I flew Delta from LAX to Minneapolis to Hartford . Red eye special . Good arrival time for my friend to pick me up , except that I got confused on the day . The day I flew in he had a gig and had to pick me up a little later . I waited in an airport bar and had a couple of expensive airport beers ,  local Connecticut stuff .

Now I’m home again . Same flight in reverse , except that this time it wasn’t a red eye .

Three hours in Minneapolis . Coming in from L.A. , I saw snow covering the parking structures outside . On the return trip , two weeks later ,  no snow . The airport is stretched out along endless concourses . Concourses . When do you walk concourses  outside of airports ? Am I missing something ? There are moving sidewalks and a tram .  Endless concourses . Food courts . Shops .  WiFi access .

I had a few mini-bottles of Scotch in my carry-on bag . They’re allowed . My friend Willie told me that last year . He gave me a couple of them to test his statement . No problem .  I showed them to the snoops , thinking that they might confiscate them . No . Willie was right .scotch

To order the same shot of Scotch during the flight would have cost me seven dollars , I think . Drinking one of the bottles during the flight I felt as if I were now out of the red , outsmarting Delta , pushing the envelope . The little bottles cost only 99 cents in Connecticut .  If I had had a few more mini-bottles I’d be sitting pretty , ahead of the game , actually beginning to show a profit . Well , almost   .

I once went from Berlin to London on Ryan Airlines . Ryan , if I remember correctly ,was the airline that seriously considered charging a fee to use the restroom . Nice .I would have gone broke .  I got to the Berlin Airport , Freuninggulingen ……., no Shaeuftshaffen ……. no Sheinifeld ? , Shoenefeld ? , at six in the morning . I had come from Poland by taxi that morning . Got there overly early , as is my way .WWI air ambulance

I was second in line . We were the only two customers to have arrived so early for the flight .  I had one bag to check . There were two conveyor belts moving luggage along : to London  and to  Ankara . I didn’t see the clerk put my lonely bag on the Ankara belt . I should have been watching , I guess . When I got to London I had no clothes . 10 days in England and no  clothes other than what I was wearing . I won’t tell you the whole sad story . My bag met me in London on the 10th day , having , I assume , enjoyed its own vacation in Turkey . We flew back to Berlin together , but we didn’t talk to each other the entire flight .

Another Berlin to London flight on British Airways was exciting after the pilot announced  over the scratchy PA system that he thought the landing gear was stuck . We were going to have to go in on our shiney sleek aluminum belly . The pilot’s voice was almost inaudible and he had a heavy English accent . One of the many . Dorset , maybe . Rs everywhere . Like old movie pirates :  Aarrh , matey ! Wharr yer headin’ ? Shiver me timbers !  Emarrgency vehicles aarrh be preparrhin’ fer arrh landin’  . Aarh.sign el monte airport

The plane was full of Germans . I , a native English speaker , was barely getting what the pilot was saying . I didn’t think that many of the Germans got much of it . But , on the other hand , maybe they had learned English from the English . Good possibility that they understood a lot more than I did , now that I think of it .

When we approached Gatwick , or was it Heathrow ? , the emergency vehicles were lined up along the runway . There were plenty of them : fire trucks , ambulances , police , hearses . Well , maybe not hearses .   I had confidence in the pilot and the plane . I don’t think anyone else in the plane could say the same , judging by their panicked expressions . Those pilots , highly trained ,  could slide it in on its fusilage belly .

Buckle your seat belt ; it’s gonna be a bumpy ride . airplane seat belt

But the landing gear came down and we all rolled to a stop .  Anticlimatic . I’m not complaining .  Billy Bob Thornton said ,” I’m not afraid of flying . I’m afraid of crashing . ”   That about sums it up .

About these English accents :

Ada and I flew from LAX to London once and I had arranged , in advance ,a rental car from the airport . I never sleep on flights and by the time we reached the car rental desk in London I was exhausted . I couldn’t , for the life of me , understand what the English girl at the counter was telling me . It was a Friday . I thought that she was telling me that my car wouldn’t be available until Monday . She wasn’t , of course . She was trying to tell me that my car would be a Mondeo .  I was losing my temper .

” Not Monday !” I said . ” Now “england

Ada had to translate . Mediate . Ada grew up in Poland .

” Tell him…” the English girl would say .

” Tell her ….” I would say .

Oh.  The car is called Mondeo. Nothing about Monday . It’s waiting for us . Oh . O.K. Why didn’t she say so ?mondeo

I don’t mind flying much . Once in awhile . It’s quick once you leave the ground .  Gets you places you might not otherwise go . Somewhat uncomfortable . Never enough leg room . And they always remind you how a seat belt works ; they show you ; give a demonstration . That comes in handy because sometimes , if you haven’t used one in a few hours , you might have forgotten .

