Archive for the ‘musings’ Category

Introducing Mrs. Wilson….

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Wearing nothing but a halter top, frightening full frontal nudity, that which follows may be unsuitable, a rating of PG-55 for the easily offended. A six month Insightout absence, a vacuum created by the loss of family pet, Jack, is over.

The grieving, the failed attempt to establish a website, www.doggone.org, was not working by early April, 2014. A visit to the local Pet Refuge reversed course; a two y/o female (gasp), rescued and fostered by a loving couple, was available. With zero Westminster breeding, and much more likely the result of hasty, unplanned dog sex, she appeared to be 12 pounds of terrier exhibiting a less than subtle attention-deficit disorder; imagine popping corn in a microwave.

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Naming her would be a hurdle. Calling her Orville Redenbacher would cross a sexual boundary. And maybe subject her to a suit from Old Orv’s intellectual property lawyer. Her markings were similar, in miniature, to those of a famed pinto pony, Scout*. Once again, crossing the gender line, nixed Scout. Monikers like Butterscotch and Cafe Au Lait sounded curiously Starbucksian. No thanks a latte.

To those of you familiar with the geography of southeast Asia, her dorsal fur resembled Malaysia to the east and Sumatra to the west….but who would name their dog “Strait of Mallay”?

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Days after the ‘adoption’, when she failed to respond to a command, my friend said, “can’t you call her by name” ? How dumb is that…naming your dog, Byname. Better that, I suppose, than Beyonce.

And so it went for a week. During a quiet moment of contemplation, our eyes deeply embraced, I realized this furball, like Jack before her, was destined to transform me to a better self. Behind that cornea emerged the vision of Washington Grade School, Hammond, Indiana, 1953, and a 14 y/o dyslexic kid. A chronic troublemaker whose future changed when an elderly teacher, Margaret Wilson, triggered his discovery of mathematics.

Who among us has not had a life altered, by a thoughtful, caring person with no intension of personal gain, yet who never lived to witness the ripple on the pond.

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The gratitude and fondness for one lady, a silver-haired arithmetic teacher, sixty years later, has never waned.

In remembrance…..meet Mrs. Wilson ⬇

Airborne, on a favorite beach, the deserted north shore of Lake Huron

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* Tonto, sidekick to the Lone Ranger

 

©insightout2014

..❡…repeat the sounding joy…∲

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

From our holiday letter, Christmas past, little has changed.

Ah yes, zero visibility, howling wind, and an arctic clipper courtesy of  the TWC storm d’jour.  I’m reminded of the iconic Burl Ives compelling us to have a ”holly, jolly Christmas” as my 5 HP snow thrower rumbles past the large holly bush.

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Yesterday, 17Dec2013, the bush, the granary, 8″ snow

For those who might enjoy a sprig of branches and berries, they are available, free, under the popular “u-pick” format, no limit. Note our GPS reading, Lat. 41.7222, Long. 86.3497, Elev. 725′. Although no biblical documentation exists, the three wise men, too, must have had a Garmin or how else could they have traveled the great distance from the east and managed to locate the baby Jesus?

My holiday speculation; the star of Bethlehem was the first TV satellite.

Fast forward three years.

Lynn remains stable, yet fragile, as we prepare to celebrate by sharing our new holiday tree, made of re-bar.  Yes, the identical reinforced steel rods used to stabilize concrete bridges. Enough, please, enough of this sentimental, tear producing tangent, before we all lose it.

3′ high, created by Karen Ruihley, the artiste sister of our brother-in-law, relatively speaking.  Imagine what a Lincoln arc welder and an acetylene torch can do in the hands of a genius.  Alert; maintain a safe distance when she’s armed with a chain saw.

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             Christmas portrait, 2013

                             Top:  Lynn

     Bottom: L-R, the Re-Bar tree, the Jack, the Chas

 

The Grinch, in my estimation, was sappier than a Hallmark card, a real softie. Sure, I may have the personality of a walk-in refrigerator, promising no one a gift exchange, other than donations to the grandchildren’s education.  The economy, should it depend on my ilk ( be assured, others cringe at Christmas), would croak louder than an opera bullfrog.

