Saturday, January 31, 2009


On a busy street corner in a seemingly glamorous town, we do get all kinds of visitors stopping by the showroom. Some to buy, some to dream, and some to ask for help.

A woman named Marilyn stopped by today. She was about fifty years old, with dark hair, delicate features, and sad blue eyes. She was dressed in a slightly indeterminate way, as if she couldn't quite pull off dressing as twenty and couldn't bring herself to dress as fifty. Still an attractive woman, it was obvious she had been a beauty in an earlier time. Through a soft southern drawl she asked if she could borrow some water. I showed her the cooler full of bottled water we keep for guests. She said no, it was for her car.

She gestured at a dilapidated BMW outside on the side street. A once attractive black coupe, it now suffered from the effects of years of neglect and abuse. The paint no longer shone, and the chrome wheels were peeling from years of heat and neglect. The leather was sunbaked. The odometer showed 222,000 miles and counting. But it looked better than it ran. The head gasket was failing, and the car could only go about ten miles before she would have to cool it off and add water. Hence the reason for her visit, it had overheated in front of our door.

We chatted back and forth while the remains of the Ultimate Driving Machine cooled off sufficiently to allow her to replenish the coolant. She told me she had been a realtor in Birmingham for the last fifteen years, but the market turned sour and she ended up walking away from both a mortgage and a relationship, and so she pulled up stakes and moved west to try her luck.

She found a job selling advertising for some magazine, but it seems to barely keep her afloat. In the meantime she's studying for her California real estate license and trying to navigate Los Angeles in this rapidly deteriorating heap which seems to consume what few resources she has left.

And yet, she smiled and talked about the future, when she gets her feet back on the ground. She told me how she drove Jaguars in Birmingham, four shiny new ones in a row. She fought back tears the entire time she was waiting, but she never gave in. And with that, she poured water into that pitiful worn out car and she was off. Penniless at 50, forcing a smile and going through life with her fingers crossed ten miles at a time.

And I wondered just how many of us are really just like her, one misstep away from disaster. Perhaps the only difference is the awareness in her eyes.

Friday, January 30, 2009

end of the world

I stepped out of the blues for a few minutes today and caught a glimpse of this awesome music video from openly gay and totally handsome Matt Alber, done in an awesome retro sixties fashion. It's End of the World, from his album Hide Nothing.

Imagine Mad Men ballroom dancing in a barber shop. I'm entranced.

Now where exactly is my sharkskin jacket these days?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

yes we can can

I thought I better hurry up and post this because the whole Obamacon thing is in its fourteenth minute and won't last much longer. But this one struck me as brilliant:

Okay, I admit it. I'm still a punster after all these years.

Via flickr, from djfargo. Hat tip to Chris Mecham.

ellen and gladys

Here's Ellen being upstaged by eighty eight year old Gladys Hardy of Austin, Texas. Gladys leaves a message and Ellen calls her back. You MUST watch at 3:59.

"I love Jesus, but I drink a little."

From Andrew Sullivan.

Friday, January 23, 2009

motown made

My sense of hometown pride really kicked in during the inauguration this week when two products of my beloved (yet rusty and snowbound) home state of Michigan's own Motor City made outstanding contributions to the inaugural events.

First shout out goes to Cadillac Motor Car Division for the new 2009 Cadillac Presidential Limousine, officially referred to as "Cadillac One" but already aptly nicknamed "The Beast". Built on a truck chassis and reportedly diesel powered, this one off vehicle is fully armored, can fight off chemical gas attacks and has world class satellite communications. And not bad looking considering it's really a tank with a Cadillac grille:

But alas, this wonder of modern bombproof black lacquered technology has been upstaged by a hat. A real Detroit hat, from an honest to God Millinery Shop. Custom made for her by Luke Song of Mr. Song Millinery Shop downtown. Did you know there still are Millinery Shops? And worn by none other than the Queen Of Soul, our own Aretha Franklin. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Hat Heard Round the World.

Kudos to Aretha for making Inauguration Day into "Say Something Hat Day" as well. Motown wheels, Motown Sounds, Motown Style- now that's how to launch a Presidency.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

praise song for the day

Elizabeth Alexander of Yale University delivering "Praise Song for the Day", written for this occasion. A lovely poem of context and hope.


In cautious optimism after hearing a magnificent inaugural speech, here is my obamacon. I chose "blog" as a reminder of the importance of our collective voices.

And here is Serena's. This is a direct quote.


Everything looks better without that ugly w.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

silent prayer

Darnedest thing, but unless you were standing in the crowd, you didn't hear Bishop Gene Robinson's Invocation to open the Inaugural Concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

You know the prayer, the one we have been carefully reminded was NOT a last minute afterthought to appease the LGBT Community because of the controversy over the ghastly selection of loathsome homophobe Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the REAL Inauguration.

Well, it seems that this prayer was the ONLY part of the concert which was not broadcast on HBO. Also, they failed to identify the Washington (DC)Gay Men's Chorus which was making a historic appearance at the event.


On as positive note, Bishop Gene Robinson gave a lovely and inclusive prayer this afternoon. Sorry the Committee was ashamed for anyone to actually hear it. But here are those words of grace, and they are worth looking for.

Hat Tip to Towleroad for the video and Pam's House Blend for the text.

