All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ayn Rand, Sally Rand, Dance And Fact-Checking

Earlier this year, my daughter and I were discussing the famous Rand sisters, Ayn and Sally, and she asked a rhetorical question: "So maybe if there had been more fan dancing in Atlas Shrugged, things would have been different?"

To which we chorused, "Yes!" Indeed, things would have been friendlier now because dance would be involved, not just because Sally Rand had a friendly face --she did-- but because, even though dancers are competitive, they cooperate with each other. Dancers depend upon each other to create psychic constructs onstage.

By her own account, Ginger Rogers could do everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards in high heels. This is the dancer's mindset. You don't disparage your partner's art for helping you  perfect your own. Likewise, rich people didn't used to fault the middle class for maintaining roads, emergency services and educational systems with their taxes and labor. After all, there wouldn't be many businesses of any kind without safe highways, law enforcement, skilled workers and firefighters.

I could expatiate with geometric logic. I could argue interminably in favor of horizontal egalitarianism but I could not fill space, or define it, so effectively as a dancer can. So I repost a clip of a solo artist who survived the chaos of decades in which dances could result in injury and pregnancy --even in men. It is the famous "16-second Gravel Dance".  Crank up the volume and listen to the choreographer's direction at the end.
  I use this performance to drive home my point, whatever it was, and show one may dance to good advantage in the daytime. Night time dancing tends to become adiaphorous. Neocons dance at night, like vampires --which are uncomfortably popular right now-- but the best ideas are always danced about in broad daylight. Western Civilization, which I've always thought was a good idea, can't be perfected in the dark. Leads to murky reasoning, and I like enough light to at least see my side of an argument.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Celebrating Willie

When I met Willie in 1965

one thing led to another and he invited me to his 75th birthday party. That was yesterday.

 Norma took pictures.

We drove to Sonoma, which is nestled in a little valley near the coast. It's a pleasant trip on puzzling roads that all seem to go dreaming, like where Highway 12 West has signs that say "West" in both directions, even though it runs north and south. Highway 12 West-West (North-South)  follows clouds among vineyards. There are few traffic challenges except where fog crawls inland between hilltops. Automobiles are expected to stop for fog where it crosses the road. Fog has right-of-way.

When we arrived, we found Will had rented Burlingame Hall and hired caterers and a musician. There was champagne! I found other people Will had invited to his 75th birthday party since 1965. There were scads of  us.

What you see here is me, Will, Gimi --who I hadn't seen since maybe 1971-- and Kepley, who I met only once when he was dancing at a pow-wow in Yolo County in 1968. The very tall man in the back might be God. Behind Him, as always, is some plumbing upon which the universe depends.

The pose broke up, as poses do, and Paul --who I hadn't seen in 5 years--  greeted us in front of Norma's camera with one of his famous one-liners.
Then I made the mistake of turning my head abruptly. If you do that at a really good party the whole room spins around and all you can do is laugh. How Norma was able to capture that with her camera is beyond me:

Fortunately, it was time for lunch so I just grabbed my table as it came around and sat.

Will's best friend Ed had uploaded a wonderful reenactment of Sonoma's Bear Flag Rebellion onto YouTube, conducted entirely on an unmade bed with a chihuahua and three chickens, just like the real Bear Flag Rebellion of 1846, which started at the home of General Vallejo just a few blocks away from where we were.

After a six-course lunch I went outdoors for postprandial nicotinic meditation. Norma followed at a distance.

"How," I said. "How shall I find my way out of this spacious and beautiful place?"

To which God, or a very tall man in the background, said, "This is Sonoma Valley, my poor confused child, just turn left at every firehouse and you'll reach Interstate 80.

And so it was.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Future Of Past-Life Regression

My brother and sister bloggers have begun posting Halloween thoughts and I decided to join them. October is time for such things. This haunted world is bound to share some secrets, some enigmas, but you mustn't be too scared. I will begin with a spooky picture!

It happened while I was driving. Old VW air-cooled aluminum-magnesium engines are noisy beasts at best and, after 40, 50 years of driving them, one learns to listen for anomalies, the enigmatic, the supernatural. There was a thin, high-pitched, hesitant voice coming from the back of my mind or number three piston was unscrewing its spark plug again. Both have happened before and I knew the drill. I marshalled as much mind-power as I could spare from traffic and thought in my best I-AM-OZ commanding mentation, "Who ARE you?" To which a startled voice replied:


Geo.: Well, that's a pretty flower and a pretty name. Where are you, and when are you?

Poppy: I'm at personnel, interviewing for my first job out of high school and it's October, 3014.

Geo.: And you're in my head because?

Poppy: Because that's how they select and place employees now, by examining past lives of applicants.

Geo.: And we share a soul.

Poppy: I guess. I don't know. I'm really nervous and scared. They're asking me stuff.

Geo.: Who?

Poppy: The panel from Human Resources, but mainly this lady from Psychic Administration. I'm all hypnotized and I don't like it one bit. Help?

