Alms for Oblivion: The Lighter Side of 2014

As the last few grains of sand from 2014’s proverbial hourglass slide through oblivion’s passageway, I thought preserve some moments — a least for a moment – for memory’s sake — lest we forget.

Domestically, it’s been an uneventful year with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the legalization of cannabis and gay marriage, and the mid-term elections topping the charts as far as significant occurrences that will ultimately matter in the future — unlike say, the Ebola pandemic panic or the indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Internationally, it’s been a different story with ISIS taking over parts of Iraq and Syria, the Soviet Union Russia annexing Crimea and marching its jack boot into the Ukraine, and our establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.

However, we’re going to look at the lighter side of 2014 month by month unleavened somewhat by mentioning of a few significant passings, as the squeamish say.

So, let’s roll the newsreel!

January

Note: click all-caps for links to original posts.

Pete_Seeger2_-_6-16-07_Photo_by_Anthony_PepitoneBoo hoo, the BREW PUB closed on Folly, but Woo Hoo, we had a SNOW DAY; plus the Ravenel Bridge turned into a 3-D VIDEO GAME featuring ice javelins. Let’s call it Arctic Cleft Auto.

Pete Seeger died, but who wouldn’t trade his or her potential fruitful longevity for his?

Well I got a hammer,

And I got a bell,

And I got a song to sing, all over this land.

Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, “If I Had a Hammer”

February

140206_dx_wellesleynudestatue-crop-promo-mediumlarge-2Not much going down, except an artist named Tony Matelli traumatized the delicate damsels of Wellesley with this terrifying statue of SCANTILY CLAD SOMNAMBULIST.

Yeah, and bummer, Philip Seymour Hoffman died and so did Maximillian Schnell, another great Oscar-winning actor — but the right way as a newlywed in his 83rd year.

 

March

prespaulThe big news for the blog was that NPR wrote a story on one of our posts and provided a LINK; however, even bigher news was the debut of Bravo’s reality series Southern Charm, providing the nation a peek of people-from-off moving to Charleston and getting drunk and high with a not-very-interesting native scion.

You can read Sparknotes’ invaluable summary, analyses, and character sketches here: SOUTHERN CHARM.

The Jack of Cups opened in the Brew Pub’s former space in tribute to the season of rebirth.

Slow death month with all-but-forgotten David Brenner and Shelia McCrae leading the way.

April

imagesSenator Larry Grooms tried to defund the College of Charleston’s Summer Reading Program because the small government Republican didn’t like last summer’s book Fun Home – providing at least one English teacher a current-events example of irony in his subversive mission to convert his well-heeled students into Democrats.

Of course, the highlight of every April for us on Folly Island is the return of the KRUSHTONES.

Alas, the great GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ left us, but once again, he’s up there in the Pete Seeger range in the fruitful longevity category.

Oh, yeah, Mickey Rooney also made his earthly exit.

May

I started hanging out at CHICO FEO, which led inevitably to my second, very unsuccessful career as DUB POET FILMMAKER.

TREY GOWDY the chameleon, allegedly heterosexual South Carolina Congressman, chaired yet another Congressional investigation into Benghazi.

Celebrity deaths: Maya Angelou.

June

set-listExcept that a FRIEND DIED and my house caught on fire (details, details), June was an okay month in which we spent an “intimate evening” (no one took clothes off) with ART GARFUNKEL and got to watch a rehearsal for ROMEO AND JULIET.

A smorgasbord of celebrity deaths: Former Tennessee Senator Howard Baker, former San Diego Padre Tony Gwynn, former DJ Casey Kassam, and Ruby Dee, who wasn’t a former anything at the time of her death on June 11.

 

July

Despite a rather off-putting diagnosis of T-Cell Lymphoma, we had our share of fun in July watching the up-lifting TV series TRUE DETECTIVE and catching JOHN HIATT AND ROBERT CRAY at the Performing Arts Center.

And we bid adieu to James Garner, Johnny Winter, and Nadine Gordimer.

August

School started back up so once again for the 29th straight year I got to stand mutely while everyone else PLEDGED ALLEGIANCE to a flag.

No way to make this funny: ROBIN WILLIAMS OFFED HIMSELF.

Other deaths: Richard Attenborough, Lauren Bacall, Don Prado.

September

South Carolina small government Republican Senator Mike Fair tilted his lance at the teaching of NATURAL SELECTION in the second decade of the 21st Century CE.

Notables bound for that undiscovered country from whom no traveler returns included Ian Paisley and Joan Rivers, two insult-slingers extraordinaire.

