Saturday, August 31, 2013

Which one are you?


from "Strangers in the Wind"

Strangers in the Wind
Another Rainy Day in New York City
Shoorah Shoorah for Hollywood

From the Bay City Rollers' last album with singer Les McKeown (1978), the last album I bought as a fan. I, about 10 years later, accidentally came across "Elevator" and liked it and now own it; but my BCR era lasted just as long as the Les-vocals did. (Though soulful, tormented Eric --writer or cowriter of all the songs below--was always my favorite, the group wasn't the same after McKeown's departure. I loved his voice then and just now realize how distinctive it was, how much he brought to every song, even if mediocre; there is no "Bay City Rollers" without him.)



...In her hand lies an opened book
She gives a sign then she turns the page
And in her smile she knows how it all will end
But in my eyes she sees
We're strangers in the wind




Like early morning strangers we had nothing left to say but
"See you 'round"...

It's another rainy day in New York City
At night those city lights they sure look pretty
I held my candle to the wind and watched my dreams just sail away...





Rudy stole the heart of the world
Dream lover of the silver screen
Your mama used to call out his name
But in the crowd was never seen
Powder puffs and gigolos
Dancing girls in soft repose
Natasha, what did you see
Behind the scenes of Valvoline...

"I Am Not Ashamed"

 
I've been searching online for Barbara Payton's 1963 autobiography "I Am Not Ashamed" for weeks now, unable to find a copy for under $50 (and even that a re-issue from 2004, also now out of print), which I wasn't willing to pay... Today on eBay, thought I'd try yet another search... and look what I just won for a grand "Buy It Now" total (including s/h) of $8.33!!
 
The eclectic "taste" of the seller cracks me up; and I certainly hadn't thought of early '90s personalities Reiser and Joe Bob Briggs for a while. Aside from the Payton book, I'll probably keep all of the rest except for Reiser's, whose bon mots I'm quite sure don't apply to anyone any more. (Did they ever, except to a generic, office-conversation-conscious group of Yuppies for about 6 months in 1994?) 
 
Payton and the Trapp Family and early/mid Bruce, on the other hand, are timeless. (Joe Bob Briggs kind of an early pop-culture libertarian.)


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gay Kids Holding Hands on Campus

Today was the day before the first day of the Fall semester at UT-Austin, so, after a summer of working around a sparsely populated campus, everyone was BACK!

After my lunch break, I was sitting outside on a low building ledge having a cig when two very young-looking punk chicks (shaved heads, torn Ts) walked by me holding hands... and then one of them turned around and gave me the biggest smile! (What for, honey?! I'm 48! But thank you!) :) 

And then as I was getting off work and walking to my bus, I stopped by my favorite ancient oak tree for a smoke...And two very young-looking nerdy boys walked by me holding hands. Neither of this pair smiled at me, but I was grinning inside at THEM! I wanted to run after them and shake them and say, "You guys are so CUTE! And so lucky to be able to be sweet and young together."

When I first came to campus 30 years ago in the fall of 1983, I was deeply in love with a girl back home, whom I'd spend the majority of the past summer with; but she quickly found a new "best friend" once I'd left for college. I couldn't talk to anyone about my very-great loss. In the meantime, on campus, there was the touring AIDS quilt: When I looked at the guest-book, one entry (representative of many) said, "Die, faggots." When I stood on the Drag watching the annual student-group parade, I felt a thrill when the gay-student float went by. And then a frat-boy standing in the crowd next to me yelled out toward the gay float: "Fuck off, stupid faggots." I slunk home.

So much sadness and hate in the '80s when I was a young person trying to come out.

I am so happy for the cute kids I saw today holding hands. So happy that they have the chance to be "young and in love." And forever deeply sad/warped that I missed out on that.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Joan Crawford / Flapper Girl (Lumineers)

Joan Crawford / Bad Reputation

Joan Crawford / Get Sexy

Joan Crawford in "Dance, Fools, Dance" ('31)

The Union

Working for the past 2 months near the campus of my alma mater and so a couple of times a week lunching at the Student Union.

Earlier in the week while I was there: An extremely old couple hobbled in, clutching hands. Both were past 85, probably past 90, all hunched over and skin-and-bone. Both wore baseball caps. The man also carried a backpack. He carefully led his wife to a table right in front of me and made sure she was seated, then slowly made his way off to the food court.

