Thursday, December 24, 2020
Monday, August 17, 2020
"BYE DON" YARD SIGN, 2020
It was quite a shock leaving the Covid bubble recently to purchase a table from Craigslist NJ. This took us out across the Walt Whitman Bridge from Northeast Philly into the depths of South Jersey where it was even more humid. This was not the only difference. Gone were the prudent and intense mask wearers, Rainbow flags and BLM signs. Gone were the wilting “Bernie” signs and scorched “Hillary” bumper stickers. Who were all those folks who ran for president recently?
We turned into a Blue Collar cul-de-sac to find every house festooned with Americans flags of all configurations, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN lawn signs and big posters with scary photos of the current Commander in Chief. Were we in the mid-West? The bullet-headed owner was sweating buckets and greeted us without much fanfare. Did we stand out as elite college-educated Liberals? Damn straight. Was my daughter in need of a safe-space? Yes, indeed. All this made me feel particularly inadequate on the Middle Class Manly-Meter.
As we paid and said thanks, I looked down and noticed a small figurine in the garden. It was one of those “black” lantern-carrying characters. No irony here! Political correctness does not get a mention. I looked around for a Confederate flag or an imposing statue of Jefferson Davis. The recent “Statue” controversy had prompted me to re-vamp my “Doc Holliday” southern accent. I have Val Kilmer of Tombstone to thank for that. My drawl is pretty good if not always appropriate for parties in Mt. Airy.
We loaded the table and backed out through the vintage F150’s and above ground pools. One house was intriguing. A ghostly bungalow, overgrown and uninhabited except for maybe a few dead bodies in the basement. I quipped, “There’s a cheap one for sale.” This idea was quickly shot down by my daughter and navigator. “Not funny. Turn left.” We then drove half-way across the State to find the nearest up-market coffee place. It was worth it for a refreshing Frappucino! We found a great one in the fancy suburbs and they sold records. My kinda place. Sitting outside we had a wonderful moment of connection that is rare these days. The seven months of 2020 came into view and gained some perspective. Schadenfreude with caffeine. My kid wryly refers to our present dilemma as the “End of Times.” If she can handle it then so can I! Back over the Ben Franklin Bridge, we breathed a sigh of relief. Hint: Never should you tackle both bridges in a single afternoon.
After this ordeal, I needed a lager and an early evening Corona-stroll. I have been pinching books from the little home libraries in our neighborhood, wooden boxes on poles. It is interesting to note what people read then discard. Literacy meets affluence. I prefer History to the latest craze in how-to books on being a better Caucasian. On a nearby street of cozy historic houses I paused to read a new lawn sign with a short pun. It said simply, “BYE DON.” It took me a second to catch the drift. “Oh yeah, a new way to spell Biden! I was so taken with it I bumped into the new BMW out front.
Friday, January 31, 2020
Monday, December 9, 2019
This went south as the publishing professional flubbed a word or two and continued the rendition in what sounded like profound disinterest. The prose sank into a flat monotone and an agent’s hand went up, signifying dislike. More hands followed and the entire panel scowled and the reading (such as it was) ended. This was fascinating, I thought, but not disastrous. Surely, they would have some interesting criticisms, something I’d overlooked worth the cost of admission. The first inquisitor mentioned the fact that my first page consisted of one paragraph! What? Others concurred. Horror! It became apparent that they also disliked my updated Philip Marlow and his world-weary delivery. One agent put it down to a misguided “style” and mentioned James Joyce. Was I was being dissed because the prose was dense or I knew James Joyce? For those of you who’ve seen my Facebook page or this blog, Pocket Intellectual, Joyce is the jokey avatar. This photograph of me as Joyce was (is) going to be on the back flap of the “published” Work Shy. In less than a minute the panel had moved on unable to grasp my middling thriller writer, Douglas Frank and his inability to suffer fools gladly.
Sunday, November 17, 2019
After digesting Ken Burns, I discovered the glamorous soap version of “Nashville” from ABC, perfect binge material for post-vacation blues. Six seasons! Amid the drama are real clubs and weekly guest cameos, the ever present and icky Brad Paisley. Reality TV kills music. Vince Gill showed up too. He was one of Burn’s spokesmen in the documentary and looks a little like an accountant now. The music penned by industry stalwarts ain’t half bad and is available on disc and can be seen live! I am intrigued how quickly the characters write heartfelt songs on old Gibson guitars and deliver them immediately the same evening at the Bluebird Café without rehearsing. It is now on my list of places to visit. In the meantime, I’ll be researching Nashville on HULU. There’s only sixty episodes of left!