“There ain’t any finer folks living than a Republican that votes the Democratic ticket.”
Happy Indigenous Peoples Day, or if you are of Italian heritage, Columbus Day.
Happy Birthday to me on my 80th Birthday.
Note to all: On October 19 and 20 the Moby-Dick Marathon, a reading of Melville’s masterpiece, will take place at San Francisco’s Maritime Museum (learn more: maritime.org/events/mobydick)
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
Days pass. Discovered Kenneth Fearing, poet, novelist, and founding editor of Partisan Review (see below). He was a good old leftie. Alas, he probably would have become a Trumpite had he lived today instead of drinking himself to death at a relatively young age. Watched the movie made from his book “The Big Clock” starring Ray Milland and Charles Laughton and enjoyed seeing Laughton’s wife, Elsa Lanchester, steal the film away from the headliners as she usually does.
Spent time with HRM. Ate lunch with him at Subway and learned that the Slackers vs Jocks contretemps still simmers — the indomitable conviction of youth in the importance of their every experience — sadly to us decrepits we have forgotten how right they are.
Begun packing for our trip into the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. I suspect there will be more to write about then — discomfort, fatigue, and, at times, beauty and novelty or boredom. That’s what adventures are all about, a lot of discomfort and boredom broken now and then with bits of terror and fear moderated by a dollop of poetic beauty. The photos are nice, however.
For the second time In the last few months, Naida and Boo-boo the Barking Dog have been attacked by another dog leaping from a parked car that they passed during their evening walks. This time, Naida was knocked to the ground. The dog’s owners, after securing their pet, rushed to see if Naida was hurt. She responded to their expressions of apology and concern, “Don’t worry, I am one of those eighty-year-olds whose bones do not break whenever she falls down.” More indomitability.
Thinking about indomitability, I have, at times, fought and refused to give up. Now, when it no longer matters, I realize it was not indomitability but merely fear that I would be exposed. I guess that is the way it is with most men.
Now I think it is time to leave this morning’s morass of introspection as well as my recliner and go out and meet the day, or greet it or something like that.
“It’s always something” (Rosanna Rosannadanna.) Lost my wallet. Probably yesterday after I returned from EDH and I stopped for gas at the Shell Station nearby. Perhaps someone stole it. I do not know how. It is a disaster. Losing one’s wallet is one of life’s great tragedies. Everything important was in there. My debit cards, my passport, other things. We are leaving for our trip on Friday. A new credit-card will not be ready by then so the costs of the trip will be all on Naida. Sometimes life sucks. I guess I have to get started on canceling and reordering things. Well, perhaps tomorrow. Tonight I’ll pretend I’m depressed. Tomorrow is another day.
Before going to bed we watched Sidney Poitier in Lilies of Field. I felt better. I’ll cry tomorrow.
It is tomorrow. Oh, happy day. I found my wallet. It was where I thought it was. I always throw the clothing I intend to wear the next day on the floor near my bed. They are easier to locate that way. I thought I had lost my wallet among the accumulated detritus next lying there. Several times I had picked through everything to see if it had fallen among them. This morning, I picked up a shirt I planned to take with me to SF today and there it was lying underneath. So, in happy spirits, we left for the Big Endive by the Bay and my immunotherapy treatment.
B. AGAIN IN THE BIG ENDIVE WITH PETER AND BARRIE:
Following a surprisingly delightful drive (I napped, Naida drove), we arrived at Peter and Barrie’s home in Noe Valley. After getting settled, Peter and I told each other stories. He spoke about his time in Cambridge and India as one of the famous anthropologist, Cora Du Bois’ doctoral students. In India, he and Barrie lived primarily in Bhubaneswar where he studied the politics and design theories behind the construction of the new capital of the then recently created state of Odisha. I told of my adventures in Turkey (a midnight knife fight) and old Jerusalem and Bethlehem (meeting with the dealer who sold the Dead Sea scrolls). Later Hiromi and my granddaughter Amanda joined us for dinner.
The next day we went to the Mission Bay facility of UCSF for my immunotherapy treatment. Nothing to report here.
We then returned to the Enchanted Forest.
C. BACK IN THE VALLEY:
The next day we prepared for our trip. I took a brief drive to EDH to fetch Hayden from school and to stop at the pharmacy to pick up the medicines I would need during our trip. After I returned to the Enchanted Forest, Naida and I enjoyed lunch at a local sandwich shop. Later, a box containing about 20 copies of the revised version of Naida’s memoir, “A Daughter of the West,” with her corrections arrived. Naida spent some time checking to see if the edits she had made were incorporated in the revisions. At about ten o’clock in the evening, we left for the train station.
D. OFF TO OREGON.
The train to Portland left the Sacramento Valley Amtrak Station at about midnight on Friday. We slept uncomfortably in our business class chairs. I had made a mistake not reserving a sleeping compartment. Nevertheless, train travel, in my opinion, is the most civilized way to travel. It is a shame the United States, unlike almost any other advanced nation in the world, pulled up its tracks, sold the rails for scrap and replaced them with asphalt roadways.
