Saturday, February 16, 2008
That was quite a parade of Classic Antique cars purring down Market Street yesterday afternoon.
Led by an official-looking motorcade, with lights flashing - halting traffic and causing quite a stir among the tourists, by the way - even local residents were inclined to slow down on their lunch hour, take a gander, and offer up hoots and hollers when the beaming auto enthusiasts chose to wave their way.
There were old caddies with long ubiquitous fins, period Classics with wide articulated hoods, and a handful of rare one-of-a-kind stylized jalopies with jump seats out back.
A snazzy looking Buick, detailed in fire engine red, was a big favorite...as was an old Studebaker painted to perfection in a blinding pastel pink.
The Vettes wowed 'em, too; as did a couple of souped-up muscle cars which roared by to loud applause. A few "old ladies" - grand touring limousines from the turn-of-the-century - caused a hush in the crowd. An elegant ride, man!
The chrome - polished to perfection - dazzled 'em in the bright mid-day sun. Why, there was enough of the piping on hand to sink a battleship.
Of course, the street round-up was a percursor to the Antique Auto show, which is held over Presidents' weekend each year. (February 15th thru 18th)
The popular event is sponsored by a San Francisco Chapter of a Model A Ford Club.
The chapter here is a non-profit organization founded to celebrate the preservation and use of the historic Model A Ford automobiles built by Henry Ford during the years of 1928 through 1931.
Through the Membership, and annual shows, the club endeavors to encourage the preservation of the Model A Ford.
Today, fifty years later, wild enthusiasm for the "little charmers" is still going strong.
In fact, members currently on the rolls, own and operate a number of Model A styles...including Tudors, Pick-ups, Fordors, Roadsters, Phaetons, and Woodies. Because of the range of body styles, availability of parts and know-how is accessible through club members. In sum, being a club member is a good way to maintain a Model A in operative condition.
In addition to the car display at Fisherman's Wharf over the weekend, other events are planned, which the public is invited to participate in.
"The Night Tour" of Alcatraz
(4 pm Saturday February 16th)
The Alcatraz Night Tour provides an intimate, engaging experience. This tour includes a personally narrated boat tour around the island; guided tours from the dock to the main prison building; and the entertaining “Doing Time: The Alcatraz Cellhouse Tour” ; as well as a variety of special programs and presentations offered only at night. Enjoy a sunset silhouetting the Golden Gate Bridge and breath-taking views of San Francisco as night falls. A truly exceptional experience.
Voted “Best Tour of the Bay Area.”
Mandatory pre-registration is required for this event due to space limitations.
Transportation will be on a motorized cable car provided by the Cable Car Charters.
Guests are instructed to board the cable car inside Pier 45 at 4 pm.
Saturday Nite Social
(7:30 – 9:30 pm Saturday February 16th)
After the Car Show, the public is invited for hors d'oeuvres, beverages, and good conversation at Boudin’s Bistro overlooking Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 45.
One complimentary non- alcoholic beverage will be provided.
No Host cocktails will be available.
Tour of the School of Industrial Design
(11 am – 1 pm Sunday February 17th)
Learn all about automotive design and view the classic car collection of the celebrated Academy of Art University.
The Tour will be led by Tom Matano, Director of the School of Industrial Design. Transportation will be on a motorized cable car provided by Cable Charters. Guests are advised to board the cable car inside Pier 45 at 10:30 am.
San Francisco Transportation Tour
(10 am Sunday February 17th)
Begin with a ride on a historic streetcar, from Fisherman’s Wharf along to the Embarcadero, up Market Street, then along the Church Street Line to the Geneva Car Barns. Here club enthusiasts will be able to tour the paint shop and learn about the rich history of San Francisco’s Municipal Railway. Nathaniel Ford is expected to join in the festivities (Muni chief for the tour).
There will be a LRV (light rail vehicle) ride to Powell and Market Streets, where the guests will transfer to a cable car for a ride to the Cable Car Barn. At that historic location, the curious will be able to see what makes the cable cars run and tour the Cable Car Museum.
After that little foray, there will be a ride on to Fisherman’s Wharf and the close of the Classic Car Show.
Farewell Gathering – The Grand Finale
(3 – 5 pm Sunday February 17th)
As the Car Show comes to a close, the public is invited to join the organizers for one last afternoon for hors d’oeuvres, drink, and a farewell visit with all the participants in the annual event. The whole "gang" will gather at the Boudin Bistro.
One complimentary non-alcoholic beverage will be provided.
No Host cocktails will be available.
Northern Italian Late Nite Dinner at Fior D’Italia
(8:30 pm Sunday February 17th)
After the close of the car show, those hearty souls who remain, may wish to join the auto club members for a late nite supper at America’s oldest Italian restaurant...a second chance to enjoy the ambiance, glamour, and magic of the popular watering hole. For over 120 years, the Fabulous Fior has created and maintained a delectable cooking experience - all-the-while - keeping the cuisine true to its Italian roots.
