First, I salute David for this beautiful essay. There is no doubt that he could have been a great sportswriter, and as this piece shows, it's not too late either. I have been inspired to offer a few thoughts.
First, as the editors of the NY Times have themselves acknowledged, a weakness of the paper has always been the failure to develop a really good sports section. Red Smith was certainly the best columnist they ever had, but as I think John Stuart Mill once said in another connection (or perhaps it was said about John Stuart Mill) "his eminence reveals the flatness of the surrounding terrain." Apparently there is some basic contradiction between the unique identity of the NY Times and the sports section of a newspaper. It's hard to imagine writers like Jim Murray, Jimmy Cannon, or David Condon publishing in the New York Times. That's life.
A.J. Liebling was one of those writers I wanted to like and the topics he wrote about seemed interesting, but I was completely disappointed in him. Whether he was writing about boxing, eating, or (especially) the city of Chicago, I sensed that in those days New Yorker writers must have been paid by the word. Just terrible. But he's still vastly better than Joseph Mitchell, another New Yorker writer whom I wanted to like. Joseph Mitchell is really the worst.
Onward. I am not free to disclose my sources, but the legendary collapse of the Chicago Cubs in 1969, which allowed the Mets to win the pennant, was caused in large part by a feud between Cubs manager Leo Durocher and Cubs third baseman Ron Santo -- both of them megalomaniacs. There were eleven games left in the season and I believe the Cubs only had to win one of them in order to get the pennant, but the Cubs lost them all. Something like that. Durocher's stepson was in my class when I was a seventh grade gym teacher that Fall, and he was really a great kid. It was certainly a difficult situation for him. We never spoke about what was happening during "the collapse."
Marciano, LaMotta, Graziano, Basilio, Joey Giardello, those guys were like Roman legionaries. Basilio and Giardello were boxers to some extent but the others were brawlers like gladiators with short swords. Marciano had wanted to be a baseball player more than a boxer. His advantage was that he loved to train. Heavyweights in that era weighed about 185 pounds, which was Marciano's weight. This continued up through Floyd Patterson's reign. Against Sonny Liston and the 220 pound men who followed him, Marciano would have definitely lost. A big heart can take you only so far.
Lots of matches from the postwar era and before can be seen on YouTube. Viewing them can only increase one's admiration for men like Mickey Walker, Archie Moore, Harry Greb, Benny Leonard, and many more. And no one knows more about the history of boxing than Mike Tyson. What a pleasure it would be to hear Mike speak about that! I know he has great admiration for Battling Nelson, although (or maybe because) Battling Nelson did lose 30 fights.
Ali became a great fighter and destroyed himself in the process. But I find it hard to listen to people rhapsodize about Ali when they don't really know anything else about the sport. The same thing happens regarding Secretariat. Citizen Joe is aware of Secretariat's dominant victory in the Belmont race. But Joe doesn't lament the fact that Secretariat was never tested beyond his third year. I think Secretariat only ran against older horses twice, and lost once. Not sure about that. Citation, in contrast, ran through age five. But the greatest horses were the geldings who had to keep running until they could hardly walk: Kelso, John Henry, Forego.
Blah, blah. It's impossible to make a "safe" football helmet. Baseball is the best invention America has produced. The baseball rule book is a stunningly great piece of writing. If a foul ball lodges in the catcher's mask, is it considered a catch? Jimmy Breslin's bio of Damon Runyon is a masterpiece. Blah, blah. Hank Stram is a badly underrated pro football coach. Bobby Fischer is in a category by himself but I more admire Michael Tal. Ultra-distance runner Pam Reed is the toughest athlete on Earth. The late Alex Karras went to Emerson High School in Gary IN. Blah blah. Football players with unique names include Cosmo Iacavazzi (Princeton), Elvis Peacock (Oklahoma), and Joe Don Looney (Oklahoma). Blah, blah, blah.
Here's a funny video of Hank Stram coaching the KC Chiefs. The coach knew he was wearing a microphone but the players did not. They couldn't understand why he was acting like he had ants in his pants.
Matthew Johnson the founder of Fat Possum records brought a group of North Mississippi blues musicians to the world's attention in the early 1990s. Almost all dead now. One most powerful was Junior Kimbrough, whose work Matthew Johnson described as "the beginning and the end of music."
Yes, "the beginning and the end" and it's interesting to see very accomplished musicians -- or, for that matter, plumbers, athletes, bartenders, rabbis, airplane pilots, shoe salesmen -- return to the most basic elements of their craft. Doing it with joy and no affectation is surely a mark of greatness.
Hillary Hahn is heap big young violinist. Can play just about anything
And here she does "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"...
Yardbird Parker is supposed to have been drawn to this kind of performance, sometimes playing Three Blind Mice on a toy saxophone. But Yardbird Parker might have been mocking his audience a little bit there too fuckin' with 'em a little bit gettin' over on 'em a little bit as members of the fishy tribe deserve.
Maybe I'm the only person who's unfamiliar with Mitoslav Tichy (1926-2011) and his beautifully subversive photographs, but I just discovered him last week. Tichy was trained as a painter of Socialist Realism in communist Czechoslovakia. He dropped out of the academy, however, and began his work as a photograper. He built his own camera out of wood and cardboard, in line with his belief that he should have the "worst possible camera."
Tichy developed his own pictures -- only one print of each -- and mounted many of them on children's construction paper. The women and girls in his town of Kyjov were his unknowing subjects. Especially under the Communists, this was considered threatening and at first Tichy was often arrested. And the Commies were right. He was a threat to those gray aparatchiks, to the extent that any artist can threaten such beings. Miroslav Tichy's website is here: http://www.tichyfotograf.cz/en/miroslavtichy-home.html.
Tichy's photographs eloquently speak for themselves. They've been correctly described as expressions of "poetic imperfection." I've spent hours looking at them, and the time has been well-wasted. Here are some examples. You can find many more. As you might expect, in recent years his work has been presented in galleries around the world.
Half-a-whores have no set fee
But simply accept such gifts as
Are forthcoming whether clothes,
Shoes, purses, spa days, Land Rovers,
Island getaways, pieds-a-terre,
Wine tastings, red carpet events,
Or, yes, breast enhancement surgery.
But listen up, you half-a-whores,
Breast enhancement surgery is never
An urgent need of yours but is only
Your wish to be eye-candy in public
For your sugar daddy or daddies and
In the bedroom to be youthfully and
Totally sexual for him or them.
The cheapest motel in Barstow,
There I received my education,
Groaning air conditioner
No match for faked orgasms
Unavoidable through walls
Nor could even the TV set prevail
Over whores’ continual bogus
Jollifications day and night.