The fat lady would be unemployed.

On food stamps.

Please, insist on observing the constitutional separation of church and retail. That applies to Santa, who, receiving residual annuities from every major advertiser, needs to start paying taxes.  And go on a diet for the grossly obese to reduce his blood pressure and A1C levels, while a bunch of underpaid, non-union, dwarfs do all the work. Scoundrel.

The guy is 3 to 4 hundred years old, can’t afford a Gillette razor, eats chocolate, and never gets older.  He’s making a list and checking it twice?  Huh?  After centuries of practice, he can’t get it right the first time….add senility to his medical profile.  Time to do a transportation upgrade too.  Pan fry that wretched herd of hat racks, including the alcoholic leader with the inflamed red nose.

You may have discerned that I am imbued (whatever that word means) with the holiday spirit, no bahs, no humbugs, while cozily enveloped in the warmth of burning embers from the fireplace, so please join along as I croon that old Bing Crosby holiday favorite;

“I’m dreaming of a white tire iron…..”

 

©insightout2013

 

Time left on the clock

Monday, November 18th, 2013

A faceless city sandwiched between equally dull, non-descript neighburbs, all working-class in the shadow of industrial giants, Hammond, Indiana was generic, before the meaningless word had meaning.  Separated from lurid Calumet City, the Illinois home to 252 bars and strip clubs, by State Line Avenue and a tangent on the Rand McNally atlas.  From the playwright’s perspective, Thornton Wilder, Hammond was Our Town.

The writer, Sinclair Lewis, would have gagged on the polluted air from the Sinclair refinery, from the belching furnaces of USSteel, from the omnipresent aroma of pig fat rendered by Lever Brothers when the wind drifted south off Lake Michigan, all in the name of battleships, Lifebuoy Soap, Ivory Flakes, and 89 octane Dino Supreme.  Had this been Lewis’  Main Street in Indiana, and not Iowa.

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The corner window at Goldblatt’s
presented the newest toys for the Holiday Season.  In Jean Shepherd’s ‘Christmas Story’, it is where Ralphie first saw the Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun.

The 1957 high school graduating class was thought special.  It was not.  Tens of thousands of seniors, everywhere, were gelatinized by geographic lottery, turbulent hormones, acne, fear of peer rejection, sexual arousal, and a license to drive.  So it was at HHS, neither a Blackboard Jungle, nor the Fonz in ‘Happy Days’.  Each class different, each class alike;  crinolines, flattops, bobby sox, and the Cubs finishing last.

Homeroom teacher, John Muri, spirited organist for the Civic Center basketball games, iconclast, strict disciplinarian, was known to break wind at 8:10 each morning.  The foul odor was overcome by the classroom stench of  flesh-tinted Clearasil except for the likable Jerome Johnson, whose flesh was a different color.

The permanent positive effect of demure spinster, teacher Margaret Work, and her devotion to Latin and literacy, was never acknowledged.  It shaped many lives, mine included, and I still retain her text, Ullman & Henry, “Latin for Americans”.  She was on my Mason Street paper route, but what I remember most, (a) the difference between the gerund and thirty forms of the future passive participle, and (b) we bought her father’s used 1940 DeSoto after WWII.  Henry had purchased a 1948 bullet nosed Studebaker.

The suppressed memory of my favorite English teacher, Miss Ellen McGranahan, whose posterior aspect of her calves, partially obscured by seamed nylon hosiery, resembled the blue and red interstate map of America’s east coast.  She quietly and singly, urged me to become a writer.  I succumbed, however, to the gruff math teacher, Charles Garrett, who demanded, in the name of patriotism, that we study math and engineering to counteract the Red Menace……the Soviet launched Sputnik satellite.  I foresaw no future in starvation;  on an empty stomach, science trumped art.

Proof that staying awake in class was important; to this day, I rarely end a sentence with the preposition, at, and never, never, modify an adjective with an adjective, e.g., large huge is where it’s at.  Unless you prefer butchered rap music over silence.

