Once Upon a Time, Long Before You and Me

Listen to Jim:

http://redclaydiary.com/mp3/onceuponatimelongbeforeyouandme.mp3

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Saturday, October 12, 2013 A.D.

Once upon a time, long before you and me, my mother was born.

Yesterday would have been her 100th birthday.

“WOULD have been her 100th birthday” doesn’t sound exactly right. Actually, it WAS her 100th birthday, she just couldn’t be here to celebrate in person. Or rather, I couldn’t be where she is to celebrate. There are cosmic barriers to such things, you know.

Tomorrow, I will travel to Cuba, Alabama, to visit my mother’s baby sister, Aunt Margaret McGee Hardin. The occasion, husband Uncle Lamar’s 90th birthday, is as good an excuse as any…an excuse to enter the heart of the heart of the Alabama countryside and check up on the Theory of Relativity—that theory being, “In the long run, after all is lived and almost done, it’s Family that matters most, in both memory and reality.” No use trying to escape this theory, because olde times from childhood will not be forgotten, will continue to make themselves  known, will persistently rise up and remind you of your evolution from child of the womb to child of the universe to child of the unknown After Here.

On the way to Aunt Margaret’s home, Liz and I will pick up sister Barbara Reed Partrich at our mother’s home on Old Eastwood Avenue in Tuscaloosa. Barbara has traveled from Columbia, South Carolina, to attend Uncle Lamar’s party.

On the way back from Cuba, maybe the three of us will visit Mom’s burial site to wish her a happy birthday, and stand at the nearby graves of our father and sister Rosi.

We will chat and laugh and reminisce and wipe away an occasional tear, and the lively conversation will include all six of us, since we know in our hearts exactly what Rosi and Mom and Dad would say if we could only hear them.

It will be a nice visit.

And maybe—just maybe—once upon a time in the near future, someone Liz and Barbara and I have left behind will do the same with us, be we coffin-bound or ash-scattered. We’ll be Somewhere Else, but the reunion will be fun anyhow.

At least, maybe the remaining celebrants will get a chuckle out of my epitaph, which will read, NOT EXACTLY WHAT I HAD IN MIND

 

© 2013 A.D. by Jim Reed

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Under the dome of Birmingham: Stalking the elusive mom and pop breakfast places

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http://redclaydiary.com/mp3/underthebirminghamdome.mp3

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The man of a certain age sits alone in the diner, his girth mastering most of the booth space.

He eats his breakfast as if he’s never eaten before, smacking and stuffing and sopping and glugging, like he’s not had a meal for days, though it’s evident that he’s been frequently well-fed and well-groomed. He leans into the food and stuffs away, his blow-dried sprayed whitening hair and monogrammed track pullover shirt quivering in the morning fluorescent light.

He is his own world for a few minutes in the crowded eatery.

Across the room, a mustachioed baseball-capped good ol’ boy with hand in napkinned lap eats mannerly and methodically, gazing all the while into the indiscernable space before him, ignoring the blaring TV set hanging from the ceiling.

Worldly waitresses, ears slanted from cached pencils, skillfully walk the tightrope assigned to their lot—the tightrope walk between appearing simultaneously aloof and chummy, careful to balance the roles of Mom and Flirt and Nurturer and Businesswoman while keeping all these morning shovelers of food happy and distant.

Four elderly men at Table 4 grunt and chat and laugh and tease as they relate oft-repeated stories about how the world is going to hell and how the young people these days…

They are having the best time they’ll have all day, for a smattering of minutes avoiding all responsibility and duty and honey-do tasks which will face them down later in the morning, no matter what.

One four-year-old sits with his grandmother and diligently stabs into waffles and syrup and butter with zeal usually assigned to a nervous dog digging for its favorite bone. In just a few years, he, too, will be trying to find the perfect breakfast place that replicates this perfect childhood experience he’s having right now.

