Saturday, October 26, 2013

red-letter weekend in the music business, got to play music three different times in three different places, sawed away to my heart's content, and got praise and appreciation. first time, thursday night, at an auto-body shop, i'd been trying to get out there for weeks, and they have a kind of jam, seven or eight people around in a circle taking turns. a few bottles of beer around, a certain stale smell of cigarettes, a couple of people perhaps at kite-altitude. though i didn't know a soul, they welcomed me and even assured me that i was in the right place, this being because i had a fiddle and was clearly willing to play. high points, musically, were "goin' to kansas city" which i myself requested, and a rousing version of "blue eyes crying in the rain." funny thing, on the willie nelson tune i felt a bit like i did one day trying to do "star spangled banner"...that is, if the song's sacred to so many, then there's only so much experimentation you can do. you get out on the edge, do frilling & twisting of the notes, and it begins to irritate a few people, i can tell. to me, that's the good thing, you get a classic out there, you play with it, you bend the chords and have several kinds of harmonies going, and it's a version nobody's ever heard before, for sure. but not everyone sees it that way. here you have willie nelson fanatics, they're swaying to the music, they're not looking to hear new harmonies. well ok.

so i'd been there a while already, had already had my fill, was ready to go home, and i said, since i know it's pretty clear i'm a yankee right off the bat, i said, i moved to texas just to play that song. couldn't get anyone up north to play it with me. but that made my day, thank you for the opportunity, and i'll be on my way. next thursday, of course, being halloween, it might be a week or two before i see them again. but they have folks who go to kerrville there. it's a folksy, kind of hard-partying crowd. i liked them a lot, felt at home there. the music was kind of a mix, some original, some old pop, some of lots of things.

friday night, the bluegrass guys, most of whom are older than me, and the audience older yet. here the music is cookin' and it's all bluegrass. they took a tour of dixie, two songs about tennessee, one about kentucky, one about carolina, then rocky top, etc. it was as if they were trying to provoke me. but they also played the ones i'm good at: sittin' on top of the world, tell me baby why you been gone so long, nine pound hammer, salt creek, the usual. it's as if they know what i like, because i almost never request or lead anything, and never sing by any means, just haven't figured out how to do it when i play the fiddle. can't really think on more than two or three levels yet.

my attitude about that dixie stuff is, bring it on. i actually lived in the shadow of clinch mountain one time, and just because my family and my history is pure yankee, hey, it's the usa if i'm not mistaken, i'll play any song ya let me. my goal is to learn this dixie stuff and express myself through it, all my feelings, and as it happens i come to love the place the longer i live here. i'm referring to west texas, of course, not pure dixie, which is more like alabama or maybe south carolina. here it's almost like they've flung themselves out to the desert, and they're pining for the old dixie that they left behind, or to be more accurate, the old dixie of pre-1850 or whenever it was when they had this other larger identity of the usa come and take away their nation. i'm not sure. the sentimentality is there, in these dixie songs, i can tell you that. they are united in their love of dixie, their love of bluegrass, and a good tune, and the song of a regional ethic, come down through the ages, out on the circle. let this yankee fiddler figure this one out, they're saying, i figure. but they're all real nice to me. they appreciate the fact that i do try to figure them out, slowly, one by one in some cases. and i play in b which not every fiddler will do.

but then the last one, tonight, a neighbor's party about two blocks away, with lots of university folk and a pumpkin-carving experience for the kids, then this kind of old english dance, the morris dance, done by kids, with musical accompaniment provided by me, a young fiddler named n.m., her sister, and her dad the accordionist/music theory teacher. now this little band, the four of us, we were hot, we were fantastic, and this was mostly because of n.m., who couldn't have been more than about 12, but who had practiced assiduously and really knew her stuff. she was in tune, which was quite incredible for a 12-year-old. she was humble too. her dad and mom hovered over her a little, and her little sister, on the cello, was also quite good. first song was called ragged crow. second was twiglet. these were old english dancing tunes and kids danced with sticks, the morris dance. then we played for the wild rumpus; that was buffalo gals this year, very hot. cluck old hen, old joe clark, a couple of polkas (specialty of the accordion) and a few more. very hot, very good. there were some neighbors, students, who at first were shooting to drown us out, they had amps, or maybe they were just cranking a stereo system. but they gave up after a spell. with our little band out there (the cellist left fairly early, but the dad, the accordionist, had quite a bit of staying power)...we played for a while. kids tore around in the dark. the carved pumpkins glowed out at us; people danced and ran around the yard.

