Winter is icumen in/Lhude sing goddamm

Ezra Pound’s parody “Ancient Music” seems so appropriate today, even though the winter solstice is still two weeks away–and I’ve used it before, back when this blog was still on LiveJournal.  The first wave fell yesterday, and we had a small respite from additional snowfall today.  This is, I understand, the calm before the storm.  According to the meteorologists I’ve seen on TV and online, Columbus is due to get slammed again tomorrow.

I took what turned out to be a minor fall Friday morning when I was walking out of my place to the bus stop, thinking the front walk was just wet, not icy.  In the end, I hurt nothing but my pride, but it was painful enough for me to call off from work, down some Naproxen, and sleep for much of the morning.  When I got out of bed, I was not walking like an old lady, like I was immediately after the fall, but I was walking more slowly than usual.

The juxtaposition was not lost on me.  On Tuesday, the mercury climbed into the 60s, so I rode the trike to work.  It took about 45 minutes, and I felt invigorated when I made it downtown.  (A trike ride, even when I undertake it reluctantly, does improve my mood and my overall spirit.  I have often wondered if my mental health insurance will reimburse me for it.  Futile, I know.)

I didn’t ride home until Wednesday night, because I had to head home early to meet the guys from Beavis & Butt-head Appliances, Inc., who were delivering my new washer and dryer.  (I live diagonally across from a Laundromat, but with my own equipment, I have the freedom to do my laundry at 2 a.m. in my bathrobe, if I so choose, or not to take it immediately out of the dryer.)  All they would promise was that the appliances would be at my place between 4 and 6 p.m., which entailed leaving work early, all so those these two could arrive at 6:30.  I could not christen my new machines until the following night, because the dryer did not come with a vent hose.

The trike spent Tuesday night in the BWC garage, and then on Wednesday, I rode it home.  I knew the weather was going to change, and if I didn’t ride it home Wednesday, the bike would spend all winter in the garage.

And Thursday morning, I attempted to walk to work.  I got about two-thirds of the way before it began raining too hard for me to continue.  I rode a bus for the final mile, and then worked until 5, hearing more and more ominous stories about the storm.

What is remarkable is that I managed to do a fair amount of walking today without falling.  Since I have accepted the fact–kicking and screaming–that I am middle-aged, I also know that part of this involves the fact that falls can be much more dangerous and have much more negative long-term effects than they did when I was younger.  Today, I vowed not to confine myself to quarters, so I loaded up my black over-the-shoulder bag with the laptop, two books, my journal, and the typescript of a long untouched manuscript that I am rewriting, and went to Kafé Kerouac, a walk of 0.8 miles.  Never has it seemed so long, so difficult.  The ice was melting in some places, but the bulk of the trip was on slick and bumpy ice surfaces.  Even though I was wearing tennis shoes, I felt myself about to slip several times when I put the soles of my feet on the ground.  (I am sure that if I had been wearing dress shoes, I would definitely have fallen.)

Adding to my worries was what would happen if I did fall.  Hurting myself would be bad enough, but I was mortally afraid of landing on the laptop and ruining it as well.  There were points along the journey when I was hanging onto street signs, shrubs, and garbage cans just to keep stable.

I did get a fair amount of work done while I was at Kafé Kerouac.  I finished the first chapter of the manuscript, and read a chapter of Grant’s Final Victory, the story of the last year of Ulysses S. Grant’s life, his sudden poverty, and the writing of his Personal Memoirs.

Earlier this week, I came home from work and found a large, but light-as-a-feather, parcel sitting on my front porch.  This was major good news, since lately my letter carrier seems to deliver mail only when the mood strikes him.  Inside, mummified in plenty of bubble wrap and balled-up newspapers, was a Simplex toy typewriter.  Novelist Robert Lowry died on December 5, 1994, 19 years ago Thursday.  He began writing at the age of seven, when he asked Santa Claus for a typewriter, and found it under the tree that Christmas.

The Simplex, which I bought on eBay, was the vintage of the model he received.  There is one key, and the operator turns a big rubber wheel to the desired character, and presses the big key so that it prints on the paper below.  (This machine is non-functional, and has not been inked in decades.  I have no plans to try to get it to work; it’s in my office as a conversation piece, and as an inspiration.)

The Practical Simplex Typewriter Number 300.  The keys in the front are painted, and not functional, just like the black keys on Schroeder’s toy piano in the Peanuts comics.

Online, I was kidding Susie that this was the original laptop.  Later that night, I was reading a clipping that I tucked inside the front cover of Jimmy Carter’s White House Diary.  It was a 1981 New York Times article about Carter’s upcoming memoirs.  It made the newspapers when the former President hit a wrong function key and lost two or three days’ worth of work.  More interesting was the description of the machine itself, back in the day when the masses did not know much (if anything) about word processing and computers:

The Lanier machine, which sells for about $12,000, takes up about the same amount of desk space as an electric typewriter but is taller by a foot or more because of the cathode-ray display screen.  The operator works at an electronic keyboard that returns the carriage automatically and also hyphenates and numbers pages.  Removable magnetic disks store up to 30 pages of typed information.

(I displayed a picture of President Carter’s Lanier “No Problem” word processor in an entry last month.)

Word is that we’re supposed to get pelted with even more snow and cold temperatures tomorrow.  I am not planning to go to church in the morning, so I plan to hibernate at least through the morning hours.  A good friend lured me out for dinner tonight, since I had recovered mentally and physically from the walk to and from Kafé Kerouac, but she had a car, so that involved almost no walking.  However, packed snow is much better for walking than ice is, so I may venture out to see what Columbus looks like under this second round of snow.

Advertisements

Mythology Comes Alive

My first exposure to the Sisyphus myth was a bronze pair of bookends that one of my dad’s colleagues had his book- and record-filled apartment in Marietta.  Until then, I thought Sisyphus was something you took care of with lots of penicillin and tetracycline.  My dad explained to me the myth surrounding this unfortunate monarch: To punish his chronic and almost constant deceit, the gods condemned him to spend eternity rolling an enormous boulder up a hill in the Underworld, only to have it roll back down as he neared the top.  Repeat throughout eternity.

I know that Albert Camus wrote a small book, The Myth of Sisyphus, which I have not read.  During a mythology class I took at Marietta High School, I concluded (to my teacher’s reluctant agreement) that the closest manifestation of the Sisyphus myth was Wile E. Coyote, and these frequently involved boulders!  (Anyone who watched The Six Million Dollar Man saw more laws of physics violated than in an eight-minute Road Runner cartoon, but Lee Majors did not bear out any significant mythology.)

