Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hat Lady

I was riding the Culver City bus this afternoon when I spotted the hat lady waiting at a bus stop on the other side of Beverly Glen.I had not seen the hat lady all winter and feared she was no longer around.She is not a street person but an elderly woman who wears homemade hats.The hats are unusual because they are made from plain old paper grocery store bags.I first noticed her on the bus about five years ago but see her all over and have had a few upclose looks in Ralphs grocery store a large chain here which is where I suspect she gets her material.Firstly(is that a word?) she has to turn them inside out so no printing shows.I can only describe the shape as like something you would see a rich brit wearing in those newspaper pics you see of spring horse/dog/polo shows one sees in the papers.The sort of hat a young girl might wear on Easter.She shapes that bag and then decorates it with ribbons a bow around mid center and flowers.Sometimes they are fresh sometimes plastic.I have seen her with a fresh rose and one Saint Patricks day fresh green carnations.They really are quite impressive but I do not know what gives her the muse of making these paper bag hats.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cab Ride

I took a Cab to the office last week.It was the company I usually use but this driver I had never had before.At first I thought he was Russian.He had thick blond hair and he brought to mind llya Kuryakin from"The Man From Uncle"He was a talkative cabbie and turned out to be from Sweden.Said he was also an actor which I think most cab drivers in Los Angeles claim to be.We started chatting about Sweden and I mentioned how Denmark and Sweden were once Imperial powers in the past and I told him about the wonderful novels of Icelandic Author Halldor Laxness about his countries misery at the hands of Denmark.He'd never heard of him but then I said there was a series by George Macdonald Fraser with a character named "Flashman" who is a scoundrel but who always comes out looking like a hero in this series of historical novels.He cut in right away that "I have 9 of those novels,I love Flashman"I told him that the second one involved him impersonating a Danish Prince while being blackmailed by Bismark and a fan dancer named Lola Montez who actually existed and is buried in NYCity and the theft of the Crown Jewels and he said he had not read that one but talked about how he had taken in much history reading Flashman.I have heard that from others and it's why I love the Flashman series besides the fact they are very funny while being bawdy and teaching history at the same time in a way that sticks.So he was excited about reading that Flashman novel.It's not often one gets a Cabbie in Los Angeles that is a big book fan so it was fun to talk to this guy.

New Arrivals

In the past week I have gotten a copy of Russel Banks new novel"The Reserve" and from the History Book Club "The Discovery of France" by Graham Robb described as A Historical Geography from the Revolution to the First World War.I also have the first of Beverley Nichols original trilogy"Down the Garden Path" which is about the restoration of a cottage and Gardens as opposed to his second trilogy which started with"Merry Hall" about the restoration of a much larger house and grounds. I really liked the Merry Hall trilogy.They may not be for everyone but he has that great dry wit of the Brits.I also found at the bottom of a pile of cards and other things on my dining room table the last unread Alan Furst "The Foreign Correspondent".Make that two Furst's.I have one in my to read pile next to my bed about five books down.I think you either love or hate Furst.His novels all take place on the cusp of WW2 in Europe and read like a Bogart movie would.Great atmosphere though the plots aren't terribly deep.Only two involve the same main character and several involve pre war Paris, some to a good extent.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I think it's Time

On Thursday night I was unable to get online through my MSN dialup.It dialed but then dropped the connection right away.I kept getting the same 691 error message and it has happened before but always was back next morning so I assume it's a problem at MSN'S end.This morning it was still going on so I played around changing numbers looking at my LAN ,my default location only to fix it so that I was dialing my own phone number.Every time I went to dial up my phone rang!.So I did a system restore with the same result only that it messed up my McAfee anti virus.Then I switched back to todays setting then played around did another system restore,cursed a whole lot on Good Friday.Totally teed off I went out to buy the NYTimes and had a tuna sub at Subway.Came home and turned the Computer back on and now it tells me I need to use the Connection Wizard to reset all my settings and numbers.Do that and it just keeps dialing and then redialing without connecting.I run yet another system restore I think I'm back to last Feb on this one and get the 691 error again!.I'm looking at the window by now to see if it will take a computer when I throw it.Undo the restore yet again and now I click the Connection Wizard and see that I can reinstall my internet.I click some buttons and it never asks for my MSN Disk but then downloads something and now tells me windows money or something has installed!I'm just laughing at this point so I click finish then dial up and I'm online again!I'm convinced that all the stuff I did meant nothing and MSN fixed it's problem from the other end but I'm afraid to do a restore back to what it looked like before.I'm sure my phone line is now going through dialers in Singapore and Columbia and I'm being charged 25.00 a minute for access but I'm online!Three neighbors have wireless and whenever my record industry friend visits he picks up signals no problem on his laptop in my appt so my neighbor who has been telling me for two years to go wireless says he's going to do it for me.we'll see but I feel like a tech tonight until I log off and try and get back online on Sat.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Here that Lonesome Whistle Blow