So never fake an orgasm, girls,
That was the lesson I took away.
Do I look older than twenty-four?
It's because my soul is old.
What I've learned from fucking
Needs more than one lifetime
But I hate any God bullshit,
I hate any whore with the heart
Of gold bullshit, I love how laptops
And cell phones have made pimps
Obsolete, I like the word cunt better
Than pussy and I love the word slut.
Giving pleasure to women is what
Men want but most don't know
They want it, the dumb fucks,
How lame is that? Dorks! Hello?
Well, here is the key to the mint:
Class with a touch of wicked sleaze.
A hundred and nine men I've fucked
This year and the biggest prick was
Ten inches long, seven around,
And the smallest was zero point five.
The hard biting type dog like
Grandpa Munster and Coco Clops
And the wrestler type dog
Like Snuffy and Black Eyed Pete --
Those are the main types of dogs.
The hard biting dog likes to bite,
He says, 'I don't care if I win or lose
'I want to get it done with, I don't want
'To spend more time than I have to,
'Fuck all y’all, I will bite your ass!'
But a wrestler type dog like Snuffy
Will take his time, he will meander
About the pit like it's Old Home Week.
When a hard biting dog tries to bite him,
Snuffy will turn it into a wrestling match.
Rickey Ratliff, when he had Snuffy,
He matched into Axa who had a dog
That could bite named Red Nose Jack.
Nasko Hooten from down Alabamy way
Happened to be present at the convention.
As the fight commenced and Snuffy
Was the bottom dog Nasko Hooten
Said to Rickey Ratliff, 'Hey, let's go
‘To the Red Lobster restaurant or
‘Let’s go out to Walt Disney Land
‘Because nothing much will happen here,
‘Rickey, not for a couple of hours at least,’
Said Nasko Hooten, drawling out his words
In that Southern drawl of his, the burly man,
One of the burlier men among the dog men.
He said, ‘Yes, Snuffy will be the bottom dog
‘For a couple of more hours but he will up
‘And win the fight eventually on account
‘Of a real good wrestling dog like Snuffy
‘Will always beat the hard biting dog!’
Becoming more riled up and warming
To his subject Nasko Hooten continued,
‘People are enamored of a hard biting dog
‘But give me a wrestling dog like Snuffy
‘And I will beat your old hard biting dog!’
On and on he went like a man possessed,
‘If the weights are anywhere near equal
‘My money will be on the wrestling dog
‘Like Snuffy, I will bet my last dollar
‘On the Snuffy wrestling dog! Fuck all y’all!’
Could anything be more self-sabotaging to a poetry career than
writing about pit bull fanatics -- and not like Harvard Man George
Plimpton goes slumming among the pit bull fanatics but from inside
the heads of the pit bull fanatics themselves? Oh God, what is wrong
Ever since I first read the work of the pit bull fanatics in about 1985
the pit bull fanatics' vernacular has had hold of me like the jaws of
a hard-biting pit bull! I instantly morph into the identitty of a pit
bull fanatic whenver I want to, or what is worse when I don't want to!
But for writers the most important thing is to fill up the pages and
they will write anti-Semitism like Fyodor Dostoevsky or a 39 foot
long scroll of tortures like Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis
de Sade, or Emily Dickenson in her diabolical Little Bo Peep
mode of "My wars are all laid up in books, I have one battle more"
or Kenneth Grahame whose Mr. Toad expresses not only the
unpredictablity and tenacity of fetishistic sexuality but also the
tragic comedy of the artist who cannot choose his dreams but
rather is chosen by them.
At the end of his life James Thurber wept that his satires
had hurt many -- but it was not given to him to write Much Ado
About Nothing nor could now write King Lear. But he at least
wanted to write King Lear and this was taken into consideration
when he stood before the Heavenly Tribunal.
Here is a little dog man poem. And below you can see a video
where one of the great dog men reminisces and philosophizes.
The dog game has been here since caveman days!
Imagine two cavemen, each the owner of a dog,
Betting their dinosaurs on which dog will win
The world's first dog match! Also, Abe Lincoln
Was the referee at dog matches and for this
He became known as Honest Abe Lincoln.
Jack Dempsey owned a pit dog and if you saw
Little Rascals on YouTube have you noticed
How their dog named Petey was a pit dog?
But the Petey dog was not an APBT because
The APBT did not exist yet, the APBT had not
Come into being yet at the time of Little Rascals.
Hell, at the time of Little Rascals the APBT
Was only a gleam in Winchell Graff's eye!
Grandpa Munster, Darlene, Field Mouse,
For those dogs and others like them we have
To thank Winchell Graff because he bred
The first American Pit Bull Terrier game dogs!
As the 2013 Super Bowl approaches, it's time to watch Vince Lombardi give a ten minute lecture on his favorite football play. If you're like me, you prefer to skip the introductory content that encumbers many Youtube clips, so just begin watching at 1:08. You'll enjoy seeing Lombardi start to go crazy as his lecture continues. And this is actually just the first of several Youtube lectures by Lombardi on the same play.
Along similar lines, here's an interview with Jim Ringo. He played center on Lombardi's Green Bay Packer team until Lombardi got rid of him because he wanted more money. Ringo looks like George Washington in this video and seems very composed, but he had to be an extremely aggressive player in order to make up for his lack of size. He was also a fervent anti-communist.
A poem by my writer friend of many years -->>
The Big Bang
This took place when they were half asleep
The way you look when you roll over and say Huh?
Dead brained, dream soaked
While engaged in making a baby
Neither spoke much
Or cared much what the other might say
With the exception of what you wouldn’t exactly call
Like: Oh fuck, Oh Jesus, and the like.
They were eighteen.
Collectively, thirty six
Breath, sweat, skin, whatnot
Mingled like Japanese cars after a collision
Limp airbags littering
The tv howling away
Someone banging on the ceiling or wall.
Nine months later
Sandor Fox arrived
His name a presumptive chariot
Air for a helium zeppelin
A city map
(Instead of a City)
Sprawled on a kitchen table
Or was it a restaurant booth
Amidst red formica dots
Photographs of eggs.
He cried his little lungs out
To be born an American
At the end of
The age of glory
The age America made up
Looking in its mirror that said
Made in Japan,
Crying like a little sewing machine
A cloister, a swift
A piece of damp angel food cake
An overcarobonated 7 up.
Born under a pile of bills
Believing in food
Believing in doctors, clergymen
Thinking about five to four
Supreme Court decisions,
Consumed by a need to assert himself
On the next available nipple.
