“Sweet, salt, bitter, piquant – Sicilian cuisine is all-embracing and pleasurably involves all the senses in a single dish. A gelato must also be like this. Sweet as a whispered promise, the pistachio ice cream salty as sea air, the chocolate ice cream faintly bitter and a little tart like a lover’s goodbye the next morning.”
― Mario Giordano, Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions.
Happy Birthday, Ruth.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
I have not written here in “Pookies Adventures” for about a week. Perhaps it is due to creeping ennui. I have been reflecting, however, on a few things during that time. One of those things has been the inadvertent falsehood in my conceit that I often do nothing during my day. It fact, I do a lot. I usually spend much of my day sitting here with my computer attending to things, paying bills, or exchanging messages with friends and bill collectors and the like. I also usually spend some time on T&T, if not on the “Pookies Adventures” portion then on some other section, like searching through my favorite poetry sites for “Today’s Poem.”
When I think about it, it is much like having a job. I certainly spend enough time doing these things. Of course, I don’t get paid. That’s a downer, but then I don’t have to deal with clients, co-workers and the like. Nor, do I have to care about the quality of the product. I guess that makes it a hobby. It is interesting that if it is something mostly detestable but you get paid for it, it is a job but if you enjoy it but don’t get paid, it is a hobby (or you are a failing artist). On the other hand, if you enjoy it and get paid for it, it is not a hobby, but it is a job. Someone once asked a famous writer why he writes. “For the money,” he responded. “You don’t think I do this for the sheer pleasure of it, do you? That would be insane.”
I do not know why I wrote the above two paragraphs. I could not think of what to write after the first sentence. I guess it was a sort of stream of consciousness thing — writing something without any idea where you’re going with it or even why you are doing it. Or perhaps it has something to do with the Donald Hall quote in the previous issue of T&T, “Why should the nonagenarian hold anything back?” Why indeed or better yet why give a shit?
Last night we saw the new Korean movie Parasite at the Tower Theater here in Sacramento. I had not expected what I saw on the screen. It is a marvel, an odd one for sure but a marvel nonetheless. Part comedy, part tragedy, part horror movie, part melodrama, it, nevertheless, never failed to capture and hold my attention. The direction is as good as I have seen in movies recently and the cinematography exceptional. See it, you may be surprised like I was, but I doubt you will be disappointed.
This morning, perhaps around two or three AM, I awoke. I did not go back to sleep right away, but instead, I drifted into an almost dream-like state. I had an almost overwhelming urge to paint. It was compulsive, insistent. I needed to paint. Not like the almost paint by numbers reproduction of photographs I painted for a while over 20 years ago. Real painting, whatever that was. I saw an image of myself painting at an easel. I was painting a portion of a sleeve. The fabric was Chinese silk, a dark almost iridescent blue. There were folds and mounds in the fabric as though it was filled with a slightly bent arm. Small golden parallelograms were stitched into the fabric. It was very difficult to paint them and I spent some time figuring out how I was going to do it. Then the scene changed. I was still in my studio. This time the canvas was affixed to the wall above my head. I could reach it with a long brush. I was painting long slightly wavy red lines on the canvas. As I drew the lines, a man’s face began to appear in the paint. His expression, as it emerged from the paint, was sad with an element of surprise. I then fell asleep, a deep sleep until the barking of the dog woke me in the morning.
A Painting of Mine from 30 Years Ago.
Today (a day or two after I wrote the previous paragraph) Naida left for a presentation on her newest book Daughter of the West, a Memoir. I spent the morning sitting in my recliner with Boo-boo the Barking Dog drowsing on the recliner next to mine usually occupied by Naida. I had managed to exhaust my morning in desultory and aimless research, Facebook explorations and a bit of writing. Having consumed all that I could think of doing while sitting there, I struggled to come up with what to do next. It was too early for a nap. It was only noon. I could have made something to eat but I was not hungry. A walk perhaps. That sounded good. Perhaps straighten up the house. Ugh. Still, that would surprise and please Naida. A plan, I had a plan.
Well, like many plans even the simplest of them, it appeared good in concept but a failure in implementation. I began by removing the clean dishes from the dishwasher. While I was doing so, Naida returned home. She told me about her presentation. It was at a local women’s club. A somewhat mysterious one. They would not tell her what the letters that made up the club’s name stood for. They told her they did not want any more members. Naida spoke to the women about her novel River of Red Gold and not as I believed her Memoir. One of the women strenuously objected to Naida’s depiction of John Sutter in her novel. She believed it to be too negative toward the great man. Naida then read to her the footnotes and endnotes to the novel quoting other historians and contemporary accounts that Sutter, like so many so-called great men, was considerably less so and more often a monster. Sutter raped a 5-year-old girl and commandeered the wife of one of his native Hawaiian workers as his bedmate.
