Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the month “March, 2017”

On The Road Again

WHILE THE CIRCUS IN WASHINGTON CONTINUES I find that there are smaller side shows going on that I find both interesting and entertaining.

Example: While we were down in Texas, visiting family and avoiding nasty northern weather there was a great story on the TV about two Congressional Representatives from The Lone Star State who felt the need to get back to Washington and actually do their jobs. The problem for them achieving this end was that the entire northeast, including D.C. was getting blasted by a late winter snowstorm and airports in the area were closed down.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2016 – “Dialogue With A Daschund”

Dialogue With A Daschund

dog tilt 2HAVE YOU EVER TALKED WITH A DOG?

I mean, sat down and had a face to muzzle conversation with a dog? If you have you know that it doesn’t take long to see that, aside from their name, and a word or two like “bacon,” or “down,” they really don’t know what you’re talking about. The movement of your lips might keep their eyes focused on you, but deep down you know that nothing is really getting through.

I get that same feeling when I try speaking with some people.

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What, And Give Up Show Business?

WE ARE DOWN IN TEXAS FOR A SHORT VISIT. Not only is that a good thing in and of itself, but the weather is certainly better than up north – no snow and I’m actually going around clad in the season’s first outings for my Hawaiian shirts. I look like a tourist.

Another difference, whether we travel to Texas, Ireland, or wherever is local television. Local television outside of your major markets is where you can see careers beginning, careers flourishing, and careers ending – sometimes all within the span of a few days.

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Creation, Version 1.3

MY CELL PHONE WAS ACTING UP THIS MORNING. Nothing serious. It just appeared to be possessed by demons and wasn’t cooperating at all. Who knows why? So, I did what any sane person would do – I rebooted the darned thing.

Voila! It was all better – obedient, colorful, and utilitarian with no backtalk.

Don’t you wish life was like that? Your day is just not working right – the car wouldn’t start, your Boss is having another psychotic rampage, and when you get home the power is out and the cat has trashed the bathroom.

Time for a Reboot!

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My Morning With The Queen

car1UP WITH THE CHICKENS AND THE NEIGHBOR’S INSOMNIAC DOG THIS MORNING. I’ll be taking the Toyota (Barcelona Red) into the dealer for an oil change, tire rotation, and its 30k mile checkup. That sounds a lot like what happens when I go to see my human doctor, except maybe for the tire rotation bit. I do that myself: Shoes in good weather and my boots when it gets cold or rainy.

I don’t suppose that there was any good reason for me to agree to bring the car in at 7:45 AM. That really disrupts my morning routine.

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Fiction Saturday Chapter 32- “And Pull The Hole In After You” – Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Thirty-Two

 

pull-taxiThe cab was festooned with bobble-head dolls of Elvis, The Beatles, and Ricky Martin.  The Virgin Mary held the place of honor in the center of the dashboard.  Red and gold dingleballs circled every window and lying on the rear window deck was a three-foot-long crucifix.

The cab driver, dressed in a crisp yellow shirt, was doing his standard sales pitch to yet another pair of Yanqui tourists.

“Buenas dias.  Let Tomás be your guide for the day.  Only two hundred dollars—well  worth the price.  Tomás knows all the best restaurants and shops.  And I can get you the best seats for the bullfights.  My cousin is a matador.  Deal, okay?  Best price in Tijuana.” His accent made him sound like a parody of Cheech and Chong.

Davis looked at Laura, who was still holding the brochure outlining the benefits of membership in the San Diego Skyscrapers.  She shook her head.  This was a business trip.

“No, not today,” said Laura.  “Just drop us up on the main drag.  Maybe next time we’ll get the tour.  Okay?”

“Okay, you the boss, but, I can show you where to get genuine Armani suits for three hundred dollars, with free alterations.  Best price in Tijuana.”

“Another time, my friend,” said Davis.

Laura pulled a piece of paper from her pocket.

“Say, do you know any good photographers?” asked Laura.

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If A Tree Falls In The Woods…

fam1FAMILIES ARE AMAZING INSTITUTIONS. Some people can trace their “tree” back centuries into the shadowy mists of time while others seem to have popped up with the most recent rainfall. I think it all depends on how much research you want to do and how much fertilizer you are willing to spread.

Today’s world is one where our lives are very fluidic. People move from one place to another as easily as a mountain stream. Town to Town, City to City, Continent to Continent. Immigration and Emigration are words we hear every day.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2016 – “Turn Your Head And Cough”

 

Turn Your Head And Cough

 

IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE I’VE HEARD THAT. I heard it this morning.