October

images-2
We rediscovered at BOYHOOD HERO and started a highly unsuccessful on-line STUDY GUIDE SERVICE while simultaneously dealing with the deaths of bassist Jack Bruce and rock musician Raul Revere. Say what you like, but that song “Kicks” is cool.

November

BIGGEST FOLLY BEACH NEWS STORY OF THE YEAR: WOMAN PUNCHES BABY IN ITS CUTE, ADORABLE, MODELING-WORTHY FACE!!!

That and PD James won’t be writing any more mysteries nor will Tom Magliozzi solve any more car problems, but more significantly, Mike Nichols died, another Pete Seeger, Garcia-Marquez super-productive human being.

December

Not quite over yet as I type this, but it did mark the debut of what undoubtedly will be a Holiday Classic: BUBBA, THE REDNECK SNOWMAN.

Even though Joe Cocker and Mary Anne Mobley won’t be enjoying a happy new year, I certainly, sincerely wish you one!  And I especially thank my few, consistent readers.  Best wishes!

wesely tech guru

Half a Sin

Bells toll inside my head as I reach for my Alfred Lord Tennyson outfit. It’s Victorian black with matching cravat, mourning cape, matching hat. There’s even a beard, luxuriant and curling, that came with the costume, but I can’t find the whiskers anywhere. Been three years since I’ve donned this get-up, a Halloween present from sweet deceased Adelaide, who passed away in a Hampton’s Inn all alone in the not-so-new millennium.  Actually, she made the costume and bought the beard from Hocus Pocus.

I’m getting into character, reading “In Memoriam”:

I sometimes hold it half a sin

To put in words the grief I feel;

For words, like Nature, half reveal

And half conceal the Soul within.

I’ve taken to panhandling.

No, it’s not a lifestyle choice, but part of my thesis, a paper I’m writing on selling-and-psychology, a study in which I report on my experimentation with different modes of panhandling, comparing the hourly wage of me playing a wheel-chair bound Iraqi war veteran ($12.34) with the hourly wage of me playing a shyster hipster holding a sign that reads “Haven’t been high in two days ($4.56).[1]  I’m hoping to shed some light on what makes people part with their money in situations of charity, combining my love of acting, my interest in marketing, and my curiosity about how the human mind works.  So today I’m going out begging in the guise of Alfred Lord Tennyson.  It’s a dreary, leaden day, very Tennysonian.

I consider brain chemistry to be sort of like weather – sunny, rainy, partly cloudy, partly sunny.  Part of it, of course, is genetics — look at the Hemingways — but life events can affect brain weather, too.  Maybe if Tennyson’s best friend Arthur Henry Hallam hadn’t dropped dead Tennyson might have been a cheerier poet, like EE Cummings or Maya Angelou.  Who knows?

happyperson copy wilburlowell1 copy

 

 

 

I’ve decided to set up shop, so to speak, North of Calhoun in the bar district, which you might think is unsafe, but I’ve never had a problem, and anyway, I’m packing a Smith & Wesson. 22 LR Rimfire, not gun enough to kill someone but big enough to chase off a knife wielder or unarmed thug.

alfred-tennyson

The one thing that’s bothering me, though, is the lack of a beard. I’m only 26 years old, and a beard would help. Of course, I wear make-up. Thanks to the College’s Theater Department’s make-up department, I’ll be sporting a gray complexion and those woeful looking, sympathy-spawning bags under my eyes that made Tennyson look like the saddest creature that ever crawled across the face of the earth:

The sparrow’s chirrup on the roof,
The slow clock ticking, and the sound
Which to the wooing wind aloof
The poplar made, did all confound
Her sense; but most she loathed the hour
When the thick-moted sunbeam lay
Athwart the chambers, and the day
Was sloping toward his western bower.
Then said she, “I am very dreary,
He will not come,” she said;
She wept, “I am aweary, aweary,
Oh God, that I were dead!”


[1] The minimum wage in South Carolina is $7.25


It was through theater I first met Adelaide, a student production of Chekov’s Three Sisters.  She played Irina, I Vassily Vasilyevich Solyony.  It wasn’t bad as student productions go.  The only problem, though, is I had this thing for Adelaide/Irina, but she had a boyfriend, a spoiled preppy entitled piece of shit, so I didn’t make it verbally known to Adelaide that I had this thing for her, though from what others tell

Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris

me it was as obvious as Cyrano’s nose or Chuck Norris’s toupee. I kept waiting for her to make the first move, but she never did.  It goes without saying neither did I.

