Sippican Cottage

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Money (Still) Changes Everything

[Editor’s Note: First offered in 2006]
{Author’s Note: There is no editor. }

It is gratifying to see effort rewarded.

My good friend Steve is an excellent father to his two boys. His older son, Flapdoodle, is twenty years old, and wishes to follow in the old man’s wake a bit and play music with his friends. My avid readers will recall that Flapdoodle is Mr. Pom Pom’s brother, whose brush with death and musical greatness we recounted here before.

Now, I’ve known Flapdoodle since he was a wee bairn. He’s always been a nice kid, and afflicted with a kind of adult poise from a tender age. “Born old,” as we say. Every spare minute, he’s been plunking on his guitar to learn how to do it. He’s got college age friends now who are similarly thoughtful and fun and dedicated to making music for the amusement of others.

“Making music for the amusement of others” is more than just learning how to play Stairway to Heaven, halfway through, in your basement. Everybody wants to be a rock star. But the local bar don’t need no rockstar. It needs you to learn how to play your instruments properly, gather the proper equipment, figure out what the audience would want to hear, and show up on time and work hard. And I can assure you that all that in one package is rarer than hen’s teeth.

Father Steve is both mildly demanding and helpful. Flapdoodle goes to college now, and spends his summer toiling at a beachside restaurant/nightclub, working hard in the kitchen. Steve used to play in that same nightclub twenty years ago. When Flappy’s done, he comes home to the apartment over Steve’s garage that he and his musical compatriots rent from Steve.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think Steve is getting wealthy off the rent.

Steve cleared out half the basement in his house, painted the floor, and they cobbled together the equipment needed to simply go down there, pick up instruments, and bang out a four chord song. It’s much more marvelous for not being lavish.

Steve tells me the band works down there every spare moment, and he’s gratified to hear them really applying themselves and trying to get better in an organized and intelligent way. They don’t make the mistake most aspiring musicians make –to just plunk away indefinitely at the same old thing, never really learning it, never giving much attention to the wants or desires of any prospective audience. Rock music suffers from festering self-absorption enough without adding any of your own on there. It’s not rocket science. But it ain’t that easy to be entertaining, either. Steve helps them when he can, and mostly helps them by not intruding much. He always seems to be around when they can’t remember the end of “Light My Fire,” though, and the door opens up a crack while they argue over it mildly, and Steve says F C D and they’re back at it again.

They were going to get their chance last weekend, until nature intervened. Steve’s old band [Editor’s Note: The author should have admitted he was in that band.] was dragged back from semi-retirement to perform at an annual outdoor party, on the water’s edge, at a fine little community called Far Echo Harbor. It’s along the shores of the gigantic Lake Winnepesaukee in New Hampshire. Steve’s got a summer home there, and helps put on this entertainment as a gesture of neighborliness and goodwill. It’s become something of a tradition. And Scrambled Porn, as Flapdoodle’s band calls themselves, was going to play for an hour in the middle of the old man’s performance.

That’s perfect. Big, ready made audience. Instruments already set up. Familiar friendly faces in the audience. The only pressure was the internal kind, the desire to do well and entertain. There’s a lot more pressure when you’re professional. Money changes everything.

There was a problem. It rained like the first ten pages of the Bible for twelve straight hours. There was no venue large enough to hold the audience and the bands indoors, and it had to be cancelled. Long faces.

But sometimes, marvelous things happen, and minor disappointments only make the story flow better. They had the tent set up for the caterer, and he served that food anyway, and as a hundred or two of us huddled under the tent in the rain and watched the kids splash in the puddles just outside it, something coalesced amongst the disappointment.

The caterer ran a roadhouse restaurant right down the street called the Bad Moose. It’s a great place, haunted by locals and tourists alike, serving food in the afternoon and bluesy music and beer at night. That man had hired a band to play on Saturday night. And they didn’t show up.

So here’s your chance Flapdoodle and friends. First you have to convince Old Steve to let you. He’s wise, your father; he didn’t say yes right away. He went there first to take one look at the crowd and see if things would be thrown at you if you faltered. Because you were about to be among strangers. And entertaining strangers is … different.

