Brigid O’Shaughnessy: I haven’t lived a good life. I’ve been bad, worse than you could know.
Sam Spade: You know, that’s good because if you actually were as innocent as you pretend to be, we’d never get anywhere.
From “The Maltese Falcon.”
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. Teresa Petrillo, June 7, 1917 — May 8, 2017
On May 8, 2017, at about 4 PM my mom died. Her passing was relatively peaceful.
My mom has led a life of great adversity from the moment she was born until the last few years or her life. She met every challenge with implacable determination and good humor never giving an inch to despair or defeat. Even the Grim Reaper was forced to sneak up on her while she slept.
Memories of her flood me with sadness now — never more new memories made — no more laughter together.
REST IN PEACE MOM, WE WILL MISS YOU A LOT.
The funeral will be held at St. Ann’s, 300 Lake St. San Francisco on May 18, beginning at 9:30 AM.
B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
A week or so ago, I got the news from one of my doctors that according to my recent PET-scan, my throat cancer is in full remission. When one parses the fog of physician speak and happy talk what this means is that they can’t find the little buggers right now so we will wait five years to see if I am still alive. Nevertheless, I guess I should feel good about this, but then why do I still feel like road kill?
Any delight I may feel from this news has been tempered by sadness after learning about my mother’s passing and the sufferings of some of my dearest friends. Peter is gradually having joint after joint in his body replaced due to the ravages of arthritis (but he still weekly performs music with his several bands) and Naida is due for open heart surgery next week. It The suddenness with which our bodies descend from the satisfaction with being older (and if not wiser, at least a little smug) to the devastation of being aged is incomprehensible to me —
Peter (2nd from left) and the Blind Lemon Pledge Blues Band.
(This photograph makes me happy. Just look at these old guys, even if they can no longer get it up, they still can lay down a few bars of the Blues.)
The winter rains seem to be over and the California sunshine now rules the days. In preparation for my travels this summer, I am trying to exercise more — walking and swimming for the most part. I dislike being indoors when I exercise which is why I enjoy the pool at my health club. It is outdoors and heated. My walks take me around the lakes in Town Center. I do this, mind you, not for the health benefits or to keep in shape but in order to prepare for my planned summer travels. I would rather not find myself nodding off in some god-forsaken sidewalk cafe in Bangkok or falling down the stairs that pass for streets in the Italian hill towns I plan to visit.
A Lake at Town Center in El Dorado Hills
C. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
Outside Dick’s Home across the driveway from the front door there is a tall hedge growing. I assume, it was planted to shield the occasional pedestrians on the street from a view of our garbage cans. On one side of the hedge, barely visible from either the front door or the street is a large dark gap or hole in the foliage. From this gap, for as long as I have lived here, there issues several rivulets of water that tumble down the slope for about 30 feet or so before disappearing into a drain at the side of the garage. During the rainy season these rivulets grow quite large and at times flood the driveway.
Not too long ago, while leaving the house, I noticed some kid standing by the garbage cans behind the hedge peeking out at the street. Curious, I shouted, “ Hey, what the fuck are you doing here?”
At the sound of my voice, he spun around and stared at me, a surprised look on his face. That’s when I realized he was not some kid, but a very short old man with a scraggly grey beard. Old, about my age with wrinkles on his face that stood out like scars. He was short, well under five feet I guessed and dressed oddly too. On his head he had on what looked like a black or dark blue felt fedora with its brim cut off. His coat, dark brown in color, had shiny buttons, yellow piping, and hung almost to he knees. Below the coat were wrinkled tan pants tucked into dirty white socks. On his feet, he had what looked like old hiking boots.
He hesitated a moment then turned, ran through the mud, up the slope and dove head first into the gap in the hedge. I noted that he was far more spry than I.
“Hey!” I shouted and ran across the driveway after him. Well, I actually didn’t run, that’s beyond me at this age — shuffled more likely. Also, I was wearing my imitation Crocs that I bought in Thailand for two dollars. There’s no running in them — waddling perhaps.
I crossed the driveway, then slipped and slid through the silt and the mud and turned toward the dark gap. “I’ve got you now you rat bastard,” I thought.