He, like all of us in the diner, is imprinted with the combination of taste, texture, fragrance, feel of what it’s like to be in a safe, familiar, non-threatening place, being cared for by kindly strangers whose only goal is to feed you well and stay out of your way while you soak up all that nurturing atmosphere, the nurturing atmosphere you take with you to start the day right, even if later on, some grumbly non-breakfasted bastard wonders why you’re in a better mood than he is, and tries to take it all away from you

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I’ll never forget the day I read a book

Listen to Jim:

http://redclaydiary.com/mp3/illneverforgetthedayireadabook.mp3

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So…what is the first book you ever read?

What is the first book I ever read?

Allow me to crank up the Time Machine and get back to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when books slowly insinuated themselves into my life.

First thing I do is SEE a book. It’s over there, just within reach of my chubby little uncoordinated fingers. I can roll just a quarter-roll in my crib—that’s all it takes to see this unfocused blur of colors and shapes on the cover. All I know how to do is experience the book, not knowing that it can be read and manipulated. So, I do what I know how to do: lick the cover and gnaw at the corners. It tastes different than those mashed-up things they are feeding me. It would be even tastier if I could bite off a piece and swallow it, but that comes later.

So, first I SEE a book. Then I TASTE it. Then I masticate a bit. Then, I lose concentration and fixate on a wiggly toy that is hanging above me. I’ll get back to the book later.

Next thing I know, I’m snuggled up to my mother’s chest, experiencing the words she is reading to me as they vibrate the side of my face. I can HEAR her voice with one ear. I can FEEL her voice with the other. And then I note that she is gently turning the pages, causing the colorful shapes and strange markings to shift each time. I can hear her inflections of warmth, suspense, happiness, as the pages drift by.

Before I know it, I’m sitting up in my own wobbly fashion and turning the pages—not necessarily one at a time, not necessarily in any order. But I am doing the book the way I know how to do it. And, now and then, I even taste it again. I’ve been known to rub a crayon onto the paper to add color and design.

Time flies and now I’m reciting a book to my mother and sister, pretending that I’m reading it as the pages pass, but actually I still don’t know how to read, I’m just feeding back what I’ve heard them read aloud so many times. They play along with the ruse.

Now, at last, I am picking out a word or two in preparation for enrolling in the first grade. I’m excited about the prospect of actually making my way through the words with some degree of understanding. And, amazingly, after a while I start to read big-lettered words on my own.

What is the first book I can read without assistance? Hard to tell, since the books at school are not the same books we have at home. I’m reading some in both places. But in class, I get to read a Dick and Jane and Sally story all the way through! When I become an author many years later, I am jealous of those who wrote this reader. Wouldn’t you like to be the writer whose works can be recited by heart by millions of school kids? “See Dick run. Run, Dick, run!”

In middle age, I discover the song that comedian Jimmy Durante co-wrote and performed with gusto:

 There’s one day that I recall, though it was years ago.

All my life I will remember it, I know.

I’ll never forget the day a read a book.

It was contagious, seventy pages.

There were pictures here and there,

So it wasn’t hard to bear,

The day I read a book.

It’s a shame I don’t recall the name of the book.

It wasn’t a history. I know because it had no plot.

It wasn’t a mystery, because nobody there got shot.

The day I read a book? I can’t remember when,

But one o’ these days, I’m gonna do it again.

(Listen to Jimmy sing it, at the end of this column.)

Just yesterday, a pleasant family enters the shop, looking around and remarking upon the variety of things to read. One young girl is just tagging along, so naturally she’s the one I try to engage in conversation: “What do you like to read?” I ask, hoping to introduce some titles to her. She performs a sly smile and doesn’t answer because, like so many other children I meet these days, she knows her avid parents will answer for her. “Oh, she doesn’t read,” her father says. I know what he’s saying, but I play dumb just to see what kind of response I’ll get: “You mean she doesn’t know how to read?” I ask sympathetically. She grins even more deeply, waiting for her parent’s punchline. “No she just doesn’t like to read.”

I get it now. This lass has found a way to rebel against her parents, assert her own identity, appear cool to other kids. Normally, I get to talk up a book enough to inspire someone like her to try it, but I know there’s no way this can happen when hovering but well-meaning parents are there to puppet-master her conversation.

