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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freddy, fats, and link

I was walking home one day , up the hill past the new high school , when I saw a yard sale , a table laid out with small items , and a guy I recognized sitting there , Freddy Gage ; but Freddy was a teenager and I was just a kid .

Teenagers in those days were both feared and admired . My brother Tom once came home with bruises because a teenager riding by on a bike had hit him with a chain . I remember that my mother was mad . Stay away from teenagers .

My next door neighbor was a teenager . Lance Jr. He had a souped-up 1930’s Ford . He lowered the front end , painted the thing bright yellow with red flames flaring on the sides , revved the engine for the fun of it . The cops kept writing him tickets because the front end of a vehicle had to be at least three inches from the ground and his wasn’t . Lance had a pompadour , as I remember it , and he rolled a pack of unfiltered smokes up in the sleeve of his white t-shirt and had one , of course , stuck behind his ear . Lance was cool . I never really saw Lance much , but I remember him as a nice guy , protective of us little squirts , despite his being —- yeah , a teenager . I remember that when he got married his driver’s license had been suspended so the two newlyweds rode off on a bicycle built for two with a string of empty cans dragging along the road and a Just Married sign on the back .

Anyway Freddy Gage , despite being a teenager , wasn’t scary either . They were selling the house and moving out of town and Freddy was selling his record collection . I bought two records from him , a Fats Domino and a Link Wray and the Wraymen .

The world was sliding into the 60s and I would soon become one of those dreaded teenagers .

My music tastes went with Bob Dylan , Grace Slick , Arlo Guthrie , and John Lee Hooker , Simon and Garfunkle , and others , even Sonny and Cher . Now that I look back I appreciate the likes of Link Wray and Fats Domino a lot more than I did then . The greatest thing for me at the time was partly the music but moreso that they were my first two albums and that I had bought them from a teenager , Freddy Gage . He’ll always have a warm spot in my memory , although I really didn’t know him at all then and certainly don’t know whatever happened to him .

I know Lance Jr. died of some chronic disease early in life , like a bright flame quickly burning out .

Well, that’s the end of the story for now . Not much , I guess , yet a treasure trove of good memories that I thought I might mention .

So , Dylan , the great perceived seer of my generation , says things have changed . And on we go .


Filed under humor



Filed under humor

poetry reflection

You have a poet in you , but a damned morbid one .

Long Day’s Journey Into Night — Eugene O’Neill

I was watching a movie presentation of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night ” yesterday. The British actor Ralph Richardson played the father. He’s talking to one of his sons , the younger one , Edmond , played by Dean Stockwell . Late into the drama the father , a once -famous and well-paid actor , tells Edmond :

Yes, you have the makings of a poet in you alright .

Edmond answers :

The makings of a poet ? No , I’m afraid I’m like the guy always panhandling for a smoke . He hasn’t got the makings , only the habit .

And so we go .

I took a poetry class at UCLA once . The professor was visiting from some distinguished east coast university or other . I remember in a poem we were analyzing a flight of geese mentioned that were flying in a V formation . I can’t remember now what that prof said about the V , how many inimitable and esoteric interpretations he had for it . Many. The V.

I wasn’t a big smart aleck in those days and didn’t generally participate in class discussions , especially in those lecture halls ,if I could avoid it , but I think this guy that day got under my skin , irritated me somehow . Maybe it had something to do with the onions I had had for lunch.

So I asked a question.

No attitude . I told him that Canadian geese fly in V formations , and so therefore maybe it was simply a cigar-is -sometimes -just- a -cigar situation . Maybe the poet didn’t mean anything more than that . A visual image .

Oh, He didn’t like that . Questioning his sense of poetry, I suppose . Questioning his advanced education . All those years spent struggling in higher education and now some punk kid dares to question his canon of knowledge .

Who did I think I was , anyway !

Exactly .

I had a girlfriend around that time who graduated a year before I did. She was teaching third grade and she loved it. I watched her correcting an art assignment that she had given . She was marking As and Bs and Cs on the papers . The drawings done by the children were of a house with flowers and a sun above .

So , why does this student get a C but this one gets a B ? , I asked .

Because they were supposed to put sun rays coming from the sun and this kid didn’t put any , she said .

Because this girl forgot to put flowers . Because this boy put too many flowers . Because this roof is too flat . Etc.

No better than the best , but better than the rest . ( Dinty Moore’s Cafe slogan 1940s LA )

I made an internal vow never to teach like that . How to kill a kid’s interest in art in one easy lesson !