The road not taken
Running through his new house,
Sprouting strange life between velour couch cushions
And he, Sandor, a cyclone
Whirling inside the mirror of his parents eyes
The family has cloistered itself in re-sold ideas
Shoveling its past into plastic bags
Confronting its future with Glade.
Sandor. Sandor. What should we do with you?
Hope of our hope.
Destroyer of nakedness.
Curer of dreams.
What should we do when you wake crying at 2 am
With your parents silently growing in their beds?
When you scream at four am,
The hour dreams are packed up for the night.
When your own tiny brain revolves in your skull
Like the dawn sky, emptying itself of stars?
What should we think about you?
What should we do?
We’ll meet on the street
And I’ll say, Sandor,
Do you realize what we have in common?
We both come from the Big Bang.
No, Silly, not that one,
Not that wet tumbling and rumbling
And fighting and slithering
And skidding, evulsing and sliming:
The other one.
-- Nevin Schreiner
More than thirty years ago I lived for a year in Cambridge MA and spent time in the Harvard undergraduate library. A young man who looked kind of like a bullfighter was always there, used to walk down the halls of the library with his nose in a book, stepping over the legs of students who were sitting on the floor, never looking up. Curious abouit this man, I learned his name was Roberto Unger, a junior faculty member of whom the university expected great things. One person described him to me as "the next Karl Marx."
When I saw an online headline -- "Former professor says Obama must be defeated" -- I followed the link and saw that the professor was Roberto Unger, who had taught Obama at the Harvard Law School. The video below is not the one where he speaks about Obama, but it is a more substantial representation of his thoughts. Viewers can form their own conclusions. I am inspired by the Unger's revolutionary perspective, which he expresses with Miltonic or Dostoeveskian fervor.
Unger has run for office in Brazil. He's one of those guys who has read every book in the world. I really like him. You can see his comments about Obama on Youtube. It's really more about the Democrats collectively.-
The clip of Steven Jobs at the start of this tape is an interesting touch. There's a lot to say about this but I'm too tired.
This goes on for about thirty more episodes -- in Chinese or Mongolian, your guess is as good as mine. Genghis Khan (real name: Temujin) was a pretty bad guy but what the hell. The Mongols under GK and his successors did great until defeated by the Mamluks in 1260, partly because the Mamluks had stronger horses. The Mamluks were also horrible. Interesting that a couple of Mongol expeditions sent against Vietnam by Kublai Khan were defeated by the Vietnamese guerilla fighters. I guess "Charlie" had some tricks up his sleeve even then. As longtime visitors to this site know, Mongols today are very interested in poetry. The film entitlted "The Weeping Camel" is a wonderful resource about contemporary Mongolia.
After more research on Olga Holtz, the beautiful math professor, I've come to an unfortunate conclusion. While she is clearly beautiful and brilliant, perhaps she is not a great teacher or lecturer. This is what I gather from her reviews on ratemyprofessor.com -- and also from the clip below. What do you think?
But there is good news too. Over at the University of Massachusetts we have Professor Carlin Barton. I first learned of her when I read her book entitled The Sorrows of the Ancient Romans; The Gladiator and the Monster. I was fascinated by this book, and becamse fascinated also by the author when I met someone who had been her student at Berkeley. He described her passionate lectures about gladiators, Stoicism, and related topics. I've also read portions of Prof. Barton's subsequent book, Roman Honor, which is great too.
In contrast to Prof. Holtz, Carlin Barton gets rave reviews on ratemyprofessor. And I myself have found her to be quite wonderful. When the HBO miniseries "Rome" was showing, I wrote to Prof. Barton asking whether she'd seen any of it. I also inquired whether she'd seen any old movies like Demetrius and the Gladiators, The Robe, or maybe Land of the Pharaohs (written by William Faulkner.),
I got an email reply from Carlin Barton that gave no hint of her standing as a world class authority on ancient Rome. She said that unfortunately she had not seen Demetriius and the Gladiators or the HBO series. She also remarked that it was possible that her work had nothing to do with what the anicent world was really like. Maybe it was all just something she'd made up, she said. There's no way to tell. But in my opinion she's a great writer on this topic. Again, read her for yourself and see what you think.
Here's Carlin Barton with a rabbi or at least a man in a kepah after they gave a lecture on martyrdom in the ancient world.
That is, the topic of the lecture was martyrdom. They were not actually in the ancient world when they gave the lecture.
If you watched the recently posted video of Staven Smale, you saw Professor Smale reference Amie Wilkinson of the University of Chicago. Perhaps before long I'll show you some of Amie's work on pathological foliation. Along with Dmitry Dolgopyat, Anatole Katok, Rostislav Grigorchuk, and others, Amie Wilkinson is on the board of directors for the Journal of Modern Dynamics, published by the American Institute of Mathematical Sciences.
In view of Amie Wilkinson's professional accomplishments, it may seem irrelevant to some people that she's a very beautiful woman.
But since it wouldn't have seemed irrelevant to Socrates, let's meet some other beautiful women of mathematics.
Margot Gerritsen is a professor in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering at Stanford. She seems like a very good natured person. She is from Holland, Below, we see Olga Holtz, professor in the Department of Mathematics at Berkeley. The picture (from Wikipedia) shows Olga Holtz in action at the Institute for Advanced Study, where Kurt Godel and Albert Einstein were wont to roam. TS. Eliot too!!!
Frankly, Olga Holtz looks hard to beat!
Here's a video of an interview with Prof. Holtz. Notice that she's speaking German. Naturlich, she also speaks perfect English. She was born in Russia, Olga Holtz probably speaks Christ only knows how many languages..
Finally, here's a video of another lecture by Professor Steven Smale. By the way, Smale has one of the world's greatest collections of crystal formations. As Larry King might say, "a man of many facets!"
I first heard of Steven Smale back in the '60s when he was a professor at Columbia. I was casually interested in mathematicians through my friendship with Bernie Berlowitz. In some ways Smale is a bit like Richard Feynman, both colorful eccentric geniuses. But while Feynman was something of a ham, Smale is lower key but "out there." Google him! There's a lot of great stuff about Smale online, including more lectures on youtube!
Smale made one of his greatest discoveries on a beach in Rio, kind of like how Feynman used to do equations at a strip club in Pasadena. These guys are true poets! Early in the video above,Smale makes the statement that "no great problem is ever solved." Wouldn't you like to know what he meant by that -- especailly since he immediately goes on to say that Gregori Perlman finally solved the Poincare Conjecture (on which Smale himself had done great work earlier in his career.)
Also in this lecture, Smale gives a "shout out" to Amie Wilkinson, surely one of the most attractive women in math today.
-- Mitch S.