As soon as he left, the woman turned around and smiled broadly at me. I initially smiled back. But then she kept staring at me and smiling. I then got irritated and bent to my food, consciously ignoring her.

Within a minute, she got up from her table and staggered past me, into the broader seating area. "Oh fuck," I thought, by this time figuring out that something was wrong. I'd made eye contact with her. Sans her husband or anyone else, I was now responsible for what happened to her. I stopped eating and turned around so I could watch her. She continued wandering aimlessly around the huge room. I didn't know at what point I should step in and guide her back to her table. As long as I could still see her, I thought it was OK to just let her be. And I was curious as to what her husband's reaction would be when he got back with the food.

When he showed up minutes later, he at first looked toward their table. Seeing no one, he then scanned the room and spotted his wife. Then made eye contact with me and said to me as he passed: "That's my wife. She has Alzheimer's."

I didn't know what to say back. I HAD been keeping an eye on her, but I didn't want to say to him, "Yes, I know. I was watching out." I didn't know if that would be condescending or make him feel bad, like he had been remiss in some way. What I did was just nod back without smiling and keep eating. But afterwards, that felt cold. I felt that I SHOULD have said something friendly to him.

Once he got her back to their table, he pulled out 2 small hamburgers from the Wendy's bag. Nothing else, no fries or Cokes or anything. He fed one of the burgers to her, and within 15 minutes they made their way out again.

-------------------------------------

A sad thing that the above made me think of:  A 2-year-old mindlessly grinning at me wouldn't have caused irritation. A 2-year-old wandering off by herself sans parent would have made me immediately get up and go fetch her. A 90-year-old, though, displaying the same behavior... my reactions were the opposite. What might have been cute in a 2-year-old was horrifying to me in a 90-year-old Alzheimer's sufferer. Both at similar mental capacity, but at opposite ends of the life spectrum. Why a 2-year-old's naturally undeveloped mental behavior not in any way deemed frightening but a 90-year-old's naturally deteriorating mental behavior frightening? (Well, obviously, I guess, that I saw in the old woman a horrible portent of my own future agedness. And a realization that I had not had a realization of The Life Spectrum. Which is a bell curve, not a trajectory moving constantly upward, as you think when you're young.)

Time Passages

While the temperature's still hitting 100 degrees here in Austin, there has always been something about the end of August and its impending new school and football seasons that makes this time of year mentally stimulating for me. (Plus there's the knowledge that I've survived another season of stagnant, lethargy-inducing heat and that within a month, I can start leaving my windows open again, at least at night. I crave some fresh air after 4 months of AC!)

And so with fall kinda-sorta in the air, I then pushed season-change annoyingly further -- to thinking about which calendar to buy for 2014. (I have a lot of free time at my current temp gig.) I immediately starting browsing for various New York City calendars, which I've had for the past I-don't-know-how-many years. And was surprised, after looking at them, to find myself thinking, "Eh." I'll always like/admire the town and think it a gorgeous, exciting place. But I've pretty much gotten over MISSING it (as I had for the past 3 years) or DREAMING about it (as I did in the years before I got to live there). What initially caught my fancy this time while browsing on Amazon:

 
I'd only vaguely heard of a "Grumpy Cat" Internet sensation. Turns out there's a 2014 Grumpy Cat calendar, too, which cracked me up until I was crying. But...NO. I can't have a calendar with funny animals on it. That would just mean that I'd given up on life completely. So I will probably get this one instead:


Los Angeles/Hollywood has always scared me. The utter vapidity and apparent soullessness. (The view of the town in movies like "Annie Hall" and "Day of the Locust" always struck me as being horrifyingly psychologically true.) But now that I'm older, I think I can take a step back from that fear for my personal soul-safety (ha! among other things, being 48 means no longer being so malleable and attractive to soul-leeches) and simply appreciate some of the history of the place, and of the stories/haunts of some of the people who have lived/died there -- American Dream stories like Joan Crawford's, as well as flip-side Nightmare stories like Barbara Payton's or Charles Manson's. Love it or hate it, it IS obviously a fascinating place, a crux that attracts some pretty powerful (and extreme) energy. I'm curious, and want to feel for myself, what it is about the place that inspires such.

