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Here In Oakland

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Today at the pump


Under here.

August 11, 2010

Interesting Admission
Wednesday. To bed before ten, up at six with the alarm, to breakfast and the papers, home now before eight in time to listen to the Bob Dylan hosted hour on XM radio. I need to remember he's on at eight. He plays really early funky folk, blues and country stuff that formed the base for what little I've ever known about rock and roll. Good reason to remember: eight on Wednesday mornings. Quite good. Quite clear. Quite erudite. Able to surprise you in what he chooses to play. Not many can surprise you anymore; well worth the effort.

I did get in a good guitar practice session yesterday, working on what I'm calling the “new notes”, where they sit on the staff, how to recognize them and finger them on the frets. I was bringing them up in memory and looking at them last night as I was falling asleep. Doesn't really make the playing any better (well, actually it does, just slowly, so slowly) but it does seem to add energy to the learning process. I think it does anyway. And that's good.

I've been wondering, just a little in the back of the mind wondering, how this learning to play the guitar came about. Was I being, am I being, an idiot? A frivolous gesture? A way to spend a lot of money on an electric guitar that will soon be sitting gathering dust in a corner? So far not. Cross my fingers (hup! hup!).

Later. This is an ad being run against Republican John Boehner, who's running for re-election to Congress in Ohio's 8th Congressional District and angling to lead the Congressional Republican caucus in the new Congress. You wonder what they're thinking - raise the retirement age to seventy, no support for the unemployed, extending tax cuts for the rich - running for election on a platform like this?

I have no idea who the Democratic candidate is running against Boehner, I can't vote for him living in California, but I can send him money. Not very much, but, I suspect, every little bit helps. I really don't want to see his face or hear his voice anymore on television.

I could have managed to continue working until the age of seventy, I suspect, another three years less some months, but I worked up a sweat sitting at a desk playing with computers when I was employed. Nine to five with a leisurely hour or more for lunch. What, for example, if like my grandfathers, I'd had a job that required real physical effort? How able would I have been to work until seventy out on the line? You know, real world? Or is real physical work like playing golf? Boehner knows because he's been out there on the links?

Social Security isn't in a fix, all the professionals directly involved in studying such agree. There are greater problems with Medicare, but those can be resolved as well with some real, but hardly impossible effort. So this guy is out on the golf course doing his best to whack back Social Security between putts. And the Republican Party is running with this. And, many say, they're going to win. Didn't Alice come upon them playing golf in Wonderland? How exactly did that turn out?

None of this will change with your bitching, you know.

It's fascinating, though. It's this giant ping pong game of words, words without meaning or factual underpinning. The Democrats are at it as well, but less skillful from what I can see. I thought I'd seen a lot of weirdness during the sixties and seventies when we had a war in Vietnam and a Civil Rights movement underway. Those were strange days, but for some reason it never occurred to me these later days would be even stranger. You listen to the news with your jaw on the floor yet nobody blinks. All is well, business as usual. In 1984 and 2010. I think one of the major regrets I'll have in leaving this world (one hopes in the far future) is that I'll never know how all of this turns out. I'm not optimistic, but that could easily just be me, getting old.

Later still. Still overcast at one in the afternoon with just the occasional wisp of rain in the air, the clouds dark, but not angry. Back now from a bus ride downtown, passing a political event of some kind in front of Oakland City Hall, a line of mayoral candidates giving short speeches. I didn't recognize any of them, so I assume this is a group (in listening to one of their introductions) arranged around a specific interest or plan of action, I didn't stay long enough to but take a couple of pictures before bugging out.

Interesting, though, it reminded me that we're voting for the first time for our first, second and third choices for mayor in this upcoming election. If no one gets over 50% of the vote counting these first choices, they tally up the second choices and then the third's until one of the candidates is a winner. I've heard both good and bad about this way of going about it, how it will freeze out minority candidates, how it won't. We'll see soon enough I guess.

And of course I walked by the new mural on 17th Street again, taking a couple of pictures. I assume it's now done, the thing complete. Again, this whole idea of murals interests me, a change in people's perceptions and interests in art perhaps, at least art on the street. On the sides of buildings. I assume you can overdo this, but we're nowhere close yet, at least from my perspective.

And, in my walk back to the apartment, finding ways to trick myself into not taking a bus and getting in needed exercise, I stopped by The Hat Guys, a shop where I've bought hats in the past. And, instead of just looking, I bought a couple. One, what I call a European working man's cap, this one in black; and, on an impulse, a black wide brimmed hat more like something you'd see out on a prairie than you'd see on, say, a Jack Abramoff, a Republican lobbyist (now in jail). I have the hat Mr. Abramoff was wearing in his most famous picture, a black Borsalino bought well before he made the news, but find it a bit overly dramatic and tend not to wear it. This one I wore home thinking it felt much better.

An interesting study, how you feel, how people feel about hats and their image. Why a European working man's hat? An Irish workingman's hat I've heard it called. Why is that OK, and not, say, my black Borsalino or the white Scalzi? Well, actually I will wear the Scalzi. If I had to do college again I think I'd study lost Amazon tribes and their habits in an attempt to understand our current curious culture. People have weird tastes and ideas, including I see, me, deedle-dee-dee. An interesting admission.

The photograph was taken at the rally in front of the Oakland City Hall yesterday with a Nikon D3s mounted with a 70 - 200mm f 2.8 Nikkor VR II lens.