i feel that, in a way, it's a long path to finding the right group to play with regularly. i know i'll know when i find them. i know that certain groups will have to do until i find them. at the auto body they were surprised that i was from the city but they didn't know me. i've been here about a year, i said. i don't know a whole lot of people, i appreciate the opportunity. people coming and going, i practice saying howryall, hoddy, ba. it's a friendly place. everyone is nice.

with the willie, i think, you just gotta stick to the tune. and by the way, there's really no reason i can't sing this stuff. it's hard to remember the words. i'm afraid i'm not so in tune, sometimes. you trip up, you forget a verse, things happen. but hey, john hartford did it, he did it all the time. he slid the fiddle down a bit, so he could sing better, and he sawed away, and he sang all the time.

and they can handle the double-the-tempo bit, the old banjo problem, when, when you sped up a bit nobody could handle the doubling, but here, they can handle it, and they do, and they even double it up themselves sometimes, and this was particularly true for banjos, and the accordion. they warn you. the rest of us can take it easy, keep it slow, not get too worried about it. it gives a song a texture, to have someone running around beneath you, with double the notes. you can come to like it.

the party was an anniversary of sorts, their previous party last year was perhaps my first social experience in the city. so now, i'd been here a year. i like it just fine, i told them. it's a very friendly city. my house is that pink house down the street, on flint, where the enormous branch fell the other day, where it took such a battering in the hailstorm. everyone knows that house. the whole city must go by 20th and flint, some time during the week. i got a certain amount of notoriety, might as well be in a small town. well, i guess, i am, if you get right down to it.

Friday, October 18, 2013


i read this good opinion piece about football - it was by a driven woman who fell in love with football at an early age, made a living off of it, was a famous journalist, etc., but finally has turned away from it because the nfl so relentlessly denied and covered up the obvious - that football causes concussions and is killing its players. the article had two images that stayed with me: one, of a driving tony dorsett, dallas cowboy runner, using his power and strength in an elegant way - the same power, elegance, beauty that drew her into football. and then, second, of these huge nfl guys today, lined up to crush each other, wearing pink ribbons as a tribute to breast cancer - ironic, she says, since they are crushing each other's heads in the process of playing the game.

then there's the tech football player who is actually from pennsylvania, another place where they take their football seriously, and who warns his teammates about an impending trip to west virginia. why west virginia would be in our division, i have no idea, it's coal country, it's a long plane trip, but nevertheless, he says, i'm from there. first thing, you'll smell beer the minute you get off the plane. the fans will be screaming, and very drunk. just warning you.

the players, at the college level, have to get used to the fact that they are the primary entertainers in a drinkfest where the most obnoxious and rowdy behavior is going to become normal. i don't think texas is that different from west virginia in that sense. it's a nationwide thing, though it tends to be worse in texas, where fans actually cheered when their quarterback, who had been having trouble, got injured; then some actually stalked his house. like what are you going to do, disrupt his family life? most people saw that as out of line. but it wasn't especially surprising. they take their football seriously, and there's a lot of alcohol involved.

thought i'd collect stories of raucous fan behavior around here; their new stadium cost millions and had the extra benefit, supposedly, of being wired inside and out for better tweeting, facebooking, etc. of course virtually none of these people are on my feed, so really i have no idea what kind of stuff happens at that stadium. i've already heard some stories, though, one of a woman throwing a bottle of water at a stadium employee. it's the talk of the town, the rude and unclassy behavior of tech students who, by virtue of paying tuition, get in free. everyone else pays like, $75/game or some such, it's high-value entertainment. the town loves its football. people talk about it a lot, and it sustains their spirit, it gets them through the week.

