Monthly Archives: April 2009

Yom Ha’Atz’ma’oot (Israeli Independence Day

Ok, What, precisely are we independent of? ‘Ich Freig dich!” (I’m asking you, yiddish)
We spend a couple hours this morning caulking the cracks in the bomb shelter, againstIran’s beloved schmutzige atom bomb they think they have some Mohammed’s Holey-Word imperative to spend their money on. I’ll take a week off of work in rejoicing if I hear on the radio that we pre-emptively rubblized their  little factory.. (..not that we have any like, really big bombs, mind you)
Ditto for the mis-named Swine Flu, on track to be my mini-hero Obama’s next challenge. At least there’s somebody who can read and write in the White House, I tell myself, whistling in the dark.



Meanwhile, Janey, my fictitious(?) business-partner from Pensacola writes that I need to send her a couple proof-sheets,  for the Can-Art. I need to look  um…PENSIVE.

me pensive huh
Oy, this is all I could come up with this morning: Yeah, and all that just to get on a soda can…give up already

   And by posting my actual likeness on Xanga, I am stupidly inviting tax-collectors, jealous husbands, luckless pedestrians, etc. to ID my penniless butt, with potentially grave consequences. Yeah, an accent on the word ‘grave’. As if there’ll be enough salvageable protoplasm to warrant burial. 
Some of you, dear readers, probably relate to my “Life in the Middle East” as hopelessly ‘over-there-somewhere’. Like, um.. Costa Rica, New Guinea, the Seychelles, or Mauritania. The remedy for that forgivable parochialism is simply to come and visit. I’ll feed you well, explain everything, be a thoughtful and gracious host. Contact your travel-agent for details. And now you know what I look like; always a plus(?)

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“Pensa-Cola, the Thoughtful Choice!”

NOTE: This is a RE-POST from about 4 years ago on Xanga. There are 800+ like it here, in the spiffy clickable archives.; I just picked one at random. Enjoy?

I need help. I’m usually so helplessly smart, but this one’s got me in a quandry: To ‘go for it’, or not?
On the one hand, if I bag the whole venture now, I’m only out a couple calls from Florida. Collect? Why does she call collect?
Somehow she got my email, and sent me an interesting proposal, at first sight


.
Dear {Your Name Here} Greetings. Hi, my name is Janey and I am burning deep inside with desire to help you become richer that your deepest dreams. My business idea, which must be eyes-only until we speak, is,  you will quickly realize, a stairwell to heaven. Please call me at 850-529-1416 ASAP. You won’t be sorry./ Janey.


Ok, guys, I’m not stupid. I checked out the area-code: Pensacola, and yup, there’s a bunch of Janey’s living in that neck of the woods, so…um…so far so good.
No one answered the first three times I dialed. Hmm.. playin’ hard to get, huh?
Then bingo. “Sir, we have a collect call from {‘Janey’} in Florida. Will you accept the charges?”
“Sure”, I said. Hey I was already holding the receiver to my ear, why not? She got right to the point, after being convinced by my sweet-sounding “Um.. hello.. Janey?” that I was of high moral character, dripping with business acumen, and worthy of life-long trust. Yup, all that. They know this stuff, go figure how.
“So anyway, “Pensa-Cola®“, get it?” she bubbled. “And we can put a picture on the can of that French lady, you know, ‘Rennie Desk-Arties’, they burned her at the stake, cause she said “I still believe it moves”  Then: We’re going for the ‘pensive’ market. ‘Pensive but not expensive’
I was glad she added that. First part I actually grasped.
“Aren’t we like, mixing up a couple characters, Janey? I mean, Joan of Arc, Galileo..”
“Joan-of-Archimedes”,
she ‘corrected me. “Give me a rock and a cold refreshing Pensa-Cola® and I’ll move in with you.. and your mom.”
“He didn’t say that, I mean, ‘she‘ didn’t.”
I didn’t know where to start.”Plus, a public execution for a logo? What’s next, Caryl Chessman “It’s in the bubbles.”?
“Ok then, we’ll just use the “I drink, therefore I exist” girl.”