Departing Brunch/The Final Farewell
(9 am Monday February 18th)
The morning after the Car Show closes, there will be a Monday morning brunch and a final visit with other Classic Car Show participants. Auto enthusiasts (probably somewhat ragged by now) will gather at the Tuscan Inn for a final 2008 meal together.
Drive Tour – the Presidio
(11 am Monday February 18th)
There will be a final drive through the Presidio of San Francisco. The members will take a loop through the Main Post, Crissy Field, and Fort Point, as well as explore the west end of The Presidio. Along the way there will be an opportunity to take in different periods of military architecture and view the continuing restoration of some of The Presidio’s unique residential neighborhoods.
This little beauty is For Sale...
Friday, February 15, 2008
On the heels of that juvenile tirade, Aretha was firing off press snoots alleging disrespect.
Then, Jane Fonda appeared on morning talk fests, foul-mouthed and acting un-ladylike.
Ms. Fonda shocked middle America on the "Today" show when she spat out the "C" word in front of a startled audience at the Peacock Network.
Talk about color, dahlink!
Yeah, we want plumage; but Jane - that was a tad salty - don't you think?
During a discussion about the play - "the Vagina Monologues" - the daughter of celebrated film icon - Henry Fonda - uttered the vulgar derogatory term often used as a hateful slur to describe a woman's surly nature.
One more vile than the "b" word, that fer sure.
The degrading word, meant as the ultimate insult to a woman, is generally not even whispered - "off-air" - in polite circles.
So it begs the question. Was the "slip" of the tongue an innocent one?
Or, does Ms. Fonda just lack any class?
Even Russel Crowe has the good sense to warn an audience about potentially offensive language he intends to facilitate on occasion during an interview to spice up a story a tad.
For instance, one night on the Tonight Show, Crowe warned he'd be using a phrase a few prudes might find offensive.
With a glint in his eye, he delightfully instructed:
"if such language is not to your liking, plug your ears."
Understandably, when he spouted out the word - Mother****ers - NBC bleeped it.
Because of the way Crowe handled the moment, the audience laughed uproariously.
It boggles the mind to think that Ms. Fonda - an actress, who emotes the sacred "word" for a livin' - is so clueless.
In view of her past tales of near-bondage and kinky sex with former hubby - Director Roger Vadim - one has to wonder if this is where Hanoi Jane picked up the naughty "potty mouth"?
Or, was it hubby Ted Turner's fault - for unabashedly jaunting into the men's locker room at the sports arena one day - with Jane on his arm?
Out of the mouths of babes, eh?
Either Aretha Franklin is paranoid or she's under the mistaken impression that all the stars in the firmament orbit around her global figure.
A case in point.
After Beyonce called her duet partner Tina Turner "the Queen" on Sunday evening's Grammy Award Show - the celebrated chanteuse not only threw a hissy fit - but allegedly issued a press release about the slight to boot.
Had that young upstart Beyonce lost her musical senses?
In a nutshell, Ms. Franklin not only felt "disrespected", but surmised there was a plot underfoot to topple her from her throne!
"I am not sure of whose toes I may have stepped on or whose ego I may have bruised between the Grammy writers and Beyonce," the hefty vocalist lamented to startled guests backstage.
Well, she's not very adept at the English language, for starters; but, we get the drift.
The moody Diva proceeded to opine that the whole fiasco was a sinister plot - "a cheap shot" - to stir up controversy.
It wasn't one, until you opened your pie hole, Ms. Franklin!
Aretha - did you ever consider the possibility that Beyonce acted innocently - that the comment slipped out in the sheer excitement of the moment?
Notwithstanding, why should she kow-tow to you?
Gosh, your ego is bigger than your record sales; and that's sayin' somethin'.
As Jay Leno quipped on the Tonight Show:
"She's mad? Elton John is furious!"
Elton John, Queen Supreme?
Thursday, February 14, 2008
As I stopped into a local fast food joint, a bold headline screamed out at me from the front pages of a tabloid newspaper a fellow patron left behind on the counter,
Clinton Secret Divorce Deal!
Gee, it was such tantalizing stuff, that I found myself gobbling down the titillating gossip whole as I munched on my breakfast sandwich over coffee.
According to insiders, Hillary Clinton and her philandering husband (their words, not mine) have a secret divorce pact that will end the marriage of 32 years if her historic bid for the White House ends in tears.
"She needs the image of a healthy marriage, but it's all a sham. This marriage is made in political heaven, nothing more. Their romance ended years ago," an insider boldly confided to the tattle mongers at the Globe.
Their public display of a harmonious marriage is all a sham, others alleged elsewhere in the wild yarn.
In fact, it was claimed in various quarters - according to the weekly rag - that bitter behind-the-scenes fighting between the two has already threatened to derail Hillary's campaign.
Must be an old issue of the Globe, didn't her campaign go topsy-turvy this past week?
In sum, the "reliable" sources lamented that Hillary was furious with Wild Bill for being less-than-slick recently - what with his take-no-prisoners campaign style, in particular - which drew strident criticisms from even long-time supporters.
Close friends in the inner circle appear to have their knives out, too.