i haven't watched a lot of television, but when i saw football on television, and you see it everywhere, in the barber shop, in the walmart, in people's houses, i'm struck by the evolution of the modern stadium. it has evolved into a grand palace, a roman coliseum. it has evolved so that the seats come up in an elegant curve, so that as many as 60,000 (in our case) or more people can all see clearly and enjoy the spectacle below: people crashing heads and getting injured, if you're cynical, or, a wonderful display of power, speed, elegance, and use of muscular skills, if you love the game. it is a great game, made for television, carrying with it an entire culture's love for a fair fight, and equal battle of strength and power, pure muscle played out in yards one direction and another like a tug-a-war or wrestling, or a combination of the two. symbolic violence, but no doubt, it's a great game. it turns its players' heads into mush, though.

they actually cancelled the homecoming parade here, because national television put the game at 11:00, and you couldn't have a parade before a game that early. i couldn't believe it; i've lived in lots of towns where the parade was way more important than the game, for one reason because it included all the locals who would be playing trumpet or some such, or marching for some reason or another. presumably, everyone comes home at homecoming - alumni in particular, and sure they meet at the game, and enjoy a few drinks, and talk about old times - but what about the parade? national television trumps all, partly because it offers millions to a program, and the program needs those millions just to pay the coach. you can't argue with millions.

our present coach, one k.k., is about thirty, single, at the peak of his career, quite good at coaching, and trying to produce a winning season before he's really had a chance to recruit. so far, he's won every game, which is impressive. people who are 30 really love him, because he was a quarterback here in their generation, and they can relate to his drive, his love of football, his heart, as they call it. the women are involved too, partly because he's single, that sparks a little interest in everyone, given he's the richest man in town, and has a future, by virtue of his winning all the time. it's hard to describe the kind of cultish life a coach like this would lead: being so wealthy, being a media darling in the area, most valued speaker at any event, a representative of the city and the school - yet what is it that he could say, or should say, in public? oh, we did our best, all we can do is go out there and pound 'em some more, yeah, i think we did pretty well, they were a tough opponent, etc.

he learns to shine the press, as politicians do, to say nothing, to let the cameras shine off his face, meanwhile all his boys, 18-22, are out there pounding heads until they get injured, or end up up in the bigs, where they pound still more heads, and wear pink ribbons. on television every time, if possible.

amazing, that the life of a town revolves around it. during the game, tomorrow, that's the time to go out. everyone will be home, watching television. the team will be in west virginia, pounding heads. the pros will be gearing up for another sunday. baseball, in its best days, a distant second, it made the mistake of competing with the heart of football season. no competition, at least not in texas. football, now that's what people want to see.

Monday, October 14, 2013

nineteenth street

it's all about nineteenth street, i've taken to saying to myself. nineteenth street is ten lanes wide, but my whole walk is only about four blocks, so nineteenth street looms as the biggest moment. furthermore, you can daydream for part of the walk, but you can't daydream on nineteenth. you have to look both ways.

when i first start out, on the walk sign, cars have stopped across the way, to the west, hopefully, and it's all sun and shiny pavement to the east. halfway across i encounter stopped cars coming from the east, glaring or spacing out as the case may be, as it's a fairly long light. but here's the kicker. after it rains the water collects down in the right-turn lane which is actually my last one. on this one, generally, cars aren't going too fast, maybe 20 or 30, but folks aren't watching either and you sometimes have to step lively to get across that little lane. but when there's water around it's a totally different story. it doesn't take more than about an inch, before that lane has about eighteen inches of water, and trucks plowing through there throw it up in every direction for about twenty feet. i actually have no choice, since the light is twenty seconds long and it takes twenty seconds to cross ten lanes, i'm there, trucks or not, spray or not, there's no way out of it. going around is out of the question. there is no around.

