Friday, October 29, 2004
NOB HILL--Well, this is it. The bike and trailer are loaded, tires pumped, odometer reset. Tomorrow at 6:00 AM we pick up Mike Moye and drive out to Grants. There we will eat breakfast, say goodbye to my GF MaryAnn, and start pedaling down the road towards El Morro. Seven days later, hopefully, we should be rolling into Tucson.
The sudden cold snap today has me a little worried...as does the wind. But Mike and I will take it one day (or hour) at a time and see how it goes. The trailer bag looks so big because, in addition to the tent, sleeping bag and pad, stove, food, etc., there are a lot of bulky clothes. Anything can happen out there. For instance between Zuni Pueblo and St. Johns there is 55 miles of empty map space. So we had better be prepared.
Grants to Tucson: Itinerary
1. Grants (NM 53) to El Morro 42 miles 42 total
Saturday...sleep at B&B
2. El Morro to Arizona Border 47 miles 89 total
Sunday...camp along road
3. Arizona Border (AZ 61) to St. John’s 42 miles 131 total
Monday...motel or camp
4. St. John’s to Show Low (US 60) 47 miles 178 total
5. Show Low to Salt River Canyon 48 miles 226 total
6. Salt River Canyon to Globe 38 miles 264 total
Thursday...motel or camp
7. Globe (AZ 77) to Mammoth 54 miles 318 total
Friday...motel or camp
8. Mammoth to Tucson 48 miles 366 total
I think that once we get on the other side of Show Low everything will warm up a bit. I hope to post to this blog from motels and towns, but it may be difficult. I am also going to try to email pix to the blog if all else fails. They will have little or no text with them however. But there may be no cell phone coverage at times. Well, don't forget to vote...Yours Truly, Johnny_Mango
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
DOWNTOWN--Chester Nez rests on a plaza bench after the Kerry rally. Many in Boston credit Mr. Nez for breaking the Curse of the Bambino with a Navajo blessing. The WWII Code Talker and Congressional Gold Medal winner blessed the Kerry campaign in Albuquerque Tuesday night.
Apparently the Boston Red Sox called on Chester Nez to come to Boston and give a Navajo blessing to the Red Sox last April. After the team lost its 3 games to the Yankees in the ALCS they called him again. The local story goes that he walked out of his Albuquerque home, faced Fenway Park, and gave a blessing.
Now the Kerry campaign has him on stage with JK. And last night in Albuquerque's Civic Plaza there he was extracting corn pollen from a little leather bag and letting it sift into the air in all 4 directions. The thousands of people at the rally were hushed during the brief ceremony...including Yours Truly, Johnny_Mango.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
NOB HILL--I live a block and a half from this artificial sun. Whether it is a product of fusion or fission I do not know. It does cast quite a beam up at my house. It leaves a stronger shadow than the street light next door. Where is this high-powered, 10 million candle, acetylene torch that blots out everything within 2 blocks? STARBUCKS! That's where.
We, as a city, state, and nation are concerned about preserving the nightime sky from light pollution. The street lights only aim down to help with this problem. Also there is the neon, which looks a whole lot better without super-bright spotlights. Why has Starbuck's been allowed to dominate the whole neighborhood with this maddog parking lot fixture? Isn't this against some kind of zoning regulation?
NOB HILL--As if there wasn't enough visual stimulation on Central Ave. last weekend, these guys had to dance around on the median to advertise a show at the Guild Cinema. Actually, it was a 2-day indie film festival of about 20 movies. A synopsis of one reads, "A television news crew is thrown into a zombie outbreak." Sadly, I didn't see any of it...did you?
Monday, October 25, 2004
Joe Lawson, aka The Gumball King, fans out tickets to Tuesday's Kerry Rally at Civic Plaza. This will be an amazing event! Kerry attracted around 17,000 at his rally in Las Cruces last week. Be there! Tobias Rene will sing. If you don't know Tobias, he is one of the hottest singers in local Spanish music.
Tucker Carlson, this weekend on PBS's "Tucker Carlson Unfiltered," said that if neither of the two candidates are really saying what you believe, don't vote. Don't Vote? Obviously aimed at people who won't vote for Bush but don't like Kerry either, this statement hopes to siphon off more K votes than B votes. Instead of helping undecideds sort things out and think things through in any number of ways, Carlson (who was so recently skewered on his own show by Jon Stewart) chooses to say, "Don't think...don't vote." That borders on evil. And it never would be said by anyone who in his heart loves this country and democracy. Politics has been called the art of compromise, the art of the possible. The opposite of that is the world of the zealot, and what de Toqueville called "The Tyranny of the Majority."