-----------

Speaking of Hollywood, I haven't yet received my Barbara Payton bio, but I did get/read today John Gilmore's "Laid Bare: A Memoir of Wrecked Lives and the Hollywood Death Trip." Despite the lurid subtitle and subject matter, Gilmore's actually a subtle, insightful writer. A plug at the frontispiece by Gary Indiana:

"Gilmore deals with mythically familiar subjects, but not to turn them inside out. Instead, he boils off the myth and shows you how things really were, and what things felt like to the people living what later became a myth. Most books that try to do this take the later myth as something almost ordained by fate -- which is only true ex post facto -- so that the other parts of a celebrated person's life are simply rendered as obstacles and setbacks to the ultimate goal; the people they knew 'on the way up' become extraneous minor characters, etc. That approach only reinforces the unfortunately widespread belief that celebrities are the only people who have real lives. Gilmore shows what a pile of shit that ultimate goal really is, and that the people who get there are completely warped by the process of getting there and that they don't change into wonderful beings just because ten million people know who they are...

I think, ultimately, Gilmore's work is as much opposed to gossip as it is to mythmaking, because both are different faces of celebrity-worship, an epidemic mental illness in our society. When you find someone who isn't infected with it to one degree or another, you realize, as somebody once said, that sanity is the most profound moral option of our time."

Friday, August 23, 2013

My CDs

are starting

to hurt

my 

EYES!!!

I Pray For You (Baby)

While I in the mid-80s owned Julian Lennon's first two albums ("Valotte" and "Secret Value of Daydreaming"), and, later, his '99 "comeback" "Photograph Smile," I wasn't about to start re-buying any of those individually 'cause they weren't all that great to begin with. Trying to find some sort of "hits" of his, I came across VH1's "Behind the Music: The Julian Lennon Collection," which is, believe it or not, usually selling for $20 or more on Amazon and eBay. (I finally got a CD for $11 or so.)  I was kind of hoping that a distillation of his songs would be a cheerful experience to re-listen to, but no. Of the 16 songs of the album that I downloaded to my iPod, I immediately deleted 5 of them (most from "Mr. Jordan") 'cause they were as bad as I remembered them to be 25 years ago. (One, "Jesse," I kept on there just because it was SO bad that I wanted it around in case I had to prove just how bad! "Jesse's in a new low rider / Outside Frank's drive-in / He's there with Juanita and the gang...")

Julian's problem is... He simply just can't WRITE very well. Occasionally, he'll come up with a catchy hook, but then he can't seem to do anything with it within a 4-minute song format. ("Say You're Wrong," from his '85 debut album, is an example of a pop song just DYING to be good; it's REALLY good for about 40 seconds and then the non-imagination/dumbness of the repetition gets irritating. Same with the '99 "I Don't Wanna Know" clip shown below -- it's tunefully a better song than "Say You're Wrong"...but in '99 Julian was nearing 40, yet still writing like a 12-year-old discovering rhymes for the first time.)

All said, of the 16 songs on the VH1 "hits," I'm glad to have "Valotte," "Saltwater," "Day After Day," "I Don't Wanna Know," and "Photograph Smile." The latter three from his '99 attempted comeback, and all still extremely lyrically challenged.



...Oh baby, you were never really good for me
Just maybe, you're a stranger to reality
And baby, don't you know you haven't got a clue
'Cause lately, I don't know what to do.

I don't wanna know what's going on
And I don't wanna know what's right or wrong
And I don't wanna know whose bed you're in
And I don't wanna know just where you've been.

Oh baby, you said you're changing for the better now
Just maybe, you're not as strong as you thought somehow
And baby, you know you're heading down a one way track
And baby, I won't bring you back.

Well, you said you were looking for a better way
But you just keep coming back
To a place you can never seem to get away ["to a place you can never seem to get away"? REALLY? Couldn't you have simply used "to a place that you can't escape" instead?]
That will always hold you back...

Oh baby, you said you'd rather be a daddy's girl,
But lately, you're tryin' to fight against the whole wide world
Just maybe, you've found a love that you can hold on to
And baby, I pray for you.

[I don't ever want to hear "baby" / "maybe" or a line ending with "back" ever again after this!]

