Archive for February, 2011

Loose ends; from life in the slow lane

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Interested readers ( actually, less than a dozen ) have inquiries about prior entries that deserve attention. From folk art & pornography, Jay L., NY, asked about a reference, the VW Beetles buried nose down in NM, and I could not recall where they were located.  What I did find was a photo taken, dated March 24, 2009, shortly before 1 PM, MST.  I assumed it was in NM while headed back to the midwest.  If you know the location, get back to me.

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 Fasten your seat belt, six VW’s a quart low on Krylon 

In Life as Paperboys, three budding writers asked the identity of  the author of a dozen popular novels which had been carefully cloaked in a layer of gauze.  They were evidently seeking publishing advice.   Although to my knowledge the writer has no outstanding warrants, his identity will not be revealed for two reasons:

  1. He is armed with a .357 magnum
  2. I do not have a kevlar vest

The issue titled Motel Hell and Vanna White created some fun and discomfort:

  • rbb in RI; thanks for your loyalty, but you need to join the 21st century, learn to bookmark on the family computer, and throw away your so 1970s Rolodex file
  • jmb in CO; if you decide to cull out your closet of elegant couture, I want first dibs before you go to St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, or the Buffalo Exchange
  • bdoyle in CA; advancing age has caused a < in testosterone, resulting in a shrinkage of certain male components and a concomitant > in estrogen.  For next year’s physical we plan to add a Pap smear and a mammogram to the finger pointing ritual
  • iflash in AZ; DeTour is Patagonia in drag (or is it the other way around…..?)
  • jk in MI; how fragile it is to go “down under”, being a faux transvestite and at the same time a genuine Yooper.  If the Cubs make it to the World series, I plan to dress sweeter than Lady Godiva for game seven.
  • ge in CA; we could be a couple, dazzling the doyennes of the GWG convention as drag kings.  You can be Mrs. Doubtfire.  I always felt that Tootsie was miscast when Sidney Pollack (a native of South Bend, IN) picked Dustin Hoffman over me.
  • 220px-tootsie_imp.jpg
  • gopio in NY; your subtle hint at lawyering is offensive.  Just get me a clean room.  My response, in Hindi, below*
  • bj in WY; sorry, but I was an unpopular geek in high school, and according to wife Lynn, still am.

The biggest disappointment, however; Vanna, why won’t you return my calls ?dscn1511.JPGdscn1525.JPG

 Me and Jack, backseat driving at the best tourist trap north of the 45th parallel

**ہیں۔ انہیں ضمیر اور عقل ودیعت ہوئی ہی۔, roughly translated, “bite me”

Life as paperboys

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Subtitle: “Show and Tell in a Storage Facility” is not a plot for the great American novel, unless your medication profile requires adjustment, but read on.

In the early 60’s, two young midwestern men, unknown to one another, struck out on divergent pathways.  Both in the long shadow of Chicago’s urban torture, one interrupted his college pursuit to work as a brakeman on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, then a Loyola education, and later as a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the Chicago Tribune. In his wake, service in Viet Nam, a best seller, and an international reputation as the author of a dozen popular novels.

The other man, through seven years of work/study in a parallel universe, became a rivet bucker for Allied Structural Steel, a bridge maker in Hammond, IN.  No longer draft-worthy because of age, he drifted in and out of college, modest success at Butler, to an obscure 30+ year career as a community pharmacist.

Now both ~ 70 y/o geezers, these two were brought together, fatefully, by the ethereal mix of quail hunting, vintage Mercedes-Benz, the world of publishing, and Airstream trailers.  What’s the puerile buzzword, Go Figure,?

Today, from our womb in the bosom of the Patagonia mountains, Phil and I are headed north to Tucson in one of my favorite old cars, a plain vanilla 1965, 220SE four door Finback sedan. Although lacking the panache of a coupe or a roadster, it shares the same drivetrain and runs like a finely tuned Swiss watch.  Until we ran out of gas headed into the south east side.  We weren’t planning on picking up chicks, so twelve gallons of 87 octane quickly resolved our adventure in motoring.

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Rakish retro fins, comparable to an eleven y/o in a training bra

The purpose of our trip, to introduce Phil C. and be lectured by prominent editor and publisher, Rich L. The four hours were very productive as Rich led Phil through the nuances of vintage and modern airstreaming, complete with demos of two units.  No one, let me repeat, no one does it better.

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 L-R, Rich L., Phil C., “But wait, wait, there’s more”

After a leisurely lunch ( the virgin, Phil, had never dined at Chipotle ) we bid our good-byes to Emma and Eleanor.  I was able to scam four (4) of E & E’s rainy day brownies, a genuine coup that made the day a tasty and resounding success.

