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Noted in Passing: A Good Walk Spoiled

Seems like every time you look around. . . .

. . . .some group of well-meaning Karenholes is conspiring to transform something that takes real balls to accomplish into something that only requires imaginary balls. (And a hard hat and a tether and a ticket-taking guard to evaluate your girly man quotient.)

The original.  Knocked off one or two hikers a year. No prisoners!

The Pussified. Next up? Access for the disabled and those identifying as a wheelchair.

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Monkey in a Box: Best long read of the year so far

TIM TATE: The time is the mid-’60s. The place, anywhere suburban USA. My brother is 8, I am 9 years old. We love a magazine called Monster Magazine, which we read religiously every single month. This month, in the back of Monster Magazine besides itching powder and x-ray glasses, you could purchase a monkey. Not a sea monkey, not a stuffed monkey, an actual squirrel monkey the size of a cat – a big cat and you only had to send $19.95. And we had $19.95 because we washed cars, we mowed lawns.

So my brother and I think, this would be the best – the best idea we’ve ever had because not only will he do our chores for us and we will love him and he will love us, but also he will go to school with us. Everybody at school will love us because we have a monkey on our shoulders. It was going to treat all of our ills. So we decide that this would be the best idea we ever had, but we knew from experience that if we asked my mom in advance, there was but one outcome – the answer would be no.

But we also knew that any half-dead kind of bedraggled, moth-eaten animal we drag home, she would let us keep ’cause she was a big softy. So with both those pieces of knowledge, we set off for our own monkey. We decide his name will be Pepe. We make him a little hat and a cape. And we will dress him when he comes and everyone will know him because his name will be Pepe. So we send off the money and we wait.

About three weeks go by and back then women had bridge tournaments with the women from the country club. This was one of those days. So my mom’s having a big bridge party. We’ve been, you know, squeezed into our plaid jackets, little red bowties, and our hair’s been slicked down and we look very nice – we look like twins. And we’re just kind of sitting there smiling so we don’t embarrass anybody and they’re just pointing and pinching our cheeks. By the way, the cardinal rule in our house is you never ever embarrass your mother in front of the bridge club.

That is the worst thing you can do. So as we sit there petrified that we might embarrass our mother, there’s a knock at the door, it’s the postman. And the postman has a box addressed to me and my brother. And it’s the size of a shoebox. And in the front of the shoebox is a little, tiny metal grill. And on the little metal grill, what we see is a little monkey’s mouth going (monkey breathing) up against this thing. So when my mother, seeing this monkey, and seeing it’s from Monkey Island or wherever it was from – and she says, oh my god. I don’t care what the boys have ordered. Take this thing back, it’s not coming to my house. Take it back to where you got it from. I don’t want this thing in my home. [continue reading…]

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Barnes & Noble is no tech startup, and is about as un-cool as retailers get. It’s like The Gap, but for books. The company was founded in 1886, and it flourished during the 20th century. But the digital age caught the company by surprise.

For a while, Barnes & Noble tried to imitate Amazon. It ramped up online sales, and introduced its own eBook reader (the Nook), but with little success.

Even after its leading bricks-and-mortar competitor Borders shut down in 2011, B&N still couldn’t find a winning strategy. By 2018 the company was in total collapse. Barnes & Noble lost $18 million that year, and fired 1,800 full time employees—in essence shifting almost all store operations to part time staff. Around that same time, the company fired its CEO due to sexual harassment claims.

Every indicator was miserable. Same-store sales were down. Online sales were down. The share price was down more than 80%.. . . .

[THEN they fired the CEO and hired James Daunt]

Daunt refused to play this game. He wanted to put the best books in the window. He wanted to display the most exciting books by the front door. Even more amazing, he let the people working in the stores make these decisions.

This is James Daunt’s super power: He loves books.

“Staff are now in control of their own shops,” he explained. “Hopefully they’re enjoying their work more. They’re creating something very different in each store.”

This crazy strategy proved so successful at Waterstones, that returns fell almost to zero—97% of the books placed on the shelves were purchased by customers. That’s an amazing figure in the book business.

