Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Little Things

Do they mean a lot? Of course they do, sometimes. Then there are other times where they mean absolutely nothing, except to bored minds such as mine.

--Our parking lot at work is wide open. There a couple of reserved spots, but those are not relevant to this little nugget. Still, despite there being virtually no reserved or assigned spots, people tend to park in the same place everyday. That's to be expected, I think. However, one of my coworkers sometimes carpools with another woman whom apparently lives near her. I noticed this morning though that when she drives with her carpool buddy, she parks where the buddy normally parks. When she drives solo, she reverts to her normal spot. Neither spot offers any obvious advantage of shade or proximity to the door. I brought it up to her and she had no explanation or reasoning for this behavior. How does this extend or translate into other areas of her life, I wonder?

--While visiting the kitchen-ish area to wash my morning mug, I noticed the receptionist washing an orange. It occurred to me that I had never heard of a person washing an orange before. Obviously, the orange has a thick protective peel so I've considered there to be a need for washing. Am I alone on this? Has everyone else been washing their oranges outside the net of my awareness?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Sounds of Summer, Part Deux

Yes, I'm talking about one of the greatest voices in the history of popular music, Mr. Sam Cooke. Is it fair to dub a collection of music approximately 50 years old as The Album of the Summer? Sure, why not. I never said it had to be something new.

I picked up "Sam Cooke: Portrait of a Legend" while at Best Buy to replace my alarm clock and I have since been convinced that that alarm going bad was an alarm going off! It was telling me that the time for Sam Cooke had come! There's thirty songs in this collection with such hits as "Cupid," "(What A) Wonderful World," and "Another Saturday Night,"and others you've never heard before that are every bit as beautiful. You can't not sing along to this music. This is spirit-lifting, soul-jump-starting stuff. It's ice cream cone from Thrifty's music. It's making out at the drive-in music*. This is bike-riding music. It's Sam Freakin' Cooke!

Do yourself a favor and go buy this album, post haste. If you are actually thinking about it, hell, I'll send you a copy. Just get these songs into your ears.

*Can I tell you how proud I am to be a part of the last generation to make out at the drive-in? I weep for these kids that know nothing but multiplex.

Monday, May 02, 2011


I was reminiscing recently about the summers of my early teenage years, the carefree days when having nothing to do was naively construed as a bad thing. There was no real point to it, I was just recalling how long the days seemed and how I used to ride my bike over to Cruiser's every day with my swim trunks and basketball shoes, K-Earth's (oldies) top 500 songs of all-time playing on my Walkman. Walking to the liquor store for strawberry sparkle bars and Arizona iced tea was a common excursion. On an adventurous day we'd even catch the bus down to the beach. Our nightlife consisted of bonfires at Huntington Beach (first pit closest to Jack in the Box--uh huh, right), going to the movies, toilet papering (only our enemies), and going to the Mormon dances with Adam. While these days I love to cut rugs at all speeds, back then the faster songs were a formality, a period to scout our next slow dance target. Plans were never made farther than a day or two in advance because they didn't need to be. We just coasted and drifted, song to song, hour to hour, day to day. It was a great time.

Anyway, it was fun to really focus on those days, recalling specific memories I hadn't thought about in several years. I know I still had it on the brain when I was having lunch with Cruiser Friday, telling him he needed to have a BBQ/pool party. The saying says you can't go home again, and that may be true in many ways, but time is also relative and if you're truly open to it, it's really not that difficult to go back in time. Sometimes it happens without any effort at all, the smells of a certain perfume and a certain leather aligning in just the right way that I can instantly be transported back to the pale green seats of my late grandmother's Oldsmobile.

Where was I going with this...

The weekend, that's right. What a beautiful weekend. I felt like I was on vacation. I love to get out of town as much as the next person, of course, but as I've previously discussed when referencing the book "The Art of Travel," it's wonderful sometimes to realize that travel is a state of mind and that if you put your heart into it, you can have an incredible vacation without really going anywhere. The Staycation, as it's more cleverly dubbed. As I breezed into work this morning, sockless and relaxed, I realized I'd just had such a weekend. There were even moments when I could have sworn I was thirteen and carefree again, to make the hippy passage above not without at least a passing segue.

The music began Friday night. It was night number two of the LA Bluegrass Situation at Largo, a weekend festival of sorts with four nights of music benefiting music programs in local schools, and The Punch Brothers were playing. They killed as they tend to do. My favorite was a seemingly very personal new song titled "Don't Get Married Without Me." New songs mean new albums. This is a good thing.

Saturday morning we slept in. I cannot overstate the joy of this simple accomplishment. It was a nice lazy morning of reading the paper and having coffee. Only when we were absolutely rested and ready did we hop in the car and head down to Manhattan Beach where Nicole shopped briefly and I people-watched. It was an astoundingly gorgeous day of blue skies and 80 degrees. Had we stayed longer than twenty minutes, I might have treated myself to an ice cream cone from the old-fashioned creamery, but we were off to the beach.

Driving home along the beach every night, I had been telling myself I needed to make it a destination instead of a route of passage, for sanity's sake if nothing else. Finally, I was doing it, the sand in the toes, the warmth of the sun, the crisp hush of the waves, the whole bit. I had my ipod, my book, my chair, and my bride. I was lovin' life, my friends.

Alright, I don't want to belabor this or bore you any further with the blow by blow. There was a BBQ with friends and family, there were two more nights of bluegrass and comedy, there was a big fancy anniversary dinner, there was Stan Getz on the stereo all weekend long. The point is that it was relaxing and invigorating at once, as any good vacation should be.

I guess I do have to explain the time travel though, don't I? Okay, so I had about an hour and a half to kill before we left for dinner yesterday. I knew my neighbor was out in his garage messing with his bikes so I seized the opportunity to get my tires inflated and I--get this--rode my bike(!). What a novel concept, I know. Still, it was great. On my beach cruiser, touring the neighborhood in style. The intoxicating scent of a charcoal grill, the guy out washing his VW Beattle in the driveway, the big yellow lab laying across the threshold in the open doorway, the white roses in full, wild bloom, the warm, golden 5 o'clock sunlight peeking and shimmering through the cracks in the canopy of leaves overhead, the quiet peace of a summer afternoon. Such a simple, easy thing to ride my bike around my neighborhood and yet I had never thought to do it. I could swear I was thirteen again, weightless, free, and just generally in love. I realize it's hardly a stretch to say I could have been back in Long Beach since the two 'hoods look similar and it's only 30 miles away regardless, but I could have been back in Long Beach circa 1992. If I could have just closed my eyes, I think I would have been there, but my bike riding balance did not permit it. Close enough.

Anyway, that's it. I realize this post is all over the map, but, hey, this is a blog, not a magazine. Forgive me.