Friday, October 27, 2006


It's been a long year. And an especially long hot summer.

Looking for a new home. Putting the condo on the market. Borrowing heavily in order to make a good down payment. Sweating out a dropping market with closely competing condos in our own building.

The sale of the condo recorded today. Escrow closes. We suddenly drop the payments on two of our three loans and one November tax assessment. We approach the end of the year with some breathing room. The goblins are at bay and Thanksgiving takes on a special meaning next month.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Check-out counter literature
Dr. Phil philosophy
Self-help pschychology
Hardware store music
Movie house dining
Airport religion
Television education
Computer dating
Car dealer sincerity
Designer coffee sophistication
Hair salon loyalty
Lingerie pornography
Fashion statements
Water bottle pacifiers
Escalator exercise
Bartender wisdom
Tobacconist comfort
Toys R Us maturity
Infomercial exercise
Video rental parenting
Multiplex creativity
Video game morality

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Homeboy Culture

When I glance around the world and wince at the persistent voilence inflicted on its peoples I have to wonder at the weirdness of it all. Locally, a microcosmic example of this weirdness caused the assassination of a three-year-old child. What's it all about? Are we humans more slaves to our groupthink than to our genes?

“It is almost impossible to exaggerate the power and influence of culture upon the human animal. It is powerful enough to hold the sex urge in check and achieve premarital chastity and even voluntary vows of celibacy for life. It can cause a person to die of hunger, though nourishment is available, because some foods are branded unclean by the culture. And it can cause a person to disembowel or shoot himself to wipe out a stain of dishonour. Culture is stronger than life and stronger than death.”--“Culture,” Encyclopaedia Britannica

It can also cause us to commit murder under the banner of a color, a cross, a crescent, a currency or an ism.

I guess there is something in our genes that requires us to adopt a culture to live and die for. It was always "us against them." And thus it will always be.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Autumn Leaves

This is the time of year when, as a kid in Cleveland, the leaves fell and their fires burned. I don't know where autumn leaves are still burned in America - definitely not in Southern California.

Leaves were raked from front yards and piled into mounds at the curb. Before they were torched, however, the second most fun for us kids was to run smashing into the loose piles, flopping onto their softness or kicking them about madly.The first most fun, of course, was watching them burn, especially at night, leafy sparks floating skyward.

We are generally wiser now, about fire hazard and pollution, so this little delight is no longer available to my children and grandchildren. They don't even have a memory of the glow and the smell of burning leaves. But they do have the Internet and iPods, which I didn't at their ages.

But for many an autumn I had a special fiery treat. My Uncle Edgar would come to town from his home in rural Indiana and stay with us for a few months. He had a standing offer from the Kroehler Furniture to work in their Cleveland factory designing, carving and assembling custom pieces. For most of the year, Uncle Edgar was a drunk, usually bad, sometimes even violent; but he would go on the wagon and show up at Kroehler's when his mother and older brother needed his financial assistance.

The fiery treat was a trick he showed me with a page from the daily paper. He would spread it out and then bring the four corners together, tie them into a knot and snap the paper upward to catch the air and create a balloon shape. He would then place the paper balloon knot down, and ignite the knot with a match. The gas created by the burning knot would lift the balloon into the air. As the fiery spectacle lifted up above the house tops and trees, the entire paper balloon would burn and its shape became visible in an outline of sparks. Soon that shape would disintegrate and the sparks would scatter and float on the breeze. I think the sparks cooled and died before they could cause any structural harm, but I can't say that for sure. Edgar also floated off on a breeze. He stopped coming to Cleveland and Kroehler's and seemed to drop out of sight.

After a while, we heard that he had gone sober, found religion and a lady friend and became an itinerant preacher along the Indiana river bottoms. I never saw my uncle again, but Jack helped me pay Edgar a little homage by naming my character after him in his script for
Ride in the Whirlwind.

it's private
powered by