Friday, April 29, 2005
ANCHORAGE, AK--This little guy, dressed in a seal gut parka, resides in the Anchorage Museum of History and Art. What a scope of endeavor for a museum that has so many cultures, epochs, and thrusts of genius to represent.
They embrace history without blinking or judgement. This is an actual section of the Trans-Alaska pipeline--listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the United States. The pipe has a diameter of about 4 feet. They also include whaling, gold mining, and a series of historical exhibits of Native Alaskan culture.
I am SUCH a fan of WPA art. This canvas was done by Edwin Boyd Johnson. Anybody who doubts the legacy of the F.D. Roosevelt years remember the WPA art works! From their website:
Edwin Boyd Johnson (1904 - )
Mt. Kimball, Alaska 1938
Oil on canvas 76.7cm. x 102cm.
Johnson was one of twelve artists sent to Alaska in the summer and fall of 1937 by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) to produce paintings for a national touring exhibit to promote tourism to Alaska. The exhibit was never held, and the paintings were dispersed. A number of Alaska Art Project artworks, including one by Johnson, were sent to decorate the walls of the Mt. McKinley Lodge, where they burned in a fire that completely destroyed the building in 1972.
This painting of Mt. Kimball in the Wrangell Mountains is one of the few works of Alaska by Johnson that are known to have survived. Several others are in the collections of the Alaska State Museum. Johnson was from Tennessee and studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago. During the Depression he was active in the WPA, and was listed as a designer, muralist and field supervisor for that agency in Chicago in 1940.
ANCHORAGE, AK--Star of the Day: Here's to Tony A. Davis owner and baristo of The Tundra Espresso Cafe. Mike says he makes the best chai he has ever had. Coffee was good too. Tony came out here from Baltimore...and he plays that sweet soul music all day.
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Though many of us were taught that poems have hidden meanings that must be discovered and pried out like the meat from walnuts, a poem is not a puzzle, but an experience. Here David Baker makes a gift to us through his deft description of an ordinary scene. Reading, we accept the experience of a poem and make it a part of our lives, just as we would take in the look of a mountain we passed on a trip. The poet's use of the words "we" and "neighbors" subtly underline the fact that all of us are members of the human community, much alike, facing the changing seasons together.
Neighbors in October
All afternoon his tractor pulls a flat wagon
with bales to the barn, then back to the waiting
chopped field. It trails a feather of smoke.
Down the block we bend with the season:
shoes to polish for a big game,
storm windows to batten or patch.
And how like a field is the whole sky now
that the maples have shed their leaves, too.
It makes us believers -- stationed in groups,
leaning on rakes, looking into space. We rub blisters
over billows of leaf smoke. Or stand alone,
bagging gold for the cold days to come.
David Baker's next book, "Midwest Eclogue," is forthcoming this fall from W. W. Norton. "Neighbors in
October" is reprinted from "The Truth about Small Towns," University of Arkansas Press, 1998. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
ANCHORAGE, AK--Yesterday's post made it seem like Anchorage wasn't much different than anyplace else. Well, it isn't all that different. But cities are cities. Today I rented a bike to get out of the city a little bit. I took the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, which winds along the coastline of Cook Inlet for about 10 miles.
Coming back to town was just as great as going out. You get these wonderful views of Anchorage with the mountains in back of her. And the day was SO beautiful for biking. I have a thought here. Instead of people saying, "I'm going to start getting in shape as soon as I get back from vacation."...why not start training to get in shape FOR your vacation?
I returned the bike to the Downtown Bicycle Rental. It was a great bike. Anyway, I ran into this bunch singing hymns in front of the Alaska Salmon Chowder House. I think they were from out of state. I can just imagine all of them treking up the Alcan Highway...or did they fly...I would have talked to them, but I thought it would be more than I wanted to experience.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA --My flight didn't get here until after midnight local time. What time it "really" was, I have no idea. So it felt like I was a little s l o w this morning. Eventually I wandered into the breakfast buffet line here at the Hawthorn Suites soon enough to eat all the potatoes, scrambled eggs, and sausages I could possibly want. Full, I sauntered off with my camera towards the tall buildings I saw a couple of blocks distant. It was warm. And it got warmer...in the 60's. The first order of business: find a good, strong cup of coffee.