At 8:45 this morning I had a “Medicare Wellness Exam.” The last time I had an exam that thorough I almost ended up in the Army.

My usual visits to the doctor last twenty minutes or so. This one took an hour and a half. Of course, the first fifteen minutes were with the nurse who went beyond the usual questions. Most days it is, “Have you had any headaches?” Today it was, “Can you go to the bathroom by yourself?” She also had me reading the standard cliché eye chart to determine if I was blind or not. “Can you feed yourself?” “Do you fall over easily”

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I Kinda Like The Idea

“IT’S GOOD TO BE KING!” – Mel Brooks

Even in a world with very few Monarchs who are anything more than figureheads being a King still sounds like a good job. The days have passed when mobs of peasants used to storm the Palace with torches and pitchforks. Very few people have pitchforks anymore and I don’t recall ever seeing anyone carrying a real, honest to goodness torch. Yes, I think that might be the job for me – “King Krafty.” That has a nice ring to it.

There are only a couple of obstacles in my way.

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Joey Who?

joey1IT LOOKS LIKE SPRINGTIME IS FINALLY HERE. I see robins and cardinals and they don’t look worried about frostbite. There are giant Vs overhead going north and there are new baseball stars on the horizon.

Major League Baseball teams have been heavy into Spring Training for over a month and just like the new flowers that pop up in the spring so do new young players.

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I Don’t Need That At 6 AM


old1

THE WORLD IS PICKING ON ME TODAY. It’s just not fair and I want it to stop. Everything is conspiring to make me feel old. OK. So I am old, I just don’t like having my nose rubbed in it like a misbehaving puppy.

First thing this morning, and I am still sitting on the edge of the bed trying to figure out which foot is my left one, when the early morning local news hits me with a cheap shot.

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole… Chapter 31 Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter 31 – Continued

pull-border-mcd“That’s two Egg McMuffins’ with cheese and two coffees, and thank you for visiting McDonald’s, Buenos dias.”

“And buon giorno to you.”

Laura picked up the tray and turned around to look for Davis.  He had found them a table by the wall.  The restaurant was already half filled and would soon be packed, just as Vivian had predicted.

“Here we go,” she said.  “Oh, could we switch seats?  I want to be able to look out of the window.”

“Sure, no problem,” said Davis.  They traded places.  Davis could see the side door that opened onto the small parking lot and Laura could scan the entire plaza.

As she poured a pink envelope of sweetener into her coffee, Laura’s eyes picked out the good guys and the wise guys.

“Vivian was right.  This plaza is overloaded with cops and I see three guys that might be Dominic’s boys and two more over on that bench back by the train.  He must have called in reinforcements.  I don’t recognize them.  Damn!”

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What Is This Stuff?

faber1TO QUOTE THE FOUNDER OF THAT GREAT INSTITUTION OF HIGHER LEARNING – FABER COLLEGE, “KNOWLEDGE IS GOOD.”

Knowledge is that which is universally agreed upon to be really good “Stuff”. And it is better to go through life with good “Stuff”.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2016 – “One Person’s Trivia…”

One Person’s Trivia Is Another Person’s McRib

mcd firstSOMETIMES THERE IS A BENEFIT when the conversation takes a turn to something boring. This morning over coffee one of the Usual Suspects started to talk politics. My brain glazed over and my eyes began to wander. It was then that I saw a teeny-tiny mention of no import.

 

“McDonald’s opens restaurant in 120th country.”

Sonovagun. I never would have guessed it was that many.

While voices muffled by politics faded in the background I read on.

The newest nation to allow Ronald the Clown to cross their borders is – (Fanfare!)

KAZAKHSTAN.mcd kazak

I do have to admit that my knowledge of Kazakhstan is rather limited, but as a McDonald’s stockholder for the last 30+ years I feel obligated to learn what I can. So, here goes.

Mcd pres

Nursultan Bazarbayev

Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked nation on earth (ergo: not much of a navy).

It has a population of about 18 million souls, and now, 1 McDonald’s.   The Capital city is Astana. The President of Kazakhstan is Nursultan Bazarbayev. He is generally considered to be an authoritarian ruler (read “dictator”). It is unknown at this time whether or not he likes the McRib mcd mcribSandwich.     

That’s it. That’s all of the relevant information about Kazakhstan I could dig up.