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Move Over Darling

Joan Crawford and Doris Day clubbing in 1960.

 

 
[Nerd confession: Back in 2006, I'd just gotten both a booming new car stereo system AND the Doris Day "Golden Girl" hits collection. On my way to work one day, was blasting "Move Over Darling" with the windows down, feelin' pretty sexy and cool... Until I came to a stoplight, and a carload o' frat boys happened to pull up next to me right when the "Make love to me" chorus was going on and on and on and on and on... ]

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Joan Crawford / Beautiful Dirty Rich

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye

["...while in her cups at the Coach and Horses bar, Barbara would often take out a miniature statue of St. Jude from the pocket of her house dress and talk to it." --from an interview with Payton biographer John O'Dowd]

All her incantations couldn't conjure
one last drop of even bad luck
from the dregs of Old Jude's soggy bottom.

(I am not ashamed
to say the heart stopped long ago)

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Like cats, I apparently also need some sort of Water Sign incarnation in my life at all times (completely lacking such in my own astrological chart), because now Barbara Payton (November 16) has stepped in to fill the void in my real life.

I was bored at work last week and started randomly browsing around for "Franchot Tone" (Joan Crawford's 2nd husband), just casually looking for stuff about Franchot/Joan that I could possibly use for my Joan site. Ended up instead reading about Tone's third wife, Barbara Payton, especially multiple interviews with her recent biographer John O'Dowd.


I already knew about Payton's self-destructive story (a brief 6-year film career -- the downhill slide accelerating after her lover Tom Neal famously beat her fiancĂ© Tone into a coma in 1951; by '55 she couldn't find any more movie work; by '62 she was a full-blown prostitute; she died of heart/liver failure in 1967, at age 39, at her parents' home). And, at age 48, I wasn't particularly fascinated by it as, say, I might have been at age 17 or 18, when my passion for a year or two was the equally (albeit differently) "doomed" Frances Farmer,  after the release of the bio-pic starring Jessica Lange. (While Farmer's film career was jettisoned by a combination of her own superior attitude and the political climate of the time, she did manage to pull herself together in the last 10 years of her life, dying in her 50s of throat cancer.)

But a couple of things from the O'Dowd interviews struck me: (1) the quote that I put before the poem above, about Payton talking to her St. Jude figurine. (Good lord, there but for the grace of god go I! I didn't beg St. Jude for help in my recent very barren years upon being forced to come home from NYC, but I was in EXACTLY that place around '96-'97, complete with heartfelt chats with St. Jude candles that I bought for $1 apiece from the Hispanic section of local grocery stores.)

And (2) another O'Dowd interview quote: "A former actor named John Rayborn, who was an ex-lover of Barbara's, told me that they would often lie around the Wilcox Hotel and write poems together. He said hers were always very spiritual and talked a lot about God and religion." I then found the exact Rayborn quote from O'Dowd's bio, a bit less genteel: "For several months, Barbara and I holed up in that godforsaken Wilcox dump where we drank all day, screwed, wrote poems and talked about religion. I laid around on my ass like a bum while she turned tricks to support us. I remember the room smelling like booze, dirty bodies and even dirtier sex. Real nice life, huh?"

Now, I don't think I was ever in any danger of THAT --- too anal and judgmental and misanthropic and egotistical and boundary-conscious to ever be comfortable for very long with true lowlifes -- but I was extremely touched by her desire for poetry and God even in the worst of physical surroundings and circumstances. She didn't care about her body, but was making an effort at sustaining her soul in the midst of her physical degradation...

And then an odd third thing that struck me, from a brief excerpt from her '63 autobiography "I Am Not Ashamed" that I was able to read via Amazon's "Look Inside" service: While she's hanging out in Mexico in the late '50s with a native whom she was briefly married to, a severe storm came in. The man was concerned, as most of us would probably be, with salvaging his boat and home, but all she could think about -- inspired by the storm -- was ripping off her clothes and wanting violent sex from
him... That sounds prurient of me to mention, but the way she described it was wanting "one-ness" with the storm, which I, while being too cowardly to act upon such an impulse in real life, also understood. She also described the way her husband looked at her: With pity and disgust. She knew that was the moment that their marriage was over, and she understood why. And I have the feeling that she got that reaction many times in response to her many overt expressions of Id (that most of us suppress so well). Says Freud on the Id:

"It is the dark, inaccessible part of our personality, what little we know of it we have learned from our study of the Dreamwork and of the construction of neurotic symptoms, and most of that is of a negative character and can be described only as a contrast to the ego. We approach the id with analogies: we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations.... It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organization, produces no collective will, but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle."
A "chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations" indeed. And with that, I ordered O'Dowd's 480-page bio, "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye." So I could continue to live with some sort of Scorp/Water Sign. From a safe distance.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A weird side-note: When I woke up this morning, I was trying to finish the last line of the poem in my head, about St. Jude and all. When I was about to step into the shower, I heard a female voice's "Hello?" It wasn't from next door or out in the hall or the TV or anything. I freaked out for a sec, then said to whoever: "Just don't scare me in the shower. Please." I was, blessedly, obliged.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

El Tigre

Lying lazy on my bed this Sunday afternoon, a skittering at the tree right outside my second-story window. Usually there are squirrels out there, or, one time, a rat! This time when I peered out, it was a super-skinny tiger-striped kitty with big balls and a small head, only about 6 months old, having just jumped off the roof to the tree. He was on his way down the tree when I used my never-fail call for both squirrels and kitties: Pssss--pssss--pssss--pssss. (Squirrels and cats are from two completely different families, but they are so similar! (1) They both have a sense of humor; and (2) They both, when it's hot, like to lie on their bellies with their legs splayed out.)

El Tigre stopped in his tracks to see where the "Pssss" was coming from. When he saw my face peering out at him from the window, he turned around and had a seat himself to look back at me and see what else I would say, which was:  "Hi Scraggly. You're so skinny. Are you from the dumpster at the beer store? You're just a baby cat."

After about 2 minutes of this small-talk, he decided to make his way on down the tree. Later in the afternoon, I fell back asleep again and dreamed about feeding him.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Songs from My German Summer of '77









I was so excited to be on a trip to Germany this summer! Didn't realize at the time that my mom had only taken us out of desperation because my father had threatened to kill her. (His parting words to us -- his wife, 12-year-old daughter, and 6-year-old son: "I hope your plane crashes.")

He was in the Air Force and, in the past, his transfers to other cities had always provided a respite from his violence. This time, he was stuck in Fort Worth, and SHE had to get out. By the fall, he shot at her, and she finally filed for divorce. The summer before, though, I just loved the music that I heard in Germany and thought how lucky and special I was to get to hear it.

Free

When you wake up one morning thinking about someone (as usual)... but then realize in the first moment of clarity that you've had in years that you don't actively love her any more. Her thoughts aren't yours; her heart and soul aren't, either. You feel suddenly clean. She's just become part of your history.

You are (temporarily, until the next time with a new person) free.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Victim's Nails

16-year-old kidnap victim Hannah Anderson, rescued in Idaho several days ago, has apparently immediately rebounded from her ordeal of being abducted by 40-year-old "family friend" James DiMaggio, who was shot and killed by FBI agents earlier this week, after they were tipped off by Idaho locals who accidentally came upon Anderson and DiMaggio in their part of the woods.
 
Tuesday online, Hannah shared her "tribute nails" (according to Anderson, representing her slain mother and brother), along with a brand-new photo of her with her kitty.  
 
 
 

In the meantime (Wednesday), was an updated news story:

http://news.msn.com/crime-justice/mother-and-boy-tortured-before-girl-was-abducted

DiMaggio and 16-year-old Hannah Anderson exchanged about 13 calls before Hannah was picked up from cheerleading practice on Aug. 4. Both phones were turned off, and the home burned several hours later. 
 ---------------------------------------------

I was irritated by Trayvon Martin's friend Rachel Jeantel posting online a photo of her "court nails" before testifying:

 
But that pales in comparison to Hannah Anderson's posting her designer nails just a few days after the horrific murder of her mother/brother and her supposedly traumatic kidnapping by a sexually obsessed "family friend."
 
