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Archive for October, 2012

A friend from an advanced planet visited my home and my city last weekend. His name is Peter Pero, and the advanced planet is Chicago, which is my way of saying “it’s another world.” I know because I visited the city, his home and his charming wife Byung earlier this year when I was invited to share the story of Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay, his poetry, my poetry and s0me of my songs at Chicago’s College of Complexes, a club for citizens who like to think and learn. It was a fab weekend, I wish to bejeebers I could visit and perform there again, and if anybody’s interested, the full story of my visit can be found in my Honey & Quinine posts around March of this year. Peter wanted to learn more about the Lindsay fanatic, my city and  my aviation museum.

Friday night we had dinner at Casa Real on North Grand, not far from Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport. The place was packed, and noisier than some jet engines I have stood next to. The food and service were excellent. After, we drove to a Shop’N’Save across the street and bought a few six packs of Michelob Premium Amber Ale. There was most of a gallon of Carlo Rossi Burgundy already at home in case that proved insufficient.

Peter was impressed with my collection of vinyl records. They seemed as rare as arrowheads to him. He was delighted to find my Phil Ochs album “All the News that’s Fit to Sing” in the rack. Phil was a passionate folksong writer/performer whom Peter remembered when Ochs sang at the Art Institute of Chicago some weeks before he committed suicide. Peter had not heard Ochs’ song “The Thresher” which I’ve been playing and singing since about 1968, and it was as much an education for him as his memories of the man were for me. I introduced him to one of my fave musician songwriters who lightened the sky like a Roman Candle and sadly faded to oblivion: pianist Biff Rose. I saw Rose twice on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, bought all three of his albums and mourned is sorry fade to ignominy. We listed to all three albums, plus some Basie, The Dillards, a Mike Nichols and Elaine May comedy album; also part of an album by Southern regional comedian Dave Gardner (who played Springfield’s Lake Club in the 60s; my father met him when he visited Roberts Bros. downtown to buy some clothes). The evening was a hoot, and it was a late night for the both of us: lights out about 2:30.

I respect the wishes of my house guests in the main — the worst exception being “Lenore” of the spring of 2009. I could write a book consisting mostly of my regrets about that wonderful encounter that went south faster than the Titanic, but with no permanent fatalities beyond the death of a dream. I’ll spare you the details —  and Peter recommended commencing the rest of the morning at 9:00 am. I was happy to oblige, but my morning commenced in my home office at 7, which is late for me.

A visit to the restored Lincoln-Herndon Law offices downtown was item #1 on the day’s itinerary. Unfortunately, the place was short-staffed, and the one person there was in he middle of a scheduled group tour. We heard him advising the gentleman at Tinsley Dry Goods souvenir shop, accessible through an open door at the back of the visitor orientation area on the Law Offices’ ground floor. Tinsley is a terrific gift shop for anyone seekiln’ Lincoln. We looked around; nothing lightened our wallets.

We went next door to Prairie Art Alliance’s Gallery II, delighted it was OPEN a little after 9:30 and equally delighted to encounter my friend, manager Jennifer Snopko at the welcoming desk.

Jennifer Snopko, proof positing that not all works of art hang on walls

I had not been there since playing and singing at their First Friday gallery reception, and it was great to see so much new art.

Peter Pero, visitor from an advanced planet at Prairie Art Alliance Gallery II.

watching tourists from other planets outside Gallery II

view from the front desk at Gallery II

With the permission of their chaperones, the young ladies outside Gallery II posed for Obewan Cameraguy.

The group tour was still underway upstairs at the LHL Offices, so we boogied across the street and half a block south to

 

 

The Golden Frog Cafe, which, sadly ceased operations seven days after our Saturday visit, offered some terrific souvenirs, among them this.

The Golden Frog where the creative thinkers group Writers Bloc was certain to be in session. Since I must work most Saturdays, this was my first opportunity to visit the new meeting venue.. The writers are all long-time friends of mine, and it was great fun to introduce my friend from an advanced planet.

We enjoyed a light breakfast and coffee, all prime chow and caught up with the peoples’ lives. Peter wisely decided to try a third time to visit the Lincoln-Herndon under-staffed Law Offices while we natives jabbered away in the usual way, and he returned later appearing satisfied with  his good fortune visiting the upstairs main event over there.  He was just in time to savor, following his return, the sounds of Bossa Azul, a local “bossa and jazz” trio I am happy to call friends.