Friday, October 22, 2004
The Governor speaks to over 300 at Romero rally, says the race is almost even. One more thing...are those French cuffs?
- Romero has pulled to within half a percentage point of Wilson.
- As of Thursday morning this race is the #1 watched congressional race in the country.
Wilson's ads attack Romero. She hasn't really pointed out anything she has done. Actually her ads attack Romero for attacking her. I don't think most people feel he has done much of that.
I also ran into Councilman Martin Heinrich. He actually reads this blog occasionally. He said he liked the Rt. 66 ideas, but not getting rid of the Nob Hill parking meters. He thought the merchants wanted them because they kept turning over customers. We did plan to meet for breakfast at the Flying Star after I get back from the Tucson bike ride.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
This tree, a landmark on the north arroyo bike trail, gets my vote for Best Tree in Albuquerque. It is near the Century 21 Theatre. Besides shade, it offers rustic benches and respite from the traffic. One other thing, it is the ONLY tree on that whole, long stretch of pavement.
It really helps to have a goal...a great place to stop and eat near the middle of the ride. On the canyon rides I like to stop in Tijeras at the Village Coffee House. Great coffee, food, and you can sit outside if you want. It also has a scented, feminine restroom complete with a tabletop water feature that emits small, perfumed clouds...sigh. The owner, Anna, is very friendly and also has a lot of gifts and things to look at.
Mike and I carry one-wheel trailers on our long trips with all our camping stuff, tools, parts, clothes, etc. On these full-loaded touring excursions we average about 50 miles per day. Up steep hills we get down to about 4 miles per hour. We could walk our bikes up those steep hills, but we're too stubborn. The fastest we ever got going downhill was a little over 40 mph...pulling those trailers. Stupid, yes. Sorry, no...I still have that top speed recorded on my speedometer (Although I got going almost as fast in Tijeras Canyon with a tailwind a week ago). Riding on the shoulder is impossible at those speeds, so we become something of a streaking hazard.
At any rate, I am totally excited about going to Tucson! Our basic route will be as follows: Grants, El Morro, Zuni Pueblo, St. John's, Show Low, Salt River Canyon, Globe, Oracle, and Tucson. Mike's wife Carol and my gf MaryAnn will pick us up in Tucson. I figure it will take about 8 days, maybe camping half the time. We eat anytime we pass a restaurant, snacking in between.
Full-loaded touring is closer to backpacking than it is to recreational bike riding. It is exploratory, inventive, visually stimulating 100% of the time. And it can be difficult. Your comfort and safety sometimes depends on the quality of your decisions. It is better with 2 riders.
Ken Saville explaining the details of a letter he received from the National Register. He seems to need a little more coffee.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Ken likes to think of himself as a hardass. I admit he does rely heavily on the Ward Bond character in The Searchers for social clues ("I'm the hard case you're gonna have to deal with!"). The Ward Bond character, however, showed a little more variety in his wardrobe than Ken does. Ken has a closet full of red camping shirts. And you know, they never seem to wear out...completely. But I give Ken credit. He is an artist (currently showing at the Mariposa Gallery) and has made a living from art for most of his life. A couple of years ago, Ken added Substitute Teaching to his list of activities...so now you know he is REALLY rolling in dough.
Thus it came as no surprise to see him produce a letter stating that he had been nominated to "Who's Who in the National Register of Business Executives and Professionals." Congratulations my friend, you deserve it.
Speaking of millionaires, can you believe Alex Rodriguez's behavior in knocking the ball loose in the game Tuesday night? The announcers tried to excuse it by saying that he had nothing to lose...he was out anyway. And we all know the millionaires, even those in baseball, don't think they have to play by the rules. He just got caught. I sure hope it doesn't jeopardize his standing in Who's Who in the National Register of Business Executives and Professionals. At any rate, here is a man for whom the Yankees paid $55,000,000 and his solution to dealing with his lack of performance is to take a swipe at the pitcher's hand. God Bless our Millionaires...where would we be without them!