Kristopher my make-up man has done his magic, including providing me with a real enough looking beard, so I’m walking rather self-consciously from the parking garage to King with a folding lawn chair strapped to my back, a bucket for the proceeds, a book of Tennyson’s poems, and a sign that simply says “alms.”

I find a spot on the corner of King and Morris, put my sign out and start to read Tennyson, finding snatches of verse ripe for memorization, little ditties like

Me rather all that bowery loneliness,
The brooks of Eden mazily murmuring,

and try to ignore the occasional rude comment about beggars and street performers.  Of course, I could whip out the Rimfire and cap one of them, taking my performance art to a new level, but that’s not, as Adelaide used to say, the Buddha way.

Finally, after 4 minutes and 32 seconds, I get my first score, two single dollar bills dropped.  I say,

And if ever I should forget

That I owe this debt to you

And I for your sweet sake to yours,

O, then, what shall I say? —

If ever I should forget,

May God make me more wretched

Than ever I have been yet!

At the one hour mark, I start reciting Tennyson as I see people approaching, though I avoid eye contact.

Doors, where my heart was used to beat

So quickly, not as one that weeps

I come once more: the city sleeps;

I smell the meadow in the street.

At the two hour mark, I start making eye contact before chanting the quote, straining to counterfeit that stare dogs give when they think you might have a treat for them.

Since we deserved the name of friends

And thine effect so lives in me,

A part of mine may live in thee

And move thee on the noble ends.

So here I sit in this Halloween costume, chanting Tennyson in the name of soft science.  My thoughts return to that Halloween party three years ago.  Adelaide dressed up like Emily Dickinson, hair parted in the middle, a white dress, for she was the Empress of Calvary.  No one got the joke, two depressive poets on a date.  Perhaps she should have worn black because that’s what people picture when they imagine Emily Dickinson.

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading – treading – till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through –

Ring out the old and all that jazz.  Adelaide OD-ed in a Hampton Inn in Conyers, Georgia, and that’s about as unromantic as it gets.

It’s time for me to move on, I guess.

Good, God, now I’m even starting to think in slant rhymes.  I get up, abandoning the role, take off the itchy beard, and look for some ragged someone I can pass the cash off to.

$14. 75.

Alfred_Tennyson,_1st_Baron_Tennyson_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_17768

Bubba, the Redneck Snowman

bubba the redneck snowman

Bubba, the redneck snowman,

had a cherry bomb for a nose,

and if you ever lit it,

you could watch his head explode.

 

All of the other snowmen

were content to just melt away,

but Bubba, the redneck snowman,

didn’t want to go out that way.

 

Then one frigid solstice night

when temperatures were in the teens,

some good ol’ boy lit Bubba’s fuse

and blew him to smithereens.

 

Before he could get well away,

the good ol’ boy slipped on ice,

fractured his fibula in two places

And lost half his hearing for life.

 

“Live by the sword, die by the sword”

is what my daddy used to say.

Choose a violent lifestyle,

and it’ll bite you on the ass one day.

 

Bubba, the redneck snowman,

had a cherry bomb for a nose,

and if you ever lit it,

you could watch his head explode.

Late Empire Crossword

Save the image to your desktop, copy and paste the clues in a Word Document, and you’re ready to roll.

