Just remembered I used to tool around Milwaukee on warm summer nights in Pete Fountain’s MG. How I got all 6’5” of me in there I don’t know, but Fyl and I had a ball. Her brother in law had bought it off Pete one weekend in New Orleans after a night of gumbo and that crazy blowing clarinet and driven it the length of the Mississippi Valley back to Milwaukee. Even after being stuck in the garage through long winters and a near fatal collision with a deer it still oozed hot jazz cool, that car. Zero to sixty in double time, oh yeah, a joyous ride. We’d head into the city and hop the clubs on Brady Street or wander through Summerfest all day and then take all the side streets and woody lanes to her sister’s place north of the city. On the way back we’d stop by the lake at a gorgeous little park in Whitefish Bay and sit on the grass and smoke a joint and watch the lightning bugs flash around us. I remember bolts of distant heat lightning playing on the lake, and huge June bugs appearing out of nowhere. What was that, a quarter century ago? I’d forgotten it till someone posted the cover of an old Pete Fountain LP tonight and it all came back, the muggy night air, the breeze off the lake, the music blasting from the radio, the fire flies and that car. It had a powerful engine that surged as you pressed lightly on the accelerator and could turn on a dime and I played the clutch like I’d been driving stick my whole life. Sigh….
In the long run it was utterly insignificant, of course, driving Pete Fountain’s little car, but it was such a strangely cool thing to do. It was a different world then, an analog world, experiences were real and tactile and I’d write memories like this with a pen on paper. I think I wrote this down once, which is probably why I remember it so vividly, why I can feel that Midwestern nighttime summer air and see the fireflies like they’re right here around me right now. It’s like if you live right, or even live wrong, life is full of such moments, meaningless and special, and sometimes you remember them half a lifetime later, and they seem like perfection.
When I first got my cell phone with the 420 prefix a really stoned guy called and thought I was a pot delivery service. I apologized and said I was not. Dude, he said. I thought it was a prank call but the depth of his confusion and despair was profound and convincing. Dude, he said again. Having reached the limits of his vocabulary, I said goodbye and hung up.
I don’t know if they called kids in horn rim glasses poindexters when you were kids, and these aren’t exactly poindexter worthy glasses, but I finally gave in and got some glasses that don’t bust after being squeezed onto my skull. Large frame glasses, they’re nice enough to call them. Apparently the hugely skulled are sensitive to being called big headed. Anyway, I figure with 64 just days away, my very last year of this weird sixty something state of being way beyond middle aged but not officially a senior citizen either, I can cool it with the wire frames that were the height of coolness in the hippie days when girls did make passes at guys who wore glasses. Wire frame glasses anyway. Though as I refused to wear any glasses until I was fifty and couldn’t read anything at all, you can skip all that, not that you haven’t since that opening sentence. I know I have been.
Anyway, I don’t feel like doing the selfie thing so you can just imagine me with pandemic hair like the cover of some ancient Pink Floyd album and poindexter glasses. Groovy nerdness. Such is the fate of old punk rockers in plague times.
I remember the time I walked into a room full of stoned people silently watching Jeopardy. They were so stoned I wondered how they could possibly answer any of the questions. All of a sudden the category was the Civil War and I answered all the questions without hesitation, just one of those lucky Jeopardy streaks. I’ve never watched more than a handful of Jeopardys, but these questions were easy enough if you knew your history—two Civil War battles were known by the name of one creek. What is Bull Run, Alex—but it was the most impossible feat the stoners had ever witnessed. Certainly the most impossible feat they’d witnessed since smoking those last couple bowls. They gazed upon me like I was a Jeopardy god, their half closed eyes almost awake with amazement. A veritable torrent of monosyllables gushed forth. Fuck one said. Fuck said another. The rest of the room agreed, fuck. Then they fired up another bowl and forgot it had ever happened.
Retired guy in a pandemic still up at 4 am because he threw a load in the dryer without looking at the time first. You could leave them in there and go to bed, you say, and you’d be right. But you know how stubborn retired guys can be.
