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Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and Fats Domino

Time Travel to the 50s
I graduated from Lowell High School in San Francisco in 1952, which was in those years, in the Haight Ashbury district. We're having our 55th - ulp! - reunion this year and I'm somehow on the reunion committee. I'm the only person in a class of maybe 300 who dropped out in the '60s. Smoked pot, rock and roll, homesteading in Big Sur - changing course on the high seas of life at age 28, giving up a well-paying job as insurance broker, oh yes! All my friends from high school and college, with the exception of maybe two I can think of, became extremely wealthy. I'm the only guy with long hair and an earring, etc., but what's cool is we all still have those 4 years in common, we're all San Francisco kids, and I enjoy their company. This year I'm in charge of music so I've been going back to the '50s. Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra. In retrospect it's great music. Opus One & Once in a While, by Tommy Dorsey. Moonlight Seranade by Glenn Miller brings tears almost to my eyes. Romance was a strong emotion in those days, Saturday night outdoor dances at the Fairfax Town & Country Club, with music like this playing. I'm also going to throw in some Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Aretha, Otis, Al Green, rhythm and blues…I've hired Zorro, a young reggae DJ from my town, to control the music and I'm giving him lists.

Speaking of Lowell: Jack Patterson was the journalism teacher then, and I realized years later how he influenced my life. I learned the who-what-when-where-how-why of the opening paragraph (then it was supposed to be in the first sentence), and that a reporter's job was to report it as it is and save opinions for the editorial page. Patterson was a decorated ex-Marine captain and we called him Captain Jack. He had a mischievous twinkle in his eye. He was gay, but made no moves on us.

One day a few years back, three of us on the reunion committee (Lord, have I written this up before? - my memory is shot…) discovered that each of us were in in our present jobs because of Capt. Jack: English teacher, advertising, publisher. Well, Jack eventually got fired, and ended up robbing a bank, going to jail, and ended up his life doing gardening work at Stanford. Dude! Is this not the wild west? I wish I'd sought him out to thank him.

And yes, I realize I'm prone to repeating myself, not only in conversation, but in print. I think I've written about this before. C'est la vie…

The Barefoot Architect/Septic System Scams/Fishing for Halibut

Right now we are putting the finishing touches on The Barefoot Architect: A Handbook on Green Building. Author Johan van Lengen, born in the Netherlands, gave up a successful career as an architect in California in the 70s, largely due to the influence of The Whole Earth Catalog. He decided to dedicate himself to providing better housing for the disadvantaged; he and his wife Rose founded TIBA (Bio-Architecture and Intuitive Tecnology), a school for building located in the Mata Atlantica (coastal jungle) of Brazil. There he conducts workshops in design, building, housing, sanitation, communication, and education. The Spanish version of his book, The Barefoot Architect has sold 200,000 copies and is in every library in Mexico. It was next published in Portuguese in Brazil. We are just finishing up the the first English translation. This book is for the 21st century what Ken Kern's The Owner Built Home was in the '60s. How to build simple structures using ingenuity and natural materials.

Although TIBA was originally founded to help people in "third world" countries build with natural materials, Johan has found a lot of interest in his methods recently by people who are leaving their high-stress jobs in cities in search of simpler lives.

I'm also trying to finish my article for The Mother Earth News on septic systems scams that are now proliferating in America. People are being forced, often unecessarily into $30-50,000 septic systems. It's a complex issdue and I've been trying to write about it for years and it seems to finally be coming together, I've interviwed 8-9 of the best wastewater engineers and officials I know. Title of the article: Organized Slime.

Finally, fishing I decided this summer to cut back on the running and get my fishing act together. I would love to be able to report success, that I've caught (and smoked) salmon, got the occasional halibut, and been able to catch rock fish at will. Well, such ain't the case. I've got repeatedly skunked, as they say. Plus launching my little boat off the beach and getting through the waves, and then somehow getting it back on my trailer without backing my truck up until the exhaust pipe is under water — has been a tiny bit stressful. One of the local fishermen said to me the other afternoon: "There's skill involved." Yesterday I decided to do more running and less fishing. It's true that the salmon never showed up this far south this year. (Eureka has had its best salmon run in 25 years.) But I masy not have the patience for fishing, it's my Attention Deficity Syndrome again (I wonder how mmany kids are classified thusly due to teachers too boring to pay attention to).

By the way, about 3 times when I've come in and been struggling to get my boat on the trailer, women have come out and helped me. Once, 3 ladies who I'd say were in their late '50s, helped me lift the boat onto the trailer. Day before yesterday a woman was very concerend and waded out to help. Bless her. She also noticed (which I hadn't) that a lens in my sunglasses had dropped onto the sand and handed it to me. The Kindness of Strangers.

Bumper sticker: "God please save me from your followers."