A Little Madness in the Spring

A Little Madness in the Spring

I recently ran across a balding fellow, probably in his early forties, wearing a grey too-snug tee-shirt that read “Every Day Is a Good Day.” Of course, I get the subtext: life is miraculous on the cosmic impersonal plane – the nighttime sky, as Hamlet put it, a “brave o’erhanging firmament, [a] majestical roof fretted with golden fire,” not to mention down below “the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals.” We should be thankful for the chain of events that gave rise to a consciousness that allows us to appreciate and contemplate these wonders around us. The subtext of the subtext is that this wonderfulness is the handiwork of a benevolent deity. Every day is a good day because it’s a colorful shard in the ever-shifting kaleidoscope of a creator god’s abracadabra. 

But, as we all know, a day’s goodness or badness depends on an individual’s experience during that 24-hour period. For example, at Chico Feo I just heard a horrific account of a traffic fatality that happened on Folly Beach last night. A car crammed with six drunks doing 65 in a 25-zone barreled into a golf cart driven, as the story was told to me, by a woman who had just gotten married that very day on the island.[1]

So, I might suggest, that the tee shirt’s message be edited: “For me, every day is a good day” instead.

And print this on the back.

A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown —
Who ponders this tremendous scene —
This whole Experiment of Green —
As if it were his own!

                                    Emily Dickinson


[1] The fellow who related the story said she was in her bridal gown.

Lost Youth, or “I Had Pretty Plumage Once”

Me in 1973 (all photos by James Huff)

Lost Youth, or “I Had Pretty Plumage Once”

And I though never of Ledaean kind

Had pretty plumage once—enough of that,

Better to smile on all that smile, and show

There is a comfortable kind of old scarecrow.

                                                                        WB Yeats, “Among School Children”

Poverty is not all that terrible if you’re in college. After all, most students live in dormitories, and for my first two years of undergraduate school, the dorms I lived in were officially known as “The Tenements,” the oldest dorms on campus, picturesque but Spartan. And when I say Spartan, I mean tres austère –  no air-conditioning in the summer; hand-searing radiators in the winter; merely two telephones in the hall, one for on campus communication, the other a pay phone you had to feed quarters during long distance calls. And perhaps the worst indignity of all, there were no stalls around the three toilets lined up in the flashback-inducing black-and-white diamond-tiled bathroom. Whenever nature called, the residents of Tenement 9 shielded themselves with open newspapers to create a modicum of privacy. No one, conversed, i.e., no one shot the shit while shitting.

OMG! TMI!

Even though I couldn’t afford it, I moved off-campus my junior year, and after a couple of nightmare rentals in the fall and winter of my senior year, my housemate Warren Moise, along with a host of other impoverished students, moved into the once genteel abode of 1830 Greene Street conveniently located on campus.[1] I’m fairly certain than none of us owned an automobile. SLED paid a visit our first week, and half the residents were carted off to jail for simple possession. Luckily, Warren, Jim, and I were off when police came a calling.

1830 Greene Street

Interestingly enough – and least for me – I had lunch with my Greene-Street housemate Warren Thursday and then encountered another Greene-Street housemate that afternoon when I was signing copies of my novel Today, Oh Boy in Summerville.[2] I hadn’t seen Jim Huff or his wife Jane in this century – in fact, not since the late 80s or early 90s. Jim had been lease-signer of 1830 Greene and therefore collected our $20 rent each month (there were eight of us) and utility money and money to buy kerosine for the enormous furnace that consumed fuel as rapidly as RJ McCarthy downed his 24-ounce cans of “the Bull,” aka Schlitz Malt Liquor. Every room except for the kitchen and the two bathrooms was utilized as a bedroom, including the living room and the conservatory where I slept, only assessable through Mr. McCarthy’s room. 

Hail, affordable housing; farewell, privacy.

Jim Huff circa 1975

Here’s a list Jim compiled of the house’s residents, including girlfriends who spent multiple nights.

At the signing in Summerville, Jim gave me some photographs he had taken back in the day, which I so much appreciate. They demonstrate quite eloquently that whatever I may have gained in monetary wealth, I have equaled in girth, but lost in hair.

Anyway, it was great seeing Warren, Jim, and Jane, though I must admit that the photos have engendered a wee bit of melancholy.

Ah, no; the years O!

And the rotten rose is ript from the wall.[3]


[1] If you’re in the mood for some Night of the Hunter noir, click HERE and read about a couple of harrowing experiences we suffered before moving to Greene Street.

[2] Get ’em while they’re hot. LINK.

[3] You can read the rest of the poem here. LINK.