Jeantel was merely irritating and thoughtless. Anderson -- given the "13 calls" she and DiMaggio exchanged before he picked her up from cheerleading practice and her immediate online glamour shots after the end of their "adventure" -- is starting to look more and more sociopathic.  
 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Gamma Waves


Do Rats Have Souls?  (The Economist, today)

...She and her colleagues implanted six electrodes into the brain of each of rat and then killed it by injecting potassium chloride into its heart. In every case, for up to 30 seconds after the animal’s heart stopped beating, there were spikes of electrical activity in its brain. What spiked in particular was a phenomenon called coherent gamma waves. These are believed to reflect neurological processes that bind together the activities of various parts of the brain and are thought by some researchers to be involved in generating the mysterious phenomenon known as consciousness
---------

Because of an acquaintance's recent bizarre behavior, I've been especially thinking/wondering about what kind of mysterious "force fields" (I, in my ignorance, have just used that for want of a better term) are at work when it comes to interaction between entities in the world. The mention in the article above of "gamma waves" made me perk up. When I did a search for the phrase, started coming up with many interesting science articles, like those below, linking schizophrenia with gamma-wave readings that "reflected a lack of synchrony": 
Out-of-sync neurons can disrupt different parts of brain networks that orchestrate perceptual or emotional learning, perhaps contributing to schizophrenia's variety of symptoms.
I'd had a bit of a Romantic notion that perhaps schizophrenics just saw "too much"--that they were TOO aware of patterns that might be lying below the surface... But after reading the articles, started to realize that schizophrenics aren't coming up with anything extra -- they're actually DEFICIENT-- failing to see patterns apparently generated by gamma-wave activity that mentally healthy people in the control groups were able to see. (On the other end of the thought-pattern spectrum, those experienced at meditating exhibited much MORE gamma activity.) 

Schizophrenia syncs fast: disconnected brain may lie at heart of disorder (Science News, 2005)

Schizophrenia may involve bad timing  (Science News, 1999)

Synchronized thinking: brain activity linked to schizophrenia, skillful meditation (Science News, 2004)



Monday, August 12, 2013

Three views of Lindsay Lohan in "The Canyons"

http://www.filmcomment.com/article/the-noise-factor

http://jezebel.com/the-canyons-is-a-five-hour-slow-motion-reel-of-white-du-1030923307

Me, without having yet seen "The Canyons":

2006-2007 for Lohan should have been about her "crossover into legit adulthood" films: "Prairie Home Companion" (co-starring Meryl Streep) and "Georgia Rule" (co-starring Jane Fonda) with, OK, the harmlessly cute "Just My Luck" thrown in as a sop to her teen fans.

Instead, this young, vulnerable woman got tagged by Professional Decadents as a... Professional Decadent. Because she had such a superbly beautiful, haunted, adult face, and because she was dating a woman, and because she obviously had drug and emotional problems that could be exploited. And so came the stupidly low "I Know Who Killed Me," and the stupid Marilyn photo sessions, and the stupid Liz movie.

Can't judge "Canyons" without having seen it, but it, too, seems, on the surface, exploitative and sadistic -- as in, "Let's see what shitty things we can make this once-beautiful, once-special girl do on camera now that she's involuntarily abdicated from the Land o' Streep and Fonda."

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Other Side of Mommie Dearest

Hadn't checked my Facebook messages for the past 2 weeks. Tonight, from the cousin I was closest to while growing up, but whom I haven't seen for over 30 years:

"...Do you remember me coming to stay with you when I was 4 ?? All the good things I did for my son, Nick, while he was growing up, I learned in that short time from Aunt C--------."

"Aunt C" is my mom. And, no, I don't at all remember my cousin coming to stay with us then. (When she was 4, I would have been 3. We would have been living in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1968.)

Despite my ongoing problems with my mother, I felt happy to read my cousin's message. But also kind of amazed, as in, "Really? ALL the good things you did for your son you learned from MY mother when you were 4??"

What-the-hell kind of kindness/profound life lessons was my mother dishing out behind my back way back in '68?? :)

I do admire my mother for her orderliness. And for reading to me and teaching me things like "The Pledge of Allegiance" when I was pre-Kindergarten. And for making sure I looked neat (which was always commented on).  I was a darn smart, well-groomed little kid.

I also admire the fact that when she led our Girl Scout troop when I was 8, she made sure the one little black girl in our troop wasn't left out when it came time to making our "tin-can faces." (Don't laugh -- this was actually an issue! What color should the faces be?! Most Girl-Scout troops in suburban Texas in the early '70s hadn't ever faced this "problem"!) My mother's solution: A Girl-Scout GREEN for all the tin-can faces! YES!