The Bad Moose crowd at night is prone to motorcycles and tattoos. There are very few drinks with umbrellas in them in evidence. There is a contingent of very large males enamored of high-fives and bottled beer, and some women who might have danced around a pole previously. The bartender works alone, whirling like a dervish, is dressed like a vampire, has some metal in the face and tattoos on the skin, and could probably clear the room in 15 seconds flat. And she’s a girl.

There is a lot of commotion and confusion as Steve and I tried to set up the instruments and PA system for unfamiliar idiosyncracies in a crowded bar. The crowd was restless. The manager of the bar looked at the childish faces of the band, old enough to work in a bar, but not old enough to drink in one, and I saw a moment of doubt flash over his face. After we sorted out all the cables and applied all the necessary duct tape, those young fellows let it rip.

Steve and I crouched by the door, winced a little, and prayed or something. I went to Catholic School for seven years, but I couldn’t remember for the life of me the name of any Saint that would be the Patron Saint of Bar Fights, so the the prayers may have been of doubtful utility.

And…

They were great. Not polished, but not so’s you’d notice. And after about five minutes, you could feel it — the audience wanted to like them. And when they faltered, the audience picked them up and carried them to the next passage where they knew the way better. There was lots of wild abandon on the dance floor, which is just the same scoured pine planks the band’s standing on. And the audience whooped and hollered and beat their spilled beer to sea foam in front of the manchildren drinking water and smiling like they’d just won the world series — when they got the nerve to look up from their strings. And when they ran out of things to play, the audience made them play it all over again.

The next morning, an emissary came from the Bad Moose. The boys were asleep still, crashed out on every couch and bunkbed in the little summer home like some invading army. Steve was awake, and the fellow pressed two damp and wrinkled fifty-dollar bills in his hand. Give that to the boys and tell them they can play there anytime.

Money changes everything.

Gimme Some (More) Of That Old Time Religion

[Editor’s Note: First offered in the summer of 2006]
{Author’s Note: The second paragraph is depressing me to no end, as it’s Sunday and I’m working twelve hours, minimum. If someone’s going to emancipate me, I wish they’d get on with it. In your heart of hearts you know only the undertaker can do that. And there is no editor.}

We’ll visit Benefit Street in Providence Rhode Island, dear reader. But first, a diversion.

Sunday is for wandering. My wife pleads for me not to work all seven days of the week, and not-working-but-staying-home is no day off for her. Let’s go for a walk, and point the camera at things, shall we?

I’ve been going to Providence Rhode Island regularly for over thirty years. I’ve done most everything there is to do there — thrice over. What are considered hoary old establishments now by the locals are places I go by and recall their predecessors of Jimmy Carter vintage. Hell, Gerry Ford vintage. Damn! Nixon vintage.

I know exactly what my family looks like to the denizens of the part of town known as college hill. Both Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design are right there, and the place has had alternated between a bohemian and a faux-bohemian vibe since I’ve trod the earth.

We have no tattoos. No skinny glasses. No moonboot athletic shoes. No swoosh stripes. We dress ourselves and our children unstylishly, really; to be stylish nowadays, and casual, is to be deliberately poorly dressed. And it’s expensive to dress badly; the affectation of poverty costs big, generally. We are neatly turned out, and all our clothes match- that’s it. There are no slogans of any kind on anything we wear. My wife has the beauty of a real woman, and her clothes just wrap it. Women wish they were her; I doubt many wished they were dressed like her.

Our children unselfconciously clutched balloons from the burger restaurant, and wore the paper hats given them. They were not being wry- and genuine need not a apply on college hill.

A disreputable street person approached me, and tried to press a pamphlet in my hand, and whisperered that the Marxist something Worker’s something Revolutionary something something would set me free.

I know how this works. He is a bum. He is being paid to hand out these pamphlets. That is why he mumbles a slogan that is designed to be delivered like Mussolini from a balcony. He’s not getting his dough for drugs or booze or a flop if he doesn’t unload the pamphlets, but he couldn’t care less what’s on it. And I know that if ridding himself of the documents was all he had to do, they’d be in the nearby 7/11 dumpster by now. So I know he’s being watched. My conjecture is not disappointed.

We cross the street to promenade further, and head back the direction we came. And there they are: his handlers. They have a card table, and a banner, and folding chairs, and big stacks of said pamphlets, and they see us coming.

It’s striking to walk down that street, after over thirty years of walking down that street, and seeing them there. Because they are squatting right adjacent to the location of my own brother’s old place of business. They called it an “alternative” bookstore back then, but let’s not pussyfoot around; it was a communist bookstore.

