Thursday, August 26, 2010

Who Do You Call?

Saw this on the Clara Barton this morning. Luckily we were stopped at a light, and I was able to get a shot:

They really do exist.

Their website touts their expertise at "Structural Damage Caused by Vehicles" and "Structural Damage Caused by Fallen Trees," and the conclusion I must reluctantly draw is that those things are way more vulnerable than I thought.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Enlivening Life with Song

Daily, I drive through the lovely little hamlet of Paeonian Springs, Va.

Rarely does this brief visit fail to set off in the Jingo cranium the little ditty that I once penned as a sort of Town Anthem. It's a waltz-time thing, goes something like this:

Paeonian Springs,
Paeonian Springs,
You can poop where you want, but...
Paeonian Springs!

You're welcome, Paeonian Springs! You're cute!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why Facebook Holds Little Fascination

At first, it was kind of cool to be put back into contact with people I hadn't thought about for thirty years.

The problem is, of course, that times change, circumstances change, and people that you're arbitrarily thrown together with in high school -- people the sixteen-year-old you thought you knew -- they change too.

If I say you're a friend on Facebook, it's because I consider you a friend. Or at least a nodding acquaintance, right? Somebody I've shared some experiences with. A friend, you would think, would be the sort of person who'd be at least somewhat open to input from me.

So when a high-school acquaintance -- not really a friend; we didn't really move in the same circles -- forwarded me a truly loathsome bit of racist cant, expecting me to giggle and forward it on to all my right-thinking friends -- this after I asked him last year please not to forward any more 9-12/Glenn Beck/Birther sludge to me, so I thought he understood my stance on these matters -- I gave him some friendly input, in the form of an email repeating my request not to send me such things. (That, at least, was the gist of what I said. There may have been some slightly intemperate language, but this sort of thing, well, pisses me off real bad.)

(I'm not linking to the disgusting thing that angered me, but google "Larmondo 'Flair' Allen" if you're curious.)

His response to me this morning was (and this is a verbatim copy-and-paste, the entire body of the email) "your [sic] a sad little man."

At my riposte begging to be taken off his distro list, he replied "If you feel that calling me a racist helps you sleep at night, you go on ahead. The world will keep on turning without either one of us..."

No, dude, it's not really got much to do with me sleeping at night, or the globe's continued rotation. It's more that what you sent me was real fuckin' racist, and if you can't see that, well, if the shoe fits...

So that's why I don't haunt Facebook very much. People can really suck at the whole humanity thing.

(If you haven't recently sent me any vile racist sludge, then we're still cool on Facebook. Simple as that.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rogers & Hart: What Were They Smoking?

All right, let's see, here.... She gets too hungry for dinner at eight. Check. She likes the theater, and never comes late, good for her. She'd never bother with people she'd hate. Well, who would?

What the hell about any of the foregoing means that the lady is a tramp?

Doesn't like crap games with barons or earls. Disciplined of her, I'll grant -- and, frankly, some of the worst cheaters at dice I know of are of the noble caste. Won't go to Harlem in ermine and pearls -- so she might be either cheap or a racist or perhaps just careful. Won't dish the dirt with the rest of the girls. Not a gossip -- admirable, I suppose.

OK, she possesses these traits, some good, some less so; I still fail utterly to understand why their display draws one to the conclusion that the lady is a tramp.

She likes the free, fresh wind in her hair -- who doesn't? Life without care -- nice work if you can get it, I suppose. She's broke, but it's oke -- I don't know what the hell this even means. Hates California; it's cold and it's damp -- well, the bits north of San Luis Obispo or so can be accused of this, but it seems an awfully broad brush to paint our most populous state with.

Is it possible that we're working with some meaning of the word "tramp" that I'm unaware of? Mr. Webster gives us two possible definitions that might apply -- the lady is either a homeless person or she's a slut. Or a homeless slut, I suppose. A homeless slut whose admiration of the theater is matched only by her laudable punctuality. Might explain the avoidance of Harlem in ermine and pearls -- most vagrant strumpets of my acquaintance lack these fripperies in their wardrobes.

Could "she" be a tramp steamer? Seagoing vessels are often referred to using the female gender.... A tramp steamer that likes the free, fresh wind in her hair? That dislikes northern California's capricious weather? That refrains from tittle-tattle with others of her sex? That shuns gambling with European nobility?

I'm going with that. I've never known an itinerant cargo-vessel that was late to a play.

She weighs her anchor in old Frisco Bay
Picks up some rebar in far Mandalay

She runs on diesel -- the old-fashioned way
That's why the lady is a tramp


She likes the fresh sea breeze in her masts

Steam-whistle blasts

'Neath her keel

Is an eel
At night she displays a nautical lamp
That's why the lady is a tramp


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

California, 2010 (2 -- Home Again)

An Tableau Illustrating Something of the British National Character

(Scene: in line at the ticket booth for the Powell-Mason Line Cable Trolley in San Francisco)

British Man #1, two places ahead of us, at the window: But this is disgraceful!

British Man #2, directly behind us in line and unacquainted with BM#1: Oh, God, no....

BM#1: Why the bloody hell can't I pay with a credit card?

BM#2: Oh, nooooo... Don't.... Please, please don't....

BM#1: You know, we know how to do these things at home! We'd work it out so anybody could pay with a credit card! We're more civilized that way!

BM#2: Oh dear God, how embarrassing...

BM#1 [contemptuously shoveling bills through the window]: Right, here's your bloody cash....

BM#2: OhGodOhGodOhGod....