“Um..’guy’. he’s a Rene, sweetheart. it’s French.”
I was beginning to relax and enjoy the ride. Hell, we’d recoup the toll charges after we sold the first sixpack.
Janey kept going…”But on the back it’s gotta say:…otherwise there’d just be a dumb puddle around my feet on the floor. I liked the ironic tone she used.
“Hah.” I laughed. “Yeah, he could be sitting on a rock, looking real thoughtful, musing, you know.”
She sounded like she agreed, adding “Sure, we’ll do the shoot with the sun rising over the Bay, back behind my house.”
I made a note to check Google maps, but later, when the dizziness went away.
“So, what’s in it. You know, the flavor?” I thought we oughta nail that down, like here in the first staff meeting. On the phone.
“Oh, thoughtful stuff. Like sugars, esters, ethyls, …diazepam..”
“Ahhh
..” I sensed where she was going. “Like, ‘It’s the real thing’ only real laid-back.
“Yeah, we keep that part proprietary.” she said, conspiratorialy. Cute, this ‘Janey’
“This may just be the start of a beautiful..” I started to say.
“Yes, a beautiful line of spin-offs, you know, like.. hey.. “Mensa-Cola®
“You mean with Einstein on the can?”
At least I pronounced his name right.
“Sure, an’ he’s saying “Don’t play dice with your choice of soft-drinks.”
“Hmm.. they might not get it?”
I didn’t want to take too many risks with her capital, or was it mine? Later for that.
“Well,” she whispered, “we’ll put some special ingredients in that one too. It’ll make ’em smart.”
“Like…?”

“Oh, you know..”
“You mean, amphetemine?” For the first time I caught myself wondering whether the taps and clicks on the line might be.. Oh well, it’s not like we’re selling the stuff yet.
“No, save that for “Tensa-Cola®: ‘When you need to be.. oh.. forceful'”
“And Sensa-Cola®,”
I offered, ‘When ya needa like, think seriously about where your life’s headed’?”
“That’s a keeper… er.. what did you say your name was?”
Janey wanted to ‘close the deal’.
“Solberg. One ‘L’ I have a Xanga site you can read.. you know.. get a better…”
“I know that.” Why do you think I picked you?”



I had to think about that question a while. While she waited. Patiently. Sure, I’ve had lots of hair-brained jobs, all gruesomely documented, some even with circles and arrows to prove just where the hair and the brain parted.
Could it be that she’d pegged me as a, god-forbid, as a sucker?
I told her quickly how much I appreciated her trust, and promised to call back tomorrow, to cement the deal. She made the usual cooing sounds, and we hung up, a good half-hour of trans-atlantic underwater cable time spent. ‘It’ll be deductible’, I reassured my better judgement.


So anyway, what does anybody think? Should I jump in head-first, or slip my toe gingerly into the water, or fix myself a good stiff drink? Or any combination of the above?


Q: Um.. she reads your Xanga, duh?
A: Good point. I forgot that one. Oh well.’Transparency’. Everything out in the open. That’s big these days, right?
Q: You need help, Johnny
A: Yeah, you’re right. We didn’t talk about bottles vs cans.

Where the Hell is ‘There”?

WHERE THE HELL IS ‘THERE ‘?

Yeah, we down and elementary, ain’t?
Orthographically speaking, ‘There’ is ‘here‘, but with ‘T’; and a  problem: how many sugars? Two? Where?

Um.. where is just here but with a double you. Which carries its own issues in a wheelbarrow.
   Some of you doubtless heard of the Pauli Exclusion principle, elucidated way back before your mother was born. Yes it was a hit. And worse, it has repercussions. It keeps on hitting you.
A quantum law, roughly stated: ‘No two identical electron in the same atom’. That’s straight from Herr Wolfgang. Geez, what a name! You wake up hairy in Prague, read the plastic tag on your carapace and it
screams “HI, I’M WOLFGANG!” A poly-lupine, then, at least till breakfast. Down the stairs go the three of you, and into the sad lunchroom in this two-bit hotel, to sit and stare at the pork-pie you were wise enough not to sample yesterday. Or was it the day before? The construction crew outside is ramping up the volume. Orange, Heavy, German equipment. Ah.. “Das Wolf gehst, ging, gang, ist gegangen.” He split. He’s neither here nor there. “So now what’s my name?” you ponder, over the jack-hammers. 

“Who cares?” the distempered Slovak cook sighs. Displaced herself, born too far East, or was it West? You try to care, but fail. There is no one here. Hmm.. So that’s where there is. You start to make a note on the back of your boarding pass… “Es gibt..” is as far as you get.

“A Night in Amnesia”?