Communism is that sweetest of ideals — we’re all pals and should share everything. My brother is smarter than me; he’s a better father to his children than me; he’s more talented at everything he’s ever tried than me; and he devoted a goodly portion of his time to the ideals on those pamphlets I was looking at now, thirty years later, flapping a bit in the breeze outside his old haunt. The Soviet Union was still very much a going concern, back then.

The two fellows eyed me a bit. They scanned my familial situation. I could see intellectual calculations going on behind their severe skinny glasses.

I was doing some mental calculations too. Mine were wobbling between the sort of polite demurrals you have at the ready for the panoply of geeks, freaks, and entreaters of all sorts that come at you in any city, and the unwise urge to tell them how stupid they looked to me.

There are certain things you know without having to be told. And I knew for a certainty that those two fauntleroys have never, and will never, really work a day in their lives. They were each wearing north of five hundred dollars worth of clothing and accessories, minutely calculated to make them look disheveled. My wife, who you perhaps have gathered is a female, would be unable to afford having her hair cut by the salon where these two had their hair artfully arranged to look like they had just rolled out of bed. They are attending schools using money unearned by them, and are out politicking for a lark. The Workers are a lovely abstraction to them. They are going to save them.

I read once that college educated persons rarely have friends that are not. If you press them on that, they always claim their menial laborers as their friends, like a country club swell hugging the landscaper for unbigoted effect. I attended a conclave of writers once, and a nice fellow made a remark about the great unwashed, which took the form of the great uneducated in his vernacular. He asked me directly where I was degreed. I said I was not. He almost fell over me trying to apologize while saying “not that there’s anything wrong with that.” He was pleasant and didn’t understand why what he said was interesting. The idea that anyone present would have a different background never occurred to him; he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, and really, I didn’t care.

Well the card table bohemian Marxists loomed large now on the radar screen. I saw them watching the bum they had hired directly across the street, and eying me. And here I was, right in front of them; I was the person they were touting on all those flyers. I was the worker who they would emancipate. I’ve been a body shop mechanic, and a janitor, and a housepainter, and a welder, and a factory hand, and a starving artist, and a laborer, and every other damn thing. If I sneeze at the wrong time I could still lose a finger or two at work. And I didn’t play at working hard for a few months between semesters, and then think I know what it’s like to see the horizon, fifty or sixty years off, with nothing but your wits and your back to get you there.

I actually became interested. What could you possibly have to say to me, I wonder?

They sized me up, and pulled their hands back in, and let me pass by without saying anything. They waited a short moment for the next trust fund bohemian to come along, and pressed the pamphlet into their hands with a rousing: Help us emancipate the working man.

The communist bookstore is a Sovereign Bank now.

The Joys Of Owning Rental Property

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Oh! Too late.

Be right back. Got a hankerin’ for some sake.

Did You Know That Michael Jackson Could Sing?

[Up-Up-Update Author’s Note: I wrote this before I had a blog, about four years ago. A lot of people have dug it up today. I don’t feel the need to change word of it just because he’s dead now. He’s been dead for thirty years, really.]


Sorta like Groundhog Day, Michael Jackson’s in the news again, same as last time, same as last time. No dangling babies or weird hejiras or court appearances in his pajamas though, it’s straight up bankruptcy this time. I doubt it. Like a guy that has a fetish for burying money in the yard, there always seems to be one more coffee can stuffed with cash he can disinter when he needs it. He needs it bad, this time, it appears. I’m not interested in Michael Jackson’s notoriety — or notoriousness, depending on which paper you read; and I wasn’t interested in it a year ago when I wrote this during his last trial, in the dock again for making all our skins crawl. And just like last year, just like last year, I ask you: Did you know Michael Jackson could sing?

6/10/05-His face, what’s left of it, is all over the news, every day. And I’m weary of it, and I don’t share everyone’s interest in him. If everything he’s accused of is false, he’s still a very scary human being. If ten percent is true, he’s a monster besides being a weirdo. And since every news outlet, blog, talk show host, drive time morning zoo radio loser, and drunk in a bar is disgorging 24/7 about him, it’s unlikely I’ll be able to bring anything fresh to the table. Or is it? Let me give it a try.

Did you know that Michael Jackson could sing?

