Saturday, September 23, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dear World!

Niall and I were at the Dodger game last night, erev Rosh Hashanah 5767. Tommy Lasorda appeared, on his natal anniversary, and got a cheery wave and huzzahs from the 45,000 of us. But, of course,– being spawn of a film archivist expert in the dangers of litigation, the benefits of public domain, and differing from more generous-devious country-cute (Gretta so disparaged in “The Dead;” cf. Dev’s nickname not to his long face compared to the ‘Spanish onion in the Irish stew’of the “cute hoor,” cute not being necessarily in either case an Irish endearment) me when it comes to self-defined “fair-use”– well, our Niall observed sagely of we 45,000 unwittingly law-abiding revellers, “they can’t sing ‘Happy Birthday’ since they’d get sued.” Dodgers? Tommy? Us? Still, no one I could hear burst into that iambic quatrain, all the same.

I can attest by observation that Frank McCourt’s wife, being ‘of Jewish origin,’ was not in shul last night but at the park. As were we. Sometimes family trumps even observance. Conviviality deserves its place wherever we can grasp it in this bewildering whirling globe. And, Frank and his wife waved to us– dear Niall in cap of course particularly– as they walked across an empty post-triumphant verdant expanse towards the team bus behind the bleachers (why are they called “pavillions”?); Niall and I had been leaning over the fence 360' back discussing the field’s dimensions as the crowd dispersed. The security guards, at the moment the couple approached, albeit from 50 yards away, shooed us away as if we were perched on a grassy knoll with sniper scopes. A dull game, but we enjoyed the walk to and from the stadium and the fresh evening air.

I had written into my wife’s MySpace a New Year entry but one click of a hurried hand whose manipulator had been summoned to dinner had erased it irrevocably from this Book of Life. So, again my mournful existentialism. Since turning, if a bit later than Dante, this past year into the middle of my life’s way precisely, if I hit 90, I have felt mortality, Big Questions unresolved, the lack of purpose or the hidden reason or the sheer accident of my existence as if nearly constantly. They say when you hit 30, or 40, you’re supposed to, but at 30 I was caught up in the double turmoil of a fresh marriage to begin and a lingering PhD program to finish. 40 I remember by my surprise party at the short-lived Museum of Death in Hollywood, but not any angst, at least no more than the usual heaping spoonfuls ladled into my consciousness before I even remembered. Thus my purgatorial research, my eschatological fascination, my apocalyptic schadenfreude.

Anyway, if you want to read such musings you can pick them with far greater insight up from Camus. I have been meditating, if that’s the word as I loosely apply it, when cutting strawberries at the sink or washing dishes (more since the dishwasher died last week and I ladled out for an hour as if in thimblefuls by the end all the standing water from the bottom of the machine), that scene in Die Grosse Stille when the Carthusian brother’s cutting up the lettuce into the leaves presentable and those discardable. As with nearly all the 2'45" film, the silence magnifies the sound. When viewing this, the cumulative effect of, as Philip Groening sought, time’s passing and its permanence sinks in deeply. I have consciously sought the “be here now” (that Dick Alpert neé Ram Dass sure got the short end of the roach thanks to Tim Leary, although I am only at about 1964 in Richard Greenfield’s Leary bio) when continuing to chop away the fruit and dunk the mug. At least this moment in the day reminds me by my small task of ‘ora et labora,’ the Benedictine injunction of combining prayer into work so, I suppose for monks, they can strive towards their seamless integration into the soul and body permanently, as time passes.

