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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successful mushroom hunt

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mushroom hunting

mushrooms , etc. 006Mushroom hunting is not for the sqeamish . It helps , of course , if you have a Polish soul .Mushrooms 2 and bike lanes, etc. 106

I don’t have a Polish soul , but I did go hunting again a few days ago with Ada and the mushroom-whisperer Waldek .  The three of us hunted for chanterelles a couple of months ago and found plenty of those . Waldek knows the good places .

I went mushroom hunting in Poland for the first and only previous time several years ago .  The others in the group were filling plastic buckets and bags with their finds as they cris-crossed the woods , shouting to one another every so often . I was looking , not sure what I was looking for . I found one specimen , though , eventually .

At the end of the day I had my one and they had tons of them , different varieties . They oohed and awed one another’s mushrooms . Ah , that’s a great one !  Ooh , look at that one !  I got some generous praise for finding my one little one ; and then I was told that , well , it was inedible . Sorry about that . Better luck next time .

This summer was the next mushroom hunting adventure for me  . A couple of months ago Ada and I went out to the forest with Waldek .  Waldek knows just where to go . We were hunting chanterelles , since it was too early for other kinds . We found some , too , lots of them . Waldek has secret places to go . I suspect  that  he considered blindfolding Ada and I for the journey out there , but then decided that over in America we wouldn’t be much of a threat to the secrecy of the operation . In the forest , however , he walked us around in circles , I think , and he moved quickly here , and there , so that after a few minutes we had no idea of directions or where in the heck we were . He could have , at any point , abandoned us out there in the trees , and we’d still be wandering around those Polish woods , Ada and I , hopelessly lost .

Last week the three of us went out again .  We checked four or five secret spots with fabulous success. Ada and Waldek  filled up their large baskets in no time . I filled up two plastic sacks . I hadn’t , to be honest , expected to find many mushrooms .  We found a few more plastic sacks in Waldek’s car and we filled those up , too , lickety-split  .

Ada decided to use her coat as a sack , after all of the other containers were full . We were finding mushrooms everywhere . Waldek was ready to go on . One more spot to check !  But Ada and I were done .  Now we had our hands full , too . No more space for any more mushrooms .   ” Just keep the small ones now “, she told me .  Had we had more sacks or baskets we’d have gone on . We might still be out there wandering around : ” Found one ! This is a good one ! “Mushrooms 2 and bike lanes, etc. 069




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when you’ve got to go

Mushrooms 2 and bike lanes, etc. 004          A few years ago in this city public toilets were a hard thing to find . When I first came here , twenty years ago or so , there was always a lady or two sitting by the door of toilets , whether they were in restaurants or hotels or wherever . On her little table were a few folded pieces of toilet paper and a little sign that let you know how much the fee to use the toilet was .

That fee was small , sure , but annoying . And when you happened not to have any small change it could be a small problem . I would suddenly have decisions to make : First , how much do I really need to pee ? ; then : should I just barge in without paying ? What , this old lady is going to chase me down the street for one and a half zloty ?

The toilet paper thing was always a curiosity. There would be a few  stacks  of , maybe , three squares of toilet paper on her table , each stack neatly folded . You’d get one if you needed one . Obviously that wasn’t enough to do much with if a need arose . The Poles tell jokes about that , but I’ll skip those jokes in this post . I try to run a clean blog .

There was one old ramshackle port-a-potty in a park , once-upon-a-time . It was truly disgusting . That was the only no fee “public restroom” that I knew about in the city center . Of course there were bushes , and trees, and walls , and back alleys too . But those , not designed for peeing , don’t really count .

I knew where all the free pee pee places were , though . When you’ve got to go , you’ve got to go . A friend of mine once , as we walked around San Francisco and I stopped at most of the public toilets , said I could write a tour book : The Restrooms of San Francisco . Oh , yeah , I could . And of Szczecin , too .

Once , Ada and I were in a small shop in Szczecin when two tourists walked in . In English the woman asked where the nearest restroom was located . Her husband , standing next to her , needed to pee . He was desperate , she said . I’m not sure where the couple  were from . She said they had arrived on a cruise boat . She had a city map in her hand and they had been walking around the city  .

The shop clerk didn’t speak English . Ada answered the woman’s plea :  ” You’ll have to ask my husband . He knows where all the restrooms are . ”  And I did . Necessity breeds ……………………..What does necessity breed ? Oh , I guess it’s  ” Necessity is the mother of invention .” Need I explain ? Well , you see , I do a lot of walking in the city and a certain amount of beer drinking ……………………………..Anyway , on that occasion,  the nearest toilet was just across the street at the Dublin Pub . I showed the desperate-to-pee guy  where the pub was ,  told his wife  to just walk down the steps at the Dublin ; the toilet’s just  on the left ; just go in and  don’t bother to ask anyone . They hurried over . I could empathize .

I’m happy to see now throughout the city , though ,  nice clean  Toi Toi portable toilets all over town . Very convenient . Someone in city administration finally read my mind .  Maybe the rising stink of urine in the alleys and bushes and walls had something to do with it , too . I don’t know . Nowadays , walking around town and  you gotta pee ? No problem ! There will be , at least , a nearby Toi Toi .

