TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:
Off to Mendocino. During the drive from Sacramento to San Francisco to pick up my grand-daughter Amanda and her mom Hiromi, I tuned into the local university classical music station to listen to a 1977 NY Metropolitan Opera performance of that old Verdi warhorse, La Forza del Destino, sung by the aging Leontyne Price and the young Placido Domingo. A few days before, I was listening to the same station while driving Hayden to school in the morning. As we approached the school, he insisted I turn off the music, which I did assuming he found my choice of music distasteful. During the stations introduction before the opera presentation, I asked him if he wanted me to change the station or turn off the radio since he did not enjoy the same type of music as I. “Oh, no,” he said. “It’s not that at all. I was afraid that some of the bullies at school would hear the music when I opened the car door and make fun of me for listening to old people’s music.” Then for the next hour he entertained me by singing along with the performers every part of the opera, especially mimicking Ms Price’s lirico spinto soprano – sometimes note for note including vibrato.
We picked up Hiromi and Amanda and drove to Mendocino. During the next three hours or so, the soothing sounds of Verdi were replaced by the incessant screams of eight year olds.
The following morning after searching for and finding a letterbox in the local Mendocino graveyard we left for Westport and the Pacific Star Winery for a picnic.
Hayden and Remo find the letterbox.
Once there we spend a glorious afternoon at the western edge of the continent drinking wine and picnicking with the beautiful, irrepressible and mysterious (she no doubt is a woman with a past) Sally, the owner of the winery about whom I have written in previous T&T issues.
Sally and Pookie
Later while in the Winery’s shop Sally leaned over to my sister and said, “Watch this. They fall for it every time.” She then turned to me who was trying on hats and said, “You look very attractive in that hat.” I bought the hat.
Me in my new hat posing with Etta and Sundance.
Then we spent a few hours at the north-end of Ten Mile Beach watching the kids run around like crazy.
The next day we whiled away the afternoon at the beach below the Mendocino bluffs at the end of Big River. I sat on a seven-foot diameter redwood trunk that lay on the beach and watched the children play on the driftwood strewn sand where the river met the ocean. Over 40 years ago when I first laid eyes on Mendocino, the beach housed a counterculture encampment. I recalled the sweet smell of marijuana smoke, the sounds of guitars and long-haired girls in tie-die dresses dancing barefoot in the sand. All gone now, replaced by a few homeless campers being rousted by the Park Police.
The next day my sister, Hiromi and Amanda left leaving George, Hayden and I to spend the remainder of the week doing guy things – like enjoying long periods of silence broken now and then by grunts and the periodic passing of wind.
JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:
ENTER THE DRAGON
Sam Spade: “Then the trick from my angle is to make my play strong enough to tie you up, but not make you mad enough to bump me off against your better judgment.”
One would think that by now I would have thought of some snappy answers to these questions but I hadn’t. Said, “I’m a private investigator hired to try to find him.”
More silence and staring. Finally, “Who hired you?”
I decided to skip repeating yesterday’s patter that had gotten me nowhere. Answered, “His girl friend.” I did not mention the Rotund Brothers since it would require too much explanation.
I expected to hear, “Fucking Mavis” in response but instead got more silence and staring as he apparently struggled with the obvious next question. “What have you found out so far?”
“Nothing, except there seems to be a lot of people looking for him.”
Quickly, “Who – besides the girlfriend?”
“Two fat guys I ran into yesterday who beat the shit out of me – which I hope you and your friends won’t do today.”
“We’ll see. They do that?” he motioned with his chin toward the now colorful bruise on mine. “Doesn’t seem like much of a shit kicking.”
“Well it didn’t happen to you.”
“Nor will it ever.” he responded, then ordered “come with me.” He walked to the door in the wall and opened it. Having no discernible options and curious whether we were about to share some bizarre asian peeing ritual in the garage toilet or if the room behind the door served another purpose, I followed.
The room behind the door turned out to contain a tiny office, not a toilet. A small old wooden desk extended from one wall almost to the opposite leaving barely enough room for someone to shimmy past. The walls were covered in peeling paint the color of which seemed to be late septic tank. A three-year old calendar hung on one wall and a number of business cards were taped to another. The only other furniture in the room was a rickety bentwood chair in front of the desk and a 1940’s era wooden swivel chair behind it. In the latter sat the aging asian man who, upon our arrival promptly got up slid around the edge of the desk and in a half bow with eyes cast down to the floor scurried past us and out the door.
My host replaced the old man. As he was sitting down I said, “they usually call me Dragon,” and slid one of my business cards along the top of the desk. He did not pick it up but instead stared at it as though it contained an explosive. He then looked back at me and said, “Do you know Clarence Reilly?”
This surprised me somewhat. Answered, “Somewhat. When I was with Carter and James I handled some matters for him. I’ve been to his house now and then.” I did not tell him those visits usually ended up with us sitting on the floor of his living-room smoking dope while he lectured me of the ethical superiority of eastern religions even though on his day job he had no hesitation fucking over women and orphans to make a buck. He had a Thai wife, Thai nanny and three half-Thai kids. Things Thai were about the only thing we had in common. That and the compulsion to screw over the weak and defenseless in our day jobs. At least I hated chanting and the smell of incense.
