Saturday, September 22, 2012

Skid Row Diary 6

Cyndi Lauper Vibes

Jul 19 Saturday Day 7

"Perhaps there should also be a category for people who confirm their prejudices by reading books on the past written by vividly opinionated, widely but superficially informed, rambling, fussy, robustly simple-minded, articulate amateurs." -Professor James R. Kincaid

   Bravo Professor Kincaid! Bravo. At long last someone speaks for us!
   In any case, I woke for Voyager, but soon fell asleep again. All I remember of it is that the ship had to power down for some reason, and I think that Borg children were involved.
   Borg children? Who knew there were such things?
   I certainly didn't.
   I really slept in late today, until 6:30 or so. At the point where I could no longer will myself back to sleep (always extremely frustrating for a depressive, as well as morning sunlight invading my parameter), I got up, showered, dressed, and went to breakfast.
   Scrambled eggs, potatoes, and ham pizza.
   Still no John Manzano. I probably won't see him until Monday night, if I do ever see him again. He may have flown the coop for all I know, and is now meeting up with his two sons who live in Vallejo with his brother.
   We shall see.
   I began writing, with Jethro Tull's "Rock Island," wafting through the air from my cheap CD player. I stopped at 8:00, to watch "Universe, the Infinite Frontier," on channel 50 (thank God for UHF, the poor man's cable). Quasars (quasi-stellar radio sources) were the main topic for the first 30 minute segment. I found out that 3C273 was the very first quasar discovered back in the 60s, and was differentiated from other stars due to it's huge distance (and receding from us at 15% of the speed of light) and it's great luminosity. I had not known that quasars had been observed shutting down  when they ran out of fuel, and that they were a normal and frequent part of galactic evolution just after the Big Bang, after things cooled down a tad.
   At 8:30 I left my room to discover the day room had opened and there was only one guy in there watching the British Open on T.V. I grabbed the Internet computer and checked my Email, and some other web sites, and I also learned the definition of the word "tendentious." All very well and good, but when I attempted to copy some files from one floppy disk to a backup, the word processor shut itself off. I tried several more times with the same results. Someone had been screwing with the machine's innards, that was for certain. The Internet Explorer icon wasn't even on the desktop anymore, forcing me to siphon it up from the program menu.
   Well nothing to be done about it at the moment. I certainly didn't know enough about computers to fix it. I switched to the brand new machine that had been installed just a few days ago and has "Word," but it required a password to begin operating which no one within shouting distance seemed to know.
   Great! Set up a computer for veterans to use, then disable it with an unknown password! Just perfect!
   Defeated, I returned to my room and watched the last "Universe" segment, this time concerning cosmic and stellar evolution.
   I love astronomy. I find it very settling. Some people can go through their whole lives without giving a thought to the fact they are all glued by gravity to a spinning ball of rock and dirt, which is circling a bigger burning ball of hydrogen and helium, which itself is circling the center of the Milky Way galaxy every 250,000 years, and that galaxy itself is moving through empty space in relation to other galaxies around it. I mean what's up with that?
   It all seems fairly strange and wonderful and lonely to me.
   A woman I knew said this when I mentioned my fascination with astronomy, "But that doesn't effect me. I don't see those things, and they don't matter as far as my life is concerned. As far as being able to eat, raise my kids and make a living, the planets and stars don't have any impact at all."
   Of course none of us would be here to not care about the universe around us if it were not for the universe around us, the atoms that make up our bodies having been cooked in the furnaces of super nova explosions billions of years ago.
   The universe... the cosmos, is my God. I find it comforting to be aware of it.
