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Summertime Summertime Sum-Sum-Summertime

And every night we’ll have a dance
Cause what’s a vacation without romance
Oh man this jive has me in a trance
Because it’s summertime

– – The Jamies – Summertime, Summertime, 1958

It’s going to be the “Summertime” Issue of American Digest for a bit. That means, especially after the last seven months, this page will not be updated daily as usual but will, I suppose, languish at times as do I in the wake of all that has happened since last November 8. For the present, I am in recovery from the past.

To announce this shift in a way that was a little bit entertaining and more than a little bit irritating I thought I’d find a clip of The Jamies obsessive/compulsive ring-a-ding-doo-wop ditty from the Stone Age of Rock, “Summertime, Summertime” (Otherwise known as “Earworm in a Can.”)

YouTube, as usual, did not disappoint and served up this ancient artifact of long extinct teens dancing in a disappeared studio on an evaporated afternoon to a tune now mostly, and gratefully, forgotten.

While looking at this odd clip, I noticed that it used visuals that had been melting, fuzzing out, and otherwise degrading until snapped up into this current digital version. Looking at these dancing shadows and time-smudged images was like gazing into the pool of my own dissolving memory; one more than 50 years old. I would have been 13 in 1958 and it was likely that I actually watched this on my family’s old and large black and white television. In some long ago suburban home that still survives but with a different family. One that today seems to have an inordinate love for rock gardens.

It may have been American bandstand or it may have been one of the imitators. Most likely Bandstand. Soul Train was later and not a train I rode.

These images seem, in their blurring liquid state, to mimic my memories of those years… all fading back down into the soup of the mind as the neural circuits that formed the original memory were copied and copied and copied and copied again as the years piled on.

Now, like these images, that memory of mine is not the crisp copy it once was. It’s more like some xeroxed copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy. I’m told that closer to the end all these ancient memories crisp up again. I think that’s just one of the many happy-face bromides promulgated to blunt the long slow slide into age and oblivion. For now, I think I’ll pass.

For now, I’ll take comfort in the knowledge that, as the Bard says, “Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.”

That and the fact that once again it’s…..

summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime summertime…



Everything was awful for a very long time, and then the industrial revolution happened. — Luke Hauser


[click to continue…]


The Street by H. P. Lovecraft

There be those who say that things and places have souls, and there be those who say they have not; I dare not say, myself, but I will tell of The Street.

Men of strength and honour fashioned that Street; good, valiant men of our blood who had come from the Blessed Isles across the sea. At first it was but a path trodden by bearers of water from the woodland spring to the cluster of houses by the beach. Then, as more men came to the growing cluster of houses and looked about for places to dwell, they built cabins along the north side; cabins of stout oaken logs with masonry on the side toward the forest, for many Indians lurked there with fire-arrows. And in a few years more, men built cabins on the south side of The Street.

Up and down The Street walked grave men in conical hats, who most of the time carried muskets or fowling pieces. And there were also their bonneted wives and sober children. In the evening these men with their wives and children would sit about gigantic hearths and read and speak. Very simple were the things of which they read and spoke, yet things which gave them courage and goodness and helped them by day to subdue the forest and till the fields. And the children would listen, and learn of the laws and deeds of old, and of that dear England which they had never seen, or could not remember.

There was war, and thereafter no more Indians troubled The Street. The men, busy with labour, waxed prosperous and as happy as they knew how to be. And the children grew up comfortably, and more families came from the Mother Land to dwell on The Street. And the children’s children, and the newcomers’ children, grew up. The town was now a city, and one by one the cabins gave place to houses; simple, beautiful houses of brick and wood, with stone steps and iron railings and fanlights over the doors. No flimsy creations were these houses, for they were made to serve many a generation. Within there were carven mantels and graceful stairs, and sensible, pleasing furniture, china, and silver, brought from the Mother Land.

