please come home
the hearth is lit, the door unlocked
there is nothing to talk about
and a roof between the weather

come dance aloud
breathing poetry's warm breeze
in ever bittersweet tragedy
let's talk about the weather.

warm shadows waft closer
the flames burn red to gray
the sun fails; sight fades to touch
of a kiss within the fading glow.







*I'm at SEATAC. There's WiFi in the Board Room. Flight delayed. Check the website before you come to the airport. I love you.*

I'm at Kennedy. Flight delayed.

*I'm at SEATAC. There's WiFi in the Board Room. Flight delayed. Check the website before you come to the airport. I love you.*

I'm at O'Hare. Flight delayed.

*I'm at SEATAC. There's WiFi in the Board Room. Flight delayed. Check the website before you come to the airport. I love you.*

I'm in Denver. Snow.

I'm in Phoenix. T-storms.

I was rerouted to Oakland. Drove through the rush hour.

Please come home.

*I'm at SEATAC. There's WiFi in the Board Room. Flight delayed. Check the website before you come to the airport. I love you.*

Please keep trying.

*I'm at SEATAC*







My cardiologist said to me, "You're going to die unless we do something."

To which I replied: "You mean, if we do something I won't?"

"We need to work on getting you to 50."

"Wow. That's some honesty, right there."

"I see guys like you all the time. You're the ones who are right on the cusp. Not in enough danger to warrant aggressive measures, not well enough to walk away from, but given how busy we are, we walk away."

"Then?"

"Sooner or later you have an attack."

"It's inevitable?"

"No. It's statistics. For instance, two thirds don't survive their first heart attack."

"This is exactly why I became an engineer. Three plus two equals five unless you get religion, and then it doesn't count."

"It's all statistics. Look at all these risk factors. Bad family history. High cholesterol. High BP. Silicon valley career. How's your sex life?"

"Doc?"

"I know how your work life is. You're a stress junkie. How many vacations you take this year?"

"People take more than one?"

"Did you take more than zero?"

"Okay."

"Okay? What?"

"My sex life. Though, isn't that relative? I mean, one man's 'Passable' is another man's peanut butter orgy."

"The important thing is what you think it is. If you're celibate and loving it, that's two thumbs up. If you're having sex with supermodels and hating it, that's a health problem."

"On several levels, actually."

"How many partners?"

"This has something to do with..."

"Another risk factor."

"Do people actually tell you if there's more than one?"

"If they're not married, well, usually they say something like, 'Less than ten,' though one patient of mine..."

"Ten? Is that good for your cholesterol?"

"It's all the exercise some guys get."

"Trust me. Do I look like the kind of guy that has more than, say, zero to one woman interested in him at any point in time? My knees hurt and my hair is turning gray."

"Knees. You should have that looked at."

"Well, I'm here."

"I'm not an orthopedist. I can recommend a good one, though..."

"Less than ten."

"Partners?"

"Knees. Look, Doc. The whole, 'Do you want to see 50,' thing. I'm in. I'll go for it. What's the aggressive treatment?"

"Reduce stress. Eat better. Exercise more."

"Thanks. I already knew all of that, actually, but I needed to hear it from someone highly paid."

"Why do I attract all the smart-assed patients? I'm increasing your meds. Forty on the Lipitor. Ten on the Avapro. Double the Diovan. You may notice an effect. Let me know."

"Effect. This is like when you say:'You may feel some discomfort,' during the leg amputation."

"Your ankles might swell."

"I'll keep it in mind. What else?"

"When you say, 'Less than ten,' you mean how frequent?"

"Doc, I mean like normal."

"One man's normal is another man's orgy."

"When I say normal, I mean 'normal' as in normal."

"Just let me know if there's a problem. We can deal with the side effects."

"May not be worth getting to 50 if..."

"That's what they all say. If you still tell me that when you're looking up at me from the operating table, we'll deal with it then."