One source swore that,
"She kept him around for his political expertise, but now that seems to be working against her. In the end, she has to ask, "What good is he?"
Not even worth a romp in the hay, you say?
Folks allegedly "in-the-know" chirp, "...she swallowed her humiliation and stood by his side amid the sex scandals, because she needed Bill's popularity, connections and political savvy to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming President.
"They've agreed to end it once and for all if she doesn't capture the White House," a source close to Hillary alleges. "There is no need for this marriage if she doesn't win."
Well, if they say so.
Unfortunately, I was unable to resist the bulk of the other scintillating news bites printed up with eye-catching captions elsewhere in the tabloid rag, either.
A half page article devoted to American Idol winner, Clay Aiken, was a hoot.
In the tell-all piece, Clay Aiken's sexual preferences were questioned; in spite of the fact - he swore up and down - that "nookie" was downright disgustin'.
"No sex, please," he lamented, even though he's not even British!
The newsies found it difficult to fathom a 29 year old guy without "urges".
Heh, maybe Clay Aiken is not only super talented, but super inhuman?
Billy Carter has to wonder, "...what, no lust in your heart, either?"
"The only reason to go to those bars is to get drunk and have sex," heart-throb Clay theorized. "To me, bars are what hell is like."
Then, what is heaven like, pray tell? Warbling on American Idol without missing one high note?
Well, you only have to read between the lines: gay!
He didn't even have to mention "show tunes" to figure that out.
A funny scoop was offered up by Tony Randall's widow, too.
Another tidbit about "gayness"...
Gee, homosexuality used to be the love that dare not speak its name; now it appears to be the love people that won't shut up about, eh?
With a straight face, Heather laughed at the idea that people thought Tony was a homo; in spite of the fact he was inclined to effectively play a handful of effeminate roles during the course of his career.
In fact, the fresh-faced lovely went so far as to claim that Tony was such a "stud" - so secure in his masculinity - that he never even suspected people "thought" he was homosexual.
Enough of that drivel!
The one titillating piece of gossip that took the cake was the tidbit on Demi Moore and Bruce Willis.
According to the reporter (I use that term loosely) Demi can't sleep nights, afraid that Bruce will end up in the sack, old and lonely.
If that's the case, then why did she divorce him?
According to Ms. Moore, Bruce needs to ditch the b****** and the hot 'n heavy dates with the bevy of young bimbo bombshells he's been bedding.
Date women his own age, you say?
Who? Candice Bergen, or Angie Dickinson - perhaps?
Something tells me, they wouldn't put up with any of that 2nd childhood **it.
By the way, what's the point of dating someone younger, if you can't call "the shots", or use your Machiavellian smarts to maneuver your way - um - on top?
Does the former brat-packer expect us to believe that her 30 year-old stud - Kutcher - doesn't yap at her heels all day, like an adoring pup?
Yeah, come to think of it, the Globe is just a lot of silly, puffed up chatter.
But, I wonder...what kinda' bucks are the tabloid writers raking in, anyway?
Do you think they make more than a blogger?
Maybe it's time to jump ship...
Aw shucks - me, a sex symbol?
For Willis, one sloppy Lewinski - please!
Tonight there will be a special screening of "Romeo & Juliet" at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.
The stunning screen adaptation of Shakespeare's well-known stage play was lensed by Florentine director - Franco Zeffirelli - and is a modern interpretation of the classic yet tragic love story of the two "star-crossed lovers."
Filmed on location in Italy, it is a refreshing passionate tale about the trials and tribulations of young love.
The Theatre owners have managed to secure a gorgeous archival print for the celebrated occasion.
Romeo & Juliet won four Academy Award nominations which include those for Best Picture, Director, Cinematography (Pasqualino De Santis), and Costume Design (Danilo Donati).
The tale, as told by the award-winning Italian Director, galvanized a generation on the date of its release.
Zeffirelli took a gamble when he cast the two lead roles with two young unknown and fresh-faced teenage actors - Olivia Hussey as the beautifuldark-haired Juliet - and 17-year old blue-eyed Leonard Whiting as Romeo.
Wisely, Zeffirelli exalted the exciting feuding scenes between hot-headed members of the opposing families which became an exciting highlight of the big budget feature.
Unknown to many, Laurence Olivier served as an uncredited off-screen narrator.
The lush poetic production features exquisite visuals and a memorable soundtrack that have stood the test of time. In fact, at this evening's screening, Connie Champage will perform Nina Rota's haunting theme accompanied by Boris Goldmund on the harp.
Ms. Hussey is scheduled for an interview with Jan Wahl at the Castro and is expected to discuss the making of the film as well as other career highlights.
Afterwards guests are invited to to meet and greet Ms. Hussey in the Castro Mezzanine for an autograph signing.
No Romeo in sight, though.
Tickets are a bit pricey.
Youths: $12.50 (under 16)
See, Film Release clip, below...
When I opened the Herald Examiner this morning I laughed out loud when I came across the caption on Page 19 of the daily which read,
"Need some last-minute V-D plans?"
In my youth, VD (a social disease) was not something you wanted to entertain the thought of, especially on Valentine's Day!
