
A common spring.

From the same source
I have not taken
My sorrow;
I could not awaken
My heart to joy
At the same tone;
And all I loved,
I loved alone.
—EDGAR ALLAN POE, “ALONE.” (excerpt)

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“A little mixing of genes never hurt the species.”
Naida West

In the late 1950s when I was President of the Catholic Interracial Council, all sides rushed to assure that equality did not include sexual relations or marriage between the races. At a conference of the major civil rights organizations at the time sponsored by CIC, I gave the welcoming address in which I said:

“We can never achieve true equality, if one of the central features of what it means to be human, the love between two people, forever remains segregated. Racial harmony would reign in America if everyone had a spouse of a different color and a Jewish mother.”

 

TODAY’S CHART:
TeachersNugget

As usual, with graphs of this type, it confuses more than it explains. It would be more informative if it also included student performance by country. According to the OCED, the top performing students come from Korea, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand and Austria. Among the poorer performing students are those from USA, Mexico, Greece, and Spain. Those countries not listed above include Canada, China and Poland among the best and among the worst Brazil and Russia.

Based upon the above, neither teacher hours worked nor relative pay appear to be very determinative of student performance.

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
blind-painter-john-bramblitt-3-L
Painting by the Blind Artist John Bramblitt.

 

*Note: Regarding the photographs of the crucified Armenian women that begins this post, it is important to mention that a few compassionate Turkish Muslims managed to save some of those women by taking down from their crosses those women that had not dies before their crucifiers had left.

It should also be noted that Hitler acknowledged his debt to the Turkish approach to ridding themselves of their hated Armenian and Greek compatriots for many of the ideas he used to rid himself of the Jews, Gypsies, non-Nazi homosexuals and Slavs living on land slated for German Lebensraum (In the US it was called Manifest Destiny**).

By the way,it seems to me, for some Turks to justify the Genocide as they do by claiming it to have been caused by some Arminians who vigorously opposed governmental policy and sought international assistance would be like Americans justifying lynching all African-Americans because the protests in Ferguson against police brutality caused foreign press to express sympathy with their plight.

** In Manifest Destiny, because the US was somewhat more democratic, we allowed citizens to kill or enslave the non-white, non-protestant inhabitants living in the lands conquered, with the government stepping in only when the native reaction was too strong or effective for the good white citizens to handle.

 

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Joey 0004 (April 14, 2015)

 

“Individuals can always malfunction.”
Suarez, Daniel. Freedom (TM) (Daemon Book 2) (p. 79). Penguin Publishing Group.

 

 

.

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

I usually begin Pookie’s Adventures with the weather in EDH, its trees and flowers or the ennui of living here among the golden hills. That is because, except for changes in the weather or seasons, little happens of note except my very rare conversations with other dog walkers I may meet as I shuffle along behind my two tiny ruffians, holding the plastic bag containing their latest offerings. I suspect, however, that much more goes on behind the doors of the petite mansions that line the streets or loom above us on the ridge tops. Being of Mediterranean heritage, I find it interesting to live in a society that steadfastly insists public interaction be scripted in dress, location and activity. Moving from the city to the gated suburbs is a lot like moving from the raucous public disorder of a Southern-Italian mountain-town to solitary depression among the snow buried chalets of Norway.

Of course there is no acceptable standard of public behavior that ranks one superior to another other than the obvious avoidance of violence and things like that, but they usually apply equally in private or public.