So, I say what I always say whenever the situation calls for it: “Oh, too bad. Mark Twain once said that a person who does not read has no advantage over one who can’t read.”

This is aimed at no-one in particular. The girl gets the joke but continues to play dumb. The parents remain perplexed.

What will no doubt happen—I’ve see it often—is she will discover a spicy novel proffered by a friend and, in secret, read it voraciously, becoming hooked on reading despite herself. She will, in the tradition of all kids, hide this novel and this fact from her parents as long as she possibly can.

The cycle goes on.

And maybe one day she’ll hear an old Jimmy Durante song and get excited all over again

Here’s Jimmy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLOR8gKwyoo 

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Singing in the bathtub with Billy Eckstine and John Lee Hooker

Listen to Jim:

http://redclaydiary.com/mp3/thewannabebillyeckstine.mp3

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The Wanna-Be Billy Eckstine Bass-Baritone Life Plan Caper

I’m a barely-teenage superstar belting out my acapella rendition of “That Old Black Magic” in the privacy of the family bathtub, and my audience of none thinks it’s the best thing ever heard on planet earth.

That old black magic has me in its spell.

That old black magic that you weave so well.

Those icy fingers up and down my spine.

The same old witch-craft when your eyes meet mine.

The same old tingle that I feel inside

And then that elevator starts its ride *

The bathtub is private tonight because I have the house to myself for a while—a rarity because two parents and five kids usually live here.

This is back in the early 1950′s in Tuscaloosa, when pre-rock ‘n’ roll singers who make it to the top of their profession know how to enunciate and carry a tune and actually SELL lyrics to the listener. Once you hear the most dynamic of these performers, you are hooked for life.

Anyhow, I’m singing away in the bathtub, hoping against all hope that someday I’ll have a great voice that can belt out “That Old Black Magic” to beat the band, a voice that will make me the most popular kid on the block.

Among the best of the best of all pop singers is Billy Eckstine, whose powerful bass-baritone voice and sense of jazz-disciplined improvisation make him an icon alongside the great male vocalists of the day—Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Nat “King” Cole, Mel Torme, Bobby Troup, Tony Bennett, Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby, Big Joe Williams, Harry Belafonte, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr., Steve Lawrence, John Lee Hooker, Fred Astaire. These guys are wonderful storytellers and back in these times they all get to be heard on local radio stations. This is long before music appreciation becomes segmented and self-limiting, long before a true Sinatra fan isn’t allowed to appreciate Hooker, long before it is unfashionable to pair Lawrence with Williams, or Satchmo with Mario Lanza.

In my family household, a great singer is a great singer, regardless of genre or age or race or style…so we listen to Hank Williams and George Beverly Shea and Dean Martin and Leonard Warren and Homer and Jethro equally, because we know each has a talent that must be embraced and appreciated.

That’s why I’m anxious to be home alone now and then so I can bellow out songs that bounce off the tiles and echo my temporarily enriched tones. Today, I’m emulating Billy Eckstine, whose incredible range and clarity make me feel I could make any woman within the sound of my voice swoon.

Funny thing about my particular generation is that we not only love our own music, but we love our parents’ and grandparents’ music as well. Our recordings span half a century—waltzes and bebop and scat and honky tonk and opera and polka and Cajun and country and gospel and schmaltz and jazz and blues and satire all combine according to the mood of the moment.

Later, when I become a disc jockey, I get to play all these forms of music, perhaps the last time any disc jockey is accorded this honor. As soon as the mid-1960′s approach, radio stations begin segmenting, specializing, becoming frozen in playlists. But for a while, I get to ply my trade in several worlds:

At a public radio station, I play classical and opera and ballet, along with show tunes, jazz, folk and international sounds from various exotic cultures. At commercial radio stations, I play “mood” music, rock ‘n’ roll, pop, comedy tunes, country gospel, ol’ time religion, barber shop quartets, upper-crust sacred works—you name it, I am exposed to it. Plus, I get to expose my audience to this wondrous variety of talent.

