The Times ran a story this morning about the small percentage of people who voted for Trump in 2016 but won’t vote for him again. One woman, a 53 year old finance executive. was quoted as saying, “I think if he wasn’t such an appalling human being, he would make a great president .” And I think her point is that he has been incredibly effectual. He has stacked the courts with conservatives for decades and he’s rolled back so may regulations we may never be able to restore them.
I probably shouldn’t follow politics. There’s so many shades of grey. We watched Trump steal every item in the Republican playbook and then knock off every candidate in that large 2016 pool. He is formable. You have to give him that. I think Biden should run with the campaign slogan that Thomas Friedman gave him. “Respect science, respect nature, respect each other.” That is a winning platform.
Haim’s “Summer Girls” borrows from “Walk on the Wild Side” and that only makes it better. But my favorite is “Want You Back” because a poster for the Hammer Museum is featured in their early morning walk through Westwood.
We got an early start this morning and hardly ran into anyone on the trails which was a good thing because Peggi forgot her mask. Down by the lake we were following a couple with two German Shepards, his and hers, one off to the left on her leash and one off to the right on his, like the dogs didn’t get along. We slowed our pace so we would not have to pass them but they stopped while the guy’s dog arched up his rear end and we watched a big pile slither out, a sight only a dog owner could love.
We moved quickly to pass them while they were on grass between the trail and the lake. I asked Peggi if she thought they would pick it up or wait for us to walk by and then just carry on. I was thinking there was a fifty/fifty chance. They left it there for someone else to step on and I turned back, looked down at the pile and up at him while I gestured with my hands open. I’m not looking for a fight.
I’ve had a few dogs that I loved. I am not anti-dog. But I have been bit three times now, the worst while we were out walking when I turned the back of my hand to let the dog sniff it. Don’t ever do that. I could not get my hand out of the dog’s mouth and wasn’t able to play drums for three months. And because I couldn’t remember if the dogs was wearing a tag I had to get a month’s worth of Rabies shots.
We cut back toward the park and took the ridge trail along the golf course. I found seventeen golf balls! I wasn’t bushwhacking or anything. I just went down for one and then spotted the next and then another. They are not all white anymore. I brushed off and made a note to shower when I got back to wash off any ticks.
As we left the trail that connects to the end of Hoffman Road we ran into my brother Tim, putting out on the green with three other guys. We talked long enough for him tell to us his friend just found out he has Lyme.
We put another row of carrots in yesterday. According to Peggi’s notes we put the first one in on March 13th. Our neighbor, whose property our garden is on was out digging up black swallow wort, the invasive plant with the root ball that makes it almost impossible to pull up by hand. He told us he had seen a family of woodchucks, at least three, and he suggested that we set our trap before they gobbled down the greens. I grabbed a small piece of cantaloupe out of our compost pile and set the Have A Heart trap. We were down at the pool when he texted that we had caught one. I called the town and they will transport him somewhere and bring the trap back.
Our neighbor told us his wife had brought home some local strawberries from Wegman’s so we planned to walk up to Aman’s Farm Market to pick some up. We waited for them to open and called to make sure they had some but our favorite cashier, the teenager who pretends to not be engaged, said, not yet. We walked over to Kathy’s place and sat out on her pergola overlooking the bay. We kept our masks on snuggly as she told us she was quarantining after attending a funeral downstate for a relative. We too are in day seven of our countdown since the thirtieth birthday party we attended for our neighbors’ daughter.
It was supposed to rain this morning, thunderstorms even, and we’re guessing that is what kept everyone inside. We walked with our rain gear but never had to use it and because there were so few people out, we walked along the beach. It felt a bit like a Mad Max movie or maybe the way the sets would look just after shooting.
It was early so the City had not had a chance to clean up from the night’s parties. Fire pits were still fuming, that damp smoky odor almost overwhelming. Driftwood doesn’t make the best firewood but generations will try. I was thinking back to the night after my senior ball and the party we had on this same beach. We were probably just as reckless.
