“Time narrows as it passes.”
Saying on a Tarot card my brother Jim gave to Peter Grenell many years ago.
To my friend Eric, the old sailor, deep-sea diver, and pirate — Keep on Truckin.
To my beloved sister, Maryann, best wishes for a successful “Startup Mendocino” on August 25 in Ukiah.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
Today I went swimming for the first time since last October. I walked to the Nepenthe pool here in the Enchanted Forest and sat on one of the reclining beach chairs in the shade of some redwood trees until I felt ready to swim. It was not much of a swim. I couldn’t complete even one lap, but I paddled around a bit and did some walking back and forth across the shallower end of the pool. It’s a start.
That evening after we went to bed, I remembered that I had not driven the car from the overnight no-parking tow-away zone in front of our house to where I normally park it during the night. I jumped out of bed, threw on Bill’s red velvet robe and ran out the door to attend to the problem. Now Bill was a big man, much bigger than I am, five or six inches taller and about 100 pounds heavier so his red velvet robe hung down to the tips of my crocs and draped loosely around my body. It appeared more like a paint tarp thrown loosely over an armchair than a robe. I looked like a disheveled dissolute medieval Cardinal newly returned from the grave running around at night searching for heretics to burn at the stake. I got into the car and drove it to the proper parking area and then walked back home through the paths and streets of the Enchanted Forest like a crimson specter carrying a Shillelagh. I suspect I will be brought before the HOC to explain why I had chosen to haunt the neighborhood.
As Frank tells us, “Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few.” The last precious few days have not only dwindled down to smokey memory but most of those memories have disappeared.
I swam again a few days later — more vigorously this time. That evening, we watched Anatomy of a Murder with Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remmick, George C. Scott, and Ben Gazzara. The Gazzara family (Ben’s relatives) owned the shop, a grocery store, in Canicatti, Sicily next door to my family’s “Tabacci.” How is that for a remote and inconsequential factoid? (Another inconsequential factoid is that the presence of Zs in the last name of southern Italians signifies that they are descended from the Arab and Moorish settlers during their more than 300 years (Ninth to the Eleventh Centuries) occupation of the Island and the southern mainland. OK one more: Jews were the only ones to migrate to Sicily instead of invading it. In 1492, the same year that Columbus arrived in the Americas beginning the conquest, genocide (ethnic cleansing), and repopulation of those two continents, the Spanish Kingdom of Aragon, recent conquerors of Sicily and sponsors of Columbus’ expedition, expelled those Jews, many of whom resettled in those parts Germany beyond the reach of the Christian crusaders and thus became a major component of the stateless Jewish nation of the Ashkenazim.)
This morning, I took a shower. I know that’s nothing momentous, but while my PICC line was in, I could neither shower nor swim. I thought to myself as I stood there for a long, long time with the water crashing down on me, how wonderful it was to shower again after eight months of sponge baths. That, in turn, reminded me of when I was a kid, in the second grade. We lived in a storefront with a soaped-up window. We had only a toilet and cold water, so every evening my mom would heat up water in a kettle on the stove and pour it into a galvanized tub in which she bathed my brother and I. Yes, it has been a long time from May to September.
Later, Naida and I discussed something amusing and interesting that I wanted to write about here but I forgot what it was. Only the sense that it was amusing and interesting remains. That’s good enough for me.
On Thursday night, we went to the B-street Theater housing Sacramento’s premier live theater group. We saw The Last Match, a one-act play about a tennis match at the US Open between the aging US champion on the verge of retirement and the young upstart Russian challenger, and their wives. It was a well-staged fascinating comedy-drama. The only problem with the show was that even with my hearing-aid turned up, I could only make out about a quarter of the words spoken by the actors. I blamed it on the failure of modern acting schools to focus on projection and diction and not on any deficiency in me or my auditory equipment.