Nowadays, in the nervous present, I find it difficult to explain my taste in music. Hip hop fans know nothing about bluegrass, punk rockers don’t know who Howlin’ Wolf is, opera enthusiasts look at me funny when I mention that John Denver made recordings with Pavarotti. And heaven forfend if I suggest that Dennis Day also sang with Spike Jones.

So, the evergreen memory I hold close is one of pretending that I, like Billy Eckstine and his generation, might actually, for a coupla seconds at a time, sound great.

This love of understandable lyrics carries me into the future and influences what I later do for pleasure. After all that practice emulating male superstar singers and male superstar actors (Richard Burton, Orson Welles, Laurence Olivier, Dick Martin), I grow up knowing how to make clear what I am saying, how to express the meaning behind the words. It serves me in good stead when, now and again, I get to perform in public, teach, act, communicate the love of great books. I have Billy Eckstine and all his buddies to blame.

So, many moons after the Tuscaloosa bathtub performance days, I still sing at the top of my lungs in the shower—but only when no-one is around. After all, the worst thing anyone could tell me is that I may sound more like Don Knotts than Eckstine.

Darling down and down I go,

‘Round and ’round I go,

In a spin, loving the spin I’m in

Under that old black magic called love! *

Denial of unpleasant truths is something I’ve honed to a fine art. It keeps me going forward, keeps me from facing unwanted realities, keeps me performing for my admiring shower stall audience of none

© 2013 A.D. by Jim Reed

( Listen to the man himself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SATmftj-Qbc )

(The above lyrics are verbatim from the original sheet music by Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen. Lyrics found elsewhere on the internet are inaccurate–and mostly transcribed phonetically.)

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Born Beneath the Paper Mill Mist, Living Under the Truing Iron Man

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“Wah-CHOO!”

Early memories of my father always include the sounds of his four-second morning sneeze fit.

“Wah-CHOO!” again, and then it was all over.

Who knows where my father’s sneezes came from—there are suspects all around, but like all environmental irritants, it takes generations for subversive researchers to dig out the truth.

Could it be lung remnants of unregulated coal dust he breathed, working in the  1920′s coal mines of West Alabama? Could it be the rotten-egg-smelling mist that lay heavy on the morning air of Tuscaloosa back then, generated by the Paper Mill that dominated the town? Could it be some sort of undiagnosed allergy that today might be muted or mutated through mysterious prescriptions?

Maybe it was just hereditary, since I now have his same sneezes.

By moving from coal-mining country and paper mill stench in Tuscaloosa to densely-particulated air in Birmingham, back in 1969, did I manage to ameliorate my throat-clearing sneezing habits of old? Nope. Still do it, still don’t know the real cause, still muddle on through.

As I make these notes that you are now reading, I can see Vulcan the Iron Man through the window, a 55-foot-tall cast-iron statue of the Roman god of fire and armor—an unlikely overseer of Birmingham. He looks out over a vast valley where the particuates settle and are inhaled each day.

If you ever get to visit Alabama, don’t miss Vulcan. He’s what we have to show off—the world’s largest cast-iron statue. St. Louis has The Arch, Paris has The Tower, we have Vulcan.

Anyhow, one of the things I like about this enormous hulk is that, while macho and tough and stocky of build, he has a finer, more gentle side. For one thing, he is holding aloft a metal spear he is fabricating, gazing up the shaft to see if it’s straight and true, obviously taking great pride in his work above the hot anvil at his feet. The other nice thing about him is he’s thinking of his secret love across the valley, a 23-foot-tall gold statue of the beautiful (and nude) Miss Electra, symbol of the harnessing of electricity to make things work better.

There you have the romance and beauty of pollution. The unrequited affair of Vulcan and Electra, their pride in rising above the heavy, dusty mists, their stoic stances representing the spirit of all of us who are powerless to change the course of industry and nature, their very symbolism keeps us going.