Well, Mel’s  done it again..
I dearly hope  I am reacting charitably to being ‘out-gun-ed’ by my beloved competition. Mel-Famy has just ‘super-solberg-ed’ me… again. His romp on Beatles lyrics combined with a ‘gripping-in-its-own write’ story-line is perilously close to blowing my own pathetic ouvre out of the murky waters.
Yet I persist in the race. Someday, G-d willing, I shall sit and share a meal with him and his equally-significant other, and we will shake hands, co-equal contenders for the Xanga-Throne.
Meanwhile, my modest gauntlet, thrown into the ring-o-fire at last night’s poetry reading/public lynching got tramped into the mud big-time. I should have thrown in a towel instead.



“You’re a peon”, spit out contemptuously by an irate beige-complexioned Middle-Eastern type, already in the middle of the first verse. I tried to take it in stride, agreeing quickly that “Yes sir, I make no claims to be in any leadership role in the field.” and went forward with my offering..
    I don’t often do readings. In fact, in the last three years, I’d agreed to only three: The “Reading Poetry Happening” series, in Reading, PA, Reading, Mass,  and of course the one of which I speak  here , in that charged hot-bed of anti-Zionist lit-crit, Reading, Berkshire, UK.
I’d selected my “Ode to Rope”, with no delusions that it would be received any more gracefully than say, Stravinsky’s “Write of String”, or even the emasculated Guy du Maupassant’s modest “A Piece of String’. Readers are invited to judge it on it own merits: (below) Meanwhile the cat-calls kept calling:
“Your Rope-Peaean sucks!”, the little swarthy guy persisted, not more than two lines into the second verse.
This time I understood it. He had a bone in his craw for the entire northern Western Hemisphere, for which I apparently stood, before him, as spokesman-du-jour. I also noticed he was a tad shaky on his feet, as he stood on the folding chair to make his point…um.. taller, towering ominously over the hors’d’ouerves table, from which he’d obviously drawn copious liquid courage. Yes, now I remembered, he was the guy I’d seen helping himself to finger-sandwiches with both hands. So yeah, both alcohol and mercury-poisoning from the tuna might have warped his faculties.
   The moderator motioned me to continue, but I needed to respond. Removing my reading-glasses to mime ‘sizing him up’, I calmly replied:
“I see from your tag that you are from Tunis, and which   tuna sandwich did you have a lethal dose of, if I might ask?”
He didn’t take the bait, which was just as well, sparing us all a discussion of illegal ocean-dumping. But he was not through, not by a long shot.
“Take your rope and hang yourself!” was his next suggestion. The moderator stifled a chuckle at that. Damn, I was all alone. And here I’d hoped to have the crowd eating out of my hand by this point, and with the final ‘Can’t push on a rope’ conceit as my ‘leave ’em crying for more’ trump-line. I searched the crowd for admiring co-conspirators, coming up goose-eggs. Even the sweet-faced middle-aged matron in the third row, with whom I’d hoped to discuss rhyme and reason at the after-party was looking at her watch, while the rest of the crowd had split into impromtu conversations amongst themselves, probably about the gloomy weather, and what to do about it.
I swam on, against the tide,a la F-Stop Fitzgerald, finishing with a flaccid flourish; my once evocative “and the little lasso from Lhasa sings of its captures of yore” falling in a Gordian tangle on the hardwood floor.
What else could I do? Red-faced, I demonstratively crumbled up my papers, laid down the mike, and exited in shame through the side door, into the angry night, trying to forget as quickly as possible that I’d ever been there. And with some success, until I was asked to empty my coat-pockets at Heathrow this morning. Wait. I’d skipped the whole fourth verse, I noticed, in the ‘duh’ blur of travelers, wheeled-luggage, and in-comprehensible departure-announcments there by the X-ray machines. I’ve never felt more like curling up in one of those plastic trays and riding through the Ray-gun tunnel, emerging data-free, formatted, and blissfully un-perturbed by ghosts of past Readings. I may in the future avoid public hangings, especially when my Last Words are limited to ‘G-d Save my Soul’, and no one in the crowd gives a rat’s ass about James Merrill, to name one hero of many

I tie my ass to the camel’s back
and we head off for Long Island./ Armed with
hemp and a hump, via Hackensack; and we

slouch toward theHamptons, and Lord Byron…

(Where I) work till dawn on the puzzle pieces: got to be a
dozen  missing. On-ward, I guzzle cheap spirits, Ach, wie
langer und wie shlimmer
!; I may schtup Mademoiselle, Is this
even ger-mane? Ah the Merrill’s and the Lynch’s loosed my

camel, I’d forgotten Appollonian concerns. Hey, I’m
only thirteen; the worm turns, yet  he burns. And if I
smoke this rope, will I finally understand? Or be con-
vinced of the delusion. There, he’s waiting in the sand.