Ah , isn’t it  often  the small things that make life tremendously more enjoyable ?


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goodbye freddy chopin

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sailing ship and river cruiser

tall ship in szczecin 039  I went down to the river in a mild rain this morning to snap a few photos of a couple of vessels docked there .

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In a window of the Johannes  Brahms :

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The anchor on the cruise boat needs a little work . I mention this only to point out that this is the anchor :

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television remotes

My blogger friend  Dan A. over at No Facilities  wrote a  post that brought up memories of TV times before  remote controls . It got me thinking of a few things . So , here goes .Irene and Vernon castle


My family had a TV with a black metal exterior . I think it was our first set . That was in the days when , if something went wrong with the TV , and things sometimes did , it was probably a burnt-out tube . Remember TV tubes ?  Someone would call the TV repair man . He’d come out to the house , probably later that day . He’d be wearing a TV repairman’s uniform.  He’d  get right to work futzing  around behind the TV set as all of us kids watched  . He’d take the back off of the set and put his hands inside . He knew what he was doing ; that was for sure .   After taking its pulse and listening to its heart and lungs , or whatever he did , he’d inevitably tell my mom :    ” It needs a new tube . “

If he said ”  picture tube ” , then  that was big trouble , as I remember .   Mom would have to wait for Dad’s decision on that one . New picture tubes ! That might have been comparable to  :  ” Do you want him to get the transplant  or not , lady ?  It’s your set . It’ll be expensive , sure . But right now , even though it’s still alive ,  it’s useless without a picture . What do you want to do , lady ? ” My dad was at work . Mom would have to consult with Dad . Time for a new set ?

Things weren’t tossed out in those days . The TV set would be repaired . It would last another ten years , at least . Maybe twenty . It would be , eventually , banned to the back room from the earlier living room location . My parents enlarged the house in the late 1950s . The back room had been a bedroom for me and my two brothers . It went from being  ” the boys’ room ” to being , from then  until eternity , ” the TV room”.teens and car 1950s

I remember sitting in an old wooden wagon on a vacant lot in the neighborhood with a couple of buddies of mine when I was about 10 . It might have been raining and my mom might have made sandwiches for us to nibble on as we sat there and talked . The wagon was some kind of a wooden box on wheels used by a construction  company . We had discovered it one day after school and decided that it would make a great place to sit . Kids ! We sat there that day  and talked important stuff , I remember , like TV shows . There were some new comedies beginning that season which we were discussing : Mr. Ed , Beverly Hillbillies , and …………. , and ……………….   Well , I don’t remember the third one . It was a long time ago , after all . Maybe there wasn’t a third one . It may come to me later .

An obstacle in those days for kids , as I recall , was that the show you really wanted to see came on just at your bedtime . I loved Leave It To Beaver ,  but it started at 8:00 p.m. , and , yeah , my bedtime was 8:00 .  What to do !   I think I cried and whined a lot . Sometimes that worked , but not often .  Sometimes my mom would try a bit of negotiation involving , usually , homework .   Didn’t matter the year or how old I was at the time  .  Every great show began just beyond my bedtime , as if the networks had it in for me and most of the kids I knew . Of course there was that one kid in town who didn’t have a bedtime , and who got to watch any show he wanted . At least that’s what he told the rest of us . That kid was always thrown in as part of the negotiation with Mom , as a  counterweight  to her homework  suggestions .

I was never the remote , as I remember .  I Was The Remote at No Facilities      tells of the kid changing channels for his dad .  I don’t remember ever doing that . My dad watched  THE NEWS . When he watched THE NEWS we were all banned from the area . I think the ban was as much self-imposed as imposed by Dad . We were a noisy , quarrelsome , annoying bunch , I think . He wanted to hear his news . Can’t blame him for that .

You know , I just realized that  McHale’s Navy  was the third new show that season . Actually , though , Mr. Ed , about the talking horse , had already ” been on ” for a few years .  So , let’s rearrange : Two new shows being discussed in that wooden wagon : McHale’s Navy  and Beverly Hillbillies .  I’m sticking to my story that they came on just at , or past , my bedtime , though .July 4   parade

Dad  liked  to watch  McHale’s Navy though , too . He was a Navy veteran and had been in the Pacific during the war , where the silly TV sitcom was set . The show made fun of clueless Navy brass and I guess Dad could relate to that . He had been a Lt. Commander  , but he spoke disparagingly of ” the military mind ” , meaning those at the top , admirals and rear admirals , generals , and such . He had been  in the Navy for eleven years , during WWII and later , so I’m sure that he knew of which he spoke . At any rate ,  Lt. Commander McHale’s shenanigans made him laugh .

One more memory from the inside of that wooden wagon that day : One of my pals in there , Larry Bye , told us his middle name . He had a middle name that embarrassed him to no end . He had always kept it a secret . But , that day in the rain , he revealed the secret .  I’d like to tell you what it was , see what you think about it , but we each swore an oath never ever to reveal the name . Sorry .