Quite catholic if meant with little “c” along the big. Is it praying? Maybe not as the faithful think it so much as the thoughtful. Not that the two are contradictory: this is one of many manners how “learned” adepts condescend to those without abbreviations after their name. I find as I get older that taking what I can value from a variety of spiritual and intellectual traditions enriches me, however minutely or fleetingly. Pope Benedict mused (before his professorial if perhaps brusque medieval citation of a papal delegate’s critique of a devious Islam that deigns to sway the world by violence rather than by love) recently in his native Bavaria of how in our age that we have amplified our own voices and diminished God’s message. It’s difficult, he mused, and I paraphrase and rephrase, to hear the divine when we clump about the planet as if we own it. Europe, as the nine centuries of Carthusian tradition attest, has a venerable tradition that still calls a few; but what of we many “extramurals”? The way to the Pure Land, to Seventh Heaven, to the Ein Sof, has always been that, as Muhammed envisioned, of the knife-edge we must walk on or slip – at least in his infernal cosmology– into the lake of fire. What use do such metaphors have, however, for those of us who do not reckon such a fate awaits our post-mortem condition?

Most Jews, many Christians (statistically most of all Catholics), and I deduce lots of Muslims such as share my workplace who I see munching away during Ramadan place little if any credence in terrifying injunctions to resist the lures of the secular or suffer unending torment. Secularized Europe, relativistic (no matter what both the left and the right say for varying purposes) America, and in time I suppose the rest of our fellow earthlings all will reach their own entropy. Sam Harris’ The End of Faith, David Dennett’s Breaking the Spell, and the reflection I read recently by I think Arthur C Clarke all predict a non-theistic endgame. Clarke in a thousand years imagines that if anyone invokes religious belief, they’ll be shunted off to the loony bin. Still, as with the deifications of Mao and Lenin for purportedly deterministic regimes, the people need their illusions. The pressures of materialist consumerism, capitalist capitulation, and rational thinking all press upon billions. Like the Chinese censoring the Net and insisting upon communist fealty or the Islamists who cannot comprehend the existence of a “liberal” Muslim, perhaps for now the campaigns to enforce by threat or punishment a loyalty to a cause that has receded from instead of beckoned towards ourselves will endure. Yet, if the Church could not command fidelity once technology’s appeal, literacy, and the exchange of marketed ideas and goods began to spread among its adherents, how can a billion Muslims or Chinese be expected, in such another revolution of goods and flurry of messages, to remain behind a wall or a border?

A survey taken in America identified today four types of a God. Those in the East tended towards a critical deity: one who disdains our faults but prefers to mark us down silently for demerits rather than catch us by the scruff of our neck. The South leaned under an authoritarian deity who ladled out condemnations and, if more rarely, approval. The Midwest liked a benevolent God who seemed happy when people followed the righteous path. The West preferred a distant deity, who perhaps set it all spinning way back but who now huddled out of sight off-stage to watch our performance. What would the Creator of the Universe, melekh-ha-olam, say from Sinai if he read today’s copy of the Forward? The mailbox opens, the page unfolds, Matisyahu’s playing on his GameBoy; a black rapper embraces Orthodoxy; a man “of Jewish descent” claims that his Bubba Pig’s Café near Branson, MO’s the target of racial and culinary wrath; George Allen Jr, thanks to the Forward’s etymological hunches about Ladino “macaca,” is found to have a Jewish mother who only told her son a month ago the truth; and thanks to Mexican immigrant initiative, a kosher slaughterhouse is found to have hidden 127 lbs. of pot. Such is our Jewish America, 5767.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Vashti Bunyan, Tim Leary & Carthusians

She's one of those cult figures, like Anne Briggs or Davy Graham for folk-trad, or Syd Barrett and Captain Beefheart for psych-rock, who dropped out due to drugs or temperament or both, and became reclusive. Mojave Desert for CB, Cambridge house for SB, I guess London flat if not some Moroccan souk for DG, and the Hebrides or the North for AB. (Image credit: representative LP cover.) It took CB longer, fifteen or so years, than the rest, to make his escape, but all four and more have in common the ruralist dream of the intellectual or artist, to flee the city to hear the voices in the wilderness, live on locusts & wild honey, and I guess cloak one's self in rustic garb: think of Scorcese's "Last Temptation" as the repulsive John the Baptist emerges encrusted from his Essene-adjacent digs as any anchorite must have been, logically. They all did what the rest of us urbanites daydream about, and as my mind keeps skipping back to the dell and the waterfall and the sight in my mind's eye of Niall aglow in sun-dappled dazzle in Zayante Creek, the pull of such a rural idyll tugs mightily if delicately.