IMG_1651
 Across                                            Down
1 He had a million of ’em             1 Groucho’s real name
  12 Literary Swordsman                2 Where you might find a Xtian
  18 What Barry Manilow is            3  Pretentious, shitty houses
  19 Owner of famous SF cow       4 Hiphop for “additional”
  21 Buckeye State in addresses   5 Second person pronoun
  22 What fugitives are on              6 Roman 607
  23 Dangerous rays (abbr)            8 Buddy’s Last name?
  24 Matador’s nemesis                  9 Word in Musketeer motto
  25 First person verb                    10 What daring trapeze artists eschew
  26 Hoppy brew                            11 Artists’ mecca
  27 St. Ambrose Univ.                  12. Like a dyslectic’s spelling
  28. What Ronnie called Nancy    13. Scooter Libby, for one
  30  Receptacle for tea or grandma’s remains  16. Know-it-all Chomsky
31.  Asshole comedian’s middle name  17.  Words of surprise
33.  Ezra Pound’s good buddy         20.  not-so-clever retort
34.  What CE used to be called    29.  Poem of praise
35. Swedish carrier          32.  Gradual decline into disorder
36. Lucy of Kill  Bill           36. Bill Cosby for one
37. Old fashioned exclamation of delight            38 Lead in to shucks
40. Old fashioned exclamation of delight             39. golf pedestals
43. Behold Man! (Latin)                                          41.  One last thing
45.  Tied together                                                    42. Hedonistic materialist
46.  Dawn goddess or Canon camera                    44 wire measure
47.  Short-lived Middle Eastern alliance                 48. What Yankees call soda
48.  What 30-across isn’t                                       50. What Midwestern moms call puking
49.  Curly Howard syllable                                      51.  The Jayhawks
52.  Giver of TLC                                                     54.  B-ball
  53.  What Dick and Jane say a lot                          56. “Byzantium poet60  Spanish Bowl
55.  Lindsey Graham, e.g.                                        60  Spanish Bowl
 57.   Org. founded by Juliette Gordon Low             62  Type of cravat
58.  “To err is human” poet                                       64..  fronted (as money)
 59. Toy on a string                                                   66.  Jocks’ favorite school subj.
61.  Lord of the Flies character                                  69.  St. Louis team.
63.  Like stairs in a flophouse                                     70.. Sebastian, e.g
65.  It might runneth over                                          71.  Islamic bigwig
67.  Guitarist Paul                                                      74.  Relaxing spot
68.  Pre-Iranian                                                          76.  Henry Miller’s lover
72.  Utterance from Rush Limbaugh                            79. Nazi door busters
73. Likely place to get robbed                                    80.  Print news source
75. Kind of 52-across monks get
77.  Quaint dosage
78.  Yesterday!
81.  Bogart role
82.  Nietzsche pronounced him dead.

Answers

 

1 Jimmy Durante                                                1 Julius

12 Cyrano                                                          2 In a prayer group

18 Uncool                                                           3  McMansions

19 Oleary                                                            4 Mo

21 OH                                                                  5 Are

22 Lam                                                                6 Roman DCVII

23 UVS                                                                 8 Roe

24 El Toro                                                            9 All

25 First person verb                                          10 What daring trapeze artists eschew

26 IPA                                                                   11 Taos

27 SAU                                                            12. erratic

  1. Mommy                                                 13. Yesman

30  Urn                                                            16.   Noam

  1.  Dice                                                       17.  Oh my God
  2.  TS                                                          20.  You suck
  3.  AD                                                         29.  Ode
  4. SAS                                                         32.  Entropy
  5. Liu                                                          36. Lecher
  6. Neato                                                     38 Aw
  7. Yippe                                                      39. golf pedestals
  8. Ecce homo                                            41.  PS
  9.  Wed                                                       42. Yuppy
  10.  Eos                                                        44 En
  11.  UAR                                                       48. Pop
  12.  PC                                                          50. Upchucking
  13.  Knuk                                                      51.  KU
  14.  RN                                                         54.  Hoops
  15. Oh oh                                                     56. Yeats
  16.  Pussy.                                                    60  Olla
  17.   GSA                                                      62  Ascot
  18.  Pope                                                      64 loaned
  19. Yoyo                                                       66.  PE.
  20.  Ralph                                                     69.  Rams
  21.  Unlit                                                      70.. St.
  22.  Cup                                                       71.  Imam
  23.  Les                                                         74.  Spa
  24.  Persian                                                  76.  Nin
  25.  Oink                                                      79. SS
  26. ATM                                                       80.  AP
  27. Nun
  28. dram
  29. ASAP
  30. Sam Spade
  31. God

Post Retirement Income Ideas (Installment 1)

Given my extravagant lifestyle, which includes craft beers and state of the art electronics, I suspect that making ends meet when I’m yoked to a fixed income might be problematic, so I’m entertaining ideas about how I might generate supplemental dinero after I stumble out of the ever more complicated labyrinth of teaching high school.

My latest obsession, fueled by my reading of Grant McCracken’s 2009 book Transformations: Identity Construction in Contemporary Culture, is what Jung called the persona, the public mask we present to the world.  After I googled “personae,”  I ran across this WEBSITE promoting a gallery exhibition called “Projecting Personae.”  As I read the website’s description of the ideas underlying the exhibition, it occurred to me that I could render those ideas a tad bit less pretentiously, perhaps increasing the attendance and garnering more publicity.  I’ll let you be the judge.

The original description:

One’s cultural perspective can be seen as the practice of interfacing one’s psyche with an oppositional world of irreconcilable differences. As we seek to combat historic oppressions and correct cultural assumptions, our identities take on a state of perpetual negotiation—between (sic)* one’s flesh, one’s façade and one’s functions—a convergence of activities, beliefs, costumes and customs, broadcast via the surfaces of our bodies, upon which our socio-cultural transcriptions and evolutions can be read.