When we awoke, we had a pleasant breakfast, even if not of the quality offered on the Orient Express, Our breakfast companions were an interesting couple from Irvine who made it clear they were not married. “neither are we,” we chimed in gleefully as though we all were old folks reveling in our naughtiness.
We spent the day mostly sitting in the observation car watching wooded northern California and Oregon landscape pass by. We arrived in Portland at about four PM.
E. PORTLAND AND PUYALLUP:
We were met at the station by Naida’s cousin Debbie and went for a walk along the Willamette River. There are many bridges spanning the Willamette. I had not noticed that during my previous visits here. Walking along the riverside path I felt as though I was walking under a freeway interchange.
As we strolled along the path on the inland side the Portland Food Festival was under weigh. It extended for many blocks. It was lunchtime and we were hungry but we decided to skip the festival and find a local restaurant.
Naida and Debbie on the Waterfront.
After walking around a bit, we found a Chinese restaurant that looked interesting. I had not eaten Chinese food in a while and was eager to do so now.
In Italy and in many places in the US recently, I have noticed that a goodly number of Italian restaurants have been taken over by Chinese immigrant families resulting in mushy noodles and a poor understanding of the cuisine’s use of herbs and spices. Every national cuisine begins with its own traditional mix of herbs and spices. Failure to get them right may still result in a palatable meal but it cannot be called an example of those nations’ traditional food.
So we entered. The waiter seated us and took our orders. I ordered Mu-shu pork. When he brought us our meals he told a lengthy story about learning to be a mu-shu pork folder and considered himself to be the best mu-sho pork folder in Portland. I had never known there was an art to folding mu-shu pork so, I asked him to show us this talent of which he was so proud as I was sure he wanted me to. And so he did.
Folding Mu-Shu Pork.
After that, we went to Debbie’s house and promptly fell asleep.
The next day, several of Naida’s relatives from Portland joined us for a late lunch. Many interesting stories were told but, alas, T&T is not a venue in which I can share all of them. Debbie’s father, a renowned Methodist minister, was also an accomplished amateur mineralogist and jewelry maker. When he died, he left Debbie his immense store of rocks, semi-precious stones, and jewelry making equipment. Debbie and her son Nicolas have avidly continued his father’s avocation. Tumblers hummed all night, and piles of rocks and minerals covered much of the yard.
Some of the Rocks. The Tumblers.
Later, we visited with David, Naida’s son who assists the well-known regional sculpture Bruce West (Naida’s ex-brother-in-law). We met at the studio. Bruce was unable to join us because he suffers from late-stage Parkinson’s.
Naida and David. Some Works by Bruce West.
Debbie then drove us to the train station and left. We had hoped to take the train to Puyallup, Washington to spend the night at the home of Debbie’s sister Colleen. Unfortunately, the train was full (since when do trains in this day and age get filled up?). So we trundled, in the rain, dragging our luggage a few blocks to the Greyhound station. Alas, the bus had left for Puyallup a few minutes before we arrived. The amused ticket agents suggested we try another bus line a few blocks away. Once again, we struggled through the drizzle to the place where we were told we would find the bus.
When we arrived where we were directed, there was no ticket office to be found. We noticed a bunch of people across the street who appeared to be waiting around for something. We went up to them and asked if they knew the location of the ticket office. We were told there wasn’t one but, they were all waiting for a bus from that company to arrive and had already bought their tickets already. So, we waited there standing with them in the light rain. Eventually, the bus arrived. The driver told us that if there were any seats left after everyone with tickets had been seated he would sell them to us. So we waited some more. After everyone boarded, he announced there were two left. Relieved, we paid him and prepared to board. At that moment, a young man approached and handed the driver a ticket. The driver told him that the ticket said he must arrive at least five minutes before the bus departs and since he did not so the tickets had been sold. So, we boarded. I felt bad for the guy, but not bad enough to give up my seat.
Naida’s cousin Colleen picked us up at the bus stop and drove us to her home in Puyallup. Coleen’s home, a one-story building, appeared small from the outside but was surprisingly large once you got inside. She took us on a tour of the house. It seemed to me to be one of the more pleasant houses I had ever been in. For forty-seven years Coleen, her husband, and her mother lived in that house, constantly changing and remodeling it to better serve their needs and comfort. After Naida and Colleen exchanged a few family stories with each other we went to sleep in a far too comfortable bed.
Colleen’s Back Porch. Naida and Colleen.
A ninety-nine acre heavily wooded park surrounds Colleen’s home on two sides. Waking up in the morning with the sun shining and the encircling trees rising up behind the yard was delightful.
Later, Naida and I went for a walk around a nearby lake. It began raining as we walked along, a light drizzle at times interspersed with more heavy downpours.