So The Street drank in the dreams of a young people, and rejoiced as its dwellers became more graceful and happy. Where once had been only strength and honour, taste and learning now abode as well. Books and paintings and music came to the houses, and the young men went to the university which rose above the plain to the north. In the place of conical hats and muskets there were three-cornered hats and small-swords, and lace and snowy periwigs. And there were cobblestones over which clattered many a blooded horse and rumbled many a gilded coach; and brick sidewalks with horse blocks and hitching-posts. [click to continue…]


Believe in me, baby, and I’ll take you away
From out of this darkness and into the day
From these rivers of headlights, these rivers of rain
From the anger that lives on the streets with these names
Cause I’ve run every red light on memory lane
I’ve seen desperation explode into flames
And I don’t want to see it again

From all of these signs saying,
“Sorry, but we’re closed”
All the way
Down the telegraph road

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Mondo Bizarro: Touring the Tower of Babel

The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries. In the center of each gallery is a ventilation shaft, bounded by a low railing. From any hexagon one can see the floors above and below-one after another, endlessly. The arrangement of the galleries is always the same: Twenty bookshelves, five to each side, line four of the hexagon’s six sides; the height of the bookshelves, floor to ceiling, is hardly greater than the height of a normal librarian. One of the hexagon’s free sides opens onto a narrow sort of vestibule, which in turn opens onto another gallery, identical to the first-identical in fact to all. To the left and right of the vestibule are two tiny compartments. One is for sleeping, upright; the other, for satisfying one’s physical necessities. Through this space, too, there passes a spiral staircase, which winds upward and downward into the remotest distance. In the vestibule there is a mirror, which faithfully duplicates appearances. Men often infer from this mirror that the Library is not infinite-if it were, what need would there be for that illusory replication? I prefer to dream that burnished surfaces are a figuration and promise of the infinite. . . . Light is provided by certain spherical fruits that bear the name “bulbs.” There are two of these bulbs in each hexagon, set crosswise. The light they give is insufficient, and unceasing. — Borges, The Library of Babel

The unique culture of Japanese convenience stores  “A convenience store is not merely a place where customers come to buy practical necessities,” said Furukura in the novel’s opening pages. “It has to be somewhere they can enjoy and take pleasure in discovering things they like.”

Florida man steals mail truck leading to a pursuit up I-95, deputies say  The suspect intentionally swerved and drove the mail truck directly toward the deputy. Estep missed the deputy and swerved the trick toward a different FCSO deputy who was attempting to lay out more stop sticks. Then, when the back tire of the truck struck a stop stick and the suspect lost control of the mail carrier. The suspect overcorrected, causing the truck to crash into a guardrail and flip.

“BORN TO MOW!”Honda Mean Mower hits 100 mph in record 6.29 seconds [click to continue…]


Modern smart devices are purposely designed to be operated even by an idiot. Technology has allowed the burden of intelligence to be shifted away from the user to the machine. As a result people routinely use tools they barely understand implicitly believing they will work. It works but there’s a danger. As Arthur C. Clarke famously observed, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. In our high technology present an increasing percentage of the global population must relate to their world in terms of magic. — Richard Fernandez, The Coming Age of Magic

from The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester: CHAPTER TWO

BETWEEN MARS AND JUPITER is spread the broad belt of the asteroids. Of the thousands, known and unknown, most unique to the Freak Century was the Sargasso Asteroid, a tiny planet manufactured of natural rock and wreckage salvaged by its inhabitants in the course of two hundred years.

They were savages, the only savages of the twenty-fourth century; descendants of a research team of scientists that had been lost and marooned in the asteroid belt two centuries before when their ship had failed. By the time their descendants were rediscovered they had built up a world and a culture of their own, and preferred to remain in space, salvaging and spoiling, and practicing a barbaric travesty of the scientific method they remembered from their forebears. They called themselves The Scientific People. The world promptly forgot them. [click to continue…]


Strange female with a crew-cut at 1:26: “Um, I thought I was gonna be reading Facebook posts all day, so people going, you know, everybody posts their business on Facebook, so I was gonna read everybody’s stuff and then be able to, you know, decide if it has to stay up or come down, so, I thought it would be a fun job.”


Shaping the Silence

Quiet’s dangerous. We live in a world of bluster. But then again, some people don’t have any fear, and play it half as fast and half as loud as the others. You can’t look away, when it’s quiet like that.Sippican Cottage

As fate often had it in those dear dead hippie days beyond recall, I was in the booth watching and listening long ago when the great Glyn Johns was producing “Willow” with Joan Armatrading. His largest problem with getting the take was getting Joan to overcome her innate shyness — even in the studio. To “come out from behind the piano, dear,” and address the microphone.

