Ugh. Back to work after a three day weekend. I hate that.
My weekend started out by breaking and entering into a woman's minivan. I was at the bank when a tiny Indian girl walked by looking fretful and asked if she could borrow a cell phone. Turns out she locked her keys in the car. I suggested that perhaps she might let me try unlocking it as I have done this a number of times before (five, to be precise). She said okay, I got a coat hanger from the bank, jimmied the unfolded hanger through the door seam and got the hooked end around the door lock shaft. A pull upwards unlocked the door. In the meantime her family showed up and all started talking... it took me about ten minutes - a big cheer erupted and I got a hug. I was especially interested in getting this car broken into because it was a Dodge minivan like the one I own. I now know that if I lock myself out I can get back in fairly easily.
The funniest incident of this kind of thing was when I was at a beach in California a few years back. A woman had locked her keys in the car with an infant in the car seat - the air conditioning was off. She was quite upset. I borrowed a coat hanger from a guy in a VW Microbus and, after a few minutes, got the car unlocked just as the paramedics arrived. (She had called 911.) This young surfer with white stuff on his nose gave me a big high five and a "DUUUDDE!" I had to laugh.
I was reading the 2010 Old Farmer's Almanac the other day, looking to see what planets would be especially visible in July, and re-read an interesting article about a photographer in Arkansas named Disfarmer. (Long story, but his real name was Mike Meyers, which in German meant "farmer." Since he wasn't a farmer - or, he claimed, a Meyers - he named himself Disfarmer, meaning, "not a farmer." He was a grouchy, eccentric type of guy.) The few print reproductions in the article led me to the "official" website, a place where you can buy Disfarmer prints for $800 or more.
Why would anybody want to pay $800 or more for prints of Arkansas locals during the 1920's - 1950's? Because there's something to them, a quality I can't quite describe. This fellow had talent. Most of the articles I have read indicate that Disfarmer had a rare ability to lend his subjects a dignity and an honesty that is elusive in portrait photography, and I suppose this is so. But I look at the prints and think, "Yes, this is art. I can't say why, exactly, but I know it when I see it." Some of the portraits are fascinating. Anyway, check them out. I was especially struck by the moody young couple in the shot above. The girl reminded me of somebody... after some thinking, I had it - Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia.
Last week Cari and I ate at another excellent Great America Restaurants restaurant, Jackson's, in Reston. I had the best French Dip sandwich I have ever eaten and Cari said her shrimp was out of this world. We've been dining at the GAR Springfield location, Mike's American Grill, since it opened and since we moved there in 1987. Always excellent food, always well-managed. In fact, in 23 years I have had only one bad meal there - once when my baby back ribs were too highly peppered. That is an amazing record.
We've eaten at every one of their Northern Virginia restaurants - you just can't go wrong. Jackson's has an interesting painting on the wall - the Little Rascals, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. As I was looking at it the manager came by and asked if I could name them all. Humph. Of course I can... and supply a lot of biographical information as well. Turns out he confused Porky (center) with Spanky (in pith helmet). Well... as long as the food is good...
I am now reading "We Were Soldiers Once... and Young: Ia Drang - the Battle that Changed the War in Vietnam" by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway. I am now on a Vietnam kick, and am watching old episodes of Tour of Duty on youtube. It used to be my favorite show on TV c. 1988, and still retains its interest. I shall venture to say that there was never a better war show on TV. (My baby boomer peers are much taken with Combat!, but this show is a lot more realistic.)
Watching an episode last night I was reminded of a Vietnam dream I once had, but had to puzzle it out. I vaguely remembered it having some odd Civil War reenacting connection... Then I recalled that I had written it up somehow, or used it in an article. Another minute or two of flogging my increasingly failing memory and I had it: Back circa 1990, after a viewing of a Tour of Duty episode, I once had a profoundly odd dream about being in Vietnam as a Civil War reenactor. I woke up very confused. This coincided with reading my pal Don's satirical Civil War reenacting lyrics for Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler's Vietnam Era song "Ballad of the Green Berets." Don called his version "The Ballad of the Blue Kee-Pay (kepi)" (a kepi is a Civil War era soldiers' hat). Seeing an opportunity for an artistic merge, I wrote up a new chapter in our Macey and Gimbels serial, Chapter Three - The 'Nam. An album cover from another member of our reenacting club made it a three way collaboration. I am certain that readers, getting this in their newsletters, were puzzled. Perhaps a few were amused. Perhaps you are.
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