Was this a sly joke on the part of the editors?
Personally, I'd prefer a box of chocolates or a romantic candlelit dinner, than a dose of you-know-what!
But it's a subtle reminder, I guess...play safe with cupid, eh?
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Allen Ginsberg and lover Julian Beck bare all for Art
One night, I found myself in the thick of the Ginsberg legend - not surprising - since a day earlier at an auction at the “Beat Museum” (North Beach) copies of “HOWL” triggered old memories.
Then, on the heels of that awakening, I came across a thick biography on Ginsberg steeped with insightful glimpses into the poet’s mystical soul.
After stumbling across a notice in the San Francisco Chronicle (which announced a reading of “HOWL” at the Yerba Buena Center) I ended up front-row center and inexplicably drawn to a reading of the controversial piece.
A tough assignment.
As three Poet Laureates wrestled with their interpretations of the remarkable literary work, Ginsberg’s profound musings - each carefully crafted word from all the astounding passages - bounced onto a screen behind and revved up the underlying theme.
Devorah Major’s voice was raspy and brimmed with rich full tones.
She performed her piece in a precise measured manner - which was effective for the most part.
But somehow, “Howl” - in a woman’s mouth - jarred the sensibilities somewhat when they tumbled out.
A second poet, Jack Hirschman, tackled his lines with great gusto.
For the most - the sharp punches he punctuated ‘em with - managed to hold the crowd’s collective breath in his thrall.
Overall, though, the interpretation was uneven, not very-well modulated, and lacked variety.
In sum, his interpretation was weak, ineffective, and uninspired.
The potent lines he delivered up deserved a better voice.
That of a seasoned actor, such as Richard Burton, perhaps.
The third woman - Janice Mirikitani - lacked the insight, depth and mere talent (even the imagination)to pull off the theatrics of “Howl”.
Her segment ended flat. I felt embarrassed for her.
Obviously, none of the readers had done their homework.
When Ginsberg wrote “Howl” - some passages were meant to resonate with an authoritative prophetic tone - which none came close to fathoming last night.
A handful of verses meant to be - “long litanies of sympathetic proclamations” - droned on senselessly without spirit or worthwhile inclination.
A ladder structure - the work of the long line - was not explored either, sadly.
Not did the - “barely in-control feeling of the Cassady word-rap” - come to life.
In fact, there didn’t appear to be any understanding of - “The beauty of abstract poetry of mind running along making awkward combinations like Charlie Chaplin’s walk, with long saxophone-like chorus lines…” - as originally intended by the author.
The rhythm, syntax, and diction that was painstakingly penned to effect an even and elastic flow from verse to verse was missing here.
But, what a footnote!
A young Afro-American male (Kahlil Anthony) started off by mimicking a jazz riff - while a young gospel-style singer sang - “Holy”, “Holy”, “Holy” - soulfully, almost reverently, at intermittent moments.
Then, the charismatic youth began to spout words.
Indeed - searched for ‘em one instant - experienced their wonder the next.
I marvelled at his reach and thrust.
As words trilled off the tongue - at first - he joyfully teased the audience as he hit the highs and the lows.
Then, the talented artist dove deep into the inner recesses of his soul.
In the midst of the staging, I imagined Ginsberg’s own delightful probe.
In essence - Kahlil’s performance of the “footnote” - was a startling entertaining ten or fifteen minutes of theater that brought the piece to life.
Ginsberg would have given a nod of approval, I’m sure.
Interesting, how the night came about.
According to Ken Foster (Director of the Yerba Buena Arts Center) respected artist Lawrence Ferlinghetti approached him about hanging a half-a-dozen paintings in the gallery which were rejected for display at another institution on the grounds that they were “offensive”.
At that meeting - the forward-thinking Foster suddenly recalled a local radio station also bowed out of an opportunity to present an on-air reading of “HOWL” in recent weeks - for fear of reprisal from the FTC for obscenity.
The confluence of the two events crystallized ideas that he had been mulling over in respect to the role of the artist and a gallery in the community.
It suddenly occurred to Foster that this was the perfect occasion to throw together a multi-media theatrical event with the express purpose of making a bold-faced statement about “freedom of expression”.
“We want to show work that is meaningful to a contemporary world, but sometimes artworks are controversial due to nudity, sexual situations or violence,” he noted in an essay published by “FORUM” at the San Francisco Chronicle.
Gallery officials (such as himself) were often forced to become gatekeepers, he complained.
Indeed - at the risk of not offending - Foster astutely conjectured it was wholly possible galleries might end up muffling the artistic voice.
In view of this, the Yerba Buena Art Center decided to toss an event featuring the alleged “offensive” paintings in tandem with a full-scale reading of the controversial Ginsberg poem “Howl”.
And likewise, opted to seize on the opportunity to note that there would be an “open door” policy at the Gallery, henceforth.
In sum, there would be no further warnings about the explicit nature of art exhibits or performances ongoing at the facility in the future.
Ironically, Ferlinghetti was the original publisher who fought obscenity charges in Federal Court when his press first unleashed “HOWL” onto the world stage about fifty years ago.