On the basis of this success, Daunt was put in charge of Barnes & Noble in August 2019. But could he really bring that dinosaur, on the brink of extinction, back to life?. . . .

Of course, there’s a lesson here. And it’s not just for books. You could also apply it to music, newspapers, films, and a host of other media.

But I almost hate to say it, because the lesson is so simple.

If you want to sell music, you must love those songs. If you want to succeed in journalism, you must love those newspapers. If you want to succeed in movies, you must love the cinema.

But this kind of love is rare nowadays. I often see record labels promote new artists for all sorts of gimmicky reasons—even labels I once trusted such as Deutsche Grammophon or Concord. I’ve come to doubt whether the people in charge really love the music.. . .

RTWT AT What Can We Learn from Barnes & Noble’s Surprising Turnaround?

Recomendo

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The Centenarian: Arthur Warner McNair

Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

— Eliot

He’s one hundred years old and his long hands, once strong, are growing translucent. He does not so much sit in his wheelchair as he is held upright and at a slight slant by straps. Even awake his eyes are shut against the glare and the blur of the fluorescent lights in the roof of the home.

His meals of pureed food are spoon-fed to him by attendants who speak to him in the tones he once used, long ago, on his infant children. When the drapes in his room are partially opened they reveal a view of a gravel roof, exhaust fans, and the brick facade of the opposite wing of the home. It’s not a view but he doesn’t mind. His eyes are shut against the glare and the blur of the present, and he’s gone off on a fishing trip in the summer of 1949 where he will say to no one in particular, “Jesus, the fish are thick on the ground.”

Don’t make the mistake of thinking he’s not in the here and now, because he’ll surprise you now and then. He’ll come out for a bit if it is worth it, but it seldom is. And then only for a moment.

He’s my mother’s brother, my uncle, and his life has now spanned a full century.

In the year of his birth, 1909, the NAACP was founded as was Tel Aviv while the keel of what was to become the Titanic was laid in Belfast. Taft took over the Presidency from Roosevelt (Theodore) and “Alice Huyler Ramsey, a 22-year-old housewife, and mother from Hackensack, New Jersey, became the first woman to drive across the United States.” Airplanes were only six years old but the Germans were already working on the anti-aircraft gun. Wisely so since the United States Army Signal Corp Division purchased the world’s first military airplane from the Wright brothers in that same year. Not to be outdone, the US Navy decided it needed a central base in the Pacific and thought Pearl Harbor made strategic sense.

In the year of his birth Geronimo died, Barry Goldwater was born, and Guglielmo Marconi received the Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of radio. There’s a radio in his room next to his bed but it’s never turned on. Neither is the television that hangs from the ceiling and if his phone rings, it’s a mistake. But in his mind, there are signals still coming in from elsewhere, from elsewhen, from out there, and if you sit with him quietly, without trying to engage him and without expectation; if you sit with him “where here and now cease to matter” you can sometimes sense where he really lives in this his hundredth year.

C. S. Lewis observed “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” Live long enough and your body slowly betrays you and sometimes takes your mind and soul with it.

Many of my uncle’s relatives seem to think that’s what has happened to him. And perhaps they are correct. Alzheimer’s, senile dementia, and other associated afflictions are the terror of the elderly and their families. Indeed, they are the things we fear most about growing old next to unremitting pain from a degenerating disease. As one of my cousins said, “It’s about ‘quality of life.’

Dementia might well be the overriding problem that afflicts my uncle as he waits in his room with his name on a card in a slotted holder next to the door. “Dementia” is what we all assume when the elderly become less and less present to us as we perform our dutiful visits. We reintroduce ourselves and then carefully monitor how long they can hold who we are (son, daughter, sister, brother, friend) in their minds, and measure that against how long they held that knowledge the year before. It is almost always for a shorter time and that calculation distresses us.

So we call for more care, for more or different drugs. After all, their care is expensive and we need to get the value for money spent on our aged relatives knowing. We want them to know at least, who we are for more than five minutes. Their forgetfulness distresses us because it cuts us off from them just when our need to remind them of our love is greatest. It also upsets us because it is a portent of what waits for us when it is our name on the card in the slotted holder next to the door. Dementia.