I did. The place was inside the federal building so I had to get searched and metal-detected before I could place my order. There was a stand right outside selling reindeer hotdogs. Luckily I had already eaten or I would have had one for breakfast...but how would I explain eating a reindeer to my grandchild.
The barista was named Susan Pacillo. She told me that she came to Alaska at the age of 16. It seems her parents couldn't handle her any more and bought her a one-way ticket from southern California to Alaska so she could live with an uncle. She lived at the end of the Kenai peninsula, in Homer, for most of the 30 years she has been here. She stated that, next to Tom (I'll leave the light on for ya') Bodette, she is probably the most famous (or infamous) citizen that Homer ever produced. She is known in Anchorage as the "parking fairy," a name she got for dropping coins in parking meters to stop tickets for violations. Eventually, after four long years, the city got rid of the parking meters. I didn't ask her if she was famous in Homer for anything else...but she looked like both fame and danger were her best friends.
I resumed my morning stroll down 4th Street. Somebody had told me that Anchorage had the most beautiful furs they had ever seen. So I stopped and gazed in the window of the furrier's shop. They had some beautiful coats...but what caught my jaded eye was the bright red fur jockstrap next to the mucklucks. It was only $30 so I assumed I was looking at something in their faux collection. I am not so sure that faux and jockstrap belong in the same sentence. At any rate, I continued onward...and the weather continued to get warmer.
Lunch outside? April? Anchorage? These are record temperatures. It is actually warmer here than in Albuquerque. By the way, I had a sourdough bowl of seafood chowder...mostly halibut. Later, Mike and I dined at Simon & Seaport's Restaurant with his brother-in-law and their son. The b-i-l and son had prime rib. Mike had a salad and vegetables. I had halibut...grilled.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
NOB HILL--This was the view from one of the sidewalk tables in front of Il Vicino of the moon rising over the Sandia Mountains. It sort of reminds me of the last lines of a poem I wrote some time ago.
for Simone and Ivan
in imaginary gardens:"
not much of an inheritance
compared to 40 acres of timber
and high meadow.
ranch won't wear
out your boots the way
stirrups will, or put wild strawberry
jam in jars. There's
to haul dreams to,
or to build that cabin, a real one
now, with a porch--and lilacs waving
it's not that kind
of territory: I can't
fence it in for you like
pink in the west,
waits on the tip of a post
near Otero's barn--gone before
I mention it.
Monday, April 25, 2005
NOB HILL--Probably the most overlooked restaurant in the Nob Hill area is Mannie's on Central and Girard. MaryAnn and I eat there often. It has decent food at good prices (dinner costs $5.95) and a very good cup of coffee. This is a MUST for MaryAnn. Last time we were there we ran into Elizabeth and Sam Roll. Elizabeth is a poet and author. Nob Hill Icon Sam Roll is a forensic phychiatrist whose office is only 100 yards from the Flying Star.
I'm telling you Mannie's coffee is better than Flying Star coffee. Mannie's, however, does not have Wi-Fi. It ought to. But in any case this is a nice place to relax, eat, drink some good coffee, and unwind from that hectic life of a Nob Hill boulevardier.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
NOB HILL--Last week I posted a story about the Bosque Redondo and Fort Sumner. I had a nice long lens shot of the new memorial. That was because I was not allowed to get close enough to it for anything else. We saw ABQ Tribune writer Ollie Reed out there. He's a good friend of The Artist Ken Saville and in fact I have emailed him once or twice with story ideas (not that he has needed any). We didn't get to talk to him at any length because the head of the Fort Sumner State Monument was taking him in his truck for a personal tour of the new building.