In one of my early posts here I mentioned that the sound of a Train Whistle in the night is one of my favorite things.That the sound is soothing to me is a minor or maybe a major miracle. It;s all because of my dad and his frugal german side that wore off on two of my brothers but not on myself and the other two.I'm not sure what year it was but I think it was 1969.Starting in 1967 we had taken the family tent camper for two weeks at Easter from Rochester,NY down to Florida.The Easters before that we had always wound up in D.C.for the trip.So 69 would have been our third trip driving down to FL the Ford Wagon pulling the trailer.I-95 was still partly finished then especially in the Carolinas so one still took long stretches on US Route 17?.Anyhoo one night we were in South Carolina around dusk near Francis Marion Natl Forest near the I believe little pee-dee river when my dad spots a mobile home park.He pulled in and talked to the owner and the guy told us we could stay the night and pointed us to the very end past the big trailers of residents to a small clearing at the end by some railroad tracks.On the road to FL. it was early to bed so we could get going early and we popped up the canvas roof on our tent trailer and were soon snug in our bags three to a side with my brother on a cot in the middle on the floor.Around 9:45 that night I wake to hear a train whistle blowing and in seconds the roar of a train full out is coming through our trailer.I really thought the freakin thing was going to take us out.After it went through there was much talk and then off to sleep.An hour later here comes another train doing the same thing.This time we are all laughing and I think eight trains went through that night and by the amount of time they sounded all like freight trains.Since we were out in the country they all came through full speed and since there was a dirt road crossing less than a mile away we found out next morning the whistle sounded each time.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sad Times

I just found out today that Duttons Books in Brentwood is closing the end of April.Duttons was a wonderful little group of four bldgs. around a sort of courtyard each bldg. holding a different section like fiction,non-ficction and everyone who worked there not only knew books most were either minor writers or poets or wanted to be.The area where they are is really upscale and they leased so I'm surprised they held out this long.Duttons has survived two other closures in the past ten years but not this time.The funny thing is this Duttons is an offshoot of a family feud years ago between brothers that led to this store seperate from another Duttons in North Hollywood which I am not sure is still there or not never having been there.First my local used bookstore down the street now this and two other big real bookstores in Los Angeles have closed in the past year.Soon only the chains will be left with their marketing and tracking of reader habits stocking only the drivel of mass market.As Kerouac said at the very end of Lonesome Traveler"The Woods are Full of Wardens"

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Joel Meyerowitz

That last post of the Joel Meyerowitz pic seemed a lot larger before I downloaded it here.Cold Storage Beach is pretty much where we went everyday after work at Babes Restaurant in North Truro,MA. from 1977-81 and slept our way to a great tan.Babes was a breakfast place then so we were there from 6:30 a.m. to one in the afternoon.Every night we pretty much spent at the Surf Club in PTown watching the Provincetown Jug Band but we also hit a few other places in P-Town and the Wellfleet Beachcomber on occasion plus camp or cottage parties where we lived.Three or four folks I know are in that print and I think a dog.I have a very large Meyerowitz wood framed poster"Porch Provincetown" from his book"Cape Light" hanging here above my computer.I also have several of his pics framed in my office.In fact I talked to him one day in 1978 on Longnook beach in Truro for about ten minutes while he was taking pics with his big old box camera and it wasn't till a few years later it dawned on me who it was.