I wish to apoligize to my readers for the length of time it's taken me to post this new chapter. The emotional challenges (sniff, sniff, sob) of writing an autobiographical novel are intense, I will try to be more consistent from now on (sniff)!
For the convenience of anyone interested, I have created a gmail account where the chapters of Guide for the Perplexed are archived. Go to gmail.com, then sign in with 'reader1830' as the username. The password is 'perplexed.' Of course, the earlier installments can be seen here (chpter one) and here (chpter two) on this site as well.
Midday approached and I saw how profitable a beachfront sunglass business can be. Bill stayed busy at the front of the stall. This man was a great salesman. For ten or twelve dollars buyers got sunglasses and admiration as well: “You look hot enough to fry an egg!”
But his sales magic was wasted on me. Fourteen hundred dollars for an aphrodisiac bracelet? I didn’t have the money. It could not happen.
But it would happen. I was going to buy the bracelet. There was no doubt. I would get the money. There were ways to do that. I had some old silverware. I could sell the old silverware to buy the aphrodisiac bracelet. It made perfect sense.
Now the woman returned to the stall. Her full length, sleeveless garment – her “maxi-dress” – trailed along the ground. The maxi-dress was sand colored, like a grocery bag. Gliding past Bill, who was busy with customers, she sank into the vacant beach chair.
“Gonna take a load off my feet.” She smiled shyly, or slyly. “Darlene.”
“Yes, Mitch, I know your name. I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation with Bill. So you want one of the magic bracelets? You won’t regret it. Women can’t control themselves around a man who has a bracelet, and I say that as a woman. It doesn’t mean women on the street will physically throw themselves at you, but they will want you. They will yearn for you. They will hope and pray you make the first move!”
She bent toward me. “What price did Bill quote you?”
“You can get it for a grand. But Mitch, you’re sixty-one years old, right? Did I hear that correctly? Then let me ask you a question: why? True, some older men want to have sex until their dying day. We had that man here who was a hundred and seven years old, or so he said! But most men, when they get on in years, they aren’t that interested any more. They’re sixty, seventy, eighty years old and they’re ready to sit under a tree. So what is it? What really is it that makes a certain man – a man like you – what is it that drives that man, that motivates that man so that at this point in life that man wants to…wants to…”
“To be sexually active?” I offered. “I believe that’s the correct phrase.”
“Well, yes. Ha! But I was going to say beat a dead horse.”
“Beat a dead horse?”
“Yes! Beat a dead horse!” she repeated, laughing. “Beat a dead horse! Beat a dead horse!”
“But isn’t that the whole idea of the bracelet. The horse comes back to life.”
“Well, not exactly,” Darlene said, with a look of concentration. “What the bracelet does -- and this is actually even more amazing than bringing a dead horse back to life -- is to get women turned on by the horse even if it’s dead. Of course, if the dead horse just stays dead….” She shrugged, and spread her hands in a helpless gesture.
Her tone, her superciliousness – this means to raise one’s eyebrows in a superior manner – suddenly made me furious. “I have to object to what I’m hearing!” I blurted out. “This is a matter of survival! Because for every man, regardless of his age, regardless of his finances, his marital status, or anything else – for every man, a certain level of concupiscence is present every minute of every day of every year as a sort basso continuo….”
“A what?” she inquired. But I paid no attention.
“….that only death interrupts. The whole dead horse metaphor, the notion that when you reach a certain age you have to give up certain things – I reject it, because when a man gives up his sexuality he’s dead. And in the same way that you remarked, ‘I say that as a woman,” I say this as a man, and I say it as a man who hasn’t had intercourse in ten years. But I say it also as a man who entering his seventh decade of life has masturbated in front of computer screens, adjusting the monitor just so, and while there is pain attached to the realization that one is an elderly man alone in a room masturbating in front of a computer there is also the spark of hope that ignites when you really hit bottom once and for all, plus the realization – quite amusing, actually – that at sixty years old I can still do at least one thing that I did when I was twelve. I’m not dead yet! I masturbate, therefore I am. Christ, when you mention horses I think of Buckpasser at Arlington Park in 1966 setting a record for the one mile distance. That day Buckpasser lagged so far off the pace that finishing in the money seemed not only impossible, but an embarrassment to even try. At the top of the stretch he was still far behind. A dead horse? The dead horse set a world record for the mile! Along the same lines in 1976 the seven year old gelding named Forego carried 137 pounds on a muddy track to defeat Honest Pleasure by a nose. Forego was so far on the outside that he actually ran a much longer race than Honest Pleasure. Seven years old! A muddy track! Far on the outside! A gelding! In boxing, something similar happened in Archie Moore’s 1958 fight with Yvon Durelle for the light heavyweight championship. Moore, just a few days short of forty-five years old, was knocked down three times in the first round, and today the fight would have been stopped because of the three knockdown rule. He was down again in the fifth. In the eleventh Moore won by knockout.”
Darlene stared at me. A blank stare. “Seems like you’re a big sports fan…”
“No, I’m really much more of a literary person, but there are very similar stories from the lives of great writers. Around 1834 for example John Stuart Mill suggested the idea of writing a history of the French Revolution to his friend Thomas Carlyle. Mill would have done it himself but he was too busy. Instead, he supplied Carlyle with relevant books and other materials for research. Carlyle planned a three volume history. He worked like a dog and when he’d completed the first volume he sent the manuscript to Mill, but Mill’s housekeeper thought it was garbage and burned it in the fireplace. Carlyle was devastated of course, but he was most worried about Mill. He didn’t want Mill to feel bad. That was his biggest worry, after busting his balls like a maniac! Carlyle told his wife – they never had sex, by the way – that they couldn’t show Mill how upset they were. Then Carlyle went on and wrote volume two and volume three of his history of the French Revolution and when those were finished he went back and rewrote volume one.”
Now silence descended in the sunglass stall. Even Bill’s sales patter had ended. Perhaps I’d been speaking louder than I realized. Perhaps I’d been screaming at the top of my lungs. With a patronizing smile on his face, Bill gave me a little pat as he walked back toward Darlene. He stood beside her as they both regarded me, posed as if in one of the tintype photographs I used to buy at the Long Beach flea market. His left hand was on her right shoulder.
I met their gaze. I got to my feet. Then, with what struck me as real feeling – though I might have been wrong – they broke into spontaneous applause.
Some girls browsing sunglasses glanced up, laughed, but fell silent as I shot them a reproving look. Then I turned back toward Bill and Darlene. “I shall return,” I said grandly, quoting General MacArthur’s words after a humiliating defeat.