Sutter reminds me of a Nineteenth-Century Donald Trump. A charlatan who never pays his bills, a repeat failure in his businesses, a toady to those above him and a beast in his dealings with those beneath him. No-one should feel sorry for how Sutter ended his life as no one should shed any tears if Trump ends up as many of us hope he will.
We then ate lunch after which I went for that walk I had promised myself.
B. THE BIG ENDIVE AGAIN:
A View of the Big Endive by the Bay Looking North.
So once again it was time to set off for the Big Endive by the Bay for my infusion treatment. Every three weeks, we set off for San Francisco to spend one or two days at Barrie and Peter’s house while I attend to my medical issues. This time we traveled to the City by train.
A View from the Train.
We spent a pleasant evening eating Barrie’s wonderfully prepared food and talking about “The Good Old Days,” mainly the 1960s and 1970s.
The next day it rained. Peter drove us to the hospital. My medical reports were pleasantly positive.
Naida waiting for me to finish my infusion at UDSF.
That evening after dinner Barrie, Naida and I (Peter was off on a gig with his band) went to a small bookstore on 24th St. to listen to a friend of Barrie’s flog his book, “An Old Man’s Game” about an aging Jewish detective in LA. There seems to have been a spate of Jewish Detective novels recently. Sheldon Has written one that is set in Chicago. Michael Chabon wrote one a few years back that takes place in a mythical Alaska shortly after WWII.
During his talk to us, the author, who is 72 years old and had just published his first book, told us he has written four more novels featuring this old detective awaiting publication and he planned to write many more. He said he was afraid either he or his main character will die before he finishes the series.
Morning came, Barrie and Peter were off to LA for Barrie’s sister’s memorial. They dropped us off at UCSF Parnassus for my neurological examination. It was scheduled in an effort to discover why for the past year I had been staggering as I walked. It wasn’t because I was drinking too much alcohol. It burns my throat now so at best I am able to get down one drink a week. It wasn’t about cannabis since if I do it at all it is usually only late at night to help me sleep. So, what could it be?
After several hours of tests and consultation between two doctors, they, the doctors, said they did not know what caused the problem (or if there was a problem at all) and recommended physical therapy, an MRI and a return visit four months from now. Oh, they also wished me Good Luck.
So, lightened by an ambiguous sense of accomplishment, we left the hospital, wound our way to the train station where we boarded a surprisingly crowded train back to Sacramento. Sitting across from us during the ride was a pleasant young woman of Indian (India Indian) extraction who lives in Emeryville and was traveling to spend the weekend with some ex-classmates from UC Davis. She smiled a lot and shared her french-fries with us. Oh, the joys of traveling by train.
C. NOT A BOOK REPORT:
I am reading Donald Hall’s A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety. It is a memoir of sorts. Hall, who at one time served as US Poet Laureate, writes a series of mostly short essays in which he reminisces about his life and other people he has met especially poets. Of the poets some he liked for one reason or another and others he didn’t. For example, for an essay by the poet Allen Tate, Hall’s essay simply stat
In one of his essays of only 700 words entitled interestingly Seven Hundred Words, he wrote that he had spent a month writing it. In other essays, he claimed he sometimes revises them up to 80 times.
I thought about revising things I write 80 times. That seems like real work. I’d never do that for pleasure. When I write anything I reserve my editing only to checking-up on spell check which has a tendency to use its own judgment to revise whatever I had written with which it disagrees.
I have received comments on things I have published in one blog or another such as, “Forgive him. It is obvious that English is his second language,” or “Your writing sounds like poetry,” and “If you are so smart, how come your use of grammar is so bad.” I wonder if I revised and rewrote whatever I write 80 times it would improve — at least enough for it to be considered English. I doubt it. Anyway, that would make it too much like work and too little like fun.
Recently, I reviewed a post I had planned to repost in another blog. As I read it, I realized it was pure gibberish. I then tried to edit it into something that resembled English and failed. The most egregiously bad sentence was:
“They proved exceptionally helpful and often assisted in increasing production but the bankers need for timely repayment is not the same as the investors wish for profit and may at times suppress production in order to satisfy the need for repayment.”
Hall ends his book with a brief essay about a large maple tree growing in the yard of his ancestral home in New Hampshire that had been blown down by a recent storm. He recalls a swing hanging from a large limb of that tree that he played on when he was a child. He then describes the gathering of relatives and friends who assisted in taking down the remnants of the tree until only a large stump remained. The essay and the book concludes with the following passage:
“One more story derives from the death of my tree [A grand maple tree]. The tree blew down in July, and of course, nobody knows when my granddaughter Allison and her husband Will will move into this old house, extending one family’s residence since 1865. They will take over here when I die, but now I was able, with the help of a windstorm, to give them a wedding present that should last awhile. When I was a boy, elms lined Route 4, but by the time Jane and I arrived, Dutch elm disease had killed them all. A few years ago, Philippa told me of newly bred elms that were immune. She and I conspired, and acting as my agent, she bought a new American elm, and after the great stump was removed a slim four-foot elm sapling took the maple’s place. Philippa and Jerry, my son-in-law planted in on a Sunday in early September while Allison and Will and I looked on. It was Tree Day, which I proclaim a family holiday. For now, the elm will require watering, three doses of three gallons a week, applied by my helpers. The sapling came with a bronze plaque inscribed to the future tenants, to be affixed to the elm’s eventual trunk. I am free to imagine another grand-child swinging from another branch of another tree.”