I had one favorite female class member, admired secretly.  She was quiet, soft-spoken, and very smart.  And in the basest, understated description, simmering hot.  If describing a wallflower, she was an orchid.  At a previous reunion, perhaps the 40th, her appearance caused two male counterparts and me to audibly gasp at the transformation…silver-haired, petite, and stunning. Although both Bob and Tom, their real names, have since dropped dead, the gorgeous (forever unnamed) classmate was never formally charged with involuntary manslaughter.

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Much of the class of ’57, I remember, although in the pie of life, a third now constitute the necrology report, another third lost and forgotten, and for the breathing balance, the vagaries of advanced age move onto center stage; medicare part-D, dementia, grandchildren, mobility chairs, and assisted living options.  Few will choose assisted dying.

Dismissed: corporate stature & titles, tax bracket, size or number of homes, skin color, popularity, vanity.  All once relegated as important, now insignifigant, they’ve become the compost heap of righteousness, i.e., who really gives a s#it.     Relevant: family, friendships, lucidity, and remaining vertical.

The misses, Work and McGranahan, embraced reading (and writing), pursuits which have become passe, no longer a requirement for graduation.  Both ladies have since been bar-coded and scanned on the check-out lane of life, free, free at last, from the contemporary jargon that produces the idiotic phrase “my bad”. I miss them dearly, thankful for enriching this life.   A non-perishable memory.  Wherever and whenever those who survived this stepping stone to adulthood, we all possess private recollections.

With an internet assist, our remaining classmate leaders, those not yet at room temperature, may plan a 60th reunion in 2017.   Reunions, like Chai tea, are not my cup of gin, but we’re late in the 4th quarter.

With no time outs remaining.

Count me in as a yes.

 

©insightout2013

1959downtownbridge

A suitable quote (unattributed)

Where is it again that we are going… And why are we in a handbasket?

 

 

 

Baptists & Prisons

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

dateline: Ocala, FL

alert: minor Airstream reference

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In Pooler, Georgia, a bi-polar city vehicle, the SquadTaxi

Traveling four days in a 53 year old mercedes roadster, twelve hundred trouble-free miles on the odometer, destination Punta Gorda, southwest Florida, and I’ve hit the wall. Unable to maintain idle, stalling at every intersection, I’m now on a flatbed headed to the European Car Clinic.

Suspicious that the car is running on only 2 cylinders, of the four available, I’ll have to await the diagnosis. Here’s hoping it isn’t open heart surgery.

Having driven vintage cars for>forty years, this is, quite simply, an adventure in motoring. What the hell, write a blog. The most visited national park, the Great Smokies, is nearly suffocated by the tawdry tourism of Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Dollywood, and Gasplingburg. However, breaking through the pea soup fog in early morning sunrise, the view from above the clouds is an ecstatic panorama in resplendent fall colors….nothing ober nor uber, and not a single waterpark to dampen nature’s splendor.

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Mountain dew (actual) at pre-dawn on the boot lid

Years since I’ve made this trip, the Blue Ridge Parkway remains a great ride. The stop in Saluda,SC, the most photographed nostalgic main street in the USA, a visual delight. A shaded park bench, a honey crisp apple from the 1890 Thompson grocery, and a half hour of girl watching…makes for a reluctant departure.

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Oldest grovery in NC, where you can still buy a bar of BonAmi®

I-95 in Georgia is nightmarish except for sighting a continuous stream of motorcycles en route to Daytona Beach for Bike Week, the southern version of Sturgis, SD. A group of vintage Porsches, all owned and driven by Belgians, is on tour, a pilgrimage of sorts, from NY city to Miami. Le Tour de Automobile. Nice cars, good-lucking guys, French accents, and gorgeous women riding shotgun.

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Oooo,la, la

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Photoshopped image of my favorite redhead on R. Luhr’s BMX bike

Pastoral setting under the Darien, Georgia bridge, from the deck of Skippers, the best seafood restaurant in a state that worships peaches.

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Shrimp boats awaiting high tide

The most common vehicle south of Jacksonville is the 400,000 off-road fleet driven by elderly, white retirees. Not the ubiquitous Lincoln Town Car, Mercury Marquis, or Ford Crown Victoria, they’re all made by Cushman and E-Z-Go.

Promised airstream reference, Nintendo character demonstrates vista view windows on an aging retrofit for travel.