Last Saturday Ollie's feature on the Bosque Redondo and Fort Sumner appeared in the Albuquerque Tribune. I wish that I had been invited to go on that tour. Newspapers don't publish many photos, but you know that I do. We would have had some GREAT close-ups of that new building designed by David Sloan.
But the "keys to the kingdom" were being guarded by this man--monument manager Scott Smith. He didn't believe my half-baked story about blogs or websites. He addressed me by my military title: General Public.
Access denied. No truck ride. No tour. No pictures inside the monument. No pictures NEAR the monument. Stay on the trail. Kind of made me feel more than a little stupid. But the girl working the counter inside the monument did give me the press discount...no charge to walk down the trail and take the picture. And I didn't even have to ask.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
NORTHEAST HEIGHTS--MaryAnn looked at me this afternoon and said, "I have been lucky enough to have always been around people who were good to me." We had been to lunch at Garduno's with a large contingent of in-laws...no, make that EX in-laws. And they cared so much for her that they made room in a busy weekend to take MaryAnn and me out to lunch. It was truly touching. Beautiful people. Mostly Texans.
NOB HILL--Mark Justice Hinton and I met for coffee yesterday morning. I had appeared with Mark (and Pika) once on Jim Scarantino's first radio show, but never really got to talk to him. We have a lot in common.
The first thing is a love of New Mexico and its wilderness areas. Mark and his wife Merri Rudd have a little camper and park it most anywhere that's beautiful...like the remote campgrounds in the San Mateo Mountains. MaryAnn and I are still pulling out the tent, but that's because I love sleeping on the ground. In fact, one time I counted it up and I have spent about two years sleeping on the ground.
Another thing is that Mark pays attention to politics and tries to direct us to issues that need our attention. I pay attention, but I still seem to be in something of a post-election funk. And lastly, Mark is a true geek. Me...I just fool around and have never approached anything like true geekdom.
Well, maybe we don't have THAT much in common. Maybe we do, but our degrees of commitment are a little different. The deal is Mark has a separate blog to deal with each one of these issues! Wilderness...Politics...Computers. Man oh Manechevitz.
Friday, April 22, 2005
NOB HILL--There was this moment the other day when Time collapsed in front of my eyes. Everything I had ever wanted from boyhood onward, everything I would ever dream about, and everything in front of me...they came together in one instant.
I had turned from my work. MaryAnn was fixing supper in the kitchen. Looking at her...well, looking at her took me back to our first date, and how I fell in love with her the moment she walked in the door of the New Chinatown restaurant. How beautiful she is...inside and out.
But I know that many of you get upset at smarmy declarations of love in a domestic setting. It doesn't have to be that way. Olivia Romero, dressed to the nines, was sitting in the Flying Star yesterday reading to herself. But from the looks of the title, her head could be in a totally different place than MaryAnn's. Olivia looks like she might be a fan of Samir's blog. And totally appealing. That's what makes this life thing so much fun! There are half a million stories in the 40 Acre Wood. And I want to know every one of them.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
SOUTH VALLEY BIKE TRAIL--I thought I would try out my new mountain bike down by the river at the far south end of the trail. Unfortunately, the dirt road to the river was blocked with a lot of water. So I sat down and ate a snack. But the water didn't really look that calm. There were ripples moving across the opaque surface of the muddy water. I picked up my camera and went to the water's edge.
None of us can fix the past. Mistakes we've made can burden us for many years, delivering their pain to the present as if they had happened just yesterday. In the following poem we join with Ruth Stone in revisiting a hurried decision, and we empathize with the intense regret of being unable to take that decision back, or any other decision, for that matter.
Once you saw a drove of young pigs
crossing the highway. One of them
pulling his body by the front feet,
the hind legs dragging flat.
you called the Humane Society.
They came with a net and went for him.
They were matter of fact, uniformed;
there were two of them,
their truck ominous, with a cage.
He was hiding in the weeds. It was then
you saw his eyes. He understood.