No matter how tough things get, there’s always some hope that us little folk can keep our heads up, our pride intact, our babies nurtured, our kindnesses perpetuated, our love affairs familial and romantic and sustainable…

And each time someone nearby goes “Wah-CHOO!” it’s nice to reflect on what that strange noise means, it’s nice to raise a truing spear or a bolt of energizing lightning to the sky and give a silent salute to the meek—the meek, who will not inherit the earth but who can at least now and then contest the Will

(c) 2013 A.D. by Jim Reed

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Exterminating those pesky Martians

Listen to Jim: http://jimreedbooks.com/mp3/exterminatingmartians.mp3

or read below…

“…across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those beasts that perish, intellects vast and cold and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.”

–H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, 1898

The child I once was and now remain, always plunges into each encountered book as if it is an entirely new world in which to live out an alternate life. Can’t help it. It’s the way I popped into existence and the way I now exist.

Reading the above H.G. Wells passage was scary when first experienced many decades ago and is equally ominous now. The metaphor is clear: Not everybody likes everybody. Many earthlings find reasons to hate and disdain and conquer other everybodies, and many lack the empathy to feel the pain of others. Thus it was with the Martians. There was no “war of the worlds” in Wells’ novel—the title was a trick to get you to read it. The Martians did not come to earth to make war, they came to exterminate, much as a commercial exterminator comes to obliterate cockroaches in order to make a building habitable. Ol’ H.G. was trying to shock us into looking beyond ourselves in order to protect the honorable traits we do have. He was saying, even if you stop warring with each other, you must still band together to repel all the other endangerments to life that are out there—pestilences, meteors, earthquakes, tsunamis, Martians, warming, solar flares, major storms…the list does go on.   

Wars, be they political or virtual or actual, are mere distractions when it comes to pondering the future of humankind and animalkind. We have so much to do. Perhaps it will take a few more centuries to abolish war. Perhaps those then surviving will have the good sense to realize that the true obstacles to life on earth are bigger and more powerful than any standing or sitting army, any nuclear arsenal.

So, maybe the next book I fall into will be about a future when we’re all done with squabbling and are ready to tackle the really important issue of surviving all that Nature can dole out.

After all warring is spent, there will still be Martians and meteors to deal with. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could band together, forget boundaries and barriers, and start thinking about humanity itself?

Oh, well, it was just an idea

(c) 2013 A.D. by Jim Reed

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F.W. Woolworth socks it to me

Listen to Jim: http://jimreedbooks.com/mp3/fwwoolworthsocks.mp3

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I don a fresh pair of socks each and every morning of my life, always wondering when I’m going to run out of the really good ones.

That’s right—I go through fourteen clean socks a week. I’m an Activities of Daily Living guy who uses routine and ritual to contain my excited and artistic impulses. If I didn’t subscribe to certain repeatable and comfortable exercises, I just might wander off absent-mindedly while imagining my next story, my next speech or performance, my flights of fantasy that allow me to compose and edit and manage the Muse who tracks me, my acquisition of rare and unusual reading material for longing customers.

So, wearing clean socks is part of the act.

This particular morning, I find two holes in the right sock and, since no-one in America has darned a sock since 1959, I reluctantly toss it into the trash. The abandoned sock is one of the last really good ones I’ll apparently ever own. Can’t find soft, durable and comfortable ones anymore.

I’m about to run out of the last F.W. Woolworth socks in the known universe.

A sock is not just a sock, you  understand. These socks were purchased at one of the final real variety department stores, purchased decades ago when stores still had clerks who knew where things were, and who gladly assisted you in finding them, making sure they were right for you and checking to see whether you had an enjoyable experience in the process.

Wonder when the last real store clerk disappeared from view? Looking around, it’s hard to see any evidence that they ever existed except in the minds of geezers of a certain age.

For instance, at the library, librarians sit staring at computers and don’t voluntarily look up. You have to stand over them and clear your throat loudly to get them to tear their gaze from the screen. Even then, they only know how to vaguely point directions without removing seat of pants from seat of chair.