Bossa Azul at play (and song) October 20 at The Golden Frog Cafe.

briDEEP, briDEEP, briDEEP

We stayed for a set of their scintillating strains before taking off to the airport.

Peter visits the Research Room at AeroKnow Museum

AeroKnow Museum is best seen in daylight. Yes, there are lights there, but daylight is the best time to see the six rooms upstairs. We were also less rushed than then previous evening when he arrived, parked his car for the entire visit  in the free parking lot, and I became host and tour guide in my pickup truck.  He seemed to appreciate the collection. Too bad he doesn’t live closer to Springfield. A friend who might want to help is a terrible thing to waste.

considering a model of a Japanese torpedo bomber in the Kits Room

It was at that point that the battery in my Sony Cyber-shot ran out of juice. To give it time to recharge, we departed for lunch at the restaurant Galery II’s jovial Jennifer had recommended for Peter’s first HORSESHOE SANDWICH (choice of meat on open-faced toast — white, whole wheat or rye — and smothered with french fries and an incredibly well-prepared cheese sauce), a Springfield landmark like Lincoln and Lindsay. The Brickhouse is located on west side of 5th Street between Adams and Monroe. Jennifer was absolutely RIGHT about their horseshoe sandwich. There were many customers, but the ambiance was commendably quiet, absolutely terfiic!  I was blown away by the sprinkling of chive on the top and the mildly “warm” seasoning of the sauce. I am not a hot sauce fan, but I totally enjoyed the treatment of the sandwich. It was too “hot” for the visitor from an advanced planet. When he asked for a simple lettuce salad, our server brought an AMAZING production of greens and a plethora of additional items (carrots, olives . . . all sorts of salad “fixin’s”) Peter was knocked over by its appearance, and so was I. He didn’t even want dressing on it; just wanted it to tame the seasoning of the cheese sauce. He gave half of it to me, which went home in a “doggie bag,” and I enjoyed it with dressing, with dinner Sunday night. I can’t wait to go back to The Brick House for another horseshoe.

We returned to the airport to retrieve my camera with battery charged, and then it was back to town to tour the Illinois State Museum.

outside the entrance, a happy surprise

 

I don’t know WHAT this is, but it was great to see the words of Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay and the artistic creation of my friend Felecia Olin!

information about the creation at the base

It was as interesting as always, and Peter was impressed.

posing with a creature that was native to these parts, even before Abe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Then we drove out to Washington Park to hike off some of the horseshoes we were digesting.The walk was excellent. Lots to see and photograph.

 

 

 

 

 

Foreground: Peter Pero. Background: Washington Park’s Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon during the annual PumpkinFest.

 

 

 

 

 

view of the carillon in late afternoon

 

Peter and inspiring sculpture

My friend Felecia Olin was having a one-woman gallery showing at The Pharmacy (visual artists organization) Warehouse,, walking distance from my home. We walked over there and spent about an hour. Because my Cyber-shot was out of battery again, I took my Canon EOS 20D SLR with a telephoto lens. I knew I would photograph everything  at atleast 70mm and up to 300mm, it was my only choice, and I thought it would be  great fun to play with it. I was right.

Around the gallery, people come and go, talking of Feliciangelo. (Sorry TSE)

 

a painting by Springfield artist Felicia Olin

 

visitors to FeliciaWorld, a terrific event

We walked home drank more ale on the front porch. Joining us was my guitar. We serenaded the lawn grubs for about two hours in the perfect autumn-crisp air and turned in early.

The next morning I occupied myself in my home office for two and a half hours waiting for 9 am, and it was time well spent. Then we walked over to my favorite breakfast restaurant a few blocks away and enjoyed another fantastic meal before heading out to the airport where Peter was reunited with his car, and he motored home to an advanced planet.

The visit was great fun. I felt like I was on VACATION.  As soon as Peter can find me a place where my songs and poetry — and reciting Vachel Lindsay’s poetry — are welcome for the cost of train fare, I intend to return north, and Peter hopes to bring an aviation enthusiast friend to Springfield, probably next year.