Here's the NY Times review "Back From the Bucolic Life After Decades Without Fans" by Ben Ratliff of Bunyan's (is Vashti her real name or her assumed?) return to the spotlight, of B0wery Ballroom--a truly gritty urban opposite to her bucolic hideaway?--Sept. 16:

When the first act on a triple bill appears on stage in a red robe and a baritone ukulele, and the first lyrics out of her mouth are “Fairies softly singing,” and the crowd reacts not by ignoring or revolting but by patiently waiting, you may be sure that you have reached the deep end of a special-interest zone.
Thursday night’s show at the Bowery Ballroom was headlined by the 60’s-era British singer Vashti Bunyan, the great rediscovery of the current fairy-folk contingent. But the opening slot was given to Danielle Stech-Homsy, a young American who played rather plain, medieval-sounding figures and sang in a light, steady voice. One of the rules of this subcategory of folk is a rigorous kindness toward all things in creation. (Another of Ms. Stech-Homsy’s songs contained the violently twee line “Sometimes a mountain’s too gentle to climb.”) Yet the subgenre has a hierarchy of patience and kindness, and performers like Ms. Stech-Homsy are essentially Vashti Bunyans in training.
In 1968, Ms. Bunyan made her first album, “Just Another Diamond Day,” between two legs of a horse-drawn journey through England, northward from London toward an artists’ colony on the Isle of Skye and then, upon finding that the artists’ colony had already run its course, to the Outer Hebrides. It was a 700-mile journey, and it took two summers. Her story — or what is known of it from her interviews and her songs — is a perfectly preserved hippie tale, full of ideals, heartbreak and sleeping outdoors, and not arriving on time.
But she had children and stopped making music, defeated by a lack of interest in her work. So the narrative has a long break. It picked up again only after her rediscovery, when she finally had a sufficient number of admirers to persuade her to make a second album. She did; it was called “Lookaftering,” and it came out last year, 36 years after the first one. (Now she is 61, and has left the bucolic life for Edinburgh.) The lyrics in “Lookaftering” are wiser, and address her own feelings rather than presenting animistic visions of the outside world, but they are sung the same way: in a quiet, slightly frightened coo. It sounds as if she found her singing voice at night, in a small house, trying not to wake anyone up.
If in between Albums 1 and 2 she had led a life like any other — or at least more like any other than a medieval person — that was no part of Thursday’s concert. The crowd was there to look at a woman who had made a heroic act out of patiently waiting. Ms. Bunyan, now as then, is tall and beautiful, transparently and charismatically kind, and her empathetic young band sat quietly around her, communicating deference in body language. She gawkily introduced every single song, unable to get over how strange it was to be wanted at last.
Her songs are slender, miniature things with simple guitar-picking patterns, but they have been made bigger through collaboration. Most of her recorded work on both albums was done up handsomely by the same arranger, Robert Kirby, and the seven-member band for her show on Thursday night adapted those arrangements, for flute, piano, cello, violin and guitars. Some of them were arranged in rounds, and they were carefully played. Her music couldn’t have been presented better, but sharing in her shyness and vulnerability — as well as her approval-starved reaction to all the applause — became curiously exhausting.
Between Ms. Stech-Homsy and Ms. Bunyan came Espers, a young sextet from Philadelphia, playing and singing droney songs with electric guitar filigree, similar to late-60’s Fairport Convention but without the spark of life. The two singers, Greg Weeks and Meg Baird, seemed disembodied; the band’s sound grew bigger and deeper, but never quite exploded. There was no relief. When they moseyed off stage, and a few Bowery Ballroom tech guys walked on and started swiftly moving cables around, the atmosphere of the room changed: this, by comparison, was real charisma.
Now, I still am saving the Espers II CD I bought naturally in back-to-nature emporium Santa Cruz for close headphone debut, so I cannot comment on Ratliff's take yet, but I will. Ms. Stech-Homsy (what a cumbersome clunky surname, out of early T.S. Eliot or later David Lodge: the name says it all as it did for Dickens or, for that matter, George Eliot) will not have to worry about a place in my music queue. Nor will Miss Bunyan, no offense to her undoubtably winsome talents at last shown now to be evidently worthy of rediscovery. I find Sandy Denny about the extreme of what I can take in this female-folkie songstress direction, and when I criticized June Tabor's latest disc, "At the Wood's Edge," for Amazon, I got chided by some of her acolytes. Going back to Santa Cruz, how many who tuned in and out made it this far back, Rip Van Winklish, to our crueler and craftier decade with their sensibilities intact and still refined?

