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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The Immortal Jukebox’s Greatest Hit : Mary Gauthier (I Drink), Iris Dement (Easy Getting Harder) Ordinary/Extraordinary Stories — The Immortal Jukebox

I was downing a couple of bottles of Mr Whitehead’s excellent cider at the, ‘Pub With No Name’ the other evening and fell into conversation with one of the hostelry’s regulars who commented (approvingly) on my most recent post on, ‘The Third Man’. He told me that he’d been following The Jukebox since 2017 and […]

via The Immortal Jukebox’s Greatest Hit : Mary Gauthier (I Drink), Iris Dement (Easy Getting Harder) Ordinary/Extraordinary Stories — The Immortal Jukebox

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April 16, 2019 · 12:41 pm

oh danny boy

One Christmas very long ago when I was a kid my grandmother gifted me a 45 recording of the classic Irish song Danny BoyMy family were unwrapping presents that Christmas Eve and , of course , someone got the record player so that we could all listen to the Danny Boy record . Wouldn’t that be nice !

My grandmother was born in Ireland and raised in Scotland . Her  father, an Irish miner , died and her penniless mother had to put her in an orphanage for awhile until she remarried (to another miner) and they were able to take the girl back . I think the second husband died too, soon after that  . My grandmother had a tough life , to say the least , and  she never developed  a good sense of humor as a result .IMG_1367

She was so proud of her present !  Someone set the record on the machine and switched the thing on  . Even as a kid I could see the joy in her proud Irish eyes as she waited for an Irish tenor to sing the familiar old song . We were all waiting anxiously .

Sometimes life is just not fair.

Everything was fine for the first minute or two . The singer wasn’t much of the traditional type , though .  Then the music kicked into high gear as the band reved up . I remember my grandmother at that moment , a distressed look on her face , complaining : ” That’s not it . That’s not it ! ”

It wasn’t it . It wasn’t at all the music that the woman  had in mind when she so thoughtfully went out to buy her little grandson  Danny a recording of Danny Boy Maybe smoke was coming out of her ears as she listened . She was horrified . ” That’s not it ! ,” she protested again  .

Conway Twitty sang on in his twang and his band played on until my mother managed to hurriedly take the record off of the record player . My poor grandmother had to be consoled . No doubt she thought that the Devil had had a hand in this . She used to say that the Devil lived in London , and when she said that the Devil lived in London she meant it ; but , now the Devil had travelled over to California during the Christmas season to torment my grandmother just a little more .

On Side B of the record was The Battle of New Orleans sung by Johnny Horton .I loved the song , so  I thought it was a great present after all . I played The Battle of New Orleans over and over again .  Ah , but the intention of the present was  Danny Boy , and all the Irish pride stuff , and that in this case was all for naught .

The Conway Twitty version just didn’t sit well with my grandmother . She saw the whole episode as a nasty catastrophe and she didn’t have a sense of humor to resist the anguish . The Devil had stolen from her a sense of humor . No doubt about that .northern Ireland 1910



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I’ve been painting my house . An old man shouldn’t be going up on ladders . I’ve told my old neighbor that bit of sage advice when he was putting up Christmas lights last year , but we seldom listen to our own counsel , I guess.  I borrowed a ladder from an old friend of mine who also  agreed in principle that we old farts shouldn’t be going up on ladders .

My house is a one-story thing , but there are a couple of high spots where someone I need to get up on that high ladder to paint. I shouldn’t be up there , I know . Should I have some young person  go up instead ? But , you know , s/he may not be as careful as I am . The older -and- wiser concept in this case becomes a sort of two-edged sword .

I’m careful . ” Especially on that last step ,” another old friend told me today when we sat discussing old people on ladders .  His wife was there. She agreed . We all agree .

The U.S. Marines in Belleau Wood shouted : ” What ? You wanted to live forever ! ” just before they charged across No Man’s Land in a desperate attack . Or was that Douglas MacArthur who shouted that ?   Well , yeah ; but besides that ;  no one needs to be a hero in house painting  and , yeah , some of us want to live forever —- at least until the house painting is finished .

So I climb carefully up on the ladder for a few minutes to paint the high spots .

My friend Bill stepped off of a curb two days ago with his hands full of papers and a paper cup full of coffee , he said, and he fell face-first onto the sidewalk . Papers flew everywhere. He was coming over for dinner in a couple of days  but he called to say that there wasn’t enough alcohol in the city to make the other guests overlook his messed-up face. Well , that’s Bill . No one cares what he looks like I think , except Bill . He says he won’t come out in public for at least a couple of weeks .

I’m not going to ask Bill to help me with the painting . He’d fall off the ladder , maybe missing that last step , and the almost freshly -painted house would end up his after the lawsuit . Then I’d have to get myself an aggressive lawyer and sue my old friend Tom , who owns the ladder . Why did he do something so egregiously negligent as to lend the thing to me ?

Yeah , but I’d lose in court . ” You went up on the ladder without a helmet ? ” the opposing lawyer would ask .  ”  Isn’t it a fact that said ladder had no anti-slip treads —- not on any of the steps ?” I’d have no adequate defense . ” You were warned by several people not to go up on that ladder ,” the lawyer would say , ” indeed,  even by the owner of said ladder . Is that a fact , sir ? ”   Well , yeah .

Ada decided that the previously orange strip around the roof line should be black . I said that might be too dark . No , she said . After I finished that black strip around the house , risking my life a few times here and there to paint the high points , Ada looked at it and thought it might be a little too dark after all . She thought yellow might be nice .

As my carpenter friends say : Measure twice and cut once . Ada’s not a carpenter.