This evening I watched the most recent of the interminable Democratic presidential nomination debates. I learned something from the commercials, however. The nation seems to be suffering from an epidemic of psoriasis and other heartbreaking skin diseases forcing citizens of the nation to avoid appearing in public for fear of embarrassment. This national problem was not discussed in the debate. I think I will withhold my support for any candidate until one of them comes up with a plan to deal with this crisis.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
The following reproduces Chapter 3 of my unfinished and never to be published novel “Here Comes Dragon.”
“A good detective should be afraid…always.”
I turned the doorknob and pushed the door open slowly. I only had opened it a few inches before it was wrenched from my hand. A big guy stood there holding the door and filling all the space between the door and the door jamb. He was not too much taller than I am, but he was big, with a body poised somewhere between muscle and fat.
“What do you want,” he growled?
I stepped back. Said, “I’m looking for Mark Holland.”
Thought this might be a good time for a clever story. Could not think of one. Went with the truth. “I have been asked to find him.”
Still lacking clever responses, said, “I’ve been hired to find him.” Took a business card from my pocket handed it to him. He looked at it for a long time. Said, “A Detective eh. Why don’t you come in and we’ll talk?”
I said, “If it is all the same to you, I feel better standing out here in the hall.”
The door opened a little wider. Another fat guy appeared. He had a phone pressed against his ear with one hand. In his other hand, he had a gun that was pointed at me. “Get in here,” fat guy number one ordered.
At that moment I noted a strange phenomenon. My clothing went instantly from dry to wet. At the same time, I felt like I shit my pants. Said, “I think my chances of being shot are greater in there than standing out here in the hall.”
I flashed on how stupid that sounded. The embarrassment of shitting in my pants began to leak into my consciousness. Did not get far with either thought as they were interrupted by an explosion to the side of my face. As I toppled toward the floor, my first thought was to protect my computer. The second was that I might be dead.
Thought I was shot. Actually, Fat Guy One suddenly had reached out with his ham sized hand and slapped me aside my head as they say. His heavy ring raked across my jaw.
Before landing on the floor, I was grabbed and dragged into the room. I looked down the hall in the vain hope that Ann had seen what happened and would call the cops. No such luck.
I was thrown onto a bean bag chair on the floor. Thought, “Who the fuck still has a bean bag chair?” Said, “Who the fuck has a bean bag chair any more?” But did not get it all out as the pain had finally hit and I realized that I had bitten my tongue and was dribbling blood down my chin. Got out “Woo fla bee or?” before giving up and grabbing my jaw. I was bleeding there too from the ring. Said, “Shiss!” Added “Blon.” My tongue was swelling up.
Fat guy one threw me a dirty dishrag. Thought I would probably die of sepsis if it touched my open wound. Spit the blood from my mouth into the rag folded it, and pressed it against the side of my face anyway.
Fats Two was talking on the phone. Whispered to Fats One. Fats One said, “Who sent you?”
Replied something that sounded like, “That’s confidential.”
Fats one raised his fist.
I quickly responded, “Gul fren.”
“Fucking Mavis,” said SF fats.
“No, na yeh” I commented. I thought I was being clever. They ignored me
Fats Two whispered to Porky One again.
Porky asked, “Find anything yet?”
“Hired hour ago. This first stop.”
More talking on the phone and whispering. Fats Prime asked, “What did Mavis tell you?”
What I answered sounded a lot like, “Not much. He’s missing. She’s worried.”
More talking on the phone and whispering.
I said more or less, “We could save a lot of time if I just talked directly to whoever is on the phone.” Although it did not come out quite like that, I actually was getting used to speaking through my swollen tongue and frozen jaw.
They ignored me. Fats One said, “What’s she paying you — tattoos or blow jobs?” Thrilled with his cleverness he let out a surprisingly high pitched giggle.
I did not answer as I struggled with a clever comeback and failed mostly out of fear of retaliation.
He said more forcefully, “What do you charge?”
“Two hundred dollars a day. One week minimum. One half paid in advance.”
Some more whisperings into the phone. There seemed to be some disagreement.
Fats Prime finally turned to me and said, “We’d like to hire you to help us find him.”