This vid might be from that session — it was long ago, and my old brain fades — but it shows how a singer can shape a song by surrounding the silences. It’s an amazing clip. Through the microexpressions on her face, you can track her mapping, thinking, feeling, reaching within, and then shaping the song around the silences.

In those sessions and others, it was Glyn Johns’ habit to let the song begin, listen to the first few bars, and then shut the whole thing down by punching up his mike and saying, “Sorry. Not sold.” Then the band would begin again and… “Sorry. Not sold.” and… then again “Sorry. Not sold.”, and…

As I recall it, once this take started he just let everything roll.

Come running to me
When things get out of hand
Running to me
When it’s more than you can stand
I said I’m strong
To be a
In a storm
Your willow oh willow
When the sun is out


On the Post Modern Plague

“Communism is not new. It is, in fact, man’s second oldest faith. Its promise was whispered in the first days of the Creation under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: “Ye shall be as gods.” It is the great alternative faith of mankind. Like all great faiths, its force derives from a simple vision. Other ages have had great visions. They have always been different versions of the same vision: the vision of God and man’s relationship to God. The Communist vision is the vision of Man without God.

“It is the vision of man’s mind displacing God as the creative intelligence of the world. It is the vision of man’s liberated mind, by the sole force of its rational intelligence, redirecting man’s destiny and reorganizing man’s life and the world. It is the vision of man, once more the central figure of the Creation, not because God made man in his image, but because man’s mind makes him the most intelligent of the animals. Copernicus and his successors displaced man as the central fact of the universe by proving that the earth was not the central star of the universe. Communism restores man to his sovereignty by the simple method of denying God.” — Whittaker Chambers


Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep…

Most children are afraid of the dark. I know that I was. Parents who are too tough deny you the nightlight or the cracked door letting in a distant glow from the front room or from downstairs. Parents who are too kind leave the door ajar or plug in the nightlight. A lot of parents, tough or kind, help you learn a prayer familiar to hundreds of millions of people:

“Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake….”

It is not clear that the prayer helps allay the fear of the dark and of death in that dark, but as children we learn it anyway. It is probably the first prayer that is learned. Its lesson is that, parent or child, we are hostage to fortune or to His ineffable will. Being bound to His will is one of the most fundamental calisthenics of faith.

Most children remain afraid of the dark but learn not to admit it. At some point, you are instructed to grow out of it. You become an adult; no longer a slave to childish fears without foundations. You tell yourself, “I’m not afraid of the dark.” You’re lying but, like so many other lies that let you get through the day, you lie this lie for so long that you forget it is what it is; a lie.

I feared the dark as a child and when I grew to be a man I still felt uneasy when consigned to a room that was “too dark.” I developed some manly and not-so-manly methods for mitigating the dark — light curtains, dim baseboard night lights in the hallway, falling asleep with the television on a timer, votive candles, the whole inventory, the entire catastrophe. After some years of sleeping safe within these rituals and relics, I forgot that I was, in the core of my being, still afraid of the dark; afraid that “I should die before I wake.”

And then I did. Die, that is. [click to continue…]


For My Father

The Mountain of the Holy Cross

The Interface
–for my father, Albert John Van der Leun

The empty rituals and dusty opulence
of the nightmare’s obvious ending dwindle,
and the sounds of departing automobiles
fade into the humm beyond the cul-de-sac.
Inside the house, my mother sits quietly,
surrounded by the plates of finger food
that everybody brought and no one ate,
and wonders if she should begin to take
his clothes from the closet and call the Goodwill.
Some blocks away, the minister hangs
his vestments on a peg, and goes to lunch.

I drive the Skyway to the town named Paradise,
park his car at the canyon’s rim, and sit awhile
in the hot silence of the afternoon looking out
at the far Sierras where, in June, the winter lingers.
On the seat beside me, a well-taped cardboard cube
contains what remains of my father. I climb out
and, taking the cube under my arm, begin to climb
down the canyon’s lava wall to the stream below.
The going is slow, but we get to the bottom by and by
and sitting on some moss, we rest awhile, the cube and I,
beside the snow-chilled stream.

