Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Old Friends

We headed to a cool bar in Milwaukee this time around. Dave and I rode up from Illinois and Dan drove down from far off Wisconsin. We took a $30 cab drive to the Sugar Maple. That's one major priority; we must find a great beer place. I think we stopped with 5 beers each.
I met Dan Marcus at the University of Maryland back in college days. We wrote letters one summer (before email) and took two long trips out West and one to Canada. He was the best man at my first wedding. Dave has been detailed in this blog before but he was the best man in my second wedding.
Cheers to our wives (Eileen, Debbie and Pat) who allow us to escape a few weekends a year in search of great thoughts. Of course heavy drinking is expected.
My favorite trip so far was to Chicago. We rode with an Ethiopian cab driver to a bar called the Hop Leaf. We found some wondrous beers that night and actually ate quite well. The same cab driver delivered us safely to the hotel. I had brought some great cognac to finish the night and that's the last thing I recall. I did wake up the next morning (a miracle) and was searching for my phone. Dave decided to call his phone to find mine. But he ended up calling me on my own phone. Yes, we were disoriented. Oh, well.
The big thought? Hold on to your old friends.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The murder of David Halberstam?

I gave this scenario to H-Man almost a year ago. The great columnist Anna Quindlan wrote a fabulous piece on her friend author David Halberstam. The incredible line went something like this: "Nothing can be learned from his death but that life is just as random as we think it is."
As she expressed, the famous writer survived Vietnam yet was killed in a car crash in San Mateo, California in April, 2007.
It was a very odd accident. Seemingly lucky Kevin Jones, a graduate student at Cal-Berkley, had been selected to give Halberstam a ride to an interview. Imagine, you get to chat with a famous author while running an errand. How in the hell do you screw that up? Listen, Kevin, all you do is give the guy a ride to an interview. How hard is that?
Instead, the kid makes a major mistake driving and kills the guy. Young Jones went to jail for five days for his fatal error.
But as I told H-Man and now Dave, I don't think it was a mistake. Let's go with this scene. Young Jones gets some special time with a famous writer. He's a journalism student who has written a play. He lets Halberstam read it on the way up hoping for a good review. Halberstam says it's crap. Jones says, oh, yeah, watch this.
And then he swerves left into a speeding car.
Can you imagine what Halberstam was thinking?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Taxation without representation

The Good Humor truck visited my neighborhood in Virginia on a weekly basis. And in time, I learned to love the Toasted Almond feature. What was it at that time? I'm guessing 20 cents for this cool refreshment.
The Good Humor man himself was humorless but he really didn't matter. One day, however, he came into full view. When I ordered my ice cream, he told me in no uncertain terms that I was short of funds. What?
A state tax was in effect in the state of Virginia. My ice cream was now 21 cents. Well, I didn't have a penny. He gave me a little hard time but let it slip. I was a bit peeved.
The next morning, the Humorless ice cream man turned around our corner lot. I was waiting with my tax in my hand. I yelled for him to stop. He didn't hear me. I thought, screw this guy and fired my penny at his white truck.
CLANG! Direct hit!
Damn it if that ice cream guy didn't jam on his brakes.
Screech. He leaped out of the truck.
"Someone took a shot at my truck! "Someone took a shot at my truck."
Oh, gosh, I thought, how terrible.
Amazingly, as I approached his truck I spotted the shiny Lincoln coin on the street. I calmly picked it up and approached him. He was still yelling about the gun shot. I said "Here's your tax."
He didn't understand. He was still fuming about the gun-shot incident. He took my coin and sped off.
I got a chuckle out of the whole thing.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

On long playing records

I can remember the first album I ever bought. It was Neil Diamond Gold. It had Cherry, Cherry and Sweet Caroline plus a great live version of Brother Love's Traveling Show. "Grab the old ladies everyone goes, Brother's Love's Show."
I spent so much time searching old record stores. Finding gems and disasters. I bought Seals and Crofts "Diamond Girl" in Columbia, South Carolina while half-heartily looking at the campus. And then my friend Joel said that two rows of people at the Seals and Crofts concert were found fast asleep and I felt sad.
In college, I used to stack 6 albums on top of each other and the fancy Panasonic player would drop them one at a time. I would do this at night and hear the first few songs of the first album and then fall dead asleep as the music played all night long. Can you imagine letting the albums drop on top of each other?
When CD's arrived and rocked the record world, I ran into a record store guy who swore that records clearly sounded better that those evil CD's. I wanted to agree with him but he was being too serious.
And then it came time to dump my 1,000 records. I took them to a store in Evanston. I got about 25 bucks. Twenty-five bucks for all those records. All that music. All that time. All that money.