In our home, HRM flings himself over the furniture practicing WWE faux take-downs. I walk around in my underwear scratching various parts of my body, burping and farting at will while Dick sits with one of the dogs in his arms and watches Fox News. In public we behave quite differently. For example, none of us would ever watch Fox News in public.
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The EDH weekly newspaper reports there were two shootings in town this week. One guy shot up a bar in nearby Folsom and another killed his wife. When responding to a missing persons report, the police questioned the husband. He told them she had left after an argument. While searching the trailer that the couple lived in, the police discovered her body. Yes, not only is there violence among the golden hills, there are trailers and trailer-trash too. They are the equivalent of the homeless in SF. The good people of the local burg try just as hard to hide their trailer-trash as the city dwellers try to hide their homeless.
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Outside of the occasional murder, one would get the impression from the local newspaper that the town’s citizens spend their every waking hour exhausting themselves in exercise or sports or selling real estate to each other — oh, also in attending occasional NRA and Tea Party meetings. That is not true. I may not know what else they do do, but that is not their problem but mine. I could at least make an effort to find out by talking to someone now and then.
_______________________________________________________

Another article tells me that although El Dorado is among the top ten healthiest counties in the state, it is, however, among the worst in deaths from driving while intoxicated and from substance abuse. Perhaps now I have an idea what it is my neighbors are doing behind those closed doors after exercising and NRA meetings.

Dick and I may have unknowingly absorbed this cultural artifact. Most evenings we enjoy a nightcap or three before retiring. His mixed berries in brandy are marvelous.
________________________________________________________

One would think from my comments that I dislike it here. On the contrary, someone once said the living east of the San Diego Freeway is a form of death; at my age living here is like death’s minor leagues — I get to practice before moving up to the big time.

Of course complaining is easy, living is hard. Complaining at least gives me something to do between picking up dog shit and swimming. On the other hand, I could actually be unhappy which I am not in the least. I am a phony curmudgeon.

IMG_20150410_144050_436
In the Pool with Pookie
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The quote at the beginning of this issue mentions malfunctioning individuals. Isn’t malfunctioning what makes us human?
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The weekend like April in the song, “…sighed and stepped aside…” and when I opened my eyes I realized Monday had arrived. — It was biopsy day.

Biopsy Day

After dropping HRM off at school, Dick drove me to the hospital where I was admitted, placed in the preparation room, laid on a gurney, stuck with needles and subjected to various tests and questionnaires designed to protect the hospital from liability. About four hours or so I lay on that gurney waiting to be taken to the room where the procedure would be performed. During this time, I fell asleep for about three of those hours. When I awoke I noticed that a mob of nurses and technicians milling about. None of the other patients on gurneys like mine had been moved. I asked a nurse what was going on. She said she could only tell me what she was instructed to say which was the doctors were busy on other procedures and would get to us as soon as they can.

By this response I guessed that either the doctor was drunk, stoned or otherwise incapacitated — or the doctor had made a grievous error on another patient and the poor soul was lying on a gurney like a clam oozing out of its broken shell — or, Muslim terrorists had taken over the lobby of the hospital and were methodically moving down the halls shooting everything in sight.

About an hour later the nurse announced she would now take me to the treatment room. She wheeled my gurney from the room and about 20 feet down the hall where she parked me against the wall. I remained there about another hour watching gurneys pass by containing people lying on them in various degrees of wretchedness. Finally, I was wheeled into the room where I was again prodded with needles and subjected to more tests and hooked up to the only thing that day I looked forward to, the narcotics that I was told would be administered just before the procedure began.

Now, I have had needles stuck into my chest before, one for two days while they pumped back up my collapsed lung. I have also had other biopsies, as polyps and bits of ugly skin were snipped off my body for examination. But, for some reason this time I was more anxious than I had ever been. Perhaps, given my age and the inevitable approach of the Big Sleep, I was more appreciative of the short span of human life — or, perhaps it was just another bout of hypochondria.

As the table I laid on slid into the machines giant donut hole, I followed the instructions to breathe in, hold my breath and exhale — once, twice, three times. There was a long time between breaths and an even longer time after the third one. Suddenly the doctor stood over me. I could tell he was the doctor because he was young and there was a hint of sadness in his eyes.

“We can’t find the nodule,” he said.

“Say what,” I responded.

