Packing, Moving, Part 6: Letting Go

thai meds iithai meds iii

Into the garbage they go. Off to the landfill for some future archaeologist.

They are little things I had stuck to the wall. They reminded me of a trip I took, and I thought they were interesting looking as well. I have no idea what the package says.

But I don’t need them. If I remember the trip, I remember it. If I don’t, well, that’s OK , too. There is a story in this, somewhere, but I have too much packing and loading to do. My landlady is greedy and evil, and I must get out of here as fast as I can, lest her contagion wreak its havoc on me.


Is LinkedIn Good for Anything?

I’m willing to hear from others, but from where I sit the answer is a simple, “no”.

I have 273 1st degree connections. Some of these people I actually know, but others are just strangers caught in a net thrown in the general direction of my so-called career. I did get one writing job through the site, but–as with most writing jobs since the advent of the internet–it wasn’t worth the trouble. I have found some old friends that I wasn’t able to find through facebook, and for a while I was getting a few notifications of interesting job openings.For some reason, those have stopped, and even if I click on the “jobs” link, I get the following message:

Sorry, no jobs match your current preferences.

This, in spite of the fact that my preferences say that I will work anywhere in the United States, that I will work for any size company, and that I have selected at least six industries that I will work in.

If I do a more specific search, say “veterinarian”, I get 11, 401 results. The first 3 are Medical Records Director, Nursing Assistant, and Physical Therapist.

My favorite (on the first page, because with these results I’m not going to bother going beyond that) is for Senior Management Consumer Insights for Fruit of the Loom. Well, I have been wearing underwear for more than five decades now, but I imagine with just that qualification I have a lot of competition, many of whom may change their underwear more often than I do (once a day, whether I need to or not).

My favorite part of LinkedIn is the endorsements. I have been endorsed as proficient in Social Media, as well as Research, by someone who only knows me from a short and disastrous relationship, and for Public Health by someone my son took tae kwon do from over 5 years ago.

Packing, Part IV


Luciano Pavarotti was a famous Italian tenor whose career spanned LPs, cassettes, CDs, and finally digital downloads. He became hugely famous for being huge, canceling concerts, and having over-relied on a once-brilliant reputation. He made ‘Nessun dorma’ from Turandot so famous that even Aretha Franklin got cheered for destroying it at the Emmies one year–she had to step in for Pavarotti, who had, once again, canceled.

The Case Against Bulldogs (Gross Picture Day)

I’m packing today, so I don’t have time for any deep thoughts.

But if you’re thinking of getting a bulldog (or a Cocker Spaniel, for that matter), feast your eyes on this:

An ear canal being dissected free of the surrounding tissue.
An ear canal being dissected free of the surrounding tissue.

This poor guy just had what is called a Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA), because his ears were chronically inflamed and infected. Imagine a circle around the ear canal, deepened all the way to the level of the skull.

"Actually, I do feel better."
“Actually, I do feel better.”

The Cubs Take My Money, then Waste My Day

I was talking to a couple  from Baltimore, who were among the many

who had traveled to Chicago to see their beloved Orioles play, now that they finally are leading a division late in the season, and will in all likelihood be in the playoffs for the first time in a long time. (They lost Machado yesterday, and Wieters is out, but remember that baseball is probably, of our 4 major American sports, is the one where any one single player matters the least. ) The Faithful of Baseball make their pilgrimages to Fenway and Wrigley, and they ooh and ah over the quaint charm of these places. The truth is that Wrigley is interesting and charming, but it is also a dump. So is Fenway. Going to them once or twice is fine, but once you’ve been to Camden Yards or AT&T Park, they just seem like rusting tourist traps, selling history rather than a good place to watch baseball.

Wrigley Rain
This is at 1:45 in the afternoon. I figured there was a problem when the game needed lights at that hour.

So today my son and I made what has become our annual trip down to the “Friendly Confines”. Because weather prediction is for shit in the summer in this part of the world, we decided to go even though there was a chance of rain. And it did rain. It poured. The floodgates of heaven opened up upon us, and we all made for the concourse under the grandstand.

Then we waited.

After that we waited some more.

panoramic Wrigley indoors
The inviting setting of Wrigley below the grandstand.

And after that we decided to do what most of the spectators did: We left.

And on the way out, the cheerful young woman in her bright blue Cubs polo shirt informed us,

“If you leave, you can’t come back in.”

It seems, then, that the Cubs (and MLB) have an internal monologue that runs like this:

We are not only going to make you wait as long as it is necessary for us to finish the game–and we don’t know how long that is–we are going to make you wait in our ivy -covered but extremely uncomfortable stadium where beer costs $8.00 and a hot dog is over $5.