Gentle readers, I bore out the myth of Sisyphus a day or two before the Washington trip, and I now understand it completely–although I did have a way out of it, unlike the poor bastard in the Underworld.

I left work early the day before my departure for Washington, and ventured to Used Kids Records on N. High St.  I was in a good mood, about leaving work early because there was nothing to do, because I would have some Interstate underneath me in about 24 hours, and that I was flush to buy some records at Used Kids.

Used Kids is located upstairs in the 1900 block of N. High St., and its black-painted walls house a very eclectic selection of recorded music, on all media that is currently available.  There are even commercially produced reel-to-reel tapes, as well as the God-awful eight-track tape.  The bulk of Used Kids’ inventory is vinyl.  There are also stereo components and speakers for sale.

But my eyes were all for the shellac.  They had a fairly substantial, but completely disorganized, collection of 78 RPM records, and I have become like a guided missile when it comes to stashes of 78 RPM records.  This is aided by the fact that several generous record store owners have given me their cache of unwanted 78s.

I asked the manager about the prices of the 78s.  I was going to buy one album full of records.  (A little explanation is necessary here: The maximum capacity of a 10-inch 78 RPM record was about three or four minutes’ running time.  A longer work, such as a symphony or opera, had to be spread out over several records.  If it was a single body, it came in an album with paper sleeves to hold each record.  This is why, even on a compact disk or on an LP, and even today, a single collection of music is called an album.)  The manager looked at me, and I suspect my reputation may have preceded me, because the vinyl peddlers in Columbus seem to have a relationship that is more cooperative than competitive.

He seemed to be deep in thought.  “Tell you what,” he said.  “I’ll let you have the whole lot for $20.”  That was music to my ears, if you’ll pardon the expression.  I said sure.  I went home to drop off my knapsack, and to put on a denim jacket, since it had gotten a little colder than when I had left work.  I came back, handed the cashier a $20 bill, and asked if I could bum their dolly.  My yield turned out to be four milk crates, all four of them bursting at the seams.  “Please tell me you have a freight elevator,” I said.  No, they did not.  With help, and also borrowing a frayed bungee cord, I was able to get this load all the way down the steep steps to High St.

Used Kids Records, myself, and the plethora of 78s which are now piled up on shelves, in crates, and desk surfaces in my half double.

I envisioned that the worst part of the experience was cataloging the whole acquisition on Discogs, between the tedium and the often snide comments that moderators and administrators make to those who are still learning the ropes.  I was wrong.

Hindsight is always 20/20, and I realize now that what I should have done was, after paying the $20, was tell them to hold the records, and then got on the phone either to a friend with a car or to a taxi dispatcher.  But no, I had to try to get it all home myself.  As retro as I have become in the last few years (almost to the point of considering typing out this blog on my Royal Skylark, almost like a more orthodox diary, and scanning the entries to go up here), I came away with an appreciation for iPods that I did not have when I got out of bed that morning.

Shellac and Bakelite records are heavy!  When you multiply this by four crates, then the weight and the bulk are burdensome.  There was no way I could remind myself of the famous litany (often spoken in vain) when helping someone move.  “This isn’t heavy, it’s just bulky.”  In the case of the 78s, it was both.

I believe now that every sidewalk between N. High St. and E. Maynard Ave. is warped and uneven.  I was making very slow progress, less than a mile an hour, and trying without success to keep the stack of cartons from toppling at every small bump.  I think that even if I had run over an anthill or a crushed beer can on the sidewalk, the whole load was in danger of collapsing.  And if that happened, the records would shatter.  It would be like holding up and dropping a box full of china.

I made my laborious way east on E. 18th Ave., going north on Waldeck Ave. (a mistake; the street is more uphill than I remembered, although I had no trouble traversing it on my trike or on foot on many nights), and finally east on Lane.  After coming very close to spilling all the records–and having these nightmare visions of going through all the shrapnel that had been four crates full, and finding the remains of an Elvis Presley Sun 78–I took out the cell phone and called a cab.  The driver did not look happy about this, and I am sure the car was riding lower than usual once I loaded everything into the back seat and the trunk (I had to ride up front with him).

I walked like Quasimodo the rest of the day, and I had to look behind me to see whether or not I had a knife handle sticking out of the small of my back, but I gritted my teeth and said it was worth it.  So far, the most valuable record in there is Patti Page’s first recording of “Tennessee Waltz”, which originated as the B side of “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” (Mercury Records 5534).  I also acquired some unexpected LP vinyl treasures–all nine Beethoven symphonies, conducted by Arturo Toscanini, and a multi-record set of organ concerts by Albert Schweitzer, to benefit the people of Lambaréné and his medical mission there.

This is why I have never used the Sisyphus myth to describe my grappling with NaNoWriMo and all the many words and keystrokes that result from it.  (On that subject, I am down to less than 10 thousand words, about 3000 of them written today.)

Currently, I’m in Kafé Kerouac, and they will be closing soon, and I will venture out in the falling snow to get home to bed.  I have my headphones on, and the “Jewish Elvis,” Mr. Neil Leslie Diamond, is singing “Cherry Cherry,” my favorite song of his. 

Empty Nest

When I posted my last entry, I was hoping that one form of childish magical thinking actually was true: If I did not talk about it, it would not happen.  The events of this past week have proven me wrong.  I avoided the subject in my blog, in my emails to friends, and in my diary, but feel that I should pass along the news to the people who follow this blog.

Susie will be living in Florida for the foreseeable future.  This came about because, despite her stellar grades at The Charles School, and being one of 20 students admitted to Ohio Dominican University’s Early College program, she was quite unhappy at Charles, and said she would have a nervous breakdown if she returned there in the fall.  Steph emailed me to tell me that Susie had been asking about what the schools are like in Merritt Island.

And (just my luck!), Steph happens to live in one of the few places in Florida where the schools are actually half decent.  We did not force Susie to make a decision one way or the other, mainly because it would cast a pall over her entire time in Romania, and prevent her from enjoying the trip.  Steph and Mike came to Columbus the Saturday night after Susie’s return from Eastern Europe, and we reached the decision in an emotional session at Susie’s counselor’s office–Steph, Susie, and me, with a Kleenex box very handy.

Susie informed her friends that evening, when the parents and kids who went on the Romania trip gathered at the Unitarian Universalist church for a pálinka tasting (a fruit brandy indigenous to the Carpathian Basin).  This was sad news, especially as they were reeling from the taste of the brandy (I drank Sprite, and was glad I did, judging from the reactions of people who drank).