An hour before noon Venice Beach was crowded, but something had changed in the rather extended period since my last visit. There were no longer any pit bulls strolling along with their masters. A prohibition against dogs, which at Venice Beach meant pit bulls, was announced on signs posted every twenty yards or so. The dogs had added a special look of malevolence to the always dense crowd but, after all, it was only a look. This was in truth a peaceful location: really just a parade of low end fashion choices. On either side of the boardwalk stalls offered silver jewelry, paintings on cardboard, reggae cassettes, t-shirts, hats, sunglasses.
I approached a sunglass stall across the boardwalk from a bicycle rental. This had been my instruction on the phone. The vendor was attired against the heat in a sort of beekeeper’s outfit, all in white. It could also have been a fencing costume, absent the mask. From under his white baseball cap a towel hung to protect his neck. Nonetheless, what I could see of his face was deeply sunburned. He wore reflecting sunglasses with wraparound lenses of a bluish hue.
“Bill?” I said. “We talked on the phone?”
“You look great.” I couldn't help commenting.
“It’s hot, bro.”
Was this the man to whom Bean had referred me? Apparently so. He had seemed comfortable with what I’d said to him in my call. I told him I wanted exactly what I’d told Bean. There had been no hesitation: “Cool. Venice Beach. Sunglass place across from bike rental.”
We stood there. Then he turned, and I saw a woman in the shadows of the stall. At his glance she rose from her beach chair and moved to the front of the stall. She was older, heavy set, like the fortune tellers and palm readers on the boardwalk. "Take over for a sec, will you, babe?" he said, and then to me: “Come on in, bro,”
I walked past rack of sunglasses as he unfolded another beach chair in the back of the stall. “Have a seat.”
We faced each other in the beach chairs. He removed his glasses. I saw his blue eyes, the white skin around them, the whitness of the whale...
“What was your name again?”
“Oh yeah. How you doing today?”
“Mitch, when’s the last time you had sex?”
“Five years ago. Ten, maybe.”
“So you want some changes in your life, right? In your sexuality.”
“Okay.” From his pants pocket he took a green and yellow bead bracelet. “Fourteen hundred dollars. Bro, days of free pussy are over. But put this on and see what happens.”
“What will happen?”
“Show me the money!”
This guy -- Bill -- he had to be kidding. I had never felt so low. As if from a great height, I saw myself informing this jive talking con man that I’d not had sex in ten years. Even worse, I could not have cared less what he thought. Part of me found certain nobility in that. I was honest, and it is said that honesty is the best policy. But really, honesty meant no more to me than the thoughts of the jive talker. I’d just gone numb. Anesthesia was my everyday experience. In the bank, for example, I had no inhibitions about announcing I was broke. In fact, it was quite enjoyable to make that announcement. Having nothing, I hid nothing. But was I now nothing?
Sartre’s title Being and Nothingness came unexpectedly to mind. What was it in French?
“Snap out of it, Mitch.”
I cocked my head. “What?”
“You’re spacing out. This is a business, bro. Yeah, the bracelet costs money. But it gives you what money can’t buy. You haven’t had any of that in five years. Maybe ten. By your own admission. You said so yourself. But if you don’t want it, that’s okay. Suit yourself.”
He put the bracelet back in his pocket.
“I do want it,” I heard myself saying. “I’ve got the money,” I lied.
“Yeah? But you were spacing out, Mitch. You weren’t acting like you wanted it. You were acting like you didn’t want it. I can tell when people want it. I know when a dude wants beautiful, luscious women to go nuts over him no matter how pathetically shriveled up he is. How old are you, bro?”
“Sixty-one? Hey, that’s nothing. Seventy, seventy-five? That’s nothing. You know how old the oldest dude that bought one of these was? A hundred and seven. Dude walks in here, he’s a hundred and seven years old, he’s totally shriveled up, he knows there’s not a woman in the world that will go to bed with him, but he still wants beautiful, ripe, luscious women -- just like when he was a kid! So he pays the money because he still wants it! Ha! He pays the money and he takes his choice! Dude is a hundred and seven years old! One hundred and seven!”
He fell silent. In the sudden quiet I detected a shuffling noise. It was the woman from the front of the stall. “I got to take a piss, Bill,” she said over my shoulder.
The woman moved into the sunlight. “She’s going to the Starbucks,” Bill said, as if to reassure me. Did I think she would squat in the alley? He got to his feet, replaced his sunglasses. “Just hang out here a second here, bro. I got to man the fort.” As he passed, he clapped me on the shoulder. “Now don’t space out! Ripe, luscious, succulent babes! Fourteen hundred dollars. Want it or no?”
A police car flashed lights in my mirror and I pulled to the curb. The cop approached -- young, Asian. I lowered my window as he wished me good morning. “I’m officer Tsai from the LAPD. Do you have your license and registration with you today?”
I gave him the documents. Looking them over, he mentioned that my plate tag was expired. I explained that I simply hadn’t had the money – almost two hundred dollars -- for the renewal.
The policeman was very understanding. However, he said the renewal had to be done in the next six weeks or my car would be impounded. “Go to the DMV to get the tag, then go to a sheriff’s station with the receipt, and then go down to the court on Hill Street to pay the ticket. It’s a hassle but you’ve got to do it.”
I assured him I would somehow make it happen.
“Great. Drive carefully.”
In the mirror I saw him walking back to his car. What a nice policeman, so different from the Chicago police where I grew up. Shouldn’t I get the license tags right away, so as not to disappoint him? As it turned out, I delayed until the last day on the ticket.
That day began with a long wait at the DMV, and then trying to locate a sheriff’s station. It was mid-afternoon when I arrived at the big court building on Hill Street. I had never been there before, but I suspected it would be a madhouse, and it was. I had no idea where to go to pay my ticket. Fortunately, there were police officers wandering around and I asked one of them for help. He directed me to a large room where hundreds of people, maybe a thousand, were waiting in a switchback line to pay their tickets. Their objective was five or six windows where clerks sat behind Plexiglas barriers.
As I recalled a description of an overcrowded railroad station -- or was it a steamship line? -- from Kafka's America, one window at the far end of the room caught my attention. It seemed to have no traffic. Why was the crowd overlooking this window? But when I approached, the woman behind the transparent barrier explained that her window was only for people who had some special status with the court. I couldn’t really understand what she meant, but it didn’t matter. My payment could not be made at the empty window.
At that moment a policeman walked up. With the same good-natured familiarity I’d noticed in Officer Tsai, he asked if he could help.
“I wanted to pay my fine at this window,” I said, “but it seems that won’t be possible. Can you tell me what to do now?”
“You’ll have to go though the line.”
I glanced toward the milling crowd of traffic violators. The line seemed to have moved not at all. At that rate, paying my ticket was going to take hours. The court building might even close before I reached the front of the line. Since the ticket had to be paid today, even greater complications might develop.
