The view above looks like a tropical jungle compared to today. I took it late last week. Things have changed, fast.

Snowed on Saturday, just as I was finishing putting the Christmas lights on a tree. The job requires a long pole with a hook. It’s one of the requirements of the season: stand on the garage roof (it’s flat, don’t worry) and manipulate the oft-referenced Ten Foot Pole so I can drape a line of lights around a slender branch. Thought it best to do it before it got too cold; still had numb hands. When I finished, the snow began.

I don’t think I’ve ever been less pleased to see the onset of winter. And it’s not even winter.

Went out on the town and did not get carjacked. We went to a restaurant called “Icehouse.” It was a bit chilly. Can’t say I wasn’t warned. My wife ordered the Lamb Ragu, and I had the “Smash burger,” which made a point of highlighting the pedestrian qualities of one’s tastes: it actually said it came with “Yellow Mustard” and “American Cheese,” as if the kitchen wasn’t even trying to hide their contempt. Or, they’re reclaiming the basics, and saying: "you have been taught to deride these things as signifiers of the proles who roam Wal-Mart in mobility scooters, looking for black-velvet Jesus paintings. We are here to wipe away your class preconceptions and state, for the record, that these things are good! The problem is you."

Yellow mustard in abundance on a hamburger is wonderful. American cheese is the least of all cheeses, but what if its humble attributes - saltiness and meltability - somehow combine with the hamburger in a natural and familiar way, and provide a stage upon which Yellow Mustard can strut and declaim?


That’s what the menu said. Pickles. No pedigree, no adjectives. I mention this only because a place with Lamb Ragu would seem likely to have carmelized dijon pickles or somthing. As it happened there was but one, placed in the center of the burger, like the Minotaur in the middle of the labyrinth, except he’s played by Paul Lynde. Final item in the menu description:

Smoked onion dijionaise

Ah, there’s the thing that saves you. The sauce that swoops in to save the day, the class-flattering combo that makes the previous set of attributes seem like the wind-up to a prank. Fear not: there is dijionaise. Worry no more; it has the elementary nature of onions, and what’s more these onions have been smoked.

It was really good. Or, I was just very hungry.

We went to hear a friend play in a band. The opening act was a folk duo. If I had to pick a genre, and I have absolutely no interest in mid-tempo strumming and vocal emoting. Very nice people. But if I’m going out to hear music I have one request:

Our friend was the bassist for the main act. (She was also the bass player for our one-shot Parent’s Band back in the day, the last time I ripped it up in public on guitar.) We were seated on the side, so the subtleties of the mix evaded us. At least it gave me a chance to study the drummer, who worked quite hard for song after song with great ingenuity. Now and then I’d hear little tootles of a Hammond B-3 organ, or rather a synth emulation of same, and smile: it’s one of those sounds that pulls you back.

Every era has them. In the late-teens / early 1920s you had your Oompa tubas in pop songs, working the bass, along with a banjo and all those trebly winds and reeds. It’s a style of music people know today from early cartoon soundtracks, if they know it at all. It’s not particularly appealing to modern ears. But if someone born in 1900 heard it in 1978, it would be the sound of their youth, and hence not old at all. Just left behind. I feel the same way about the Farfisa organ.

People who were born in 1900 had a chance to accept or reject the Beatles, or ignore them. Someone born in 1900 could live long enough to hear the Sex Pistols. It’s entirely possible they’d get it - after all, someone in their 50s might hear early rock and think that’s novel, that’s got kick, that makes me feel something. If they could divorce it from youth culture, that is. All that greaser-rumble-switchblade-JD stuff.

They would have met it years earlier, maybe in Boogie-Woogie. This stuff is the marrow of American musical culture in the 20th century.


Mom's sad because her adopted caveman is heading to Gotham:

Peter did not spend a lot of time setting this one up.



It's a TV show. Which one? I lost the original text I wrote, but I recognize it right away. Astronaut wakes in an abandoned small town - well, you know. He's either hallucinating in a capsule or playing in a doll set.

It's one of those last-man-on-earth stories. Why, there's no one at the soda fountain! HELLO? HELLO?

Where did everybody go?

The phone rings! That means there must be someone here! You run:

Where are you? Wooddale? Oakdale?

No. You're in your head, in a reverie, grasping for familiar things. Your brain chose this for comfort.

Your brain summed up a world of churches that do not suggest a particular denomination.

Maybe you're suddenly happy, because you see the theater and remember when you saw that Ronald Reagan picture there, a few years ago.

Alas, you are not in a real town. You've dreamed up Hill Valley.

Wha? You ask. Okay: note the bay window.


Building on the right:

Years later:

It's there in the back of countless TV shows, and of course a few movies. I get glimpses of it here and there.

It's in the subconscious of every American of a certain age. Just like the Boogie Woogie and the sound of a surf guitar.

  That will  have to do. Matches await!




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