The next day I planned to spend the morning swimming. Instead, I occupied the entire day extending well into the evening watching old Red Skelton movies. I know, I should be shot and put out of my misery. Who watches Red Skelton movies today? Whoever watched Red Skelton movies? I didn’t when I was a kid —not even Saturday mornings at the Tuckahoe Itch where for 25 cents we watched a double feature, a bunch of cartoons and Movietone News of the Week. OK, I admit, I enjoyed watching them this week, especially “The Whisperer” series — truly an adventure in silliness.)
hayden… teenage forgetting — grandparents v parents — Bella bru — sunglasses — lake — zumba pool — condo — rose garden — bookstore — Hamilton quote — epstein
I wrote the above as a mnemonic device so I could come back after a few days and hopefully recall what happened. It is now a few days later. Let us see how well it worked.
Hayden — I recall leaving home at 8AM and driving into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and Jake in order to drive to a large skatepark camp near Tahoe. I stopped in the Bela Bru parking lot and called H because I suspected he would have changed his mind and forgotten to call and tell me.
Teenage forgetting — He answered the phone and said they changed their mind and had forgotten to call and tell me.
Grandparents v parents — I have no idea why I added this except perhaps grandparents and the very old (alter cocker?) tend to be more forgiving of the foibles of the young than parents because, I guess, but for a vague sense of one more disappointment among many, they have little enough to do anyway so there was usually nothing else they had to give up.
Bella Bru — so, having little else to do, I entered Bella Bru ordered my favorite breakfast of Cafe Latte and a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with Cream cheese.
Sunglasses — for the rest of the day, I believed I had lost my favorite sunglasses. I tore the car apart and searched the house for them. That evening, as I sat in the recliner, I looked down and found the glasses had been hanging from one of my shirt buttons all day.
Lake — After breakfast, I went for a walk around the lakes at Town Center.
Zumba pool — I walked past the morning Zumba dancing class exercising in the health club pool.
Condo — and past the construction of the new and controversial 200 unit condominium project. It was not the best planned and designed concept. I would have preferred a walking street through the site with additional commercial on the ground floor. In any event, I support adding residential units to large shopping centers like Town Center so it had my silent approval for however much it is worth.
Rose Garden — After my walk around the lakes, I sat there and enjoyed myself contemplating something I no longer remember.
Book store — After meditating or whatever in the rose garden I walked to the bookstore, A Clean Well Lighted Place For Books. I seem to recall there were a few books that interested me. I no longer remember the titles of any of them.
Hamilton quote — I have no idea what this relates to or to what quote I was referring to unless it was this one I had read a few days ago:
Epstein — Given the current news surrounding everything about this man, this could refer to almost anything.
A strange and mysterious thing came flying over the back fence today — a small box. In that box nestled a coffee cup filled with candy. It is sitting on a cabinet next to where I am typing this. I wonder about it. Perhaps it is a magic cup. Maybe if I rub it three times, a coffee genie will pop out and offer me three wishes. This requires some deep thought.
On Monday, I drove again into the Golden Hills. It was HRM’s first day of high school. I stopped again at Bella Bru, this time for lunch. As I was ordering, to my surprise N, Hayden’s mom, called to me. She was there with Jake’s mom. I joined them and we spent most of the lunch discussing the problems of teenagers. I then picked up H and Jake at the skatepark. They were very excited and happy about their first day of high school. I dropped them off at D’s house and returned to the EF.
A few more days have passed by. I assume I must have done something of at least moderate interest. Yesterday, I felt sick and spent most of the day in bed. Today, I felt better. That interests me even if it does no one else.
Well, today is Wednesday. Last night Naida could not find her wallet. We tried to remember when she used her credit card last. One of the places we considered she may have left it was at the Theater. In our attempts to recall the day we attended the play, I was convinced it was Saturday. She was not sure and thought we went there on Friday. Today at the theater we discovered it was Thursday (as I had written above but had not checked). My memory failures are going beyond simply humorous stories about the foibles of aging.
How about that, It is Friday evening already. It is Irene Dunne day on TCM.