Q: Whassup, Sol?
A: I know a loaded question when I see one..
Q: No, seriously, ‘What’s it all about, Alfie?’
A: Um.. I was ‘initiated’ into ‘manhood’ at an early age by a French grad student who was doing a paper on idiot savants.
Q: Ahh.. That explains the resonance with Merrill’s “Lost in Translation”, right?
A: You make me cry sometimes, you know that?
Q: Sorry. The Boss, you know, he just wants me to get the facts..
A: It’s OK. And I didn’t have a camel in those days.. write that down.
Q: Yeah, poetic license. Hey, you think a post like this’ll get you on the Xanga Front Page
A: Hah. That’s why I like you, Q. Your sense of humor…






Whadya mean “In Questionable Taste”?

“Let them eat wedding cake!”
“Jesus died for sinners, just not these.”
“Hey, it’s Oklahomo, It’s OK”
“Put ’em in the panhandle and be done wid-um”



I had a dream, dear friends, and yes it were mightily full of slogans on both sides of the aisle.
Background: Oklahoma is a tough state to fit on a map, and all because of that pan-handle, that, what did Mae West call it? “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” sticking out. My dream solves all that, and several other thorny issues in one master stroke.

oklahomo
Gay marriage? Well it’ll be the only sacrament smiled upon in my proposed New State. Yes, O-ooo-klahomo, where the wind comes swishing down the plain..” See, they’ll even have a theme song ready, when I carefully but legally detach those three small counties, straighten Oklahoma’s border, and create the pinkest 51st state anyone could have imagined. A reservation, historically resonant in the area, for those (how many percent is it?) who prefer their own gender.
Now don’t think I haven’t fleshed out the details. I have; this was a long dream…
1) The new area could be either a State or some type of Trust-territory like Guam. (or is that Guano? I’ll look it up.)
2) And this improvement could be done by executive Fiat, or Chrysler, assuming they survive.
3) I haven’t checked the Constitution lately, but then, neither did Bush and Cheney, sorry to dredge up their names. I’m sure there’s some emergency powers ammendment they left in place from their reign, so we’ll use it quick, then shut the door, otherwise everybody’ll want his own state.
4) Nope, gays won’t have to all move there, although I’m sure lots of ’em will. You just show up for the wedding, like Haiti but in reverse.
5) They can be licensed to sell tax-free cigarettes, condoms, who-knows, whatever it takes to keep the jurisdiction solvent. Nice straight borders with four states: Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, and the re-adjusted Oklahoma will facilitate convenient sales-points on the connecting highways.
6) And then other states can finally take the gay-marriage issue off the table. Whew.

new plate ok

Anchors Away on the BT Express

Fruit is the normative
BAIT for BATs, though-they
Love (so-I-read) red
beets. Beat’s me. Wanna
BET? One BITE, a ba-
nana; two BITS, and-they’re
hooked; in the BOAT. “That’s-a
-good-un.” Glad-I BOUGHT that
‘spensive-little Kris-Kraft. “Das
BOOT in the BUTT” my-wife
calls-it, but-now who’s
laughing-last! I’m rolling-in-the
Dough, as-in Do Re
Mi. Ha ha. And-I
sing this ditty ‘BOUT
‘B’ and ‘T’
See, there’s this guy; he loves consonants for some dumb reason, ‘specially ‘B’ and ;T’. Vowels too. He spent six months of 7/11 savings on a second-hand boat just to get out there alone on the lake where nobody would call him crazy. Learned to catch fruit bats. Now he’s got to decide whether to dry them or freeze ’em. His wife’s kinda ambivalent. Oy.     

“What’n the tarnation?!” (or- “Don’t play it again, Shem.”)

Update: So far I haven’t heard anyone counsel me to do what I did for the mysterious girl who dropped by a couple days ago; i.e. to just be helpful, thoughtful, respectful.. all those ‘full’s’ that our Little Black Book of Tips from Mt. Sinai is..um.. full of, last I read it. ‘Call the police’, ‘Just say no.’, stuff like that is what I’m hearing. Who knows? If I suddenly stop posting here it’ll mean I’m tied to a tree somewhere in Um el Faq’um being threatened by Amazons. “Don’t tickle me there, I’m begging ya, girls. I’ll tell you anything.”
Hmm.. This morning I discovered that she’d left her elastic hair-thingie in the shower. ‘One size fits all’, that’s my problem. Damn, where’s a glass slipper when ya need one?