To be fair, there is nothing that “offensive” about Ferlinghetti’s paintings.
In fact, if there was an outcry, it was probably due to their lack of artistry.
While the art renderings show potential, they are somewhat primitive and lacking in professional stature.
In fact, the way the Yerba Buena Center has slapped ‘em up on the walls (without proper framing or labeling) may have been offensive to some, if not considered downright tacky. After all, the Yerba Beuna professes to be a professional gallery setting.
But, there is no law against a lack of sound judgment.
In contrast - “HOWL” - is an exemplary work of art.
After experiencing the theatrical presentation at the center, it is understandable why so many went to “bat” for it in the Federal Court when prosecutors sought to ban the poem on grounds of obscenity decades ago.
Originally, the legal battle was labeled a “WAR OF WORDS” over words.
According to Federal Law at the time, works had to be judged in their entirety and not by individual words and expressions - unless certain passages considered obscene - were included only to appeal to the salacious interests of the reader with no bearing on the work.
Ginsberg’s defense provided witnesses prepared to defend “HOWL” as a “whole”.
John G. fuller wrote in the Saturday Review:
“Howl is obviously a very serious effort and must be judged according to general law as a whole and not censored on the grounds of the individual words in it.”
In sum, the legal issues reduced the case to one all-important question:
If a literary work contained certain words or ideas found offensive in the general vocabulary, could the piece have lasting literary value?
Quite a distinguished group of literary notables appeared in court before Judge Clayton W. Horn (a formal Bible School Teacher) to attest to the veracity of the claims.
Vincent McHugh - a poet and novelist - described “HOWL” as a very real - “vision of modern Hell” - and testified the celebrated poem had all the hallmarks of literary excellence found in giant works by Ezra Pound, Dante, and Homer.
Luther Nichols - a book critic for the Herald Examiner - described Ginsberg as an “honest poet” and a competent technician.
It was noted that since Ginsberg floated through life a vagabond - with a persona colored by Jazz and a Bohemian education - that the words he found at his disposal (subject matter of the complaint) were intrinsic to the man, and thus, natural choices of expression for “Howl”.
A valid argument focused on the impact of HOWL on a person’s thoughts and actions.
“You can’t think common rotten things just because you read something in a book,” it was argued, “Unless it is your purpose to read common rotten things and apply common rotten things to what you read.”
But the judge had his own take, which prevailed for obvious reasons.
“If considering a work obscene was a matter of showing how it created lustful thoughts in the readers, or if the word or phrase has to be proven to lead to corruption or depravity in the reader, the word would have to be of an erotic nature.”
“If the material is disgusting, revolting, or filthy - to use just a few adjectives,” - Horn opined, “the antithesis of pleasurable sexual desire is born and it cannot be obscene.”
However, Horn was inclined to set a few guidelines for future cases on obscenity in the event they made their way to court.
For instance, he wrote in his opinion:
“If material has the slightest redeeming social importance it is not obscene because it is protected by the 1st and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.”
A second legal finding is my favorite:
In considering material claimed to be obscene remember the important motto:
“Honi soit qui mal y pense.”
Or, in plain old English:
“Evil to him who Evil thinks”.
Natalie Cole lashed out at Amy Winehouse and the Grammy Officials who voted the "Rehab" warbler a handful of Awards this past weekend.
"I don't think she should have won," Ms. Cole lamented at a press conference after the high-energy extravaganza came to a close Sunday evening.
Miss Cole allegedly sniped to anyone within earshot,
"I think it sends a bad message to our young people who are trying to get into the business, the ones who are trying to do it right and really trying to keep themselves together. We have to stop rewarding bad behavior."
If anyone is acting out-of-line, it's you, Ms. Cole.
Natalie, the awards are given to artists for their musical talent, not for their behavior - on stage, or off.
Notwithstanding, for your information...throughout history, artists have been known to struggle with private demons.
In fact, many of the troubling encounters have not only resulted in self-discovery on occasion, but - more-often-than-not - fueled the creative muse, as well.
Your goody two-shoes attitude is not only misguided, but laughable at best.
When the City Council voted two weeks ago to draft a letter to the Marines denouncing their presence in the Berkeley area, no one could possibly anticipate what an uproar it would cause.
As the City Council sat in chambers on Tuesday arguing the issue, a swirl of controversy wafted about in the streets, where protesters - both for and against the measure - clamored to be heard about their stance on the matter.
Ironically, the "troops" were called in, to hold the peace.
The vigil lasted throughout the night, until the early dawn, when it appeared City Council would finally see the "light".
Their answer to the dilemma?
Support the troops, but denounce the war in Iraq.
Ah, looks like the elected officials got it right.
In Berkeley, at least.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
After the sweeping win over the weekend, polls indicate that Barack Obama has the power of the 3 M's behind him - Men, Minorities, and Moderates.
In fact, if the election were held today, Obama would squeak by McCain by a couple of percentage points, according to weekend polls.
In fact, the recent take on voter trends, indicates that a large percentage of white men prefer to cast their ballot Obama's way.