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L-R, at the Tucson estate, Chas S., Phil C., Rich L.

Shared enthusiasm for a joint project brought us together, although Rich is barely the age of the oldest sons of Phil and me. The return trip home to our hideaways near the border was equally delightful, as the two of us unwound our lives, the work, the wives, the families, the era we survived, like intertwined strands of amino acid in a DNA molecule.  But the most fun: reliving those thrilling days of yesteryear when we both got up at 5 AM, freezing our sorry asses off, schlepping the Chicago Tribune as newsboys. Hi-Yo Silver.

Motel Hell by night, Vanna White for a day

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

From a prior entry promising pornography, be prepared for disappointment.  There are no gentleman clubs in western Kansas, not that I was looking.  We’d be more likely to catch a glimpse of Judy Garland, Toto, or Elvis. What we did not find, as the compass honed in on Liberal, KS, was a single motel with a ‘pet-friendly’ policy. After several rebuffs, (even though Jack is a service dog) we were directed to The Kansan, a cheap, dilapidated motel that was first class in 1957 when it offered “air conditioning”, TV in every room, and a swimming pool the size of a pregnant thimble.

Alas, after five decades, the pool is filled with concrete, the clientele is construction workers on per diem driving utility trucks, locals on a two hour romantic tryst, and one idiot with his twenty pound dog.

Entering the office I am overwhelmed by the pungent aroma of curry, I ring the counter bell, and the maharajah appears.  “Eeese your dog housebroken ?”  Desperate to find a room, the hour is late, I answer like Dr Seuss,

“he does not bark, he does not bite,

no need for a scoop, he will not poop,

he is not armed, he does not shed,

he does not smoke in bed”.

I request a non-smoking room, which, as my friend Rich observed, only means the room will not be on fire when you arrive. Sri ‘no problem’ Patel assigns us room 14 (between 12 and 15, as there is no room 13 to avoid angst among the superstitious).  “Paying in cash ?”, he smiles broadly, “forty dollahs puleeze”.

As many as 60% of mid-sized motels and hotel properties, all over the US, are owned by the people of Indian origin. Of this nearly one-third have the surname Patel – a popular one among Indian Guajaratis. To sidestep suspicion or racial bias, many adopt names like “America’s Best Value Inn”, or “Lodge USA”, or proclaim, American-owned (a truism as most are naturalized citizens). I did not make this up; information provided by the American Hospitality Association.

The room is dank, stale, miniscule, and home to all the common variants of mildew.

dscn6062.JPGThe closet, 16″ wide and six feet deep, a vertical gravesite

If I were to light up a King Edward Imperial and let it smolder all night, the air quality index would improve. Without a black light, I am unable to detect any bed bugs, although I assumed they left here years ago.  I recalled back in 1954, my mother found a Playboy magazine under my mattress and shrieked, “pornographic filth”.  The words rolled off her tongue like shards of broken glass, ground by a mortar and pestle.  The abyss of eternal damnation.  My father, the ex-Marine, demanded, “let me see that, I want to read the articles”.  

My mattress check on this night revealed no contemporary literature, pulp-grade or otherwise, only stains of anonymous DNA and a few dust bunnies.

dscn6065.JPGGet me outta here, it’s worse than the pound

Unsettled, we carried in fast food, angus burgers proclaimed to be a tastier grade of meat, rather than the standard fare of lesser quality. Mark this down, I’m not “lovin’ it”.  Jack and I share fries and a Michelob Original from our stash in anticipation of our favorite TV program, Wheel of Fortune.  

They are announcing a viewer contest vying to “Become Vanna for a Day”.  The temptation to submit an entry creates an inner turmoil. I can visualize myself gliding across the podium, deftly touching the letters, resplendent in a couture chiffon cocktail gown, smiling with perfect white teeth, displaying ample cleavage.  

This could be the chance of a lifetime, alas, I no longer fit into a size 6. Would they accept an entry from a 70 y/o male, unshaven legs, in a spaghetti strap dress, shaped like a jar of Ragu sauce covering an inadequate bosom ?  Now that, pasta lovers, that would be pornographic.

We are off to Albuquerque at 5 AM, anxious to leave town before sunrise in search of the nearest laundromat to wash the odor out of my size twelves.  

Below, a rare, unauthorized photo taken by papparazzi.

The dress and garden hat had been left by a weekend guest, DeTour cabin, August, 2007dscn0146.JPG

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