Maybe. Maybe not. [continue reading…]

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Tatum unloads both barrels on these blathering fools.

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Dispatches #2

“The Grifting goes in before the name goes on.”

House of Eratosthenes That would be our U.S. election system. I keep hearing all sorts of bad things about me that apply if I question this system or the results it produces, which suggests there should be some solid evidence available that would make me feel better about all of it. But I’ve come across no such thing.

When the rubber meets the road, the argument that our elections should earn my trust, is based on usurpation of the benefit of the doubt. Apologists for the status quo get it, because they want it. I’m to prove my skepticism, or shut up, for some reason. But how much of a status quo is this? We’re living in a post pandemic world. Our elections have been reformed, hastily, and not entirely very well, out of our frantic reaction to the virus that came from China. If I want to be fair about it, I should maintain confidence in the system that’s directly proportionate to the rigor of the challenges and questions that were posed to the new system while it was in its developmental stages. Well, we were never allowed to ask any, and we’re still not allowed.

I look around and see — you know what? Everything is like this. Everything.

It’s almost 2023 and I’m still seeing people running around out there wearing masks. Driving in their cars, wearing masks. Alone. They are not presenting themselves as what they truly are, and what they look like, to me, is something different entirely.

It’s a simple wish. I’m gathering I’m not the only one that has it. As we bid good-bye to 2022, which I will recall only slightly more fondly than 2021 and 2020 — I want less bullshit. Less deception.

Say what you mean. Be what you are. See yourself as I see you, and correct things accordingly before you pop up on my radar, so I don’t have to do it for you.

And don’t ever lie to me. It’s not because it upsets me. You’re not succeeding the way you think. You’re actually amusing, in an annoying way.

Best way to get started going down that road, is not to do it. Everyone should insist on it. Less nonsense, less excrement.

And get off my lawn.

Never Yet Melted サ It Is No Longer the America I Grew Up In The American establishment was Country Club Republican, liberal but with some moderation and common sense. The establishment today is a Marxist devotedly treasonous clerisy that hates the rest of America and that has every inclination to impose its positions by force. The liberals have been purged.

Chung Ling Soo: The Magician Who Led a Double Life And Got Shot on Stage |   Soo’s most famous act, which he also stole from Foo and copied to near perfection, was “Condemned to Death by the Boxers.” In this trick, Soo’s assistants appeared on stage dressed as members of the Chinese secret society known as the Yihequan (“Righteous and Harmonious Fists”) or, as the English called them, “Boxers”. Several members of the audience were called upon the stage to mark a bullet that was loaded into a muzzle-loaded gun. The gun was then fired at Soo, who appeared to catch the bullet from the air and drop it into a plate. An audience member would inspect the bullet and declare that it was the same bullet that was marked and dropped into the barrel. In reality, the marked bullet never went into the gun but was slipped into Soo’s palm. What went into the muzzle was a substitute. The gun was also specially built to have two chambers, one that was loaded and the empty chamber below, which was ignited.

Zelensky Spotted Ringing Bell Next To Red Bucket Outside U.S. Capitol |   WASHINGTON, DC — Only a day after his address to Congress, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was seen ringing a bell next to a red donation bucket while standing outside the entrance to the U.S. Capitol building. Sources say it’s yet another attempt to seek money for his nation’s war effort against Russia.

“Every dollar is vital to our righteous cause,” Zelensky was heard telling lawmakers and other staffers as they entered the Capitol. “The tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars you have sent thus far is simply not enough. We require more funding for munitions, vehicles, government salaries, and my wife’s shopping trips in Paris. Please, this is of the utmost importance.”

MORE MUCH MORE FOR PAYING MEMBERS AT THE NEW AMERICAN DIGEST. GET SOME.

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Happy Birthday to Me: In My Extreme Age

Turn around, more than half a decade evaporates. 70?71?727374 75 76  77? It doesn’t feel so old. I’m told that it is but it doesn’t feel that old. At the same time, I confess I’m not exactly sure who this geezer is who shows up in the mirror every morning — or where he came from. The thing is he keeps writing notes like this and leaving them where I can’t help finding them:

In my extreme age —
In my age extreme —
Skin planed to glassine,
Bone buffed to crystal,
Light locked in the marrow,
And memory melded to images only…

Of my extreme age —
In my age extreme

In my extreme age —
In my age extreme —
Thoughts thinned to one
And dreams dimmed to soul;
To that one shred of thread
Which stitches the shroud

Of my extreme age —
In my age extreme.