Susie’s last hurrah in Columbus was the Saturday before she left.  She marched in the Gay Pride Parade with her friends from the Kaleidoscope Youth Center.  I went downtown with her, and we wandered back and forth among the floats and the banners on Front St. before she found some Kaleidoscope kids, so I left her with them and went back to find a place to shoot some pictures.

I had plenty of pride (lower-case p) when they came marching up Broad St. and turned the corner onto N. High.  Not only was Susie with the Kaleidoscope contingent, she was proudly carrying a Pride flag.

She told me later that she wished it had been the Bisexual Pride Flag, much like the one she had designed for herself for the Pride parade two years earlier.  Also, she showed the usual teenage embarrassment when she saw Dad there on the curb with his camera out.  She must not have minded all that much, because by evening, it was her Profile picture on Facebook.

Susie carrying the Pride flag on W. Broad St. during the Columbus Gay Pride parade, June 22, 2013.

Susie left for Florida (by way of upstate New York, where many of Steph’s family still lives) a week ago today, early Wednesday morning.  The night before, we went to Steph’s live reading at Kafé Kerouac.  The reading was only a little successful in diverting my mind from her departure.

This is a picture of her and me after the reading:

Susie and me at Kafé Kerouac, June 26, 2013.

I have managed to stay busy and diverted since Susie’s departure.  My old Ohio University friend Ivan has been here since Wednesday night, visiting from Vermont.  (He lived in Columbus after graduating from Ohio University, but moved back to Vermont in ’08 when his father became terminally ill.  He has stayed there since, including during the recent death of his mother.)

Comfest took up much of my weekend, the annual Community Festival (the “party with a purpose”) in Goodale Park from Friday night (June 29) until Sunday evening, the 30th.  There were vendors’ booths, topless women, blocks-long lines for beer and wine, discreet but rather open pot-smoking, overheated dogs, families with SUV-sized strollers and complaining children, teenage Juggalos trying to sell moonshine from Big K cola bottles, and bands.

Saturday night’s festivities closed early, because of a massive thunderstorm with lightning, high winds, and pelting rain.  The musicians on the Gazebo and Bozo Stages did not want to use their microphones and amplifiers during an electrical storm, so the music shut down before dark (the storm began sometime around 7:15 or 7:30).  Some of the vendors (food and otherwise) stayed open, but by 9 p.m., police were trying to shoo people out of the park, saying that it was closed.

My major purchase was only a semi-Comfest purchase.  My favorite booth is from One Man’s Treasure, a small electronics and retro technology store in Millersport.  All weekend, I lusted after a Panasonic RQ-320S cassette recorder, a model from the 1970s.  Its main attraction was that it had a combination hand-held and condenser microphone, something I had never seen before.  I did not decide that I had to own it until Sunday night, after Comfest ended for another year.  I emailed the proprietor of One Man’s Treasure, and asked if I could send him a money order (including shipping and handling).  Ivan offered to drive me to Millersport on Monday evening, so we made the 66-mile (round trip) journey after work Monday.  I have only tested the tape recorder for a few seconds, but the sound quality, based on the “Testing… one… two… three” that I recorded, is quite crisp, especially for a machine that old.  The model seems to be in mint condition.

I think that it will be awhile before it totally sinks in that Susie will not be back for awhile.  I am used to spending the summers on my own, but when school starts again, and I come home to an empty house every evening, then I think I will finally grasp it.

I am the 33%

Baffling title, I know.  However, I am in a distinct and coveted minority right now.  I am part of the one third of people here in Columbus who have electricity.  The “rush hour storm” (my name for it; don’t know if anyone’s officially given it a title) of Friday night knocked out electricity when hurricane-force winds blew down power lines.  Looking at this morning’s Columbus Dispatch online, the best guess is that 345 thousand people in Central Ohio are without electricity, and about one million Ohioans total are without power.

While I have electricity, I do not have Internet.  I am “in the field” right now, typing this entry at the main branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.  I am without Internet and TV at home, and I realize that this may continue for awhile.  American Electric Power is saying it may be until Saturday before all of Central Ohio has lights, so I’m sure WOW Internet and Cable is not going to bust its chops to make sure people get to see America’s Got Talent.

My work day ended at 5 p.m. Friday, and around 4:40, I looked out to see that people were driving with their lights on, the street lights had come on, and the sky was getting dark.  (The latter never concerns me, because the windows in the William Green Building are so tinted that I often think it’s darker outside than it really is.)

At 5, I walked outside and was hit by the wind.  Newspaper pages and leaves skittered across the sidewalk, and then I saw an orange barrel rolling across High St.  The air felt warm and wet.  I hurried across High St. to catch my bus north.

During the northbound trip up N. 4th St., my fellow passengers and I escaped the worst of the hurricane-velocity winds that were pummeling Columbus at that time.  We saw trash cans rolling out into the street, strewing their contents behind them in a trail as they went.  We started seeing tree limbs lying on cars and on sidewalks.  Most ominously, we saw totally darkened houses.  Even at 5 p.m., three hours before sundown, everyone was driving with their headlights turned on.

I got off the bus and began walking the block toward my house.  Other houses on my street had lights on, so I was hopeful.  As I was leaving the bus, I saw several people running en masse north on N. 4th St., so I glanced in that direction and saw a thin cloud of black smoke in the sky.  As I looked up the alley, I saw there was a fire, and both rubberneckers and fire trucks were headed that way.

So, I hurried home and clicked on the living room light (just to make sure I had electricity; I did), and grabbed the camera.  (I write this one paragraph after saying something about rubberneckers, I know!).  I went up the alley, where the fire was still raging but looked easily controlled by the firefighters I saw there.  A garage behind a house on N. 4th was on fire, and the flames had even managed to catch the upper branches of a nearby tree on fire.  I thought that lightning had hit the garage, but a firefighter told me that the wind had blown a branch from a tree.  The branch had fallen on a power line, and both power line and branch landed on the roof of the garage.  The power arced, and the sparks set the garage on fire.  I shot about nine minutes of footage, most of it featuring the fire at the beginning, but the last few minutes showed more of people milling around in the alley.

I cursed WOW Internet and Cable when I was unable to get an Internet connection.  I turned on the TV, and at first they displayed a message saying there had been an interruption of service, and cable would be restored momentarily.  This message soon disappeared–they realized it would be a long time from “momentarily,” so the TV has displayed a blank screen ever since.