He was trembling.
After they took him, you began to suffer regret.
Years later, you remember his misfit body
scrambling to reach the others.
Even at this moment, your heart
is going too fast; your hands sweat.
Reprinted from "In the Dark," Copper Canyon Press, 2004, by permission of the author and publisher. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
NOB HILL--After finishing the stucco job of our block wall, Juan loaded up every bit of construction trash into his pickup and was about to head to the dump. I had come out to pay the last of what I owed him. I was getting an uneasy feeling as I walked past the garden towards his truck. The yard was clean of trash all right...almost too clean. I gladly paid him his money. The truck pulled out and down the alley.
Why, talk about clean, even the tub of grass clippings was empty, its contents buried somewhere in the back of his rumbling truck. The tub of clippings and garbage? Oh no. He's taking my worms to the dump!
Pues, adios gusanos. So much for the "compound interest" analogy of last Monday. The worms have turned. And I am left casting about for another metaphor.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
NOB HILL--I'm going to be pretty busy for a while. On the 26th of this month Mike Moye and I are going to fly to Anchorage, Alaska and we won't be back until May 7th. The following week the two of us, along with my regular weekly riding partner Bob Evans, will be bike touring in the Gila. This is not a paved road trip. I thought I better get something built to take rougher conditions than my hybird. So I went down to 2-Wheel Drive and did it. I bought a mountain bike--a Gary Fisher.
One of the nice things about 2-Wheel Drive is that if you are having trouble with the comfortable fit of the bike, they will exchange parts until you are satisfied...free. I already had them put more of a rise on the handlebars for a bit of comfort on those long days. But this bike rides so nice! I have no regrets. And the trip, which loops to the north and east of Snow Lake, is going to be great. I'll be taking my Yakima trailer, so there will be plenty of room for water along with the camping gear. And it all starts in about 3 weeks.
SILVER HILL--While I was waiting for a few adjustments to be made on my new bike, in walked a New Yorker named Sibje7, just off the train and on his way to the Grand Canyon. He searched through the sale bucket for a tire, pleading he had no money. I gave him some advice on a route, as he really didn't seem to have thought it out.
He was trying to stay out of the mountains. I said that the mountains were the best part of the ride...especially given that he was alone and water or rescue are both hard to come by if he tried to stay north of I-40. But he was riding a double chainring, so I don't blame him for looking for a flat route. Here is what I told him: Grants to El Morro, Zuni Pueblo, St. Johns, Show Low, Heber, and Flagstaff. Anybody got a better idea?
I also told him to take a bunch of water. I am not convinced he is ready for what may be ahead of him. But who knows? What an adventure.
One thing, though...I probably should have mentioned he probably won't need that New York bike lock he was wearing for a belt. That must weigh 5 pounds.
RIDGECREST--The Duke City Fix is up and running in public. It really looks great. There are about a dozen bloggers writing for it (including Yours Truly, Johnny_Mango), as well as a couple of great photographers. Check it out. There was a "Launch" get-together Sunday. Some of the luminaries: Malibu Clint (pinstripes), John Fleck (palms on ocean sunset), and Alibi canoneer Jim Scarantino (Devil's Island Papillon-style prisoner stripes). Andrea Lin, DCF food editor, (not pictured) made the spring roll on JF's plate. Really delicious. The Beautiful MaryAnn is still talking about them.
Monday, April 18, 2005
NOB HILL--It was Earth Day yesterday and that meant the street was blocked off in back of La Montanita Co-op. There were all kinds of tables and booths set up to help conserve the earth and our bodies. The NIA dancers caught my eye right away. Not only did they move, they yelled a lot. I had never heard of it before. But let me quote from their NM website.
Nia is a barefoot technique and is a blending of modern and jazz dance, aerobics, martial arts, yoga and body integration therapy based on the Alexander technique and the teachings of Moshe Feldenkrais.Maybe they are only barefoot indoors. At any rate they looked committed to it. I don't think it is something one does with listless, jaded, coolness.