Thanks again to Peter Pero for the memorable visit and to you, the cherished reader of Honey & Quinine for reading this post. If you are into poetry, guitar, aviation or Lincoln and want to visit my town and stay at a semi-famous house where a visitor from an advanced planet slept two nights on a parlor sofa, let me know. I’d likely love to welcome you too.

Live long . . . . . . . . . and proper.

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I’m beginning to worry about “The Grim Weeper.” a nickname I have given to myself. These days I am saturated with complaints, from many friends and strangers to be sure, but mostly from me. I am not happy about this. I complain to me frequently about me, and how I wish I could suck it up, swallow, and deposit the angst out of my being and into the pig sty of discontent where it rightfully belongs. On the way back to the airport from my employer — “Ston Sirces” (as the owner Simon would likely spell it) — I realized what a vain gesture it is to profess “hurt” or “offense” at coincidence, at life.  To consider it fitting for me to be hurt by circumstance that has no conscience or pre-ordained direction seems utter folly at this point in my periodic “epiphany” I gurge here at Honey & Quinine.  No force I understand gives me a logical reason, a logical option, to declare dismay over events which posses no capacity to create and direct dismay upon some wayfaring hummin’ bean.  To proclaim such capacity within me is to give myself credit for more power, greater value in this grand cosmos,  than I possess.

That conclusion, thus shared in what is intended as a blurt, imputing “wisdom,”  is quickly made meaningless in my haste to claim “hurt” even though I dang-sure know better.

So I have a “heart,” okay? The heart is the sensory element that perceives “hurt” and decides what to do with it. Do I blurt back in anger? What do I gain by blasting retaliatory invective — as I truly want to do — to an incredibly large number of other hummin’ beans who in the coincidence of their own circumstances have hurt me? Yet, my being, my heart, wants to do it, and most of the time I button my inclination because I know it will only escalate my personal War With Coincidence. Yet in throttling back that button, or paperweight, or pin, or nail, or spike driven through my passionate, angry inclination in the interest of disabling that inclination, I become a “smaller me.” The “smaller me” does not become the responder to perceived hurt which the most aggressive form of vanity must swallow.

That said, the vision of the racing sailboat comes to mind, the vessels with tall masts and bleached canvas sails that make the most of whatever wind might be in motion to achieve maximum velocity toward a desired destination. While the size of the sail and how it is manipulated is easy to appreciate, not so visible and easily as important is the keel that rides below the line of sight, below the water. Without the sail, the Star Class racing sailboat might be a powerless skiff. Without the keel that stabilizes the vessel out of sight, the sailboat would be blown over in moderate to high wind, and very sailor knows it’s hard to go places with a capsized vessel.

Perhaps the keel of the human heart is the part that contributes a gift that cannot be appreciated by those who see only the sail. If “vanity” is the sail, perhaps the essential element for the successful voyage of that vanity is the weight of that the heart feels furthest away from the banner fluttering from the top of the mast. Only the greatest vanity reacting to “hurt,” that stabilizes the ships in transit prevents that capsizing and demise of souls set in motion by winds coincidentally friendly and coincidentally not.

Perhaps it is appropriate that the highest form of vanity is to be hurt. Directing our reactions to the keel, rather than unfurling more canvas, is our assurance that “the boat will float” — an outcome hard to appreciate in storm ravaged tides, but a likely outcome regardless of the prevailing tempest.

Live long  . . . . . . . . . and proper.

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For the past year I have stopped at my AeroKnow Museum, at the airport to work from 5:15 until sometimes 9 or 10 and always until 7 or 7:30. There was always something I could do, most of it enjoyable, all of it necessary. For a good part of this year I’ve limited my model airplane building to time spent twice a month at a local club meeting when I would put a few projects into a carrying box with essential tools, glue, paint and perhaps a brush or two. The anticipated outcome of my socializing twice a month has not been reciprocal as I anticipated it would be. To accomplish what needs to be done at the airport, I’m reduced my club meeting presence to once a month.  I’ve also opted out of most poetry activity, including the open mic gathering downtown next week.  I WILL BE playing and singing my folksongs at a gallery reception next Thursday, and I’ll have my poetry books for sale. I may even sell one.

THAT would be a first.