Cold Storage Beach

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The End of Middlemarch

I am less than 70 pages to the end of Middlemarch and trying to figure what to read next.I might add I always have 3 or 4 books next to my bed to choose from.Usually two fiction a travel and a History book.Right now there is no History but the second volume of Jack Kerouac's letters.It took me seven years and two attempts to get through his first batch.I just picked it up one day last summer and it clicked.I've never been much into books of letters but maybe now that it is an endangered species I have an attraction.As for Middlemarch I have enjoyed it much more than I thought but can't help think these English class novels are nothing more than soap operas on a literate scale.A friend suggested reading"Portrait of a Lady" by Henry James next which I have but some of the James ghost stories I have read put Faulkner to shame for saying in fifty words what could be said in ten and just not any words.The forty extra words are usually the kind one would hear I imagine if you watched"Crossfire" back in the day and listened to William F. go on unless he was threatening to put out Gore Vidals lights.(Would have been a great fight).Anyhoo I was at B&N today where I browse now that my local bookstores are gone and looking at more George Elliot I saw "Daniel Deronda"It was the oversize paperback B&Noble classics edition like "Middlemarch" but the cover besides the pic is Pink!.Granted it's a light pink the shade I wore an Izod of on Cape Cod with a good tan but now it seems and odd color for a book.I do have a Polo shirt that color I haven't worn in several years.I wore it to my Doctors once back then with matching pink Polo socks for a physical and my Doctor said"If you're wearing pink Polo underwear I'm out of here" So pink is a sore subject with me like pooka shell necklaces.

Sweet Alyssum

A few weeks ago I took a look at the patio and most of the pots were doing well with grass and weeds.One big pot that had held sweet alyssum all summer and fall was pretty much packed dirt except for a few spots where the Squirrels had been digging.Imagine my surprise today when I went out there and the pot is 2/3rds full of alyssum again!.It sure regenerated itself awful quick.Usually my empty pots regrow things that were either in a pot on the other side of the patio or something I have never planted like the nicotina that appears in a corner on top of the wall each summer.So far only one Iris in front has bloomed though I have about eight coming up few bloom.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Blue Dawn Flower Vine

Blue Dawn Flower

I went out on the patio this afternnon to see how much stuff I have to rip out in pots and above the wall to plant new things.The whole top of the wall is now overun with runners from my Blue Dawn Flower(Ipomoea Indica).Some years ago I bought two of these small plants and put them at opposite ends behind our Apt. building in hopes they would cover the ugly wrought iron fence that divides our property from the condos behind us.The plants not only covered the fence they grew up the Ficus trees crept into the next yard and it looked like they would grow right out to Beverly Glen.Then two years ago they painted the Condos and ripped the plants off the fence to paint it.I was really peeved but they have already grown back.The problem is they also go flat along the ground instead of just up and the runners root.So I had full coverage on the patio trees even after the parent had been ripped up.Here they grow all year but don't bloom much in winter.But when they bloom the rest of the year they are large and plentiful.They also change hues of blue as the day goes on and die each night.The hummingbirds love them but even though they have huge blooms they pierce the stem instead.So I'll rip it up along the top of the fence so I can plant flowers but leave it everywhere else.A close relative I have had some luck with that grows from seed is Moonflower.It grows from seeds and the two times out of five I've planted it has produced huge white flowers that start to open before dusk and bloom through the night to die off next morning.I have never had them en masse but that would be an incredible sight.A friend in Texas tells me they grow wild near his property in huge amounts.It must be an otherworldy sight at night.Moonflower blooms are the size of coffee saucers.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Cape Cod Afternoon-Edward Hopper(1936)

Hemingway vs Faulkner

At least I know folks are reading as I get emails.A bunch of my friends don't post in blogs so it's nice to know it's being read by that segment.Those who have replied here so far thanks.I just enjoy putting up the odds and ends.Some of you have been asking about the name.Well I THOUGHT it was the line Walter Brennan kept asking everyone in the Bogart movie"To Have and Have Not"But it turns out what he really says is"Was you ever bit by a dead bee".Who gets bit by Bees!?I could blame my memory of the line from watching it way too many times in the wee hours at the Frat House in Brookline drinking Pickwick Ale back in the day or on Hemingway who wrote the novel but I don't recall the line in the novel.In fact the movie has very little to do with the novel so I'm going to blame it on one of the guys listed as a screenwriter for it and whom I dislike to this day for daring to touch something of Hemingway's.William Faulkner.There I said it I have a phobia about Faulkner.Don't like him one bit.Never have never will.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Banca di Roma

Near as I can tell my account with the Bank of Rome has been suspended.I don't recall ever being in Rome let alone opening a bank account there but if they say so it must be true.This is the first time I've been phished from Italy.I currently have several accounts suspended in the U.K. and in Canada I'm sure they have my mug shot up in the Post Office and the RCMP looking for me.I even have a suspended account in Moscow.Of course if I just answered one of those email letters helping some poor chap out in Africa or the U.K. I'd come into millions and solve the problem of all those suspended bank accounts I have around the world.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cosmic Cowboy

