Monthly Archives: December 2015


I’ve just read Al Kooper’s jaw-dropping memoir BACKSTAGE PASSES AND BACKSTABBING BASTARDS. The man who crashed a Bob Dylan recording session and ended up with the organ lead in “Like a Rolling Stone;” the man who not only played for, but named, Blood, Sweat & Tears; the man who produced Lynyrd Skynyrd–all that just turns out to be the tip of the iceberg. Read this amazing book and you’ll learn why Norman Rockwell hugged Al, then painted a portrait of him and Mike Bloomfield of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

The words:

A & R spread like an oak

And bad finger defunct a loco

A gig a friend a deal a zoo

Lo! Super Session–quite a coup

Lynyrd Skynyrd paid the fare

Let a legend climb the stair



Today was a day off from work, and a belated Christmas for the fact that I worked on Christmas and the two days after. I’m still living on a shoestring, so the gifts I had for my daughter, my ex-wife, my mother and my younger brother came mostly from the Family Dollar. I felt bad about, so I did something I almost never do: I gave, not printed copies, but original journal pages, as gifts. The pages I chose for them, all from early 2009, had a particular connection to each of them.


This one was for Brian. He and I had marathon sessions playing Risk, a game of global conquest. Whenever I rolled the dice as the attacker, he’d exclaim, “LOSE one!”


This was for Joni. It was done when our beloved dog Bill was still alive and well, and the poem concerns the healing power of human-animal companionship.


This one was for Kate. One of Kate’s favorite songs is Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”

Three fewer journal pages for me turns out to be a gain, not a loss. The pages are more valuable as connective tissue than as artifacts.


The library is closing in 15 minutes, so this will be brief. Four weeks ago I became employed by a corporation that manages several restaurant chains. In the course of my employ I’ve been on my feet every working minute, and have not only lost several pounds but have also had a good insider’s look at what happens in a quality restaurant. When a customer spontaneously says “It was wonderful” or “That’s the been airport food I’ve ever had” on her or his way out, and that’s happened many times in these weeks, it means much more than that they had a good meal. They traded a segment of their irreplaceable lifetime and were happy with value received, even though they could have saved money and time with alternative sources of nutrition. That well-being will improve their digestion, their outlook on life, and (given that we cook from scratch with fresh, top-of-the-line ingredients) their very bodies, incorporating the ingested nutrient into their cell structures. Win-win-win–almost Zennish.


In these terrorism-laced times it is hard not to feel vulnerable and targeted, no matter who or where you are. And at Sky Harbor International Airport, self-proclaimed “America’s Friendliest Airport,” the big challenge is to be at once accepting of a mind-boggling diversity of humanity, and mindful that the Bad Guys often strike at or near the airport, or on and/or with airplanes.

One consequence is that a new airport-vendor hire is treated as a provisional employee while a ten-year criminal background check is done. Until the positive results come in, the new hire must be escorted through and beyond the security checkpoint everywhere, including to the restroom. My own background check, just completed, took a solid three weeks. Somehow I managed to limit my restroom need to once per shift. (Yesterday’s shift was 10-1/2 hours. Yoicks!)

When I was “cleared for takeoff” (just last night) I was voiced-mailed to go to the Badging Office for video watching and testing. I arrived at the Office at 10:30 AM this morning (Tuesday and Saturday are my days off right now) and emerged, educated as to my responsibilities as a blue-badged airport employee, at 12:45. The videos I was shown did a good job of covering security basics, which are mostly common-sense things (example: if you badge yourself in through a door, you must be 100% sure that the door closes securely behind you before you leave it) that such as I, being NON-commonsensical, don’t normally think of.

Now I am badged. The badge is good for six months. I trust and hope that I am too.

we say “that does it” in disgust
and stomp away or punch a wall
from failed attempts or thwarted lust
or contents of one’s wallet: dust!
frustration makes us brawl.
but what that does is mess us up
and off our plumb and way and course.
it bollixes addresses up
puts wormwood nectar in our cup
and walks us through the gorse.
“that does it” needs to fade away
if we’d hope to be civilized.
“that doesn’t do it” might hold sway
and move us on to make a day
less bleak; more highly prized.