“We can’t find the nodule,” he repeated. “It’s disappeared. We’ll set up another CT scan in six months or so and see if it returns.” And, with that he disappeared. I got up. After the various needles and machines were detached from my body and with a sad glance at the bag or narcotics hanging on its hook, I dressed and went home.

I am embarrassed and humiliated. I apologize especially Bill Yeates who has been through this with me before. It’s Obama’s fault.

B. BOOK REPORT:

In one of my favorite books, written by William Kotzwinkle (E.T. The Extraterrestrial, Walter the Farting Dog) the main character Horse Badorties carries a battery-operated hand-held fan everywhere to keep him cool in the NY summer heat. In one chapter, Recently I ran across the following blog that captures the essence of the novel and I thought I would share it with you.

Why “Dorky Days”?

There is a book — a novel — called The Fan Man by William Kotzwinkle. It is about a hippie named Horse Badorties who lives in New York City. To the reader, he has no job, no life, no direction, no this, no that, etc. To HIM, he is a very busy, important man. Think of The Dude, and then take away the White Russians and the car and replace them with bottled Piña Coladas and a stolen school bus. You end up with Horse Badorties….

…Horse Badorties spends a lot of time recruiting fifteen-year-old chicks to join The Love Chorus, a choir he instructs at St. Nancy’s Church. Horse Badorties is also very much sexually preoccupied with fifteen-year-old chicks. He isn’t a pervert — he just likes ’em that way. In fact, I think that Horse Badorties just prefers to assume that every attractive woman he sees is fifteen-years-old….

…Horse Badorties is dead set on making sure that The Love Chorus gets to perform a concert live on television. This book has no real plot (fuck plot), but if any Hollywood asshole ever gets his hands on a copy of this book and decides to make a movie, I’d say that the bit about The Love Chorus going on TV would probably be distorted and exploited in all sorts of bullshit ways. Anyway, our hero manages to tell the head of NBC about the concert. How? He’s Horse Badorties….

…Horse Badorties may also be a drug dealer. Well, I guess he pretty much is. Throughout the book he makes phone calls to various people regarding recent shipments of “carrots,” or how he’ll be by later with the “Swiss Chard.” He and a beautiful girl smoke “alphabets”…

…All right. I say I don’t identify with Benjamin Braddock (From The Graduate) anymore, and then I go on this long tangeant about a transient named Horse Badorties. First of all, he isn’t a transient — by the end of the book he has four “Horse Badorties pads.” Second of all, I don’t identify with Horse Badorties, but I dig his dogma: every day is an adventure, nothing is that big of a deal, and every woman in the world is a beautiful fifteen-year-old chick with a voice like a lark.

There is nothing wrong with the book. The book is perfect. It’s hilarious and irreverent and unpredictable and unpretentious. It’s about packing up your Horse Badorties satchel, getting on the subway, and seeing where the Hell the day takes you. It’s about playing bizarre musical instruments with people on the street and making thousands of copies of rare sheet music. It’s about freedom and love and hope and nirvana.

Sometimes, it’s also about loneliness.

So what the Hell is Dorky Day? Once a month, Horse Badorties spends an entire day repeating the word “dorky” over and over. Out loud. This day is called “Dorky Day.”

Constant repetition of the word ‘dorky’ cleans out my consciousness, man, gets rid of all the rubble and cobwebs piled up there….
https://dorkydorkydorky.wordpress.com/
fan_man

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

(Note: There have been times in my life when I thought of myself as The Fan Man — the reincarnation of old Horse Badorties himself. At other times, I believed Horse Badorties emigrated to California where he became our beloved Maurice Trad. Actually, Horse Badorties was really Keith Lampe.)

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

July 15: July 15th is National “Be a Dork Day.” Dork is also a popular male Armenian name. So, you have a choice on July 15 — you can be a dork or Dork himself.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“My experience and study of the destruction of civilizations and of the collapse of great empires has convinced me that empires and civilizations do not collapse because of deficiencies on the military or the political levels. The Roman army never met an army that was better than it was. But the Roman army could not be sustained when all these things had collapsed and no one cared. No one wanted to serve, no one wanted to pay taxes, no one cared.”
Carroll Quigley

I find this quote frightening. It seems to me to aptly apply to the United States today. We are creating an entitled aristocracy before our very eyes and few if any care.

