04 June 2013

And just like that, its summer.


Lawn mower fumes and the pulsing hiss of sprinklers.

Measuring your height against the corn stalks. Watching cumulus cloud shadows race across the ground. 

Sparklers swooping out cursive names in the night air.

Tar on the soles of your feet. Mosquito bite welts.

Otter Pop-induced brain freeze.
Lightening bugs blinking their lazy morse code. Sand crabs slipping between your fingers.

Counting the seconds between thunder clap and lightening bolt.

The shimmering drone of crickets.
The sting of a bee, a belly flop, a jelly fish.


If the sights, smells and sounds of summer say a lot about where you come from, can you guess where I've spent my summers? In no particular order: suburban Southern California - where the beans are always refried and I swear to you, the mile-wide beaches refract a magical cocoa butter smell when the temperature gets high enough; the farm belt of the American Midwest; the suffocating humidity of Mississippi; and semi-rural Central Texas, where the magnitude of those shadow-casting cumulus clouds, sky and landscape permanently programed my sense of aesthetic proportion to "gargantuan".

What one thing declares summer to you more than any other?

For lots of folk, music is the touchstone of summer. The iconic songs – those frothy, just-feels-good summer anthems -- are integral to memorializing June, July and August. We blare them out of rolled-down windows, or blast them while washing the car. They sweeten the wait for that minivan family determined to remove every grain of sand from their children before leaving the packed beach parking lot; and they light up the cook outs, and camp outs, the family reunions, summer camp dances and festivals that celebrate the collective euphoria of the season. Come to think of it, what is summer but a collective celebration of being human, out-of-doors?

If summer were a song, which one would it be for you?

I'm ever on the look-out (make that listen-out) for the big hit of the summer. Unfortunately, I rarely listen to contemporary mainstream music, so I have a poor track record for predicting it. Which doesn't dampen my enjoyment any when eventually the song comes beating on the rock under which I evidently currently reside.  Fortunately, the good people at NPR did the hard work for us of listing the most popular summer hits of the last 50 years. What this summer's hit will be, I haven't a clue, but if you have access to any human under the age of 35 I'm sure they already know it by now. This troglodyte proposes we kick off June with Summer Song, by Yacht.

It's not the greatest summer song ever, but it'll work in a pinch. Needless to say, it'd be nothing without the visuals, as I am a fool for anything Soul Train-related. Leave it to me to quibble with a good thing, but if I had magic editing powers, I’d sync the song to the dancing with just a hair more precision. (Don’t mind me, I’m nit picky like that.) Still and all, the guy at 1:16 may well be the one of the best things that’s happened to me all year.

Its just what I needed to be ready to go outside and celebrate belonging to the human race.

07 May 2013

Flattery Will Get You Nowhere...

Except with me.

When I was thirteen or so, wading through the third circle of hell known as puberty, I decided I was tired of feeling hideous. I'd read Isabelle Allende's Eva Luna, where the titular character decides she wants to be beautiful, and so is. Sounded like a plan to me. But for the days when such self-assurance was harder to come by (any day with a letter R or U in it) I filled up a small box with compliments. I called it my Vanity Box. In it I put whatever passed notes or remembered items might have fallen my way, like crusts to a patient dog waiting under a dining table. In other words, such items were not plentiful. The drunk man singing "When a Man Loves a Child" while eyeing me lasciviously (or just trying to decide which of the two of me he liked better) did not make the cut. For instance. But by junior year of high school I'd amassed enough items that on Very Bad Days I could read through the items and feel a little better afterwards.

I think everyone needs a Vanity Box. So I ask: what's the best compliment you've received in recent memory? Here's my favorite of late:

I read the New Yorker op-ed piece by Warren Buffet and thought my facebook acquaintances would enjoy it. I posted it with a little quip linking it to a recording artist by the name of Warren G, who's big hit Regulate discusses theft and, uh, re-appropriation of wealth (I swear I'm not patronizing you -- this was so my mom has an idea what I was talking about)
My friend Sarah  linked to today's Warren Buffet op-ed and said this "Looks like Warren G and Warren B both recommend Regulating." LOL
"I actually spent half the day trying to think of something witty to top that regulating comment by your friend, played around with some puns linking Nate Dogg and Bill Gates, but abandoned my quest, as the original comment is just perfect, a facebook poem, if there ever was one. Regulate, yo. Peace. "

Me, a facebook poet!