“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.
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.
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.
In the Pool with Pookie
The quote at the beginning of this issue mentions malfunctioning individuals. Isn’t malfunctioning what makes us human?
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.
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….
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.)
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.
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.”
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.
a blister on your foot
or an empty room.