Well, I am now in the thick of the Tim Leary biography, around the time he claims Harvard kicked him out for LSD but the record shows he seems to have ditched his classes and headed West, as he was wont to do, with two kids in tow after mom killed herself in the garage and the family car that night in Berkeley a few years earlier, after Tim's mistress showed up to wish him a happy 35th. Quite the Pied Piper. Is he to be honored or blamed? Or, like Piper (if not always at the Gates of Dawn, thanks to Messrs. Grahame & Barrett), are the children to blame for their own gullibility or idealism?

Leary's calculated charm reminds me of Mick Jagger as observed chillingly, circa Performance filming, by a cronie in Shawn Levy's account of Swinging London, "Ready, Steady, Go!": he knew consummately when to step from observing the edge to participating with those who tipped over the abyss, but Mick always darted back and away at the exact moment, perfectly timed, even as his new and evanescent friends would perhaps plunge, wondering where the Stone had rolled off too so suddenly.

A background interest and partially why I'm reading it: with such a moniker, I have always wondered about his cultural background. West Point chapter's engrossing, in its inherent tension between one seemingly so suited to any but the life of martial discipline. He did have gumption, and even when "silenced" stood his ground well, and morally I might add, in the face of overwhelming pressure. Prepared him for his scrapes with the Establishment, in and out of Harvard, in the coming decades. Bit of Holy Cross before his fateful year-and-something as a plebe, but due more to stereotypical ma and uncle the big shot in the Church's pull, which helped in later scrapes as well with the Man. Not much similarity on the surface at all of what I'd have expected of a kid the same age (gulp) as my own parents--born around 1920. Strange, no treatment of "his grandfather emigrated from County Cork in 1849" sort of intro, either. Just his grandfather being the real character and the influence for rapscallion lad. Tim's father ran off, as would the son, from the women who evidently would not remain compliant enough. Which I suppose has to be, as he was the one who kicked against the pricks. Hard to place this guru next to one's parents and parents-in-law and think all five of 'em were raised the same time. No generation gap, but certainly for Leary a rebellious one, the kid who sasses back, the smartass who the quieter if equally resentful students cheer on as the principal fulminates and pastor fumes.

Well, West Point dropout, Berkeley PhD in only three years: the best psych program in the country and Dr Timothy Leary--as the marquees would proclaim his bonafides--seems to have simply wandered in and sailed through. Would students in today's fanatical applicant race have been admitted to the top grad school if they had been booted from the academy? Or cobbled coursework for the MA together willy-nilly while serving (sic) in a semi-bogus posting in the military that kept him, Ronnie Reagan or GW Bush jr or Clinton-ish-ly out of the fight? Bright, obviously. Driven, but not to be the doting father he imagined himself but the intrepid daredevil, the one to challenge Freud and behaviorism and ticky-tacky boxes, despite his own comfortable manse once upon an early time of his career (and who could afford such an aerie at such a time now?) in the Berkeley Hills. One of the first to pop the mescaline, the magic mushrooms, to send to Sandoz a note and get back a bottle of lysergic acid gratis for his research. If you discount first wife's suicide, mistress-second wife's rapid failure in matrimony, he gets an endless string of partners, male and female, fawning acclaim from the get-go except for his Harvard department, who can't get hip to the persistent fact that he seems not to be the objective, detached researcher as he conducts his orgies, forms his cult of personality among the grad students, and generally's zonked albeit managing I cannot fathom how to sometimes drive, walk, and teach. Frequent jaunts to Europe, Mexico, the West.