Sometimes you should bring along an English-American dictionary , or , at least a phrase book . Several English speakers from various corners of the earth learned English English from the English . Beware .  And consider bringing  some little bottles of booze . If nothing else , it gives you a sense that you’re getting away with something .  Even if you’re not a drinker bring some  —– trade one  for a few more tiny bags of peanuts or pretzels . If you ride Ryan Air , bribe the stewardess to use the head without paying the fee . Endless possibilities . Endless.illustration 3


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hey , what happened

Dan Hennessy:

To be found on HenAgain , my alter-blog .

Originally posted on HenAgain:

A friend of mine e-mailed ; titled the message : Hey , what happened ?

Nothing happened . No crisis. No tragedy . Nothing serious .  Ada and I went to Sweden . That’s all . We left our iPad and laptops here . We’re back now . Life goes on without electronics , I guess . Seemed to have done that for centuries , too .SWEDEN 2014 013

For centuries , too , folks ( that’s a favorite  Obama  term now and it’s a good one )  lived without indoor plumbing . We were in Sweden for four days , staying with friends who live that way . In a summer house turned full-time residence . Plastic bottles are filled with water at a relative’s house in the town . Eliminations are done at the outhouse a short walk away across the yard , on the wooden potty . Good idea…

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the thatcher’s house

I was in southwestern England years ago with my friend Willie Nininger the folksinger . He was playing some of the pubs in Devon and Somerset . He had gigs in England for a few weeks every year and he had local friends and fans .

I went to a birthday party with him . It was a freewheeling  affair , inside a pub and outside in the car park . Welcome , welcome , they all said to me , not knowing who I was , operating on the principle that any friend of Willie’s is a friend of ours. So we raised our pints to the birthday girl and drank and celebrated and sang For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow  Which Nobody Can Deny .

One of the guests invited Willie and the other American  ( me ) to his house for a special meal . No , no , I said . Willie doesn’t come without you , he insisted . O.K. , then , thanks . He’s got a three-hundred year old house , Willie said , and he’s a gourmet cook . Great ! , I said facetiously . But the die had already been cast and my immediate destiny was set .

Part of the problem was that I had been wearing the same shirt for three days and the same blue jeans for five because I had no other clothes . I had taken an early flight from Berlin to London , had left Poland at four in the morning to make it to Tegel in Berlin  by six . I was second in line to check my bag . No other passengers around. There were two conveyor belts behind the sleepy airline employee : one to London and one to Ankara . I didn’t watch her put my bag on the Ankara belt . I would be in England for ten days. My bag went to Turkey without me and only arrived in London on my day of departure . So , I bought a couple of shirts , a toothbrush , underwear , and waited in vain for the airline’s help getting my clothes to me . I got a daily dose of  empty promises .

So we went to the house . Everyone had been drinking throughout the afternoon . A small group of us gathered in the main room of the house  . A fire crackled in the hearth . There was a third American there , a university student on break . Our host produced a bottle of liquor and a glass for each of us . We’re going to celebrate ! What ? said Willie . The house , the birthday , England , the shepherd’s pie he had cooking , America , music , he said . A toast to music !

And another. And another .

And then we just drank , and talked , and tried not to fall off the chairs , and admired the house , and praised the upcoming food , and discussed the characteristics of the blazing  fire burning in the hearth and shared in depth analyses of modern England and America , and swallowed more booze .

The man’s wife had banished herself to a back room . His son was coming home later . His son worked with him .  They were  thatchers  . There wasn’t much thatching work being done nowadays — not like in the old days . He fixed an assiduous gaze on me . Oh , you were in Poland ? Most of the thatching material is shipped in from Poland . Indeed . It’s a small world .scotch

And then the food came . Something English . Something special . Heesh a gourmet , slurred Willie . Pass the bottle , if you will , someone said. If I can . If I can. Oh , so delicious ! What do you call it , again ? Yorkshire pudding . Shepherd’s pie . Fool .

Did he call me a fool ? asked the American student . No , no . It’s a dessert .

Have some more , have some more ! You American guys came so far to be here . Have some more ! No , no thanks . Please !  You’d be doing me a favor . Have it , said the old man near the door . The American student looked at me , asked with his eyes : would it seem rude not to accept  ? Help me.

Come on mates ! There’s just enough for two !

Hesitation . We’re both on the spot now . In a foreign country . In the face of unrelenting hospitality . What to do ? The room full of revelers waits .