Fireworks canisters and empty wine and beer bottles were strewn about. A soggy half pizza was draped over a log. A full gallon sized plastic container of cheese doodles was left in the sand and further down a bag of Smartfood cheddar cheese popcorn. Young green trees were snapped off at the trunk and probably thrown on the fire. Someone had started a fire under a fallen tree, a big tree. They scooped out the sand beneath and succeeded in burning a good bit of the trunk while the thirty foot tree stretched out along the beach. A two foot column of red plastic drink cups was still in a plastic bag. And a park picnic table, one those with tubular metal legs was in two big pieces, just small pieces of the charred wooden top and seats still attached.
It wasn’t until we were done playing horseshoes that Rick noticed he only had one of his hearing aides in. We’ve been standing apart, throwing both our shoes one after the other rather than taking turns and then stepping away from the pit to let the other throw. Rick’s mask is one of those that loops around his ears rather than behind his head and he would occasionally lift his mask to clear his glasses when he stepped away. So there was a lot of ground to cover.
We don’t have much of a lawn. Too many trees for that. What we have mostly is chewed up leaves. In fact the pits, this early in the season, are about six inches deep in chewed up leaves. We looked for about an hour, long enough for Peggi and Monica to join the search.
Peggi suggested the magnet stick that our former neighbor made. It was in our garage, where it was when Leo died. I walked up and down with that and at some point I found a tiny battery attached to it. We all assumed the hearing aide was nearby until Rick remembered he had replaced a battery in that spot a few weeks ago and dropped the old one.
After watching us walk back and forth in the front yard, our neighbors across the street came out with masks on and pitched in. Rick was resigning himself to having to spend his stimulus check on a new $1500 hearing aide. Someone suggested a metal detector and we texted the neighbor who has one of everything. Peggi picked that up and was fine tuning the beeping noises while I sifted the tiny pieces of leaves in one of the pits. Bingo. I found the needle in a haystack.
There is a great big lake out there behind these trees but it was so misty this morning you couldn’t see the horizon.
After talking with Bob in Chicago, Peggi’s sister in LA and Duane in Brooklyn we decided to watch the evening news on tv. Every discussion had led to the unrest In their cities. It was one of the networks, maybe NBC, and the footage looked bad but their coverage was interrupted by the president, reading from a script in the Rose Garden, calling out “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers.” He said we have a “beautiful law” and then reminded us “America always wins.” He ended by telling us he was going to a “very, very special place..” A cliff-hanger ending.
The 6 o’clock news format has a way of condensing and presenting footage to maximize impact. We got out of the habit of watching it long ago. Our news dribbles in all day long from the newspapers, online sources and prompts. And we have been floating in a Covid-free dream state for so many months the half hour show was a real jolt. There is a lot of justifiable rage out there.
This morning we learned the “special place” was the boarded up church across the street from the White House where the president held up the bible. And is “thousands and thousands” more than thousands or does it just sound that way to the Trumpster?
Knowing how much Peggi and I love Peggy Lee, it wasn’t off-topic at all for Martin to send us a link to this article about a planned concert to celebrate the centenary of Lee’s birth. The show has been cancelled and that can only be a good thing. A better tribute would be to simply play her records.
I was looking forward to this rainy day. We got an early walk in but I was able to spend the rest of the day on what I’ve been calling “my project.” I put old photos and souvenir pieces of paper in notebooks for years, no paste, just small pieces of Scotch tape in the corners, and at some point, when most of my old photos were tucked away, I started cutting pictures out of the newspaper and filling pages with those.
About twenty years ago the scrapbooks morphed into some sort of artist’s book. I began pairing pictures, juxtoposing photos of paintings with news shots, that sort of thing. I kept the pictures I had cut out in a box and paired them up when I had a pile to choose from. They work well in notebook form and the twenty binders (in multiple colors) look great on the shelf but the newsprint will eventually yellow beyond readability. So far I have only scanned one. You can view “Brief History of the World – Vol. X” on Issuu or you can download a copy of the book here. It is in the universal ePub format and optimized for any device or reader.
The books are particularly idiosyncratic. I realize that. A hill of beans. And a lot of the images are dark but I find many hilarious. They were compiled during 9/11, the anthrax scare and the fake anthrax scare (can’t imagine anyone remembers that), the on-going wars in the Gulf and now the Coronavirus. The images are graphic whether they are paintings or photojournalism. And they aren’t mine. All I have done is arrange them.