The place we have come to is where the pines lean out
from the rounded boulders lodged above the stream;
where what the stream saves builds up in the backwater,
making in the mounds of matter an inventory of the year:
Rusted tins slumped under the fallen sighs of weeds,
diminishing echoes of the blackbird’s gliding wings,
laughs buoyed in the hollow belly of stunted trees,
gears, tires, the bones of birds, brilliant pebbles,
the rasping whoosh of leaf fall crushed to dust,
the thunk of bone on bark, the thud of earth on wood,
the silence of soft ash scattered on chill waters.

And in such silence, he fades forever.

The stream, its waters revolving round
through river, ocean, clouds, and rain,
bears away the hands and eyes,
but still the memory remains,
answering, in pantomime,
the questions never asked:

Are these reflections but the world without,
carried on but never borne onward, westward,
towards sunlight glazed on sea’s thigh?
Or are such frail forms shaped upon the waters all
the things that are, and we above immersed in air
the forms that fade, only the mere mirrors of the stream?

Is this life all that is and, once life lost,
the end of all that was, with nothing
left to be, with no pine wind to taste,
nor sun to dapple mind with dream?
Is all that is but ash dissolving,
our lives mere rain in circles falling?

Or are we still the center of such circles,
our fall a rise above the shawl of night,
where all shall shine contained within
that single soul, that heart of stars;
that interface where souls and suns
and Earth’s far scattered waters meet?

Meet in that one hand whose palm
still remains held out forever,
held out and for forever holding us
even in the coldest light of day.

“They are with me still, real in memory as they were in flesh, loving and beloved forever.”


Meditation for a Summer Sunday

“Why don’t we say to people reach out and take it. It can be yours. What else are you going to do with your life than live in that inheritance and play a part in it? And even if you don’t see a part of it that you can play in it at least help it to keep going. Don’t make your generation the final chapter.”


In Noted In Passing: The All-American Heimatsicherheitsdeinst    commenter anon notes, also in passing…

” Take the 50,000 TSA workers and put them on the Mexican border. Let them inspect, care for and control the immigrants.”

Game. Set. Match.


Heimatsicherheitsdeinst (literally, Homeland Security) and TSA

have nothing to do with “catching terrorists” and everything to do with habituating people to arbitrary authority and routine degradation by government goons – so as to make them feel the same way that prisoners feel – I get the deer-in-the-headlights face from most of them.

I then go on to ask them whether they think it is beyond the means and capabilities of real “terrorists” to charter a plane.

The whole thing is absurd – and evil almost beyond words. Perhaps the worst part is the willing complicity of so many people – from the TSA geeks themselves (no one puts a gun to their head; they could seek honest work that didn’t involve treating their fellow Americans like cattle on the way to Treblinka – and that’s no coincidence, either) to the people who don’t have to fly to keep their jobs/feed their families – but do it anyhow. If even 10 percent of “optional” flyers had refused to fly until the TSA was abolished, the TSA would be abolished. But most people will not inconvenience themselves in the least to take a stand for the right thing. Reader Question: Why Don’t “Terrorists” Fly Private? – EPautos – Libertarian Car Talk


Democrats Announce Investigation of ACME Mfg. Co. for Selling Defective Products That Always Let Trump Get Away – “I remember when Trump called me into the Oval Office to discuss funding the border wall, and I had this feeling that he might try leaving before I could get on camera and cut him down with childish name-calling. So I took some ACME Wall Paint and made a fake archway into the next room. Sure enough, 2 minutes into the meeting, he runs out, but somehow he runs THROUGH the archway I painted. I tried running through the archway after him, but I hit the wall face-first and splayed out flat against it. That’s why I have this bandage on my nose. It is NOT – as some people have suggested – from cosmetic surgery. That’s the other bandage on my nose.”

More about scissors (Japanese) than you knew. More than anyone knew:bookofjoe: How Japanese scissors have evolved

Gen. Robert E. Lee has been re-invented as a white genocidal lunatic. Meanwhile, actual tape-recorded evidence of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. engaging in sex orgies will not put a dent in his hero status. Ann Coulter: The Whole MLK Folk Tale, And Nothing But

“We as a society” is often a hint that one person presumes his individual conclusions or desires extend to a vast nation with hundreds of millions of people. — -LILEKS (James)

Thoughts from the ammo line | The legal system is currently geared to favor the clinically insane and corporate entities are loath to offend anyone in that protected category, which is why middle-aged men in lipstick are free to potty in the same restroom as little girls in Target. [click to continue…]


Happy Birthday, Mr. President


Send in the Clones , er, Clowns

 Democrats Announce Who Will Make Political Balloon Animals at the Debate  

The 20 candidates who qualified under the DNC’s polling and grassroots criteria include: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julio Castro, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, California Rep. Eric Swalwell, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, motivational speaker Marianne Williamson and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

For the benefit of Mr. Kite
There will be a show tonight on trampoline
The Hendersons will all be there
Late of Pablo Fanques Fair-what a scene
Over men and horses hoops and garters
Lastly through a hogshead of real fire!
In this way, Mr. K. will challenge the world!