Meanwhile I got problems of my own: To wit: Tales from my failed past haunt me to this day.

“Yo,Semite!” I heard a booming male voice from across the Circle K parking lot in Yuma. ‘What the shibboleth?’ I hadn’t heard something like that in ages. Hell, I’d even put my change in the little plastic Hogan-bank on the counter, a donation for the Navaho Hose, Hoe’s, and Ladders Fire Company. So who’s calling me a tight-wad? Trying to ignore him, I soberly calculated the distance to my rented Taurus. Hmm.. 12 steps. What’s with the Twelve steps all the time? Where’s a Higher Power when you need One?
I feigned a sudden interest in a bird overhead (a vulture?) in order to catch a glimpse. Uh oh!  Biceps the size of Triceratops , this sucker was the classic ‘well-armed man’. Didn’t recognize him from Adam though.
“Yo, Shem, whasup?” He persisted. “Shem“? I hadn’t used that name for thirty years. I turned to face my fate, who smiled broadly, held out his giant hand, and asked “You don’t remember me?”
“Er.. not that I remember..” I managed, calmly enough.’
“Noah. Noah Bickleman”.
I searched my hardened-hard-drive a couple seconds. Wait, Billy Bickleman,  that was that drummer’s name. We’d only used him for two gigs. Steady enough on the 2/4 numbers, but I don’t know, he just looked odd in a fez. Too large for the part. It was a klezmer band, mostly weddings and bar mitzvahs. We thought we were hot. Not everyone agreed, and we kept changing the name, thinking maybe that was their objection. One week Yosemite Shem, the next, Yoshemite Sam. When it hit me to add “-and the Semitones” I figured we’d struck gold. We hadn’t, but back to the story…
“Ah, Billy’s brother?” I asked him, feeling pretty confident of a hit. After all, who doesn’t have a brother named Bill? He smiled, proud of me. I basked and continued.
“Yeah, I don’t think we ever met.. like.. formally”, I said, warming up a bit. “I’d know a Noah if I’d ever  met one… especially one who could probably arm-wrestle a gorilla and make him cry.”
“Him and  his mate, and with one arm..”
Noah added, making a muscle to prove the point.
“So, you still playing?” he asked.
Good. He hadn’t heard, probably, the whole manic magilah about the star-crossed ex-Semitones.
See, we were getting less, not more, listenable every gig. Experimenting with 12-tone rows, absent time signatures, kinda like Arnold Schoenberg on strychnine. but with a shtreimel. “Anyone here wanna hear something from Alban Berg’s White album?” we’d ask. Often there was nobody left in the room to yell “Nope!!”
We knew we had to do something. Food was becoming a problem, and opportunities to grab a couple rubber chickens and bottles of Maneschevitz from the end tables and stuff ’em into the drum cases were becoming rarer by the week. Hammerman, the clarinetist, ever optimistic, had a Plan: In a word “Record”. Well, two Plans, but first; Yes, we went into the Studio. Well, the garage. Ok, a sort of lean-to his dad had built for the lawn-mowers behind the house. Harry’s dad had this gardening business in Yuma.
Anyway, I was just as obsessed with words back then, and since I was doing the writing, I  insisted on, um.. ‘bastardizing maybe one too many  Norse sea-sickness songs.” (in the words of our only reviewer). And only because I was determined to call the album ‘Shem the Sham: in the Faroes!’. Of course we never got the money together to fly there and perform, even when we volunteered to appear free on St. Olaf’s Day. That woulda been ’73. We had less than a year to live. (As a musical entity, I mean).
     Somehow we got mixed up in Harry’s dad’s hair-brained scheme for a new garden insecticide. All I wanted was to write the radio spots, but we ended up using the band truck to try to hawk it door-to-door. Plus, did I mention, the ‘miracle-worker’ glop didn’t even work. It was supposed to sterilize the female spider-mites, which was a ‘green’ idea in its time, but after a few weeks they developed this immunity to it, and even became more ‘amorous’, if that term applies, multiplying to the point where, by the time we tossed out all the back stock on the way to the bus station, it was known as ‘Scourge in a Bottle’.

Hmm.. a sad tale. I can never win, it seems. So much for “Yoshemite Anti-she-mite Potion.®” Am I still allowed to use that little symbol?