The circumstance at my employer continues to challenge. I ALLOW IT to suck my typically moderately more positive attitude dry.  Why?  When I leave this orb with no forwarding address, I do not intend to leave clinging to some hope to see my next breakfast. I will leave, content to have had more that one chance to make things work even though I’ve failed every time.  I will be resigned and glad to go. The time comes when one recognizes that passing woes are “temporary” to be sure, but sometimes they are symptomatic of a greater, permanent dynamic that will not change for the better.

So I hurried home last night. I didn’t even stop at the airport. Night comes sooner and visitors fewer after the sunshine sayonara.  I will not pollute my time there with bitterness.

The ready-to-eat  chef salad from Shop ‘N’ Save supermarket was excellent with the Kraft Catalina dressing, and I had two peanut butter and strawberry preserves sandwiches for dessert with a surprisingly moderate assistance down the hatch with my friend Carlo Rossi (Burgundy wine; not to be confused with Burgundy beer or Burgundy replacement auto parts). I enjoyed the vice president candidates’ debate and the Charlie Rose program that followed on PBS. I went to bed and was asleep in fewer than 10 minutes. I slept well and awoke about 5:50 this morning to return to the airport museum.

I am not an angry hummin’ bean.  But home — sans lady-love interest, sans domesticated animal, sans a model airplane, but with books to read, a guitar to play, a TV with something worth watching two or three nights a week on PBS (five if I include Charlie Rose. I’m usually in bed by 10 in recent months), I am more inclined to go there after “work.” I ask for no volunteers at home, so the absence of volunteers at home does not shame me.

Tonight, I will hurry home again.

Live long . . . . . . . . and proper.

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My employer at “Stone Circus” whom I call “Simon” because to those who work with him, he clearly graduated with a “Legree,” can’t return a file for Thompson Products to the “T” section of the vendors file. I watched this happen three feet from me Friday. He started to deposit it midway into the top cabinet drawer when he realized that was not where it belonged so he gave it to an underling who was standing four  inches from his left shoulder and watching the tragi-comedy. Simon could not reply to an e-mail query from a potential customer because he could not access the e-mail account of the business he OWNS.  This quaint vignette of “life in Looser Lane” (I admit it: I am fit for NOTHING but driving Looser Lane, and if you don’t believe me, HIRE ME. I’m a writer. Have talent; will travel.) would have been almost forgotten if something even more coufounding to my waning braining had not occurred.

Simon was lecturing me in a way I would use only against a ne’r do well I had caught stealing chickens from my back yard. I’ve never owned any chickens but I’m sure you understand my point. In the head of his educationalating me — yes, he voted for #43; they share a common tongue — I thoughtlessly revealed something I should have kept to myself, and he went off like a Roman Candle on the 4th of July. In the course of that rant he added a new infraction, something I had considered as morally reprehensible as taking an office ballpoint pen home with me.

Another employee, one of his family, had approached me as Simon followed, unhurredly maybe 20 feet behind. When Simon announced “Ludlow needs to use the computer a few minutes,” I turned to the young man and said, “Sure thing, let me exit this game of solitaire,” and Lud’ replied, “No problem; I’ll minimize it.” I walked away and went to the bathroom, knowing I would hear them as they exited my “domain” after their time behind the counter. The day before, there had been no mention of discontent on discovering the solitaire on screen which Ludlow had NOT minimized. Solitaire is a release, no sugar added, a diversion from my usual routine at the computer. I seldom play it at all because there’s no satisfaction from the randomness of it. I’m playing against “coincidence” and I seldom win. Not a big deal over the occasional game  . . . . or so I mused Friday afternoon.  As Lancelot might have said, “Seelee moi.”

Saturday, Simon said he was shocked over my spending HIS TIME he was paying for playing “SOLITARY,” He had seen the word on the computer the day before, and he pronounced it “SOLITARY!” I didn’t correct him. He was in no mood to be corrected. He and Ludlow were mystified that I would play such a game on his computer. “People in offices every day play the game, and it’s no big deal. If it is to you, I will delete the game from the programs. I can do it in less than two minutes. Problem solved; okay?”

Of course it was not okay. He wasn’t done. I promised him he would never again discover me playing the harmless game. “I mean CHESIS, Simon, I wasn’t looking at pornography.” (I never have and never will at a workplace or at the airport museum which is my refuge in these topsy turvy tiempos.)