Sarah Sanders’ Penultimate Press Briefing


And now for something completely different.  

[FROM APRIL 2018] Mom and my brother Tom last week. They dropped by after Tom and helped mom into his BMW and taken her for a high-speed ride on the back roads around Chico and Paradise. Mom likes to go very fast. With the top down. On a beautiful spring day where Northern California is a green dream.


At 103 years of age, small errors can lead to a major crisis; and knowing this when my phone rings at midnight and the caller ID says “Mom,” I come awake very quickly.

Last Thursday Night/ Friday morning that call came in. I responded as quickly as is safe and went to my mother’s apartment to find she had slipped and fallen onto her carpet causing an injury to her knee that left her unable to lift herself safely. My reaction was to take a quick read on her knee (Nothing broken but painful.) and then call 911 for some paramedics to drop by and evaluate her.

This was done with the usual and always amazing response team from Enloe Hospital in Chico and (after a very thorough evaluation ) they determined nothing was broken and there was no pressing need to transport her by ambulance to the emergency room. They got her back on her pins even though to put weight on her knees was quite painful. I stayed on that night and through the next to help her. She saw the orthopedist the next morning and he determined that nothing was broken or fractured and that her bones were overall in first-rate shape. She got a new knee brace which was much more sturdy than the brace she usually wears and was sent home at about noon on Friday.

This morning, Sunday, she was up and about and seemed to be well on the mend. So much so that she dressed in her Sunday best as my brother Tom, who had also come down to stay with her, took her to church and the social hour they have after. Seeing her after church today it was clear that she was about 90% of the way back to her normal walking state. She reminded me that we needed to get tickets to Noises Off at the Chico Theater Company and sent me to the box office.

And so, at 103, on we go.

I mentioned to her all the amazing support seen here and the prayers offered up on her behalf.

“Really? But.. but they don’t know me.”

“Oh, they do know you a bit, mom. I’ve written about you. Here let me read you a few of their comments.”

And I did. And as I did I noticed my Stoic mother get just a bit misty.

“How wonderful that is,” she said. “How wonderful they are.”

“Yes,” I said. “Yes, they are.”

“Thank them for me.”

When my mother tells me to do something I always say, “Yes.”

So thank you. Thank you one and all.


Boomer Ballads: Fire and Rain by James Taylor

Just yesterday mornin’, they let me know you were gone
Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can’t remember who to send it to

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
I won’t make it any other way [click to continue…]


While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity,
heavily thickening to empire,
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops
and sighs out, and the mass hardens,

I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit,
the fruit rots to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances,
ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.

You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good,
be it stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains:
shine, perishing republic.

But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from
the thickening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster’s
feet there are left the mountains.

And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever
servant, insufferable master.
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught—they say—
God, when he walked on earth.


Mom’s Old Flowers [Written July 2, 2017]

Yesterday at my mom’s apartment, I drop by after buying a fresh bouquet of flowers for her at the Chico Saturday Farmers’ Market. I do this because I know that her last fresh flowers are from Mother’s Day — live lilies in a white plastic pot — are getting wilted and sad on the table near her window.

I get a vase down from the kitchen shelves and carefully arrange the bouquet. Mom is at the kitchen counter paying her bills. I take the vase over to the table and start to remove her lilies.

“No, no. Leave them there,” says Mom.

“But, mom, they’re tired and wilted and will be dead soon.”

“Now, now, you just leave them there. I’m watching them.”


“I’m waiting to see who goes first, them or me.”


I Am Standing Upon The Seashore
by Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says;
“There, she is gone!”

“Gone where?”
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, “There, she is gone!”
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout;
“Here she comes!”
And that is dying.