B. Xander’s Perceptions:

“A Can a Week — That’s All We Ask”
Remember that ad campaign from a few years ago, begging consumers to buy a can of almonds a week? With California beginning its 4th year of drought conditions, I’d thought I’d share a factoid from the March 27th “Real Time with Bill Maher” show: It takes 10 gallons of water to produce one almond.
Not one can — ONE ALMOND.
Maybe that’s worth a good, hearty “Up yours, assholes!” Bronx cheer; I don’t know that to be true. Here’s what I DO know to be true about almonds:
In 1973, I spent a week in Delano, CA, with Stacey Carpenter, my girlfriend from the oceanography program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography from the year before. I went up for her high school graduation and had a great deal of fun. One afternoon was spent with her father, who at the time was virtually blind and as a result, drove verrrry slowly (thankfully, he later underwent successful surgery).
Because her parents were extremely conservative, I was cautioned by Stacey — no, ORDERED — not to bring up two people or issues related to them: President Nixon and (of course!) Cesar Chavez. I promised not to bring up the subjects. That, by my reasoning, did not prevent discussing either man if her FATHER brought up the issues.
Well, Chavez’s first big rally for the United Farm Workers Union was in Delano in 1965, which kicked off the first boycott of grapes. Delano was ass-deep in vineyards back then, so I KNEW the subject was going to come up.
We drove past the facility and tower for the Voice of America, a propaganda broadcast sent all over the world from there. So quite naturally, the conversation soon drifted to Tricky Dick, and Mr. Carpenter ASKED how I felt about Nixon. At that time, the Senate Watergate Committee was about to begin their inquiry into Watergate. I told Mr. Carpenter that it was unfortunate that Nixon went to such great lengths in order to win re-election against perhaps the least likely to win candidate in American history, Sen. George McGovern.
Mr. Carpenter felt that Nixon was undermined by those working under him and that Nixon was basically “a decent human being.” Without going there, I did state that it was pretty obvious that Nixon set up the entire thing, and that he knew his staffers well. I then said, “Well, Mr. Carpenter, you’re the head of the largest insurance company in the San Joaquin Valley. You probably know your subordinates well. If they were engaged in illegal methods to sell insurance policies, wouldn’t you know bout it, and wouldn’t you be responsible for their behavior?”
Score one for the kid from National City whose mom marched with Cesar Chavez.
And speaking of Chavez, Mr. Carpenter believed that he was a social revolutionary, and I agreed (without saying why, of course). And he further said that he believed the UFW was going to end up hurting farm workers because the growers were switching from growing grapes to growing other crops.
And THAT gets us to almonds.
We drove past vast acreages planted with skinny young trees — almonds. Mr. Carpenter said that almonds were harvested by mechanical means, requiring only a fraction of the number of people to do so. He even said that many of the almond trees had been stripped of their bark all the way around, resulting in the eventual death of those trees, which I found to be beyond reprehensible. But those groves of trees grew and grew and grew, watered by the Friant-Kern Canal and the State Water Project.
Agriculture in California uses 41% of all of the water consumed in the state. And while California IS the food basket of the nation — and for many crops, like artichokes — the world’s source of produce, the agribusiness farms, some of them consisting of 25,000 to 35,000 acres in individual ownership, waste a tremendous amount of water through poor practices.
Let’s not be mislead, here — the myth of the “small farmer,” the revered “family farm” is just that, a myth. Many of these huge holdings are owned by oil companies, like Union Oil. That nasty little factoid came out in 1978, during the campaign for passage of Prop. 13, which rolled back and froze property taxes to 1%. The largest benefactors of this tax break were, of course, the oil companies who owned the huge agribusiness acreage, and middle-class property owners gladly voted in their own self-interest . . . while giving oil companies enormous tax breaks
Irrigation ditches waste water; canals waste water; but the biggest waste of water is through spray irrigation, through which as much as 90% of the water is lost through evaporation. To counter this loss, the farm operators, of course, run those enormous sprinklers all day long in the 100-degree heat.
So . . . will I buy “a can a week” to help out those poor struggling family farmers with their almond trees? Yeah. Suuuure I will.