And, Obama has a wider appeal by a spread of at least nine points, with younger men.
Hillary loses out, by all accounts, if only by a fraction.
"Many men are reluctant to vote for a woman," one pundit opined, after reviewing the tallies.
Yup, it's okay for Ma or the wife to micro-manage the budget in the family household, but a few men appear to be reticent about the idea of a woman running the "White House" in much the same way.
Interestingly, male voters are not getting out to the poles as much as their counterparts, according to reliable sources.
Disgusted with the fact there is no Dem to vote for, other than Barack or Hillary?
In contrast, women are scurrying to the polling stations en masse in record numbers.
Well, now that the racial issues have been squared away - widely duked out in the media - it appears that the battle of the sexes is predominantly underway big time.
I wonder, is this causing any strain in bedrooms around the Nation, at night?
Sleep tight, hang loose, and sweet dreams America.
Soon, there will be a spanking new President in the Oval Office on Pennsylvania Avenue - black, white, female - whomever.
Hail to the Chief!
My tiny men
Came crashing onto that land...
Ate that vowing blood.
And the tears,
Solid state stood shocked -
Like fish, dead upon the shore, Mother.
I should run,
The sand seems to dance upon the floor of my feet...
A Small Peace
Monday, February 11, 2008
As I strode into the BEAT MUSEUM in North Beach and stumbled on a celebration of the life and times of Poet Neal Cassady, it struck me that on occasion an individual is where he or she is meant to be - alightin' in a hallowed space that fits snugly into the scheme of things.
Indeed, an unexpected sequence of events snuck up on me - caught me in their powerful undertow - and swept me into a poignant place.
And, in that Divine moment, it dawned on me that an underlying force was at play in my life.
As Al Hinkle, recalled golden memories of the winsome twosome - Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady - many of the thoughts resonated deeply.
After all, at times it appeared there were messages for me written on every breath.
For example - when Mr. Hinkle (a big hulk of a man) reflected on his days on the railroad (and those of Kerouac's sporadic seasonal toil on the lines) I wistfully recalled that just a scant few months ago - a distant relative located me through the ancestry.com web site and informed me that my own forefathers were instrumental in constructing the railroad in Ireland.
Ah, synchronicity at work!
At the urging of guests - amid the musical strains of the "Doors" in the background - Hinkle proceeded to relay one tale about the old Hudson that Kerouac once drove which has been subject matter for historians for decades.
In those days, Al laughed, features like a radio and heater were "extras" when a vehicle was purchased - and the costs were tacked on to the down payment - accordingly.
"Well, we have to have a radio," Kerouac allegedly argued.
So, that option was snapped up.
As to the warmer?
"Jack figured that since we were driving south, we didn't need a heater."
Well, that proved to be hindsight.
Hinkle fondly noted that on frightful occasion the windshield froze up - and that as a result - Kerouac's wife had to facilitate a small razor blade to scrape an opening up large for Jack to peer through into the dark stormy night to ensure safe passage.
It being Neal Cassady's birthday anniversary, understandably, the focus of the night's reminisce was on Kerouac's sidekick who was the thumbnail sketch for one of the characters - Dean Moriarty - in the celebrated book, "On the Road".
Hinkle met Neal Cassady when he was just a wee lad (about 13) at an annual Circus event at the YMCA in Denver, Colorado.
Hinkle (who was portrayed in "Road" as "Big ED Dunkel") started out by noting that because he was tall and physically capable, he was chosen as the designated "catcher" who guided performers like Cassady safely to the earth as they flew off the high wire.
That ended up being a metaphor for their relationship over the years, he joked.
"I was always 'catching' Cassady over the years," he recalled with a whimsical smile on his face.
After all, Cassady was a hell-raiser who tended to burn the candle at both ends, to his detriment.
Some tales were a tad historic.
Apparently, Cassady worked part time on the railroad with Hinkle, to supplement his income.
In fact, he was so capable at the task of "brakeman" - that on one occasion - the poet was chosen to man the train when a celebrated passenger, Dwight D. Eisenhower, boarded the train.
Eisenhower - returning home after an appearance at the Cow Palace in pretty San Francisco post-election - apparently strode through the train and offered a handshake to the two "Irishmen" whom he asserted "had things under control" on the quaint little railroad line.
If Cassady was a bit silent on the occasion it was not due to the fact he was awestruck; on the contrary, he had just inhaled on a joint and was trying his utmost to hold his breath until the entourage with the Secret Police passed by without incident.
To many - Neal Cassady was simply a hanger-on - who rode on Kerouac's coat-tails to fame.
He was infamous for "living it up" so he could write it down.
He did - nonetheless - have a major influence on Kerouac's writing style.
In fact, informed sources contend that Cassady's conversational style of writing inspired Kerouac to adopt a similar one.
It is a well-documented fact that a number of passages from Cassady's literary work were actually lifted and transplanted verbatim into Kerouac's legendary tome - "On the Road" - without any credit to Cassady.
What's a bit of prose between friends?
In addition to his fondness for mind-expanding drugs, Cassady was quite the womanizer, too.
