Sunday, January 24, 2021

Dreamin' by the Tracks

 Dreamin' by the Tracks




 Gerard VanderLeun at American Digest put up a post on the rock classic, "California Dreaming" by The Mama's and Pappas. This song is on the top ten in my earworm archive of 8-track tunes. I can hear every note without a radio. Like a fat line of nostalgia it clouds up my head, and pulls me back to high school.
And right now the California sky is, indeed, rainy, cold, and gray, and the leaves are appropriately brown as is everyone’s overall mood here in the Southland. So, just like in the song, I went for a walk.
The streets are too empty. No one’s out at all. I don’t even have to look both ways before crossing.
Down at the tracks on the corner at First avenue, I can see the boarded up remains of my favorite pizza joint. Last year they went out of business, and then caught fire.
The railroad easement isn’t too muddy to walk just yet, (note: old photo) but I don’t go down there now, because of the homeless camp at the little trestle. This part of the easement is a broad wedge of naked dirt, chunks of concrete, brown, dry tumbleweeds, and hard, sharp stone. The north side is lined with the cinder block walls separating the back yards from the weeds and trash.
And I see something new in the world spray painted  on that block wall. You learn a little about graffiti over the years. I can tell the difference between a tagging crew, a gang, a “graffiti artist”, and some clown with a spray can. The text was not artfully drawn. It was done quickly
in blood red paint. Thick, blocky, uneven letters read, “WAKE UP AMERICA!”
But the signature came from practiced tagger. I’m guessing the kid is either based, or on the way.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Riding in the Storm




Saturday was our monthly bike club. No one came out to ride with us, and one of our guys was a no show. But we rode. Despite lockdowns, mandates, or whatever, we ride. The Vietnamese, God bless them, were rallying for Trump again at the Huntington Beach pier. They’ve been there every weekend since October. They know what it’s like to lose a country.

Sunday was quiet, sad, and empty. Deep haze and clouds buried the winter sun. I took my stretch cruiser, the show bike, out early, put on my club shirt, and took a slow morning cruise. The streets were all but deserted. The few people out were slouching along with their muzzled faces shoved into cell phones, ears jammed shut with blue-tooth plugs.

Luckily, there was no one at the park, so I sat at my favorite spot, and knocked back a couple of bowls. But that served only to deepen an overall sense of gloom. So I saddled up, and just wandered, turning here or there with no thought of getting anyplace.

I cruised down Whittier Boulevard, passed the Whittwood shopping center, and slid down the side streets into the neighborhood.

I passed St. Bruno’s Catholic Church. The haze rolled in deeper, and the silver morning light grew dull.

The sun rays turned the pewter sky into the iris of an immense leaden eye with a bone white pupil staring down the world.

I rolled around the corner, and stopped, just to look at the sky. Across the street, I could see St. Bruno’s holding outdoor mass in the lunch area of the parish schoolyard. Recorded music started as the congregants lined up in their face masks to receive communion. Each received the host in his cupped hands, turned from the altar to face the street where I sat on the cruiser. Each took several steps to ensure a safe social distance, and lifted a corner of the muzzle to slide the host into the mouth, and onto the tongue.

There was something furtive and broken in the gesture. The whole scene became surreal, almost frightening. I was standing inside a tarot card. That moment could have been painted by Breughel, or Bosch.

I rolled on home and put the bike up. Buddy the Cat was in the yard, snoozing on the table in the gazebo. The haze was breaking up and the ol’ guy was enjoying the thin warmth of the January sun. I re-heated some stale coffee, sat down, and joined him.