McDonald’s, with its new restaurant in Kazakhstan, has well over 36,000 sets of Golden Arches worldwide. They employ 1.9 million people. I would wager that most of them are either teenagers, senior citizens, or people who were just not Taco Bell material. I may be wrong, but my personal observation of the McD’s here in Terre Haute (That’s Kazakh for “Where’s my Shamrock Shake?”) tell me that I’m not wrong.

In my own personal experience I have been in McDonald’s all over this country and in Ireland. I have no intention of trying to visit all of them. There are people who try to do that, traveling all over the map in a quest to visit them all. These are people who will eventually work at McDonald’s. Who else would hire them after looking at a resume with a twenty year gap during which they ate breakfast, lunch and dinner next to Ronald the Clown.

In an effort to gather information for this snippet of reality I went to the McDonald’s Corporate website to learn more about their worldwide operations. Fascinating.

mcd irelandMcDonald’s has blanketed Europe. There are more than 50 Mickey D’s in Ireland. While I’m there (leaving for Dublin in just a few days) I may visit one to satisfy my need for fries (chips), but I think we will eat at home most days.

I learned that there are 11 McD’s in Lithuania, ancestral home of my mother’s side of the family. Europe is definitely well served.mcd lith

The one glaring gap on the world map is on the continent of Africa.

There are about 23 McDonald’s in Egypt – more than I expected.

There are 200 stores in South Africa. That is way more than I would have guessed.

That’s it. Egypt on the north coast of the continent and South Africa at the other end. In between – nada.

If you live, let’s say in Burkina Faso (another landlocked country) and you have a craving for an order of Chicken McNuggets – you are SOL – Snack Out of Luck. You are going to have to hoof mcd burkinait across the Sahara to Egypt or, if you’re not in a hurry, pack a sandwich and head south, way south.

 

I admit that I have not delved deep into the subject to determine if there might be a Burger King or even a Subway (Sans Jarrod) in Burkina Faso. If there is – all I can say is “You deserve a break today. Boy, do you ever.”

mcd nuggets

All I Want Is Everything Done My Way

ok1I’M NOT PICKY. REALLY, I’M NOT. I just like things done the way I want. Is that too much to ask? I think not. When things are not going the way I like, I tend to get cranky. This morning is a case in point.

The time: early this morning – about 6:45 AM. It is still dark outside. It is 30 degrees colder than it was yesterday at this time and I haven’t had my coffee yet.

When I stepped out into the cold the motion detector light mounted by the door does not go on so I have to inch my way to the car. It rained last night and there are patches of ice everywhere. Things are not going well and I am already starting to growl softly.

I made it to the car, turned the key to start it up and I am immediately blasted by 150 decibels of the Zak Brown Band. I must have not turned it off last night.

After putting my heart back in my chest I enjoyed the peaceful drive, all two blocks of it, to St. Arbucks – my oasis, my refuge, my aerie to let me observe the world below.

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Pack A Lunch

highway-sign-jpgSOME THINGS ARE JUST BEYOND MY COMPREHENSION. A fact can be as hard and cold as last week’s biscuits, but I still can’t easily slip it into place in my brain. I’m not stupid, despite testimony to the contrary. I’m just a skeptical sort who enjoys being persuaded.

What brings this to the front right now? Lemme tell you.

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Temporal Dyslexia

WE ARE NOW INTO DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME AND I’M HOPEFUL. Technically speaking I lost an hour of sleep in the shift from Daylight Wasting Time or whatever it’s called. That change took place last Fall and even though I supposedly gained an hour all it did was screw up my life.

For years, decades even, my internal alarm clock woke me up at 7 AM. –Everyday. Each and every work day, Monday through Friday. It was a reliable alarm clock, even though it never did pick up on the trick that Weekends, Holidays, and Vacations didn’t require such diligence. I adjusted.

Everything cruised along as smooth as the sales pitch of a guy selling time-shares in Heaven…until last Fall.

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole… Continued Chapter 31

Fiction Saturday 

 

Chapter 31

pull-traffic-borderThe traffic heading south on Interstate 5 was heavy, as usual.  Every day of the week thousands of cars and trucks drive from the United States into Mexico through the crossing at San Ysidro, the last little community before the border.

All manner of merchandise goes over into Mexico by truck.  A much narrower range of cargo comes back the other way.