For weeks now I have been preparing the notebooks for their close-up with the scanner.
If I’m not mistaken, and I usually am, this would be the weekend Sea Breeze Amusement Park opens. I haven’t been inside in years but the screams from the Jack Rabbit riders are an essential sound of summer. It was eerily quiet when we walked by.
Peggi had a dream that we had a deer in our bathtub. But it wasn’t our bathtub here, it was the one we had in the city. And then she saw a snake in the road with a toad in its mouth. Half of the toad was still visible and she was going tp tell me about it when she came in but she forgot.
We walked down to Sea Breeze this morning and came back up Culver where we checked on the many restaurants. Don’s Original is letting five masked customers in at a time. Vic & Irv’s old parking lot is under water. Bill Grey’s had yellow tape around their outdoor seating section. Marge’s was doing curbside. Curbside what? Lakeside Hots delivers. 222-HOTS. Giuseppe’s is open four days a week for take-out. Nick’s looked closed but we heard our neighbor had ordered take out. The Union, formerly the Reunion was closed. And Shamrock Jack’s had five curbside pick-up stations clearly marked. Our neighbors had take out from Pasta Villa last night. We’ve been strictly home-cooked meals for the last few months but we wanted to see how the over half lives.
My neighbor is anxious to resume our summer horseshoe ritual. He texted this morning wondering if I had given any thought to how we could safely play. I ignored the text.
Just days after posting my picture of a fox eating a squirrel outside our bedroom window we came across what we first thought were turkeys, about ten big birds in the trees over the marsh. A few of them were on the ground picking at something. They didn’t startle or take off like turkeys do, they held their ground as we approached. They turned out to be vultures feasting on a dead fox. It didn’t look like the same one.
Don’t know why “New York Is Now” popped into my head. I had to hear it and it still sound fresh. It is now. Ornette recorded the album in 1968 and he used John Coltrane’s rhythm section, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones. I had forgotten that until the second song, “Toy Dance.” Ed Blackwell, Ornette’s go to guy, is my favorite drummer in the world and this didn’t sound like his distinctive parade style. It doesn’t sound like Elvin Jones either. Jones was so physical with Coltrane and on New York Is Now he sounds limber and free.
Coltrane’ s lp, “The Avant Garde,” recorded eight years earlier, features Ornette’s line-up, Don Cherry, Charlie Hayden and Ed Blackwell. Three of the five songs on this lp were written by Coleman. I plan to listen to that today.
We’ve noticed bike tracks on some of the trails through the park and we’ve occasionally seen guys on bikes, those fat tire things. They don’t pay any attention to the “No Biking on Trails” signs. We noticed a new sign yesterday planted right in the middle of a trail that goes straight up a hill. In addition to being obnoxious the bikes tear up the trails and lead to erosion. I spotted this pink flag on trail today, probably alerting other bikers to the path. I brought it home with me along with six golf balls and three Sweet Gum seed pods that looked like a brown version of the Corona virus.
There was a period, five or six years ago, when I was bringing home Budweiser cans from a spot near the marsh on Hoffman Road. I put all those photos in a slideshow below.
We’re finding the nearby neighborhoods are less crowded than the park in the morning. We walked down to the bay today, down the big hill at the end of Point Pleasant and out Schnackel Drive where the homes are barely above water. Schnackel continues further along the shoreline but only as a walking path. There are a handful of more homes right on the water but we ran into a dog back there a few years ago so we left it unexplored today.
Zig zagging through the neighborhoods we’ve noticed a few garden projects underway. Big pressure treated poles stuck in the ground for fencing on the south side and some sort of open air structure up top tying it all together. There must be plans online for these Victory Gardens because we’ve seen a few and they all look alike. We’re lucky to have a small plot of and in our neighbor’s backyard where there is sunshine and a short electric fence to keep the animals out. And what’s with these fantasy doors in people’s yards that are hung on a frame and apparently swing open to more yard?