Long story short, I gave him my keys to the showroom and vehicle entry padlock as an attempt to temper his flaming conflagration bilious jabber. I told him that I would NOT open the showroom as I have for the past four years, and that he would have to have someone on hand to lock the doors on Monday unless he wanted to give the keys back to me. I made it clear I did not expect him to give the keys back in a way that Henny Youngman might take his classic joke too far . . .”Take my wife, PLEASE. Take my keys, PLEASE. I mean really PLEASE. I said TAKE THEM ALREADY. “Take them” as in “Cut my hours or fire me if that will bring you what you desire with your monologue rants of pig waste and raging near-incoherence!” . . . . . . . . but I suppose, nay, PREDICT, he will give the keys back Monday. It would be inconvenient for him to keep them, and as we all have learned . . .

Inconvenience . . . is. . . . beneath . . . him.

Live long . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and don’t play heathen Solitary at your work computer.

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No dog of Pavlov has been more profoundly imprinted than the neighbor of Byron and Anne and daughter Wendy. (Those from the neighborhood, none of whom read this blog, as far as I can tell, will remember their last name. It’s not important here.) He and Wendy were born the same year. The dau was nice enough, but there was never any “chemistry” between the two. And though her mother never knew, as far back as he can remember, his first lasting impression of a woman who was not his mother or 12-years-older sister was a young married woman named Anne. She was the first really beautiful adult woman he met. Anne would come over for coffee some mornings in the really early years when both were stay-at-home moms. No movie actress resembled her and vice versa. Doris Day was of the same “carriage” (height, movement) and Dinah Shore (“See the USA in your Chev-ro-let”) had her voice; a patient, mellow, mid-range that never squeaked and never rasped. It was as smooth as mink. Sometime, during the early years of his life, Anne’s young neighbor three doors south made up his mind that he was going to marry a woman named Anne. He never confessed this to a living hummin’ bean.

He didn’t have to go out with women named Anne. The first Ann he met who was his age was Anne Kessler, and she was vivacious and easy on the eyes, but he never asked her out. They were in junior high home room together, and probably a few classes too. During high school he dated around, always hoping to find and go out with someone attractive named “Anne with an e” but never searching for anyone named “Anne with an e” and still having a pretty good time, Almost anyone named Linda was great company, he learned.  The closest he came Anne was Jo Anne Walusek when both attended college.  She was from Chicago. It didn’t work out. Summer happened, and they never reconnected.

He was also smitten with Anne Morrow Lindbergh, famous poet, wife of New York-to-Paris aviator Charles. He read her poetry and Listen, the Wind, a book about flying with her husband.

He came close to getting married only twice: to a woman from Hobart, Indiana who had moved to Springfield and a woman who lived on Peoria Street in Lincoln, Illinois. Both were named Ellen.

That name might have worked for him and marriage, but he seems to have given his “man-soul” to a Mary Ann whom he loved passionately and reasonably well, but who would not consent to marrying him despite his hanging on like a breathless swimmer to a twig of hope in the middle of the Pacific.  He would make a new man-soul for Anne; maybe purchase one at a Salvation Army Re-Soul Store. Maybe return to the “faith of our fathers, living still.”

He’s still looking for a woman named Anne today. True, he’s not dated for years, more than he cares to admit. In his current employment circumstance, sans significant cash, sans significant future, despite generally acute powers of the mind demonstrable in journalism, verse and song, and a modicum of regard by those who still know him in his town.  Some would say he’s too OLD to get married, but he doesn’t believe it. A fellow misses the companionship which he used to consider akin to a hankering for Vlasic Mini-Dill Pickles or a thirst for Wild Turkey. He misses the wisdom, the aroma, the affirmation, the laughter, the validation of what he is. He’s still looking for a woman named Anne to complete his destiny, but he’s decided to stack the cards in his favor at this late phase of the game, so to speak. Today, he’s not looking for just any garden variety Anne, the kind who would walk a mile for a quart of gin and a pack of Camels . . . . or thinks Ezra Pound was a great poet. He’s looking for the ULTIMATE Anne, and what kind of woman is that, you may wonder?

He’s looking for a woman named Anne . . . who is looking for a man named Job.

Live long . . . . . . . . and proper.

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