Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Alcazar

We're staying in the North Wing.

The small pool.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

L' Autobus Chinois est Mon Tapis Magique

The Author, pictured enroute.

Tomorrow, however, I'll fly a silver bird to Florida (FLL) where I'll trade the heavy habiliments and grey garb of chilly spring for the airy apparel and vivid vestments of a jump started summer.
I will wear the same hat, though.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Winter snuck up from behind
and smacked us on the back of the head Friday.
It had melted away by today,
and didn't seem to bother these tiny blossoms
at all.


My buddy Sal started his new job today.
It's a much anticipated change into very new surroundings.
I've been looking forward to hearing all about it.
He just sent me the following text message:

day 1 at Walker:
DHL guy is a hot
bear, I.S. Guy is
an adorable cub.
I think i'm gonna
like it here:-x

Monday, March 12, 2007

All The Alt Boys Have Whiskers, Now.

The following was first posted in November of '05. I really liked it at the time, and also another sort of companion piece written at the same bar stool. Recent evenings out have reminded me that it's more true now than ever. Also, since there were only a hand full of you reading this way back then, I thought I'd get a little more mileage out of it.

The bartender set the glasses down, a pint of Yards ESA, and a pint of club soda with three lime wedges straddling the rim. An aging hipster like me needs the water to dilute and soften my drinking now, permitting the drive home. The limes clean the thickness of hops from the tongue, between pints, and also help prevent scurvey. I survey the room while my food is prepared on the other side of the back bar. It's full as usual on a Monday. At the far end of the bar two DJ boys spin vinyl pressed decades before their births; garage-y Nuggets type obscura, Brian Eno and Can. Like many in the room, they are wearing plaid flanel and work boots.

Twelve months ago, they all were mopey and moppy, sloughing through last winter and spring clean shaven in striped polos, baggy corduroy, low slung Sevens or Diesel Jeans and lost, slightly wounded expressions. Their perpetually tousled hair was artfully sculpted into shaggy slept in rats nests buttressed by skilled application of costly pommades, purchased in enameled tins from salons with names like "Liquid" or "Entropy". Now they stand around me transformed, illuminated in the neon and thick cigarette haze which typifies Philadelphia dive bars (both the actual and those merely styled as such). The parkas, "Members Only" jackets, and skinny 80's leathers of last winter have been supplanted by pile lined wide lapeled corduroy and real or simulated shearling, cut as worn by The Marlboro Man, or Dennis Weaver as Mc Cloud on "The NBC Mystery Movie" circa 1975. Well represented in the ruby glow are blanket lined Carhart chore coats and quilted Dickies gas station attendants zip fronts. Their locks are less studied disarrays now, too. The hair is worn close cropped, not buzzed in military fashion, but a consistent #3 or #4 setting. Or alternately, grown long to chin or shoulders, Like Charles Manson or the bloated, shaggy, soon to O.D. Jim Morrison. All versions are met at the temples with beards. Those who missed the shift anxiously cultivate stubble in pursuit of the cognoscenti. The early adopters more ambitious efforts, most reaching a half or three quarter inch length are often sparse at the cheeks, like young Hassidim. The proud fortunates sport thick dense pile, fueled by a surfeit of testosterone which may ultimately accelerate balding six or eight years from now.

The hipsterss look for all the world like The Future Bears of America, part of an aestetically pleasing (to me) but also
confounding trend; the latest example of straight culture co-opting homo style. I have a hard enough time telling the gay from not the gay. Its a moot point here, I come for the beer and the music. But it is fun to while the time speculating on how these boys will fill out and ripen in a few years. The bartender set my platter down before me, and the guy on the next stool observed "Wow, that looks tasty!" Looking past him at the young men posed around the pool table, pint glasses in hand, I heartily agreed.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Be My Baby

Be my little baby. Be my little dah - har - lin.
Be my baby now-ow-ow.

Whoa ho ho ho oh...

The Ronettes will be inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, on Monday, March 12th, 2007. Ronnie Spector has been in my hall of fame since I first slipped my father's dusty 45 from it's paper sleeve and fit it onto the spindle of the turntable, and the needle connected with the grooves.

Monday, March 05, 2007


My Mother pilots her walker slowly along the vinyl tiles, sliding the rubber tipped feet inches ahead, pausing, and then shuffling to catch up to with them; slide step, slide step, in the long journey from the table to the refrigerator.  It takes minutes to cross the room. But this is her domain and she is resolute, even as she winces.  Her kitchen is the axis of her world.  The table came with marriage to my Father and stood in the center of her kitchen in the house where I was raised, her first house.  The refrigerator is a new one and this a new kitchen, decades and hundreds of miles removed from that kitchen and that house and that garden and the flowers and butterflies that enveloped it all. From the doors she extracts small plastic Zip Lock bags, which she arranges in the basket of her walker.  Then she continues the long trek to her station at the counter, six feet away.  She methodically assembles her breakfast ingredients: Quaker Rolled Oats, wheat germ, flax seed meal, raisins, and the half apple remaining from the previous day.  She spoons her ingredients into an ironstone bowl glazed the same mottled color as the oatmeal, carefully eyeing the precise amounts.  This is how she prepares food, intuitively.  With lined and creased but fine and still nimble hands, she deftly cores (but does not peel) the apple, and dices it.  In one sweeping motion, like scooping a hand full of jacks from the pavement, she sweeps the red and gold confetti of tiny cubes from the white cutting board and casts them over the dry ingredients in the bowl.

Decades ago these hands had held my much smaller ones, assisting and steadying them in loading ingredients into sparkling stainless steel measuring cups (the engraved lines and numbers ignored) from a prized nesting set. Those hands had hovered suspended, ready to snatch tiny fingers from whirring beaters or catch cups slipped from clumsy hands as I added the contents gradually into the spinning bowl of a white and black enameled mixer. They lightly touched my wrist when the correct measure had been achieved.

"Ees good."

My mother cannot lift the half gallon carton of non fat milk. I pour it for her into one of the same old measuring cups, now lined and scratched and dull with many many meals of use - the lines and numbers still ignored. As directed, I add the liquid as she folds in the other ingredients. I meet her eyes ( small and dark brown like the Nestle's Toll House Morsels which she'd helped me pour into past cookie batters as they'd monitored intently- a tight budget splurge then, so much tastier than the cheap store brand).  She looks down at the bowl and nods her instruction.  I slowly pour more milk.  She gauges the level's rise and the mixture's blend, watching for the proper color and consistency to develop. Satisfied, she touches the back of my hand with her pink fingers, small  and delicate against it like a tiny wrinkled child's.

"Ees good."  

I place the bowl onto the microwave carousel and she shuffles back to the table while I wait for the cycle to end. End. I notice that the seat she takes had been my spot - where I sat at her left elbow, for nineteen years worth of meals and birthday cakes and chocolate chip cookies. When the bell rings, I'll carry her breakfast across this kitchen and place the porridge before her.  I'll sit at her right elbow, in what had been her spot twenty years before, and she will eat  and I will drink coffee and we will talk about the old house and the old garden, and the flowers and butterflies.
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