We heard the woman at the end of the street found a tick stuck on her side. She had it tested and it was negative. Our friends, Pete and Shelley, in the mountains, have already found a few on them. And Jim Mott, the painter and birder, has three attached to him.
And why isn’t the government putting unemployed people to work rebuilding our infrastructure? It’s not like no-one has ever thought of this. The WPA was a win win. AmeriCorp could be fully staffed. What are we waiting for?
The street we moved onto has a swimming pool on one of the lots 1960. Ten families belonged to the association then but only three households, all couples, belong now. We do meetings with Roberts Rules of Order. This one was via Zoom. We took the cover off under the threat snow and we all wore masks.
Certain words keep coming up during the pandemic. “Exacerbate” is one. Every move that Trump makes, it seems, exacerbates the crisis. In a conversation with Peggi’s sister she used the word “cavalier” in reference to potentially unsafe behavior while out in public. That stuck and Peggi and I now use that word every day. There was a restaurant downtown, where the Metropolitan Building is now, that my brother and I used to go to when we skipped school. It was called “The Cavalier.”
It was too cold for the golfers this morning although we did see two solo parties. One guy was wearing gloves and a down jacket as he teed off. We took one of the paths that skirts the course and I found three balls. A Wilson, a Titleist and a Precept.
A big pine fell across this path in Durand over the winter. We crawled under it quite a few times and today we found that they had cleaned it up. The park has such a slim staff it takes them months and sometimes years to clear a trail. This is an especially nice one as it connects Zoo Road to Pine Valley.
Tom Kohn from the Bop Shop stopped by this afternoon to pick up some Personal Effects CDs for his store. Can’t keep em in stock! I found a video on my hard drive that someone had shot at Club Mirage in 1985. I chopped one song out yesterday and posted that but there was also a pretty cool version of “A Love Supreme” in there. And whoever it was that shot the video got some good footage the crowd dancing to a sang called Baby Baby. I might have to chop another song out in my Corona time.
Margaret Explosion was scheduled to be performing in the Little Theatre Café on Wednesdays this month. We would be there tonight but were not. With Bob Martin’s help we’ve been researching ways to stream a performance from multiple locations.
It was supposed to be warm today but it barely made it. We walked to down to the Sea Breeze pier without any close encounters. We had the small beach to the left of the pier to ourselves. Guess everyone was in the park. The lake was still. It was beautiful but kind of strange.
Our friends, Pete and Gloria, stopped by to wish me a happy birthday. They were the first friends we’ve had over since the pandemic. We had coffee out front and resisted the urge to touch.
Our neighbors (and friends), Jeddy and Helena, stopped by to sing happy birthday. We stood in the driveway and they stood in the road. Helena was playing some reggae on her portable sound system. But all I could think of was Ornette’s “Friends and Neighbors.”
Phil did a version of “Harry Irene” for me on Facebook live.
Our good friend, Louise, dedicated a blog post to me.
Kathy walked over from the last traffic circle and texted us that she was out front. While we were out there Rick and Monica stopped by and Rick asked how we were going to make horseshoes work.
As the tediousness of the pandemic threatened to dull our perceptions we found a way to reinvigorate our routine. We get out of the house before the second cup of coffee, before we have read the news and opinion pages. The streets are quiet, the dog walkers aren’t blocking the park entrance and the trails in the woods are nearly empty. While the rest of America sleeps in we have been turning in earlier and waking at dawn.
The City or County has put signs up in the park reminding visitors to stay six feet apart. The signs aren’t ugly, they don’t shout, but the message is hard to read from a distance and the tagline are hard to read when you’re on top of the signs. They make a former graphic artist wince.
There was an article in the NYT this morning about how during the Great Depression the government put thousands of artists to work under the WPA . Examples of beautiful murals, posters and signs were cited. In Trump’s world funding for the arts is non starter. So who do they hire when they want get something done? The signs in the park look like they were done by an eighth grader. Who did the Cuomo’s hideous highway signs?