Me [to BM#2]: It's OK -- I've seen my own countrymen do far worse away from home...

BM#2: Yes, but we're supposed to be better!


I realize that my last post, written in Los Angeles on our last day there, was a bit venomous, but the place angered me. Outside of (perhaps) Manhattan, I've never seen a place that draws such a blindingly clear line between those who Have and those who Do Not. On our first day in Calabasas, we went for a little exploratory drive. I observed that the surrounding hilltops had some lovely houses on them, houses that must have had a lovely commanding view of the valley. I proposed we meander into those neighborhoods to see what the view was like.

Not so fast, there, stranger. Gates. Guards. Lines of tradesmens' and gardeners' trucks awaiting the blessing of some pampered hausfrau to gain access. I worked hard so that me and mine could live on this hilltop, chum, and if you think I'm going to allow just any old riffraff to come and gawk at my stuff, you've got another think coming....

I did not gain favor with Betty by revisiting with her the plot of Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death."


Things were not helped when, later in the day, an officious biddy on a public thoroughfare informed me that smoking had been prohibited throughout the town of Calabasas, and that she was going to inform on me to the nearest gendarme if I did not immediately desist from polluting her airspace.

She was easily thirty yards away from me as she performed her righteous civic duty.


Oh, and those little microscopic dogs in handbags?

Need I say more?


If you are able (as I was not) to suppress thoughts of the world-historical nastiness that was the professional life of William Randolph Hearst, I suppose Hearst Castle at San Simeon would be an interesting place. As it was, I could not allay the memory of an old Zippy the Pinhead cartoon that takes place at San Simeon: Looking at these impossibly, grotesquely opulent surroundings, Zippy observes, "Nice grandeur!"

That's more or less the phrase that kept going through my head too.

On the other hand, it might have been sort of fun to play tennis up there with Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford.


The Pacific Coast Highway did a lot to clear the venom of LA from my brain. That's one mighty pretty stretch of road. I'd like to do it on a motorbike sometime, south to north.

Without brakes.


San Francisco, conversely, plainly did not give a rat's vagina if I lit up three simultaneous Luckies on the corner of Lombard and Van Ness. I can personally attest to the veracity of this assertion; each morning before breakfast, I walked to that well-trafficked corner, tore open a fresh pack, and stuffed three into my gob and lit them all. Not a rat's vagina was to be seen.


I can now confidently say, without fear of cavil, that I have a profound desire never to see Haight-Ashbury again.

Enough on that.


I trusted the waiter and went with the osso buco at Firenze by Night.

Best decision I ever made.


In an otherwise flawless execution of trip-planning (the lion's share of which is directly attributable to Wonder Woman's tireless research), I made only one silly mistake; to wit, in booking the return flight, I found a reasonably priced Virgin America flight that departed SFO at 10:05 and arrived at Dulles at 6:10. Perfect!

There was only one thing wrong with that booking. I neglected to pay attention to one little detail -- the AMs and PMs that follow the posted times. Yes, I had put us on a redeye flight arriving at 6:10 in the morning.

Oh, go ahead and laugh. It will be as water off a duck's back compared to the bollocking I received from young Betty, who had to endure the flight.


I suppose I will recover from the jet-lag at some point soon. Some recommend aspirin, others epsom salts. Me, I'm thinking a few jolts of Boone's Farm chased with some crushed glass.

Monday, August 02, 2010

California, 2010 (1)

See that? These Californians have a place for everything! A whole box full of 'em!

I had once -- like, a week ago -- idealistically thought that I'd be able to sit down in some comfortable space and record each day of this trip as it happened. However, events have intervened, and the admixture of the warm (and spectacularly free of humidity) California sun and a frosty beverage at about 5PM have introduced a certain lassitude that I can't but ascribe to the local culture.

Some highlights from the last few days:

Disneyland seriously needs to go fuck itself. Betty was disillusioned by her experience, but this was the reaction of an eighteen-year-old being confronted by the expectations of her own ten-year-old self. The rides were inferior to those available at your local Six Flags, where the lines are shorter and the thrills far better. The rest of it was relentless merch-flogging. Fuck you, Walt Disney. Betty sees through you.

At Disneyland, the Animatronic Abraham Lincoln, in summarizing the Civil War, managed to avoid the following subjects:
  • What the war was about
  • Who won the goddamned war; and
  • Anything having to do with the aftermath of the war, including Jim Crow laws, lynchings, or Bombingham.
But boy howdy did we all leave the theater with a good feeling about America!

The experience of belonging to a studio audience for the taping of a dreadful sitcom is quite remarkable. They need you to be upbeat, so they are quite relentless in their enforcement of (what Frank Zappa called) "compulsory entertainment." The tame comedian who runs the show leaves one wishing that assault laws weren't quite so strict around here. One leaves the studio feeling quite raped, actually.

According to the papers I signed, I'm not allowed to tell the exact name, or even the production company we were allowed to see, but let's see if my expert Internet-Search-avoidance skills obtain: The show we were forbidden from mentioning was Schmelissa-and-Schmoey, on the Schmay-Bee-Smee Schmaly Schmetwork... Does that work to disguise my origins...?

At any rate, the show seriously SCHMUCKS.

On the other hand, the Warner Brothers Studio Tour was really worth the candle. At one point we drove up to a sound-stage (Maybe #24??) that listed the movies that had been shot on its environs; they included The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, and The Music Man. There's American History, and then there's Cultural Touchpoints Along the Way to American History; and Warner Brothers has badly mixed the two.