Not until after dark did I realize the extent of the power failure.  Once the sun set, I wandered around Baja Clintonville and the area around High St.  Houses just a block or two west of mine were dark.  I could see flashlights and candles in the windows.  Many people were sitting on their porches.  I could not see many of them, except maybe when they were holding lit cigarettes.  Some people made a party out of it, others sat and talked quietly.

A house at the corner of Indianola and East Maynard Avenues.  Falling branches destroyed his chimney and much of his roof.

But it was High St. that was truly the revelation.  Street lights were out, traffic lights were out, and the street was quiet, except for the sound of cars on the road.  My beloved Blue Danube was shuttered up, locked, and darkened, unheard of for Friday night.  The convenience store and Tobacco For Less across the street were empty and deserted.  Dick’s Den was open, with candles on the tables and in the windows, but I knew the allure of drinking room temperature beer could only last so long.

I used to have a record produced by CBS News called I Can Hear It Now: The ’60s, narrated by Walter Cronkite.  He mentioned the Great Power Blackout of 1965, and described it as “when the transistor radio, the candle, and the art of conversation enjoyed a one-day renaissance.”  That blackout affected 30 million persons in New York City, upstate New York, Massachusetts, Canada, and Pennsylvania, but the lights were back on the next day.  Candles were definitely making a comeback in Columbus Friday night.

I stopped in at Kafé Kerouac, lit by candles in the front room, with the performance/book room left totally dark.  The business was cash only, of course.  I stayed and nursed a warming can of Sprite, and sat at a table with a half-finished chess game and a deserted game of Connect Four.  I didn’t stay long.  No electricity meant no lights, and it also meant no air conditioning, and with all the people crammed into Kafé Kerouac’s comparatively small, underventilated space, the place soon smelled like the inside of a Dumpster.

Sirens have almost become white noise since Friday night, but it seems these are mostly rescue runs, not police out responding to opportunistic crimes.  People have been very courteous at intersections, treating them like four-way stops.  I have not heard about any looting or gratuitous property destruction.

By last night, the thrill seemed to be gone, and the fun has gone out of this blackout.  While I was out and about last night, I saw many people sitting on the porches of darkened houses, but the mood was much more desultory, and there was a feeling that this has gone on long enough.  I was out on a fool’s errand last night.  Fritz the Nite Owl was supposed to host Horror Express (starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing) last night at 11:30.  Without Internet access, I could not log onto Fritz’ Facebook page, and Studio 35 is usually pretty lax about changing its outgoing message on voice mail.  So I hiked the two miles or so to Studio 35 to see if the movie would still happen.  I made most of my way minus streetlights.  (I had briefly considered riding the trike up Indianola, but between the lack of street lights and the abundance of felled limbs and other debris, I am glad I vetoed the idea.)  The Weber Market was totally blacked out, and so, I saw was Studio 35.  The movie was cancelled, as was the 9:15 showing of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (divine intervention?).

The adventure continues tomorrow.  COTA is going out on strike, so I am either walking or triking the 3½ miles to and from work.  I need the exercise too much to be bitter.

Kerouac’s Biographer Reads at (Where Else?) Kafé Kerouac

Yet again, I have to kick off an entry by apologizing for my absence from this blog.  Several consecutive weeks of 56-hour work weeks does that to you.  (I thought my latest gig at the bookstore would end with the Winter Quarter rush, but that was not the case.  I emailed my supervisor to let him know I had a new cell phone number, and he replied by asking if I could work nights Monday through Thursday “until further notice.”  I need the cash too much to decline, so I accepted.)

This past week broke the repetitious cycle of get up-work at Job #1-walk to Job #2-go home-collapse, at least temporarily.  Gerald Nicosia, author of the definitive biography of Jack Kerouac, Memory Babe, made a brief trip to Columbus, as a part of a trip to Oberlin.  He and I have corresponded (by snail mail, and less frequently by email) for the past seven or eight years.  While researching my near-completion-for-the-past-few-years memoir of Robert Lowry, There Are No Promises Here, I wrote Nicosia to ask him for information about Lowry’s publishing a short excerpt of Kerouac’s book of Buddhist meditations, Some of the Dharma in 1958.  (I go into more detail about this in this 2007 blog entry.)  I thanked him for his help, he wrote back, I wrote back, and we have been writing almost non-stop since then.

When Gerry began planning for a trip to Oberlin, he suggested flying into Port Columbus, renting a car, driving up to Oberlin, and then spending time with Susie and me before flying back to the Bay Area around San Francisco.  Since he and I had never met in person, I was crazy about the idea.  He has long been “the best friend I have never met,” since our entire friendship had been one of correspondence.

He was sitting in his rental car on my street as I walked from the bus stop Wednesday night, after the bookstore job.  (He had heard me talking to someone as we walked up from the bus, and recognized my voice from the taped letters I had mailed him.)  He was staying in a motel near Riverside Methodist Hospital, but wanted to meet Susie and me, and spend some time before shaking off the jet lag and retiring for the night.  When Susie came home a little while later,  we headed for the Blue Danube for a late dinner.  (That’s the first place that I take guests when they come to visit.)

When the plans for Gerry’s visit to Columbus began to solidify, my next move was to email Mike Heslop, who has owned and operated Kafé Kerouac for the past eight years, and suggest that Gerry do a reading there.  Gerry and Mike emailed back and forth a few times, and then Mike emailed to let me know he had arranged a reading for Friday (last night) at 7 p.m.

I would have wanted a larger crowd, but the people that did come were genuinely interested in Kerouac, and were familiar with On the Road and Kerouac’s other writings.  (One person asked questions about Satori in Paris.)  Gerry brought several trade paperback copies of his newest book, One and Only: The Untold Story of On the Road, which appeared in November.  This is the story of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady’s madcap trips back and forth across the United States, as told through the eyes of Cassady’s first wife, Lu Anne Henderson (known as Marylou in On the Road.)  Gerry spoke of his friendship with her and with Kerouac’s daughter Jan (who wrote the novels Baby Driver and Trainsong, and who died of renal failure in 1996), about his co-author on One and Only, Anne Marie Santos (Lu Anne’s daughter), and about his role as a technical adviser on the On the Road movie, which began production in 2010.

Gerald Nicosia answering questions at Kafé Kerouac, February 10, 2012.

After living for many years in the Bay Area, Gerry was a little startled to see snow–the first in weeks–begin to fall in Columbus when he returned from Oberlin yesterday afternoon.  It’s been a mild winter so far, and there have been several days when I was completely comfortable walking around in a hoodie or a sweatshirt.

