“Instead of being born again, why not just grow up?”
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN El DORADO HILLS:
A very pleasant thing happened to me this weekend. I drove to San Francisco to spend the Saturday evening with Peter and Barrie. Peter had acquired tickets for a concert at some place called SFJAZZ. Barrie was entertaining a friend and couldn’t go, so Peter invited me to accompany him. I agreed.
I never heard of SFJAZZ. Peter explained that a few years ago a wealthy Techie funded and built a jazz venue and institute located in the Civic Center area of the City that already houses the Opera and Ballet. The institution provides Jazz education and performances.
The building that houses it contains a number of places to eat and drink (especially drink) and at least two auditoriums. The Main auditorium is a marvelous thing that sits almost 1000 people. The acoustics are great. We sat in the third row.
Vijay Iyer performed with his sextet. Iyer from Albany NY, the son of Tamil Immigrants, studied math and physics at Yale and received his doctorate from Berkley. His thesis was, “Microstructures of Feel, Macrostructures of Sound. Cognition in West African and African-American Musics.” Among his many awards, in 2012, he was declared Artist of the Year, Pianist of the Year, and with his trio, small group of the year.
While Iyer’s style of Jazz is not for everyone, the performance, nevertheless, was great. I loved the entire evening. During the concert, I sipped saki from a can. It was like drinking Red Bull while racing in a Ferrari.
The next day I drove (Naida lent me her car) out to an auto dealership in Pittsburg. I hoped to buy an automobile to replace the one that went bust last week. Unfortunately, George who accompanied me and I were unable to close the deal, so I remain car-less but for Naida’s generosity. What to do? — What to do?
Anyway, after leaving the dealership, I drove from Pittsburgh to Sacramento through the always interesting delta to attend the memorial for Bill Geyer. There were a lot of people gathered in the community center at Campus Commons. Judge Ron Robie, an old friend was there with his wife. Bill, Ron, and I shared a condo in Kirkwood for many years. Also present were a good number of the aging lions of the State Legislature and government from the Reagan and Brown 1 administrations as well as Bill and Naida’s family and friends. After the speeches, we gathered for food, cocktails, and conversation. I do not do so well at social events with people I do not know well and quickly felt uncomfortable so, after a few minutes and downing a couple of chocolate cookies, I left and drove home.
Adrian arrived on Friday to spend the weekend before returning to Hong Kong. Naida mentioned that she would like to visit someplace near Point Arena where she was considering spreading Bill’s ashes. I agreed to drive her there.
On the way, I learned a lot about Carmel during the years that Naida attended high school there in the sixties and seventies and of her friends and acquaintances of note from Henry Miller to Kim Novak. The stories made the five-hour drive seem to pass in minutes. Still, by the time we arrived at my sister’s house, I was exhausted and took a long nap. After I woke-up, Mary and George left for dinner with some friends so Naida and I drove to Noyo Harbor for a fish dinner. I had a passable calamari steak and Naida’s petrale sole looked quite tasty also. While we ate overlooking the harbor, the night fishing fleet their decks piled high with crab pots, mast lights stunning the dark, and seals trailing in their wake paraded under the Highway 1 bridge and out into the black ocean
The next morning we traveled to Point Arena to check out a place to spread Bill’s ashes. A company had purchased a redwood grove and were selling trees under which one could spread the ashes of the deceased. The company would maintain the grove in perpetuity like a normal cemetery. They promised to construct paths and pavilions and provide a memorial stone at the base of the chosen tree. I walked around the forest and communed with the sun sprites while Naida discussed more important things with the company’s representative.
Choosing the Ideal Tree
Pookie in the Forest Primeval
Later, with my sister, we drove out to Pacific Star Winery. There we bought a bottle of Pinot Blanc from the ever vivacious Sally the winemaker and spread out a picnic lunch on the bluffs overlooking the ocean.
Maryann and Naida at Pacific Star
We then walked along the bluffs to “Dad’s Bench,” where we sat awhile, talked of this and that and watched a pod of whales mosey on down the coast on their way to their summer feeding grounds in Baja.
Pookie on Dad’s Bench.
On the drive back to Sacramento, there were many stories: of dinners with Ronald and Nancy Reagan and of Nixon and his thuggish henchman; of the sad decline of men of influence and power: and the struggle of women trying to survive in an uncaring and possibly malicious world. And then, I was back in the Golden Hills too tired to think and so I went to bed and dreamed a lot.