Oh, he loved the ladies, alright. And they, him.
Hinkle theorized there must be a hormone or something in the brain that caused a man to be unsatisfied when it came to sex - and that Cassady - was surely inflicted with the ailment.
Quite the understatement.
Cassady also had a knack for attracting men of influence and power into his sphere, too.
In this respect, he was quite pragmatic, allegedly.
Sexual favors for the keys to the Kingdom, perhaps?
In fact - according to eyewitness reports - the odd bedfellows ended up in the sack together shortly after first meeting.
The encounter was later recalled in sexually-graphic detail in Ginsberg's memorable poem, "Many Loves".
After the tryst, Cassady allegedly penned a note to Ginsberg, which read:
"I dislike homosexual sex, but affected lust as compensation for all you have given me."
Actually, Ginsberg was allegedly greatly troubled by the weekend sex romp.
In a January 21st entry in his 1947 Journal, he expressed his dismay about the possibility of becoming an "outcast" in the event he pursued a homosexual lifestyle. (!)
Was this the man who wrote two of the most shocking lines of verse I ever read at the age of 13?
"Your co** is holy. Your a** is holy."
His father recommended therapy, but after a lot of emotional turmoil and soul-searching, Ginsberg eventually adjusted and became a liberated openly-gay man years later.
Kerouac noted of the meeting between Cassady and Ginsberg:
"Two keen minds that they are, they took to each other at the drop of hat. The holy con-man with shining mind and the sorrowful poetic con-man with dark mind."
Dark was a good way to describe Cassady; often in trouble with the law - busted on several occasions for taking joyrides in stolen cars - he was a man who exorcised many demons.
A bust for an alleged sale of marijuana landed him in State Prison for a couple of years.
According to Hinkle, it was a bum rap.
"A couple of crooked narcotics guys set him up. He could of gotten off, maybe, if he fought it. After all, there was no evidence. Cassady smoked the joint with the undercover officers."
The audience roared!
While in the slammer, a number of long-winded letters he wrote to family and friends - which were later published in total - revealed many intriguing aspects of his personality in fascinating multi-faceted ultra-mystical detail.
At least one member of the press managed to gain entrance to his cell during the incarceration and subsequently held court with the man (Cassady) that Kerouac wholeheartedly alleged:
"Was caught up in the mystical madness of the moment."
During the interview, Al Aronwitz - who was penning a series of articles on the "Beat Generation" for the New York Post - was taken aback when Cassady proceeded to distance himself from Kerouac.
"We drifted apart over the years," Cassady casually quipped.
"He became a Buddhist and I a Cayceite," Cassady added, nonplussed.
As to the "Beat" generation, he described the experience this way:
"Beat means beatific - short for beatific vision - you know. The higher vision you can get. A shortcut is marijuana."
During that revealing session, Cassady expounded on some of the mystical views that he gleaned from the Edgar Cayce spiritual experience - garbled - though they were.
"Trouble with me is that I am living on the four lower glands and haven't opened up the higher three ones. The pituitary and endorphin glands are centers of the force," he stated matter-of-fact.
He proceeded to ramble on about the law (spiritual) and the absolute necessity of being a "channel of service".
"Self is a great sin," he noted.
Ironic, in view of how he lived - selfishly.
"The thing is to get the Kundalini fire to come up the spine into the pineal," he asserted.
Here, it was evident that a little knowledge was clearly dangerous.
In the Yoga tradition, the Kundalini is described best as a sort-of "serpent-like force" that rises up the spine.
But, it does not halt where Cassady surmised.
In fact, the Kundalini energy referred to, instantaneously surges on up to the Crown Chakra - at which point - the dedicated Yogi practitioner seeks to connect with the Divine Light.
Obviously, Cassady was misguided, had taken a half-assed approach - and ultimately - was confused about the whole process of enlightenment.
In sum, this was the story of his life.
In a talk the following night at the Beat Museum, his son recalled his father being incredibly knowledgeable about "everything".
Clearly, the young man - out of respect for his father - was inclined to wear rose-colored glasses in this instant case.
The fact Cassady's letters are rife with spelling and grammatical errors are a sure-fire indicator that something was amiss. The man had spirit - a deep soul, even - but was not terribly well-educated.
As a result, the poet was limited in his reach.
And, this hindered his ability to grasp the brass ring.
Similar shortcomings extended to the core of his very being.
It has been said he lived in the - "mad mystical moment" - with the ultimate aim of realizing the full potential of existence.
For starters - a mystical moment should never be "mad" - it should be crystal clear.
For Cassady, a focus on the "moment", was obviously a ploy to prolong a night he didn't want to end.
Anyone familiar with Buddhism is keenly aware of the fact there must be balance and harmony in an individual's life.
On the path, it is essential to be mindful of the Yin and the Yang and the natural flow of things.
In essence, because of the way Cassady mishandled "energy", the life was drained right out of him.
Subsequently, he ended up by a railroad track, like an empty bottle - spent.
Over time - Kerouac, Cassady, Ginsberg, and William Burroughs - became known as the 115th Street Club.