When I got home the blonde haired girl met me at the front door. She greeted me with a kiss.

"How'd it go?"

"He says I can live until I'm 50 if I take some pills."

"Better take the pills."

"He wanted to know if our sex life was normal."

"What did you tell him?"

"Actually, he wanted to know if I was having sex with more than ten people at a time."

"Ten? No he didn't."

"I told him I wasn't but he told me some of his patients were."

"Come on."

"He said my job was too stressful and I should see an orthopedic guy about my sore knee."

"What did he give you? Let me smell your breath."

"They don't serve drinks at the cardiologist."

"What pills?"

"I told him our sex was normal. I assured him it should not be a factor in my cardiovascular health, but he insisted I draw him graphic depictions of you and I in various yogic positions, having sex with up to ten strangers at a time."

"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine I just need to evaluate the browser history on your computer to see who you've been soliciting on Craigslist."

"Please. What's wrong?"

"I have something in my eye."

"Come over here."

"Would you still be interested in me...what if I turn 50 and...maybe it would be better if I didn't?"

"...I'm here."







In Paris we saw the art and the fashion. We drank the wine. Though she has climbed Annapurna, blonde haired girl had never been to France, and spoke no French. On the other hand, I have spent many weeks in France and studied French for some years with a marginal degree of success. At the minimum, I can understand what people are saying to me, though I have difficulty talking back.

We were sitting next to the fountain in the Jardin de Tuileries and I asked her if she was enjoying Paris.

"I am enjoying you enjoying Paris."

"I do like it, though there's no logic to it. I don't like art or wine or fashion and I've never read Balzac."

"But you like cheese."

"Bad for the cholesterol, though."

"You should start liking wine, then. It balances."

"Can you just start liking tastes you don't like?"

"You can learn to like wine."

"All of a sudden salad dressing turns into a chocolate milkshake. Explain."

"How did you learn the language?"

"I don't actually know French. It's just that so many of the words sound exactly the same to me, I figured out I could say the same word over and over and it meant different things contextually."

"This is another one of those conversations. It is, isn't it?"

"Did I ever tell you I had a dream that I was a ball turret gunner?"

"I think so. Yes. Twelve times. This will be thirteen."

"I dreamed I saw a half a plane with a white and black cross spinning and falling under me. I was about four, because it was before I was in school. It wasn't till I got older that I realized it was the markings on a Luftwaffe fighter."

"I think you saw it on a television show."

"We didn't have television in those days. We lived with my grandparents in the Bronx. We ate pasta every day. My grandmother actually had this wooden cudgel thing she used to darn socks. Imagine darning socks."

"Some socks are worth fixing."

"There were planes in pieces falling out of the sky all around. And then we were in pieces, too, I think. The dream was about being in pieces of planes and I was thinking with my kid brain that maybe you don't need a whole plane to stay in the air. The pieces can fly themselves, is what I thought. And then you put all these flying pieces together and they make a plane."

"Let's have lunch."

"You're changing the subject."

"How do you say 'lunch' in French?"

"Dejeunier."

"Let's have dejeunier."







Every time I begin to lose faith, something happens.

These days every garage band can reach a worldwide audience. Everyone with a cell phone is a correspondent on the scene. If you forget how to make a Ramos Gin Fizz or solder a protoshield for an Arduino processor, just Google it and the answer is there. In this age of complete information transparency we've seen the carnal machinery behind our neighbor's bedroom doors and recoil in the horror that for the decades we've known the Smith's, they never let on they wanted us to.

The Coen brothers make a damned good movie, and I'll be as bold as to suggest that if my brother and I made movies, they'd be about as good. Their recent No Country for Old Men is an audio/visual reminder that the world has always been random in meting out brutality. Birth is a chance occurrence.

We saw the Coen movie because they're the Coen's and no matter what they show us, it's bound to be aesthetically pleasing in one way or another. Then we came home.