Not much Irish Catholic influence, as he was pretty petit-bourgeosie, son of businessman, if failed one, from the families who were lace in Springfield Mass and not shanty.
Leary, like Mick, apparently could entice the best of the countercultural bards; tellingly, when Kerouac declines to hop on to the "psylocibin pony" (a phrase from the first Cars album), he then falls out of sight as far as the 60s go, while Ginsburg, Burroughs, Corso, and the Beats manage to hang on to become the hippies' elder statesmen. Leary could too step aside when the going got rough and sidle out of town on the night train; the bio's only about 30% into his long strange trip.

The hazards of seclusion vs. the rat race are many, but what of its comforts? Leary and beats and some of those hippies musically talented or not went into the sanctum by means of chemical alteration as well as natural stimulation. And, often, accompanying spiritual exaltation. Catholic men and women today, on the surface the opposite of hedonistic hipsters but also surely much truer as a persistent if quiet and self-effacing counter to today's secularized European culture, still vie to enter the most austere observance of a way of life that goes back if not all the way to Elijah on Mt. Carmel (bombed in the most recent of the anciently-spawned strife for that same contested corner of the Mediterranean) than at least to the Desert Fathers who fled Rome's colonized Middle Eastern, Vegas-like, bread--Doritos? Big Mac? Starbucks? --and circuses--CNN? MTV? You Tube?-- urbi for a true Outward Bound experience, exploring the inner vastness while enclosed in remote fastness.

St Bruno founded an order that for nine centuries, "never reformed because never deformed," remains the toughest in the Church with a 98% attrition rate, the Carthusian hermits. After viewing "Die Grosse Stille," the astonishingly rendered nearly three-hour documentary of La Grande Chartreuse by Philip Groening, earlier this summer, I have been intrigued to return to reading I had rummaged in first when working on my diss. about this legacy of medieval, and ancient, renunciation of the fleshpots of Egypt then or Paris now. What can explain except determination --perhaps shown by the West Point plebe who also endures "silencing" and mental exertion and physical exhaustion-- this attempt by a few men to live among silence, amidst hardship, and to endure until the end in one severely built if not ungraceful haven, each day the same rhythm, each night the same purpose, broken in sleep halfway for three hours of prayer, a practice unlike any other community and one surely to test the sound sleeper and the persistent insomniac alike? And, despite the cider, the largest penance at least for me of all: a vegetarian diet, and from Advent to Lent (at which time I doubt the fare improves). usually in a mountain monastery in wintry Europe, one small meal a very long and exacting day. (I review three books on Amazon about the Order: "An Infinity of Little Hours," "Halfway to Heaven," and "Sounds of Silence." The quality of the respective titular quotes follows the general merit of each book accordingly.)

From a link from the Carthusian-centered Yahoo group at IFSB, a link to a priest from England, Fr. Tim Finegan. In his "The Hermeneutics of Continuity" (a reference to our current Pope of more in another post by me here to come soon) blog he narrates briefly a well-illustrated visit to the world's biggest Charterhouse (memorably evoked in Nancy Klein Maguire's "An Infinity..."--self-promotion, if for her good cause: she asked if she could quote for her own site from my Amazon review, which is humbling since I gave only a measured four stars to this evocative if rather lopsided account, astonishing all the same as its best sections are) at St Hugh's, Parkminster:

Friday, September 15, 2006

Blogs: Parasites?