B. RAGGED ROBIN’S NATURE NOTES:
Another grim day, but not entirely without bird interest for me. Pam and I visited the “Dogs Trust Canterbury,” which is nearly up to Whitstable, to meet a small friend. While we took her for a walk in the grounds I was delighted to hear a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling. I didn’t have my bins on but we will be returning and I’ll have another look. While I was looking through what was being I was pleased to see that there is still a Waxwing in East Kent. Waxwings are in a small family of three species. The Bohemian Waxwing, which occurs in Europe, North America, and Asia.The Cedar Waxwing, from N America and the Japanese Waxwing from E.Asia. A closely related family is the “Silky Flycatchers” from North and Central America. The last of the closely related families have just one member, the enigmatic Grey Hypocolius from the Middle East. I’m not going to pick out a favorite, but the long-tailed Silky-flycatcher is stunning.
Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher.
January 21, 2018
(JP—What is a “bin” that one would “put on”? I picture a plastic garbage bag.)
My account of my recent contretemps with the possible return of my cancer prompted a number of friends to express their concern and support, for which I am both pleased and humbled. On a less uplifting vein, some also reported on the recent deaths of a number of friends and acquaintances that I previously had not known about. Like most people I suppose, throughout my life, I would learn, now and then, about someone I knew who died. But this seems different. As we reach the latter part of our seventies, it is no longer the few who fall by the wayside every year leaving only the hardiest or luckiest of us to drag ourselves the last few meters into our crypts, but the remnants of an entire generation that now marches together to its inevitable end.
As I thought about this, I realized that our current situation seems different from the periodic winnowing over the years of individuals through, sickness, accidents, violence and the like that humans have experienced throughout the age. It is more like a sudden harvesting. We, who were born around the time penicillin came to be used and survived in unprecedented numbers, strode confidently en masse into the folk-rock and acid kool-aid age of the 60s and 70s, and then found money to be more psychically rewarding than meditation in the 80s, may be the first humans to experience the abrupt disappearance of an entire generation.
During our lives, we saw the ending of those universal scourges that caused huge numbers of deaths from childbirth, childhood diseases, plagues and epidemics, famine and malnutrition and even quite recently have seen a reduction in the percentage of deaths from violence or war. As a result, we may be the first generation where most of us managed to survive long enough to pass into old age. Now perhaps for the first time in human history, we will experience the death of an entire generation seemingly all at once in a relatively few scant years. What does that mean?
Before, when we got as old as I am now, we were the few, the survivors — those who escaped the plagues, wars, and privations that were our heritage. Now, all of our age group will disappear virtually at once. Rather than harvesting a few bales of hay from the field throughout the year, now the scythe will cut down the entire field in autumn leaving only a very few stalks standing until the fast approaching winter. Unlike previous generations, we never experienced the death of many if not most of our friends, lovers, and peers as we grew older. And, that is a good thing. But most of us alive today, as a result, lost the opportunity to acquire the wisdom that comes from dealing with our mortality in small doses as we ramble through life. In effect, most of us never learned how to grow old and wise. What do we do now?
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
The following post from 2011 describes some of my impressions of California upon returning after spending one year living in Thailand.
“I guess leaving Paradise by the Sea and traveling to the Big Endive by the Bay can be looked at as an adventure that at least began in Thailand and ended back there as well.”
“Some of my Impressions of America after a one-year absence”:
“Following the adjustment of my system to the shock of the relatively cool and dismal weather, my initial impression was distress at the dark, drab, shapelessness of the clothing that everyone seems to prefer wearing. It was interesting to me that when I commented to others about my perception they readily agreed that the fashion was indeed dark and perhaps drab, but they denied it was shapeless. One person even went so far as to hold up a dark grey T-shirt as evidence that some people (himself in particular) did not wear shapeless clothing. And indeed, I could discern that it had the classic shape of a T-shirt.”
“Although the Bay Area looked mostly the same wherever I go, the latinization of the Mission district in San Francisco continues unabated, extending at least another 5 to 10 blocks in either direction along that thoroughfare and into the neighborhoods surrounding it. On the other hand, the Sinoization of North Beach appears to have slowed in favor of the Sunset.”
“The Holidays were, as usual, a mixed bag and the serious illnesses and suffering of several of my friends made almost everything appear listless. Nevertheless, my traditional Christmas Eve dinner with my daughter and seeing my son and his family along with my sisters family and my grandchildren cheered me up.”
“During my stay, I re-connected with many friends, Maurice Trad and his daughter Molly, Bill Gates, his daughter and his friend Tiffany, Peter and Barry Grenell, Sheldon Siegel, Terry Goggin et.al. and Bob and Charlotte Uram. Unfortunately, I was only able to contact others by phone.”