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In the same Hampton Inn parking lot where the old 121 chassis is being loaded on a flat bed for the trip to the clinic.

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Tim H., tow truck driver extraordinaire, tightens the straps

The title line is a tangential reference to Florida’s two most profitable industries. Not citrus agriculture, nor discount coupon travel guide publishing, oxycodone abuse, or even freedom from state income tax; Baptist churches and incarceration facilities rank #1 and #2. If you’re searching for Jesus here in the Sunshine State, they’ve got you covered.

Before or after you’ve sinned.

Tesla : Preamble in tunnel vision

Monday, August 19th, 2013

The rosy fingers of a Saturday dawn are welcomed, late September, 2008, after the six mile drive and 2500 foot climb up the winding road of Rancho Carrillo. Named for Leo Carrillo, the Cisco Kid’s mischievious sidekick, Pancho, the ranch is an idyllic mountaintop respite from the urban torture of Orange County.

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The event, a popular cars & coffee excuse for the sybaritic motor culture in southern California, attracts a hundred vehicles of every ilk; none of which are routine, pedestrian, nor inexpensive.  The morning feature is a prototype electric sports car, the Tesla, rather sexy looking, attached to a 220 volt charging station that resembles the yacht cable on a marina pier or the type for a monster motorhome.  8007568972_d4077a73cf_cThree members of the Tesla team explain the virtue of electric cars, a century-old concept, now invigorated with advanced technology. Below, antiquated technology.

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DSCN1891The infectious enthusiasm of one, Elon Musk, a 37 y/o South African with the clipped accent of Ernie Els, is intoxicating.  Apparently now, my 190SL companions tell me, a billionaire from the sale of his popular credit card scheme, PayPal®, an unlikely visionary sipping on dark roasted Starbucks® morning blend. Referencing a possible IPO for the company in a year or two, he is impressive, yet I see only the failed ghosts of Preston Tucker, John DeLorean, Edsel Ford, and Malcolm Bricklin.

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By 9:30 AM, a local horse show commences, a gorgeous array from 4 years old to 40 years old, and the horses aren’t bad looking either.  We begin the invigorating downhill run, top down, on the legendary “zoom-zoom” road made famous in Mazda Miata commercials.  I’m smug, smiling, contemplating how laughable and foolish a stock offering would be for an unproved, limited production, six figure sports car.  Even as a dedicated gearhead, I could not, would not, embrace the fantasy. DSCN1903

 

On June 29, 2010, the stock, symbol TSLA, opened at $19.00/share.

On Friday, August 16, 2013, it closed at $142.00/ share.

The horses weren’t the only ones with blinders on that California hilltop.

 

©insightout2013

 

 

 

5 y/o Korean golfer, LPGA at standstill

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Confidential to David Feherty:

A young female, born in 2008, residing in the Seoul suburb of Nanyangju is contemplating departure from amateur status based upon her recent acceptance to the David Leadbetter Academy, pre-school kindergarten program.

Her parents (father an interventional radiologist, mother a pediatric cardiac surgeon), and the daughter’s name have been withheld based on advice of counsel.  A carefully planned leak from an anonymous source divulged her identity, Phee Nom.  Phee currently plays to a 4 handicap.  The family intends to move to Bradenton, FL, pending passport approval, green card acquisition, medical license reciprocation, finalization of an agent contract with IMG, and receiving title to the ‘Hello Miss Kitty” Ferrari (lo-res photo attached).

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The contentious issue; Phee’s demand that the world’s foremost physical trainer, Zhao Hanhua, Chinese gymnastics coach (Beijing Olympics, 2008) of the Wuhan Institute of Physical Education be retained full-time and also relocated to FL.

Preliminary sponsorship negotiations, not yet revealed, have been initiated with representatives from Nike® and Rolex®.   Other corporate entities are being wait-listed on a lottery basis.  The player is also seeking a permanent director seat on the board of the Annika® Academy.  Phee will limit her schedule to 15 events per year through graduation from the 6th grade, Harvard-approved, primary school, according to the PTA, professional tutors association.