Not the case now.  Normally, except for rush period, I do not work at the bookstore on Saturday.  Today was an exception.  A co-worker of mine is sweating blood about a calculus midterm that he has next week, and he wanted to spend the weekend studying for it.  Since it would mean a fatter paycheck for me, I agreed to fill in for him.  It was quite difficult to leave the warm confines of my bed and house to venture to the bus stop, especially when it’s 17 degrees F. outside.  I had planned to go to the Adult Talent Show at church tonight, but once I’m indoors, I’m there to stay.  I think Susie and I will order in and watch a DVD of Young Frankenstein.
Gerry reading from One and Only.  I introduced him at the beginning of the presentation, but the flash on my camera didn’t work when Susie took the picture of me at the microphone.

Winter Solstice is Officially Here

It seems that I have to kick off more and more blog entries by apologizing for not posting more frequently.  I plead the usual–work overload and utter exhaustion once the work day finally ends.  I’m logging the usual 40 hours per week in service to the State of Ohio, and two or three nights per week at the Discovery Exchange.  (The winter quarter is in full swing at Columbus State, but my supervisor asked me if I would stay on until the end of next week.  I need the extra cash too much to decline such an offer.)

As I left the DX (as Columbus State people call it) last night, the snow began to fall.  I was under-dressed for this, since the temperature was in the mid-40s when I left my house around 7:30 a.m.  It was cloudy and gray, but I didn’t give that any special consideration.  From mid-November to about March, Columbus residents speak of seeing the sun the same way other people talk about UFO or Loch Ness Monster sightings–and usually receive the same skeptical responses.

When I left the Industrial Commission at 5 and started to make the 0.8-mile walk east on Spring Street, a cold rain was falling, and I was, as usual, hatless.  I managed to keep busy by re-shelving buybacks and customer assistance, so I was astonished when the work day was winding down and I saw that wet snow was starting to fall.  Snow had covered most of the ground, including the sidewalk and streets, much thicker than the very light dusting that covered the grass just before Christmas.

Susie came home about 30 minutes after I did, not happy about having to walk from High St. to our house in the snow.  Now that she is older, snow is definitely losing its allure.  The Susie and snow memory that I will retain until the day I die was the sudden dumping of snow in February of 2010.  I was lying abed, recovering from my gallbladder surgery, and Susie and one of her friends shouldered snow shovels and went all over Baja Clintonville, coming back $40 richer.  They were out earning money, and getting some major exercise, while my major accomplishment that day was that I managed to get from my bedroom to the bathroom and back without having to hang onto the wall the whole way.

One of the books I got for Christmas when I was about three or four.

I still enjoy snow, although, as I get older, I like it more while I’m watching it from inside.  I never willingly participated in a snowball fight (I knew kids in Marietta who were not above putting M-80s and rocks in their snowballs), although I enjoyed sled-riding.  I was a bit of a chicken when it came to sled-riding–I stuck to my easy-to-manage flexible flyer, inviting ridicule from kids who used saucers, car hoods, flattened cardboard boxes, etc.  (I have never ridden on a metal saucer.  Once they started going downhill, you were a projectile, with absolutely no way of stopping until the hill bottomed out or until you hit something.)

The hill next to Mills Hall on the Marietta College campus was the one we used most often.  The campus was private property, and security officers had repeatedly run us off, but we had the rules-are-for-canasta attitude that I still retain to a lesser degree, even now, and security finally gave up.  It was steep enough to get up a good head of steam while you were headed downward, but not so fast as to instill terror.  Usually, your ride would stop when you hit the chain-link fence that enclosed a small basketball court at the foot of the hill.  It would smart a little, but usually the kids wore enough heavy clothes that it wasn’t more than a bump.

Susie had school today, and I went to work.  I took for granted I’d be working, since the State barely agreed to close all offices during the 1978 blizzard.  I made the lunchtime walk to the Payroll office at Columbus State, but moved a little more slowly than usual, since I was afraid of slipping and falling.

The snow hasn’t kept Susie and me confined to quarters.  We’re both at Kafé Kerouac right now, and I’m typing away while two aspiring guitarists play on the stage.  (Listening to these guys, I think they will be aspiring for a long, long time!  Susie reviewed them in her blog and her critique is quite accurate.)  High St. looks pretty clear, and there’s plenty of condensation on the windows, which makes the streetlights and car headlights look a little ghostly.

While we were walking here tonight, the neighborhood seemed to be pretty quiet, other than some music from some of the houses we passed.  This is quite a contrast from last night, when the sound of the wind howling up and down Maynard Ave. awoke me several times.

Marietta did not get the full force of the 1978 blizzard, although we missed a lot of school because of the snow, and because the Bituminous Coal Strike drove up the price of heating.  When snow came, it was quite subtle.  I remember one Sunday night calling a friend of mine and saying, “Hey, it’s snowing.”

“It is?” he said, quite skeptically.  There was silence on the line for five or 10 seconds, and then he gasped, “My God, it is!”  He and his older brother made the 15-minute walk over to my house, and the three of us left together about 15 minutes later.  His brother was disappointed, as we retraced their path, to see that their footprints hadn’t been covered up.  A day or two later, snow was falling fast enough and heavily enough that footprints disappeared almost as you made them.

An All-Too-Short Breather From Moonlighting

I can tell that the end of the academic quarter looms at Columbus State Community College when I begin logging 12-hour workdays–my usual “day job” at the Industrial Commission, and the 2½ hours I work afterwards at the Discovery Exchange.  I wasn’t expecting to be back at the bookstore until Christmas, but I emailed my supervisor there to find out when he wanted me to start, and he asked me if I could start the first week of December.  My finances–or the lack thereof–made that an easy decision, quite a no-brainer.

So, starting Monday evening, I have been working at the bookstore, arriving home just before 9, and by then I’m usually so exhausted that I tumble into bed right away… and still don’t feel all that refreshed when the alarm goes off at 6:30 in the morning.

It may some lingering NaNoWriMo mindset.  Even though I no longer have to type at breakneck speed to produce writing of questionable–if not outright nonexistent–literary merit, I still feel like I’ve expended an enormous amount of energy during the day, and just the proximity and practicality of sleep is enough of a suggestion that I tumble into bed at an early hour, often times before Susie.  (Even when I do stay up late, it is difficult to pinpoint when exactly she falls asleep.  She often dozes off reading or writing in her journal, so there’s light coming from under her bedroom door regardless of how late the hour.  If I’m passing her room at 2:30 a.m. en route to the bathroom, I’ll see the light, and long ago I came to realize that she’s sound asleep and has no problem sleeping in a brightly lit room.)