The branch bank on the corner seems equally bereft of eye contact. Employees sit and stare at screens or bow their heads in religious adoration of hand-held devices. They not only find it hard to look at me, but there is impatience in body language and demeanor. Just let me get back to the real virtual world! they seem to be saying. They don’t seem glad to see me.

It’s hard not to feel guilty, interrupting these clerks who have learned to respond warmly to electronic messages and images. What an annoyance we real people are!

Anyhow, I miss the days of one-on-one real-time real-presence social exchanges. I’m adjusting to the lonely world of sock-hunting on my own.

There’s proof in the message—if I tried to tell you this sad tale in person, you’d be fidgeting and creeping toward the door, longing to get back to texting or youtubing or facebooking snarky comments about other people’s lives. But the fact that you read this story online simply means that I’m already on your side, despite my whining. We are virtual people communicating virtual information in a virtual world.

Wonder what the real world is like? Maybe we’d better look up once in a while, just to get our bearings.

Now that the F.W. Woolworth socks are depleted, I wonder what virtual socks will feel like

(c) 2013 A.D. by Jim Reed

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The Disembodied Book Re-animator Strikes Again

Listen to Jim: http://jimreedbooks.com/mp3/disembodiedbookreanimator.mp3

or read below…

The corpus delectable lies before me this morning, waiting for my re-animation skills to kick in.

It’s a book.

It is splayed open to the title page, begging me to bring it back to life. It is missing its hard covers, the tattered spine needs stabilizing, a few spots of age decorate its interior…but the words and phrases and sentences and paragraphs and chapters are all intact and awaiting the touch of a reader or a collector or a hoarder.

There are many ways to resuscitate a book.

I can read it, thus infusing it with renewed vigor, donate my interpretation of the printed words to its 95-year-old collection of memories, turn its pages and admire the four centuries of trial-and-error printing craftsmanship that brought this object to this moment in time, marvel at the reproduction of the Edgar Allan Poe portrait facing the title page, ponder the life and times of publisher Charles C. Bigelow and Company, study the copyright year 1918 and determine what else of significance was happening in the world right about then, think on the near-century this book lay dormant and ignored in an attic of detritus, trace the route it took to arise from storage and wend its way into my hands this very moment.

I can also read its contents and marvel at the words that cause the imagination to become excited and nimble.

I can pick one story at random from this book, “The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade,” and then imagine what the thousand-and-third tale might be, fantasize whether Scheherazade had another unpublished thousand-and-one tales within her, admit the fact that I, too, might have as many stories to tell if only I’d get on with telling them.

Upon further examination, I notice that the Scheherazade story has never been read by the owners of this book—the pages are still uncut, meaning that the avid reader of the day would purchase a book, take letter-opener in hand, and carefully slit the closed pages open so that the contents could be properly read.

This means that I could be the first person to read this story within the pages of this book. I will become the explorer, the adventurer, the first-ever enjoyer of these pages. Cheap thrills, but thrills, nonetheless!

What happens next to this tome? I might take it home and read it in lone silence. I might have it rebound and reinforced for its next 95-year journey, I might share it with another booklover, I might shelve it as is and hope that those who someday scrounge around the remains of my estate will do something more meaningful than send it to the dumpster.

For now, it is a foundling and must be protected from society’s thrower-awayers, society’s censors, society’s bookburners, society’s illiterates, society’s unappreciaters of the Past, society’s disapprovers.

How many booklives have I saved in a long lifetime? How many will I rescue from bookhell, how many more orphans will you and I conceal from the enemies of books?

The disembodied book re-animators of the would could be Us.

Or, if you don’t want to embrace the task, perhaps I’ll have to do it all by myself. But just think of the fun you’ll miss

 (c) 2013 A.D. by Jim Reed

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CAN’T STOP MY BRAIN flashthoughts #835

LISTEN: cantstopmybrain.mp3

OR READ ON… 

Things happen when you’re sitting all alone in the airport cellphone parking lot in your transportable solitary cell, waiting for the call to do a drive-by at the baggage area to give your wife a ride home.