Meanwhile, a Swedish photographer stood in front of the 66 Diner tonight setting up his camera to take a picture of the neon on the building. He was working for a Swedish magazine. Route 66 is famous over there. Being a helpful guy, I thought I would suggest some neon signage for him to shoot. Whatever I mentioned he had already photographed it: El Vado, La Puerta, El Don, El Rey. I didn't bother telling him about the downtown cowboy.
When I was teaching 4th grade at Emerson ES I rode my bicycle to school most days. Once they got over my owning a car but still rode a bike, we started talking about dreams I had when I was their age about just riding away on my bike through the small towns on my Illinois map...Genoa, Marengo, Stillman Valley, Pecatonica. As a child I would dream about this...riding to Ottawa, Rock Island, Effingham, Leaf River, St. Charles. Anyway I would tell those kids at Emerson that 3 blocks from our classroom was Route 66. That if you turned left you could ride your bike to California and the Pacific Ocean...turn right and you could ride to Chicago, Lake Michigan, and beyond. 66 is magical. Nob Hill wouldn't be the same if the main street did not reflect in its signs and buildings that energy of the Road, that dream of adventure, the lure of strange-sounding places. "Now you go thru St. Looey...Joplin, Missouri! And Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty. You'll see Amarillo...Gallup, New Mexico. Flagstaff, Arizona: don't forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino."
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Of particular interest is the Rapture Index, a so-called "Prophetic Speedometer," which measures current events in such a way that it is possible to fortell how close we are to the End Of Time. We are currently in a "fasten your seatbelts" warning. Apparently GWB pays a lot of attention to these people.
I believe that a discussion of religion will be the final battleground of this presidential campaign. Bush's certainty and inability to change are an article of faith. This is what Kerry was trying to get at in the (2nd?) debate when he said that you can be certain and wrong at the same time.
Saturday, October 16, 2004
Bukowski is a step beyond beat poetry, but he still has aura of "poet as prophet" even if he deals with a pretty grimy reality. There may be several reasons why Buk wrote about whores, drinking, filthy apartments, and sex. Maybe it was a reaction to the ever so clean Eisenhower years...maybe it had to do with feelings of unworthiness from his childhood...maybe it was because the images from that life were so vibrant and left you feeling as if you had been punched in the face. In the midst of this Bukowski searched for a kind of wisdom. And he did it without many of the poetic conventions. In many cases, the poem itself is the only image: no similies, metaphors, rhyme. What you have is reality itself...straight from the bottle.
MaryAnn asked me if I thought alcohol was necessary in order for him to write. This fits with a lot of the mythology that has grown up around him and other creative people. I think most poets use alcohol to quit thinking, to stop that brain, to save it until tomorrow when they will be writing again.
My heroes have always been poets. I read and memorized Robert Louis Stevenson when I was seven. I would recite him from memory at Show and Tell in 2nd grade. They are truly heroic figures. You might have noticed I have links to 2 poets in the right-hand column. Please check them out. Tell them what you think. And if you have a site you want me to consider, let me know.
Friday, October 15, 2004
This picture was taken in 1946. I don't know much else about it. Is that Monte Vista Elementary School in the background? And who is the person in the picture? Notice that the font used in the letters has been replicated in neon over the Nob Hill bus stop at Central across from Mannie's.
Thursday, October 14, 2004
- Bush does NOT love this country. Instead, he views it primarily as a battleground in a larger war that ends with the second coming of Jesus. This perversion of the Bible makes the USA a tool for the personal redemption of Bush and his spiritual cohorts. If a mid-east war fulfills a perceived prophecy that is needed to bring about the end of time...they will do it! Nevermind that other madmen have tried to manipulate the words of the Bible for 2000 years, they think the End is near and they have an obligation to help bring it about.
- Bush does NOT love this country. How else can one explain the tax cuts for millionaires, the millions more for drug companies, the tax breaks for companies with overseas profits, and nothing but more bills for the average American.
- Bush does NOT love this country. Did you hear the way he spit out the word "Massachusetts?" He absolutely hates those people. Who is supposed to be their president?
- Bush does NOT love this country. I cannot believe that he would propose a constitutional ammendment that would DENY RIGHTS to certain people. Bush, who swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States, now wants to align it with his religion.
- Bush does NOT love this country. He lies to us...US...the citizens of America.
- Bush does NOT love this country. We are only here to help him get to heaven.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
MaryAnn and I eating Russian food outside a deli on Clement St. Someplace in there is flattened chicken with peppers, a pastry filled with mushrooms, and a cabbage roll. The roll was like a "long john" without the chocolate and cabbage inside instead of custard. It was delicious. A man leaving the deli saw our stuff and said, "That is REAL Russian food!"