Susie and I are at Kafé Kerouac right now, just north of the Ohio State campus.  This is a good post-NaNoWriMo location, and a good place to host a write-in next year.  Kerouac wrote the version of On the Road that catapulted him to literary fame (and fortune–most of which he drank) in a style that NaNoWriMo writers would make famous over 35 years later.  After many false starts, Kerouac wrote On the Road in about three weeks, fueled by amphetamines and black coffee, writing on a long scroll of Teletype paper and getting up from the typewriter only for trips to the bathroom.  I am 48 years old now, so I have outlived Kerouac by a year, but I doubt that I would ever have had the spontaneity or the stamina to try such a project in such a radical way.  Several years ago, Viking published Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954, and the work notebooks show that the writing of On the Road may have been spontaneous, but the text and the story was quite premeditated.

The famous scroll manuscript of On the Road.

This is the calm before the storm at the bookstore.  I have spent most of my workdays (-evenings?) re-shelving returns as students return them.  There are usually about five of us working on the second floor at night, and as one quarter winds down and the new one has yet to begin, there is not much customer traffic.  Sometimes I have to combat boredom, but shelving is a task that I genuinely enjoy.  During the lull in activity, when there aren’t even any books that need to be put back, I remind myself about how much I’ll relish moments like that once the onslaught starts again after Christmas.

One of my favorite isolated lines in Stephen King’s The Stand describes one of the heroes, Larry Underwood, tending to his mother when she becomes ill with the flu that eventually kills her and 99.4% of the human race.  Before anyone realizes just how deadly this is, he helps settle her in bed, moves the TV to her bedroom, buys her some paperback books at the corner store, and fixes her a small meal.  “After that,” says the narrative, “there wasn’t anything to do except get on each other’s nerves.”  To a much lesser degree, that’s kind of what we’re like on the second floor when there are no customers and no books to shelve.

The cashiers and customer service people downstairs place returns on a library cart, and when one is full enough, that’s when someone from the second floor (lately, me, but not exclusively) will come down and get it, exchanging it with an empty.  Because a loaded cart weighs so much, we take it up in the bookstore’s freight elevator.

One of my coworkers is a young woman from the Republic of Guinea in West Africa, who is taking pre-med classes at Columbus State.  She was a little scared when I told her the books had to go up in the freight elevator.  (I had seen her wheeling the cart toward the passenger elevator.)  Having worked at the Cincinnati post office, I have no fear of freight elevators.  The one at the Discovery Exchange could accommodate a small Toyota, but it has a mesh gate that raises and lowers, and the heavy steel external doors smash together with a sound that can make you jump.  As she and I waited for it, I’m sure my casual references to the “Elevator of Death” didn’t put her at ease.  (I suppose I should never let her see the L.A. Law episode featuring the death of Rosalind Shays.)

When I was 15 and living in Marietta, I helped a friend of mine deliver newspapers in the business district.  He had several customers in the Dime Bank Building at Second and Putnam Sts., across from the Washington County Courthouse.  The Dime Bank Building had an old, antiquated hand-operated elevator, complete with an old, antiquated elevator operator.  You got in, he would slide the accordioned gate shut, flip the lever (I always thought it looked like a ship’s engine order telegraph), and up you would go, watching the floors go by as you rose.

I made an all-too-quick trip to Cincinnati the first weekend of November, while Susie was at a church Coming of Age retreat in the Hocking Hills.  One of the people I took to lunch was George Wagner, who managed the apartment building where I lived.  George worked part-time as a clerk at Ohio Book Store on Main Street, and he had a healthy fear/respect for its freight elevator.  He emphatically stated he was not afraid of the elevator.  “I burn incense to it.  I pray to it.  I recite the 23rd Psalm before I get aboard it.  But no, I am not afraid of it!” he told me many times when I lived in Cincinnati.

Susie Sees Her New Home–Inside and Out

Around dusk last night, Susie and I took the bus from our soon-to-be-ex neighborhood (Weinland Park) so I could give her a brief tour of the half-double in Old North Columbus (known more informally as Baja Clintonville).  I was racing the sunset, and only expected her to see the exterior.  I won’t have the keys in my possession until a week from tomorrow, and we don’t officially live there until October 1.

Our timing was excellent.  We got off the bus and were walking westward on East Maynard, and the first thing I noticed was that our half double was blazing with light.  I looked up and I saw Jerome, the leasing agent I’ve been emailing, speaking with, and meeting with since the word go, as he crossed the street from his truck, paintbrush in hand.  I was glad to see him, and asked if I could give Susie a brief tour of her new home.  He said sure, so we went in.

Normally, a house full of empty rooms doesn’t attract much interest, but Susie walked from room to room, quite enthralled.  The fact that it’s not in Weinland Park is 95% of the charm, to be sure, but she was already mentally planning where her bedroom furniture will go in the new place.  (She’s decided she doesn’t want to have the head of her bed under the windowsill, because she’s tired of hitting herself in the head upon awakening.)  She took over the master bedroom when Steph moved out, but I’m reclaiming it in this new place.  All of the rooms smell like fresh paint, and Jerome said the only major project remaining was to stain and varnish the floors.  (I like hardwood floors, especially since I don’t own a vacuum cleaner at present.  There was shag carpeting on the upper floors when I took the first tour of the place, but it’s gone now.  That was mainly because the previous tenants had a big dog they let run wild–which may be okay if you live out in the country, but not in a half double in the big city.  The shag carpeting smelled of dog urine, but when I came to hand over the check for the deposit, the carpet was gone and the second floor deodorized.)

Susie and I spent the next hour at Kafé Kerouac, using their computers.  I thought about writing a blog entry last night, but I was using a computer that dropped its Internet connection whenever somebody sneezed, and a machine that was very slow to respond to anything I typed.  I am a very fast typist, and using that computer last night reminded me of what I heard about Linotype operators back in the days of molten lead and hot type.  The mark of a good linotypist was that he would have to stop and wait for the machine to catch up to him.  For me it was just frustrating.

We walked south on Indianola most of the way home.  The evening was young, and students are starting to return to Ohio State for the fall quarter, so there were students wandering around with cases of beer.  It was barely 11 p.m., and already quite a few of them were under the influence.