My edit:

How you see shit is conditioned by the shit you see all around you — the hobo chugging a 24-oz. Bull, the Upper East Side swell in a camel hair coat. History ain’t been kind to neither black folk nor crackers nor gay queer-theorists nor womenfolk for that matter, so if you’re one of the above, you gotta pretend every now that you ain’t you, slap on a mask, figure out who you wanna look like in various certain situations. This shit depends on your DNA, what you pretending to be, and what you’re doing at the time,   It’s a mash up of what’s going down, what you believe, what you wanna wear according to the situation — whether it be an appearance before a magistrate or a invitation to a pagan Solstice party. I repeat, this display depends on your DNA, the tattoos you’ve acquired, and the life you’ve lived.

Come to think of it, I bet there ain’t much money in it.


* among, not between, goddammit!

One of the pieces from the exhibition

One of the pieces from the exhibition

 

 

 

 

5 Depressing Thoughts to Usher in the Winter Solstice (Silver Lining Edition)

Depressing Thought: If the universe keeps expanding as scientists claim it will, someday our solar system will be so isolated that the night sky will only hold the moon, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter.

Silver Lining: We’ll all be dead.

Tides HotelDepressing Thought: The Arctic is melting at rates unprecedented in the history of mankind.

Silver Lining: Future oceanfront lots in Branchville, SC are going for a song!

Depressing Thought: I weigh more now than I ever have in my entire life.

Silver Lining: The increased fat might help me survive future famines caused by global warming.

photograph by Gerry Pacher

photograph by Gerry Pacher

Depressing Thought: Because of Obama’s establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, I missed my chance to visit Havana in all of its quaint, frozen-’50’s shabby grandeur.

Silver Lining: Cuban children may soon be able to eat meat on a regular basis.

Depressing Thought: Warren Zevon will never make another record.

Silver Lining: Neither will The Ray Conniff singers.

Ray Conniff in 1979

Ray Conniff in 1979

Cub Scout Psychic Scars

I was probably the most ineffectual Cub Scout in the history of that organization, the ineptitude of my tenure comparable to that of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s career as a cavalryman in the Light Dragoons. The Norton Anthology of English Literature claims, and I quote, Coleridge was “probably the most inept cavalryman in the long history of the British Army.”  Of course, Shelley never joined the Light Dragoons, nor did Keith Richards. Come to think of it, I don’t think Keith Richards would make a very good Cub Scout either, an organization that promotes:

  • Character Development
  • Spiritual Growth
  • Good Citizenship
  • Sportsmanship and Fitness
  • Family Understanding
  • Respectful Relationships
  • Personal Achievement
  • Friendly Service
My Father and I

My Father and I

I did, I think, climb a rung from Bobcat to Bear, but only because my father signed documents claiming that I had completed steps I hadn’t, like planning a fire drill in the home. Daddy hated scouting because he had been, or so he claimed, chased around a tent by a  lascivious scoutmaster on a camping trip in his youth.

I do, though, remember successfully satisfying one requirement all by myself: going outside to watch the weather. When it came to carving a replica of the Statue Liberty out of soap (or tying my shoelaces for that matter), I was a complete – to use a quaint term from those days – spaz.  Whenever it came to father-and-son projects like the Pinewood Derby, the ol’ man performed about 99.8 of the work (he’d take the kit to work the day of the big race and construct the car on the government’s dime) and I about .02% (I’d apply decals after the paint had dried).

Mosey's car 2 web

The one aspect of Scouting I did enjoy, though, was receiving each month an issue of Boys’ Life where I could travel “[t]hrough the Himalayas with Lowell Thomas,” learn about fitness exercises that would transform me from a 40-pound weakling into a 75-pound he-boy, and read inspirational sports fiction.   However, what I really loved about Boys’ Life (and my Aunt Virginia’s Cosmopolitans) were the cheap ads in the back.

Even back then — perhaps I’m imagining this — I suffered a bit of cognitive dissonance in the clash between the high-minded goals catalogued above and the prurience and dishonesty of the ads. For example:

specs-300x203Of course, any Good Citizen, future radiologist who bought the glasses, would stare at the bone structure in his hand rather than directing his penetrating gaze leftward to check out the chick.

Or what could be more creepily Freudian than this family drama:

SeaMonkeysAd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The good news is that all bad things must end, and with the onset of puberty, I lost interest in scouting and Boys’ Life and the Hardy Boys.  David Johnson’s father had a copy of Terry Southern’s Candy in the drawer of his bedside table.

So it was “Farewell, Sea Monkeys; Hail Perverted Hunchback.”

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