Sitting in the plane...a couple boarded during a stopover in L.A. They sat down directly in front of MaryAnn and me. He was big, stocky, mid-30's, well-dressed in a suit. She was dressed more casually, but had a big diamond ring. Married, I guessed. Across from them was a Casper Milktoast type of guy sitting by himself. His posture and air gave the look of someone who is beset...beset by any number of things.
Mrs. Big Diamond moved away from her husband and sat with an empty seat between them. He looked at her plaintively at first, then brushed her away with a gesture. He turned towards her, and started explaining a business deal that had apparently gone sour. She questioned him. He said, "...But I didn't know that yesterday." Mr. Milktoast took out a book and started reading. I didn't catch the title.
The Suit and Mrs. Suit are heading for a divorce. He disgusts her. The attendant comes for drink orders. He orders a water. She orders a whiskey sour. I bet they met in a bar. He was a lot of fun. His friends were a lot of fun. His friends' wives were a lot of fun. He was athletic and wore nice clothes. Now he folds his suit jacket and asks her to put it in the overhead. She argues with him about it before doing it.
Milktoast has reached Chapter VII entitled, "AM I NORMAL?" It was a short one...all of two pages. The next chapter had the heading, "LET'S GO SHOPPING!" Another short one. Casper took time out to scan the "About the author" notes on the back of the book. Next chapter: "PUMP UP THE VOLUME!" What the heck? I wonder what that book is...
Here comes Albuquerque. CM glances at one more chapter...#14..."WHERE DO YOU LIVE?" Ms. Whiskeysour gets up and leaves the plane without looking back. Mr. Water gets his coat and reaches back under the seat to retrieve a wine box...pretty special wine I would imagine. Mr. AMINORMAL tucks his book under his arm. I could only make out the words "Real Estate." Albuquerque: a land of dreams...missed, real, imagined. MaryAnn touches me, and we leave.
Saturday, October 09, 2004
For $40 we bought "City Passes" which included a week of muni transportation plus 3 museums and a Bay cruise. It got pretty foggy as we headed out into the inlet of San Francisco Bay...And then we were stunned to look up and finally spot what had been hidden from us.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
So far the trip has had a few "missed bullets." We landed in San Jose instead of the smarter move of landing in Oakland. But the was a free shuttle to the Caltrain station in nearby Santa Clara and a $5.50 trainride to downtown SF. Then there is the hotel employees' strike and lockout of 14 hotels. So far our hotel, The Chancellor, has not been affected but the bellboy says it may happen any time. Another missed bullet. Btw, The Chancellor is right on Union Square and charges about $100 weeknights and $150 weekends...not bad.
Yesterday we walked to the top of Nob Hill, ate in Chinatown, went through the cable car museum, and walked all around the Union Square area. My legs are a little sore this morning...and I have been riding my bike 50 to 100 miles per week! And now...breakfast.
"Say...ah...didn't I see you in Moab this last spring?"
"Moab? Went through there in July, I think..."
"I thought I saw you standing on a corner in Durango, Colorado. I thought that was in July."
"Yeah...July I was there."
"And now you're here."
"Uh-huh...Do you have a quarter for change?"
I gave him a quarter. He gave me 2 dimes and a nickel.
"Do you mind if I take your picture?" I asked him.
"Not if I can take yours," he replied.
We took 'em. He told me his name was Foxfire. Then he rode off east on Central with a copy of the New York Times strapped to his pack.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
A city worker keeps the meters a'running. Nob Hill shoppers keep the coins a'jingling. Why should our neighborhood be taxed to shop?
- It is a tax on Nob Hill residents that no other neighborhood has to pay. You have to pay to park and shop here locally, but not at shopping centers or even strip malls.
- Everyone is a scoflaw when it comes to parking meters. Is this a good thing to encourage? You should see denizens of the Flying Star run out with coins in their hands when the meter enforcer comes down the street.
- Meters lead to people parking on side streets in front of residences. This adds to congestion and vehicular confusion where we want it least: at our homes.
- The money collected in the Nob Hill meters doesn't even stay here. Who knows where it goes.
- We don't need the meters to control parking. This neighborhood works just fine evenings, Saturdays (When everyone disregards the meters because nobody checks them), and Sundays.
