Monthly Archives: March 2022

flying A

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old picture

One of my sisters e-mailed me a picture of my class when I was in 7th grade . Well , I should say , half of my class . In those days there were so many students in each grade that we were divided into two separate rooms with a different teacher for each group . We students , of course , suspected that one was ” the dumb group ” and the other was ” the smart group “. I think that I thought I was in the smart group . Probably everyone in both rooms thought that . Now that I’m looking at the ( half ) class photo , maybe I wasn’t in the smart group after all .

My sister named a couple of the guys in the photo . One of them went on to rank highest academically in our high school . He was in the other half of the class . This was a photo of either the smart group or the dumb group. Whichever one it was , I wasn’t in that photograph. I guess that I was in the other group . Now that I think of it , maybe I thought then that I was in the dumb group . Maybe all of us secretly suspected that . I don’t know ; it was a long time ago ; a different century , after all .

The other guy identified by my sister was a weird little kid , as I remember , whose father or grandfather was a well-known politician at the time . I think the family was rich , too . At first I thought their money came from the trash business ; but then I remembered that that family was the Greenly family . A daughter was in my class . Greenly trash trucks came around every week to haul away our garbage until the city eventually took over the garbage operation and the private firms , I guess , sold out to the city . Maybe that was the time of Mayor Sam Yorty , who is famous for 1. combining paper trash and garbage in order to simplify the collections , and 2. running a blatantly racist mayoral re-election campaign against the black Tom Bradely , who would win the election . Yorty always pronounced Los Angeles as ” Los Angle Ease “. I always thought that was a funny way for the mayor of the city to say it’s name .

Anyway , I didn’t recognize many of the students in the photo . Time has wiped away most of the names . There was one little boy with glasses standing at the left in the front row , however , whose name was on the tip of my tongue for a day or so until eventually it came to me . Raymond L .

I remember Raymond L for one reason . Big drama .

Ours was a Catholic elementary school . In 7th grade we were all confirmed into the Catholic Church . The Cardinal would come over to the church one evening to say mass and then to officially perform the ceremony. It’s a big deal in the Catholic religion , kind of a second baptism and a vow to be a good Catholic from then on as a ( theoretically ) mature congregant .

The cardinal would give us a serious talk along those lines. He would also ask us questions about Catholicism . He’d pick some of us individually to stand up and answer his questions . We were all anxious about that . The nuns did their level best to prepare us so that we wouldn’t be embarrassed and possibly thrown out of the church right then and there to the everlasting shame of our parents , our grandparents , all of the other parishioners , and , of course , to the nuns who we visualized at that moment shaking their heads in mortification even though knowing all the time that they hadn’t had much to work with from the beginning . It was the Baltimore Catechism in those days . We memorized it like crazy , as best we could .

And as part of Confirmation there was the pledge . I don’t know if the pledge was a local Archdiocese of Los Angeles thing or a nationwide thing or what . We would be expected to all stand up at some point and , led by the Cardinal , loudly voice a promise never to drink alcohol . Yeah . Never ever in our lives ; never never ever . So we all would stand . The nuns told us that we had to . I don’t think too many of us had strong opinions on the subject of booze that year in 7th grade .

Ah , except little Raymond L . He didn’t stand up when we all stood up for the pledge . He just continued to sit there calmly at his spot in the pew . Everyone noticed . Some of the nuns were beginning to faint . Parishioners in the church whispered excitedly to one another . All of us kids looked out the corners of our eyes at Raymond . What the hell ! I think the Cardinal himself wondered whether he should stop the whole process and tell that short kid with the round glasses to stand up .

I’d forgotten all about that moment . After all , it happened almost sixty years ago . And then came the photo with Raymond L . standing there , right up front ; but he was the only one of us to sit during the pledge . Was he the only one with the courage to defy the nuns and the Cardinal just for the hell of it ? Was he the only one of us who thought over the whole pledge idea and had decided that it was an unrealistic promise for a thirteen year old to make ? Maybe he had had a reasonable discussion beforehand about it with his parents and they had all agreed on his action. Maybe he had simply just fallen into a daze at that particular moment and hadn’t realized that the time to stand for the pledge had come ; or maybe he was experiencing some intense paralyzing kind of stage-fright .

I think he knew what he was doing .

I wonder what happened to that guy . Probably the only one of us never to drink . Now , that would be irony , I think . Anyway , I took the pledge , but it turned out to be a lie .

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earth moves

I’m sitting on the couch listening to the gardeners across the street mow someone’s lawn . I took out our lawn years ago , partly because our state has been in severe drought for years and , evidently , it’s not getting any better . Lawns take a lot of water , and no one seems to play on front lawns any more ; it’s just decoration .

Now that I think of it , those noisy gas-powered machines they’re using over there have been outlawed at some point in the near future . A California law I think . Maybe county . The climate is heating up ; maybe you’ve heard , and we all need to adjust our lifestyles to counteract the effects . Someone said it’s way too late already , so I imagine some of us will use that rationale as an excuse to just give up and give in and to make no changes .