We attended the Saturday Morning Coffee. I am beginning to enjoy talking to the people there rather than just sitting in the corner observing them and writing about it here. Perhaps I am growing up. Winnie, who is on immunotherapy, seems to be doing well. She was distraught when she first was diagnosed with brain cancer. Now that it seems to have been halted, at least for a while, she tries hard to enjoy every day as much as possible. Good for her. I also had a lengthy conversation with another woman, She worked in the legislative bill room while the Coastal Act was going through the process. Later, while working for a workman’s comp. company, she retained one of the attorneys from my firm for some legal work. This is another example of the “small world” aspect of coincidence. She also told me that one of Senator Henry Mello’s sons often attends the coffee but was not there today.
After that, I left again for the Golden Hills and picked up HRM, Jake, and Kaleb and drove to Placerville where we had lunch before I dropped them off at “Joe’s Skate Park.” While they were skating the cement hills of the park, I nosed around through some of Placerville’s shops. Later on the way back to EDH, the chattered on about their excitement over starting high school. I tried to leave them with Pookie’s Ten Cent Words of Wisdom for Adolescents by explaining that their high school years would be among the most memorable of their lives, but they should understand that because this is the time in one’s life most open to deep feelings and emotions inevitably they would find some things as bad as they had ever experienced before but they needed to know and remember that they will pass. Pretty mundane if you ask me.
The next day, was Ice Cream by the Pool Day where many of those who attend the Saturday Morning Coffee sat around the pool, ate ice cream and talked. Naida and I had an enjoyable conversation with Winnie about life and loves past. On the way back to the house we ran into the new neighbor who had worked for Lehman Brothers and now sells memberships in some sort of a travel club. He told us the man who had moved into the other side of us (The one who tried to chat up Naida) used to be an immigration lawyer in the Bronx. Small world indeed.
On Monday, I picked up HRM and Jake after school and took them to lunch. Alas, they wanted to go to Chick’a’fil which I am trying to boycott because of their support of Trump and their stance on LGBT. I decided to remain silent about political issues and went with them.
This morning, Naida and I woke-up and began chatting to each other about our dreams. We had both dreamt about summing up our lives, our successes, and failures. She on the difficulties, successes, and failures of being a woman trying to make her way in the world and me about the places I have been and the things that I have seen and the places and things I would never see and experience.
So, now it is time to travel again to the Big Endive by the Bay for my immunotherapy infusion.
Take care of yourselves.
In an effort to keep my mind from obsessing on the state of the world which I am convinced is rapidly approaching the end of times and away from trashy novels and old movies, I sometimes like to dwell for a bit on why things are like they are. No, not why did Trump get elected or why is the environment in a terminal tailspin, but the bigger picture like, is there a general rule explaining the why? Sort of like a thought experiment. Not because I expect to come up with any general principles of use to anyone, but only to amuse myself and then forget.
Let’s take agar in a Petri Dish. Place something in it like cells, bacteria or whatever and if properly prepared and some outside source of energy, such as light, is added, they grow and grow until either an external event occurs to halt the growth or they consume the agar and die. Life on earth is a bit like life in a Petri Dish, just add some light and the life grows until it consumes all that it feeds on and dies. But life on earth has lasted for billions of years and hasn’t consumed the resources that sustained it. Well, perhaps once or twice it consumed one or more of the resources necessary for its survival and it died in one or more of the five or six mass extinctions earth experienced. So what?
In Harvard, a young physicist/mathematician postulated that life is a mathematical formula and can (will) occur always and everywhere. It is probably true for the organic compounds necessary for life as we conceive it, but others who have studied this seem to believe that to go from organic compounds to bacteria or to eukaryotes requires a very unique environment such as certain deep ocean thermal vents with a complex composition. This is all well and good, but we need some generalization as to “what is life” to help make things clearer.
Schrodinger back in 1944 postulated that life is something small in size and permanent in time (crystals he believed at the time). Watson and Crick proved this up except instead of a crystal they discovered it was a complex molecule (DNA). In order to maintain that life does not violate the second law of thermodynamics, Schrodinger seems to argue that the biosphere is not an isolated system because the cost of this order is the release of heat into the environment and the capture of free energy mostly from the sun.