I’ll sign off now . Maybe I can use the Indian head sign-off test-pattern signal that was used in the old days when programming for the day ended :INDIAN signal

You won’t hear the crackle . Too bad .

Maybe I should emphasize : programming for the day ended . About 11:00 p.m. or midnight all the programming quit and this Indian showed up , with a crackling background noise of static .  TV was  done for the night . Done .

As old man Wexler used to say over the school P.A. system  at the end of the day  : That’s 30 for now .



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art ( or art not )

415RbeoMAzL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_       I finally broke down and decided to write on a topic of which I have no expertise , don’t know anything about ; but , nevertheless , have an opinion . ( I hear some of you saying : ‘ So , what else is new ?  ‘ )If you have a different opinion about what I’m going to say , then that’s  okey . You’re welcome to it . I’ll probably keep mine on this topic , though .  It doesn’t matter much anyway , I think . (That’s another opinion with which you may not agree . Live with it !)levitated mass by Heiser LA


I’ve included in this post a picture of what passes for art in Los Angeles . The County  Museum of Art  paid for this chunk of rock , built its pedestal , set it up so visitors can walk under it  so they can wonder , I guess , what the hell it’s all about . Is that enough to make it art ? Then it’s art , man !

Well , at least for once the  mountain  went to Mohamet . Maybe that’s something .

I had a roommate in college , Don , who would pick junk up , junk that he’d found on his walks  home from class .  Once , for example , he found an odd tangle of rusted wire about the size of a basketball . Don dragged  it home and hung it up in the living room . Art ? Why not . Don never lectured about the deep significance of his findings . He never explained them to the rest of us , explaining in detail why the pieces were  great art , in that Veteran Ave apartment . Don went on to become an MD ; specializes in radiology . He lives in West Virginia last time I looked . I don’t know whether or not he still collects items from around town to put in his house . Maybe . In a way , I hope so .

You want to make something and call it art —– fine . But , when you find something , drag it home , put it somewhere —— do you call it art ?   If   you call it art you’d better have an explanation  , I suppose , be able to ramble on in illuminating and haughty  tones about why , exactly ,  it’s art . Act superior , because you , educated and/or expert in art , know what art is and what isn’t art . The rest of us just know what we like ; ignorantly think we know art when we see it and think we know humbug when we see it .

Maybe just drag a piece of hillside across town ( the huge expense is irrelevant for  the moment ) , build a platform on your museum grounds ( the huge expense ……… )  , and let it sit there with no  explanation . Provide no explanation whatsoever . Well , maybe , that’s  art . ( Although the piece of junk is still a piece of junk  , the wire is still just tangled wire , the rock is still a rock  ) But please don’t lecture the rest of us on how it’s amazing art . Maybe sometimes a cigar is just a cigar , after all , a tangle of wire is just a tangle of wire ……………

You artists : Am I getting warmer  ?

No ? Okey .

Can you imagine the gaping stack of hubris  it takes to sell the idea of moving a big scoop of hillside across southern California , along Los Angeles streets , over to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art grounds , touting  it as great art , and finding the funds to pull it all off ?  Amazing !  I don’t know art , but I know the art of the  con  when I see it .

I told you at the start it’s just my opinion . So , you’ve got another opinion .  Okey . By the way , there’s a cliff up along the  Angeles Crest Highway that you might be interested in for your living room .  Let’s talk .

I remember when the piece of mountain was being moved along city streets to the museum . It was a real big deal . I don’t remember the  cost of the whole thing . The artist and the museum had , evidently , planned this project for years . Had to wait for just the right chunk of rock . How exciting ! Finally the artwork was coming ! It was all so —— do they still use avant- garde ?

Artwork ?  I’m no artist . Probably an army of artists is already sniffing and scoffing at my pedestrian opinion . I have no business criticizing a piece of art . I’ll agree to that analysis because I don’t .

I hate to have to resort to this statement , but I know what I like . I don’t like this big hunk of rock . I don’t like it for a couple of reasons . One : waste of money .  Two :

Two is a little more complicated . Two requires me to suggest a measure of humbug trickery employed here by a group of influential people in the art community . It’s a joke , right ?  Not a subtle one , either . It’s right out there in front of our faces . In front of the world’s face . Look : This is the LA art scene !  Here it is ! Take it !

The joke is hiding in plain sight . It’s a form of the Big Lie .  It’s the fairy tale  king parading around in his underwear believing he’s showing off his gorgeous royal getup  but  he’s been tricked into believing that .   Maybe I’m being a little unfair ?  Believe what you will .  You’ve  paid your entry fee to the Museum of Art , so go for it ! Enjoy . Walk under it . It may change your life .

Welcome  to LA .

By the way , I’ve got a bridge that crosses an arroyo in Pasadena that you might like to buy . Or , even better , maybe a piece of the arroyo ?suicide br. 1920

So , there you have it . One man’s opinion . Live with it .


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