Posts Tagged ‘travel


agapantha (and memory exhaustion)

I had no idea it would make me this tired.

at a certain age, let’s say mine for instance, if you stop for just the briefest moment and contemplate all that has come before; the nap in kindergarten on the rag rug, the beret in germany, the leash your mother used to keep you close by when you were a toddler, the smell of your father coming home from the post, having your faced buried in your grandmother’s bosom as she hugged you tight, learning to read, the triumph of an ‘a’, the infatuation of a third-grader for his teacher, the smell of jurgens lotion (chocolate covered-cherries), petey bird  pepper cuddles charlie brown, boy scouts, boys club, big brothers, boys state, secret crushes, snapping sherry’s training bra in 6th grade, disappointing mr. robinson in 8th grade, “petunias never cry in an onion patch”, being teased for your femininity-your ‘otherness’, being beat up, playing the cello piano recorder (none that well), not being able to carry a tune–but so desperately wanting to, your first play, the laughter of the audience–the laughter you caused, applause, straight ‘a’s, your secret boy crushes, your sexual experiments with the neighbor boy your age, your mother, mary, grandparents, uncle, aunts, the sissies, learning to drive, that red pick-up and then the ‘mud queen’, a sort-of-girlfriend, the lack of caring when it failed, college, getting drunk, smoking a joint, french class, theatre, train trips, minnesota winters, sugar beet processing plants, acid trips, making out with girls (and boys), communal showers, dancing, ballet, modern, isadora duncan, chicago, your first blow-job, the goodman, friendships that start sticking, trips home as an adult, going it alone, roommates, apartment living, moving, helping friends move–the piano in the stairwell debacle, a cubs game, the ‘el’, an erection on the 22, black girls with transistor radios blaring, walking home during the day, late at night, the first taste of chicago, summers, winters, falls, springs, waiting tables, lenny, jimmy, john, michael, lee, mr. king the salad queen, michel, arnie, klaus, bill, toni, the pakistani contingent, the fat fuck of a maitre d’ whose name i can never remember until i’m away from writing materials, but whose face and handlebar mustache and grasping hands and leering eyes–little piggy eyes–i can recall clearly, punchinello’s, turtle soup, pudgie, le pub, disco, the hustle, polyester and bell-bottoms, boyfriends–most of them i remember, some have slipped the knots and run away from my grasping need to document every little fuck-and-suck, the thief, the priest, the cellist, and his lover, red high-tops, drinking wine at l’escargot, getting picked up on michigan avenue by my lasalle street banker, lovers who liked to watch from a cracked door, holidays and birthdays, celebrating, drinking (i know i mentioned that before, but it bears repeating), making ‘herbal’ tea out of stems and seeds of the last of the bag of marijuana, smoking cigarettes–kools, marlboros, merits, benson & hedges, camels, gitanes, espresso, lemon rind, miller beer, and asti-spumante, laura nyro, joni mitchell, labelle, and joan, i’m sure there are others, but what do you care?, and i’m not even 28 yet; uptown, downtown, mid-town, and soho, the meat-packing district, the mudd club–my punk phase (only because the boys were cute…and easy), black flagg, henry rollins (lust), the russians, the french, the english, i claudius, violet and wally, 4 flights of stairs, despair and the agony of loss, euphoria, the manic-depression of going nowhere (fast), 29; you may find yourself dead-tired.

p.s. his name is gerard, the maitre d’ whose name i can never recall–it came to me in the shower just now and even though i had no writing materials at hand…i managed to make it through washing my hair, peach scrub my face, body wash, stand under the rainshower head and stare off into space, dry myself off, open the door to let the steam out, shave, moisturize (what? you don’t?), dress, and get to the computer with his name still on my lips. i guess i’m not that tired after all.