Wendi SOARensen

Whirling on the potter’s wheel-pristine
Energy enfolds her–velveteen
Nor dare the negative oppress
Discernment; Artisan finesse
In crafting ware that’s singular & clean

Today Wendi Sorensen, one-time (and for all I know, still-is) international corporate attorney, put her wares on display for a holiday sale. She has worked steadily and hard to achieve that lighter-than-air feeling a master potter may impart to the ware. Several years ago her work showed that her heart was in the right place, and, with the right amount of effort and perseverance, could shine. Today it shone, and I was glad to congratulate her on her marvelous achievement.

She happily agreed to the “mug shot” below. The mug was still hot from its 18-hour incubation in her Skutt electric kiln; thus the protective gloves. The glaze is cone 5; the fine shape is pure elbow grease applied over years and years of wheel-wielding.


She is a good soul, and though I see her only once in a blue moon (the time before today was at the now-long-defunct Unlimited Coffee), I always come away from our reconnectings filled with her good energy. Soar on, Ms. Sorensen!!


Friends, it is three years to the day since I began this picaresque blog. I have published somewhere north of 800 posts. Anyone caring to start at December 3, 2012 and go post by consecutive post to the present day would have a good idea of who I am, what I like to do, and what triumphs and tragedies have occurred in my recent life. But who has the time and inclination to do so? Here’s a quick way to go down your own private memory lane with these: Look at the posts that were written on your birthday. There will be at least one, but four at the very most. If your itch still isn’t scratched, go for other important anniversary dates in your life. If you get to a dozen posts without losing interest, please declare victory for both of us.

I have some loyal followers. I’m especially grateful to “The crazy bag lady” and Marlyn Exconde, who both live halfway round the world and are extraordinarily talented. But I am also quite grateful to the thousands of other readers, international and domestic, who’ve given irreplaceable time from their lives to view my blog. Many thanks!!


You’ve been recruited. You’re in a cadre of superheroes whose sigil is the profile of a straightbellied orange pig against a deep gunmettally green background. Your superpower and your mission are identical: you alchemize food service into performance art.

Or: You wake up at 2:45 AM, shower, floss, brush, dress, do your flight-check of absolutely essential items, walk four-odd miles in the dark pre-predawn to the northwest terminus of the Valley Metro Light Rail, catch the 5:00 AM edition of the Light Rail and have it convey you to 44th and Washington, get on the escalator, get on the moving walkway, get on another escalator, get on the Sky Train, hear the automated voice botch “East Economy Station” for the kajillionth time, get out at Terminal Four, and call a manager at 5:53 AM to escort you through TSA testing at the security checkpoint. Your clockin time is 6:00 AM.

Or: in three days you’ve done a ton of watch&learn, and the first thing you ought to learn, but don’t, is to get out of the way. “Walk with purpose,” one of the wait staff, loaded with meals and right behind you, says, and you finally get it. Later you’ll learn to hurry without seeming to. But your head is full of the table numbers and the names of everyone and where you need to be most of the time, a few crucial times, almost never (the bathroom, for instance–act accordingly!), when you need the manager’s override, where you cannot go without an escort, and how to field frequently-asked questions.

Or: a LOT of people are getting to know you awfully fast, and it’s a kaleidoscope of welcome-to-my-worlds when you get to know them. One is AMAZING!! LIVING the DREEAM! One is a magician who arranges a table for five in a split second. One is a bartender with the self-assurance of Zeus. One is a cross-country runner with a full trophy case on the rez. They’re special, and they’re treating you like one of them. You’re “Buddy” and “Baby” and “Brother,” and that’s just the Bs.

Or: You’ve been on your feet for six solid hours with no letup. You’re OK above the ankles but your left foot has decided to cramp at odd intervals and you can’t always walk it off. Finally you get philosophical about it. Bring it on, you stupid foot.

Or: You press the CLOCK IN/OUT part of the screen, slide your card, assure the machine, which sometimes scolds you, that you ARE clocking out and you’re NOT taking a break, and your receipt/record of a week’s worth of work comes sliding out, and you realize that you’re where you should be right now, doing exactly what you should be doing.