This I found interesting and helpful. When coupled with the fact that many believe the biosphere extends as a band from somewhere below the surface of the lithosphere (ground) up until it dissipates somewhere near the stratosphere, it helps me to explore a possible concept on which I believed I could replace my uninformed uncertainty with dogmatic bias.
(to be continued if I feel up to it)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
The following continues the reproduction of the entries in my diary from 1963 that I had begun in the previous T&T post. It also includes my current comments and clarifications on the entries.
January 9, 1963
Today started well. I saw some of the prettiest women on the subway this morning. Fatigue, however, from lack of sleep dulled my whole afternoon. I even cut class so that I could come home early and rest.
I am falling behind in my studies. I do not think I will finish Introduction to Law by exam time.
(All this worry about the exams turned out to be just my usual flight into hysteria. In fact, when the exam results came out, I placed second in the class. This convinced me law school was a snap, so I began cutting class and ignoring my studies. I even arrived drunk to my spring partnership exam. As a result after the spring exams, I almost flunked out. From then on I tried to get back on top but, at best, my marks were undistinguished. I went on to be a very mediocre attorney, but a better than average advocate.)
January 10, 1963
I received a letter from Tad. He really is in the Army. All along, I thought he was pulling one of his frauds again. His vocabulary has gone Army.
He wrote about meeting Suzi, Kevin’s old girlfriend, in Washington on New Year’s. She told him that I was “harmless.” Maybe I am. Nevertheless, no man should take such a blow to his devoutly cultivated reputation lying down. I need to get of a few defamations about her and her girlfriends. I need to write back to Tad soon.
On a brighter note, I got nine more girls to sign up for the trip to Bermuda.
My studies are still going poorly and I am concerned.
My parents had another argument tonight. They tried to use me as a mediator. I refused hoping to avoid trouble. No such luck, I ended up in trouble anyway for refusing.
(Tad was one of those Georgetown boys (like Justice Kavanaugh), a trouble maker and carouser with a strange, to me at least, sense of morality (more a doctrinaire commitment to ritual than a sophisticated understanding of ethics). He was also a close friend. He was one of a group of students I hung with including Pat Buchanan and the entire Buchanan clan as well as David Hearne, one of the Irish ambassador’s sons who a decade later made headlines by running over an elderly pedestrian with his car and claiming diplomatic immunity to avoid liability. The oldest of the ambassador’s sons, Maury, was a compulsive gambler. Bob, my roommate at the time (and later manager of Prince, The Lovin Spoonful, and Earth, Wind, and Fire among others) and I used to make some extra change indulging Maury’s passion by fleecing him at a crooked card game in our rooms. He knew it was crooked but didn’t seem to mind. Later, Maury died by shooting himself while practicing quickdraws with a loaded pistol from a shoulder holster.
We all spent a lot of time together drinking, fighting, general carousing, and very little studying and going to class. We ran Pat for his first office, president of the off-campus student government. We cheated and he won (that’s a long story). I had always believed Pat, who I considered both violent and nuts, would end up in the electric chair. Imagine my surprise when a decade or so later, I was sitting in the American Embassy in Rome on election night and hearing that he was Nixon’s speechwriter (another Zelig moment). Anyway, back to Tad, I persuaded a young woman (an heiress from New Jersey) to give Tad another chance after she told him she never wanted to see him again because he had done something unconscionable which he often was wont to do. They eventually married. She regretted it bitterly until about 20 years later when she got it together enough to throw him out. Sometime later, I ran into her mom (a woman who had born 12 children and always claimed that bearing 12 kids had made her certifiably insane) somewhere in New Jersey. She blamed me for ruining her daughter’s life.
Place it all somewhere in Italy in the Fifteenth Century, add a few poisoning and a sword fight or two, and it would all be quite Shakespearean, don’t you think?)
January 11, 1963.
I met with the study group immediately after class today.
I wrote a return letter to Tad containing a defense to Suzi’s slander, and a few other absurdities.
The study session pissed me off today. I thought I knew enough but I often was bewildered, muddled, and wrong. I hope this does not happen during the exams.
