Confessions of a Lame Blogger
Blogging is a great concept, but I can't seem to do it often. My life is so full I don't want to get tied down to even more computer time. To post stuff daily would mean I'd be devoting more of my thoughts and energy into blogging. But it works for me because I love to tell people what I run across in life, and pulling some of it together in blog-form makes me focus.
Possum In The Chicken Yard
The other night Lesley told me to come out and look in the chicken yard. There was a baby possum, scampering around. Now, full grown possums are hardly cute. But this guy was, he was about 1/3 adult size. I took my long-handled catch-chicken net and tried t snare him, but only banged him with the rim. I lifted the net and he lay there on his side, motionless, like he was dead. Lesley was watching all this. After about a minute we saw his eye pop open and we both broke out laughing. “Playing possum” is rooted in fact. We finally chased him out of the yard.
I’ve been tuning into some of the local right-wing talk shows. Sheeesh! Are these guys disgusting! Michael Savage is a mean, ugly, twisted creep. Yesterday someone was saying Scalia and Rehnquist were too liberal. Cindy Sheehan has kicked up a shit-storm and right-wingers are trotting out moms proud to have their kids in Iraq. Cindy’s question “What did my son die for?” has electrified Americans. Talk about a sound bite!
We finally gave in and got the full (except for sports) Direct TV package. The programs, especially Sundance, but also HBO and the others, are a whole other level of quality. Plus I installed a TiVo receiver, can record up to 80 hours on hard drive, replay programs and zap commercials, etc. TiVo is brilliantly set up, what could be complicated and difficult has been simplified, and has clear instructions. Hell, I’m still amazed by fax machines.
Back in Running Shape
For the last 2-3 years I slacked off on running and just wasn't running that well. Or that is, running at a level where I could keep up with my trail warrior friends. On the Tuesday night runs I lagged behind everyone. A revoltin’ development! I had a couple of not so great performances in the annual Dipsea Race. So I’m back to running 3 times a week and Tuesday night had one of those “sweet spots in time” runs, a 2-mile downhill trail where I felt like I was floating. The sun was setting over the ocean. We got to our secret swimming hole and 4 of us went swimming in the cool clean cattail-lined pond, swallows dipping to skim the surface.
It’s really shitty to get out of shape. Right now I’m nursing a shoulder injury, trying to get it healed so I can surf in British Columbia. I can see how easy it is for 60+ year-olds to give up. You get out of shape (or injured) and it’s so much work to get back in shape. Both being a lame runner for a while and being injured have galvanized me. I’m back to taking the time to work out. Bob Anderson said to me once, “You never hear anyone say, ‘I’m sorry I worked out.’” You always feel great. Gddammit, I don’t want to lose my mobility or strength. I feel better every minute of the day when I keep my body functioning.
The Dipsea Race is the big one around here. It was 100 years old this year, and is some 7 miles up and down cross-country from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach. We all obsess about it, it's an annual goal. 1500 people run it and it's very big time local-wise. However the race I like best is called the Mt. Tam Hill Climb. Starts at 8AM on each Labor Day, and runners go from downtown Mill Valley up 2-1/2 miles and some 2000' of elevation to the top of the mountain. Any way you can get to the top - shortcuts through steep rocky arroyos, obscure trails off the main trails, etc. There were about 100 runners this year, all running aficionados, people who love the mountain.
I did a practice run the Sunday before and the mountain just kicked my ass. It took me an hour and ten minutes to get to the top, and I got sort of lost coming back down — ended up getting off on a pretty well-worn animal trail when I got back to civilization, but the trail ended abruptly at a fence around a very big house. Emerald green lawn. Swimming pool. Tasteful. Now I could go back up the trail and backtrack, or do a little, um, trespassing. I hopped the fence, went across the lawn, looking for the driveway I knew had to lead to a road. Doors of the house were open but I didn't see anyone. Feeling furtive. Past the pool. Whew, here's the driveway, which turns out to be long and winding buff-colored concrete, must have cost $300K in itself. Big electric wrought-iron gate, over which I climbed and started down into town. After about 3 blocks along comes a cop car. Went right past me. I figured people in the house reported a trespasser but didn't give a description (guy w. long white hair, red shirt) so I prepared to slip down into the woods should the cop come back, but he didn't. My friend Roger later told me this was Martin Cruz Smith's house.
As I continue to skate, I marvel at the grace of real skateboarders. These kids have developed a very high level of athletic skill. They are focussed. On their own, no Little League-type adult organization, encouragement, or $$. They practice and practice, with constant peer evaluation. They watch each other trying new moves. They strive for excellence, they push the limits. Sometimes I’ll see a skater in the city, in and out of traffic, sliding sideways if necessary, 21st-century street ballet. A skateboard has to be the smallest wheeled vehicle in the world. And there are no brakes!
‘60s Coming In For A Landing
The media has always got the ‘60s wrong. If you weren’t there before “The Summer of Love” you really don’t know what happened in San Francisco. It was a fucking wonderful 3-4 years and lately those times have been getting new respect. What The Dormouse Said, a new book by John Markoff, talks about the role of Stewart Brand and The Whole Earth Catalog in development of the personal computer. Steve Jobs recently said he was inspired by reading the WEC as a teenager. Hey, that is quite a fucking influence! I want to see the 60s get more respect. And not just in science and technology, but in all the myriad activities, skills, arts, and music that coalesced at the same brief period. Just about everything I’ve read about those times seems to miss the mark widely, but I’ve never been able to write about it. One of these days…
Rock and Roll!
I don’t hear that much new kick-ass rock and roll these days. I know it goes on, I just don’t know what bands to see. Once in a while I luck out. Much as I love the blues, and much as I’m sometimes moved to tears by Sam Cooke or Al Green, or Otis, there is just something special about great rock and roll. The Fabulous Thunderbirds have just put out a great album: Painted On. It starts out with driving R&R, then a bunch of pure blues songs. A good band that has got better in recent years.
Last Monday (Labor Day) I went to a barbecue at a local roadhouse to see Billy Joe Shaver, master country song writer and soulful singer. Billy was good (“God loves ya if ya dance.”) but the next guy, Paul Thorn, was amazing. I love music, it’s a big part of my enjoyment of life, and finding a musician like this by accident is bliss. He’s a poet, wonderful, meaningful words. The music is strong. He rocks, even alone on acoustic guitar. Then after a few solo numbers his band materializes and they are — how else to say it? — exquisite. What a band! This guy is tough; he’s an ex pro boxer who went 6 rounds with Roberto Duran in 1988 (the fight was stopped because of cuts on Paul’s forehead), he’s from Tupelo, Mississippi (so was Elvis), his father was a preacher, he worked for 12 years in a chair factory, he’s REAL. Hardly like anyone from Marin County, I thought as I watched him..
He writes beautiful, romantic love songs. He’s also great looking…the little girls, they understand. Try to catch him performing if you can, he’s hot right now.
Off For Points North
I got my truck fixed (I really didn’t like the bashed-in side), and had to move all my hundred+ items of junk out and so reorganized everything, built a sliding drawer that comes out on the tailgate, got sheets made for when I sleep inside the camper shell, built a new shelf behind the seat, and am taking off in a few days to meet builder/surfer Bruce Atkey in Tofino for a trip up the west coast of Vancouver Island to photograph buildings, interview northwest coast builders, jump in some hot springs, and maybe find some waves. Gonna stop off and have wild duck dinner with homemade red wine with my friend Louie on the way. Read all about it here (eventually)…