We began to smell smoke around Indianola and E. 11th Ave.  At first, it was a sooty smell, like someone had been barbequing and had removed the food from the grill.  But the smell kept getting more intense the further south we walked,  and before long I suspected there was probably a fire somewhere nearby.  We were close enough to campus for me to think at first it was someone being careless with an impromptu bonfire or couch-burning, but as we walked further from campus, we began heading east toward our house.

It says a lot about Weinland Park and how unsafe we feel when I told Susie we should walk toward the fire.  I knew we would be safe there, because a fire would have police officers and firefighters everywhere, so nothing could happen to us.  We were walking past St. Sophia Orthodox Cathedral at Indianola and E. 9th Ave. when I looked east and saw a column of black smoke rising up against the night sky.  I knew the fire had to be pretty much under control, because I saw two fire engines leaving the scene at a rather leisurely pace.  As we walked, I saw a few embers of flames glowing here and there on the roof of a building, and I guessed right away where the building was.

There was a 1969 comedy movie called If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium.  A similar phrase would be, “If it’s burning, this must be N. 5th St.”  (I’ve explained it before, but to avoid confusion: The numbered streets in Columbus are the exact opposite of Manhattan’s.  In Columbus, streets run north-south, avenues run east-west.)

And sure enough, a white frame duplex on N. 5th St. was on fire.  To my untrained eye, it looked like a total loss.  I’ve walked past it before, when headed toward OSU or anywhere else north of Weinland Park, and the doors were boarded up and the windows painted shut.  Whether this was arson or not, I have no idea.  Before I began typing this entry, I looked at The Columbus Dispatch‘s Website, and there was no story about it.  Fires on N. 5th St. no longer count as news.  My neighbor Rory’s blog hasn’t mentioned it yet, and he has had an ongoing series about Weinland Park fires.

Weinland Park’s official flag.    

Last night’s fire made me more thankful than ever that we will be leaving this dismal neighborhood.  During the year it has been home, I tried to reassure myself I was living there ahead of the curve.  (I have vague memories of when the Short North was a neighborhood no sane person would venture into after dark, and now it’s the trendiest neighborhood in Central Ohio.)  If anything, the neighborhood has deteriorated even further in the past year.  The drug peddling, the mugging, and the burglaries have become more brazen.

Susie wants out of Weinland Park as much as I do, and it is two weeks before we officially live in the ‘Ville again.  However, she did show a naivete about the neighborhood that almost made me laugh.  I went ahead and ordered two new laptops, and asked that they be shipped c/o a friend’s house–he works at home a lot, and his wife is usually home during the day.  I wondered about bringing them home to Weinland Park, and our neighbors seeing us bringing in new computers.  “We can do it while everyone is at work and school,” Susie suggested.

Work?  And school?  Weinland Park residents?

Susie Debuts at a Poetry Slam

Without a doubt, Susie was the youngest reader at last Wednesday’s poetry slam at Kafé Kerouac, but she stole the show.  (I’ve always avoided slams and poetry groups.  The reason is because hearing them go on about their poetry is like listening to teenage boys talking about sex: The ones who are talking about it the most are doing it the least.)

Susie made quite a hit with “My Poetry: The Musical!”, where she states that her (autobiographical) poetry would make quite a good musical–why should Dr. Seuss and Seussical the Musical have the monopoly on it, after all?

I mean, picture this:
a musical about
a bisexual girl
who writes poems
about suicide and how annoying her life is.
And somehow, fairies work their way in.


The emcee of the event led everyone in an a Capella rendition of “The Greatest Love of All” after Susie came down from the microphone and the small dais in the front of the room.

(Caveat lector: When I loaded this video to Facebook, I was able to successfully rotate it so that you would not have to turn your head sideways to view it.  I did not have the same success when loading this to Blogspot.  I will tell you, however, that Susie’s poetry debut is worth the sore neck.  07/10/2011)

I had to do a little on-the-scene adjusting of the lens and the settings on my DXG digital camera, so I apologize for the picture quality of the first 30-45 of the video.  Fortunately I was sitting close to a speaker, so the audio is pretty crisp.  (The microphone on this camera is not all that sensitive.) 

The Kafé Kerouac poetry slam imposes a draconian penalty when a person does not put a cell phone on “vibrate.”  Whenever mine has gone off during a meeting or a church service, usually I feel like there’s a big red neon arrow pointing straight at me, and that’s usually punishment enough.  However, in this forum, everyone suffers as a result.  The emcee pulled out his well thumbed copy of a novel, Daddy Long Stroke, written by Cairo, had an audience member choose a page at random, and read a two- or three-page passage from it.  Daddy Long Stroke seems to be the literary equivalent of a blaxploitation movie.  I remember how awed I was when I ordered a Grove Press paperback copy of My Secret Life, the anonymous memoirs of a well-to-do Victorian man named Walter who lived for nothing but sex.  I was disappointed about how boring it was after the first few chapters–so repetitious.

Just in case you plan to defy the cell-phone-on-vibrate taboo, here is a video of the reading from Daddy Long Stroke:

We have definitely come a long way from when Walt Whitman lost his Interior Department paper-pushing job in the 1860s because of Leaves of Grass, or when Charles Bukowski’s poetry and writing constantly jeopardized his job as a third-shift mail sorter at the Los Angeles post office!

The first edition title page of Leaves of Grass.

Now that her first-time anxiety is behind her, Susie is looking for more places to read her poetry.  The next place may be the Rumba Café on Summit Ave.  (I saw a small notice about it in this week’s The Other Paper, and am trying to remember to clip it out to show her.)

At some point, I’m going to play Susie the compact disk of Allen Ginsberg reading his epic poem “Kaddish to Naomi Ginsberg 1894-1956,” the long poem he wrote in memory of his insane mother Naomi, who died in a Long Island asylum.  I have a boxed set of Ginsberg’s readings, Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Poems and Songs 1949-1993, and it includes his emotionally wrenching 1964 Brandeis University reading of “Kaddish,” which I first heard on an LP in Adam Bradley’s Stinchcomb Ave. apartment one night as both of us stayed up until dawn, making quick work of a 24-pack of Olympia.  “Kaddish” is a bare-bones presentation of poetry as autobiography and lament.

Trying to Rise Above the Torpor of Summer

My neglect of this blog (and any other type of writing, other than emails) is Exhibit A of my current lack of emotional, physical, and spiritual energy of late.  I’m beginning to think I may have the polar opposite of seasonal affective disorder–I become more sluggish and unproductive in the summer months, whereas most people with SAD completely shut down in the wintertime.  Columbus has been tropical this summer, and the relative humidity saps my energy.  I am sure that the months of 13-hour workdays has not helped, either.