But even with all that stuff we had to buy a bag of worms. These are compost worms from Soilutions down on Bates Rd. SW. They don't need dirt; they just turn your table scraps , shredded paper, and lawn trimmings into compost. And they work 24/7...free. Not only that, every couple of weeks each one has three babies. This is better than compound interest!
Saturday, April 16, 2005
FORT SUMNER, NM--I had 4 or 5 hours to kill in Fort Sumner yesterday. The Artist Ken Saville was doing a workshop and didn't need me until 5:00. I started off downtown looking for a place to eat, but found this antique store first. I spent an hour and a half inside.
I got a real education in antique restoration and the history of pre-1930 American furniture. Tracy Martz of Martz Antiques not only sells furniture, he loves it and lives it. And it is contagious. By the time I left his store my head was ringing with words like Federal, Empire, Hepplewhite, and pre-veneer vintage cherry. What an education.
Oh I knew a little about furniture before I went into the store. But I had never met someone like Tracy. Look at this chair, for instance. It was missing the front leg next to him. Tracy carved a new one. It matches perfectly.
This is just a sample of his expertise. But maybe the biggest thing I learned was how, each in his own way, we were both in the same business: putting things back together. Maybe that is why he specializes in buying "basket case" antiques and restoring them. Maybe that is why I think of my writing as being not so much "positive" as it is curative. I think I am trying to put the world, at least my little world, back together...through a respect for all people and an embracing of the small events in my life.
This was quite an antique shop and quite an afternoon...all things considered.
A poem need not go on at great length to accomplish the work of conveying something meaningful to its readers. In the following poem by the late Marnie Walsh, just a few words, written as if they'd been recorded in exactly the manner in which they'd been spoken, tell us not only about the missing woman in the red high heels, but a little something about the speaker as well.
Bessie Dreaming Bear
Rosebud, So. Dak., 1960
we all went to town one day
went to a store
bought you new shoes
red high heels
ain't seen you since.
Friday, April 15, 2005
FORT SUMNER & BOSQUE REDONDO, NM--I went to Fort Sumner today and saw a whole lot. But first things first. Please click on the above picture and read the inscription on the plaque. What heartache.
I have been to Bosque Redondo before. I have written about it before. But the magnitude of the death and suffering still stun me. For those of you who are not familiar with New Mexico and its history, in 1863 Kit Carson and the U.S. Army, under the command of General James H. Carleton, rounded up 10,000 Navajos and about 400 Mescalero Apaches and marched them to a concentration camp on the other side of the state. 2000 are supposed to have died on the winter march of 450 miles. The destination was an encampment on the Pecos River called Bosque Redondo and its accompanying quarters for the soldiers guarding their prisoners, Fort Sumner. By 1868, 3000 more had died, many of starvation. The remaining Navajos were allowed to return home on June 15, 1868. The Apaches had departed earlier, eluding the soldiers in November of 1865.
It is unimaginable that Gen. Carleton could have watched as 5,000 Navajos in his charge died. But it happened. It happened here.
The incredible savagery of Gen. Carleton and the U.S. Army dwarfs anything else of importance in my mind today.
BOSQUE REDONDO, EASTERN NEW MEXICO--This is the new Bosque Redondo Memorial which is to have its grand opening June 15th. It was designed by Navajo architect David Sloan of Albuquerque. It is only half built because they ran out of funds. They are a mere $600,000 short. And this is so important for the healing and learning processes of all of us. In fact, it is about to be designated a Site of Conscience by the International Coalition of Historic Site Museums of Conscience. There are currently only 14 such museums in the world.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Don't miss the LAST Works-in-Progress of the season!
When? Friday, 4/15, 7pm
Where? Winnings Coffee, 111 Harvard SE
Who? Carson Bennett, Grad Student, Creative Non-Fiction
Sari Krozinsky, Grad Student, Poetry
Marisa P. Clark, Lecturer, Fiction
Come early to enjoy a cup of coffee on EGSA...