I stand corrected.Cosmic Cowboy was on Murphy's second album Cosmic Cowboy Souvenir.Funny thing is I just looked up the lyrics and most of the hits for it on google are for The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and I don't think I've ever heard their version and I have a LOT of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

John Stewart

I just read that singer-songwriter John Stewart passed away on Jan 19th.I don't know how I missed this.John was a member of The Kingston Trio till 1967 but it is after that I recall him.His biggest song was"Daydream Believer" which was a huge hit for"The Monkees" and I think that Canadian girl who sang that awful"Snowbird"(Sorry Jenn) and is one of the few songs of theirs that holds up for me.It was his solo albums after that I fell in love with especially"California Bloodlines" of which I still play my LP.Have to get that one on CD.Stewart was one of those rare folks who wrote great songs and not many people knew who he was.In an age of pop tripe he was a real artist who stuck to his music and did things his way.If I were to compare him with others I would say Jimmy Webb especially his great"El Mirage" album and Eric Andersen's "Blue River" is a great album but I have an anthology album for"Time Run Like a Freight Train" my favorite song of his.If I want a little Stewart with a bit more pop folk sound I'll play some Andrew Gold or Jesse Colin Young and there is a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band song I love called"Rippling Waters".Another great song from that type is"Cosmic Cowboy" an early one by Michael Murphy.I think the album was called Geronimo's Cadillac or something close to that.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Ahwahnee

The Queen

I'm watching this ABC news show on the Queen.Granted behind the scenes camera access for a year and it's fascinating. It brought to mind my "brushes" with the Royal Family.The first involves the 6th floor at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite.On that floor you need a key to get off the elevator.It consists of two bedrooms and two parlors that make it two suites if you wish.My brother on a few occasions with a friend and their wives and eventually kids had booked the 6th floor the week before XMas a few times and I came along and slept on the sofa bed in the winter parlor.When the Queen spent the night in Yosemite in 83 I think that is the floor she stayed on.Some years later we booked that floor again for my parents 40th anniv.My parents on this weekend had the bedroom the Queen had slept in.Coming up from Dinner one night I used my parents bathroom and realised I was using the same"throne" the Queen had.I sent out many postcards proclaiming that to friends.Now go back across the country to my hometown of Pittsford,N.Y.. There was a small hotel in town with a restaurant called"The Depot"It had a rail car parked on old tracks which you could book for small private dinners.One Xmas my brothers In-laws came east from L.A. and we booked it for a family dinner.It was really cool sitting in your private rail car.I was at two other rail car dinners over the years.So when the Ryder Cup came to Pittsford and Oak-Hill in 1995 a private dinner was held in the rail car for Prince Andrew.I'm surprised we don't exchange Xmas Cards.By the way I wasn't lucky enough to get back for the Ryder Cup but friends who were there said Andrew was a regular guy mingling with the crowd along the course.The Ahwahnee is still there and one of the most beautiful spots on earth but now pretty much out of my price range unless my brother is buying!.The Depot was torn down,the rail car is gone and a small luxury hotel called"The Del Monte" stands in it's place.I did an all nighter there for my 30th HS reunion in 2004 with some buddies whose wives wern't happy the next day but then I mentioned my friend"Andrew".


This afternoon Sweet Pea and Knuckle Sandwich were out front.Their mom had two big round planters and they were making a butterfly garden for Sweet Pea's school where Mom also works.They look quite nice and the butterflies should love it.After a bit our bldg dog Scout came around the corner from his walk and went into his tail wagging happy squeal.I said the magic word"squirrel" and off he went to chew on the big palm tree pausing on occasion to look up for squirrels and bark at the tree.Sweet Peas friend from down the street saw us and came down with her nanny then a little neighborhood yap dog Kylie came around the corner and "yapped". I love these little get togethers that just happen in front of our building.I told Knuckle Sandwich we will go soon to the garden store and buy a bunch of plants for the patio.Last year he came along with his Dad and I for the first time on our plant buying binge and I told him to pick something out.He picked out a six pack of cabbage plants.His father and I eventually coaxed him into something in the flower variety.I can't wait to see what he and Sweet Pea pick when we go this year.