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An internet rumor that Phee is involved in a clandestine relationship with 4 y/o Charlie Axel Woods, Tiger Wood’s son, was addressed with this terse, six-word, denial, ” I do not date younger men”.

Her future plans, assuming the stodgy LPGA board of governors voids its discriminatory ageist policy, is to complete her LPGA career by age 13, or the onset of menarche, whichever comes sooner.  By 2021, she will likely have accumulated the requisite 35 victories/points to qualify for the LPGA hall of fame, at which time she will retire and join the PGA Tour on a full time basis.  The invitation to her inaugural event, The 2021 Masters tournament, will soon be issued by former tournament chairman, lovable southerner, Wm. “Hootie” Johnson.

Cross-licensing between her favorite charity (Susan Komen’s Race for the Cure©), Mattel®, Hasbro®, and Disney©, are on hold until she actually develops breasts.

Above, Phee, at her first photo shoot for Abercrombie and Fitch®

©insightout2013

Thoughts while shaving…..

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

A tattered front page section of the Chicago Tribune, dated Monday, April 10, 2000, has served to collect the clippings from a personal bi-monthly trim for 13 years.  This gesture to preserve marital harmony, a ritual of personal hygiene, is for a wife ambivalent about rings: a ring around the bathroom bowl is not o.k.; a ring of the telephone, a nuisance; a diamond ring, well, you understand,….size and clarity do matter.

Lead stories that day; Vijay Singh in his new green Masters jacket and acting AG, Janet Reno, avows the reuniting of 6 y/o Elian Gonzalez with his father in Cuba.

220px-InselianArmed US Marshal forcibly removing kid from Miami relative

It also marked the 84th birthday of my mother, Florence, who had sadly passed away three years prior.  She was a dreadful cook, a world class leader applying guilt on her three sons, and an advocate for both responsibility & independence (translation : ‘do it yourself’).  Although many years have passed, we still recall fondly the little things, unanticipated, unheralded, that she did for us when we needed it most.  Define motherhood.

On a recent drive through the tired and dusty town, Florence, AZ , two photos triggered memories.

The local rag, the Reminder, as in, "Charles, do your homework"

The local rag, the Florence  Reminder, as in, “Boys, do your homework”

 

The same Rexall sign, circa 1948, as our first drugstore

The same Rexall sign, circa 1948, as our first drugstore

 

The ratty double page centerfold in the World’s Greatest Newspaper is a reminder of why I chose to leave industry and embark on a career as a small town pharmacist.

DSCN0224Extolling the virtues of Vioxx in 2000, long before the manufacturer, Merck, withdrew the drug after disclosures that it withheld information about rofecoxib’s risks from doctors and patients for over five years, resulting in between 88,000 and 140,000 cases of serious heart disease.  Worse, by the time it was discontinued in 2004, it had already caused an estimated 60,000 deaths worldwide.

Although no one in the company ever had to face criminal charges or do hard time, the decision by marketing executives and accounting was quite simple; having sold $ 2.7 billion of Vioxx, the math was easy.  The cost of litigation, executed by our superb, in-place, legal department, is far less than the profitability gained if we continue killing patients rather than removing the drug from the market.  Clever bastards. Define greed.

DSCN0227 Yes, but what if you’re at room temperature, six feet below the earth’s surface ?

Little has changed in thirteen years, as the aptly named BigPharma continues their cabal, possessing the morality and ethics equal to (actually, worse than) the tobacco industry.  Vijay Singh will tee it up in Augusta tomorrow.  I still harbor shame and embarrassment, 45 years later, that I was ever employed by a major drug company.  The hairy stubble will still need trimming every two weeks.  Florence was right nearly all the time; none of her boys are under indictment, incarcerated, facing felony warrants, or on public assistance.  Yet.  If you ignore Social Security.

No doubt what has changed.  Elian is now 19 y/o, we still share the same birthdate, December 7th, albeit 54 years apart, and he’s probably tattooed and driving around Havana chasing skirts and drinking Corona.  Tipo con suerte = lucky guy

Six degrees of unification

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

The ‘small world’ phenomenon is familiar to many, as mapped in six easy steps.