In that age extreme,
That extreme edge of age,
There shall still
In such stillness
Ring in my ears
One echo of now;

Of my extreme age —
In my age extreme.

In our age extreme
Your echo shall glimmer
Ever on the river that streams
Through time’s silted canyons
Of my extreme age —
In my age extreme.

Of our extreme age —
In our age extreme.

— Vanderleun for Emma Jean.

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Gifts


The best gift I’ve received in the last few years was a small wooden box, fashioned by hand, and containing a number of carefully selected small objects each with a personal meaning. It has no commercial value. It is a gift of the hand that is filled with the heart. I keep it nearby in my home and, from time to time, I open it and take out each object and hold them briefly before putting them back in their box and the box back on the shelf.

In another time and in another place I once saw the most Christmas gifts I’ve ever seen in a single home. It was in a place where the hands had gone astray and the heart been misplaced. It was the struggle of quantity to overcome quality made manifest.

It was at a home of some people I once knew in a town where I once lived in another life in another time long, long ago. They had the required large house of many rooms. As a family of four they had about five rooms for every person. It was a house they could all hide in and they did. They hid from each other and they hid all year. On Christmas, however, they came out and pretended they were still a family.

The tree was set up in what these days we call “the family room” even though the room was really just a pass-through for the other rooms. The tree was, as these things had to be in that land at that time, very large and professionally decorated in whatever theme was deemed to be “in” that year. The star at the tip touched and was bent down by the ceiling. The ornaments were so thick that they obscured the green boughs that supported them. The lights were so numerous that the whole tree could have been hauled out and found a place among the approach lights to an airport.

It was good it was a big tree since it needed to be strong to support the wild pile of gifts that started where the two stairs down into the sunken family room bottomed out. The gifts then rose, in a tumult of wrapping paper, in a riot of colored ribbons, to a level of at least two and a half feet by the time they reached the outer boughs. For the family of four there were literally hundreds of presents all wrapped and tossed into the room like some third-world garbage heap until they filled the family room corner to corner.

To pass through this room you had to step carefully along the edges and most people who’d come to the party just went down the adjoining hallway.

In the larger rooms on that day before Christmas the family of four was holding their party for their friends and acquaintances. At that time and in that land the people attending still had lots of young children and their laughter and chatter gave a nice Christmasesque soundtrack to the drinking and eating that went on and on and on.

Our hosts were, to say the least, not getting along that year. Alcohol was taking its toll on the couple, as were the standard infidelities and betrayals common to that set in that land at that time. The hosts tried to put their war into a state of truce on this day so they could pretend, for a little longer, that everything was picture perfect in their world. But as the drinks kicked in their bickering became more and more bitter and I finally sought refuge from the ill spirits and moved off into the house. [continue reading…]

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FOR UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN


For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

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Hanukkah Candles on Christmas Eve

And the Light shineth in darkness: and the darkness did not comprehend it. — John 1:5

Throughout the night, the cold drew close,
And wrapped our home in shrouds of frost.
Within eight candles lent us light,
Returning to us all we’d lost.

Around us, all our village slept.
Our children safe, their breathing slow.
Eight candles gleamed beside our tree,
Their flames burned long, burned low.

Then all fell silent round my house.
The snow shone blue, the shadows, slate.
You could almost hear the planet turn.
I stood alone beside my gate.

Behind me, those I loved slept warm,
Protected by God’s endless grace.
Below me lay the village streets,
Wrapped in winter’s chill embrace.

The darkness waned, the morning loomed,
Within my house, the fire grew bright.
Outside I walked on fragile snow,
And prayed for greater light.

As a child, I’d lived in dreams of stars,
Of Peace on Earth –life’s golden seal–
And This Night seemed, of all those nights,
The one when all such dreams were real.