Geo.: Hah! Funny old mess to get born and find yourself in. Of course I'll help. What's she asking?

Poppy: I told her I felt I was moving. She wants to know what I'm moving in.

Geo.: Tell her it's the Official Grand Oscar Meyer Popemobile of the Emperor Of Planet Earth. Can you show her the picture?

Poppy: Y..Yes, but she'll never believe...oh my gosh! She's clapping and jumping up and down!

Geo.: Good. She's weak in history. Now I'm going to pull into a little park and send another pic. Tell her I'm banishing the big bad old dinosaurs.

Poppy: Yikes! She's raising one eyebrow. Bad sign, Geo.

Geo.: You're catching on quick, Poppy. Tell her I'm still a half-mile away, wait a minute and show her THIS:

Poppy: Oh my gosh, she's buying it!

Geo.: Ok Poppy. Now tell her, as Emperor Of Earth I'm invoking a Multimillenial Paradigm Shift-Singularity Confluence Quantum New Age Coherence to insure universal supremacy of whatever dumbass company you're applying to.

Poppy: Got it! Oh no, she wants to know what regulative authority to consult! I'm frightened.

Geo.: You still fasten things with screws in 3014?

Poppy: (sniff) Uh huh.

Geo.: Then tell her to follow guidelines of the International Screw Thread Committee. They've kept things standardized throughout past history. Empires rise and fall but the world can't do without standardized screw threads.

Poppy: Screw threads, ok. Anything else?

Geo.: Yeah Poppy. Listen. Much as I like you, I don't want you regressing to this past life of yours again for the same reason I don't regress to mine. We all share a soul but each plenipotentiary is entitled to his or her privacy. Understand?

Poppy: Yes Geo., I...I think so. Goodbye... thanks for helping me.

Geo.: My privilege, my pleasure. Now get outta here, I gotta drive.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


I had just settled into a fairly blank notebook page when I heard it, a still, small voice --surprisingly mellifluous-- announcing something intended to shock and disgust me: "Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks or it will digest itself."

"Gaaah!" I replied.

"Gaaastropod, I think."

"Of course you are," I said. "I can tell by the attitude and pawky humor. Quite distinctive of your kind. Where are you?"

"I'm sort of under the brown bench across the walk. See me?"

"Yes, there you are on the support. How are you?"

"Rather sluggish."

"Hah!  Should've seen that coming. Mucus trail up the cinder block, eye-pod waggling."

"Eye-stalk, you mean. I'm a slug, not an undergrown adolescent whose status is predicated upon Apple Inc. Products. But that "Gaaah!", it's about mucus isn't it?"

I eyed the slug. Was he right? No, slugs love to start arguments as much as they love word-play. Verbal repartee. Couldn't let myself be drawn into his --well, not web. They don't have webs-- mucus trail, then.

"Slug", I said. "I weary of your snotty insinuations."

"Insinuation? Now there's a five-jointed godless eel of a word! How do you expect that to hang onto your notebook page?"


"Damn right! All those essy words --insinuation, succulent, seersucker,  sarcocarp,  sapindaceous--  all leave a mucus trail."

"What about homo-sapiens?"

"Present company excepted. Do you need a hankie?"

I may be a rather dense human but even I could perceive the gastropod's insult. One doesn't suggest dehydration to another species without some unresolved personal issues outside pawky predisposition. I stood up.

"Excuse me, slug. I'm going in to get a beer. Could I interest you in...ah, I thought not."

Monday, October 1, 2012

Solutions! Problems! Tous à bord!

Problems come from all directions but solutions appear on a blackboard in the garden.

Although I've never witnessed this enigmatic calcography in progress, I believe this woman is responsible:

I caught her as she tried to escape on a steamboat. I believe it is she who chalked "Pour nous chante deja plus hautaine aventure. Route nouvelle et feux, portes de  cime en cime..." on the garden slate. And my poor but dogged attempts at mental translation generated the following: "Sing for us already haughty adventure. New course and lights, doors treetop to treetop ..." I try again: "High adventure is already singing for us. New routes, new lights, summits give upon summits..."  I have no confidence in the second translation but I like it. It is a solution. I like solutions but they can be lonely business.

As many have found to their dismay, when we follow our interests into detail, social invitations cease. We are a country of people who like to romp a wide pile of issues, sink our teeth briefly into them and throttle them as puppies worry socks. We do not like to chew one problem long. We like to dash after fresh socks, abandon anything to do with the old. This is not a society that tolerates anyone boring enough to have solved a problem. I know, I solved a problem once and never got invited anywhere again.

One may follow a problem to its solution and that is admirable and confusing. One loses the sense of the two things being separate, which they are. One is better off following the calcographist up a gangplank and learning over dinner the line is from Saint-John Perse's "Chronique" and means we ain't seen nuthin' yet.
Which brings us back to square one:

We chalk it up to experience.

She may be responsible for crop-circles too.