I must get in touch with Pat and push him to promote the trip to Puerto Rico at Hunter College.
Dammit, I must make an extra effort at my studies.
Today, I learned that “Twentieth Century” is doing a program on “Winnie” Churchill (My sort of friend from College) as a “typical” Rhodes Scholar. He is anything but typical — ego-centric yes. Nevertheless, I am glad to learn that at least one of my classmates is making it.
(Winnie had been my classmate and not so friendly competitor at Fordham. I have written about him before (https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/category/winnie-and-i/). He was a scion of the American side of the famous English family.
While I was attending law school, I also had a business chartering airplanes and flying college students to Bermuda and Puerto Rico for Spring Break. A few years before I had broken the IATA rule that no airplane could be chartered except by an organization whose members traveling on the proposed flight had been members for over six months prior to the retention of the charter. I broke it by simply attesting that the members had been such for six months. I then walked out of the airline office and backdated their membership cards when I sold them their tickets. This loophole in the rule eventually permitted the establishment of charter airline services with often disastrous results. In 1963, I had chartered four airplanes, two for Bermuda and two for Puerto Rico. The travel agency I was working with took the profit on the lodging and me on whatever I could make on the sale of tickets on the planes.)
January 12, 1963.
I met with the study group again today. It was a bore. I wonder if any of the others in the group will make it. T. Russo, A. Shifler, O. Shimshidian, G. Cantarella, N. Guarneri, J. Little, and M. Ryan. It will be interesting to watch them develop.
I got into a fight today with one of the Burns Guards.
(Tony flunked out of law school. Al graduated. I do not know what happened to him. Ora became a highly respected admiralty attorney in NY. Gino graduated. I do not know what happened to him either. Nunzio who looked a lot like Arnold Stang, graduated and became a small-town lawyer and lived in Bronxville, I think. John graduated, practiced law in JAG, and spent a lot of time acting in summer stock. Mike, I have no idea what happened to him.
I do not recall the fight with the Burns Guard or whether it was a fistfight or just an argument. Could have been either.)
January 13, 1963.
I was not going to write anything here today for lack of anything interesting to write about, but, this evening, I just finished an argument with both my mother and my father.
It all began with an argument with my mother that started when she asked me to continue teaching her how to drive. I tried to explain to her that because we are family when one of us takes up the role of teacher to another, tensions resulting in arguments often result as they had in my previous attempts to teach her how to drive. My efforts to explain this failure. I tripped over my words and became more and more frustrated.
Mom responded by claiming “no one in this family was willing to sacrifice for her.” With that dad jumped in stating that he had paid fifty dollars for her driving lessons.
I then came in on mom’s side and, of course, dad and I then became combatants. He suggested that I leave. I responded, “perhaps we both should.” I obviously botched the whole argument so I stormed off to my room. Mom and dad then went at it again at the top of their lungs. Dad threatened to leave home.
(As you can guess by now my parents argued a lot. Years later after they retired, and I brought them to California from the East Coast to live in my house. My father achieved a bit of local renown for, after some of their more passionate arguments, running out onto San Francisco’s Douglass Street, the street in front of the house, and with arms raised to the heavens screaming, “Why me God? Why Me?”)
January 14, 1963
Today I listened to the President’s State of the Union Address. I don’t think there has been someone who could speak lime him since Churchill. At a time as dangerous and confused by crises, he speaks with the power and conviction of the greatest orators of the past.
I wonder if the last phrase of the speech could be stricken by the Supreme Court. He said, “… with the help of almighty God we shall prevail.”
I think he is the right man at the right time. He seems to have begun to turn back the advance of communist totalitarianism and may be leading the US to victory in the Cold War.(As Churchill and Roosevelt, Lincoln, Wilson, and Washington led us in prior wars against totalitarianism.)
As far as the material content of the message is concerned, it appears to be only a general summary of the Domestic and International situation. The only new point relates to the Tax-Cuts that appear, after listening to the commentators, to not be the ones that had been expected, but Tax-cuts that were more acceptable to the public.
