My Weekend for Sacred Texts

Before I head off to bed, I’m going to sit down and type some notes on the weekend that just ended, and get it posted.  So, Messrs. Nelson, Kristofferson, Jennings, and Cash are singing “The Highwayman” (from the disk The Legend of Johnny Cash), and I’m polishing off my last Diet Pepsi of the day.

I’m recently back from the Noor Islamic Cultural Center and their Ramadan open house.  I went with Steve Palm-Houser and his daughter Amelia.  Guests from many of Columbus’ many houses of worship came for the presentation, and for the food served at 8:09 p.m. (official sunset).  We even came away with small gift bags–a trade paperback of the Oxford University Press’ edition of The Qur’an (©2005), a picture brochure of the Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Dublin (quite a beautiful building, both inside and out), and several pamphlets from the Website Why Islam?.

One of the guest speakers was Cantor Jack Chomsky, who leads the services (weekday and Shabbat) at Congregation Tifereth Israel, the Conservative synagogue in Olde Towne East.  He and the rabbis of that temple were a shining beacon to everyone in the post-9/11 lunacy and xenophobia which became fashionable, if not epidemic, in the U.S.  Down E. Broad St. from Tifereth Israel, the Islamic Center was severely vandalized, and the damage was so extensive that the building had to undergo extensive and costly repairs.  The rabbis and leaders offered the Muslims the use of the temple for their five daily prayers and Friday prayers for as long as it took to make their facility usable again.  To this day, Tifereth Israel loans out their parking lot gratis for the parking overflow for the Friday prayers.  (The leadership at Tifereth Israel are so treasonous as to not take their marching orders from Limbaugh, Beck, Gingrich, etc., and their congregation, and Olde Towne East, is much the richer for it.)

You almost needed to roll me out of the Islamic Cultural Center after the meal.  I had generous helpings of rice, chicken, hummus, lamb, and lentil soup.  (I had a beard trim this afternoon–more about that soon–so I felt I could eat lentil soup.  When the beard is untrimmed, I usually abstain from it.  About 25 years ago, I was eating a meal in a kosher restaurant in Flushing one winter night with my friend Ken Katz.  I saw two old Hasidic men–complete with the long, untrimmed beards–eating lentil soup.  If you want to lose your appetite in a hurry, that’s all you need to see.)

The Qur’an from the Oxford World’s Classics was my second sacred text today.  I slept too late to go to church today, but in the early afternoon, Susie and I went to the Really, Really Free Market in Weinland Park.  The Sporeprint Infoshop sponsors the Really, Really Free Market the last Sunday of every month, but they expanded it today as a way of bidding farewell to the summer.  Usually, the market is on the sidewalk in front of Sporeprint’s headquarters on E. 5th Ave., where books, clothes, bread, and baked goods are set out a table for anyone who wants them.

They turned it into a mini-fair in Weinland Park.  They offered knitting and hair-cutting, clothes, books, and household appliances, all free.  A young woman named Jessie walked around with a sign on her back that said FREE HAIRCUTS, so I asked if she ever cut facial hair.  She never had, but I was feeling adventurous, so I asked her if she’d trim my beard, which has gotten to the point where it was totally covering my upper lip.

I know Mr. Rogers told two generations of children,
“Haircuts don’t hurt,” but you’d never know it from
my facial expression.  Jessie very patiently and
thoroughly cut through the Brillo pad of my untrimmed
whiskers.

Jessie did a stellar job, especially using just scissors and a comb.  I’m sorry to report that the scissors were a casualty of the project.  By the time they cut through the beard (which is probably like steel wool in some places), I doubt her scissors would have cut butter.  She didn’t have a whetstone or a razor strop handy, so she had to strike her shingle after only one client.
The second sacred text I obtained today was A Buddhist Bible, edited by Dwight Goddard, courtesy of the Really, Really Free Market.  This was also a trade paperback ©1994 by Beacon Press (the Unitarian Universalist Association’s publishing arm), the publisher of two anthologies compiled by my late aunt Jean McKee Thompson: Poems to Grow On and Our Own Christmas.  (Jack Kerouac’s discovery–and extensive reading of–The Buddhist Bible laid the groundwork for his books The Dharma Bums and Some of the Dharma.  The latter remained unpublished until 1997, except for very few excerpts published by my friend Robert Lowry in his short-lived literary journal Robert Lowry’s Book USA circa 1958.)

Susie didn’t fare too well, I’m sorry to say.  The only shoes in her size had cleats on the soles, and she couldn’t find any clothes she liked that fit.  She came away with a glass and a Thomas Kinkade spiral address book.  I got Steph a pair of shoes, after getting on the cell phone to call and ask her size.

I remembered why I never buy puzzles or games second-hand.  Some of the children, trying to “help,” spilled two puzzles together on the ground.  Sally Louise, one of the people who helped launch this event, spent some time on her knees helping the kids collect the pieces and get them back.  (Fortunately, the backs of the puzzles were different colors, but I’m sure they’re still intermingled.)

Sally Louise helps the kids picked up the spilled puzzle
pieces.  How many Lite-Brite pieces ended up going
up vacuum cleaners in America over the last 40 years?
My friend Scott came with his face paints, jumping at the chance to ply his trade, since he never had a chance at Comfest.  (The last time he used such natural canvases was at the World Naked Bike Ride in June.)  Many of the younger element flocked to him, and they all came away pleased, especially this young man:
Such great artwork, and yet so fleeting.
Friday night, I went to a party/concert at The Monster House, an actual dwelling place on W. 10th Ave.  I didn’t spend much time at the concert itself.  That was in the basement, and being below ground in such a comparatively confined place with about 20 people, each giving off the energy and heat of a 150-watt bulb, triggered my latent claustrophobia (which has never been a significant issue in my life before).  I stayed on the main floor and on the front porch and talked with people, including our many hosts.
It was a BYOB affair, so I went to the 7-Eleven at N. High and 10th and bought some Diet Pepsi.  I received many unsolicited warnings about how horrible aspartame is (I guess that must be the nutritional bogeyman this summer–preceded by mono-sodium glutamate and carbohydrates; they’re hard to keep track of), all of these coming from people who were drinking beer by the liter and who were smoking.
One of the bands’ lead singers wore the big-lensed Christian Dior glasses that I remember girls wearing when I was in junior and senior high.  (My favorite TV personality, Fritz the Nite Owl of WBNS-TV here in Columbus, made them very popular on his Nite Owl Theater in the 1970s.)  She complimented me on my glasses, which doesn’t happen often.  (One woman I dated once told me I was one of the few people under 60 who could wear half glasses and not look silly.  I’m not sure if that’s a compliment.)  We traded eye wear and the moment was immortalized:
 What I never understood was when girls had little
stickers at the bottom of the lenses–with their
initials, or butterflies, or hearts.  How could
they stand to have that in the peripheral vision
all the time?

This was supposed to be a short entry, with or without illustrations.  The Johnny Cash disk ended a long time ago, and I’ve switched to The Alan Parsons Project’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, with “The Fall of the House of Usher Suite” playing right now.  (One thing I miss about LiveJournal–and that is a very short list–is the field where you type in what music you’re listening to or thinking of while you’re working.)
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