So I was having coffee, a couple mandarin oranges, blueberries and two Brazil nuts when the postman brought a two and a half pound tub of Hadley deglet noor dates that just about melt in your mouth they’re so fresh and I began to feel like an out of shape arthritic Eden Ahbez or would’ve if I hadn’t just shaved. The hair is about right, though, and I can almost see the Hollywood Sign from the sundeck, but I haven’t worn anything like a hippie guru robe since my last colonoscopy.
One of my best friends, a good buddy from way back, took up flying. This was quite a few years ago, but having known him from his wild thirty something musician days, the thought of him way up there with nothing underneath him scared the hell out me. Every time a plane went down anywhere in California I read the story with dread that it would be him. It never was. It was ridiculous, I know. He was a helluva pilot, and it was something else, something organic and inevitable, that finally got him. Anyway, yesterday I read a plane went down off San Pedro. I was about to look for the name of the pilot when I realized that it couldn’t be him. It never would be him, not ever. Weird the mix of relief and inexorable sadness that came over me. Weird how things finally crystallize into something terribly finite in your mind, the odd things, even ridiculous things that you find yourself grieving over if only for a moment. Life goes on.
Sorry there’s no more of the great gobs of prose I used to spill out all over these blogs. People have been asking. Alas, epilepsy was really fucking with the long essays, and I finally had to stop. Had to stop working too. Had to stop just about everything. It’s been a couple years now and the synapses have calmed down nicely. They seem to like being bored. Me not so much at first but I’ve adapted. So I write tiny little essays now, scarcely ever longer than a paragraph. Hence all this tinyness where vastness used to be. Little gems, I tell myself. The actual gemage might be debatable, but they’re my blogs. You can think everything you do is art if no one is editing you.
Anyway, thanks for reading and feel free to complain.
Fyl just asked me to open a jar. A little torque and pop, it was done. She looked surprised. She’d brought me a jar a couple days before and I struggled with it. Finally bashed it with a spoon and with tremendous effort it popped open. It’s a bad arthritis day, I said, and it was. Everything hurt. Today it was just clutch and twist and the room was awaft with the scent of pickles and testosterone.
Sometimes it’s the little things. Well, my hand isn’t a little thing, I suppose, it’s a big thing. So it’s the little things about the big things. Anyway, tonight it made my day. Or night. Whatever. It doesn’t really matter when it was. Sometimes the little things about the little things don’t really matter.
That’s it. No point in making a big thing about it.
I wanna do another Sprouts order in a couple days—yes, Sprouts—so I figured I’d better empty the produce bin and I cut up all kinds of green stuff, with some red and orange stuff for color, plus some sliced potatoes, and an apple that had had it, dumped them into a skillet, soaked them with Worcestershire sauce and apple juice, let the black pepper, garlic powder, parsley and paprika—yes, paprika—fall like the driven snow and sautéed the living fuck out of the whole mess. Perhaps living fuck isn’t the correct term. But then neither is glop, and I glopped a mess of it into a bowl, soaked it with Tapatio (after considering a more manly habanero sauce), dropped in a couple spoonfuls of plain yogurt (I don’t tell anyone about the plain yogurt) and had an extremely late brunch. That was my meal. No bacon. No eggs. No hamburgers or burritos. Just as close as you can get to vegan without being Vegan. (The yogurt blows it, obviously, and the Worcestershire sauce contains the souls of little fishes.) While dining thusly, I went online to order half a dozen bottles from Total Wine, fours Pinot Grigios and a pair of Shiraz. No beer. No whiskey. Just wine. I try to imagine what my earlier punk rock drummer self would think of me. He would not be kind. Then again, he could be pretty annoying. He’d probably make a gay joke. He could never imagine that this—the veggies, the glop, the varietals–is just what happens to such big strong virile men as he after thirty some years in Silver Lake. Laugh, as they say, out loud.
Now I’m going to listen to some music and it terrifies me what I’ll pick. Thank god I have no Joni Mitchell. I don’t either, none. Henry Threadgill, then. Makin’ a Move, a wonderfully mad record. It’s spinning crazily as I write this, with all that drum and tuba groove. It glops. Glops good. Glops real good. Though maybe glop isn’t the correct term for this either.