a travelogue, in which the author visits with jean-hippolyte flandrin & considers other points of interest along the road

for many years, when i was a boy, i could lay on my bed and travel the world just by looking up or looking sideways; my walls were papered with maps that came with national geographic (a yearly christmas gift from my wyoming grandparents–the homesteaders, who liked to travel, at least in the continental west, in fact i don’t recall if they ever went east of the missouri river in all of their years together, but they were on intimate terms with the spine of the states–this side of the rockies and that one, from canada to mexico and all of the little nooks and crannies in-between.)

the imaginary adventures i went on, down the amazon and up the nile (it is interesting to note how some rivers are ‘up’ rivers and others are ‘down’, isn’t it? or is that just me?  no matter.)  these dreams of travel were flat, pre-galileo, pre-columbian if you’d rather, so flat that it always confounded me later, after i started to get around on my own, how round the world seemed, particularly if viewed from a great height, not just in an airplane, but from the top of a tall building or the peak of a mountain (pisgah, harney, pike’s, haleakala) when all the world it seems is laid at your feet, and your stomach does that little flip of acknowledgement of your smallness in spite of conquering the world as you are with your feet spread wide, the wind blowing your clothes so tight against your body you might actually be flying with the eagles, soaring, dipping, and riding the currents of time and nature.

i haven’t traveled much, at least not compared with some of my friends and acquaintances.  yes, i’ve been here and there and i’ve had a lot fun in _____ and _______; amazed by this monument, and fell in love (again) with this painter or another when i finally saw their work in situ, the emanations of their life rumbling under the soles of my feet as i stood outside the door of their studio (i need not tell you the where, you can imagine that on your own) or stood at the very top of _____ ____ and let literature come to life, bells ringing, the crowd below roaring (or that could have been my companion poleaxed by vertigo screaming for me to come down from there).

and it’s interesting to note that i don’t mind so much that i haven’t been everywhere i dreamed of as a child, the jungles, the deserts, the savannahs, the mountains, and the seas (although someday i do hope to visit ___ in southern ______, because i feel a strong connection to that specific area of that particular continent–although i fear it may be only because of learning and not a spiritual one; the answer would only be found by being there.)   but i consider myself fortunate to have visited as many places as i have through books, maps, paintings, and music and whether or not i ever stay at chateau de roussan or get to see “jeune homme nu assis au bord de la mer” at the louvre again doesn’t really matter; i’m quite happy traveling there in the comfort of my imagination.


underwater holiday

i took a little trip yesterday.   there was no need to organize a wardrobe or pull the suitcases out of the garage.  there were no tickets to buy or itinerary to plan.

the dogs did not need to be boarded (they were ecstatic at the news), and i did not have to cancel the paper or mail delivery.  i did not have to leave emergency numbers with the neighbors or arrange to have the houseplants and garden watered in my absence.

this was an unexpected trip and one that i was lucky to realize was about to begin.  the morning was overcast, a cool wind off the ocean kept everyone in jackets, sweatshirts and hats.

the departure gates were unmarked, but if you had been there, I’m sure you would have seen them too.   there were attendants to answer questions and offer assistance should you require it, but for the most part they stood silently apart from the voyagers, silently observing the passage of time.

and during this trip, there were plenty of photo opportunities–the guides making it their duty to advise and direct your attention to this monument or that vista–and as far as i could tell, most everyone took advantage of their excellent suggestions.

as it happens on trips such as this one, i returned home refreshed, rejuvenated, prepared to face what the rest of my life (even if i was only focused on the day ahead) had in store for me.


a lack of profundity (intended)

I am drawing no universal truths from today.  It was a Sunday like many other Sundays at our house.  We slept in courtesy of ‘Spring Forward’ (even the dogs were loath to get going, sensing, I believe, that time had made an adjustment in their schedule, normally they are as accurate as Swiss timepieces.)  The sun was already up & shining brightly by the time we were out for the morning walk, fortified by a strong cup of coffee, a little blogging, the front section of the L.A. Times (me, of course, the dogs don’t drink coffee, but they do love the Times & you should see their blog.)