“That’s a big firm,” he said. “So you’re a lawyer also. What…”
I finished his question for him. “What made me leave and become an itinerant Shamus?”
His stone-faced expression did not alter in response to my witless attempt at wit. “Yes,” he said.
“I wanted to associate with a better class of people. Like you, whoever you are.”
The slightest of smiles. “My name Mr. Dragon is Martin Vihn. You seem a bit old to start on a new career.”
“Dragon will do. Fifty-four is the new forty-four, soon to be the new thirty-four. In society’s eyes I am getting younger. If I live long enough I’ll become a teenager again.”
No reaction. “Did the men you, uh, met yesterday tell you what they were looking for.”
I hated breeching a client’s confidence, but hell they threatened me with a gun and now I’m sitting opposite someone who was probably a gangster and could do me at least as much harm as the Fat Boys. “No, just Holland. I’m pretty sure they were working for someone else though.”
“Oh,” with interest. “Who?”
“I have no idea. They were talking to someone on the phone who seemed to be giving them orders.”
He stared at me in silence for a very long time, then looked down at his hands clenched together on the desk. Finally he looked up at me and said, “What do you charge for detective work?”
I thought, “Shit not again.” Said, “Three hundred dollars a day. One week minimum. One half up front, plus expenses.” Added, “You should be aware, I have found out next to nothing so far about the whereabouts of Mark Holland.”
“Who said anything about Holland? He’s nobody. I want you to find Clarence Reilly.”
I laughed. I didn’t think he was serious. “Reilly’s a bit of a local big shot. He shouldn’t be that hard to find. Have you tried calling him on his phone or visiting his office or even his house.”
No reaction here either. “In fact we did,” he responded.
Now I thought that he might be serious. Said, “He’s missing?” No response. I took that for a yes. “How long?”
“He’s probably fucking his secretary and will turn up in a few days.”
“The secretary’s at work. Do you want the job or not” he said getting up?
Having in the last two days already been hired by Mavis Corcoran and whomever was directing the Tons of Fun to find Holland Reilly’s partner in whatever it was that they had been up to and failing, I thought another $1000 to fail at finding Reilly himself was a pretty good deal provided I could avoid getting slapped around again. Besides this guy scared me too much to say no to. “Uh, OK. I’ll need some information however.”
Again the stare. I was getting a little annoyed about it.
“What information?” he said finally and began to come around the desk.
“What sort of business were you engaged in?”
It was like pulling teeth, “What were you importing or exporting?”
“Furniture. Joe will tell you all you need to know.” With that he walked out the door. I got up and followed. I thought, “Joe?”
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
B. Testosterone Chronicles or Women with Balls (Eleanor Roosevelt had them):
LIVEBLOGGING WORLD WAR II: MARCH 19, 1943 (From Brad DeLong’s Journal)
WASHINGTON, Thursday—I wonder whether you agree with the statement I made yesterday, that we cannot overcome difficulties unless we recognize them. In talking to some Russians once, I was struck by the fact that they kept insisting that everything in their country was perfect. It seemed to me, at the time, as rather childish and adolescent, but forgiveable in a young country trying a new experiment. In us, a mature democracy, it would seem to me unforgivable to deny the existence of unpleasant facts.
A certain gentleman in Congress seems to have forgotten that groups of sharecroppers attracted the attention of the whole country not so very long ago, because they were living along the highways and their living conditions were as bad as bad could be. This gentleman thinks it odd that a group of people are willing to back a union which will try to improve conditions for these people, and that acknowledges the fact of the conditions under which sharecroppers in the United States of America have had to live in certain parts of our country.
Perhaps the gentleman in question, who mentions only three people on this committee, would like to have it also recorded that there are a few others members of this committee—among them Bishop Edward L. Parsons, Governor Saltonstall of Massachusetts, Mr. Raymond Gram Swing and Mr. William Allen White. Perhaps this gentleman in Congrees [originally: Congress] would like to hear the stories that some of the these sharecroppers tell, not just the poor Negroes, but some of his own white people. I hardly think he would approve of these conditions.
Since they exist, I think we had better set ourselves to correcting them. That is the mature way to approach all undesirable situations. Of course, if he approves of them, then I can well understand that he does not wish to have them mentioned.
Hitler’s propagandists can make far greater use of things that are wrong and which we do not try to correct, than they can when we try to improve conditions. This member of Congress is evidently not reading some of the things which the German propagandists have said about situations which have occurred in this country, at least he makes no mention of them.
(God bless you Mrs. Roosevelt.)
C. Apologies, Regrets, Humiliations and Announcements:
We have been joined today by Reed Holderman one of the more effective members of that little band who actually acted to preserve California’s Coast rather than just talking about it.
“What the [repeated] bad predictions [from economists, politicians, and lobbyists] tell us is that we are, in effect, dealing with priests who demand human sacrifices to appease their angry gods — but who actually have no insight whatsoever into what those gods actually want, and are simply projecting their own preferences on to the alleged mind of the market.”
Paul Krugman: The Market Speaks
Countries by Fertility Rate.
- Coastal hike along the Mendocino coastline,Travel Photo Mondays #9 (travelphotodiscovery.com)