   Closer to home, think about just a few of the things that are going on around you, just dealing with electromagnetic forces in the very room you are reading this in. At this moment: "Try to imagine what the electric and magnetic fields look like at present in the space of this lecture room. First of all, there is a steady magnetic field; it comes from the currents in the interior of the earth - that is, the earth's steady magnetic field. Then there are some irregular, nearly static electric fields produced perhaps by electric charges generated by friction as various people move about in their chairs and rub their coat sleeves against the chair arms. Then there are other magnetic fields produced by oscillating currents in the electrical wiring - fields which vary at a frequency of 60 cycles per second, in synchronism with the generator at Boulder Dam. But more interesting are the electric and magnetic fields varying at much higher frequencies. For instance, as light travels from window to floor and wall to wall, there are little wiggles of the electric and magnetic fields moving along at 186,000 miles per second. Then there are also infrared waves travelling from the warm foreheads to the cold blackboard. And we have forgotten the ultraviolet light, the X-rays, and the radiowaves travelling through the room.
   Flying across the room are electromagnetic waves which carry music of a jazz band. There are waves modulated by a series of impulses representing pictures of events going on in other parts of the world, or of imaginary aspirins dissolving in imaginary stomachs. To demonstrate the reality of these waves it is only necessary to turn on electronic equipment that converts these waves into pictures and sounds.
   If we go into further detail to analyze even the smallest wiggles, there are tiny electromagnetic waves that have come into the room from enormous distances. There are now tiny oscillations of the electric field, whose crests are separated by a distance of one foot, that have come from millions of miles away, transmitted to the earth from the Mariner [2] space craft which has just passed Venus. Its signals carry summaries of information it has picked up about the planets (information obtained from electromagnetic waves that travelled from the planet to the space craft).
   There are very tiny wiggles of the electric and magnetic fields that are waves which originated billions of light years away - from galaxies in the remotest corners of the universe. That this is true has been found by 'filling the room with wires' - by building antennas as large as this room. Such radiowaves have been detected from places in space beyond the range of the greatest optical telescopes. Even they, the optical telescopes, are simply gatherers of electromagnetic waves. What we call the stars are only inferences, inferences drawn from the only physical reality we have yet gotten from them - from a careful study of the unendingly complex undulations of the electric and magnetic fields reaching us on earth.
   There is, of course, more: the fields produced by lightning miles away, the fields of the charged cosmic ray particles as they zip through the room, and more, and more. What a complicated thing is the electric field in the space around you!"
-Richard Feynman
   That is part of the fact of the universe around us.
   But I digress.
   I continued to write in my lonely room until almost noon. The last piece of music I heard on my cheap radio before leaving for lunch was "Hungarian Rhapsody 2," by Franz Liszt, and being quite catchy it played itself in my head again and again.
   The menu said hamburgers for lunch. We were given a bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo and mustard, but the meat that was served in no way resembled hamburger. Not in this dimension at least. I'm not sure what it was, but it tasted good though.
   Since no one offered me a ride I walked toward City Hall, winding my way through Wall Street, past all of the specialty and trinket shops. Toy shops. Shops that only sold eyeglasses. It being Saturday, business was brisk. Mostly Hispanic shoppers about, as usual, some Asians, hardly any black people... one white guy (me).
   But not for long. I took up position at the 485/401 bus stop, right in front of the west entrance of the City Hall building (a phallic symbol if there ever was one) and waited patiently for the bus to arrive. I had a bus schedule so I knew exactly when the bus was going to arrive, in ten minutes.
   25 minutes later the bus had still not arrived. It was hot. I was sweating. So were the 15 or so other people waiting with me.
   I noticed that 1st Street, just down the block from me, was blocked off by little annoying orange cones. This is not unusual in the downtown area. Often streets are blocked off to be used for parades and demonstrations of various kinds, or movie filming. Homeless people picketing, etc. Still, buses should have been coming our way.
   I supposed the buses would detour to the south of us and pick us up coming from Spring Street, or from Main Street to our east. After all the sign at our bus stop had not been modified to alert us to any change in service, so our bus should come to pick us momentarily we all thought. The MTA wouldn't leave us standing here for no reason, would they?
   You bet your ass they would! I soon noticed quite a few buses making a left turn from Temple, to my north. Considering my 402 hadn't showed, I began to entertain the possibility that my bus had passed my stop altogether, leaving me and my fellow passengers high and dry.