I can almost hear my lawyer now . ” Your honor : My client climbed up on the borrowed ladder to paint a black strip all around his house . Then , immediately upon completion , he climbed up on that ladder again despite his advanced age and diminished capacity , and in the face of extreme and unnecessary risk  he painted a yellow strip that covered up the black strip that he had just finished painting  . There is a clear mental competence question in play here . No one in their right mind , obviously , would take such peculiar action  placing himself in such unnecessary danger despite numerous warning from close friends and associates  . My client can’t be fairly tried before a jury as a mentally competent person. ”

” Objection , your honor ,” the other lawyer would pipe in . ” Isn’t it true that his wife wanted him to paint the black strip over with yellow ?  He had no choice in the matter . Rather , your honor he had a choice and  he made a rational choice , as  he perhaps rationally  considered the old adage : Happy wife , happy life .”

” Do you need to have your head examined ?” the judge might ask me ,  looking directly at me with an odd smile on his/her  face .

” It wasn’t me who chose black , your honor ,” I’d have to say .

” Objection , your honor ! ” The opposition lawyer might spout . ” Irrelevant and immaterial .”

[And , no , I didn’t paint yellow over the black . Maybe next time .]



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road worm ahead

1936-stout-scarab-1Bugatti Cars in the 1920s and 1930s (2)

car 1954 air conditionedcar 1923

car 1912

old truck

plane on truck 1916

Traffic Accidents of California From the 1950s (3)Vintage Bakery and Bread Truck (11)


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and don’t forget the pickle sisters

buster keaton


buffalo bill

Bugsy Siegel (14).jpg


george gershwin

gustav klimpt 1912 in his studio


harry hopper 1914



buster crabbe 1933


mark twain and chickens

pickle sisterswild bill donovan.jpgsinaTRA AND BOB HOPE.jpgsalvador dali.jpgrudolph valentino.jpghenry ford.jpgenrico caruso 1912.jpg

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10 punchlines

1. Is the bar tender here ?

2. I got it at J C Penney . It doesn’t fit in the back either .

3. What , was that the wrong answer ? [ alternate : Should I have said DiMaggio ? ]

4. Well , I’ve been a lawyer for fifteen years  too , but you don’t see me doing this all the time do you ? ( physical joke )

5. It’s only twenty-one thirty now .

6. Sorry , Father , I thought you said goat .

7. Well , you heard him . He’s an incorrigible liar .

8. No , you ride the camel into town to find a woman .

9. No , that’s okay . The smartest man in the world took my backpack .

10. I have an American for a neighbor and you have an Indian for a neighbor .

Bonus ( 11 ). If Princess Margaret were here we could’ve saved the Rolls .

2nd bonus ( 12 ). It quacked up.


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hollywood (again)

Last week a twenty-six year old man walked out into the middle of Hollywood and Vine with a pistol . He had just broken up with his girlfriend . Maybe that’s why he snapped . He shot at passing cars . The video played on the evening news . Pop . Pop . One after another . He seemed limber and relaxed , low keyed .

It was the sort of behavior that the LAPD wouldn’t be relaxed about. There would be no magnanimous cops on Hollywood and Vine . Of course the gunslinger would know that . Wanted a death-by-cop . He needed a cop out and he got it soon enough .

A man passing in his car said he thought it was a movie being filmed . He wondered why someone hadn’t blocked off the street .  He changed his mind abruptly when he heard a bullet rip into metal . And he hoped that he wouldn’t be shot .

I stood behind a disturbed man in the 99 Cent store last week , too . I thought that he was talking on his bluetooth . I didn’t think anything of it . I didn’t listen to the non-sensical jabbering . But he was talking to his imaginary companions . He seemed to be getting the better of the argument , too. I couldn’t hear their responses because they were hidden somewhere in the interior spaces of his brain . And then , I guess , he began losing the argument because he started shouting . He was standing near the glass exit door shouting  .

I was working as a security guard in a counseling center on DeLongpre years ago in the middle of Hollywood . Just before our eight o’clock closing time a man walked in . I need counseling ! He looked like he did , too . He wore a beret and an anxious expression .

The young latina clerk asked him : Where did you come from ?

San Rafael , California . I flew down from there this morning .

What airline did you take ?  she innocently asked .

No , he said , and flapped his arms like a bird . I flew .

Fill this out , she said , and shoved intake papers in triplicate over the counter to him . He filled them out . Name . Answer : God .  Who referred you ? Answer : Lenny Bruce . Education . Answer : Cosmic Universe .  On and on . The counselors were coming out of their offices as God filled out the forms . We all wanted to go home .

I’m not blaming all of this on Hollywood . Hollywood’s just a place and just an idea .  It’s an endless  engine cranking out successes and failures .  And most of us sit in the audience , some of us fascinated and some not . Hollywood is  a projection on a huge screen that no one can really grab hold of .

Pretty Peggy Entwhistle came to Hollywood an accomplished actress by the age of twenty-four , about the same age as our pistol man .  She  walked from Beachwood Drive up the hill and climbed to the top of the H of the Hollywoodland sign and jumped to her death in 1932 . She left a note saying I’m sorry .

No one found a note yet left by the man with the pistol . No I’m sorry . Give me Peggy Entwhistle any day . At least she flew off into oblivion on her own wings . Only she knows why , I guess .

Some cop’s got to go through life from now on mulling over pistol man’s selfish suicide and some ex-girlfriend has to wonder if she’s the reason he climbed out into that Hollywood intersection and made  his own particular jump  from  H .

He should have left a note for the cop and the girlfriend and the man with the bullet hole in his car : I’m sorry . He should’ve sought help so someone could have given him an intake form in triplicate .


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