Man v. dryer

Just went into the laundry room to do a little maintenance on the dryer, just reconnect the vent pipe, which had come loose. Been doing maintenance and repair on our washers and dryers now for what must be thirty five years. It’s part of the high testosterone package, with tools, bruises, assorted lacerations, a thesaurus of swear words, accidentally hitting yourself in the balls with a five pound wrench and that masculine warm all over feeling when the husband is the hero again and the wife looks at you, bats her eyes, and pats you on the head. It’s the coolest thing. Or would have been, if my arthritic corpse could twist and turn like it once did. Fuck. I gave up and will have to call for a service appointment. You paid for it, she said, three years service. I nodded and slunk into the living room, ashamed, to sit there in the dark, my arthritis twinging, my balls still aching from that wrench.

Man v. rat

Nailed my third rat. I’m a master trapper. The cute little beast was apparently a smallish rattus rattus trapped inside when the exterminator plugged their holes from the outside inside. Anyway, the Sioux was impressed. Too bad it’s not thirty years ago. She’d thank my brains out.

L.A. is askitter with rats, I read. The adorable things are everywhere. Ours aren’t, tho’, they’re up in rat heaven, with cheese everywhere.

A Fourth of July in Greendale, Wisconsin

I’ve never worn shorts myself. My left leg has always been so messed up by arthritis it was better hidden. Fyl never wore shorts much either, though she still has very nice slender Indian legs. In fact, she’s a lady who can wear skinny jeans, which I’m sure her friends hate. That Greendale 4th of July parade was on an incredibly hot Midwestern day, rough on Angelenos, and the high school bands (including the one Fyl had long ago played flute in) and troops of Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, Brownies and Cub Scouts, Drum and Bugle Corps (including the one Fyl had been a flag girl in), local politicians, beauty queens, Lyons Club, Knights of Columbus, groups of funny dads in funny costumes, and the inevitable Marine Corps honor guard marched past, trying not to droop in the humidity. Afterward there was a village beer garden and weenie roast, and hundreds of family BBQs and cases of local beers you’ve never heard of. Fyl and I finally retreated inside and sat in front of the air conditioner. Later, we all wandered down to the schoolyard for the drunk chamber of commerce’s firework show, which was lotsa fun, even the ones they accidentally shot into the crowd. Afterward we walked back home through the swimmy night, our way lit by fireflies. We hung outside the house drinking beer, swatting mosquitoes and watching the fireflies, and the old folks went off to bed. We followed later after sneaking a joint behind the apple trees in the backyard. Back inside we crept about quietly in the living room, where the sleeper couch was, giggling like a couple stoned teenagers, and slipped under the sheets to make sweaty summer love, quietly so the old folks couldn’t hear, though they probably could anyway.

Brick, Fyl, her sister Carol and nephew Peter in Greendale, Wisconsin on a steamy Fourth of July in the 1980s.


(December 2021) Got a new cane, just to have a new cane. Now I have a new cane and an extra cane. The luxuries of the retired life. Anyway, it came in the mail, with instructions. Lots of instructions. Who the hell needs instructions for a cane? Turns out I do. All this time I’ve been using canes wrong. There was a little picture that showed me. Had the old one up too high. First time I can ever remember using something too tall. A quick adjustment, a shorter cane, and suddenly I’m not teetering. They don’t go so much by height but by arm length. Who’d a thunk? Then again I’ve never been much for thunking. And it’s not one of the appendages I ever gave much thought to, anyway, although long sleeve shirts on me look like short sleeve shirts on me, something I never connected with cane height. It was all far too mathematical for me. Luckily, the cane instructions (in four languages, so i could look at the picture in Spanish, French and German too), explained all the algebraic detail in a little drawing. I was flabbergasted. Fuck me, I said. Arm length accommodated for, I felt like the suddenly uncrippled Tiny Tim in the last scene of The Christmas Carol, running and leaping into Scrooge’s arms. I said that very thing to Fyl. No leaping, she said.

Anyway, if this isn’t one of those Hallmark channel Christmas movies, I don’t know what is.

Psychedelic bathing suit

Swimsuit. I love it. Alas, girls didn’t didn’t wear these when I was young. We even had the right psychedelic drugs to stare at them with. But no, all we got were bikinis or not even. Totally bummed our trips. This, though, it looks like a summer Love-In at Golden Gate Park. I’m having a flashback right now, in fact, it’s just that nobody can tell.

