Unnoticed in Clever Worlds

The clearest description I have managed so far about my blog is that it is not about cats. In general, I find predators pretty predictable while prey on the other-hand, because they live in universes of anxiety, develop more textured personalities. I also have as a writer a deft hand when it comes to making matters worse, so of course , the already panicky are ready made for me. I will try to grow this blog into an assortment of laughs, because that is what my life has mostly taught me to do. I will use the famous people I have known to get your attention and then tell you small but many times wonderful things about them. I will never name the ones I say ugly things about but I hope you will guess who they are.

I would hide in my room when our turn came.

When our next-door neighbor came home drunk and started to beat up his wife, my dad would turn off the TV or radio, and the three of us would sit near the window that offered the best reception.
Sometimes the phone would ring with other neighbors asking us if we were listening. No one ever interfered. The police didn’t want to come, so she was trapped.
We used our ears more back then. Before bed, I would lay next to my dad and listen to the radio. When I was little, the two experiences of radio sound and the woman next door moaning weren’t much different to me in an awkward way.
The wife might show up at our door, crying and bruised. She and my mother would sit in our kitchen with the doors closed. My sound was turned off by whispering.
None of us wanted the husband to come looking for her. I believe my mom tried to convince her to go home.
Nobody wanted to witness her being dragged darkly back across our shared patio by the arm.
I would hide in my room when our turn came.


Burning down Pittsburgh

I am a burner.

In these times of ever-encroaching global climate catastrophes, we need to return to the age of autumnal leaf burning. As a boy, in the area where I grew up that was often referred to as the third hemisphere, (around Pittsburgh), I would watch transfixed as masses of gathered leaves flamed out of control in our neighborhood. Grown men, whimpered as they frantically tried to beat back the perimeter of their crazily windblown bonfires using wooden rakes in pitiable attempts to slow the brushfires they had intentionally set with gasoline.

In my experience, nothing draws a community together like one neighbor burning down the house of another.

Saturdays, in the fifties, often turned into picnics with fire engines and apologies. I live now a million years into the future, in the self-proclaimed epicenter of tree sanctuaries, at least on the Eastern seaboard. On any given day you might run across an Ent mumbling about “never having heard of a Hobbit” as he rumbles through my neighborhood. The old fall dance of leaf cleansing is still a pastime but burning them is now forbidden. We are expected to buy individual bags to put our leaves in, to be later carried away by our municipal workers to some town leaf gulag. The rules governing the gathering of my leaves are daunting and not just a little fear-provoking. I suspect that I am not alone in this neighborhood anxiety. We don’t like being eco-friendly janitors. Trying to rid my property of leaves resembles a tropical fish trying to spit water out of his tank. There are industries and political positions built around this leaf thing, and I feel the unpleasant winds of the despotic collective. I don’t play well with people who know what is best for me. If global warming is a fact, then what better tactic to employ than a massive ring of leaf soot to surround our planet, blocking out the sun and forcing our temperatures to nosedive?

This is nifty I think, as solutions go. Got a match?


Who says there isn’t a God?

I have an early 1970 ‘s degree from Columbia College in “Oriental Humanities.” I know this sounds braggartly, but still, it’s not more pretentious than using the word ” existential” in any sentence.
I read Bibles, everybody’s Bibles.
I wrote my thesis stoned and took my final oral exam while grappling with residue traces of mescaline that were challenging the focus of my eyes. I sat across from two professors and replied to their questions, I think. One was a Buddhist, and the other a Confucius scholar. Buddhists are nice, and the followers of Confucius are mean.
I haven’t believed in God since I was a Methodist. It is not at all that I think He doesn’t exist but more that I am doing Him a favor by not continually trying to draw His attention to myself.
Everybody is born with God. Parents are the default setting for this. It’s primitive, but we are better off because of it.
Religious people are much safer than intellectuals.


“Old Fart’s Chat.”

So when I was about seven, give or take, I got yards and yards of white string and coated it in beeswax. Then, with a hammer and nail, I made a hole in the middle of two tin cans. I ran the string from my bedroom window to my friend’s window in the house next door.
We talked after I said my prayers, all night long. Give or take.
We planned to travel in a car forever when we grew up. We were going to go everywhere on Earth. We would vaguely earn money in between trips by playing professional baseball. He died in Vietnam, and I went ahead with the plan without him.


Things carried on the road by The Who

We lugged this stupid Space Invaders game from show to show for an entire tour. It was Pete’s only observable outside activity. I vaguely remember it being a gift from Harvey Weinstein. Courtesy Jackie Curbishley

It may have been the same tour Daltrey had the cost-saving epiphany regarding all the loose backstage wine and liquor after each show and taking it with us. Keith Moon, never a man prone to bitterness, was sorely tested with this short-lived cottage industry. It tragically also slowed our crew’s growing intimacy with two-hundred-dollar French wines. We had to add another small truck and driver, which comically trailed the endless 40 ft tractor-trailers from gig to gig.

So Townshend shows up in this gigantic stuffed puffy coat someone convinced him was “hip” at the beginning of one winter tour. He had to wear it because it was too big to carry. His purse had to take it from him before getting into a limo because it wouldn’t fit. The guy raced to the venue to be there when he got out. 

He soured badly on this coat when he realized it had no buttons and had to be held shut. 

A few of us barely got any sleep because we were laughing so hard. The coat disappeared in the middle of the tour.

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Opening line

The part of God I brought back with me from almost dying this weekend is sitting in my yard, arguing with my dog.


The Last Supper for the Dead puppies.

Molly held the dog’s
litter in her arms
as they died
one by one,
in the order,
they had been born.
Not named,
no eyes opened.
Gracie looked up at her
sensing the change
in her puppies
or just the slow panic
in Molly.
Molly grabbed the box
of dead dogs
and headed out the door.

Eating the family dog

It is tough to cleanse yourself of a childhood suspicion that you may have tasted the family dog. Our animals disappeared with a regularly that subconsciously insisted there might have been a scheme by my father to cut corners at dinnertime.
Our dogs were distinguished only by their “freeness.” A pet would die, and the very next day, a new one would show up in our father’s arms. Never, a puppy.
We were overjoyed if the animal came with a tail. The secreted assumption was that our father would drive a reasonable distance from our home, then steal somebody else’s dog and bring it back to us. Surprise!
It was the getting of anything new that annoyed him. Forcing himself to buy a replacement meant that the original had somehow failed him. He once explained to me that the only animal worth its sticker price was one of those “goddamn parrots” because they ate seeds and might outlive him.
Mind you, the only times I saw him cry was when one died.


PUBLISHED: February 18, 2019
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds

Know Thyself

In this time of incarcerated self-reflection, I realize I am at best too morally diffused to ever go to Heaven. I belong painted on some 2000-year-old Greek urn having sex with lewd goats.


Lions and tigers and bears, OH MY!

Prehistoric people must have taken a vote approving the risk of abandoning the safety of their caves and begin life in open-air villages. It meant the inevitable confrontation with saber toothed tigers and colossal twelve-foot bears. As I drove around my deserted, huddled little town in Westchester, I felt like we must arrange to do this again.


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