It’s easy to forget that. He’s been busy for the last 30 years or so, first being a celebrity, then a sort of royal screwball, and then a kind of a carnival freak, then an Elephant Man wannabe, and finally John Wayne Gacy Light, or so it appears. But I assure you, I’ve heard it. He could sing.

Now you’re going to be angry with me dear reader, I’m sure of it. Because I’m going to point out that you’re mistaken if you thought he could sing because you bought “Off The Wall” and then “Thriller.” You loved his moonwalking, and overlooked his screeching falsetto, and Quincy Jones’ audio spackle distracted you from noticing that he couldn’t sing anymore. Not even a little.

Quincy Jones produced those records, and Quincy Jones is a very talented man. To a male kid growing up in the seventies, he was da man simply for marrying Peggy Lipton of the Mod Squad. Quincy warmed up by tinkering with Sinatra, after Sinatra had blown his voice out with poor method and booze and cigarettes and putting his head in ovens over Ava Gardener and couldn’t sing much anymore. Sinatra had gotten all the mileage he could from just sort of talking in a singsong way in a low register, with Nelson Riddle riding herd over the half a gross of string players sawing away behind him. Quincy coaxed one last blast of Brooklyn funk from ol’ Blue Eyes’ leather lungs by putting Count Basie behind him, and perhaps reminding him of what he used to be.

But Quincy’s magnum opus was fixing it so you didn’t notice that the greatest child soul singer, ever, couldn’t sing a lick anymore. Every bit of Quincy’s talents were needed to foist this future circus freak on the public, when the freak had nothing left in the tank but a visually disorienting dance step. And Quincy kept moving the musical cups around so you couldn’t find the little ball under the one marked “He can’t sing.” Because poor old Michael couldn’t sing a lick after his Adams Apple showed up.

Now lots of people are child singers and have long and prosperous careers after their voice drops an octave or two. Listen to Wayne Newton. You heard me. Wayne Newton. He sang Danke Shoen when he was a young teen, if that, and he sang it with the brio, and range, and emotive bluster of a world-weary and experienced Vegas singer. Which is exactly what he eventually became, god love ’em. And now, even as he becomes geriatric, he can still do it. And people still go see him, I guess, and he’s turned his uncool persona into a cottage industry, like David Hasselhoff and William Shatner and a dozen others that learned to embrace the trajectory of their careers and find a way to keep the third wife in minks, even if it involves self parody.

But it was over for Michael when his voice changed, and he knew it. And it’s probably what drove him crazy. And if Michael Jackson is anything, it’s crazy.
Perhaps you’d go crazy too, if you were given that gift, and then it was taken away from you like that. And it is a gift. Michael’s father Joe couldn’t beat that sound out of Tito or Jermaine, after all, no matter how hard he tried. Michael had it, and out it came.

Michael Jackson was made for Motown, and especially Motown for him. The entire musical edifice was there when he arrived, and he just rode the elevator right to the top floor. Berry Gordy had honed the template to an iota, and assembled the most talented and innovative studio musicians and writers together in Detroit, and later Los Angeles, and could use every bit of what the Jackson Five could deliver.

I linked to a Jackson Five compilation in the left margin. [Editor’s note: Here it is:]

Purchase that item. If you do not , your life will be a meaningless and barren wasteland, populated only by the Court TV freakshows, and not the Jackson Five’s freaky show. Because Michael was a freak. The good kind, I mean, before the bad kind. He could belt out a song or croon a ballad with the emotional intensity of an adult, the range of an opera singer, and the pure joy in life that a little boy knows. And at Motown, they knew what to do with it.

They don’t always know what to do with these gifts, you know, neither the gift’s holders or the holder’s discoverers. Ever hear Sam Cooke sing? He might be the greatest singer, of any kind, ever, and if you don’t believe me, get the soundtrack from ” The Ladykillers” and listen to him sing gospel, before he was “discovered” by Holywood. He was transcendently talented and gifted, well before two strange Knights of Columbus looking guys that had no idea what to do with his gifts signed him to a six lifetime contract, and put some syrupy strings and a bunch of people who sounded like the Ray Conniff Singers behind him. And still Sam managed to sound sublime singing pop songs like You Send Me over the noise, but just. He should have stayed in church, and he probably would have sung like that ’til this very day; instead of ending up with an underage girl for an unwilling companion, drugged up, dead and pantsless in a cheap Motel from gunshot wounds and baseball bat contusions. Which is even worse than what they did to him on those records, but just barely. Which cautions us to keep in mind Michael Jackson didn’t invent depravity either.