Yes, things happen when your brain won’t be idle,

even though you’re on idle and your car is idling.

Like,

1.  When a fugitive, would you rather be at large or on the loose ?

2.  Does the poor grammar of the song Live and Let Die bother anyone but me? “…but in this everchanging world in which we live in…”

3.  Did you run your car off the road when the local public radio station interviewer and interviewee simultaneously and repeatedly pronounced Pythias as PIE-thee-us?

4.  Do you love the passionate poetry of this passage from a Howlin’ Wolf song, “…this bad love she got…makes me laugh and cry…makes me really know…I’m too young to die…” ?

5.  Why do I obsess over the fact that Gene Autry mispronounces Santa’s reindeer’s name as Donner ? It’s Donder, I tell you, Donder. See http://donder.com/  (I learned it at the annual Donder party.)

6.  Do you find it inexplicable that the more Ahmad Jamal or Dimitri Shostakovich or Miles Davis repeat a musical phrase or note imterminably, the more it grows on you and becomes a powerful statement?

7.  Isn’t it remarkable how drummer Joe Morello’s burst of laughter and relief at the end of Dave Brubeck’s tune Unsquare Dance makes the piece just about perfect? You have to turn the volume up real high to hear it.

8.  Notice that if you think real hard about it, there are at least eight (maybe more) museums within quick walking distance of Reed Books/The Museum of Fond Memories? Tourists already know this. Here they are: Sports Hall of Fame/Museum, Birmingham Museum of Art, Radio Museum (at the Alabama Power Company building), Birmingham History Museum, McWane Center exhibits, Ullman Museum, Reynolds Library Medical Museum, Civil Rights Institute/Museum, Museum of Fond Memories... I’ll let you fill in the rest.

9.  As Shel Silverstein said, “This town grows old around me…” but as it grows, it only gets better and better. Brigitte Bardot commented, “It’s sad to grow old, but nice to ripen.”

As the center of the Universe, Birmingham is ripening and ready to burst into a new future. As the bookstore at the center of the center of the Universe, Reed Books, too, becomes more beautiful.

Those are my fragmentary momentary thoughts. Just can’t stop my brain…

 

EYES WIDE OPEN SHUT

Jim Reed’s Red Clay Diary

EYES WIDE OPEN SHUT

Insomnia can bring the proudest the mightiest the most arrogant to their knees since there seems to be no magic solution to having a drug-free good night’s sleep, the kind of sleep you used to have when you were young and without responsibility.

Back then, you just had to wake up, signal that you wanted to be fed, signal that you wanted to have your diaper changed, signal that you wanted to be cuddled, signal that you just felt restless and wanted to make sure everybody was paying exclusive attention to you and you alone, signal that you were once again ready to sleep the sweet-dreamed-sleep of the innocent.

But nowadays when you can’t get a good night’s sleep you spend the next day wandering around wondering whether you should just lie down on the floor when you feel like it and catch a few seconds of snooze to build up collateral for tonight when sure enough at the exact moment you want to go into deep sleep you become once again more wide-awake than you ever are in the daytime and you lie there trying to find just the right position just the right attitude just the right soothing slumbering thought to make you doze off but then you just snap right awake and find yourself meandering around the house eating ice cream working jigsaw puzzles reading partial chapters and finally dozing off in the most unlikely of spots–never of course in the genuine pre-approved guaranteed spot that they always made you believe you should be occupying during sleep.

In the wee gigantic hours of the morning you almost want to take medication hit yourself over the head into unconsciousness learn Zen so that you can meditate yourself into oblivion run laps till you’re so tired you can at least lapse into exhaustion if not sleep but none of that ever seems to come about so you find yourself going through the daylight hours being distracted and almost completely forgetting that you should be dreading the fact that tonight you once again won’t be able to sleep during the appointed hours and isn’t this somewhat metaphorical or something or maybe you should just stop whining and get on with appreciating the fact that you don’t need as much sleep as others.

You after all can get mucho stuff done like this here diary entry

(C) Jim Reed 2009 A.D.

www.jimreedbooks.com