Ah , but these are extraneous concerns for the moment . I’m sitting here on my couch finishing off a small chocolate bar and wondering if it’s time for a cold beer . Ada is shopping . Later we go to the YMCA , which recently re-opened . The men’s sauna is broken . There is a sign on it stating that it’s in the process of being fixed ; but I think it’s getting fixed like climate change is being fixed , on something of the same schedule . We’ll take showers over there after some exercise . That way the city of Arcadia will send me a congratulations notice praising how much water we’ve saved . The Y is in the next town over . Their water bill goes up a bit just about equal to how much ours goes down . No one wins .

Ah , but don’t tell that to the governor of California . He asked us all some time ago to reduce our water use by 15 % . I’ve been reading in the newspapers that that plan hasn’t worked . Some editorial writer asked why the governor hasn’t imposed stricter restrictions in the face of apparent near-future water crisis . Restrictions ? Talk it over with the mask mandate rebels and the anti-vaxers . Maybe the governor is worried about voter backlash .

After all , we Americans value our freedoms ! Well , as my friend Bill who lives in the canyon told me once , the people in the canyon want to be able to do any thing they want to do , but they don’t want the other people in the canyon to be able to do anything . Or something like that . So , I think , we Americans want to do what we want to do ; we call it freedom ; but many of us don’t mind denying rights and freedoms to others .

Well , let’s not get political here . We’ll move right along .

My house sits at the bottom of a slope . Water and whatever rushes down the gutter and then when it gets to the gutter in front of my house it slows down drastically . Some of it moves along the street but much of it stops in front of my house . I periodically sweep up sand and concrete dust and clumps of leaves and accumulated dirt of various kinds . Last week a couple of my brain cells sparked and I had one of my rare revelations regarding the accumulated crud that had settled at my gutter .

I had a broom and a shovel and I was rapidly filling a bucket with dirt and a whitish powdery stuff that , when I had swept it up before , I had thought it to be concrete dust. There are various building projects going on up the hill from time to time . A careless concrete company or contractor , I had always thought , but this whitish dust was too powdery to be concrete .

A year ago or so I had seen water rushing down the gutter . This being nice and dry sunny southern California , water rushing along a gutter is a rare occurrence . I followed the water up the street and discovered that someone was draining their swimming pool . No , there was no major leak , so I was relieved , and I quickly forgot about it . Until last week.

The whitish stuff was what is used in a swimming pool filter : diatomaceous earth . I suddenly remembered the rushing water incident from a year or so ago . The same house was emptying their swimming pool into the street , only this time the contents of the pool filter was coming along for the ride . I followed the whitish stain along the gutter up the street . Yeah , as I expected , it ended at the same house that I had suspected as the culprit .

Well , first , that’s got to be illegal . For sure . I considered confronting the pool owner and issuing a stern warning not to do such an irresponsible thing again ; I’d explain how my gutter collects whatever comes down the street ; but I ended up dumping the contents of my bucket in front of his house at his gutter . I told my friend Bill that next time it goes not in the guy’s gutter but on his lawn . Bill suggested that I’m becoming a crotchety old man . And , if it continues , I said , it then goes not on his lawn but on his front porch . I figure it’s his diatomaceous earth , after all , and he should get it back .

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saint with shamrock / march 17

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March 17, 2022 · 8:12 am

the end

I’ve been told this morning that the world ends about now. It’s all over ; some report just came out , but the Ukraine war drowns it all out so people don’t know. So I’m telling you , just so you know.

And , of course , there’s the copycat truck convoy crossing the US on the way to Washington D.C. They’re evidently in Maryland now . Upcoming plans seem to be a bit confused , or hidden . We’ll see . You have to put everything in context . Does anything really matter anymore ! I mean , really .
I don’t know what’s going on with the mask and vax mandates in the US . I’ve been out of it ( US )for a couple of months . They seem to be loosening overall . Maybe that takes some of the trucker convoy impetus away .
Anyway , I’ve got my own problems . ( I know ,I know : how selfish ! )

My advice to you right now is to get into art , or poetry , or music , and/or sports if you play but not if you just watch because when the electricity goes out your TV or whatever won’t be working and that passion of yours will have to go unrequited. ( Not so sure “unrequited” is the proper word to use here , but at least it sounds somewhat urbane . ) As far as I know , when the world ends it won’t matter anyhow . I mean , that’s what I think , having very little imagination about what happens in such a situation . I’m not an artist or a poet , after all ; and following baseball , or the Rams , or whatever just won’t help at all as far as I can tell , except , of course , to maybe distract momentarily from the world’s terminus .

Well , someone suggested that since the world is ending we don’t have to worry about anything now . Sounds like good enough advice to me . I wasn’t worrying about the end of the world anyway . Didn’t we used to have prophets for that kind of work ? Aren’t there religious cults who handle that kind of waiting game in our societies nowadays ? I would say off the top of my head , in that regard , just don’t get all tied up with a particular date of the final demise . The next day seems to arrive nevertheless , regardless of all the fretting and preparation .

I’m just planning to do what I do without any major zigs or zags this way or that way . Maybe that’s short -sighted . So be it . I am making a slightly stronger effort these days to learn to play the Irish tin whistle , however . I guess that counts for something .

As people say nowadays : Don’t take my word for it about all of this end-of-the-world stuff . Look it up on Google .

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street art in the 13th arrondissement (2 of 2)

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street art in the 13th arrondissement (1 of 2)

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