Of course, that Love In was in 1967. I was ten years old and in Anaheim that summer. Oh well.

No it wasn’t Anaheim, it was New Jersey, across from Philly. I spent the Summer of Love in a decaying suburb in New Jersey not far from a reeking Delaware River. We had the best water pollution when I was a kid. Rivers had big foamy heads like a perfectly poured beer. All the houses in our neighborhood were old, ancient by California standards. Our place had been built sometime in the late 1800s, with a big porch in the front, a cellar, three floors and an attic, a basement, and a root cellar out back. Doubtless George Washington slept if not in our house built long after he died or the abandoned boat in the backyard we played in, then in one of the neighbors’ even more ancient houses, he slept everywhere in New Jersey, apparently. Dude got around. We had begun 1967 in Maine, though, snow thick on the ground and falling fast. Finished it in a motel in Anaheim, after a few months outside Boston. At some point during the waning days of the Summer of Love we were living in an 18th Century three story place in the Charlestown part of Boston. All the houses looked like the Addams Family. One time we wandered over to Cambridge and strolled around Harvard. A movie theater in the neighborhood was showing Fantasia, and long haired bearded dudes and willowy young things were lined up around the block to get in. My parents thought it was so cute, all the hippies going to see a Disney cartoon. I suddenly remembered this decades later while stoned out of my mind watching Fantasia. Oh.

And then one look at this psychedelic bathing suit and I flashed back. Though actually I flashed back to Goldie Hawn and Judy Carne in bikinis and body paint gyrating on Laugh In. They looked just like this bathing suit, but in black and white, because that’s what our set still was, and I was a ten year old experiencing the psychedelic revolution in flickering shades of grey.

And you’ll never hear surf music again.


Somebody offered me a fig newton from a plate full of fig newtons. Take two, she said. Take three! She was all about the fig newtons. I had to decline. I loved fig newtons till they tried to kill me. Really, really loved fig newtons. I still do, I just can’t eat them. Talk about an embarrassing allergy. Do you have any allergies? Figs. Figs? Yes, figs. Nothing else? No, just figs. Hmmm. That’s a new one. You sure it was figs? Yes, figs, definitely figs. Had to take an ambulance to Urgent Care. Ok, figs, whatever. I do remember being referred to a gorgeous Chinese allergist. Figs, she said? It’s hard to be manly in front of a gorgeous allergist after a fig newton tried to kill you. Especially if you had had to go to Urgent Care two days in a row for the exact same thing. I hadn’t realized it was the fig newtons that had got me in the ambulance in the first place, I said. She mentally rolled her eyes. She showed me how to use an epipen and gave me a few, though I never had to use any of them. She prescribed some gnarly allergy med and forbad alcohol for three weeks and I spent the next couple weekends drinking Diet Coke at gigs and parties. Stay away from figs, she said sternly. She didn’t add moron. Since then I’ve avoided figs and life became that much less exotic. Alas, I never saw the gorgeous Chinese allergist again.

Luck of the Irish

Stone sober I poured the last shot of Teeling Irish whiskey into my coffee, got a taste, then knocked over the cup with a DVD copy of The Wind That Shakes the Barley, a film about the Irish Rebellion. Somewhere my sainted grandfather cursed the queen.

Summer solstice

(Posted to Facebook in 2018 and forgotten, about a dusk on a road trip in 2010. This might be the only thing I ever wrote about that wonderfully convoluted three week stretch to Milwaukee and back.)

I remember driving through Missouri River bottomlands on the Yankton Sioux reservation on the summer solstice. Dusk faded slowly and the air was full of fireflies and the sun took forever to set. We stopped by a bridge to get our bearings, reading the map by the last rays of sunlight. Somewhere past 9:30 it was finally night and we slunk through Nebraska on the south side of the river in the dark, the air fragrant with loam and alfalfa and slow water.

Skip E. Lowe

One of those Skip E Lowe memories . . . . I’m six foot five and at the time was strong as an ox and showed up at a Skip E. Lowe gig somewhere in Hollywood to see some friends’ band. This was the early 1980’s, before there was a public access station on cable but it was just like his show a few years later, just no cameras. Skip E. caught sight of giant me in the audience and gasped. He saw my five foot seven wife at the table with me and asked what it was like being married to a huge brute like me. He beats me black and blue, she said in a perfect deadpan monotone, and I love it. Skip E. was rendered speechless. And then fanning himself with a sheet of paper, he went on to someone else.