Saturday, July 24, 2010

Loss and Renewal

I recently lost someone in my life whom I cared for, and it was a reminder of how fragile human relationships can be. It's made my blogtastic raison d'etre of Zany Optimism particularly difficult to maintain through the swelter of mid-summer here in the Northeast. It's one of the sole downsides of being alive, really, how we hurt one another, through happenstance, or intent. Hell, famously observed, is other people.

But... as long as we're throwing around metaphorical reference to the everlasting, so is "Heaven." If only for parallel periods of time, we are also capable of such love and beauty and goodness and ..... oh look, there goes a flock of puppies helping a tubercular great-granny across a poppy-strewn super highway.

Sorry. It's Sadie Hawkins Day, and Pollyanna just asked me to do the rhumba.

Straight up, folks. I got no special abilities here to get from point-sunrise to point-sunset, barring ritual handshakes with my homies at KlaxoGlithSmine. But what I can tell you is this: If we didn't know where we'd been, there'd be no way to know where we are. Forget where we're going, for now, because we'll eventually get there, maybe even tomorrow, and look! If that new air conditioner suddenly breaks down, don't fret. I brought a box fan, 'cause I'm cool like dat. No power? Let me fan thee with our thick copy of vanities, an urban palm frond. When my strength's gone, I'll write poems about ice cubes, some of them good. Later, our children will show up to take us on a northerly vacation. If we have no children, we'll chill out to the rhythms of the kids next door. They are joyful, too. Go ahead and see if they're around. I'll wait.

Besides, it'll get cooler of its own accord soon enough, and my favorite season will be upon us, the autumn months. Few things are as reliable as the snap of October air. (We are blessed in the northeast with four, distinct seasons. Love them, for they are inevitable.) And then snowy winter. I have two fantastic old-school sleds that need their blades sharpened. And then wet, and then hot, and then cool, and then cold again. One could almost set one's clock to it. God knows what they do in Los Angeles...

This month the secret to life was wiped from the map. (well, Duh. That's why it's a secret, fool.) This morning, however, I woke up to try again. Why not? I was born to try. And I aim to.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Free French

“The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.”

Now there was a guy who knew a thing or two about living--Blaise Pascal, the French mathmetician, philosopher and badass theologian. Born in the summer, died in the summer, never made it to see age 40 and still made an impact on Western culture with his inventions and writings. 1623-1662

"A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” -- Paul Valery, essayist and critic, who graced this good earth from 1871-1945. Abandon hope, all ye who attempt the periodic poem. Takes a patient hand to create such imperfection...

“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be” -- Marcel Pagnol,  Film Auteur, 1895-1974.

Seen any of his flicks? Me, neither, but we could catch a screening on my birthday. It's coming up, and I'm available.

“Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.”  --- Voltaire, Frenchiest French Philosopher and Writer ever, 1694-1778.

Yes, it's Bastille Day, or at least for another 45 minutes. I'm squeezing one in, under deadline tonight.

This was the day, in 1789, when the Marquis de Launay learned that it's generally not a good idea to piss off a crowd of pike-wielding siegers, unless one doesn't value one's head. A good number of the aristocracy suffered the repercussions of that day in the weeks that followed, and of course, it marks the beginnings of the modern French republic.

So here's to the French. We love to hate them, we like their cheese. They subsidized our own Revolution (merci!) and they host the world's greatest bike race every summer as well. And they produce the best mimes.

And who would vous want defending your Maginot Line more than these guys? Crepes all around, s'il vous plait.

Thanks for reading. And please remember that just because you can, does not necessarily mean that you should.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

An Elegy for Lance

Written after Stage 8 of the 2010 Tour de France

Welcome back to earth, Pilgrim.

Hard truth in les Alpes. You're 38,
of sound mind, but broke bike,
supplanted, slashed up in torn Spandex.

And just the other day,
seven years' good luck
buckled on Belgian pavé.
Time to let the ribs stick to waffles?

Will the boss take the backseat?
Or maybe upholster a sidearm,
in a clumsy swat, like Jordan
with a bat. Time to rest.

For the French press of hot blood pursuit
 (pas cafe au lait)
They never get old, unlike Ullrich, the Badger, Pantani bought the farm.
Even the Man of the World took a shotgun to the face
He's still pissed off about it.

Recently a Mennonite has ruined
even a bowl of cold cereal in your hotel room.
And so welcome back. You are a water-bottle cage
for the other guy. Again.
You are more like us, now.
Graham Watson

Monday, July 5, 2010

Crazy With The Heat

Much of the country is on a spit this week, turned slowly over the flames of July, Dante Style. Here are a few suggestions to weather the weather, whether or not you thought of it, whether or not you want to hear it. It's the weather. It ain't going away any time soon.

Move slowly between the hours of 11 and 2. Wear a sun hat and walk from one taxes-funded, air-conditioned place to another--we've already paid for it, n'est-ce pas? Hit up the library and read Calvin Tomkins, one of our best American writers, who covers tennis serenity as manifested in Roger Federer, in the June 28th issue of The New Yorker. Peruse the cookbook stacks and pick out a compendium of cold salads. Skip the tuna if you had it last week. We're looking for less mercury, not more, thank you.

Or, cool off at the expense of your least-favorite local corporation. Stroll the aisles of Rite-Aid and make an estoteric comparison, in your head, of the flavored water ice to the sherbert. Then go buy some, but from a local vendor you like, within walking distance. You don't have sherbert in walking distance? You need more help than I thought.

Clean your basement. It's cooler down there. Remember that broken light bulb you stalked away from, in disgust, in the mad dash to depart on the lake vacation? Time to sweep up the shards, wipe the mildew off the clothes washer, oil the hinges on the beer fridge.

Sweating is o.k., by the way. The Tour is on, once again, and you know how I feel about that. Later today, I'll get out there and log a few miles on the bike, temperature be damned, because life is short, and Lance is 38. He says it's his last Tour. No really!

Leave the car in drydock today. The progeny and I made it back and forth to a neighboring town yesterday twice, on our own power. Good times.

That's all I got, for now. What, I'm going to spend all of this glorious day at a computer screen? Feh!

Thanks for reading. What's that you say? Two words? Ice Coffee.