After I watched Long Day’s Journey Into Night I watched a 1946 film noir flick called Vice Squad . I thought it was a great movie . Edward G. Robinson , who is so disappointing in so many films , was good in this one . The Los Angeles cops were doing things they’d get hell for doing nowadays . Oh , I know you’re gonna say the cops still do things they shouldn’t do , but that’s beside the point of my discussion . Edward G. Robinson played a police captain . He’s the hero in this story . The bad guys are vanquished in the end — a nice Hollywood ending . Ben Hecht , writer of Front Page and ghost-writer of Marilyn Monroe’s autobiography , wrote the script .

At the end of the movie ,the kidnapped girl is rescued and her worried-to-death parents are consoled , the bad guys are all shot , all loose ends are wrapped up , the captain matter-of-factly says to a police detective who is getting into his car to leave : ” See you tomorrow , Jack , ” like it’s just another ordinary day at the office .

” Yeah . See you tomorrow ,” he says .

I’d give both of those films a V if I were a poet ; but I’m not , so I don’t have to murder an onion in order to peel down too many layers .

Oh. I didn’t go back to that poetry class . I just stopped attending since it was too late to officially drop the class . Nevertheless , the east coast guy or his teaching assistant, perhaps , gave me a D anyway and not a Fail . If I had stuck around for more of the class I would’ve had too many sun rays in the picture I’m pretty sure or the flowers would probably have been the wrong color or too many .

There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.

Albert Camus


Filed under humor


I wrote a poem or two

when I was young

not about flowers or famous ship wrecks

or anything of substance .

My sister said , hey, stick to prose .

Ah, I should stick to prose or watering the roses , or reading ,

or going about my sublunary everyday shit

and let the poets make poems and let the versifying happen

without me .

I curse the day, nevertheless , that the poetistas sneak-attack the mathematicians and the philosophers must take sides and the vegans unexpectedly will be obliged to reluctantly

regurgitate the world and the whole event doesn’t come out in the papers because the newspapers are all gone . and the

and the

and the artists spray- paint the results on storm-drain walls in the unincorporated parts of town while eating peanuts from a plastic can and sipping Coke

and the machinists in the paint- can factories chuckle and plan their weekends without a care in the world ,

without any poetic impulse at all , without fretting a bit .

I wrote a poem once about god and rain and anguish with no Canadian geese flying in a V formation that means something sinister or overwhelming or impressive to a poet with absolutely no guidance from anyone .

Ah , my sister said to me , you should stick with prose .

Poetry will only get you into trouble ( admonishment added by me ).


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My neighborhood is overrun with lizards . Nowadays .

Some years ago it was skunks . Loads of skunks . Ada and I used to take a “skunk walk” everyday and count the skunks that we saw . Top number was twenty-five . One evening we didn’t see any . Not one . But then when we got back to the house there was one waiting for us right in front of the door. No lie . Mother Nature has a sense of humor .

Last year it was squirrels . Families of squirrels romped around the back yard , nested in the oak tree , chased one another along the fence . They stole almost all of my apricots . At first I thought it was birds taking the fruit as it ripened , but then I saw a squirrel sitting up in the oak tree with a fat ripe apricot in its maw. Then I knew . It was staring down at me , by the way , as if to say , ” Poor sucker ! “

But then the squirrels moved on . In my darker thoughts I want to believe they were all eaten by some vicious predator , but that thought quickly passes . Everybody’s got to make a living as best they can , and squirrels have as much right to that as anyone .

Something got my tomatoes a couple of weeks ago , too , just after they were nice and ripe and ready to pick . I could have picked them but I wanted to wait a day or two until Ada could come out and pick ’em because she likes that kind of thing . Whatever it was knew , too , that they were about to be picked and grabbed them just in time . I found a piece of a juicy tomato on the ground a few feet away , left behind by some tomato thief . What , a possum ? Do they eat tomatoes ? I don’t think the feral cats who wander around eat tomatoes , but who knows what you’ll eat when you’re hungry enough .

Lizards don’t steal tomatoes . I’m pretty sure of that . Or apricots , for that matter . They’re quiet and don’t carouse . For the most part they just sit around in the sun sometimes doing push-ups , at worst daring walkers to step on them . Even that’s just bluffing ; they skedaddle pretty fast when someone approaches . It’s a bit of entertainment for them , I guess , to temporarily block a path only to step hurriedly away at the last second . Maybe I shouldn’t say this , but since lizards don’t read and won’t therefore be offended by my words , I’ll bluster on ; they’re a pretty low form of life , I think , and so they need whatever fleeting entertainment that they can stir up for themselves . If they want to step out and stay in my way on a sidewalk , I say all power to them !

They could , otherwise , be out stealing a man’s apricots and/or tomatoes and haphazardly knocking stuff over ; but they don’t .


Filed under humor



Filed under humor



Filed under humor