Friday, July 20, 2007

Someday


To a Daughter Leaving Home

by Linda Pastan


When I taught you

at eight to ride

a bicycle, loping along

beside you

as you wobbled away

on two round wheels,

my own mouth rounding

in surprise when you pulled

ahead down the curved

path of the park,

I kept waiting

for the thud

of your crash as I

sprinted to catch up,

while you grew

smaller, more breakable

with distance,

pumping, pumping

for your life, screaming

with laughter,

the hair flapping

behind you like a

handkerchief waving

goodbye.

Orphan Corner


Wearing the orphan weeds and find them heavy
On the lost street corner, sweating, trying to move
Toward a landmark I can remember
Somewhere, I do recall the lights
The house of memory, standing open, empty
Blazing with hope, comfortable chairs

Bathrooms of clean tile, privacy
I’m moving with increasing unease away

Losing it, losing me, losing them

The house of memory, standing open, empty

Monday, July 09, 2007




LAPL Librarians taught the basics of shushing






New...New...New...hipper librarians...again in NY Times....
Oh no, the profession is doomed for sure as the New York Stodgetimes has declared the bun-haired brigade to be born again hip...again. Thus burying the over-thirty Dewey Lemmings to be truly obsolete, un-tatooed, nerdians, smelling of malt o' meal and over-ripe bananas. Returning from days of making tiny check marks on data sheets, ` watching reruns of Sam Riddle's Hullabaloo and sipping very uncool domestic beers in stifling, tiny apartments with mangy cats astride their tattered, thrift store furniture. Oh God, I wish I was young and firm enough of flesh to get the contents of the Geschlechterbuch branded onto a bicep!
One more letter to the editor that will never be published: to the NYT

Dear Editor:

I know my opinion is not supposed to matter since I am over the age of 29 but one more article on the new hip librarians ("A Hipper Crowd of Shushers" July 8)has me moving out of my rocking chair and to the keyboard. I started in the library game in the term of Jimmy Carter and have come to accept certain facts:
Libraries and librarians will be declared soon to be obsolete every five years.
Bun hairdos and librarian stereotypes went out with words like “keen” and “daddio.”
Shushing is over, now it is “turn off your cell phone please, this is a reading room!”
I have never, ever been called “guybrarian” to my face and hope to continue that streak.
Communicating in Dewey at the cocktail hour is unadvisable due to the lack of easy recall of cutter numbers.
Hipness of librarians or other professions is not due in direct ratio to tattoos, the name of your blog or the length of names on your cocktails. Cannonball Adderly said it “Hipness is not a state of mind, It's a fact of life!" Librarians will become obsolete when the American public gets smart enough to put us out of business.






Sunday, July 08, 2007

My Very Last “Independence Day” in the Gate

typical South Gate resident checking his stash for "Independence" day.

