Posts

Showing posts from November, 2012

I've Just Seen A Face

Image
It stands the test of time is a lovely cliche. Six one syllable words, some alliteration with all the t's. Behind its rhythm of short/long, short/long, short/long is a cruel truth, or the truth of cruelty. Entropy, it's called by the scientists, the gradual decline into disorder that befalls all that stands, underlining, in the process, the radical accomplishment of actually standing, even for a time. To keep standing is somehow to best time itself. If I remember right, it's part of the reason the Romans disdained to lie down.

Paul McCartney was in town last night. He plays a second sold-out show tonight at the old Northlands Coliseum. (Actually, he's on stage right now.) Among the many cliches ushered onto the stage of watercooler talk today in day-after reviews was that the former Beatle, former Wing, the poet who gave us Hey, Jude has stood the test of time.

And it's hard to argue as we listened to him sing Got To Get You Into My Life or Eleanor Rigby or Get  Ba…

Running Commentary

Image
I've thought for a few days now about how best to capture the deep experience of running my first half marathon. It was in Monterey last weekend and it took us along Cannery Row, into Pacific Grove, along the rocky coastline where waves crashed. It was beautiful. And much more.  And I've started and stopped and not been happy with my words and re-started and tried again.

And, so, why not try the truth?!

The truth is I censored the inner voice that told me to maybe walk up that first hill, the expenditure of energy for the distance covered seeming way out of proportion. But pride pushed me up and then my groins were sore for the next nine miles. Good call.

The truth is I was passed by two pregnant women at around the six-mile mark. They were talking to each other and laughing. And I couldn't catch them. I tried. I just couldn't.

The truth is I tried to concentrate on my form, not striking my heels. But that made things worse.

The truth is at about seven miles that hard…

In My Mind

Image
Tonight on satellite radio James Taylor's Carolina In My Mind flowed into our living room. And pictures came to mind.


In one, I see myself in the basement at 6704 (that's the address-inspired nickname of the northeast Edmonton house I grew up in) listening again and again to that magnetic song. In those days, that meant lifting the needle and dropping the arm on the LP's groove, second song on side one. That line about maybe hearing the highway calling, wow. I would sit down there, lights off like in a theatre, and let that homesickness carve me.

In another picture, I am in Calgary. High school days. Jaime and I are there for a debate, I think. In a bar there's a singer with a guitar on a stool and he's singing Fire And Rain. 

Those pictures in my mind are nothing special in themselves, I suppose. But it's more and more interesting to me that the first notes of that song somehow illuminate the images in my memory. It's kinda like looking at a Youtube page.

On The Road, 1

Image
We have been on the road for a few days now, and, this evening, after three nights in a rented North Beach apartment in San Francisco, we are at the Cardinal Hotel in Palo Alto. Shelagh and I just played checkers in the lobby after walking back from watching a movie at the Aquarius Theater on Emerson Street. Tomorrow we will walk around the main quad at Stanford, drop into the bookstore to look for some Christmas presents, and then head south for Monterey and Carmel.

We've been to Alcatraz. And Caffe Trieste. We shopped at Al's Attire. We had breakfast at Mo's, lunch at Fisherman's Wharf, dinner at Frances. We've moved by foot, cable car, boat, and Mustang convertible. We sat in Washington Square. We walked by Jack Kerouac Lane and down Haight toward Ashbury. We took pictures of the Joe DiMaggio playground.

The sound of unseen cables running beneath the streets, the hot smell of the hydraulics, the thrill of cresting a hill while standing on the running board and …

Fall, Winter...

Image
There are many unexpected insights that come into view when I'm in the bicycle saddle. Many of the poetic variety have to do with the sense of freedom achieved when propelling myself.

But when the weather changes, so does my perspective. It's still gorgeous out there. There are views that make me stop and fish out the camera, like this purply-rose sky and the two snow-heavy spruce trees pointing into it.


But with the glory, there is a keen sense of weakness, of marginalization. A cyclist's lane actually disappears into snow and slush. Trails are not cleared as quickly as main streets. Sidewalks over bridges   are pockmarked lunar surfaces. Even with winter tires, the act of turning a corner or moving from one car tire track into another can be enough to send my back tire out from under me. And then a split second of terror as my pedal-clipped boot fights to get loose and find the ground to prevent a fall. It's a story to which metal-encased cyborg car drivers are obli…

The Road Home

Image
We  start, as is proper, with the exclamation mark at the end of the story:


But the 100 minutes before sitting down to a double rum and Coke (Zero) were full of question marks and doubts and interior dialogue as I cycled home from work after a day of oatmeal snow had collected on the river valley trails.

Hold on tight, down we went from the top of Grierson Hill to the path along the freezing river. It was quiet and the air was cold and it was beautiful.


Beauty quickly turned to hard work, every crank a piece of labour as the soft snow fought with the tires and my legs gave their verdict with each revolution. A thought began to form. Something about work and energy and grip. And then the thought disappeared in the face of the present challenge of simply staying upright. It took 30 minutes to get to the Victoria Park skating oval. That's what it normally took to get home. But today that's when I first had to stop and rest and chase back the question of how I could get a ride ho…