Where was I? Oh yes, the record. Put the needle on the vinyl, with a stack of pennies on the stylus so the dancing doesn’t make the record skip, and let it rip. What’s that? When? Oh, I see. OK, put it in the CD player.

I Want You Back. Glissando down to one bass note, courtesy of THE bass player, James Jamerson, the only genius ever in popular music. And then, it erupts a little more, then it it starts with a jerk like a motorcycle, and then hops around like a bunny, then down some steps, up a few like dancing on a staircase with Bojangles Robinson, and then the guitar, drums and every manjack in the studio joins in and the assorted Jacksons sing a nonsense riff. And then Michael chimes in, warming up like a jet on a runway, talking about schoolyard jealously, the words a trifle, not bothering to rhyme. And after the perfunctory verse, he lets it rip. He goes up to the ceiling and belts Oh! to kick off the refrain, and you realize, when you hear it in hindsight, that he couldn’t hit that note now if his life depended on it, and hasn’t even tried to for thirty years. All those breathless sounding oohs and ahs and squeals and, pardon me for using the word, breathy ejaculations he’s been using instead of singing, are the shadow of what he could do when he was just a little boy, which was sing! And here it’s just effortless, and fun, with the exclamation point at the beginning of the phrase, just to show the joy that’s in it.

There’s lots more of that ebullient and joyous singing on the compilation. Skip on down to Never Can Say Goodbye. The bass percolates all over, never really repeating itself, never really straying far either, and carrying the simple ballad on its back. And Michael swoops and soars, declaiming the lyrics perfectly, and always completely in control of the the song, and his singing. And there are those moments in the song, where you think he’ll chicken out, and drop into another register, or bail out from a note he held too long for another singer, or break the reins and run all over the place, like a bad singer singing the national anthem, but he never misses. There’s all sort of strings and flutes and aural wallpaper at the end, trying to keep up with him, but they can’t get a word in edgewise, not with that singing.

Now listen to I’ll Be There. A bevy of slatternly pop stars covered this song with melisma slime recently, and every one of their singing lessons showed through their bustiers the whole time. With Michael, there’s no heavy lifting. It’s a simple, heartfelt ballad, and his brothers sing well in the background, where they mostly belong. Michael sings it throughout with grace and verve, and knows too how to build the song, and not give away the musical store all at once. He parcels out the excitement throughout until the end, when he just launches himself into the stratosphere, and goes wherever he wants or needs to, and you know when to clap.

One of his older brothers sings counterpoint in the duet with him, bravely but insipidly, and his voice, lower and uninspired, warns us all, though we did not know it then: This is what happens, when you reach puberty. Time for plan B.

But Michael Jackson could sing. When Nixon was President.

On June 25th, 1976, Johnny Mercer Left Us Alone, With Only His Music To Fortify Us

It should be plenty, but we’re whiners.

Gather ’round me, everybody
Gather ’round me, while I preach some
Feel a sermon coming on here
The topic will be sin
And that’s what I’m agin’
If you wanna hear my story
Then settle back and just sit tight
While I start reviewing
The attitude of doing right

You got to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive
E-lim-i-nate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with mister inbetween

You got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
And have faith, or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

To illustrate my last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark,
What did they do, just when everything looked so dark?
Man, they said, we better

Ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive
E-lim-i-nate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with mister inbetween

No don’t mess with mister inbetween

You got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
And have faith, or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

You got to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive
E-lim-i-nate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with mister inbetween

No don’t mess with mister inbetween

This Is Bowling; There Are Rules

It’s a weird sort of a world we live in.

Wonderful, truly. There’s a visual diversity and ebullience available all over the place. It’s not universal, of course, but that’s the nature of true diversity, isn’t it? It’s the people that say that the culture and its artifacts are monolithic, and bad, that have no idea what a robust society produces. Stuff you don’t like, sometimes.