♥  2537 miles → Airstreaming → Mushrooms → retired medical professionals → writers → Queen Elizabeth’s dogs ♥

The distance from DeTour Village, MI, to SanDiego, CA is five days by car and 0.005 sec. by Google.  Our summer neighbors, acclaimed travel writer, Graham Mackintosh, and his RN wife Bonni, an accomplished mycologist, split their time in these two idyllic locales.

SanDiego is also home to writer, photographer, naturalist, and RN (ret.) Bill Doyle, and his partner, Larry Ko, a culinary chef extraordinaire & pediatric therapist (ret.).  Their adventures are richly documented on the Airstream site, History Safari Express…..an appetizing read.

Through our joint friendships, they were all able to meet at this ‘can’t miss’ affair, in scenic Balboa Park.

Caution: Leave your Lotrimin and Sporanox at the door

 

Bonni is always welcome in our cabin as a dinner guest, where she provides an assorted tray of mushrooms to sample with wine and dinner.  Hand picked from the wild of the upper peninsula, they can range from earthy to sweet….and always, the non-poisonous varieties.  It’s safe to ask for seconds.  Or if you require resuscitation, she is equipped with the nursing skill to insure your survival.

Below, the happy trio smiling in the ethereal atmosphere which can only be provided by fungi and air-borne spores:

L-R, Bill D., Bonni M., Larry K.

If this isn’t adequate evidence that hallucinogens work, enter Queen Elizabeth’s favorite dog, the Welsh Corgi…..another common bond shared at the fair.

Graham and Bonni’s irrepressible, PILI (pronounced, pee-lee), in mid-flight on the beach at Lake Huron

Larry and Bill, with MAC and TASHA in the CA desert, joined by an iron-rich hound in the background

Note: if they were my dogs they would have been named Mac & Cheese

 

We wished we could have attended, nestled in southern AZ, however did so vicariously.  Content to watch the final episode, season three of Downton Abbey, along with a favorite, the brassy Queen Mother and her corgis.

 

Perhaps someone else will link Kevin Bacon and the six degrees of separation to this text, but Lynn and I are grateful our mutual friends, living only a few miles apart, finally met at this BYOM* affair.

 

* bring your own mushrooms

 

©insightout2013

A scenic bypass on “The Longest Road”

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Not an eternity, today marked two years since Life as Paperboys appeared, describing the introduction of editor/event organizer Rich Luhr to acclaimed American novelist, Philip Caputo.

Tonight, Phil retraces the trip from Patagonia to Tucson’s Alumafiesta with Insightout privileged to ride shotgun in his Tundra.  A wise choice, as our last venture, in one of my temperamental vintage Teutonic sedans resulted in running out of petrol; damn things require gas.  The bait, a delicious five course dinner prepared by Eleanor, fine wine, and a rare opportunity to catch up,  a prelude to Phil’s presentation of his soon-to-be-released travel memoir, “The Longest Road”.

Writers in a lighthearted moment, L-R, Phil C., Rich L.

A non-fiction account of a four month journey, spanning  > 16 thousand miles towing a 1962 Globetrotter, accompanied by wife, Leslie, and two English Setters, Sage and Sky, barely scratches the book’s underlying theme.

Apologies to Vonnegut, “The Globetrotterhouse Four” on the Pacific

Prior to the book release, readers might enjoy Leslie’s well crafted and humorous account of life on the road, keywestdeadhorse.  Aside from her editorial position for a major publication, runway good looks and stature, she has a unique and amusing view of the conditions, signs, and obstacles confronted in trailer life and all the crap most of us have endured.  A really good read.

Phil’s perspective of the human condition, the richness of his prose in 14 prior books and dozens of mainstream publications, promises an epic journey of the American psyche, shoulder-to-shoulder with William Least Heat Moon’s, Blue Highways, John Steinbeck’s, Travels with Charley, and Jack Kerouac’s, On the Road.   Be assured this is not an endorsement, as I have yet to receive a galley proof, but I’m anticipating a Charles Kuralt-like anthology, away from that ghastly motorhome, into an Airstream.

The exclusivity of tonight’s presentation, held in an inflatable, quonset hut/tennis pavilion, is clearly defined at the door.