It’s official; in a year of lasts I declare this to be my very last 4th of July in la ciudad de South Gate. My first was in 1948 so I guess it is about time. A series of events doomed me to accompanying Greg and his family to his Mom’s house on McNerney Avenue in the heart of the Gate this year just as I have done maybe twenty times in the past little while. The Gate was thoroughly latinized in the 80’s and is possibly 95% native Spanish speaking Mexicanos at this time. Now, the area is not terribly run down or showing a TJ countenance for the most part. In fact, the “new” Latin Gate looks quite a bit like the old “Anglo” Gate. The Mexi-Gaters take pride in ownership and my dear Annetta Avenue is be-lawned and nicely painted. So, on those rare occasions when I “inte-Gate” I don’t feel too foreign or on guard. That is EXCEPT on the day our forefathers busted our chains to the British and established the U.S.A.
As a lad in the 50’s the 4th was a time to set off some “piccolo petes”, a Coliope Vesuvius Cone, a “Giant Brilliant” (interesting name indeed), burn some “glow worms” or set a “Smoky Joe” to smoldering. Early on I saw the old unsafe and insane stuff like ladyfingers and Roman Candles that once sent both Farrier brothers to the emergency room on the same night. In 1960 I personally threw about fifty cherry bombs into the Pacific Ocean when the family rented a beach cottage at Surfside. Mostly, we celebrated by standing on the Whitney’s front lawn as the impressive pyrotechnic show took place at the South Gate park or guzzled precious beer from Gracies liquor and smoked up Tareytons in the Knowlton’s back yard as a Red Devil “lawn party” was torched up using neighborhood safety techniques comprised of a galvanized trash can lid and a garden hose. Billy Hogan and I used to like to get a load on and leap through the shower of cinders put forth by the Bull’s Eye Cone. The worst injuries almost always came from barefooted kids stepping on not yet cooled sparklers.
Now in 2007 as I approach a terrible birthday with a zero on the end I crave only peace and quiet tempered by sips of red wine and Dodger heroics crooned over by the great Vinny. Such is not possible in my home surrounded by three separate construction projects (worked on all day on the 4th) and the local miscreants who amuse themselves in the wee hours by disrupting the neighborhood with M-180 blasts in one of the nearby concrete ravines. My nerves are a bit frayed from life with Sid and Nancy and the incessant auditory fill. So, darkly circled eyes drooping, here I was on McNerney as the sun began to set and the air filling with a cacophony only before found on the battlefields of World Wars One and Two. Think of the opening scene of “Saving Private Ryan” and the shooting gallery at Frontierland on busy day.
The days of “screaming panthers” and “snakes” are over in the Gate and now every citizen seems to have a pipeline to some Somali warlord’s ammo cache. M-180’s with the punch of an landmine have become the new ladyfingers and skyrockets that once were only seen at special events at large municipal parks are in lead bottomed paint cans in every other driveway on every Gate street within earshot. Sky rocket mortars, palomitas (powerful triangular packets of black powder), helicopters (whizzing buzz bombs), now pipsqueak cherry bombs and the kind of multiple skyrockets once used for the grand finale at Dodger stadium zoomed up from fifteen corners at once in a dizzying and deafening sensory overload. Showers of burning embers rained down on palm trees and the old roofs with a red devil may care attitude. True to the bubble syndrome mind-set of much of the mega-bass blasting, tailgating, SUV driving, cell-phone shouting LA there seem to be no connect between these dangerous balls of fire and the future fire-retardant integrity of the local structures. The tragic part was the birds darting hither and thither in mid-air in a panicked search for some safety. They whirred and whizzed from one blinding flash to another never reaching a sanctuary. Also, there were the dogs wandering in terror, tongues hanging askew with eyes burning for a comforting hand, fleeing away from their homes and the onslaught of idiot fireworks.
Next door to the matriarch, the last of the great Moms of the Gate a new “family” has moved in without much in the way of community spirit or manners. The front room is “decorated” like a cantina with a wooden tables set within a neon lit interior with dull, wood floors, a stereo system and some hardscrabble metal chairs somewhat like the Hula Gal Tavern back in the day. The front door was left wide open so the nearby folk could enjoy the string of racist obscenities that blared forth from the rap songs booming from the amplifiers within. There were some breathers from this when techno-Banda thundered forth to retain some connection to the old country.
When nightfall completely blotted out the natural light it was replaced by the rain of rainbow hued explosions that never abated below say klieg light intensity and the thick sulphur fumes really made breathing outdoors difficult. I skulked into the front parlor and resisted a fetal position, instead focusing on a Dodger loss as Bret Tomko threw his own brand of fireworks show. Even icy cold beer and the best potato salad in the known world could not settle my shattered nerves, so I let the mother of noise hug me in the front room where I had passed through many a crisis.
Some of the Sheehy’s bravely cringed in the front yard and watched the pale imitations of pyrotechnics coming from the park where Floyd Wakefield was once propelled skyward by a red, white and blue flower of fire. Finally, after what seemed like days, I begged for release and Greg rounded up the rest and as a nice touch to the end of this misery he pulled the van out of the driveway, perfectly illuminating a fallen inebriate on the lawn next door. The jellyfish-state sot slumped out front of the same little el bada bing where the rap still bathed the jagged pieces of auditory damage in a sleazy glow. They stood the senor up like you would straighten a four by eight but his play dough knees could not hold. And as we crept up McNerney in our escape capsule we could see them negotiating the front steps that looked like the San Gabriels to this besotted chump. Luckily for Grace, she is pretty much deaf and is saved from much of this madness. Our voyage to the 105 freeway was a tour of illegal fireworks and befuddled, terrorized stray dogs looking like me for some cessation of the bombardment. Hooking up with the 110 we zoomed north, the sky still lit with mortars, skyrockets, and grand scale pyrotechnics belching from streets where kids learned to light the things with Daddy’s Marlboros. All this supervised by beer-soaked idiots with one hand on the Budweiser and the other on the two-for a buck lighter. One slip and somebody loses a finger or eyeball but they do look so cool flying up out of your very own backyard. In Glendale a mental giant actually burned up his home and others in his complex by setting off fireworks INSIDE his apartment. When I got home, the explosions and showers of fire continued until I dragged off to my bedchambers with earplugs and white noise to sleep the sleep of the disgusted. Earlier, in my pre-slumber channel surfing I ran into a corn-fest with Pops orchestra playing the old glory wrapped, patriotic war horses while red-faced Kentuckians sat in the audience festooned in red, white and blue “outfits.” On the jingo-lameometer this program sent the mercury to the top. Still, I had a twinge of musty identification with the well-ordered Yankees blessed out with the team spirit. When we got skull-fucked in the Knowlton’s back driveway, eating watermelon, 20% fat burgers and smoking our cigs we did so with some small inkling that the day held some more significance than a cold Burgie. This is the new Los Angeles and the Raider nation mentality for which it stands. As for me, I have had enough and will begin my search for that remote lighthouse with a garden in the coming months.