   I waited a bit more, watching a pretty Chinese girl of about 20 years of age run across Spring Street in front of a 71 bus which missed hitting her by just a couple of feet. I decided to walk up to the next bus stop north of me, in front of the Federal Courthouse, and wait there.
   A 94 came, on its way to Sylmar where my mother used to live, and the pretty Chinese girl rushed out of a crowd of people waiting for other buses, and jumped on board.
   I wished her well.
   Sure enough, about fifteen minutes later a 485 turned left off of Temple and stopped where I was standing. It wasn't the good old 401, but it would do.
   If it was up to the MTA I'd be waiting for the rest of my natural lifetime for that 401 at the other bus stop, or at least until they opened up Spring again.
   I continued to read from the Goethe book while headed to Pasadena. The story of Werther, so far, is a tale of unrequited love written in the first person as a letter to a third person. I was a little too familiar with that subject which made reading the book a little uncomfortable.
   Eventually I was unceremoniously dumped at the corner of Lake and Colorado again. I walked to the independent theater just east of that intersection to check out the movie times for the Christopher Guest film, "A Mighty Wind."
   It was 2:00, so I had time to kill if I wanted to see that movie, which I did. However I hadn't come to Pasadena to see that film. I came to get some books.
   I caught one of the local Arts buses into Old Town, just west of Fair Oaks, to the Barnes and Noble bookstore. I spent about an hour there and picked up copies of Stephen King's "The Stand," and "Everything's Eventual," Arthur C Clark and Gentry Lee's "Rama Revealed," Dean Koontz's "Twilight Eyes," and "Tick Tock," "Nolo's Guide to California Law," "Nolo's Criminal Law Handbook," and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Spanish." Oh yes, and "The Way of Zen," by Allan Watts.
   Leaving the store I walked across Colorado to Moby Disk, a discount music store. I spent another hour there looking through their Previously Owned CD collection. I almost jumped out of my boots when I found a copy of Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors," for $6.99. I quickly purchased the small round plastic disk and got out of the store before they could change their minds about selling it to me.
   Cyndi is one of my favorite female vocalists and has been ever since her debut album "She's So Unusual,"  appeared. She's an amazing performer with tremendous range with exquisite interpretive instincts... and her voice is pretty good too. Her first and second albums  are masterpieces in my humble opinion, and "True Colors," was her second album. I was very happy to have her back in my personal collection so I could fondle it anytime I wanted (every time I relapse It seems my  address changes for some reason, and I lose all of my possessions).
   And to top it all off, Cyndi's very cute.
   And I actually liked "Vibes."
   I caught a bus back to the theater showing "A Mighty Wind," starring the irrepressible Parker Posey. Admission was a reasonable $4.00. Popcorn and a soda cost me $7.25.
   Written by Guest and Eugene Levy, there aren't enough good things I can say about this film. Smart, funny, bold, all that stuff. It pokes a little fun at folk songs and singers, while honoring them at the same time, similar with what Rob Reiner and some of the cast members of "A Mighty Wind" did with Rock music years ago in  the "This Is Spinal Tap," film. I left the theater laughing, thinking my $4.00 was well spent, and mildly nauseous from the over priced popcorn.
   I got on the 485 out of Pasadena and was back at the Weingart by 7:15. I immediately listened to my "True Colors" CD while practicing some cool yoga maneuvers and exercises.
   I have to admit I got a little misty listening to Cyndi singing the title song. I took the lyrics a bit too personally, and she sings it so well.
   I listened to a few songs a couple of times. I'm quite familiar with the album. When I finally finished I switched the TV on to a 8:00 broadcast of the film "Predator," starring Arnold Schwarzhisname. Based on a true story I'm told, it's one of my favorite Arnie movies, along with "Total Recall." And the antagonist's brother went on to star in a sequel with Danny Glover and Gary Busey, in "Predator II," another fine film. I believe there is yet another predator film in the works, teaming up with Ridley Scott's "Alien."
   I read for a while after the heavily edited for TV movie. I read from J.J. Luna's "How to be Invisible," and soon got drowsy and went to sleep.
   I dreamt I was with Cyndi L, standing in front of City Hall, waiting forever for the 401. Cyndi was dressed in the newspaper dress and faded blue blouse she wore for the picture on the back of the "True Colors," album. I was dressed just like her, but with no make up, orange hair, or blue lipstick. My hair was green and I was using yellow lipstick.
   We waited and waited, but the bus never came. Finally, I broke out my 12 string banjo and we started singing folk songs together. We harmonized well, and it went something like this:

As I travel down the back roads, of this home I love so much,
Every carpenter and cowboy, every lame many on a crutch..
They’re all talking about a feeling, or a taste that’s in the air,
They’re all talking about this mighty wind, that’s blowing everywhere,

Oh a mighty winds a blowin’, it’s kickin’ up the sand,
It’s blowin’ out a message to every woman, child and man
Yes a mighty winds a blowin’, cross the land and cross the sea,
It’s blowin’ peace and freedom, it’s blowin’ equality.

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