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

The tragic truth, however, is that the young as they age become conservatives, ethnic groups as they move into the middle class do so also. The gay community is now free to vote Republican without shame while the black community is prevented from voting even if they are Republican. And worse of all, the seven and eight year olds of our nation seem to have been indoctrinated in many of our schools to hate others as well as to despise science.

Progressives can slap themselves on the back all they want, but as usual they have failed to grasp the grim realities of politics which is that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better equipped and trained while all too often all progressives have is their optimism to sustain them as the barricades are overrun while they wait for popular support that never comes.

D. Today’s Paraprosdokian:

We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

(Paraprosdokians flock to the dark alleys of the mind and dimly lit comedy clubs.)

E. Today’s Poem:

Love is not splendid

Love is not splendid.
At best
it is
a blister on your foot
or an empty room.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
11121736_10153130003553405_9050796201302355480_n

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
slide_412412_5215014_free

 

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 9 Joey 0004 (March 28, 2015)

 

“Almost any version of history can be supported by interpreting the facts in just the right way.”
Belateche, Irving. Einstein’s Secret (p. 5). Laurel Canyon Press.

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

On Monday, the day before departure to DC, I planned to do a lot of things, swimming, preparing for the trip, paring down my to-do list and so on. I did none of them. After dropping HRM off at school and eating breakfast, I returned home, crawled back in bed, read and napped.
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Tuesday on the way to the airport, I realized that I forgot my wallet and so Dick had to drive me back home. After retrieving the wallet and returning to the airport, I flew to Washington DC and again had the opportunity to witness the depth to which the airline industry has fallen.

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN WASHINGTON DC:

1. Help Wanted

My daughter is doing some work on the international potential for using restored wetlands to remove drug (antibiotic) pollutants from sewage wastewater. There has been research done on wetlands restored using processed urban wastewater in Sweden and at the Prado Wetlands in Orange County that show those wetlands are effective in removing antibiotic pollutants from the environment. The antibiotic pollutants may contribute to the proliferation of drug-resistant micro-organisms. This is important internationally because, as people migrate to urban areas, properly designed urban sewage systems may significantly aid in reducing the harm to human health of waste from pharmaceuticals and synthetic compounds. This may also help in reducing the serious threat of antibiotic resistance.

Please let me know if you know anything about restored wetlands coupled with sewage treatment and examples of such. Also I would like information on any water quality studies associated with those wetlands.

2. First things first:

After arriving in DC, my daughter presented me with a US State Department jacket to keep me warm. The jacket comes complete with the department logo and secret pockets in which to hide clandestine diplomatic messages.
IMG_20150325_140757_255
Pookie in his new official US State Department jacket. (Note: The hat and the scarf are not regulation, but should be.)
3. Days one through four.

On the first day, we toured the old town of Alexandria where I bought my daughter a present for her soon to be 40th birthday. Later we took a class in Qi Gong together. After the lesson, I felt I had just taken a short trip back into the counter-culture of the 1970s.
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The Birthday Present

The following day we planned to explore Capitol Mall but it rained. So instead, we went to look at a house my daughter may buy. In the afternoon, the weather cleared up. But, reminded of my perfidy a decade ago, I was rendered psychologically incapable of leaving the apartment.

On Friday, we traveled to the Antietam Civil War Battlefield site, where it was again proven that, unlike any other war, the American Civil War history was written by the losers.

