It’s been ages since I’ve printed anything Larry said, but this evening, I asked him a question about the man who recently repainted our fence. It’s been a week and he hasn’t come around to collect his fee.
“Should I email him and ask him about it,” I wondered aloud, “Or just wait, because it’s not my problem?”
“B,” Larry responded.
Then, over dinner he told me about Ian and Sylvia. you may have heard their 50’s hit, “Love is Strange.” It was a long and intricate story that lasted all through dinner. I had just finished an article in the New Yorker about Agnes Caillard, a philosopher, and her idea of “aspirational love,” love as a sort of ladder towards the best vision of yourself. Certainly this long, rich intertwining of my life with Larry has been that.
This morning with the rain outside and the election looming, Larry came to breakfast with a story about Warren Buffet. He met with Jeff Bezos at some point and Bezos said, “You’re investment strategy is so simple, why doesn’t everyone try it?” Buffet’s answer, “Because no one wants to get rich slowly.”
He also told me that he effected a rule change for his over 55 softball league, the Walnut Creek . The leadership team had made a rule that you can’t tag out a runner to first base. There are many rules like this that are designed to avoid too much contact between older and somewhat fragile players. Larry said the rule made sense that the first baseman shouldn’t be able to tag the runner out, as he might be sweeping back from a wild throw, and there could be a collision, but that if the pitcher could pick up a poorly hit ball and simply step up to make a tag of the runner, that should be allowed. He said of all the rule changes that were voted on at the meeting, his was the only change accepted. Yay for super Larry, who still plays softball at 80!
Whatever happens today, at least I live with someone I love who makes me laugh.
Although I’m posting this in Stuff Larry Sez, Larry is not the protagonist here (though he did know Little Richard’s last name)–just forwarded on an email from a friend about Little Richard. Here’s someone‘s story:
I recorded little Richard for a commercial about 30 years ago. He nailed the commercial in two takes… Total pro. But… He wore so much cheap rose perfume that it actually bonded with the diaphragm of the microphone, and could not get the aroma out!
With only a faint hope for success, we wrapped the microphone in plastic and sent it back to the manufacturer, and told them of our plight. What we got was a picture of a guy in a Class-3 hazmat suit, holding the bag, along with completely refurbished microphone, and a letter that said they used their “least senior engineer“ to perform the “Rose-ectomy” and “decontamination protocols” were adhered to with “utmost security precautions”.
As background to this anecdote, yesterday both Larry and I read Mark Jarman’s excellent essay on Gilgamesh from his forthcoming book, Dailiness, which I will be reviewing. If you don’t know the Sumerian epic, Gilgamesh, it’s the oldest written story we have, in which a king and his friend kill the monster Humbaba.
This morning we were discussing, over fresh eggs and wonderful toast, the lack of acknowledgement and apology for our national racial history. I have just finished the Bryan Stevenson book, Just Mercy, and listened to him on Preet Bahara’s podcast. In addition to his work with unjustly incarcerated death row inmates, he has created a monument and a museum in Alabama that deal with slavery, lynching, etc. He said, “You don’t see any statues of Hitler in Germany, but there are 150 statues of Confederate heroes here. In Germany you can’t go five steps without a memorial or a museum about the holocaust. No one’s proud of that history.”
Talking with Larry, I said I thought as a nation we needed to acknowledge and talk about our terrible history of racial discrimination, starting with the native populations, slavery, Manzanar, etc.
Larry said, “I don’t know. Grudges run deep. I’m not sure talking about them would do much good. Humbaba’s descendants probably still hold a grudge against Gilgamash.”
If you are living with Larry, he might say to you from time to time, “I have something funny to show you.” And it will be very funny. Here was today’s offering, which you get to share just by reading this blog.
This is mostly a literary blog, poetry, selections from novels and non-fiction. I have been reading a lot of literature about Nazism and Totalitarianism lately, including A Century of Horrors,Secondhand Time, and rereading Hope Abandoned. This was a very illuminating process. The stultifying political correctness of today, the offhand denigration of the capitalist democracy that supports us all, masks a kind of group think that Orwell would recognize and chide us for. We don’t see through it–the deadening of individual thought this self censorship promotes in the service of inclusiveness, identity politics, diversity.
This morning, Larry was reading Greg Mankiw’s NY Times editorial on 45’s tax plan. Mankiw is an economics professor at Harvard. To familiarize me with Mankiw, Larry played a country western economics song, Dual Mandate for me. I guess he was directed to this from reading Mankiw, and I incorrectly reported it as Greg. An alert reader (thanks, Dan) caught the error, but the video is still worth watching.
And Mankiw’s editorial in the Times is worth reading.
I don’t know any good poems on economics or business. As Dana Gioia has pointed out, business is the last taboo subject for poetry. I have one poem about money, and so you don’t miss a Monday poem, here it is.
Meditation on Money
I am thinking about a day forty years ago
when we were down to our last fifty cents,
and our friends drove up
with a month’s rent and groceries,
and after we ate and talked, we sat together
on the edge of the dock, saying nothing,
and watched the barnacles
slowly open their feathery lips,
slowly close them.
Watching the sun disappear in gradual increments today, what amazed me most was how little you would notice if you weren’t looking at it with glasses. The light did change towards the end, but not so much. Of course, we didn’t go to total eclipeseville to see it, just to east county where the sun wasn’t obscured by fog.
What Larry said: “I don’t know what amazes me more, the sense of the bodies moving in space or the ability of the scientists to predict their movement to the minute.”
Oh, and if you want to see the poetry reading last Thursday, here it is: https://www.facebook.com/beltiblibrary/