now that it's halloween, there's a billboard in town, nightmare on nineteenth street. this apparently is not new. it is also not referring to my little piece of nineteenth street, rather, it's a house way down the other end of town, which they've fixed up and made into a halloween house. it's a seasonal thing, but the billboard is looming high. it's october. the colors are orange. it's show your colors month.

walked into the dairy queen the other night with my kids, one of whom turned twelve, and found myself eye-to-eye with K.H., chancellor of the university, powerful ex-pol who runs the joint, literally, and whom I should have known or at least met before. he was real nice to me, made me curious a little, so i went home and looked him up. turns out he's the only guy to ever beat george w. in an election. and he did it by basically claiming that george w. wasn't texan enough. george w. went to yale, but he went to tech. george w. lived in connecticut part of the time, but he lived in west texas all the time. that kind of stuff.

turns out k.h. is retiring, after running the place for many years. i pointed out that it was in the news, and he said, well, i'm almost 71, might as well. i felt like saying, i'm 59 myself, gonna have to figure out what to do with my life, any day now. but i didn't. he was there with grandsons, all of whom were wearing red and black all over. i wouldn't have it any other way, he said.

went over to the arena this morning to work the booth and make tech look good, say good stuff about tech. which i did. that arena though, its red seats, its indiana avenue and all, seems to me to have bobby knight all over it. it's like they said to him, we'll make it all red. we'll rename the street indiana. we'll make it the perfect arena, modern, nice stone walls, castle exterior. i was walking toward it, in a steady drizzle, a nice drizzle, you come to love these drizzles, along comes a tuba player the other way, carrying his tuba. playing veggie tales, or some such, just playing that tuba, 8 o'clock in the morning, playing and walking. other band members were walking too but across the street, their bright red uniforms even brighter because of the drizzle. when i got to the arena the band was finished, the cheers were finished, they were introducing k.h., he was about to give a speech. a fine arena, enclosed, red, beautiful lighting and acoustics. i worked the booths for a while.

on nineteenth, i fell into a daydream at an inopportune time. i was thinking of the pittsburgh pirates who i grew up with one could say. halfway across the street, coming to the cars stopped at the light, suddenly to my left, a car veered into a left turn across a lane of traffic and came right up to my knee before stopping. this was maybe 20 mph, not so bad. it woke me up with a start. suddenly i saw this red car right at my knee; to me left, a truck stopped at the light. in the truck, a guy with a pirates hat, of all things. it's an abstraction here. he doesn't know from pirates. doesn't matter though, it was odd way to snap out of a daydream.

later this lady says, tuba players, they can't walk without playing. they can't play without playing veggie tales. that's what they do. they walk around, and play veggie tales.

this morning, a quite beautiful woman was walking up flint right near me. she apparently didn't see me. but, she made my life easier, because everyone saw her. they didn't want to run her over, so they saw me too, and nobody got run over. there was quite a puddle there on the on ramp but we both got over it, not too much soaking. got to the lab, and who was my first customer, her. i asked her if that was her on flint street. i think she knew it was, but she denied seeing me. ok, that's ok, maybe it wasn't her, i told her about the sign, and about the paper where the guy had an anxiety attack, crossing the street. said i'd seen about eight accidents at that corner in about a year, this was actually a low number, but i hadn't actually seen more than a couple of them happen. i'd run across at least eight, one involving a bicycle, not counting the ones that almost involved me the pedestrian or bicyclist, but didn't, in the end, because they weren't technically accidents.

it's all about nineteenth street, i told her. she needed organizational help. her mind was elsewhere. she was young, not really concerned about nineteenth street. somewhere in the back of my mind, i heard a tuba playing veggie tales.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

out on the corner

an enormous tree lost a huge branch right outside our house today at about five; remarkably, i was there, and saw it, pulled around in the van in front of the house when it happened. it cracked and dropped right on flint street with a thud, took up the bike line, all of the northbound lane, and part of the southbound lane. i directed traffic for a while, then, when people showed up, we dragged it over so that it took up mostly just the bicycle lane and a little more. we called the city, and, remarkably enough, they came pretty quickly and removed it.