I flipped on the satellite TV and saw a skinny guy screaming songs into a microphone at Coney Island. I left on the program because I hadn't seen pictures of Coney Island for a long time. I've recovered Black and White photos of my mother at five years of age in front of the Wonder Wheel. And there was this guy playing guitar wearing a shirt that said, "I Love New Jersey" playing music that I remember, only it was all new.

In the documentary he mentioned he didn't have enough money to pay for a hotel room when his band, "toured," so they crashed at friends' houses.

The name of the band is Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. And my faith in music is restored, despite gigabyte transmission speeds and the viral dispersion of talentlessness.

Life is random. And if only in randomness the mathematic mind suggests we are as likely to experience great joy as tragedy.

Last night we had a huge storm. They clocked winds over 100 miles per hour on the hilltops. One of my neighbors watched the roof of his house peel back and then drop down in the wind. Tens of thousands lost power and there are still thousands in the dark. The creeks overflowed their banks.

We fell asleep to the white noise of acres of water pattering the skylights, the clatter of tree branches against glass, and the occasional thud of tall things falling. I dreamed I was in Antarctica in my tent in the dry valleys, and a skyscraper tall wave of muddy water thundered toward me, blotting out the sun. The feeling of helplessness blotted out my life, my personality -- the very me of me.

When I woke up we still had power. Our house is intact. The winds blew in a way that kept the worst of the storm from us. I played Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. We had french toast for breakfast. We are spared when so many weren't. Divine intervention?

This is my last year before 50 and the question on the minds of all the television viewers will be answered a year from now in a flurry of digitized lifespace.

In Tommy Lee Jones's dream, his dead father waits for him, the single fire on an endless plain of midnight chaparral and lightning.

That's what the Coen movie was about.

Life is random but you can light a fire for someone else to follow.

That's everything.

 

During the holidays I spent some time with my father.  Dad had finally splurged and replaced his old and trusty 17" tv set with a new HDTV.    And he had a new copy of the the classic musical  An American in Paris.  It was made at the behest of Gene Kelly who saw it as an excuse to flim the Gershwin ballet of the same name.  He also used it to spotlight his discovery of a  young French ballerina.  Leslie Caron made her debut,  and she is introduced as a dancer with some really amazing curves.    The movie is a ton of fun, and was made in 1951 when musicals were at their peak.

 

The thing is during the 1960's the musical made a significant decline in the marketplace, with many expensive failures like Doctor Dolittle or Dolly.  Yeah we have them now and then.   Moulin Rouge did pretty well but Across the Universe was a major bomb at the box office.  Grease, Flashdance and Dirty Dancing had their moments, but they were exceptions rather than the rule.  Then it occured to me that the decline of the musical almost exactly coincided with the rise of stereophonic sound reproduction.  So I asked my father, who has an even better stereo than I do, what sound equipment was like when An American in Paris made its debut.  He told me that home equipment of the day was horrible, but theater sound was probably the only place (besides a concert hall) where the sound quality was good enough to really enjoy clear sounding recorded music.

 

And so began to wonder if the rise of reasonable quality home stereos are really what killed the musical.  Nowdays if I want to hear great sounding music all I have to do is put in a CD or LP.  But in the 1940's the best home reproduction gear sounded tinny at best, and records were expensive and prone to scratches.  Concerts were fun, but expensive and you got only one or two shows before Duke Ellington and Orchestra left town.  But if you went to a movie you often combined some really good music  (does it get any better than Gershwin or  Rodgers and Hammerstein?) with some very skilled dancing, singing, some awfully pretty people  (have human legs ever suprassed Cyd Charisse?)  and a story when the alternatives were tinny and scratchy.

 

Of course one might argue other causes such as growing cynicism rising out of the Vietnam War. Maybe people needed less romanticism in our films as World War II and the Great Depression faded from our memory.   The Hollywood studio system was in its death throes.  But I think the real reason was the hi-fi.  Once people had stereo at home, good music was just a touch of the button away. 

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