I turned back to the policeman. “Isn’t there any other way?”
“Well, you could put the payment in the drop box.”
“The drop box?”
“That’s right. I’ll show you.”
I followed him down a hall toward the main entrance of the court building. There, in the even more congested lobby area, he pointed toward a wooden box in a corner of the room. The box could not possibly have been less conspicuous. Somehow, it was almost invisible.
“That’s the drop box,” said the policeman.
I was puzzled. “But what about all those people waiting in line?”
He shrugged. “They don’t know about the drop box.”
Taken aback by the utter simplicity of this, I just stood there. I saw how this phrase -- “They don’t know about the drop box” – was going to echo throughout the rest of my life. It was startling, humbling...
Then the voice of the policeman brought me out of my meditative state. “Is there anything else?”
I glanced at his well-polished badge and, on the other side of his black shirt, his nameplate: “Bean.” We were about the same height, though Bean was of course much younger. With his willingness -- if not eagerness -- to please, he might have been a waiter in some casually chic restaurant near the ocean.
“Yes, there is one other thing...”
“I’d like to be irresistible to women. Is there a way to do that?”
Bean didn’t flinch. He seemed relieved. Was this another simple matter, like the drop box? “Do you have a cell phone?” he asked.
“Save this number on your phone.”
He took his own phone from his belt and looked up a number. As he recited the number to me, I thanked Officer Bean. I began to feel at home with the realization of how simple life could be. “They don’t know about the drop box!”
“Just call that number," Bean said in parting. Have a good day.”
Then he was gone. I started toward the drop box.
The big Cub Scout Jamboree –
Must be summer of ’55 or ’56 --
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of
Cub Scouts from across the city,
And near the end a kid I don’t
Know approaches me, he says,
‘You mouth off to your parents?’
Puzzled but intrigued by his question
I say ‘Not that much’ – and now it is he
That seems puzzled, as with evident
Concern he asks, ‘Why not? Look,
‘There is my father in an undershirt
‘And green janitor pants.’ And he yells,
‘Hey stupid! Dad! Hey numb nuts!’
I really like Larry Rivers -- painter, musician, genuinely peculiar person, possibly dangerous to himself and others, a real hipster at heart. I've read his autobiography, entitled What Did I Do?, and enjoyed learning about his varied career. Since then I've tried to find additional material about him and the clip above has been a good discovery. It's disheartening to realize that this video has less than 100 views on Youtube. Well, 'twas ever thus.
Another reason I like this clip is Phoebe Legere, who's playing the piano. I'm embarrassed to say I did not know her work but she's really funny and talented. In fact, she may be one of those hypertalented people like Dick Van Dyke who are like toasters or television sets plugged directly into an atomic power plant. In a way Jerry Lewis was also like that. Don't miss Jerry's final Labor Day telethon this year! I don't think he'll be on camera very much but he will sing, for the last time, "You'll Never Walk Alone."
-- Mitch S.
He was Joe Adamczyk and
Eve Grabuskawa was her name.
They owned a tavern called
Adamczyk & Eve’s and they
Called their sex life Grandma Fogarty.
Nights as closing time approached
Joe would say, ‘Eve, do you think
‘Grandma Fogarty could drop by?’
And Eve would often answer,
‘I would not be a bit surprised.’
Years passed in just this way.
Blatz, Schlitz, Pabst Blue Ribbon,
Heileman’s Old Style Lager,
Old Milwaukee -- ten thousand
Beer glasses filled and emptied.
When pizza pies, as they were then known,
Achieved popularity Joe and Eve offered
The pies to customers and called them
Polish pizzas for a laugh. Beer sales
Skyrocketed as pizza pies appeared.
Also available were White Owl cigars,
And Cubs’ home runs were called
White Owl Wallops by Jack Brickhouse
On the TV set above the bar.
But the Cubs lost during the 1950s.
In those days some wrong ideas were held.
Around the time Kennedy was elected and
Eve Grabuskawa began her menopause,
Grandma Fogarty was told to take her leave.
Grandma Fogarty was sent on her way.
No more did Grandma Fogarty come calling
At all hours of the night like a will-o’-the-wisp
Fluttering, flickering, and then fully ablaze.
As Eve and Joe’s union passed twenty years,
Grandma Fogarty was nowhere to be found.
But is this not a familiar story as married
Couples age and passion’s flame sinks?
Let us turn to the much more novel story
Of how Joe Adamczyk, the Chicago bartender,
Transforming himself into a man of ideas.
No stale autodidact would he become,
But a thinker comfortable and at home
In a variety of disciplines, reading widely
In libraries, copying pages, memorizing
Long passages, and making diagrams.
He would hardly sleep. He ate little and,
As was true of Edmund Burke,
Anyone trapped under a tree with him
In a sudden rain would quickly see
That Joe Adamczyk was a first rate mind.
With time his interests would encompass
Gottlob Frege and Whitehead and also
Alonzo Church and Church’s dissertation
Awarded at Princeton in 1927 entitled
Alternatives to Zermelo's Assumption.
His transformation began inauspiciously,
Meandering for years like a stream.
Paint-by-numbers was his first awakening:
Sunsets, views of old windmills,
Solitary reapers, the heads of noble steeds.
In faux-impressionist style these emerged
From the confusing higgledy-piggledy
Of lines and numbers on canvas glued
To cardboard. Joe could execute a large
Paint-by-numbers landscape in one day.
Somehow from his paintings a hunger
For narrative gradually developed.
He imagined stories of people who
Lived in his paint-by-numbers cabins
With smoke curling from the chimneys.
Fascinated by the concept of man
As a story telling animal, he began
Serious reading for the first time in his life.
He read The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
And Marjorie Morningstar, also by Wouk.
He followed Wouk with the historical novels
Of Irving Stone: Lust For Life, Men To Match
My Mountains, and The Agony and the Ecstasy.
He read the best selling Magnificent Obsession
And The Big Fisherman, both by Lloyd C. Douglas.
He amused himself by considering life
As a stage play. Was it tragedy or farce?
He pondered the nature of storytelling,
Then took the short leap, intellectually,
To viewing the world itself as a narrative.
Turning his attention to non-fiction,
In Volume Two of Will and Ariel Durant’s
The Story of Civilization he discovered
The concept of telos in a discussion of
Greek philosophy and the work of Aristotle.
He gnawed the concept of telos like a dog
With a bone. He toyed with the caprice
That even mathematics might be teleological:
An unwinding tale with a start, a middle,
And perhaps an end returning to the beginning..
He grew careless of his tavern and
Heedless of Eve Grabuskawa, still his wife.