I finally got all things pointing in the right direction & headed over to our local farmer’s market, where I picked up the usual:  a bunch of carrots, two heads of lettuce, fresh garlic (3), a bunch of cilantro, asparagus, a three-pack of strawberries (I did complain about last week’s berries, I didn’t mean to complain, it really was intended as an observation, but I guess it sounded whiny & they gave me a $2.00 discount on today’s purchase & when I demurred they told me not to argue with them–which I promise, I hadn’t been,) 3 pink lady apples, 3 pears (bosc), sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.  I considered sugar snap peas, but they were $3.75 per pound which seemed high to me, so I passed.

Back home, M. & I had lunch (wraps & strawberries!) then bundled up the dogs & headed up to Whittier (ugh, the 5 freeway–flowing freely until Firestone, then stop-and-go until we hit the 605) to check out an antique mart, King Richard’s Antiques (for M.’s business) & to meet with the owner who’s putting together a street fair in Whittier this April where M. will be a vendor.

Dogs were only allowed in if carried, so M. went in while I stood outside with Billy & Joey.   Billy is the more outgoing of the two, always open to be petted & fawned over (he’s so soft to the touch, you’d be amazed, & I think he knows how good he feels.)

So soft in fact, that he rivals Jesus Christ, at least in this instance, in his power to demand attention & offer succor to the weary.

King Richard’s was located near a bike/running trail, one obviously well-tended by the city/state with amazing blooming trees, succulents & lavender.

M. finished his business, & then it was my turn to take a quick turn around the store.

One section was eerily lit by a frosted western window that added a note of Los Angeles ‘noir’ to the display, startling me when I realized madam was a mannequin.

But startled or not, I was completely smitten by the light being filtered through the dirt, the ages & the completely tacky 1980s chandeliers suspended from the ceiling.

I stumbled upon several gilt tables reflected in a mirror, that just begged for a photo & it wasn’t until I downloaded today’s visuals that I realized I was standing in 3rd position–gotta dance!

On my way out, I was surprised to see that metallic (the ’80s again!) was making a comeback — at least in Whittier, if not the rest of the Los Angeles basin.

We drove home (605 south to the 91 east to the 5 south) in record time & then the dogs & I went for a short walk, where we stopped to admire the coastline & say a little non-denominational prayer, re: how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful spot on the globe.

But we turned away from the view & headed home (doggie dinner!) but had to stop to admire the sego palm in bloom & consider its erotic aspects, its fecundity, its ancient, pleistocene ancestry.   That’s it!  Draw your own conclusions (I’m fresh out.)



Before recording digitally every waking moment <insert nostalgia sigh here>, some of us wrote things down in a little black book of blank pages–mine started in Chicago in 197_ and ended in 197_.  Although I oftentimes missed it and attempted to restart it–it seemed that photographs, work, lovers, friends, living, replaced it.   Alright, I lacked discipline.  There, I’ve said it.

June 30, 1976 – Wed.   New York, New York.  Have been here since Sunday.  Monday night we went to Maxwell’s Plum for Dinner — it was outstanding.  I have seen so much and done so much and enjoyed myself so much — I don’t really want to leave  — but I can always come back, can’t I?

The view from R. & B.'s apartment on Morton Street in the West Village.

Life is so bizarre — before I left on my vacation Jim C. decided that we were no longer to be friends and I suddenly realized how very petty he is and it’s fine with me if doesn’t want my friendship.  I was under his control for too long.  I imagine that more of him was coming off on me than I wish to concede or even want to admit.  Let him go his merry way, castrating himself from other people until he is all alone–an island among the sea and we’ll see how long until he’s destroyed by the sea.  How long can loneliness be happiness?

Tonight I’m going to see “Three Penny Opera” [starring Raul Julia] at Lincoln Center — last night we saw David Rabe’s new play “Streamers” directed by Mike Nichols — it was so very good —

July 6, 1976 Tues. — am going home for a week now.  Will be nice contrast to New York — in the continuing saga of the aforementioned [trip to NYC] — I saw Tony Perkins in “Equus” — a marvelous piece of acting and a very controlled play.  I also saw Marcel Carné’s film — Children of Paradise — the New Yorker magazine says it is the perfect film – they were right.  On Sat. afternoon, B. and I saw American Ballet Theatre — Baryshnikov danced Twyla Tharp’s Push Comes to Shove.  It was an amazing concept in ballet!