No, you may not go out of the park to wait in reasonable comfort. We’ve got your money already, and frankly, we’re on a very tight schedule.


So according to the Powers That Be in Major League Baseball, it’s perfectly OK to make 30,000 people wait for an indefinite period of time in a ball park that has no accommodation for it. Even though attendance has dropped by nearly 700,000 over the past 6 years, MLB seems to be using the same strategy that the airline industry uses: We are going to just bluster onward, regardless of how it makes you feel about us.

Next year, we may go to a Cub game when  we visit Chicago, but we probably won’t. We’ve seen Wrigley enough, and if I want to flush $100 down the toilet, I can save the trip on CTA.

Packing, part 3: Loss of Youth, Amadeus, and Tim Curry

scooter titleNot my loss of youth, which is of no consequence. Promise. But 31 years later the title to my motor scooter shows up while I’m packing things up, and I’m thinking


“Great, the title to my scooter had my favorite president’s picture on it.” I had fun on that scooter, the best thing being cops wouldn’t ticket it on Chicago streets, or sidewalks, more likely. At least not in those days. And my girlfriend looked really funny with the helmet on. She had kind of a round face, so with the helmet,  her face and head combined to form a sphere with nose, lips and eyes. A really cute sphere. Then we broke up, and this quasi-Amazonian blonde would ride on the back but we were just friends. That was fun, too.

But as I said, it is of no consequence.




So, not thinking about that.

This is what I am thinking about. This play was my introduction to Sir Ian McKellen, though he wasn’t a Sir then. Now he is an elder statesman of sorts, but back then he was just a great (fairly) young actor. I wonder what he would have said if future Ian came to him and said: “You will become most well-known for playing the comic book character, Magneto.”


Tim Curry was in the production, but I already knew him from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I thought he would become the great actor of our generation. This was April 1981. I was wrong,  of course. Raiders of the Lost Ark came out that year, too, but voice for voice, Ford can’t hold a candle to Curry. (Or sing “Sloe Gin.” Or rock lingerie and high heels.)







McKellen as Salieri
McKellen as Salieri
Yeah, that is Jane Seymour next to Curry, playing the role of his wife. This was before she started making jewelry that looked butts.
Yeah, that is Jane Seymour next to Curry, playing the role of his wife. This was before she started making jewelry that loks like butts.


I have searched high and low for a video of this performance. The screenplay was very different from the script for stage. If anyone knows of one, lemme know.

In the meantime, anyone want a playbill? I can’t keep carrying this stuff around with me.




Packing, Part 2, or what Israel was like in 1975

This is not what I want to be doing. I want to be outside enjoying the day, instead of deciding which of my belongings I truly need and which need to be consigned to the trash heap, the thrift shop,  the public library (do we need them anymore?), left anonymously at Starbucks or a lunch counter…

Here is a book called Facts about Israel, published by the Division of Information, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I’m thinking sometime about 1975.

facts about israel

There are 34,393 sqm within the cease-fire lines from the Six-Day War.

The distance from Jerusalem to Haifa is 94 miles, to Tel Aviv a mere 38.

Modern Israel has never known permanent boundaries.

Jordan annexed the West Bank in 1950. (I don’t know when/if they released the claim).

Ha’Aretz , the oldest Hebrew language newspaper, was founded in 1917. The Jerusalem Post, the oldest English language daily, in 1932.

The Israel Communist Party had one seat in the Knesset at the time of publication.

Men were in the Reserves until age 55.

The book refers to the geographical place as “the Land,” a direct translation of the Hebrew “Ha’Aretz.”

So, this isn’t about packing things up. It’s about What I Will  do With Facts about Israel from 1975. To me it is a fascinating snapshot of a moment in time, that time when Jews traveled to the Sinai and the West Bank in tour groups (someone carrying a gun), but basically without fear. There were no big hotels in Sinai. Tourists slept on top of their sleeping bags under the desert sky. There were some grass shacks, but there wasn’t any plumbing. Israelis didn’t build anything, they knew they were leaving someday. They probably had no idea it would be so soon. I think that  Camp David took us all by surprise.

And then there is now. Most everyone hates us for being Jewish and Zionist, but we’re sort of used to it. Conservative (i.e. Republican Jews, shudder) have no problem. They can hate the liberal world for everything, from political policy to its anti-Israel zeal. For liberals like myself, we find ourselves at odds with the Left we are normally sympathetic to. We are not going to give in to anti-Semitic (because that’s what it is) propaganda just because we think that all Americans should have health insurance and that American defense spending should be lower and the death penalty is a travesty and that we need to spend more on infrastructure . Ain’t gonna happen.

