Archive for May, 2010

Charles Kuralt at Alumapalooza

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

in absentia, all next week, should he still be alive (passed away July 4, 1997).<p>

The foremost chronicler on the joy of the open road since John Steinbeck and his “Travels with Charley”, the Alumapalooza gathering in Jackson Center, Ohio, would be a Charles Kuralt must stop on a tour of America’s backroads.

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unusual hobbyists to unusual families to the simple pleasures of unknown places

My dog, Jack, wife, Lynn, and I plan to attend, if only for the opportunity to interview a sample of travelers.   Lynn will provide the charm, Jack will go one-on-one with all the canine attendees, and I’d like to meet the ‘non-celebrities’.Among the many celebrities:

  • Corporate royalty, Bob and Kelly Wheeler
  • The first family of Airstreaming, Rich Luhr and Eleanor O’Dea
  • Foremost photographer, writer, and U.S. National Park authority,  the widely published Bert Gildart
  • Historians and vintage gurus, Fred Coldwell and Forrest McClure
  • Our own 1959 “Out of Africa” icon, Dale ‘Peewee’ Schwamborn
  • Rumored personal appearance by the Australian born, Geico gecko

My attention will be directed to the lesser known, e.g., William Bucher, perhaps the most enthusiastic and shameless provocateur of traveling in classic aluminum.  Having logged nearly 300,000 miles on his shining, as new, aging red Suburban, Bill has towed his spotless trailer > 85,000 miles.  Well known for impeccable maintenance, his combined unit is washed, dusted, and polished, not monthly, not weekly, but often hourly.  If you’re fortunate enough to attend this gathering, be prepared to be dazzled. Warning: protective eyewear  is necessary if you look at his polished wheels.  

His wife, Joanie, the world’s foremost collector of all things Barbie, has gained fame as a baker of cookies and as an accomplished rock painter.

These are the stories I want to hear.

Our destination, Jackson Center, offers nothing.  No beach, no mountains, no theme park, no franchised food, nothing but miles and miles of level farmland, corn and soybeans, a small midwestern town.  

Nothing,

    nothing but the exquisite beauty of the American countryside.

A Charles Kuralt week, a time to arrive, on a blue highway, in anticipation of nothing or everything, in search of our national soul.

I hope to see you there.

“Interstate highways allow you to drive coast to coast, without seeing anything”, C. Kuralt (1934-1997).

If you experience an unsafe drop in blood pressure

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

lasting more than four hours, then you may understand why we all have the blues.

Blue, unless you live in a vacuum, is the new green.

Otherwise healthy appearing males appear on the evening news, in a commercial format provided by Big Pharma, illustrating the need to confront their physicians and request the blue pill.  Other men seem content to occupy a porcelain, claw foot bathtub, unclothed, on a rocky beachfront, at sunset, contemplating what might occur in the next hour.  Oddly, a female, equally undressed, is adjacent in a similar appliance….their extended hands in a touching embrace.  Really.  I guess it depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is, but isn’t there a no-tell motel nearby ?

The obsession is viral, uncontrolled by the health care provider, blue cross and blue shield.  My computer contains a feature, bluetooth, which after three years, leaves me not only blueless, but clueless.  A prominent automobile manufacturer extols the virtue of its blue-tec diesel engine technology (greener than the oriental hybrids).  The cheapest fare from Buffalo (BUF) to Bogota (BOG) is on jetBlue Airways.

Politically, closet Republicans impersonating Democrats are derisively referred to as “Blue Dogs“.   Our family pet, Jack, might find that offensive, whether living in a red state or a blue state.  When thirsty, a Pabst Blue Ribbon satisfies me. My wife’s thirst, conversely, is quenched with a Blue Nile diamond.

Gene Simmons and his hard rock band Kiss, known for their facial make-up and flamboyant stage presence have succumbed to the Blue Man Group…..three guys who suffered a devastating acrylic loss in the world paintball championships. Even the venerable mass marketer, Sears Roebuck, features a perky group of salespeople, the Blue Crew, to answer all your appliance questions.  

I assume they are not referring to the same appliance under treatment by the urologists in paragraph one.

What makes me despondent ( and unresponsive to antidepressants ) is realizing after some seventy years, that the only thing I’ve ever done in a bathtub is take a bath.

Word Chemistry fails to graduate

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Again.  Forget the oil spill, the nation is drowning in word spill.

This weekend, in South Bend, IN, I attended a graduation, and offer excerpts from the commencement address.

From the SB Tribune:

NBC anchor Brian Williams on Sunday urged 2010 University of Notre Dame graduates to help find ways to contain and correct the massive oil spill that is polluting the Gulf of Mexico.

As we speak, there are 4 million gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil is pouring, billowing into the Gulf of Mexico.”

As I stand here, there is nothing to stop it,” he said. 

“We are staring, make no mistake, at a slow-motion environmental disaster,” Williams said.

The anchor said he is certain this graduating class has the brain power to help fix it.

Please note that the highlighted phrases are meaningless, word compost at best, that when removed do not alter the message.

    As we speak ?

Note, he’s the only one speaking while thousands are compelled to listen.

    As I stand here.

Hmmm, 15,000 attendees noticed, as we were seated.

    Make no mistake.

Is he emphasizing the ignorance of the audience that clearly must know nothing of the BP disaster ?

Williams is probably an o.k. guy, but he and his ilk have inundated us with worthless drivel.  

The more vacuous Matt Lauer incessantly resorts to the following:

  • Be that as it may
  • Truth be told
  • By and large
  • If, in fact
  • That being said

Harry Smith, suffering from terminal sappiness, makes me beg for the return of Howard K. Smith and Walter Cronkite.  George Stephanopoulus, among the best, is being held hostage by the toys and bubbles network, ABC, and the certified dingleberry, Charlie Gibson.

Why can’t Andy Rooney and Charles Osgood buy these guys a copy of Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style”, if only to reference in the bathroom during moments of meditation ?  

First published in 1918, ”forty-three-page summation of the case for cleanliness, accuracy, and brevity in the use of English” 

Williams, conferred the traditional honorary academic credentials, never graduated from college (he left early for an internship with the Jimmy Carter campaign).  

But Brian will always have a terrific punchline,” No, I never graduated from college, but I do have a degree from Notre Dame”.

About the Author

Retired 1997.
Frequent travel. Loyal companions: wife, Lynn; dog, Jack.
Avocation: writing social and political satire.
Past life: three decade clinical pharmacy owner. Now in recovery.
Location: Northern Indiana, Eastern U.P. of Michigan, Southern Arizona

No telephone;
E-mail cspiher@aol.com