(The President referred to of course is JFK. A few years before, I worked parking cars at his marriage to Jackie. RFK left the ceremonies to personally thank each one of us for helping out. I always looked at RFK as someone special after that.)
(More in a few weeks)
A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
In the dark alleyways of history, a woman alone is always prey.
Dress a woman in man’s clothing and she can safely negotiate those dank streets. A man in a dress will be shocked at his own vulnerability.
A woman’s option is to either submit or band together with other women to rule over men. This means, for their own protection, women must control at least one of a society’s social mores, economic power or political leadership.
B. Today’s Poem:
Given the events of the recent weeks in the United States, the massacres of innocents by White Nationalists, the abandonment of the fight against climate change, shredding of protections against nuclear holocaust and the looting of the national treasury, this poem by William Butler Yeats captures the dread we in America feel at this time as well as it did one hundred years ago. Then the slouching beast crept towards Berlin. Today its claws grip the heart of our nation while the worst in our citizens march into our cities and towns, our schools and shops our churches, synagogues, and mosques full of passionate intensity and carrying assault weapons.
The Second Coming
BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born
William Butler Yeats is widely considered to be one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. He belonged to the Protestant, Anglo-Irish minority that had controlled the economic, political, social, and cultural life of Ireland since at least the end of the 17th century. Most members of this minority considered themselves English people who happened to have been born in Ireland, but Yeats was staunch in affirming his Irish nationality. Although he lived in London for 14 years of his childhood (and kept a permanent home there during the first half of his adult life), Yeats maintained his cultural roots, featuring Irish legends and heroes in many of his poems and plays. He was equally firm in adhering to his self-image as an artist. This conviction led many to accuse him of elitism, but it also unquestionably contributed to his greatness. As fellow poet W.H. Auden noted in a 1948 Kenyon Review essay entitled “Yeats as an Example,” Yeats accepted the modern necessity of having to make a lonely and deliberate “choice of the principles and presuppositions in terms of which [made] sense of his experience.” Auden assigned Yeats the high praise of having written “some of the most beautiful poetry” of modern times.
C. Apologies, Regrets, and Humiliations:
1. Naida says she never told the tale of the giraffes and the acacia trees that appeared in the preview T&T post. She said it was me who told the story after reading one of my books about trees that talk to one another. Although, I apologize if in fact, it was me that made up the story. Nevertheless, I refuse to change it as written.
2. Terry, I think, also wrote that I had made a mistake about something, but I no longer remember what. So, I apologize both for the mistake and my failure to remember what it was about.
3. Over the last month or so, I have not responded to a number of e-mails from readers of T&T. I am not sure why I failed to do so. To those whose emails I have not responded I apologize and promise I will try to do better in the future.
“It was the best of crimes, it was the worst of crimes; it was born of love, it was spawned by greed; it was completely unplanned, it was coldly premeditated; it was an open-and-shut case, it was a locked-room mystery; it was the act of a guileless girl, it was the work of a scheming scoundrel; it was the end of an era, it was the start of an era; a man with the face of a laughing boy reigned in Washington, a man with the features of a lugubrious hound ruled in Westminster; an ex-Marine got a job at a Dallas book repository, an ex-Minister of War lost a job in politics; a group known as the Beatles made their first million, a group known as the Great Train Robbers made their first two million; it was the time when those who had fought to save the world began to surrender it to those they had fought to save it for; Dixon of Dock Green was giving way to Z-Cars, Bond to Smiley, the Monsignors to the Maharishis, Matt Dillon to Bob Dylan, l.s.d. to LSD, as the sunset glow of the old Golden Age imploded into the psychedelic dawn of the new Age of Glitz. It was the Year of Our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-three, and it is altogether fitting that this crime of which we speak should have been committed in one of Yorkshire’s great country houses, Mickledore Hall, and that its dénouement should have taken place in that most traditional of settings, the Old Library …”
Hill, Reginald. Recalled to Life . MysteriousPress.com/Open Road.
The Old Sailor, Deep-sea Diver, World Traveler, Pirate, Treasure Hunter, and Raconteur Getting Acupuncture.