If it sounds like I am all over the road these days, it’s because I am all over the road these days. The mornings are great. I get lots done. News: avoided. As Orwell put it, Ignorance = Self Care! Everyone’s working on their own stuff. Great to have Wife and Daughter in the house. Dog is happy, because we're all here! always! And since we're working in different rooms, he can game us for extra meals and pretend no one's fed him. Long noon walks.


Then I put on nice clothes and go to the empty office and get . . . salty, as they say. The Ice Station Zebra routine is really old, because it is old. I walk the parapets, whistle through the graveyard, use the water fountain so it doesn’t sputter and spit from disuse.

The mood reaches its nadir when leaving, and going through the skyway to get to the car. There’s a little coffee stand that’s been closed since the Wuhan Woo-Hoo began, and I wonder who owns it. Not a fargin’ cent of income. Thing is, it was always closed when I got to the office; it’s an early morning shop. I’ve never seen it open. But somehow it’s now super-extra closed. There used to be tables by the window that looked out on the lawn of the Government Center, but they took them up because people might sit there and have a social moment.

The drive home dispels the mood. Listen to old time radio, which I do a lot, because I live in two cultures, the hectic flailing Here, and the ordered, comforting Then. (Because we know how it turned out.) Yesterday I had no mood for news or stories while walking through the skyway, and called up some old prog album I hadn’t heard in four, five years. And so I got into that, in detail, listening closer than ever. What a strange piece of work, all those sounds dinstinctive to the era, sounds no one makes anymore. It filled my head with something else, and we’re all looking for the something else.

Decided to take the parkway and be ravished by the lovely foliage. Pull into the garage, look at the new shingles, be grateful for the house. Then the trough of the mid-late afternoon, unless there’s provisioning. As I did on Tuesday. Went to Traders Joe and stocked up on their blended Scotch.

“This . . .” said the grizzled clerk in the hooch store, “is good. This is good.”

“I know!”

“I was a Dewar’s man, but I tried this? And the price! And it’s a liter! Listen, I recommended this to a guy, and he bought it, then came back to the store about two minutes later and bought two more bottles.”

So . . . the guy went to his car and drank the neck off a liter bottle of grocery-store whiskey. Suddenly the story’s a bit darker.

Anyway, the provisioning was cheerful! Good mood. Brought the groceries into the house; a bag broke, and I dropped a beer bottle, which broke and scattered shards everywhere, and now the citrusy tang of the IPA is competing with the fading stink of the paint job from last weekend, and gah, I’ll never get up all the glass, someone will step on it six months hence. But the frozen stuff has to go in the freezer lest it melt and then crystalize, so do that. Then clean.

Then nap. Ahhh. Sweet release. BARK BARK BARK because Birch wants to kill the mailman, so nap done after 22 minutes. Damn. But! There’s coffee. And then there’s dinner to make and the family to feed and we all sit down, and it’s good. It’s great. Fish tacos with fresh cilantro, squirt of lime, Pico del Guy-O, huzzah.

Go out to the gazebo for a cup of coffee and a brief cigar consultation, open Twitter, twist face into a knot of bloody-minded annoyance

Walk dog, enjoy evening’s calm and peace.

Back and forth. All over the road.

Here’s the thing, though. The road is two narrow lanes and it's one way. It doesn’t lead to any of the places I want to go. It just barrels straight to the horizon. I used to travel; I used to go places. Now it seems like I can take my hands off the wheels, and I’ll discover the car’s actually on a rail, and I’ve no control at all.

So you grip the wheel again, because, well, that’s not something you want to think about.

Here's the really important thing. I have nothing to complain about. Life is great, considering. That could change in a trice, of course, but that's always so. I like my work, I have a place to go if I wish. My family is here and my dog is good. The view from the window is beautiful.

But If I didn't have something to do? A place to go? A house where we were on top of each other all the time? It would be hard not to sink into despond, and see that long road not running to the horizon, but a thick tall wall that gets closer every day. You pull the wheel hoping you can rise and fly, but it's bolted in place. Or it comes off in your hands.

But then all that passes and you're scritching the dog and thinking "oh yeah, I bought that Traders Joe stuff" and maybe an ice cream sandwich, one of the small ones. The temp in the freezer is just right. They're never hard and grainy, but creamy and al dente. Good way to end the day.

Wake, repeat. The "Repeating" part is your choice, in part; the "Wake" part is the gift.

I'll stop now before I swerve into the other lane.

PS When I drove Daughter to work, she saw the name of the song from the prog album on the car screen, and had an immediate reaction: she remembered it, Art School Canteen, that somehow got a hook in her brain - I'd played that for her, because somehow a Godley & Creme song had come up on her timeline in the internet world.

I called up "Cry" and turned it up and rolled down the windows and we drove north on a perfect autumn day, and it was as good as life gets.

Tomorrow, back to the office. Angry in advance.





It’s 1931.

Irrigators and the song of the saw: you can tell this isn’t a journal for a dense metropolitan area.

When you publish twice a week, you have to cram the front page with all the pertinent news the editors can assemble!

Or not.


See, Chinese people are launderers! That’s the joke! Also the horrors of the Manchurian occupation but ha ha, laundry!

I don’t know what the “white spot” remark means. It’s not a reference to sundown towns, I don’t think.



A plot for a sci-fi book yet to be written:

Edison's last breath is reportedly contained in a test tube at The Henry Ford museum near Detroit. Ford reportedly convinced Charles Edison to seal a test tube of air in the inventor's room shortly after his death, as a memento.


The sign is nailed through the glass.

And then the sign is stuck on a hook. Just as the changing signs, which are not funny, are meant to make you think “this is funny.”

Don’t know who the artist was. Looks like A. Scuhler, if I had to say.

Ah, it’s time for the all-important city news, so the gossips and snitches and busy-bodies can tut-tut in disapproval or nod in agreement or scoff at the airs some people put on.



It’s a small town when the arrival of the hired men makes the paper.


Law suits, you say.

Didn’t last.

McPherson remarried in 1931 to actor and musician David Hutton. After she fell and fractured her skull, she visited Europe to recover. While there, she was angered to learn Hutton was billing himself as "Aimee's man" in his cabaret singing act and was frequently photographed with scantily clad women. Hutton's personal scandals were damaging the reputation of the Foursquare Gospel Church and its leader. McPherson and Hutton separated in 1933 and divorced in 1934.

And now, the special photo section! Scantily clad ladies for you to clip out and put under your pillow in the bunkhouse.


He walked the walk:

On October 19, 1940, Barclay reported for active duty. He served in the New York Recruiting office, illustrating posters for the next two and a half years. These images would become some of the most recognizable recruiting images of World War II.[1] Barclay was determined to be a front-line combat artist. In March 1943, he told the San Francisco Examiner, "A camera cannot catch the human element of a fight, the sweat and blood and courage our boys expend every time they face the enemy." In 1941 he volunteered for this position, but was rejected. Eventually he would serve in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.

Promoted to Lt. Commander, Barclay worked on further assignments until July 18, 1943, when he was reported as missing in action. The USS LST-342 he was aboard was torpedoed in the Solomon Islands. On board, sketching and taking photographs at the time, Barclay's body was not recovered.



  Finally: okay, why not

There’s a lot of hagiographic accounts of the meeting, since both are revered by some as pure souls of boundless humanity. Okay. I’m a Chaplin fan, but, well, there’s the work, and there’s the man.


There you are, and here I am. Both shall meet again tomorrow! If all goes well.




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