Still, I'm still stymied: What in the world was my cousin so moved by at age 4 by my
mother that it later influenced the upbringing of her own son?? "All the good things I did for my son, Nick, while he was growing up, I learned in that short time from Aunt C--------." That's pretty profound.

----------------------------------------------

8/12 Update, after asking my mom over the weekend what in the hell she might have done that was so inspiring: ... She doesn't remember anything "inspirational" at all! She remembers me and my cousin, at ages 3 and 4, not getting along, me not wanting to share my things with my cousin, my cousin constantly whining and telling on me. My mom wanting both of us to shut up! :) 

So... I'm STILL wondering what in the world it was about my mother in 1968 that inspired my cousin to raise her son based on ONE WEEK away from home that apparently consisted mainly of two little bratty girls bickering! :)

Street Fighting Joan






Friday, August 09, 2013

Alone Together

Just ate lunch at the student union. At one table next to me was a group of four 20-something working-guys. During the ENTIRE LUNCH, two of them were looking at their hand-held devices and the other two were staring at the TV screen above their heads. At another close-by table were three students. Two on their devices. One with a newspaper in front of his face. (How old-school of him!)

Just wondering: WHAT IS THE POINT of going to lunch with other people if you're going to refuse to talk to them?

While trying to find a photo online to illustrate what I saw at lunch today (since, even if I'd had a camera with me, I couldn't very well start snapping away at the sociological specimens!), I came upon a mention of a 2012 book that sounds interesting -- "Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other." But I thought this comment from a reviewer on Amazon regarding the author's indictment of current technological trends was extremely astute:

The same logic would indict countless other technologies:

* The printing press leads humans to seek their relationships in pages rather than with each other?

* The telephone allows people to maintain long-distance "virtual" relationships rather than focus on their more "real-world" local friends?

* A doll diminishes a child's ability to form relationships, since a doll's emotions are projected by the child, whereas real relationships are based on emotions and thoughts arising from both parties?

I suspect all of these are partly true, but are hardly grounds for being a Luddite. Our home may be devoid of talking toys (see above), but books, telephones, and dolls are all present.

I could even use the same logic to indict the author herself:

* The increasingly reliance on psychologists like Sherry Turkle, who we pay to listen to our problems, has diminished our ability to form real human relationships based on mutual give and take.

As the TV-watchers and newspaper-reader illustrated to me today: We, as a species, have always found SOMETHING to enable us to escape our "dreary" ACTUAL companions!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

"Maternal urge decreases by a quarter for every 15 extra IQ points"

UK Daily Mail

"...a new study has revealed a clear correlation between intelligence and childlessness - with cleverer women more likely to choose not to have a family.

The study, which was conducted by Satoshi Kanazawa, a researcher at the London School of Economics, found that a woman's urge to have children decreases by a quarter for every 15 extra IQ points.

...One in five 45-year-olds is childless, while among those with degrees, the figure rises to 43 per cent, suggesting that Kanazawa's findings are sound.

A social study, conducted by social scientist Dr Nattavudh Powdthavee of the University of York, revealed that the notion that happiness comes from having children is illusory and offers yet another clue to why so many clever women are rejecting motherhood...."




Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Monday, August 05, 2013

"The further you ride, the more you see"

In the week leading up to my birthday: Got my first (well, what will probably be my ONLY) birthday card in the mail today! Thanks, Marlboro, for the inspiring philosophical well wishes (and, better yet, the coupons)!



Saturday, August 03, 2013

Picasso Visita el Planeta de Los Simios

For months I've already been downloading my CDs to my iPod. But haven't ever bought a single from iTunes until tonight. My very first: Adam Ant from '81 -- my favorite song on the "Prince Charming" album, which I bought new when I was 16, and not on the recent "Hits" that I just bought on CD. I still can't figure out what Ant's beef was with Picasso, or what the "bleach killer" had to do with it all...

After "Picasso," my next orders from iTunes: "Thrift Shop," "Love the Way You Lie," and "Gangnam Style."