I’m still steaming about the Post Office”s move in 1999 to replace the distinctive logo that fit perfectly on the outdoor boxes with some sort of italicized, speedy like Fed Ex, abomination. The new logo makes the fifties’ styled boxes look like they’re falling over. The old logss are still there under the bigger parallelograms. Maybe we can steam them off.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I’ve been cleaning house on my computer. I tend to procrastinate so I get really stubborn when I finally take on a task and don’t stop until it’s finished. I found this screen capture from 2002. I was obviously taken by the prompt that had popped up. “Are you sure to execute it?” It looks like it was activated by something I did in the CDR Updater, whatever that is.
The capture is interesting for few reasons. I see aliases to early versions of Photoshop and Quicktime on the desktop. It looks like my hard drive is named “Farm” and and my external hard drive, named “Outskirts,” hardly has anything on it. I wish I could twirl the mp3 folder down because I had just added something the day before. I think I was raiding Napster back then.
I see I was using a Kodak DC 4800 camera, something my father bought for me at the Kodak Store. Earring Records was preparing to release Pete LaBonne’s “Glob” cd. And that “WandaBobKathy” file is a photo of the three principles in a virtual company that we had just begun a long relationship with. Yeah, I am sure to execute it.
It’s hard to tell what’s going on in this photo but I know. I rolled this huge oak log up on the spitter and drove it toward the blade but it failed to split all the way through and it got hung up. I backed up the hydraulic driver and put another log in there to drive this thing off. But then I had to roll it up on the splitter again. Leo, our former next door neighbor, put the splitter together himself, a Heathkit.
During this crisis I’ve been thinking of the Stones song from Between the Buttons, “Who wants yesterday’s papers? As much as I like the old fashioned newspaper it seem hopelessly outdated by the time it gets to our mailbox. It’s demise has been a long time coming but it seems cruel that with the biggest news story in a century the newspapers pick this time to go under. City stopped their print edition and I heard the D&C was putting employees on a week furlough.
The cumbersome delivery method of a stale product and now no advertisers. When I worked at Hart Conway in the Triangle Building downtown one of our biggest clients were the car dealers, It was down and dirty work but the ads we prepared in paste-up form were full page and sometimes double truck. I did time at Sibley’s too, in the back room on the fourth floor and we did spreads and whole supplements for the newspaper.
I got stuck on the newspaper as a delivery boy. I still find it soothing. There are no interruptions like there is on the phone. I like cutting pictures out. Im going to miss it.
We won’t be able to get this view of the Sea Breeze lighthouse again until November as the State will be opening the swing bridge on April Fools Day. The trail, just to the left of the willow trees, what’s left of the former Hojack line, is one of our favorites. There are still some railroad ties buried just below the surface and it eventually runs across a restaurant deck but eventually leads you to a small park with picnic tables across the street from the old Peg’s Hots. I wouldn’t expect anyone to remember where that place was but my friends, Tim Schapp and Joe Barrett. worked there one summer.
Peggi suggested that we may be better prepared for the quarantine than most because of the three Caminos we did. The whole thing of simplifying your world, all your possessions in your backpack, a room to eat, clean up and sleep in. Maybe so. We were planning to take a fourth walk in April, the northerly Primitivo from France to Santiago, but that is only a dream now.
We used to have a Pussy Willow tree in the backyard of our house in the city. It grew like a weed and I would cut six feet off the branches every year to keep it away from the power lines. We got in the habit of picking fresh bunches for the house. Out here, by the lake, we spotted one on what we think might be park property, the undeveloped part. We keep our eye on the tree and raid it when the time is right.
Only those who are sick have a right to complain so this isn’t a complaint. It is an observation. I am finding it impossible to get anything done during this stay at home shut down. I thought I would be putting dents in all sorts of projects but I spend the whole day reading about the virus, reading about the president’s free-styling, talking to friends and relatives, placing online orders, taking a walk and then worrying. And everyone who has ever picked up a guitar has a down home performance on social media so you can pretty bogged down there.
I didn’t sleep that good last night so I did an extra dose of walking thinking I will sleep better tonight. It’s hard to get the day started with all the dreadful news and protocol revisals to wade through. And now Vitamin supplements might be good again. It is only 27 degrees so I’m hoping my face was able to take enough of that in.
I love this time of year. Hints of color everywhere after a sustained absence. Spring is so dramatic. More dramatic than the virus.