We shall soon see.  At 4 p.m. yesterday, the summer quarter rush at Columbus State Community College ended, and with it my evening hours at the bookstore.  From now until fall, I will only be working 9 a.m. until 12 noon on Saturday mornings.  Susie is especially happy at this news, because it means I will be home with her more evenings, and we’ll be able to go to the pool, and we can eat dinner earlier.  (It’s been so damn hot that neither of us wants to cook, so we’ve eaten out most evenings.)

Susie worked as a Comfest volunteer for the first time this year.  She enjoyed the work, especially getting a free T-shirt and a pink Comfest mug, but she hated having to pick up so many cigarette butts.  She made quite liberal use of the hand sanitizers strategically located by the Porta-Potties.

I went to Comfest both Friday night and Saturday afternoon-evening.  I worked at the bookstore, during its extended rush hours, on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  I know I’ll be grateful for it once they hand me the paycheck in Human Resources, but I still had a being-kept-after-school feeling during the entire work day.

Comfest negatively affected me in only one way.  Susie and I waited on W. 5th Ave. and High St. for the 5 bus to Grandview for the monthly Return of Nite Owl Theater at the Grandview.  (The movie was The Terror, with Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson.)  The exodus from Goodale Park snarled up traffic so much that the 5 never arrived.  It’s been my practice to walk to the theater on Fritz nights, but between the proliferation of drunks and the humidity, I told Susie this month we’d take the bus.  (The movie at the end of July will be Teenagers from Outer Space, which will go along wonderfully with Pulpfest ’11 at the Ramada Plaza.)

I did quite well at the Really, Really Free Market on the last Sunday in June.  Earlier tonight, I sent an email to the Webmaster of Notebook Stories bragging of my achievement.  Susie came away with some clothes, and I came away with five spiral-bound planners.  (Their dates range from 2006 to 2008, but if I ignore the pre-printed dates, they will be quite useful.)  Two were from Greek-letter organizations (Phi Delta Theta fraternity and Chi Omega sorority), and the other three were from St. Bonaventure University (where Thomas Merton taught English from 1940 until he resigned to join the Trappist monastery in Kentucky), Southern Methodist University (which houses George W. Bush’s Presidential library–I wonder if all the pictures have been colored in the books), and Seattle Pacific University.  (I found something amusing in the St. Bonaventure planner–under Saturday, February 2, 2008, one of the events in the schedule is 4:00 p.m. Pre-Super Bowl Mass and Reception.)

My cache of new notebooks, courtesy of the Really, Really Free Market on  June 26.

There was absolutely no way Susie or I were going anywhere near downtown on Friday night, when Red White and Boom was happening.  I am lukewarm at best about patriotic celebrations.  I think they–and the people who participate in them–are the (very!) secular equivalents of the ostentatiously pious folks that Jesus lambasted in the Sermon on the Mount.  (When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; they love to say their prayers standing up in synagogue and at the street-corners, for everyone to see them.  I tell you this: they have their reward already.  Matthew 6:5, New English Bible.)

Susie and I went to First Friday, a potluck held at church on–when else?–the first Friday of every month.  The attendance was pretty sparse, between Red White and Boom and the congregation being scattered to the four winds for vacation.  We found some friends of ours.  Susie spent most of the time conspiring with talking to a kid who will be her lab partner for science classes at The Graham School come September.

I took her to Kafé Kerouac after we left First Friday, and this turned out to be quite the stroke of good timing.  She learned about their Wednesday night poetry slams, and she plans to go and read some of her poetry.  (I’ve always avoided poetry and writing groups, because listening to them discussing their poetry and their projects reminds me of teenage boys bragging about sex: The ones who are talking about it the most, are doing it the least.  I have never publicly read or participated in a slam because my voice is almost totally without affect–an Asperger’s symptom characteristic–and performance counts as much, if not more, than content.

While I was typing, my idiot neighbor has set off a string of fireworks and firecrackers.  There is a momentary lull at present, but I’m waiting for the noise to start up again, so I can call the police, and the dispatcher can hear the noise in the background.  (I have had minimal personal experience with shooting off fireworks and recreational explosives.  Since most of the jobs I’ve held in my 29 years in the workforce have involved typing, I realized that having hands is a good idea.  The only body parts I no longer have are my tonsils and gallbladder.  That’s enough.)

I never really how truly exhausted and sleep-deprived I was until yesterday.  After I left the bookstore, Susie and I took the bus to Graceland Shopping Center to pay the electric bill at Kroger, pick up dinner, and go to the hardware store.  She and I went to China Garden, a smorgasbord she and I both enjoy.  She and I both ate until we could barely move, and we were walking in major slow motion across the parking lot to Sears Hardware.

Once we got home, I told Susie I was going to take a brief nap before I did anything else.  I remember my bedside digital clock saying 8:20 when I lay down.  I didn’t even get undressed, not even my shoes.  When I felt rested enough to get out of bed and get on with the day, it was 8:30, as in a.m.  It was Sunday morning coming down.

Update: I called the police about the pyrotechnics next door.  I learned to use 911 for any time I call the Columbus Police Department, unless I’m in the mood to wade through their voice mail prompts and spend four minutes on hold.  The entire block smells like sulfur, and I hear the whistle of bottle rockets every few minutes, and no sign of the police.  If I had it to do over again, I would have called and reported gunshots.  (Hey, I’m no expert in ballistics–gunshots and firecrackers do sound alike to the untrained ear, don’t they?)

After breakfast this morning, Susie and I went to a yard sale on Medary Ave.  She bought a file folder, and I bought a pristine copy of The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition, a 1987 Book-of-the-Month Club edition.  It’ll reside on my shelf between my 1938 Modern Library edition of The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway and Carlos Baker’s exhaustive biography.

It was “altogether fitting and proper,” as Lincoln would say, that I should buy this book.  (Susie brought it to my attention, and I happily ponied up the $.50 for it.)  Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Hemingway’s death, by his own hand, in Ketchum, Idaho.  I haven’t read the obituaries that appeared, and I am sure it was front-page news all over the world.  However, through the many connections I’ve made in the old-time radio world, I found Harry Reasoner’s radio obituary, broadcast on CBS radio, where he tried–with iffy success–to emulate Hemingway’s prose style.

The Doo Dah Parade beckons tomorrow afternoon.  Neither Susie nor I are setting alarms, although after my megasleep yesterday into this morning, I am now quite wide awake.  Nonetheless, we’ll be awake in plenty of time to make it to the Short North for the parade.