See the Spaniard eating chocolates
See the Spaniard have a ball
See the Spaniard trust in no one
He's on quality street
He's on quality street

As the masters rot on walls
And the angels eat their grapes
I watched Picasso
Visit 'The Planet Of The Apes'

As the masters rot on walls
And the angels eat their grapes
I watched Picasso, Pablo Picasso
Visit 'The Planet Of The Apes'
(Yeah)

See the Spaniard seek companion
See the Spaniard take it all
See the Spaniard sell his friends out
He's on quality street
He's on quality street

And pretenders pretend
To their patronage lend
But it's the ones we don't see
That always fascinate me

As the masters rot on walls
And the angels eat their grapes
I watched Picasso
Visit 'The Planet Of The Apes'

As the masters rot on walls
And the angels eat their grapes
I watched Picasso, Pablo Picasso
Visit 'The Planet Of The Apes'
(Yeah)

As the real heroes died
And their ideas supplied
To a fat little magpie
With money in his eyes

They bowed and they scraped
As opinions he shaped
Now every little sketch a fortune will fetch
And the bleach killer kills
And the bleach killer kills, yeah

And as the masters rot on walls
(See the Spaniard sell the whole world)

Stinky-Shelf

Thursday bought the last new (used) bookshelf that will possible fit in this apartment. (Maybe I'm intentionally buying more and more stuff so I HAVE TO get a bigger place when my lease is up in January? Or else accumulating a bunch of crap that they'll find me buried under when I die in this one room 30 years from now, albeit after my 15-minutes-of-fame-feature on "Hoarders"...) And afterward spent a very satisfying evening (4 hours or so!) rearranging all of my books. OK, on the surface, enjoying such an evening could possibly sound very sad! :) But, seriously, if aesthetics and/or books mean something to you, it's kind of like interior decorating AND a psychiatric session:

"I found this never-would-have-picked-up-except-what-did-she-have-to-say-about-living with-Ingmar Bergman Liv Ullman bio plus 'Looking for Mr. Goodbar' in the basement laundry-room of my 1st roommate's apartment in NYC (along with a cool pink lava lamp and weights that I had to leave behind...); and this random '96 memoir 'Drinking: A Love Story'--by a then-young woman who's since died--in 2010 at a thrift store in San Antonio, a 'shopping trip' that was one of the few pleasant occasions spent with my mother when forced to live with her...; and I remember carrying around this Rilke translation for MONTHS on campus back in the '80s; and was I trying to prove that I was an intellectual and not just a secretary when I ostentatiously read and copiously marked up Prokopios's 'Secret History' for 2 months straight at my desk last fall?..."

ETC. ETC. Psychology aside, I also like to keep my books grouped by category -- all the fiction together, all the movie stuff together, all the plays, all the non-fiction/history, etc. Usually a particular group tends to fit on one shelf, or a couple of small shelves; but when it doesn't... Yes, I have to sit there and THINK about what to do/re-do about the arrangements! Which is why shifting around a few books took over 4 hours! :)

I'd really hated having to stack books on top of each other (or store them away), though, which is why I was so happy getting this latest bookshelf -- everything can now finally BREATHE!

The shelf is real wood (as opposed to particle board), 5 feet tall by 30 in. wide, AND delivered...all for $45! Thanks, craigslist! But I have one beef: The couple who sold it to me and delivered it were very nice, but... the woman SMELLED. The second I opened my door to say hello to her, she absolutely reeked (like one of my bus-drivers, also grossly overweight -- a "haven't bathed for at least a week" smell). The man with her wasn't stinky. After he and I got the shelf into my apartment and they'd left, a smell still lingered... Was it from her? Was the shelf also stinky from having been in their home? I honestly couldn't tell if what I was smelling was pine or BO... Today, a day later, I still can't tell. (My own smoking helps mask any true odors wafting about!)

Below:

1) New Stinky Bookshelf.
2) History/sociology books freed up from storage by the new Stinky Bookshelf.
3) Jealous old book section of the one-room that didn't get much attention, aside from the winnowing out of the essays from the fiction and re-addition of the paperbacks. (Also jealous 'cause the CDs and Joan rule this corner!)





In Air

the you that I miss was never there
we met in air, and dispersed with as little mass

which came first
my wish, or the way you were

I was never sure
which way the wind blew
without clouds occasionally kind enough
to leave clues in a wide, vacant sky