I was gobsmacked. Wanted to say, “Fuck you” or “What the fuck,” even. Said instead, “Can’t, conflict of interest.”
Prime Cut One turned red-faced and advanced on me. I quickly said, “On second thought, I can probably figure a way around it.”
He stopped, smiled reached into his pocket and pulled out a wallet. From it, he extracted 10 one hundred dollar bills and placed them in my hand not holding the towel. “You will get another thousand if you find him.”
Pocketed the money. Said, “Whose my client?”
Again with the whispering. “Me,” said First Lard Brother.
Asked, “What’s your name?”
“No name.” He scribbled on a piece of paper. Handed it to me. “My phone number. Call every evening at about five o’clock.”
“What can you tell me about Holland to help me along?”
Again the phone. The Fats One then said, “Ask Mavis. She knows more than she is telling you.”
They then both picked me up out of the bean bag and guided me toward the door.
“How do you know I won’t go to the police?”
“If you do we will have to kill you.” They both giggled in falsetto.
I knew that was bullshit but I was still scared shitless, literally and figuratively and I knew involvement of the cops was futile.
Once back in the hall, I ran to Ann’s door pounded on it and rang the awful buzzer. I do not know what I expected I’d do if she answered; cry in her arms perhaps. No response anyway. Pictured her standing in the middle of the room staring blank-eyed at the door.
Turned, grabbing the computer in one hand and the bloody rag in another, ran out of the building and back down the hill to Pino’s place.
When Pino saw me he said, “What the fuck happened?”
I ran by him and into the restaurant. Said as I passed. “Bathroom. Ice in a napkin quick.”
In the toilet, I threw the rag into the wastebasket. The bleeding had mostly stopped. Dropped my pants and drawers and sat. Saw that I really had shit my pants, a little not much, but enough to make me groan. My hands were shaking as was the rest of me.
When I left the toilet Pino was there with the ice in a napkin. Repeated, “What the fuck happened?”
Took the napkin with the ice, pressed it to my face, said, “Later, I need a taxi right now.” Pino went into the street flagged down a cab. I got in. Gave the driver the address of my condo on Fourth Street, waved to Pino and slunk into my seat as far down as I could go.
A. Naida and Pookies trip into the Northwest on Top:
We left Salmon and set off through Idaho to Boise where we would take a plane back to Sacramento. Although we were driving across the entire State of Idaho as we did about 10 days ago, we were not traversing the high desert of southern Idaho as we did then. Instead, we were plunging directly into the remote alpine upland of the state and the Sawtooth Mountains.
We approached the highlands through some beautiful and scenic river valleys.
Soon the majestic Sawtooth Mountains sprang up before us.
We, of course, stopped for photographs before plunging into the narrow steep inclines of the passageway through the mountains.
As we approached the far side of the uplands we noticed a number of outdoor natural mineral springs along the side of the road. The photograph below shows one of them.
Then we were in Boise. We checked into a motel. We were too tired to partake in the Boise nightlife if any. Instead, we took a brief stroll through the mist along the pathway by the river, returned to the motel and fell exhaustedly into the bid.
The next morning, we caught out flight back home to Sacramento. It was a great trip.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Economics — The use of numbers to justify how the rich got that way.
C. Today’s Poem:
by Geronimo (Goyathlay)
“The song that I will sing is an old song, so old that none knows who made it. It has been handed down through generations and was taught to me when I was but a little lad. It is now my own song. It belongs to me. This is a holy song (medicine-song), and great is its power. The song tells how, as I sing, I go through the air to a holy place where Yusun (The Supreme Being) will give me power to do wonderful things. I am surrounded by little clouds, and as I go through the air I change, becoming spirit only.”
Sung by Geronimo
O, ha le
O, ha le!
Shichl hadahiyago niniya
O, ha le
O, ha le
Tsago degi naleya
Ah–yu whi ye!
O, ha le
O, ha le!
O, ha le
O, ha le!
Through the air
I fly upon the air
Towards the sky, far, far, far,
O, ha le
O, ha le!
There to find the holy place,
Ah, now the change comes o’re me!
O, ha le
O, ha le!
Geronimo’s changed form is symbolized by a circle, and this is surrounded by a mystic aureole. The holy place is symbolized by the sun, which is decorated with a horned head-dress emblematic of divine power. This is the insignia of the Holy Man.
“You know what Trump is?”
“He’s Putin’s shithouse cleaner. He does everything for little Vladi that little Vladi can’t do for himself: pisses on European unity, pisses on human rights, pisses on NATO. Assures us that Crimea and Ukraine belong to the Holy Russian Empire, the Middle East belongs to the Jews and the Saudis, and to hell with the world order. And you Brits, what do you do? You suck his dick and invite him to tea with your Queen.”
le Carré, John. Agent Running in the Field (p. 141). Penguin Publishing Group.