Tonight I know this is not so.
The world is not as we would wish,
But as we make it, day by day,
And this the mystery and the Gift.

The candles whisper of His Gift.
The stars reflect them high above.
The Gift is given to us again,
That we remember how to love.

for Justine Van der Leun — Mill Hill Drive, Southport, Connecticut, 1990

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“This just in. . . .”

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A Message from the Moon -Christmas Eve, 1968

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God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

An ancient carol from the 15th century. The first recorded version is found in Three New Christmas Carols, dated c. 1760. Note that the correct placement of the comma in the first line determines the meaning.

In modern times the comma slid from behind “merry,” to in front of “,merry” which flips the whole carol topsy turvy. The original sentiment is for God to keep you merry*** in the face of whatever suffering may assail you in life. (A kind of archaic “Have a good day”.) At the same time, the word “merry”*** itself has to be understood in its original meaning. [continue reading…]

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Waking in Winter Quarters


[continue reading…]

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Last Minute Shopping

One of the abiding delusions of the male mind is the belief it is actually possible to put off critical Christmas shopping until late on the 23rd of December. I am the apostle of this delusion. I take comfort in this false belief every year. No amount of actual experience ever shakes my conviction that it is not only possible to shop like this but economically prudent too. And every year this faith is tested and found wanting. Whatever I may save in last minute markdowns I pay for in this evening’s glowing and gut-wrenching angst.

So there I was waiting at the “Information” counter in the local Barnes & Noble in search of, well, “information.” I simply wanted to know if this gigantic repository of games, gags, cards, calendars, coffee, and, oh yes, books had a certain title and where it might be located. I was one of a small cloud of befuddled customers hovering about the source of “Information” and the service in the store at this hour of the evening on this last day was not exactly “crisp.”

Bluntly stated, the “information” staff of 2.5 employees had had it. Burnt out, tired, tried to the breaking point, they were still going through the corporate mandated methods of “helping” customers locate what they were looking for. At Barnes and Noble these days that means, as it means at so many other stores, a quick look-up and then a guided tour to the book the customer has requested, a hang-out until the clerk is sure they’ve found it, and then an inquiry of that person whether or not they need anything else. People have gotten married on flimsier relationships.

This mandated hand holding means that those needing a simple data-base query run and simply to be told “That’s under the author’s name in Philosophy over there,” tend to build up at the desk in hordes. And in these hordes on this night nobody’s happy. Add to this stituation people actually calling on the phone with “information” requests and you can see the slow steam beginning to rise off the assembled.

Your real need to know means nothing to the “information” clerks of Barnes and Noble. They must, MUST, comply with corporate protocol lest some corporate quality control spy find they are doing things efficiently according to the situation and fire them. They know they could make things run smoother, but they also know they can’t. I understand this and, most of the time, I try to hobble my impatience and irritability out of empathy for their plight. Working retail on this day is not a stroll through a heaven of angels wings, babies bottoms, and hot chocolate with teeny tiny marshmallows on top.

However, this was the witching hour of Christmas shopping for me and I was getting ticked off as my, MY!, evening ticked away. The store was crowded and shabby by this point. The lines of my fellow sufferers (90% fellow male procrastinators) were long and growing longer. You could feel their nerve tissues fray and almost see the sparks glinting where the nerves were touching each other and sizzling.

Just when I thought it would be my turn at last to get my measly little question answered and get my own personal guided tour to the book I needed the phone rang at the “Information” desk and the woman, who should have been MY GUIDE THIS INSTANT!, took the call. She listened and said, “I’ll see.” Then she turned and disappeared into the bowels of the store.

Finally peeved I couldn’t help saying out loud in a scathing tone as she departed, “Jesus CHRIST!

Without missing a beat the man waiting next to me turned and said, “Well, that’s Who we’re here for, isn’t it?”

In the serious practice of Zen meditation, the jikijitsu walks behind the meditators in the hall with a keisaku, a flat stick. If you are having a problem with the depth of your meditation, your focus, you bow slightly in your Zazen posture as the jikijitsu walks by and he gives you a quick and solid rap on the shoulders with the stick. This snaps you into it.