Lee placed his forces and the reprehensible slavery defending Southern cause in jeopardy and was saved from total defeat only by the timely arrival of A.P. Hill’s division after a remarkable eight-hour 17 mile forced march from Harpers Ferry. Nevertheless, the beaten secessionist army avoided annihilation and successfully fled back to their Virginia refuge due to the overcautious behavior of the American commanding General.
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Pookie by Bloody Lane at the Antietam Battlefield Site.

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Jessica in Front of Burnside Bridge

Later we had a pleasant visit with the mother of Jessica’s friend at their farm in the Appalachian Mountains. Her friend’s father is a leading researcher in HIV medicine. The barn on the property was constructed by the local Amish in an old-style barn raising a few years back after their original barn burned down.
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Pookie by the Amish Barn

On Saturday we had planned a trip to Baltimore but, because of the rain that forced us to cancel our trip to Capitol Mall on Thursday, we decided to go there instead. It was cold, very cold. We first visited the Smithsonian Native American Museum and had lunch there. The cafeteria at the Native American Museum is one of my favorite restaurants.
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Pookie at the Native-American Museum Eating a Southwest Native-American Buffalo Taco and a Northwest Native American Dessert of Some Sort along with a 21st Century American Lemonade.

We then went to visit the Library of Congress which, surprisingly, I had never visited before. I enjoyed it a lot, especially the Jefferson Library and the First Contact display.
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Pookie at the Library of Congress Standing in Front of a Mosaic of Minerva the Goddess of Wisdom and Knowledge.

It was too cold to continue walking around downtown Washington, so we went back home and watched television.

B. BOOK REPORT:

The 100-year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson is a novel about a 100-year-old man in Sweden who on his 100th birthday slipped out of the window at his nursing home and disappeared. After a series of adventures he marries a young 84-year-old Balinese woman and settles down in a hotel in Bali owned by his wife, He is joined there by the friends he made during his adventures, including:
A man who went to college for 30 years until his inheritance ran out and he opened a hot dog stand.
The aging collegian’s girlfriend, a foul-mouthed woman, who stole an elephant from the Stockholm Zoo and has an Alsatian dog.
The elephant named Sonya and the Alsatian.
A wannabe master criminal whose attempt to organize a criminal gang in the Swedish prisons was upset due to humiliation caused by the release to the other convicts his mother’s letter urging the warden to make sure her son ate well and went to bed early.
The master criminal’s 82-year-old mother.
The 30-year student’s brother who hated his brother for using up all their inheritance money on his education and who dealt in watermelons adulterated with extra sugar and water in order to make them taste better and more profitable.
A hermit and small time thief who liked to fish.
The Chief of Investigations for the Swedish police who pursued the 100-year-old man when, after escaping from the nursing home, he had been accused of mass murder.

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

“Compulsion to Post: A degenerative disorder, essentially a subset of narcissism/IQ-impairment, characterized by a self-perpetuating delusion that fame will be achieved by repetitive revelation of antisocial conduct. The mirror to this is commenting upon, “analyzing,” or publicly denouncing such conduct in the belief that one’s opinion is eagerly sought by the same non-existent “audience.” Distinguish from Folie à Deux as the delusional mindset is antithetical to actual closeness to others.”
Vachss

An apt definition of my compulsion to continue writing T&T. I apologize to all for submitting you to my long-standing illness.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“History shows us that we often erroneously assume that by dealing with the immediate causes of deleterious consequences of individual or collective actions we can resolve them. Often the more effective solutions lie in addressing the social or institutional arrangement that encourage these undesirable consequences even where they do not appear to be directly related.”
Carroll Quigley

Alas, unfortunately, history also shows us that the politics of interest groups often make directly addressing those social or institutional arrangements impossible. So, dealing with the immediate causes of deleterious consequences or collective actions are the only feasible option.

Tragically, the central point of Quigley’s works informs us that when we reach that point, the institution, society or civilization is near collapse.