What I didn’t record was that I was in New York for the bicentennial and witnessed the tall ships sail up the Hudson, along with amazing fireworks over the Statue of Liberty — and — that one day during my trip there, R. & I walked from 92nd St. and Broadway all the way downtown to their Morton Street apartment in the West Village.  And then, of course, there were the men–Christopher Street was filled with gay men (all with hairy shoulders–which at the time impressed me no end–today, not so much, well, okay, maybe a little.)

At home in South Dakota the following week, July 1976.

July 12, 1976 – Mon —

a dream – walking through slush and snow in New York City wearing black rubber galoshes — come upon Dean R. painting a fire escape, then I meet David B. and we sit and talk and then we walk through Washington Square Park and then into his apartment which is very gypsy-looking, lots of pillows and drapes–almost tent-like–I’m confused as to whether or not I work that night or have a dance class–the dream ends.  My dreams at home were terribly erotic and violent — but not in the nightmare sense.  I have the ability to dream and remember those dreams.

Flash forward 12 years–M. & I vacation in Puerto Rico/St. Thomas/St. John.  There is no journal recording my feelings, just photographs, but they, they completely define the time we spent there.  Which is better–journal or photos?  For now, looking back–I must rely on both.

Trunk Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, November 1988.


check engine

check engine

In the department of mundane affairs, the other day the ‘check engine’ light came on in my old ‘liberal-mobile’ (with a bumper sticker espousing my liberal agenda.)  This turn of events necessitated a trip to the auto-repair facility that I frequent; frequent being the most important word, as this problem has been recurring since June of this year.  <sigh>

the u turn

First, I check the side mirror for oncoming traffic and prepare to make a u-turn from the curb, much as in life one must take a rear view in order to move forward.

leaving home

As is often the case, I must make the choice of actually leaving the neighborhood; left is out, right circles back around with the option of staying.

aliso wood canyon

This stop offers another opportunity to escape reality, but the downhill pull is powerful and I relent to the laws of gravity.


Vanity is sometimes an obscure puzzle of consonants and the occasional vowel.

aliso creek

At this hour (shortly after 8 AM) there is much traffic–some going to the high school nearby, other fleeing the high school on their way to work and their thoughts turn from kids to income.

land of lexus

Many supplicants in our community worship at the feet of the twin gods, Lexus and Mercedes, with obscure paeans to their religion of luxury emblazoned in metal as empowered by the state.


Target signals the toll road and my final opportunity to escape the shackles of commerce and trade for the day.

freeway entrance

This ramp sluices into the highway like a neural pathway, signaling the onset of freeway trance.

ocean view

The toll road slices through pristine wilderness (saved by a concerted community effort) and eventually peaks/peeks at the ocean in the distance.

newport coast

With a storm rolling in, the view to Los Angeles has been wiped with chalky clouds.

mcfadden ave

Off the freeway at last and into the more ‘urban’ area of our county.  What? You don’t see any difference?

valencia gardens

Saving money, for one, is more important and not being afraid to advertise it is your first clue that the ‘economic climate’ has changed in this neighborhood.

bus stop

People actually take public transportation here and are not embarrassed by doing so.


There are billboards (celebrity diseases!) along city streets, preaching to people who cannot afford to give or to buy, a sure sign of urbanization.


Everything familiar from my neighborhood has changed…the cars, the buses, the stoplights, the views.

nuts bolts rivets

But now I find myself in the parking lot of the car repair shop — and there staring back at me is NUTS BOLTS RIVETS.  Wouldn’t life be simpler if we concentrated on what we do best?  No SCREWS, no WASHERS, just NUTS BOLTS RIVETS.  I’m challenged by this simplicity and bold affirmation.



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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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