Following the walk, we returned to the house. Naida and Colleen worked on a puzzle together and quietly talked and reminisced about family and things while I sat on the sofa and played on my computer and dozed until it was time to leave for the airport and our flight to Boise.
Colleen dropped us off at the bus station for the brief bus ride to the airport. We flew to Boise on a prop plane. It has been a long time since I last had ridden on one.
We arrived in Boise at about 11pm. After an adventure securing our rental car, we drove to the hotel on the river where we were going to spend the night.
(More to come)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
This continues the reproduction here in T&T of the entries in an old 1963 diary of mine that almost miraculously survived until now. Clearly, I was no Anne Frank. I hardly recognize the person who wrote this diary almost 60 years ago and I do not think I like him all that much.
Thursday, January 24, 1963.
After the exam, we want to Henry Stampler’s where I had my caricature drawn. We then, after throwing down a few, decided to have a party at Dave G———’s apt. We picked up three women at the Barbizon Hotel. Within five minutes of our arrival at his apartment, Dave was in the bedroom with one of them. Maria arrived and I stayed at the party a little longer than I intended. Maria wanted to leave. I left with her and walked her home. When we reached her building she kissed me very warmly. I enjoyed that a lot. I walked her up the stairs and into her apartment. Valerie was there with a Taxi driver she had just picked up. I had a brief conversation with them and Jennifer, their other roommate then I left and returned to the party. The two other couples there had other plans than partying with me, so I went in search of my ride, Dick Perles one of my classmates. I eventually found him but because of the cold, we were unable to start his car. We returned to Maria’s apartment in order to call someone to start the car. I think we annoyed the girls in our bumbling attempts to find a garageman to help so we left, returned to the car, and to our surprise it started right up.
During the ride home Perles, who was quite heady with wine, started to talk about himself. He began with tales of his escapades with the police, including an arrest for housebreaking and his subsequent release through the efforts of his father.
Dick seems to me to be very lonely and frustrated with his life so far. He seems unable to control his own passions — I guess because he neither understands them nor believes in those that he does. As a result, he continues to bind himself in the ropes of loneliness and the knots of frustration — a form of imprisonment I know too much about but appear to be able to escape from at times. Even then, escape is often little more than another turn of the rope or another knot that binds.
Friday, January 25, 1963.
This evening, I watched Captain’s Courageous on TV. Surprisingly, tears began to roll down my cheeks. They continue even as I write this. I do not know why. I try to explain them away, without too much success.
My heart goes out to this Manuel, a man able to live and respect himself as well as have others respect him. A man who could love God without fear or knowledge (often it is the knowledge that brings fear). He was human, childlike, Christ-like, gentle even in violence.
Why can’t I see with his eyes, feel with his heart?
Why do I always seem to be searching for something and always failing because I suspect the search is barren? One day, I hope, I will be able to open my hears and my eyes and then be able to see and touch and smell and test and yes even love.
Sunday, January 27, 1963.
I went to Mike’s party last night. We had gotten dates from St. Vincent’s. While driving to the party we got a flat tire. I ran into Arty Ferrara at the party. He and I discussed the law for a while. I got very drunk and made a spectacle of myself on the subway as we took the girls home.
I am very tired tonight. I hardly know what I am writing.
Tuesday, January 29, 1963.
Today, I did little other than bring the informational materials for the Puerto Rica trip to my brother Jimmy.
I am depressed tonight because I fear I will not be successful in life. I understand my abilities and knowledge are adequate to achieve the success I crave. Yet, somewhere within my resides a demon that seems to prevent me from completing the most fundamental steps.
A person needs to love himself so much he believes he is superior to all others, or hate himself he allows that hate to sweep away all impediments to his ambitions. Doubting which it is can make one of as little use as a eunuch in a whore-house.
I could sit down and try to analyze this malaise, but analysis rarely leads to solutions or action — action is the spontaneous explosion of one’s spirit.
Harry loves Myrtle—He has strong arms, from the warehouse,
And on Sunday when they take the bus to emerald meadows he doesn’t say:
“What will your chastity amount to when your flesh withers in a little while?”
On Sunday, when they picnic in emerald meadows they look at the Sunday paper:
GIRL SLAYS BANKER-BETRAYER
They spread it around on the grass
BATH-TUB STIRS JERSEY ROW
And then they sit down on it, nice.
Harry doesn’t say “Ziggin’s Ointment for withered flesh,
Cures thousands of men and women of motes, warts, red veins,
flabby throat, scalp and hair diseases,
Not expensive, and fully guaranteed.”
Harry says nothing at all,
And they kiss in the emerald meadows on the Sunday paper.
“We are slowed down sound and light waves, a walking bundle of frequencies tuned into the cosmos. We are souls dressed up in sacred biochemical garments and our bodies are the instruments through which our souls play their music.”