That’s a house in Madison, Indiana. I do believe I wouldn’t mind sitting on that porch for a good long while. The house it’s attached to is really nothing more than a little ranch house. You could say it was sprawl, and ask that it be flattened, or never built in the first place. Conversely, you could put a plaque on it and get a commission together to decide what colors it should be allowed to be painted, if anyone is to be allowed to touch it at all. It’s likely the same people would participate in both activities without noticing their left hand doesn’t know what their right hand is doing. America’s like that a lot.

It’s really very difficult to lay on dense decoration like that and do it well. It seems like a jumble to many eyes, because we’ve lost the knack. People try, timidly, to go a little way down this route, and make a mess of it. It’s only difficult because we don’t know the rules of decoration anymore, because there’s only been one rule exalted above all: No Decoration. It’s mildly counterintuitive, but I assure you that there’s nothing fussier than an absolute lack of decoration. Everything has to be flawless to pull it off, and nothing is, or stays that way very long.

We drive by the attempts to put decoration on dwellings now and I say to my wife: “Home Depot blew up,” and she knows exactly what I’m thinking without any further comment. Decoration has to be layered on, all of it in keeping with what’s already there and everything else you’re adding simultaneously.

For the most part, no one would have this on their house because they couldn’t picture expending even the effort it would take to maintain it, never mind the effort necessary to produce it in the first place. There is a great deal of contemporary American life and its institutions that answers that description, and that’s not good.

Get some wonderful and keep it. Then you’ll be qualified to make some, maybe.

Cape Cod, 1950

Before my time, of course. But maybe not.

I saw the vestigal tail of summering on Cape Cod when I was young. It wasn’t a year round home for people so much then. You got a summer rental and suffered on the clogged highways in the smothering heat to get your ration of seabreeze. The rental house and the idea behind it smelled a bit of mildew by the time I was there, but you could make it out on the receding horizon.

Later on, I used to perform at all the nightspots there in the summer. The owners were still trying to cobble together one more year of sunburned customers with too much cash and nothing to do but get a bit loaded and party. Jimmy Buffet has a sort of traveling Potemkin Village of the ideal, but it had gone grey and thick in the middle well before he latched on to it, and it hadn’t moved to God’s Great Waiting Room down south yet.

I played Happy Hour on Cape Cod before Happy Hour was made illegal here. (I’m not exaggerating; Happy Hour is illegal in Massachusetts.) The young girls would come and dance and the men would eye them warily until they all had enough tonsil polish to mix properly. We’d run sweat while we played badly and told a few bad jokes, and preside over it.

Afterwards, we used to go to an old shack called The Sandbar on the access road to the West Dennis Beach, and hear Rockwell King exhume a couple jokes and play moldy standards on the piano to people with blue hair. It was like visiting a club you were grandfathered into but never really joined, and seeing the pictures of dead club presidents on the wall in the lobby, half-remembered when alive, only half dead now that they’re gone.

No one’s born with blue hair, you know.

The Friday Slog (Again, Only On A Monday Three Years Later)

[Editor’s Note: Written three years ago in June. I guess it’s never going above 70 in June forever.]
{Author’s Note: My foot really hurts.}

Endless dreary rain.

It was more interesting when it was raging down like a monsoon. Now it’s just limitless, piddling, annoying dismal dripping.

The sky is dishwater, the ground coffee grounds under the sink. The sodden leaves weigh down the branches, and the trees slump like mourners. The birds sleep in.

The ground is sated, and more. Every little seam and pinhole in the basement weeps the water flung on the ground outside a week ago. It’s an assault, but the worst kind; a siege, slowly but inexorably finding the weakness in your subterranean parapets. The sump pump has become the central theme in my life.

There’s often a marvelous moment, late at night, when it first starts to rain. You’re warm and comfortable, it’s late or early, and the rain, gone for too long, reappears with a little sizzle on the windowsill, and then the steady drops drum on the roof, and you drowse and dream of creek, the river, the ocean.

That’s ten days ago. Now the sound of the rain is like the tramp of an occupying force, implacable, smothering, brutal and cold.

The windowboxes are aquariums. The toads drown in the window wells. the mosquitos hatch, and hatch their plots for the summer, when they will remind us of the awful rain long after it’s gone and we miss it.

The grass is as green as Cambodia. Water glints through the underbrush, reflecting the dull sky from the most unlikely places. It seems like it will never end.

And sure as age, and death, and taxes, and the turning of the earth and the rising of the sun, on the day it’s over, I’ll get a postcard from the town, announcing the water ban.

Month: June 2009

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