In this case, this man’s observation snapped me out of it like a sharp whack on the shoulders from a keisaku. Snapped me out of my bitter mood and back into the reality of the Christmas season instead of the illusion of the bookstore.

“Thanks. Thank you,” I said. “You’re absolutely right. He is the reason we’re here. I needed that.”

We both laughed. I shook his hand and left the store and my remaining little needs behind. I’d just gotten what I needed.

Outside in the parking lot you could see the getting and spending still going on in the dark. Beyond the parking lot were the roads and the woods and the streams and the mountains all under a white shawl of snow. Driving back through the whiteness I realized I didn’t need to buy any more gifts for anybody. We all already have more gifts than we need or know how to use.

What we all need for Christmas is often the last thing we want — a sharp whack from a keisaku wielding jikijitsu focusing us to simply accept, at the very last minute, His gift.

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The Gift of Mark N.

AD reader Mark N. writes in this season to say:

“I have thousands of vintage wood block letters used first by pioneer printers who could never haul letters of large size in metal, so wood became the material of choice. These were commonly used up until the 1960s, depending on the printer. One way I use them is like this, intended to slow the reader down just a bit so as to offset today’s communications high-speed mode. Thoughtfulness takes just a bit of time, and so that’s the goal here. At any rate, May He bless you richly this holiday season.”

Mark N.’s gift:

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The Gift of the WalMagi

In New England in December the cold does not come in on little cat feet. Instead, some mountain god of the great north woods throws open the door to Canada late one night. When you step out the next morning your scrotum promptly goes into hibernation somewhere around your armpit. The cold gets hammered down tight. And it stays that way. Until, oh, somewhere in the middle of March.

I’d come to New England after many years away and, in Seattle, I thought I’d packed well for the trip. I’d made a point to bring my very warm Seattle jacket. I stepped outside into the New England winter this morning and between the door and the car I knew, based on Testicle Retraction Velocity (TRV), that my coat had nothing to say to this winter. I might as well have packed and dressed in a Speedo. At least I would have been rapidly arrested and taken to a warm jail cell until my need for medication could be determined.

In the car, having cranked the heat to the fat end of the red stripe on the dial, my thawing reptile brain hissed, “Get a coat or die, monkeyboy.”

But where? I was only going to be here for a few weeks before going back to the temperate zone of Seattle. I knew that various stores around this township would have vast stocks of sensible and warm winter coats but I didn’t really feel like investing somewhere north of $100 in some multiple layered goose-down body blimp that would warm you even within fifteen yards of Al Gore. I just needed a warm and dependable coat at not too much money… $75 to $85 … that would get me through the New England nights without frostbite.

Then I remembered that this town has something that Seattle didn’t because Seattle is just far too “smart” to have one – A Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart, the greatest thing to happen for working people in the United States since trade unions and, today, a lot more beneficial to them as well. This town had two vast Wal-Mart’s. It was bracketed with them. I set off confident I could get a temporary coat at an affordable price. Little did I know. [continue reading…]

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The Creche by the Side of the Road


A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.

–Eliot, Journey of the Magi

Small moments in long journeys, like small lights in a large darkness, often linger in the memory. They come unbidden, occur when you are not ready for them, and are gone before you understand them. You “had the experience, but missed the meaning.” All you can do is hold them and hope that understanding will, in time, come to you.

To drive from Laguna Beach, California to Sacramento, California the only feasible route takes you through Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. If you go after dark in this season of the year, you speed through an unbroken crescendo of computer-driven holiday lights accentuated by even more holiday lights. In the American spirit of “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing,” the decking of the landscape with lights has finally gotten utterly out of hand.

Airports, malls, oil refineries, the towers along Wilshire and the vast suburbs of the Valley put up extra displays to celebrate what has come to be known as “The Season.” All the lights flung up by the metroplex hive of more than 10 million souls shine on brightly and bravely, but the exact nature of “The Season” seems more difficult for us to define with every passing year.

For hours the lights of the Los Angeles metroplex surround you as if they have no end. But they do end. In time, the valley narrows and you come to the edge of the lights, the place where the houses stop. Then you drive into a dark section of highway known as the Grapevine. [continue reading…]

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