He felt drawn to the used bookstores
And hole-in-the-wall coffee houses
Near the University of Chicago.
The day came when without a word
Joe left Eve Grabuskawa and rented
A room on South Harper Avenue.
He immersed himself in the collegiate
Ambience of the University of Chicago.
In a coffee house called the Pegasus
He saw a reproduction -- displayed
With ironic intent -- of the portrait
Entitled Arrangement in Grey and Black,
Also known as Whistler’s Mother.
He was shocked, was set back on his heels
By the subject’s strong resemblance
To Eve Grabuskawa. Had all those years
Of marriage to Eve Grabuskawa been
A dour arrangement in grey and black?
It was the last time he ever thought
Of Eve Grabuskawa, who evanesced
Like the Cheshire Cat and even his
Attraction to women in general
Deliquesced like Frosty the Snowman.
Yet the Pegasus was known for pulchritude.
It was the era of girls in black turtlenecks
With love for jazz and folk music --
Educated young women who watched
Italian films at the all-night Clark Theater.
There in the Pegasus one of those women
Approached Joe, she stole up behind him,
And in a voice rich with a kind of sarcastic
Academese she asked, ‘Have you read
‘The Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead?’
Joe’s look of baffled incomprehension
Must have moved or amused her,
For she pressed a dog-eared paperback
Into his hand: the 1956 Mentor Classics
Edition of Whitehead’s Dialogues.
‘Here, take my extra copy,’ she said,
Slinking out of the Pegasus as Joe
Glanced at the book’s cover illustration
Of Whitehead reading aloud from a
Volume held in his liver-spotted hands.
What a revelation The Dialogues of
Alfred North Whitehead proved to be!
That very night, like a magic carpet,
The book whisked Joe from his bare room
To Whitehead’s home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
There, close by Harvard Yard, a journalist
Named Lucien Price drew the eminent
Mathematician into conversation ranging
Across history, theology, philosophy,
Politics, education, and of course mathematics.
A truly fascinating man was Whitehead,
In Joe’s opinion, and a man full of surprises.
He believed, for example, that mathematics
Beyond quadratic equations should remain
The province of specialists -- and Joe agreed.
As a teenager Joe was tortured by algebra
At Archbishop Weber High School but
He never needed algebra to run the tavern.
His crank-operated adding machine lasted
Many years and did not even use electricity.
In fact – and here he imagined himself
Speaking to Alfred North Whitehead --
Joe would extend Whitehead’s thinking
And require no math instruction at all
Past basic fractions and decimals.
All through the night he read, pondering,
Considering and re-considering, accepting
Many of Whitehead’s ideas, questioning
Others, rejecting nothing out of hand though
Some passages caused him to stamp his foot.
Finally, as dawn broke over the university,
Joe sighed and shut the Mentor paperback.
He then noticed a name -- Karen Schmolke --
Lightly inscribed by some dying ballpoint
On the front cover of The Dialogues.
Schmolke, Schmolke…. Joe stroked his chin
Not an uncommon name on the Northwest Side
And here on the South Side more Schmolkes
Might be found. Should he return the book?
‘Schmolke’ would be in the phone directory.
But no, by God. He would keep the book.
It was a gift. It was now his prized possession.
Phrases like, ‘In the nimbus of religious awe,’
Which Whitehead used so gracefully,
Made one forget he was a mathematician.
Joe’s studies went on. Months passed and
He spoke to no one. He ate tuna fish.
He ordered pizza pies. Physically
He diminished. Like a breeze in the trees
His sixtieth birthday came and went.
Yet he felt strong and growing stronger.
The Dialogues whetted his appetite
For more Whitehead. With difficulty,
Sometimes pounding his head on the wall,
He read Treatise on Universal Algebra.
‘The process of forming a synthesis between
‘A and B, and then to consider A and B united,
‘As a third thing, may be symbolized as AB.’
As Joe’s familiarity with Whitehead grew,
The significance of this proposition awed him.
How striking that even in the Treatise,
His earliest work, Whitehead referred to AB
As symbolic of process rather than product.
Yet the Treatise came thirty years before
Whitehead’s greatest book, Process and Reality.
On and on he read. The vigor with which he
Once devoured Sidney Sheldon’s Rage of Angels
Now energized his attack on Gottlob Frege’s
Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik which he read
Using Langensheidt’s German-English dictionary.
For Joe, October of 1962 was noteworthy
Not for the so-called Cuban missile crisis
But for his completion of Ernest Nagel’s
Problems in the Logic of Explanation.
He found Nagel’s easy style very appealing.
No sooner had he finished Nagel
Than a still greater dreadnought hove
Into view. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
By Thomas Samuel Kuhn made Nagel
Look like a Sunday school picnic.
One midnight – or was it noon? for night
And day were now indistinguishable –
Joe in his reading came upon a name
That, like no other, would inspire and
Instruct him for many months to come.
The name was Alonzo Church. Who was
Church? Well-known, but not well-known.
Very well-known in the world of philosophical
Mathematicians and mathematical philosophers
But unknown in most Chicago neighborhoods.
Something about Church captured Joe’s fancy.
Perhaps Church's theorem on the undecidability
Of first order logic (extending Godel's
Incompleteness proof of 1931) engaged Joe’s
Sense of himself as an intellectual outsider.
Church – like Jack Brickhouse celebrating
White Owl Wallops -- was an appreciator
of Godel, but his appreciation was such that
Church’s connoisseurship and Godel's creation
Actually fused. This was Joe’s hope for himself.
He phoned for a pizza pie and took stock
Of his life. Whitehead, Nagel, Kuhn, Church –
His understanding was real even if only he
Knew it. Just like the tree falling in the forest.
Which still falls though no one hears.
His room – austere, ascetic – this was how
Wittgenstein lived. Little furniture but
The air abuzz with energy of intellect.
He would die here. He would die happy.
There was a knock on the door: the pizza.
He opened the door and it was one of those
So-called deer in the headlights moments,
But since that trope would not achieve
Currency for some years Joe thought of it
Differently. He thought he was fit to be tied.
Yes, he was fit to be tied. ‘Schmolke?’
He inquired, diffidently. And then with
Much greater force: ‘Karen Schmolke!
‘Delivering pizza?’ He quoted Shakespeare:
‘Confusion hath made his masterpiece.’
She was frightened. ‘You know my name?’
Then, laughter: ‘Are you psychic or what?
‘Here’s your pie, cheese and pepperoni.
‘And yeah, I’m doing deliveries, man.
‘Life takes dough just like pizza.’
The pizza changed hands and Joe stared
Blankly at the box as Karen Schmolke stated,
‘Four ninety-five plus tip. Hey, are we old friends?