And, in the final analysis, they were a powerful force to reckon with in literary circles at Columbia University and in the New York City publishing scene, itself.
In addition to Cassady, Ginsberg professed his love for Kerouac, as well.
Kerouac responded with what has been described by many as a "dismissive groan".
In spite of the initial rejection, Ginsberg continued to dog him, though.
One night, he attained his quest - well - sort of.
As the two strolled down a dark street, Ginsberg persuaded the object of his desire to indulge in a little sexual stimulation on the street in a truck lot beneath the elevated West Parkway near Christopher Street in the village.
Allegedly, they mutually masturbated under a starry night.
In retrospect, it is evident that in the mercurial paths that crossed here - those of Kerouac, Cassady, Ginsberg, and Burroughs - that not only was there an instinctive take on the pulse of the cultural trends of the era by each, but also, an incestuous spark between 'em that ignited and thrust forward their collective vision into the mainstream.
On writing, Kerouac opined:
"Art is good when it springs from necessity. This kind of origin is the guarantee of value; there is no other."
In spite of this lofty beginning, gifted Truman Capote acidly remarked about Kerouac's literary style:
"It's not writing. It's typing."
In respect to race and gender, some complained that - "On the Road" - was strangely naive, hopelessly conservative, and self-destructive.
In spite of this searing criticism, Carole Volpat argued that Kerouac's writing was an achievement, and managed to:
"Provide a portrait of characters who took to the road not to find life but to leave it behind."
Although Leslie Fiedler considered the - "flight of the dreamer from drab duties of home and town a fundamental narrative pattern in American Culture" - the exercise went unrecognized by many leading literary authorities of the day.
Perhaps the issue was execution?
Melvin Askew lamented that "On the Road" was:
"A failure of artistic realization, treacherous, tedious, neither exciting, illuminating, or enduring."
Well, he was off-the-mark in one respect.
"On the Road" has endured.
Kerouac once said:
"My work comprises one vast book like Proust's except that my remembrances are written on the run instead of afterward in a sick bed."
In response, a chorus of critics were gleefully inclined to shout out:
"But, the remembrances are not factual or true."
On the subject of Kerouac, writer Ken Kesey said:
"He wrote his books not so much to tell the truth as to make truth."
Jack Kerouac considered all of the literary works he'd written as "chapters" in what he poignantly referred to as "The Duluoz Legend".
By legend, it is assumed that Kerouac believed in the transformational power of storytelling, because he allegedly told his friends that they could translate their lives into legends by committing themselves to the act of writing about what happened to them.
With that in mind - "true-story novels" - has been used as a label to describe his literary offerings.
But, fictionalized autobiographical works are difficult to pin down.
Because of their confessional nature, the tales unfold in a way that heighten the emotional content - and in the process - reveal the mysteries of inner reflection by virtue of self-examination.
"Confessional Picturesque Memories" is what they truly are, some assert.
Because "On the Road" failed to meet or fall into a transitional generic category, it was deemed a deeply flawed work.
That is the crux of it, really.
Both the form and structure were original, but in toto - "On the Road" - lay beyond the reach of critical analysis.
This accounted for its lack of recognition at the time of its original publication.
Indeed, it was snidely looked upon as a "cultural novelty" in elite literary circles.
Hollywood has attempted to capture aspects of the tale on the silver screen, without much success.
In fact, at least one such exercise caused a former wife of Kerouac to lament,
"They reversed our psyches and put words into our mouths and actions which were the antithesis of what we were and aspired to be. It was a hideous mockery of our ideals and our struggle to rise above the mediocre mindless herd instincts."
The director of the "Beat Museum" opined:
"They were artists without any agenda. The writers were not attempting to change the world, but rather, were trying to live authentically."
At the Cassady celebration, John Allen chuckled:
"The Beat Generation was all about sex, drugs, and jazz."
In recent years, many have been critical about the way the "Beat" influence has been sold; brimming with an American Bourgeoisie ethic raised to cosmic proportions.
Coppola apparently has the rights to "On the Road" and intends to shoot a version.
According to sources close to the project, he pines for unknown actors and would like to lens in black and white.
Meanwhile, the studio - within a commercial framework obviously - will strive to cast the likes of Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp in a bold-faced effort to realize the full box-office potential.
In the meantime, as creative powers wrestle with the challenge, the illustrious Beat Museum continues on.
The museum - in effect - houses pieces of the mysterious puzzle that was Jack Kerouac; the glue that holds the romantic ideal of the beats together for die-hard fans to glom on to.
Without doubt, there is a lot more folklore and myth afoot than meets the "eye".
But, because the beats have reached such exalted status in this country, they are untouchable in many respects.
In recent days, there has been a call to honor the Beat poets with a sidewalk tribute on Columbus and Green Streets in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood.
The fact remains - Kerouac, Cassady, and Ginsberg - were soulful artists who breathed life into many a notion and an idea.
Sadly, they sought a truth that remains as elusive today as it was then.
The Chakras Cassady spoke of...
I perceived that this also is a vexation of the spirit.
For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.