“In Sacramento, I spent three lovely days with Bill Geyer and Naida West on their ranch and a day with Stevie and Norbert Dall. Surprisingly, I was asked to take Hayden with me during this time so that his mother could go off to the coast (Pismo Beach) with “friends”. He had just returned the prior evening from spending 5 weeks with a family he hardly knew in Seattle while his mother traveled to Thailand to have what appeared to me to be a facelift. Nevertheless, I enjoyed his company and was quite sad when I had to leave him and return to San Francisco.”
Hayden and I, March 2011.
TODAY’S FRACTURED FACTOID:
There are many types of self-identified witches. The common or garden variety is generally harmless—women of a certain age who wear purple disgracefully, have two or more cats, run a new age shop, recycle fanatically, and sometimes believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden.
The witch who lives in this particular house doesn’t wear purple, can’t be bothered with pets, prefers wholesale to retail (but quit both trades some years ago), pays a cleaning firm to take care of the recycling, knows several demons personally, personally, and is not even remotely harmless.
Stross, Charles. The Apocalypse Codex (Laundry Files Book 4) (p. 33). Penguin Publishing Group.
A. On Top: Another Florid Sentence by James Lee Burke.
“The long bar and brass foot rail, the wood-bladed fans, the jars of cracklings and pickled eggs and sausages, the coldness of bottled beer or ice-sheathed mugs, the wink in the barmaid’s eye and the shine on the tops of her breasts, the tumblers of whiskey that glowed with an amber radiance that seemed almost ethereal, the spectral bartender without a last name, the ringing of the pinball machine, all these things became my cathedral, a home beneath the sea, and just as deadly.”
Burke, James Lee. Robicheaux: A Novel (p. 394). Simon & Schuster.
B. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
Snagged from Charlie’s Diary http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2018/01/dude-you-broke-the-future.html
Perhaps the scariest post of 2018 so far. Here is an excerpt:
“Topping my list of dangerous technologies that need to be regulated, this is low-hanging fruit after the electoral surprises of 2016. Cambridge Analytica pioneered the use of deep learning by scanning the Facebook and Twitter social graphs to identify voters’ political affiliations. They identified individuals vulnerable to persuasion who lived in electorally sensitive districts and canvas them with propaganda that targeted their personal hot-button issues. The tools developed by web advertisers to sell products have now been weaponized for political purposes, and the amount of personal information about our affiliations that we expose on social media makes us vulnerable. Aside from the last US presidential election, there’s mounting evidence that the British referendum on leaving the EU was subject to foreign cyberwar attack via weaponized social media, as was the most recent French presidential election.”
“I’m biting my tongue and trying not to take sides here: I have my own political affiliation, after all. But if social media companies don’t work out how to identify and flag micro-targeted propaganda then democratic elections will be replaced by victories for whoever can buy the most trolls. And this won’t simply be billionaires like the Koch brothers and Robert Mercer in the United States throwing elections to whoever will hand them the biggest tax cuts. Russian military cyberwar doctrine calls for the use of social media to confuse and disable perceived enemies, in addition to the increasingly familiar use of zero-day exploits for espionage via spear phishing and distributed denial of service attacks on infrastructure (which are practiced by western agencies as well). Sooner or later, the use of propaganda bot armies in cyberwar will go global, and at that point, our social discourse will be irreparably poisoned.”
C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Mob bosses prefer to operate outside the law because it pays them well. The owners of large business enterprises prefer to manipulate the law because it pays them well. Both provide products consumers want. Neither can claim moral superiority over anyone.
D. Today’s Poem:
O beautiful wine-bearer, bring forth the cup and put it to my lips
Path of love seemed easy at first, what came was many hardships.
With its perfume, the morning breeze unlocks those beautiful locks
The curl of those dark ringlets, many hearts to shreds strips.
In the house of my Beloved, how can I enjoy the feast
Since the church bells call the call that for pilgrimage equips.
With wine color your robe, one of the old Magi’s best tips
Trust in this traveler’s tips, who knows of many paths and trips.
The dark midnight, fearful waves, and the tempestuous whirlpool
How can he know of our state, while ports house his unladen ships.
I followed my own path of love, and now I am in bad repute
How can a secret remain veiled, if from every tongue it drips?
If His presence you seek, Hafiz, then why yourself eclipse?
Stick to the One you know, let go of imaginary trips.
E. Definition of a House Cat:
“Basically it’s a velociraptor with a fur coat and an outsize sense of entitlement — lap fungus… [with the]…hedonistic whims of a furry egomaniac…[and]…a brain the size of a walnut—“
Stross, Charles. The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files Book 5) (p. 231). Penguin Publishing Group.
“Hitler is a fool,” (Oswald) Spengler (Author of Decline of the West) said in 1932, then voted for him for president anyway, because he thought that only strong leaders on the model of the Caesars might save the West from further decline.
Andersen, Kurt. Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (p. 440). Random House Publishing Group.