The current Harper's Magazine has in its center and cover story about "Literacy in an Age of Video Games" a roundtable forum. It concludes with the musing that blogs, being parasitic as they quote each other endlessly, are not destined to be great art. In fact, the panelist opines that in the future, great art will no longer emerge, merely lots more--thanks to the Web's access--of so-so, good-enough, art. Well, Chaucer all sorts of sermons, folktales, ballads, romances, and classical tales to combine, as a blogger, these sources into his own galliaumfry, to use a bastardized Middle English term (as is "humongous," from the Middle Scots I think). Shakespeare took Holinshed's Chronicles, cut-and-pasted lots of treatments, as they'd say in Hollywood, and worked them into a new and fresh rendering of old stories, luckily before litigation and Digital Millennium Copyright Act (aka The Mickey Mouse Act) of 1998.

What's lately been happening? Post Santa Cruz letdown. I miss the forest and fog and ferns. (Image of bridge over Zayante Creek.) I have books checked out from LAPL on Tim Leary (new bio); universities in the age of digital, corporate, and occupational threat; Patrick Kavanagh's Tarry Flynn (which reads just like, of all things, The Green Fool: the former fiction, the latter fact, but both about a dreamy farmer in Monaghan who turns away from church, cows, and colleens to meditate, daydream, and moon upon all things great and small in the fields that he sees. Daydream Believer, circa 1940s. It is not a quick read, densely arranged if deceitfully light-hearted on the surface of mean ol' ma and prancing virgins (so they say), and scheming neighbors. But, as with Flann O'Brien, underlying this not superficial but subtly seeming transparent backdrop, there lurks insecurity, existential doubt, and despair even at having to in a Catholicized (so they say) society to hearken back away from the monotheistical, the everlasting, and the commanded to that free of God with capital letter, doomed to decay, and determined to live free or die trying. A haunting book, deeper far than the backcover Penguin Classics blurb--they should've known better than to put this out as if the reader was to find within a sort of gelded Christy Mahon. Marketing savvy.

Which reminds me of Lee Templeton's wonderful Come Back Horslips page and project, that revives that legendary 70s glam-folk-prog band's originators, imitators, and celebrators in spirited fashion. Marketing expertise makes the muse of this site also savvy at spreading the good word to latecomers such as I, who forget that even if I checked the net late 2004 not to find much on the band, that New Year's 2005 all changed utterly, and CBH was engendered. The pace, as I told my Tech-Culture-Society class the other night, is so quick. We heard of Friendster maybe three years ago, My Space broke out and surpassed its former rival about a year or so ago big time, and now You Tube is racing along after a few months it seems of visibility, while this fake-gal-on-MySpace promo hoax 'lonelygirl15' in Blair Witch style makes a story (who is she really) on Thursday, the break over the weekend, and the denouement on Monday: less than the nine-day's wonder of old, the phrase taken from poor Lady Jane Grey--good little film with Cary Elwes and Helena Bonham Carter, and a moving portrait of the doomed queen that was my favorite when seen way back around 1989 in the National Portrait Gallery.

I hit Amazon's top thousand reviewers only last week but went from 997 to 991 to I thought 971 back down to 977 and now 981 today but who's counting. So, whoever you may be, see the link to my profile, vote well and wisely and often to maintain my august rank. Who reads there, or here? Let me know if this gets out to you, as otherwise vox clamantis--Barry Devlin writing as Barny Drivel on CBH revealed his ability to rattle off Latin phrases in his post; I recall he had studied in a Franciscan seminary at one time! As for me, I study Irish, laboring over the intricacies of lenition and eclipsis regarding numbers 1 and 2 and then changed for 3-6 and again 7-up in ways that boggle me, as difficult to grasp as were oxidation-reduction equations when I was grappling with chemistry at the age of 16. How students can wrap their minds around such details amazes me. I think of the head of our Yahoo Cois Fharraige group progressing in Mícháel Ó Siadhail's notoriously user-unfriendly (not on purpose but seemingly by inattention) "Learning Irish" textbook. David Webb's in China in some mountain village studying that language while on the side somehow shepherding himself and us around the planet through the printed bogs. And, he had his tonsils out, ordered a slew of books in Irish from Ireland and had them shipped back and then forward again and is still slogging along, although at an understandably slower pace.