Now let's look at the arguments FOR parking meters here:
- It's a good place to lock your bike. Well, that was my best argument until this morning, when I realized that my new lock--a cable lock--was virtually useless on a parking meter. They only work real good with "U" locks.
- It looks "Big City." Give me a break.
There you have it...arguments pro and con. Send city hall a message. We're fed up with people taking advantage of us.
Monday, October 04, 2004
Mike also has climbed Mt. Rainier. He has put up a great record of his last trip on a website called Roadrunner Tracks. Check it out. It even has a little video in it. There is a link to our trip through Colorado also, but it looks like we'll have to wait for that one. The last picture on the website has another Flying Star regular in it: Greg Rocca. Frank Dougherty, whose law office is near Silver and Yale is sitting next to Greg in the back row. This site is a wonderful record of the trip. You can almost feel the cold and hear the wind howling. Great job, Mike!
Sunday, October 03, 2004
- OLD ENGLISH 800 (tall boys)
- RED MOUNTAIN WINE (50 cents/fifth)
Perkovich and I had no refrigerator until the sweet old lady downstairs died and her relatives asked us if we wanted one. We cooled the wine in the tank of the toilet. You did have to cool Red Mountain--believe me. After a couple of fifths I would usually go fishing. Sometimes I'd walk over and watch the Italians play bocce ball in the park. The Old English malt liquor was finished off in front of the store before it ever had a chance to get warm. The good thing about 800 was that nobody could drink more than two. Two would get you high and any more would get you sick.
Everybody seemed to be on something. I met a guy once through Perkovich. We got talking about poetry and he started swigging something out of this little medicine bottle. I asked what that was. He said, "Codine...I'm trying to quit drinking." Well, he WAS trying.
Don't get me wrong. I am not proud of any of the drinking that I did. I drank for 21 years...and for 20 of those years I was trying to quit. One day I did quit. I haven't had a drink since about 1980. But I would never deny what I did as a young man...broke, far away from home, living in what had to be the epicenter of youthful counter-culture. Thursday MaryAnn and I will be there. This time with some money.
Saturday, October 02, 2004
Warren Smith shows off one of the new extra-long articulated buses that will be cruising up and down Central before the year is out. It will have limited bus stops, a security person on each bus, and the ability to trip traffic lights. Wow.
I lived in SF during the fall and winter of 67 and spring of 68. If you are old enough those dates mean something to you. It was during the Haight-Ashbury days. I lived upstairs with a friend from Illinois over a Bank of America on the corner of Hayes and Octavia. You could walk to the Haight. You could walk to Market. You could walk most anywhere. And we did.
At that time, Alcatraz was in the hands of the American Indian Movement. I often looked at it from Aquatic Park while fishing from the pier. Ferlinghetti's City Lights Bookstore was nearby, and I spent a good amount time reading poetry in the basement.
I attended a "Rolling Renaisance" poetry reading with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, John Wieners. I can't remember if Gregory Corso or Kenneth Patchen were there. I was sitting in the first row of the balcony of a very packed theatre. Everyone seemed to be smoking. You could see the cloud of smoke rising toward the balcony and then the ceiling. Nobody was smoking tobacco. Joints were being passed across whole aisles of the theatre. I passed one to the person next to me. He said, "No thanks, I never smoke when I'm stoned."
The stage was covered with mattresses. Indian bedspreads hung from a clothesline behind them. Allen Ginsberg came in dancing and wearing finger cymbals. Michael McClure sat sort of sideways near the front of the stage with his legs displayed at just the right angle. Robert Kennedy had been killed shortly before the event, and Ferlinghetti read a poem in his honor...well, more of a reaction to the assassination. It was based on Dylan Thomas' "The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower." When it was his turn Ginsberg humped the podium as he read his poem with such vigor that I thought it might crash into the seats. Whenever one of the poets turned an image, the whole audience would snap their fingers. There were a thousand people there.
It was quite a time. But it was also difficult for many of us who were out there sort of searching for somewhere we might belong. My friend Michael Perkovich and I once didn't eat for three straight days. A hooker working a corner next to where we lived gave us a dollar. We went to the Safeway and bought 20 pounds of potatoes and a pound of margarine with the money. We ate it all in the next 3 days. For several years after returning to Illinois from that adventure I carried in my jacket pocket a can of sardines. For emergencies.