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Showing posts from December, 2012

STEALING FROM CHURCHILL

It's snowing today in Denver. The high temperature will be in the twenties. The wind is blowing hard, and it cuts through your clothes and shakes your bones- as I just discovered while walking my dog Padfoot. Most of the state has either a winter storm warning, or a blizzard warning. By most standards, it's pretty miserable outside. And yet,  I love it. Hamlet may have found providence in the fall of a sparrow, but I find it in a snow flake. Whenever the gods send the white stuff, as it starts to slowly drop down, I take it as a supernatural sign, a medicine for melancholy sent by Raven and Loki and all who have gone before me. I am not alone in this belief. Countless movies use snow as the signal that all is right in the world; as do songs. Look at the end of "It's a Wonderful Life". George Bailey is on the bridge where earlier that very night he was contemplating suicide. Now, he desperately wants to live, regardless of what happens. He pleads, "Please God…

MEMORY GAPS, THE S.O.K.F., AND A STORY

I have a few gaps in my memory- moments that have been sucked into the great Black Hole of the Universe, never to be seen again by waking eyes. One of those gaps is when I got a concussion in the third grade. Or was it the second grade? It was the result of a pretty bad bike accident. Or so I'm told. I don't remember any of it. I remember clearly right before it happened. My brother and I were riding our bikes around the block as part of the initiation for our club, the S.O.K.F., which stood for Save Our Kids Future. To get in the club, we had made up a bunch of things you had to do- initiations, if you will. The initiations all had something to do with dealing with adults, dealing with their quirks and strangeness and what seemed to be a mass case of crazy. To be in the S.O.K.F.,  you had to walk through a room full of adults unseen; go to the store, shoplift a candy bar, bring it home and show everyone, then go back to the store and put it back; climb on to the roof of Straw…

THE DEMON BARBER OF STRAWBERRY PARK

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I had long hair when I was a kid. This was the 1970s, and long hair was cool. Hippies, the Grateful Dead, the musical Hair- these had all paved the way for young men to have long hair. And I lived in San Jose, California- part of the liberal, cutting edge, new age love fest that is known as the Bay Area. Not that I was in the middle of Haight-Ashbury, walking around quoting Timothy Leary to my fellow fourth graders. Life was fairly subdued in my neighborhood of Strawberry Park. Still, I loved my long hair. It was brown, and turned sort of blonde in the sun, and groovy. Often, I'd run as fast as I could down our suburban streets just to feel my hair fly behind me. My hair was my joy, and belonged solely to me. My enemy was the barber, and I visited him as little as possible.

One Sunday morning in February, 1976, my mother announced it was time for us to get hair-cuts, handed my older brother Jerry some cash, and sent us off to the dreaded Strawberry Park Barbershop. If barbers were…