this of course made everyone, especially my wife, remark at how they were directly under that tree not so many minutes before, or would have been under that tree right then had they not just stopped and talked to someone. i for some reason am not struck that way. it cracked and fell right in front of my eyes. still, i am not especially stunned, or feeling lucky or blessed. relieved, yes, since its fall was inevitable to some degree anyway. it's a huge old tree, one of two. both have these enormous limbs.

in addition, we just painted our house pink, with brown trim, actually a kind of desert-rose ochre, and these trees could actually do some damage, as could the fireplace, if the wind ever got serious again, but who wants to think about that. we are still clearing up glass from the last hailstorm. a little shard appeared in our carpet the other day, out of nowhere, it was what, left over from the storm i guess.

people are saying, that's quite a pink house you got there. actually on a day-to-day basis, it becomes less pink. the sky gets more pink, and the house fades into clay. it's kind of reassuring though, walking down flint, seeing that big pink monolith waiting for me. crossing flint, of course, i have ten lanes to get past. five have car drivers staring directly at me. five, i'm out on my own, on a wide street, sun burning down, nobody can see anything. a car drove right up to me the other day, stopped practically at my knee. i was daydreaming at the time. stop daydreaming, i told myself. be agile, and ready to jump.

one paper i saw at the writing lab asked the poor student to analyze an anxiety event; he'd chosen crossing the street. he admitted having anxiety issues, crossing the street, especially on test days. i told him about nineteenth street. i said, i only walk three blocks to school, but one entire block is getting across that darn street, it pretty much dominates the whole trip. some days i do it three or four times.

homecoming weekend, but they cancelled the parade, because television put the game at 11 in the morning, and they just couldn't see how they'd get a parade in before the game. i don't know how people feel about drinking before an 11:00 game; maybe they'll wait until after. one way or the other, it'll be a wild day; whether winning or losing affects the quality or quantity of drinking and/or rowdiness, I'm not sure; we'll probably win, so i can only guess the drunken rowdiness is, like, happy drunken rowdiness. we'll see. the government may come crashing down like a big old branch. if it does, time will freeze, right out here on flint street. a moment in time, weather clear as a bell, traffic heavy, the leaves kind of shimmering out in the breeze, contrasted against the pink. not aware that the branch was dying, rotted out from the center. and really, kind of a danger to everyone.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

some tea?

i've come to the conclusion that this is ground zero, the absolute center, of the tea-bag opposition to obamacare that sprurned the recent shutdown. by "this" i mean lubbock county, lubbock, specifically west texas.

our congressman was the guy who blamed a park ranger for shutting down a park, when, to the rest of the world, it seemed like the tea party and the republican congressmen from places like texas, were in fact behind the government shutdown. in his defense, i will say that 1) he genuinely feels that obama and the park service are in cahoots, to close down a lot in order to make the taxpayers mad at the tea party; 2) he apologized for blaming a park ranger for something that was clearly not the ranger's decision; 3) he defends his reaction on the basis of feeling that the park was excluding some veterans and not others, or that the park itself took very little government funds to begin with, etc. In the end he claimed to be standing on his "principals" which made me laugh since i have an old problem with people who have one kind of principal and not another.

when it first happened, i called him an idiot (see below), because, out of context, it seemed he was blaming a park ranger for something he had done himself. i understand his motives a little better now, but i still barely believe it. i can use the situation, though, to study lubbock itself. the guy ran virtually unopposed; only a libertarian ran against him, and that guy got maybe 18%. no democrats ran at all. could he be that popular? i figure that most of that libertarian vote was protest vote; i believe i voted for that libertarian, because i'd rather have no government than a government like this, all paralyzed by mutual blame. but 81% gladly voted for him and presumably would do it again. He goes out and makes a big show for these veterans because that's really big around here. he appears to be delivering up to his constituents exactly what they want: teabag voting. he gave us a constituent survey that said, in effect, do you believe government spending is extremely wasteful, or just very wasteful?