B. Xander’s Perceptions:

Pete Xander, on a post in Facebook reporting that Pope Francis accuses Fundamentalists as being no better than ISIS.

“Bang! Frankie bitch-slaps more fundie assholes! Man. If there was a church nearby with a priest who actually is in lockstep with Pope Francis, I might actually go there.

Not that his wildly progressive attitudes that reflect virtually all of my opinions and beliefs could overcome my absolute rejection of transubstantiation, the existence of an all-knowing God Who watches everything and everybody all of the time but still allowed the Crusades, Hitler, and bloody war after bloody war, and an entity who hasn’t shown up here for over two millennia (funny — spell-check rejects “millennia” and okays “millenniums,” even though “millennia” is correct, and “millenniums” reflects our fucking ignorance of anything knowledgeable or of correct English. Amazing).

The Jews might have been a “stiff-necked people” (and maybe still are) necessitating the presence of God inside the tabernacle inside the Holy of Holies — well, a tent and a curtained off space). But if He knows that I forgot to brush my teeth on one occasion 7 years ago but allows the slaughter of 500,000 Rwandans, well, as the Greeks said about their gods all of the time, “Fuck you.”

I cannot and will not believe in a vengeful, petty, and short-tempered God. Rather, I have my own interpretation of “God” that was agreed with by a former Pastor and great personal friend in Lake Arrowhead, CA, Dave Farmer, who met an untimely death in 2003 at a far too young age .

Seems to me that “God” could have helped out that man instead of answering the prayers of ministers and priests who molest the children of parishioners or congregations. Who needs that kind of God?”

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“I think it was Darwin who pointed out that one’s chances of surviving to breed are greatly diminished by disparaging the size of someone’s junk when that other person is carrying a machete.”

D. Today’s Paraprosdokian:

“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. “

(Note: There has never been an Armenian accountant named Dork Paraprosdokian as there never been a Sicilian-American mother called Ma Fanculo.)

E. Today’s Poem:

Snow White’s Acne

At first, she was sure it was just a bit of dried strawberry juice,
or a fleck of her mother’s red nail polish that had flaked off
when she’d patted her daughter to sleep the night before.

But as she scrubbed, Snow felt a bump, something festering
under the surface, like a tapeworm curled up and living
in her left cheek.

Doc the Dwarf was no dermatologist
and besides Snow doesn’t get to meet him in this version
because the mint leaves the tall doctor puts over her face
only make matters worse.
Snow and the Queen hope
against hope for chicken pox, measles, something
that would be gone quickly and not plague Snow’s whole adolescence.

If only freckles were red, she cried, if only
concealer really worked.
Soon came the pus, the yellow dots,
multiplying like pins in a pincushion.
Soon came
the greasy hair.
The Queen gave her daughter a razor
for her legs and a stick of underarm deodorant.

Snow doodled through her teenage years—”Snow + ?” in Magic Markered hearts all over her notebooks.
She was an average
student, a daydreamer who might have been a scholar
if she’d only applied herself.
She liked sappy music
and romance novels.
She liked pies and cake
instead of fruit.

The Queen remained the fairest in the land.

It was hard on Snow, having such a glamorous mom.

She rebelled by wearing torn shawls and baggy gowns.

Her mother would sometimes say, “Snow darling,
why don’t you pull back your hair? Show those pretty eyes?”
or “Come on, I’ll take you shopping. ”

Snow preferred
staying in her safe room, looking out of her window
at the deer leaping across the lawn.
Or she’d practice her dance moves with invisible princes.
And the Queen,
busy being Queen, didn’t like to push it.
Denise Duhamel

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“There is nothing one man will not do to another.”
Carolyn Forche. Poem, The Visitor.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
CalWater2

Should Palm Springs be abolished?
]

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Pookie’s Painting of Ruth’s Photograph of Him Walking along the Beach at Point Reyes.

 

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