The student speaks first : O.K. , sure . I’d love it , he says . I follow . Me too. Thanks. If you’re sure . If you’re sure , repeats the student . Our plates are slapped with extra fool . The fool is finished . Pass that bottle if you please .

With a mobile phone in her hand the wife comes into the room and calls us a den of drunks . She tells the husband that  son Edgar is on his way . He’ll be hungry . His favorite food is fool and the fool is gone . Your drunken friends have eaten the fool !

I saved some for Edgar , says the thatcher , but the two Americans ate it ! It was there , right there , a few moments ago ! And now they’ve eaten it !

My fellow Americans , I thought , it’s time to go . Willie was already up and stumbling  for his coat . I could see panic in the student’s eye . But he insisted , he said to me . But he insisted .

Get out ! Out of my house !

And then  waves of undue invective spewing  forth from the room propelled us out the door and out into the cold dark English night .

Nice house , I told Willie as we stood outside in an empty road in the open air  and the American student fought with the zipper of his jacket in a frustrated competition with the cold .

Did you like the food ? Willie inquired  .

I didn’t even want that extra helping , the poor guy with us mumbled .

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gone berserk

I  think it would be a great sign to put in the window of a small business : GONE BERSERK . Maybe with one of those cardboard clocks indicating a return time .

I was talking to my Danish friend Ivan yesterday . I mentioned Ivan in a recent post —– the guy who bad-mouths the Irish , most likely , in my opinion , because his Viking  ancestor sailed his  longboat back to Scandinavia rather than stay  in Ireland as some of the other guys did . Missed his chance . Sour grapes , Ivan .viking boats


Ivan wants me to check out an antiquarian book convention in Pasadena for him .My friend Ivan

” You might find some images of those chimneys ,” he suggested . ” What was it you were interested in ?”

” Backyard incinerators . “

” You’d be surprised what these guys might have,” he said . Ivan is a book dealer .  ” I’d like to find images of  Amanita mushrooms . The ones the Vikings used before they went on their crazy raids . “mushrooms 2

I’d never heard of Amanita mushrooms , a poisonous little white toadstool with red spots . ” That’s how Santa Claus got his hat , ” he said . Ivan speaks with authority . I’ve  since read  some theories about how those reindeer could work themselves  up enough to fly that sleigh all over the earth …………

Turns out there were Norse warriors who fought in an almost uncontrollable frenzy while wearing wolf pelts . They’re called Berserkers .   Some people have speculated throughout history that the frenzied , trance-like state , was a result of  ingesting the Amanita mushroom as a hallucinogenic . The Anglo-Saxons across the sea in Britain , busy collecting the extortion money , the Danegeld , to buy off the Viking raiders , described the craziness as ” gone berserk ” .statue dane seafaring nations

The Berserkers are mentioned in old Norse sagas .  They were sometimes referred to as Odin’s Warriors . But , it is unclear just how they worked themselves into their frenzied rage .  The hallucinogenic mushroom theory didn’t , apparently , come around until a Swedish professor , Sam Odmann , proposed it in 1784. Yeah ,  Odmann . But , given the historical rivalry between the Swedes and the Danes , I  don’t have much confidence in this theory , despite my friend Ivan’s certainty .  Could it have been, rather , a result  of  a religious-type trance ? Maybe it was  a consequence of too much Tuborg ? Too many bottles of  Carlsberg ?  O.K. , maybe I got my centuries mixed up .

I may look for images of Ivan’s favorite mushroom when I go to the book event . I’ll ask the dealers for “death caps” or “destroying angels”  and see what happens . One of those antiquarians may know about Amanita muscaria , which was powdered and mixed with milk and used as an insecticide . All exciting stuff .   To someone . To Vikings .mushroom


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new place
[hiding in plain sight]


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thought from the 50s

Young DannyFreddy Gage lived on the rim of the canyon, Temescal Canyon ,  where the high school would be built .  He was having a garage sale . Somehow I wandered by and bought two albums . I was a kid . Why I went to a garage sale and why I had money I don’t know . What year was it ? 1962 , maybe . I bought  a Fats  Domino record . I think it was Blueberry Hill .  And Link Wray and TheWraymen . Never heard of Link Wray ? dance kids 1950s Sometimes I think of those two albums as a connection of mine to the 1950s . Sure , I lived through   the 50s , but as a kid .  I never rolled a pack of camels in my Tshirt sleeve or wore a D.A . Never ever used ” Daddy-O “,  or ” ankle biter ”  , or “cloud nine” , and never  jacked up  my chariot so the front end was so close to the ground that the man  would hassle me about it .  Three inches I think was the legal limit .