The ambient temp in the building, a cool 58 F.

With a short introduction, and no warm up act, the headliner entertained the near capacity crowd for an hour.

A mirror image  of the afternoon trip, Phil and I return under still,  dark skies, across the foothills of the Santa Rita mountain range, toward our nests in Patagonia.  A pleasant hour, a couple of malted Mexican beverages, an opportunity to (alert: variation of a common vulgarity) “shoot the poop” sans outside distraction.  We had grown up, only a few months and thirty miles apart, 70 years ago, on the cusp of the industrial revolution, into blue collar families.  Personal setbacks and successes within our lifetime are tempered by trepidation for the future of our offspring at the dawn of the technology revolution.  Crack another Tecate.

The cliche, a must-read, is lame.  If you enjoy the road, airstreaming, and a thoughtful page turner on what makes us tick, do yourself a service and reserve a first edition copy of The Longest Road.  A decision you won’t regret.

Clutching an Illusion

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

A vintage drive is still the best conveyance for transporting a mood.  Mine, the tempo for today, will be an effort to avoid the soiling of virgins.  A 50 mile drive through scenic high desert country, Patagonia, AZ to Tubac, AZ, in a late model Chevy truck is little consolation to the original plan: driving a 1972 plain jane, Mercedes diesel sedan to visit with Airstream royalty.

Sidelined with a burnt clutch, my Snow White remains at rest, while I suffer the ignominy of public parking, internally portraying myself as the dwarf, Grumpy, at a local Santa Cruz County Car Show.

The sad princess, at home, awaiting a pressure plate, throw-out bearing and clutch slave cylinder

On the cusp of Alumafiesta 2013 in Tucson, I’m privileged to join the event planners; their last gasp of relaxation before the kick-off on Tuesday.  Forget the Super Bowl, where millions of idiots turn on the TV to watch ads, the staff of R&B Productions called an audible….”let’s go to a car show”.

On a country club driving range, a sunny 70F in early February, thousands come to view 500+ wheeled vehicles of every ilk; a ritual about wishes and memories and generations holding hands.  An antidote to future shock, a reminder that the world got along perfectly without microwaves and spray paint and gourmet coffee and cellphones and cruise control.   It is a shining sanctuary from the possible, where every street and neighborhood and architectural element is Hispanic.  The attendees, mostly upper-middle class elderly gringos, silver-haired refugees from cooler climes, are living reminders that not only is winning the only thing, it isn’t even necessary.

The ultimate example of the fin crazed madness of the late 50s, eighteen + feet of 1959 Cadillac El Dorado, precipitated this dialogue.

“When this car was built you were only this big”……..” Nahh, you’re kidding, really ?”

Constant comparison with better old days are illusory and unreliable.  An older German man has driven his ponton, ’roundbody’, 1960 Benz 190 sedan, an anemic performer with the erotic buttocks of a biergarten fraulein.

84 HP, zero-60 mph by sunset

 

Overheard at every car show, the admonition, ‘ oh look, we ( may sub family, uncle, brother-in-law, grandfather) used to have one of those.’  And yes, I, too, owned a 1958 220S roundbody sedan from 1993-2007.  We called her Daisy.  After Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy), in the memorable movie of an old Buick chauffeured by Morgan Freeman.  Drove it to work every day during the summers, transported my daughter to her wedding, reveled in the Teutonic precision, and lusted over the dated pre-WWII styling.  In another irony, I opted to sell Daisy because of a tempermental vacuum operated clutch that I had grown to dislike.

Daisy, at a local mausoleum, the day before she left for the Orient.

The purchaser, an Asian mall developer, shipped our jewel to Hong Kong, where she now resides, suspended on a rotating platform in the atrium of a large shopping center.  A shameful fate, I still harbor guilt that she is no longer allowed to drive.  Like having a tubal ligation before a fertility rite.

On my way home now, imagining the 2001 Silverado I’m driving is a vintage ride, I enter a U.S. border patrol checkpoint, am racially profiled, and summarily allowed to pass through quickly.  Being an anglo geezer has its perks.

 

Prompting a Yogi Berra-like thought;

nostalgia isn’t what it used to be

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