NOB HILL--When I was a college student in Chicago, the first warm day of spring was a ritual in seasonal celebration.
- Meister Brau started selling bock beer again. It only happened in the spring. Rumor was that it was vat-cleaning time. Russell Adams asserts that this is in fact the case.
- Everybody takes their beer and a chair and goes up on the roof. Tar beach. In Chicago, the roof was about the only open space one could find. Of course, we are talking about rows of 5-story apartment buildings.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
BANDELIER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, NOB HILL--I was waiting for the car in front of me to move on Tulane crossing Coal SE. After a while I honked. Nothing. I got out and went up to the car. "Are you all right?" I asked. "Are you okay?"
The driver nodded and said, "Yes...I'm okay." He looked high. I pulled my 4Runner around to the right. A schoolbus came around the corner and stopped directly across from the nodding driver. She was having a hard time getting past him. I got out. I whispered across the top of the stopped car and she caught my drift. She had a cell phone and called 911. I was afraid he was going to suddenly accelerate into the heavy traffic on Coal. My 4Runner was sticking out into Coal and there were cars in back of me. I went around the block.
I was back in 30 seconds. I got out to be with the busdriver. I didn't want her to stay there alone with him. But just as I got out he took off under full throttle. "Oh shit!" I shouted. He narrowly missed a parked car, crossed to the east side of Tulane and drove down the sidewalk for a while before getting the still accelerating vehicle back in the street. Then the fire truck came up Coal.
The driver took out the wall in front of Bandelier Elementary School and was headed straight for their gym when the vehicle finally came to rest. The fire department arrived almost immediately. I had flagged them down at Tulane and Coal SE and directed them up the street. They didn't have any trouble finding him.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
NOB HILL--It looked a little bit nutz. They were standing in the median right there on Central Ave., Route 66 for Pete's sake. One guy was reading from A Tale of Two Cities at the top of his lungs, and shouting after passersby. The other guy was filming him. I just had to go ask them what was going on.
David and Lance told me they were filming a "Mockumentary." Well, okay. I hope they read this and tell us about it in the comments section. Meanwhile, I am reminded why I am so happy to be living in this neighborhood--where things like this, while unexpected, are not that uncommon.
Here's to you, Lance and David. After all, Rt. 66 is the Mother Road, the road of dreams, the ribbon that binds us to each other. And as for the "two cities," would Chicago and L.A. fit the bill?
This just started. It is only Column #2. I may be able to get it in a different format, but here is the current column.
American Life in Poetry: Column 002
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Many of us have felt helpless when we've tried to assist friends who are dealing with the deaths of loved ones. Here the Kentucky poet and publisher, Jonathan Greene, conveys that feeling of inadequacy in a single sentence. The brevity of the poem reflects the measured and halting speech of people attempting to offer words of condolence:
At the Grave
As Death often
it is good
even if so little
as to shovel
Copyright © 2003 by Jonathan Greene. Reprinted by permission of the author. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.
Monday, April 11, 2005
DOWNTOWN FLYING STAR--Ahhh, Rick Ramsey. He looks more like a free-floating apparition than a biker. His head is roughly 8 ft. above the pavement. At least right now.
Another thing, I don't think going downhill would be that difficult, but uphill...well I guess that's why he moved downtown.
EAST SIDE SANDIA MOUNTAINS--We were curious about how much snowfall there actually was in the Sandias, so we took a drive up there. We didn't get much beyond the ski area. The roads were extremely slippery and visibility was getting worse by the minute. I was glad to have the 4WD.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
NOB HILL--Every other month our coffee drinkers' group has a potluck. This time it was at the Mango Mansion. It was only an hour before the potluck and down the street The Artist Ken Saville found himself fine-tuning his appearance. Michelle had cut off the last 2 years worth of hair growth and he looked pretty good. Now vacuum that chest and put on a shirt. And smile. Please.