Like I said, shouldn’t I be outside, enjoying the ridiculously short New England summer?facts israel3


What Things Are Worth: Books

From the cover of the New Yorker
From the cover of the New Yorker


I was misled. I was taken by hand down the primrose path, and dumped at the end of it with piles of pages and boxes of books, volume upon volume and tome upon tome: so many  that I can no longer carry them without causing a debilitating flare-up of my sciatica, which, alas, renders me useless for just about every activity, except reading.

Books are the buggy whips of our age. But worse. You only need one buggy whip: books act in synergy to make sequels, trilogies, collections, and ultimately libraries.

But nobody wants them anymore. The pleasures of reading are experienced ever less.

So what am I supposed to do with all of these books I’ve collected, from stories that I’ve liked to the so-called canon of  “Great Books” that are supposed to be on Everyman’s shelf?

I have to fucking move. Why? Because I didn’t have it in writing. I trusted my stupid idiot landlord, which makes me the stupid idiot. She goes and gets knocked up by someone who isn’t even her boyfriend and decides that she needs her house back. I told her: I need to stay until my daughter finishes grade school. But she’s pregnant now, and it’s probably the first time anyone in MA has been pregnant for at least 10 years, so such a momentous occasion trumps everything else. What, she can afford this place now that she can shake someone down for child support? Whatever.

And I have all of these books to move. Here’s a copy of EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization &Reprocessing,  purporting to be  “The Breakthrough “Eye Movement” Therapy for Overcoming Anxiety , Stress, and Trauma.” (I actually tried this therapy once. Years ago. Went to a guy in Newton who got paid to move his finger back and forth like a metronome. Then I found out that he wrote “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Reincarnation.” It ranks #1,484,901 on all Amazon book sales, but it just barely makes it into the top 100 (it is #100) in New Age Books on the site. By comparison, Eric Kraft’s Inflating a Dog: The Story of Ella’s Lunch Launch,  a great and inventive read, ranks #3,731,034.) So let’s see. I save the lives of dogs, and this guy writes books on reincarnation and teaches people to watch metronomes. He lives in Newton, and I can’t even afford to live in Framingham anymore. Hmmmm.

So here’s the question: why on G-d’s green earth would anyone spend his time writing? Certainly not to be read, because it ain’t going to happen. Too busy tuning into Netflix, hoping to find the one good movie that has been rotated in as enticement to keep us from canceling our worthless subscription.Ya certainly don’t write for money. The internet put even more unnecessary words out there, and the jobs that once paid $1500 per article dropped to $150. Not worth the time. Intellectual burger flipping.

Collect books to pass them on? My children, alas, show no great interest in reading. The hours I spent with my head buried in discovery don’t seem so appealing to them. Did I waste all that time reading? Does it make any difference now? Was all the money spent on books better spent on tomato seeds (heirloom, naturally), travel, and automobiles ?

Oh, I am disillusioned. But I  am not bitter. Promise.  I am sitting here on the piles of books, needing to say good-bye but unable to do so. They won’t even go to a good home. They will be sent to the recycling plant and turned into cereal boxes and grocery bags, and maybe even toilet paper. The words that once made the author so proud will be brought low, made to wipe someone’s ass.

I came across Yukio Mishima’s The Sea of Fertility tetraology today. He killed himself–well, not just killed himself, but committed seppuku–when it was finished. It was his final effort, his statement to the world.

For those of you interested, it starts out like this:

When conversation at school turned to the Russo-Japanese War, Kiyoaki Matsugae asked his closest friend, Shigekuni Honda, how much he could remember about it. Shigekuni’s memories were vague–he just barely recalled having been taken once to the front gate to watch a torchlight procession. The year the war ended they had both been eleven, and it seemed to Kiyoaki that they should be able to remember it a little more accurately. Their classmates who talked so knowingly about the war were for the most part merely embellishing hazy memories with tidbits they had picked up from grown-ups.

Two members of the Matsugae family, Kiyoaki’s uncles, had been killed. His grandmother still received a pension from the government, thanks to these two sons she had lost , but she never used the money; she left the envelopes unopened on the ledge of the household shrine. Perhaps that was why the photograph which impressed Kiyoaki most out of the entire collection of was photographs in the house was one entitled “Vicinity of Tokuri Temple: Memorial Services for the War Dead” and dated June 26, 1904, the thirty-seventh year of the Meiji era. This photograph, printed in sepia ink, was quite unlike the usual cluttered mementos of the war. It had been composed with an artist’s eye for structure: it really made it seem as if the thousands of soldiers who were present were arranged deliberately , like figures in a painting, to focus the entire attention of the viewer on the tall cenotaph of unpainted wood in their midst.mishima and EMDR

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