Of such altruism as Chaucer may have once showed, along with being the first professional writer and perhaps the first Englishman we know who could comprehend Italian, and as for the Bard who knows, but for such heroic strivers as our Miss Templeton and Mr Webb today on the net, blogged, yahooed, and otherwise corralled, still showing that learning and sharing and enjoying learning for its own sake, like Chaucer's imperfect clerk of Oxenforde, his forty bound books of Aristotle prized on his shelf over his bed, makes the proverbial royal road to learning that none can find but all do seek worthwhile: "and gladly would he learn, and gladly teach."

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Singing out against the waterfall

I did take a brief trip with the family up to Central California the last few days. Escaping heat here that in our absence only increased, it was a pleasure to walk about in 60-degrees and wisps of fog. Coming back, two hours going up the Grapevine at a crawl in 105-degree heat due to a brushfire being contained at the summit did not raise my spirits. But a great meal of pollo encebellado--the bistec tempted but we're all (?) -- post-Leo's return from Minnesota State Fair with Uncle Richard where Leo softened at animals to be slaughtered-- trying not to eat four-foots...Niall did have a burger, at Tita's in Buttonwillow ("Cotton Center of California") founded 1895. The meal did merit Layne's raves and those of her Chowhound informants.

My patient wife assured me that if my dream came true and I actually could live somehow in such climes free of job (at least one requiring a commute in smog, crowds of teeming masses, and noise all about as the three houses rise around ours, the neighbors remodel, and that lot next door that was refused us to buy by greedy landowner--that price downturn nationally does perhaps like Pandora's box keep Hope quivering inside still, not flying away yet) rich of pocket (for such is the real estate) and relocated as if by magic to such a demesne, well, I would be cold. As in, when winter hits here, the basement where I type this is so icy to me that my fingers freeze and no manner of space heater or blanket or sweater (I wear one as Jimmy Carter requested in his fireside chats about energy-fueled OPEC malaise, in my youth) can warm them.

Still, I liked the cooler weather. My three used CDs at Logos show my tastes these days well: Hawkwind Live at the BBC 1972; Espers II; Songs of the Travelling People [artists formerly known as tinkers, England/Scotland/Wales; Margaret Barry's on some tracks; books were otherwise unobtainable Brit imports: Historical Maps of Ireland; The Famine {National Library of Ireland]: AVisual Documentary by Noel Kissane-- both of these kind of skimpy but you never know when they will provide the detail needed years later in research, so... and similarly a slim remainder, a London published copy with Jamie O'Neill clumsily imitative preface of Flann O'Brien's Cruiskeen Lawn columns on the clichés of Keats & Chapman and the short essay on "The Brother," which is not available in the US, much to my relief after I checked after buying hesitantly this and the Hawkwind, a band often duplicated and anthologized beyond recognition like The Fall, purchases].

If I had known prior to running back to the meter with a minute to spare that another used record store was on Pacific Avenue I would have allowed time to check it out, but such is the lack of loos due to the press of street people, speaking of Travellers in another guise/ time/ place that I had to run to SC Bookstore to use theirs. One sign by sink begged us not to vandalize. Toilet had seat cracked off, with sign: use at your own risk. Borders, first time I had ever darkened SC chainstore doors, had no restroom facilities for poor wayfarers. So I will never have to cross its threshhold again. Surprisingly, lots of corporate stores downtown, in one of the places that I thought would have held out. But Chris explained that locals do not patronize them; and if locals were in front of them or in them (as can be observed at Starbucks), they are not the paying types, so to speak. Thus in my search for respite I was propelled back albeit briefly to Bridget Mongan my great g-mother who was apparently one of the band of wanderers along East Mayo's borderlands.