So here is the video:

Way to go, Bishop Robinson.


A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama

By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God's blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will...

Bless us with tears - for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger - at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort - at the easy, simplistic "answers" we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience - and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility - open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance - replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity - remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand - that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


Friday, January 16, 2009

still delusional

Eight dark miserable years end in a couple more days.

Rachel Maddow takes no prisoners as she offers counterpoint to Dubya's miserable attempt to whitewash what will easily prove to be the worst Presidency ever- of any country, any company, or even local book club. Ever.

And listen to him harping on the phrase "Moral Clarity". Moral Clarity? He started two unprovoked illegal wars, operated secret prisons, suspended habeas corpus, spied on every American, wiped his ass with the Constitution, set up Halliburton to bankrupt the Treasury in a no-bid frenzy of unfinished "reconstruction" projects and allowed his buddies to rob the economy (hear anything about Wall Street lately?) leaving us all in the collapsed ruin of collective greed and corruption unprecedented in our history. And we won't even mention Darth Cheney and Alberto I-Do-Not-Recall.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

stan and judy

I used to see her walking in the late afternoons in my neighborhood in Lake Balboa, up in the valley. I estimated her to be in her early eighties, although I later learned that both she and her husband were eighty-six. She was of smaller stature, with a neatly styled beehive of silver hair. She walked briskly past the little Kaiser Victory homes almost every afternoon. Her name was Judy, and she seemed to know the names of everyone she encountered on her journey.

She was married to a man named Stan. He sold Cadillacs, a second career he had started out of boredom after retiring from his first job. He was kind of a cranky old guy, but in a likable enough way. Gruff, but smiling. Theirs was the second marriage for each, and even after close to 30 years, they seemed devoted to each other. We didn't know all that much about them. They were good neighbors who lived quiet lives. We waved when we noticed their silver heads driving by in their big Cadillac sedan.

The little fifties neighborhoods in this area were all laid out similarly. To minimize the number of little streets exiting into the major ones, there was one egress per block which then fed the other neighborhood streets. The downside was that fifty years later, it could be quite dangerous exiting the neighborhood from the tiny streets, the vast majority of which still lack traffic lights.

It was the first Sunday in December. They decided to go out for breakfast and made the same left turn they had made ten thousand times, although this time was different. A city bus obscured Stan's view and for whatever reason he didn't wait for it. He didn't see the speeding Corvette with the two young men inside. It all happened so fast. The police estimated the Corvette was travelling 60 mph just prior to the time of impact.

I wish he hadn't been conscious after the crash, as I can't imagine what it was like for him to see his world shatter before his eyes. A more perfect universe would have spared him from that. Keenly aware that his beloved Judy was gone, witnesses said that he sat in the ruins of his once-proud Cadillac and held her hand. He himself was transported to a local hospital where he died later that morning. Both men in the Corvette were seriously injured but survived. The driver faced charges relating to his reckless speed.

I learned so much about them at the service. The family had created large display boards with many photographs. White-haired cranky Stan had been a hunk wrestler at UCLA in an earlier life. I was struck by a picture of him circa 1936, handsome, broad-shouldered, smiling, with his first wife, the gorgeous blond actress. They were seated in leather club chairs next to a rustic fireplace, and they looked like the King and Queen of California. Judy had been a dancer and model and had a beaming smile. She and Stan had travelled the world in their almost three decades together- riding Elephants in India, on Safari in Africa, riding in a gondola in Venice. I was amazed at the fascinating lives this quiet couple had led, and how eighty six years of living all ended in the fraction of an instant, during the execution of a seemingly innocuous left turn.

Outside the chapel, one of his coworkers shared a conversation he had with Stan a few months back. Stan, concerned about one having to get by without the other, had told him that when their time came, he just wished to God that they could go together. It was merciful of Him to grant the wish.

Monday, January 12, 2009

retro coffee

In my authentic mid-century modern kitchen, the two concessions to modernity were the Cuisinart coffee maker and the microwave. I excused the coffee maker because even though it was a modern device, it was in a retro shade of pink and, like the toaster and blender, was a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen foundation, complete with a little label which they all proudly bear.

It sat happily on the yellow tile and made coffee on the command of a digital timer with the precision of a space shuttle launch, until the day that while washing the glass bowl, I hit the sink and took a chunk out of it. It doesn't look too bad, but recall what a similar incedent did for the space shuttle.

My happy solution from my days of estate sales came to my attention in the top of the cabinet. Years ago I had purchased a stylish glass percolator from the late fifties It was a David Douglas flameproof version with a rocket inspired fluted body and turquoise blue and gold appliques. Never used, it still had its instruction card inside. I decided to fire it up for a test perk and see if I could at least use it in the interim.

Can one fall in love with a percolator? Especially when made of glass, it is a fascinating machine. The water is brought to a literal boil before it begins to ascend the feed tube and be immersed in the fresh beans. The result, besides being visually interesting to watch, produces superior coffee to the Cuisinart.

Would anyone care for a cup?

Monday, January 5, 2009

special bulletin

From Serena and I, via Shirley Mac Laine and Postcards from the Edge

Sorry I haven't felt like writing this week, but we're still here...

And hopefully that counts for something. I'll write soon...