As I approached the hole and tried to reach in to grab the little jerk, I slipped and slid feet first into the gap. I fell thinking I was going to land hard on my ass. Instead, I kept falling down and down and down. As I slid down, one of my faux Crocs slipped off my foot. For some reason, I believed it essential I save the thing and so I did by grabbing it and clutching it to my breast. It felt like I was dropping down the chute at a water park. I tried to turn my body so I could apply some friction to slow or stop my fall. I got part way around when I popped out of the tube, flew about five feet through the air and with a loud “oomf,” landed face down onto what felt like soft moss. I was sopping wet and in pain all over. I was still grasping the phony Croc like it had saved my life. Eventually, I moved my head a bit and glimpsed a small pond a few feet away from where I lay. I could hear the plopping sound of water dribbling into the pond. I appeared to be lying in a small clearing a forest. I spied the little guy standing at the edge of the clearing. When he saw me looking at him, he ran off into the woods and disappeared. “You rat bastard,” I croaked after him.
Slowly and agonizingly, I worked my way onto my back, looked up into the clear blue sky, and shouted “I am not Alice.”
Four days later, I returned home. Neither Hayden nor Dick seemed aware that I had been gone. What was even more strange was that they also seemed not to notice my appearance. I was almost naked wearing only a few rags and of course the phony Crocs. My beard was long and braided. On my chest I sported a tattoo of a naked mole rat standing fully erect and above it in large red bank gothic the words “Fuck Trump.” A stud, shaped like a human thigh bone, pierced my left earlobe.
Disappointed at their lack of reaction, I stomped off the bathroom, showered, shaved, removed the thigh bone stud and put myself to bed. The next morning Dick woke me up to drive Hayden to school.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
IRWIN’S TALE – I
Sometimes poetry can bubble up from the depths of despair. This tale was sent to me seven years ago by Irwin. I include it here in memory of a fine man and a good friend who passed away shortly thereafter:
“Friday I came out of the bank. There was a man who came into the lobby and then went outside. I don’t know how to describe him except to say he looked scruffily dressed and reminded me of a former city councilperson who was one of the last white faces in Santa Ana government; outside of the long-time city manager who lives in Coto de Caza as does the former mayor who now is the right hand man at the Irvine Company. I got the distinct feeling this fellow was either going to rob Citibank or was waiting for me so when I got into the oyonemobile I locked the doors started the car and drove away.
Yesterday morning, I went to the market and was waiting at the fish counter (Dover sole $9.99 a pound) when the guy came in and peered into the red meat display. When he left, I breathed a sigh of relief. When I checked out of the market and got to my car I could see him at the end of the parking lot next to the small free-standing building which houses “drs. r us.” Who is this guy and am I really seeing him again and again? I quickly drove away.
Today I thought about it a lot. I was thinking that maybe it was “death” following me around and checking me out. What I had to keep death away I don’t know but I suspect it was those adolescent tendencies of mine that when confronted I have just a few choices, to whine, freeze and/or make it to the closest door. What kept death at arms reach? Surely death could appreciate and have a real taste for a coward. Did he just decide that it wasn’t my time or that I was the wrong person?
At 2:30 am, I couldn’t sleep so I checked my email. I received an email from a former county CEO. In it he explained that he didn’t know what day or time it was; that his three-year old romance ended when the woman died in their bed at the age of 37. I guess Mr. Death found somebody; hopefully it wasn’t in place of me by mistake. I have enough bad karma on my conscience.”
The True Story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
The fairy tale is based on the tragic life of Margarete von Waldeck, a 16th century Bavarian noblewoman. Margarete grew up in Bad Wildungen, where her brother used small children to work his copper mine. Severely deformed because of the physical labor mining required, they were despairingly referred to as dwarfs. The poison apple is also rooted in fact; an old man would offer tainted fruits to the workers, and other children he believed stole from him.
Margarete’s stepmother, despising her, sent the beauty, to the Brussels court to get rid of her. There Prince Philip II of Spain became her steamy lover. His father, the king of Spain, opposing the romance, dispatched Spanish agents to murder Margarete. They surreptitiously poisoned her.
I would like to see Disney make a movie out of this version of the tale.
Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
“When we were young with our peers about us, we dreamed and hoped for that which we had not yet experienced. Now in our old age we dream and hope for one last chance at that which we will soon no longer have.
Symmetry is a beautiful thing.”
“What’s true? What’s false? In case you haven’t noticed, the world has pretty much given up on the old Enlightenment idea of piecing together the truth based on observed data. Reality is too complicated and scary for that. Instead, it’s way easier to ignore all data that doesn’t fit your preconceptions and believe all data that does. I believe what I believe, and you believe what you believe, and we’ll agree to disagree. It’s liberal tolerance meets dark ages denialism. It’s very hip right now.”
Hill, Nathan. The Nix: A novel (p. 601). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
While the time line on this chart is too brief to demonstrate a trend, is does show something that has been occurring in the American economy for over a decade. Manufacturing continues to decline while the highly unproductive finance and insurance sector massively increases.
Clouds over Pattaya, Thailand