Speaking of on the road, I saw upended at the strenously neo-hippie trustafarian (jealous, moi?) Big Sur Bakery at which Layne had to stop for what seemed an hour, Jack Kerouac's eponymous account in Penguin; as opposed to Henry Miller's with that Bosch-oranges title before BS, New Directions 'paperbook' as the spines used to say, bought at UCLA's LuValle Commons when she and I returned from our very first trip to Cambria (and perhaps my only one until now--there we talked to Emil White neé Weiss via Vienna who was back then in fall '88 the elderly caretaker of the Miller manse by the highway, CNN-TV blinking away and probably cats too as he puttered about the dishevelled wares and we bought four postcards of his local paintings of Bixby Creek Bridge and the like as souvenirs?) and the same Sea Otter Inn. This time, a great room 111 at the end of the hall. Niall and I were mad-dogged by two Euro-looking young men, perhaps a couple, who did not speak audibly but looked to me German but Layne who had also heard them thought Irish. They later were again right behind us as we returned from the Sea Chest. Leo had to face his veggie ambitions as he did not like fish and had to eat the only other offering that he did not like, same as his father, salad, until rescued by, same as his father in other situations where fish did not frolic onto my plate, a plate o' pasta. As opposed to 'plate o' shrimp' in Repo Man, out on DVD now. Good Edna Valley (local) chardonnay, which I never drink usually, followed by walk along boardwalk and lack of sidewalk while kids watched MTV and Layne reclined to read George Saunders' newest collection. An author we both actually like. Even have his previous two books autographed by him; we had to miss the reading this tour since Niall had a Dodger game or someone was sick or something.

There at the Sea Otter, I left Niall's Dodger lunchbox, with a beer for me and two drinks and a ice-chunk portable sack, in the hotel fridge. I only realized this when 150 miles away, and felt dejected. But, he took it well and will get another one at the next Dodger game he attends. My best sight that I wanted to commemorate to spark memory (and as I don't carry a camera or a cellphone) was Niall swimming in Zayante Creek where it meets Bean Creek, at the waterfall fed by a spring near Mt Hermon (non-Palestinian, the large Christian youth camp there for a century having given said site its portentous name;I wish I had my camera, all I can find is this snapshot on Google as a poor pale memorial): about 6 p.m., as the reflected water shimmered on the rock face above the creek, he in yellow swimtrunks threw rocks in baseball fashion and looked, in trunks and pale white skin, as the sun bounced about and around his illuminated figure, like the proverbial angel. So the biblical nomenclature proved fitting even if my creed differed from the owners of the beauty spot.

And, let history chronicle how Leo trekked down the trail a mile or so to bring Niall a towel. He can be a good brother, although I think he required a 'smores kit in return for the generosity from Chris & Bob. I read on Bob's recommendation some John Donne in an attempt to deal with my thanatophobia, but it helped little; still a great line was found in one poem that I must retrieve and put down here, perhaps in revision. Chris as usual was a great source of local lore, although telling them both the little I knew about Holy City and finding out (thanks to Wikipedia) about its stereotypical Californian crazy cultish founder and head honcho (like some Mormon polygamist, very long lived), was a new joy for us all. Other tome of weekend: in Frank Mitchell & Mitchell Ryan's Reading the Irish Landscape, the post-rocks, prehistoric onwards parts I read, therefore 2/3 of weighty book, since it was on the shelf, Ireland around 4370 BCE encountered agriculture, a man ate 6 lbs. ( I have read elsewhere 10) per diem of praties (in Conamara 'fataí') , and bogs preserve butter due to their anaerobic condition. Often monks and those on the land ate nothing but white food, that is milk and dairy, for much of the year, causing me to wonder the effect on digestion.

Bob mentioned that when Siringe came to where Niall romped earlier with her two fellow Tibetan friends; the three women stood at the foot of the waterfall and sang out, since their tradition was to sing against or over the noise of a waterfall.