to him the third amendment is the right to opt out of obamacare; the first two both have to do with guns. well, i take that back, i'm not sure what he thinks of those amendments. or maybe, the first is, the right to go to a veteran's memorial, any time.

he's in the fire now, for his comments, and i believe he has taken more grief this term than usual. i think he's been identified, either as more of a leader (having been around for years), or just plain more tea-bagger than most, a tea-bagger's tea-bagger, or whatever. when texan congressmen refused aid for victims of sandy, he was right there in front. he just doesn't believe in emergency aid, or government aid, for anyone, except oil boys and ranchers. and veterans, of course.

it appears to be fine with the people of lubbock. they didn't go out of their way to, say, find some democrat to run against him.

when it's all said and done, i'm wondering: how do these congressmen think it goes over, that they can just pay everyone while the government is shut down? that they can shut down parks and then go and blame the park for shutting down? ok, so you voted to pay this poor ranger, i guess now you can insult her. but there still isn't a budget? how is this going to work now? i can see why washington is a little edgy these days.

i generally try to stay away from this stuff on this blog, which is really more of a personal exploration of a personal journey. but as i say, it's related to that; here this guy is, representing our district, happily, and i don't hear a whole lot of complaint. it's like that one judge who thought he'd have to get out tanks if obama was re-elected...he's still in office, i think, even though it was pretty obvious he was imbalanced. and if 18% was actually on his right, why then, this congressman is just liberal, on the moderate side, just civilized enough to go to a place like washington.

Friday, October 04, 2013

the idiot

so i talked to the painter for a while, and his first wife was from iowa, so we did a little iowa geography. the town of laverne scratched my memory, but i knew it was one of those towns that you'd see this sign at the interstate, and a road would snake off one way or the other and get there in so many miles. he was up there one time, he said, and maybe it was in the mayo clinic elevator, this would be in minnesota of course, but the elevator, he felt, was pretty fast. so he said, "'es thing kicks it," or something like that, in a texas accent, and nobody, like nobody, understood him. he's a big old guy, a texan, so you can imagine, maybe they were a little nervous, with this big guy saying incomprehensible things. funny thing was, he was happier coming back to texas, this was the memory he brought home. stuck in an elevator with nervous people.

heard another elevator story. this one was in japan. star professors were invited to this one campus, but they were stars in slightly different areas, both americans. elevators are slow in japan, but buildings are big. one young woman was "playing one off the other," but in an academic sense. she needed a thesis supervisor, but liked both guys. each one was telling her to do the opposite thing. she kept going from one to the other. the one would tell her to revise it, and the other would tell her to undo what the first had told her.

the problem happened when all three happened to get into that very slow elevator at one time just by chance. by the time the elevator hit the bottom floor the two professors were screaming at each other and the poor young woman was cowering in the back. the lesson to be learned is, pick one thesis advisor.

i heard the story because i'm studying up on the perils of writing dissertations in universities these days. there are plenty of perils. the university has these sessions and we sit around talking about the perils. my class talks about the perils. i read a few dissertations.

my daughter's dissertation was great; that was years ago. you had these stomach viruses, or maybe they were bacteria, PrgX and PrgY, and they somehow got it on & reproduced and everyone lived happily ever after in some poor host's stomach. problem was, i couldn't understand a word of what the language was all about. it was like a love affair in paris or montreal or something, where you have to live without language and somehow figure out what to do next. apparently they were genetically programmed to do the right thing once they were in that poor host's stomach, which was good, because that's what accounted for their survival.

big storm up on the northern plains tonight; i had ancestors who settled up there, up in the siouxs, on the west bank of the missouri, where the wind piles in and dumps heavy wet snow even in early october, or a tornado comes up unexpectedly and everyone runs for cover. i'm not sure what goes for cover, up there in the northern plains these days, i'm sure they have something. that, or everyone digs in the ground and hunkers down when it gets intolerable. fortunately we're down here in the warm stuff soaking it up and not worrying about it.