Heeding Andrew Marvell

Heeding Andrew Marvell

Thus, though we cannot make our sun 

Stand still, yet we will make him run.

                                    Andrew Marvell – from “To His Coy Mistress”

One of the entries in the epic catalog of my character flaws is a lotus-eater-grade tendency towards lassitude, which I’ve written about HERE.

However, in the last two weeks I’ve been on the go-go-go, on a tear – touring Mexico City, hosting family and friends, signing books, reading from Today, Oh Boy at its book launch, attending the reading of an original play in a private home, and dancing to the music of the Krushtones.[1]

Mexico City

Caroline had booked the trip before we discovered that T,OB‘s publication date was to be 31 March, the day before our departure. Buxton Books scheduled the launch for 11 April, so the trip didn’t interfere with promotion.[2] On the other hand, ex-pat son Ned booked a flight to Charleston that arrived on 4 April, three days before my scheduled return, so I came back a day early while Caroline and Brooks stayed on in Mexico City, which is 2000 miles higher than Denver, the Mile High City. Hey, but none of us suffered any altitude sickness, so praise Huitzilopochtli!

We traveled with Celeste Joye and her husband Tom Foster and their daughter Juliette. The short-term rental they had booked was a falsely promoted malodorous, sofa-stained apartment without hot water. The rental is located the floor below at kick-boxing studio where a cousin of Cujo barked ferociously.  

Not succumbing to the languor that would have me holding my nose (literally) and staying there all week, Celeste and Caroline scouted out new digs, called and cancelled, and we ended up staying at the swank Camino Real, which boasts a 007 early-60s vibe.

When I travel, my above-mentioned lassitude demands that I engage in only two tourist activities a day, one mid-morning and one after lunch; however, Celeste, Tom, and Caroline were go-getters, and the days and nights were filled with sight-seeing which featured a guided tour of Aztec ruins and a guided tour of Museo Nacional Antropologia.[3]

We also ate a various top tier restaurants, had drinks at Tenampa, a mariachi bar, and saw the Ballet Folklórico perform in a beautiful performing arts center.

But, as Andrew Marvell was wont to point out, all good things must end.[4]

Hosting my Family

Last week was the first time that my two sons had been home at the same time since 2018 – Harrison, his wife Taryn, her mother Susan, and grand-toddler Julian rented a house on Folly, and Ned and his love Ina came all the way from Nuremberg and stayed with his at 516 East Huron.

Also, I had the pleasure of having lunch with a childhood friend John Walton whose mother and my mother were best friends growing up and always.

But dammit, but that too had to end with Harrison and crew flying out Wednesday and Ned and Ina Friday.

The Book Launch[5]

I’ve already gone on enough about the launch. The curious can access the reading HERE if they have “world enough and time.”

Seeing Is Believing 

The indefatigable Eugene Platt and his wife Judith hosted a soiree of sorts in which a cast of seven or so readers performed his play-in-progress Seeing Is Believing. Based on the account in the Gospel of John, the play is set post-resurrection and consists largely of Andrew and Thomas walking to a “safe house’ where Jesus appears and puts a screeching halt to Thomas’s skepticism. 

If I were Eugene, I’d produce it as a film instead of trying to get it produced as a play. Staging a fifteen-minute walk would be challenging, but you could really do some interesting things on film.

I bet some religious-minded film student at SCAD would find it interesting.

The Krushtones

What can I but enumerate old themes? I love me some Krushtones, who play at the Sand Dollar around 15 April every year. I couldn’t believe how fresh and practiced they sounded.

If you’re interested in learning more about this killer cover band and the Sand Dollar Social Club, click HERE.

THE END

Sometimes, Mr. Marvell, endings aren’t all bad. For example, I’ve finished writing the first draft of this blog post, and my dear readers have finished reading it and can get going on something more productive, because, as you have pointed out so eloquently: 

 [. . .] all before us lie/ Deserts of vast eternity.

So, carpe diem, y’all. Hubba-hubba-hubba, swish-boom-ba-ba-ba-ba-Barbara Ann.


[1] Not to mention doing our taxes.

[2] After zooming to number 570 on Amazon’s Young Adult and Teen Historical Fiction category, it’s now dropped into the 900s. C’mon people. I’m a senior citizen on a fixed income!

[3] I’ve been told my Spanish accent isn’t terrific. BTW, I’ve never been much for guided tours, but I must admit you learn a helluva lot more.

[4] E.g., “The grave’s a fine and private place/ But none, I think, do there embrace.”

[5] Thank you, Polly and Julian Buxton!