I had a neighbor , though , Lance , who did all of that teenage stuff . Black leather jacket . Attitude . Lance was a real cool cat , always in trouble of one kind or another with the keepers , I think , but always willing to stand up for us small fry neighborhood kids .  I remember him for that . Lance could’ve been the model for the Fonzi  character .teens and car 1950s Seems like a long time ago now , the 1950s .

And that’s the word from the bird .  Now I’m gonna cop a breeze . See you later alligator . I’m cuttin’ out . You dig ?

route 66 signs

I’m quitting this blog and starting another . Itkindofgotawayfromyou  kind of got away after 685 posts . Don’t worry , though .  I’ll let you know where I’ve wandered to    to where I’ve wandered .

Try :   here


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mushrooms in july

Our friend Valdek invited Ada and I to go mushroom picking . It’s July . Any mushroom picker knows that it’s not mushroom season . That comes around in the Fall , when the forests drip wet and several varieties of mushrooms sprout in the damp vegetation .  People in Poland know the perfect spot to find mushrooms .  In the Fall they go out to the forests  in hoards , wearing old clothes and rubber boots , carrying bags or buckets or baskets . It looked to me , when I went along years ago ,  like an army of homeless souls wandering  in the woods , walking in  jagged ways , with sudden abrupt  movements , stooping and straining , reaching out to the ground , and shouting  sometimes  to one another .


I am no mushroom picker .  When I went along on a hunting expedition years ago I searched and I  searched , fruitlessly , as the others steadily filled their containers . Eventually I found one specimen . I was proud of that  . At least I had found one . I was congratulated . But , as I was also told later ,   it was not edible .


Of all the many mushrooms that sprout  in the Polish woods in the Fall , the Poles know which are edible and which are poisonous , which are good eating and which are better , which are better dried and which are best eaten  fresh .  They are cold sober  mushroom ranglers here in Poland , although some the men are  sure to carry bottles of beer with them .  The vagabond appearance of the mushroom-hunting army is a deception . They are hardened veterans , unconquerable , ready to fight for mushrooms with determination , perseverance ,  skill , and  experience  .


Being July , as all self-respecting  mushroom pickers know , the one variety out now is the chantrelle . We , Ada , Valdek , and I , were going after chantrelles . I was ready . I had no idea what a chantrelle is , what one would look like ; but , I was ready . No rubber boots . They wouldn’t be needed this time of year .  Valdek had ready a huge basket with a big looping Little-Red-Riding-Hood handle . Ada and I carried plastic sacks . I didn’t expect to have to employ my sack . But , who knows !


Valdek knows  secret spots good for finding chantrelles . To make a long story short , Ada and I filled up our sacks , and Valdek filled his basket . Well , it was such a big basket that it wasn’t really full ; but he had found the most mushrooms of the three of us  . He had also found a few highly prized ” cossacks ” , a larger mushroom .  We had a good mushroom picking day . We spotted only one or two other mushroom hunters . There were several blueberry pickers out and about , but they were no threat to Valdek’s  secrets . Rule : Keep your good chantrell-finding  spots secret .


We wandered across a snake at the edge of the woods . It was curled as if ready to strike and it had markings similar to a rattlesnake , and a rattlesnake’s triangle-shaped head . Valdek , who had spotted it , informed us that it was poisonous . Oh , that’s good to know !  I began to regret that I hadn’t asked more questions about the dangers in Polish forests before I had agreed to this outing . It seems this particular viper is not aggressive , but it will strike if surprised , or perhaps if it’s having a bad day .  Several people get bitten each year , accidently stepping on these snakes , or trying to pick them up . We didn’t try to pick it up . We let it go about it’s business and we hoped that it would extend  the same courtesy to  us .


Next , we encountered a huge anthill , the kind of massive anthill that  Pancho Villa , in the old movies , used to tie his poor unfortunate prisoners too , after slathering them with honey .  We stepped quicky onward , under the direction of our own mushroom whisperer , Valdek , on our way to the perfect chantrell-finding spot located somewhere deep in the Polish woods . I was waiting for a troll to appear , or a gnome to step out from under one of those red-capped mushrooms . Didn’t happen , though . Forest folk probably aren’t around and about  in July ; too warm, I suspect  .

I’m jumping ship and abandoning this blog for a new one : HenAgain . Hope to see you there .


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anchors aweigh

Our friend Jurek tells us that Szczecin is the Venice of the North . Most of it is surrounded by water . It’s a harbor city , a sea town . We took a boat tour a couple of days ago , seeing the shipbuilding works .  Anchors are everywhere : in parks , in front of government buildings , behind the seaman’s school .

Call me Ishmael .


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