‘Wait a minute. I know you. I gave you
‘A book in the Pegasus coffee house.’
‘Yes, absolutely,’ Joe said and quoted Buddha:
‘What you have given will always be yours.’
He reached in his pocket, found a five,
Then found another five and gave her both.
‘I’m so grateful to you. Please come in.’
She entered, saw his table piled high
With books and papers, his telephone
For ordering pizza, and in a corner
His mattress. ‘Nice place,’ she quipped,
But sarcasm was wasted on Joe Adamczyk.
Mole-like or like a digging aardvark
He was attacking a seemingly random
Hodgepodge of books that in his own mind
Was superbly organized, and from this
He soon retrieved Whitehead’s Dialogues.
‘Look familiar?’ he said, grinning triumphantly.
Karen Schmolke nodded: ‘You read it?’
The question insulted Joe: ‘Of course.’
But now her attention was drawn to a paper
On the card table. ‘Look! Alonzo Church!’
It was Church’s June 1940 review of
Are There Extra-Syllogistic Forms of Reasoning?
By S.W. Hartman from the Journal of Symbolic Logic,
Joe obtained it from the John Crear Science Library
Where zeal for learning won him borrowing privileges.
‘I called him Uncle Alonzo,’ Karen Schmolke said.
‘When Uncle Alonzo taught at the U of C,
‘He and my dad would sit at the kitchen table
‘Working on the Entscheidungsproblem
‘And I drew pictures of them with mustaches.’
‘You knew Alonzo Church?’ Joe urgently
Demanded -- and then, as if to answer himself,
He shouted, ‘You knew Alonzo Church!’
Recovering, he pointed out with reverence,
‘Church was the teacher of Alan Turing.’
‘Yes, he was.’ said Karen Schmolke. ‘He also taught
Barkley Rosser, Raymond Smullyan, and don’t forget
Isaac Malitz. Dad took me to Uncle Alonzo’s lectures
‘But at ten or eleven years old I had no interest in the
‘Philosophical underpinnings of arithmetic.’
As she began a narrative of her undergraduate
Years at Oberlin College, Joe Adamczyk with an
Impatient wave, as if shooing away a horsefly,
Cut her off and with fierce interest demanded,
‘What kind of lecturer was Alonzo Church?’
‘Well, he had a very careful, deliberate style,’
Karen Schmolke reminisced. ‘He would start
‘Writing on the left side of the blackboard
‘In a large, clear, cursive hand…’ She paused.
‘Are you all right? Have some pizza.’
‘Pizza?’ said Joe distractedly, for the word
Meant nothing to him now. With the clarity
Of inner vision he saw Alonzo Church
At the blackboard, he saw Alonzo Church
Pacing around a lectern deep in thought.
And this girl Karen Schmolke! With her own
Ears she heard Alonzo Church lecture on the y
Church-Turing Thesis, the Frege-Church
Ontology, the Church-Rosser theorem, and
Many similar matters. With her own ears!
For her part, Karen Schmolke just stared
In quiet puzzlement at this peculiar man
Whose name she had still not learned,
This odd duck who with his head cocked
Seemed to hear some far-off supernal music.
‘Please try some pizza,” she offered again,
Now more insistently – for Joe’s face seemed
To be changing, his expression deepening.
What did he see? With his obvious interest
In logic, she surmised it was some esoteric proof.
But no, it was Grandma Fogarty! Oh God,
Grandma Fogarty had dropped by unexpectedly!
Joe Adamczyk felt the presence of Grandma Fogarty
And indeed he felt the presence of Grandma Fogarty
More strongly than ever in his life before!
Turning his gaze toward Karen Schmolke,
He wondered whether she might also sense
The arrival of Grandma Fogarty. Gently,
Hesitantly, he reached toward Karen Schmolke.
He caressed her cheek, then took her hand.
Wow, she thought. All men were the same.
On the other hand, never had Karen Schmolke
Felt such…desire? Or was it desperate need?
It was flattering, in a way. She smiled benignly.
‘It’s okay,’ she said. ‘Just don’t have a stroke.’
Her acquiescence, her mercy, Joe chose
To see as acceptance, as heartfelt assent
When hand in hand they drew nigh the mattress.
She wore no bra and this fact, to Joe Adamczyk,
Was a powerful expression of youth’s sans souci.
But was there not also a sans souci of age?
An insouciance, a devil may care perspective,
A what the hell attitude, a damn the torpedoes
Point of view? Yes, yes, yes, goddamnit!
And Joe embraced that carpe diem sensibility!
He gamahuched Karen Schmolke with startling
Enthusiasm. Cunt, slut and similar words
Eddied and swirled in his brain. Yet a logos,
A telos, was also disclosing itself, cleverly
Interweaving his fucking with philosophy.
Through this most intimate touching
Of a woman who had seen Alonzo Church,
Joe felt himself connected not just to Church
But through Church to the realm of pure forms
Described by Pythagoras, Plato, and others.
Thought and feeling, cunt and consequentialism,
Mingled until an aphorism of Whitehead’s emerged:
‘There are no whole truths. All truths are half-truths,’
The great man explained. That is: truth is never final,
Truth is ever on the way, always halfway there.
Like Achilles’ fabled pursuit of the tortoise
Truth is a reality but a reality of process.
Truly Joe had been a bartender. Just as truly
He was one no longer. Who could aver that he
Would not one day be President of Mexico?
Rising to his knees, he poised his swollen member
To enter Karen Schmolke. She arched her back
And her breasts like spring lambs leaped to meet him
Until for at least a moment his ratiocinations quieted
And twice she nutted to one nut of Joe Adamczyk’s.
I hope you have enjoyed this story of a man who
Late in life undertook what Alfred North Whitehead
Called Adventures of Ideas and then, to his surprise,
Reignited his sexuality, which he called Grandma Fogarty.
And Eve Grabuskawa? Her story will be told, but not today.
How can we understand the astounding story of M. Dominique Strauss-Kahn? Is there a literary algorithm that can be applied? Oui! The character of Mr. Toad from Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows can enlighten us. Wealthy, charming, manic, obsessive -- Toad can't resist driving every automobile he sees. Eventually he gets in a crash and receives a twenty year prison sentence. (He escapes.) For Toad, driving is the closest he can come to what, in another era, was experienced through religious devotion: physical stimulation, emotional ecstasy, etc. He craves it, needs it -- and starts making bad judgments. When sex (paradoxically) becomes the only route to "out of body" experience, trouble is on the way for chamber maids. As with any addiction, it's looking for love in all the wrong places. DSK even resembles Toad in some way. (I resemble Mole.)
I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.