leviticus 11 8 says clearly, we are not to eat pig or touch their carcass, so football is out. that's all there is to it. now i'm not doctrinaire about the bible, i do all kinds of things the bible prohibits, in fact i ate some bacon on a hamburger just tonight. so i've already violated leviticus 11 8, so it goes. but i don't care if they replace those true pigskins with the petroleum kind, i'm not touching them. no way. they're kind of funny shaped anyway. doesn't the bible say a ball has to be round? what has this world come to anyway?

so there's this massive government shutdown, everyone has been talking about it. it's happened maybe for about a week. biggest thing is, all the national parks are closed, and i assume other government things too. one stepdaughter works for social security; a sister-in-law works for the irs. some of these people are having "snow days", except there is no snow, at least where they are. funny thing is, i've gotten kind of inured to political wrangling. in my own district is the congressman who chewed out the park ranger for closing down, even after he had voted for the shutdown, it clearly wasn't the park ranger's fault. it was kind of a bizarre sidelight to the whole shutdown thing, how could people who actually run the country be so stupid. yet this guy ran unopposed, if i recall, because he's a republican, and because nobody can beat a republican, i guess. maybe a libertarian ran against him, but no democrat did, he didn't even have to put up a lawn sign. i couldn't believe it, but this was way back in 2012 when we first got here. maybe now that he's embarrassed the area, somebody will come along to run against him. maybe it should be me. but i write this blog. if anyone actually read, and found out how truly radical i am, they'd have lots of dirt, and i'd never win. i'd have to destroy my blog, or take it underground. actually i kind of enjoy calling my congressman an idiot. i think people everywhere should be able to do it. not that i want everyone else to have idiot congressmen. just that, if it's true, you ought to be able to point out the obvious. what was this, blaming a park ranger for closing the park? maybe i misheard it.

i got to texas the day ted cruz was winning the republican primary, which might as well have been the election, because there were no democrats except obama on the ballot who had a chance. he was winning it by calling his opposent a "moderate." this seemed unusual to me because it seems that one should seek out the center. but shifting to the right i guess was seeking out the center, at least in texas, at least in the republican party. using "moderate" in the same way other people use "communist" or "liberal" is one way of letting everyone know who is really vile, untouchable. it's a different kind of conversation, i guess.

the old elevator clip about conformity has surprising life; you see it every once in a while. in this clip, probably from the early sixties, they put people in elevators who turn around, until the remaining guy decides he'd better turn around too because everyone else is doing it. or they all take off their hats, so he does too. and he gets a little uncomfortable, because he kind of knows they're pulling one over on him, but he does it anyway, no idea that candid camera is trained on him or that this particular movie will be shown in sociology classes for sixty years.

in another elevator story another guy stayed late at work one friday night, got into the elevator to go down for a smoke, got stuck in the elevator at a time when nobody was answering the alarm, realized it was friday the thirteenth, spent the whole weekend in there getting hungry and thirsty, having to use a potty, but of course got out eventually, maybe monday, and sued the place for a fortune before it was all over. question was, whether he still had his faculties intact, whether he could still work in that building, even if he wanted to. sure it was a lousy weekend, but he probably came out all right, financially, might not have even had to keep working, but in that kind of condition, one doesn't want to stay home either.

got on an elevator near kenmore square in boston one midwinter day, can't remember where i was going or who i was with, but there were two or three people in the elevator. one guy asked us if we wanted to buy a book of poetry and showed it; it was maybe a couple of bucks. a woman on the elevator bought it on the spot, gave him a couple of bucks. said she'd bought the last one too. she was happy to get it. i thought it was a miracle. the elevator spilled out onto that little area near fenway park, but it was winter, there wouldn't be baseball for months. it was grim and cold and windy up there, but different politically. they don't have that problem of idiot congressmen, for example, they've got other problems. but people buy poetry, that's kind of interesting.