The United States Border Patrol has the unpleasant and futile duty of trying to stop the flow of illicit drugs and other contraband that spews across the border by the truckload every day.  Their best tools in this struggle are highly trained dogs and years of experience in spotting drug mules—the the people who attempt to cross into the U.S. with bundles of narcotics strapped onto, or ingested into, their bodies.  They get caught at the border with stunning regularity.  The drug wholesalers who send them don’t seem to care, because they know that even the small number who do squeak past the dogs and the eagle eyes of the Border Patrol make it an incredibly profitable method of transport.

As a result, the crossing at Tijuana is one of the most heavily-monitored international borders between two countries that aren’t actually shooting at each other, although that is starting to happen as well.

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Three Little Words

dnraI KNOW A YOUNG BLOGGER, whose work I really enjoy. Recently she mentioned that she had decided to sign a “DNR” form. For the uninitiated “DNR” stands for “Do Not Resuscitate.” It is an alert to medical personnel that the person who signed the form does not want any measures, like CPR, to be taken to keep them alive if their heart stops beating or they stop breathing. Serious business.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2015

The Five People I Almost Killed

Sedaka

FOLLOWING UP ON PREVIOUS SATURDAYS I have decided to post another piece from my catalog.

This was written as a performance piece to be done in front of a live audience.

                             ***** 

I think it is important to stress that in the title of this piece I say “almost killed,” and not “killed.” To the best of my knowledge I have never actually killed anyone. I just tend to come close. Sometimes very close and I’ve done so five times – so far. The five nearly “dearly departed” have all shared one characteristic: they are, or to a large degree were, famous. Let me explain.

 

Neil Sedaka -A pop singer and songwriter and almost the filling for a chalk outline on the pavement.

 I was driving on California Street in San Francisco up the steep grade to the top of Nob Hill. While motoring legally, staying in my lane, I noticed a fellow in a bright orange track suit jogging down the sidewalk. Under other circumstances, dressed like that, one could easily have mistaken him for a small-time Mob Soldier with poor taste in casual wear. The way things were progressing there should not have been any cause for alarm. Then Mr. Sedaka made his almost fateful move.

Without warning or, I suspect, even a sense of awareness of his heavily urban surroundings, Neil Sedaka, early Rock and Roll icon and current attraction at the Venetian Room in one of the swank hotels on Nob Hill, decided to make a sharp left turn. He veered from the safety of the sidewalk out into the street and directly into the path of my three thousand pound piece of American Steel.

 I slammed onto my brakes and my Ford began to slide on the steel Cable Car tracks. That wasn’t helping the situation. When I at last managed a complete stop and unclenched my teeth I was able to enjoy an extreme close-up of Neil Sedaka, who stood no more than six inches in front of my front bumper. I have to admit that I’ve never seen eyes that wide open on anything this side of seafood. His mouth was drawn into a grimace that was probably halfway through pronouncing something like, “Oh, crap,” or “Please God, not while I’m dressed like this.”

To say we made eye contact would be a severe understatement. I imagine that in his eyes I looked pretty scary too. I do recall that we both made a quick Sign of the Cross and I’d wager that we both pinched a sphincter as well.

 After what seemed to be several hours, but was probably no more than three seconds, Neil Sedaka, the great, and nearly late, singer of 1950s popular tunes, finished crossing the street and headed back to his hotel, no doubt for a stiff drink and a change of clothing. I continued on down California Street. I have no idea where I was headed after that. All I knew was that I came very close to having my name finally appear in the pages of Variety.

 And then there was the time that I almost killed Hollywood legend Henry Fonda.

 I was in New York City for a long weekend. I flew in to catch a few shows and see some old friends. I was not there to end the life and career of one of this nation’s finest actors. I just came close, that’s all.

It was Saturday night and I was attending a performance of “American Buffalo,” starring Robert Duvall. The theater was just down the block from Times Square. My seat was in one of the side boxes up above the sold out orchestra section. It was a good place to scan the audience for celebrities. I spotted both Kevin McCarthy of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” fame and Henry Fonda. Both were resplendent in very handsome tuxedos. I was not. Put me in a tuxedo and I begin to resemble a black-tie bowling ball.

After the final curtain, as the audience was shuffling out, I was directed to join a flow of other folks and exit the theater by a side door. I guess they didn’t want us mixing with the better dressed people who were probably heading off to the Rainbow Room or some other fancy nightspot – not to Howard Johnson’s for fried clams.

When I got through the exit door I found myself on a very crowded sidewalk, filled to overflowing with happy theatergoers. I turned left and quickly headed up the street. I hadn’t gone more than fifteen feet when I collided with another impatient audience member who was hurrying to get into the long black limo parked at the curb. We slammed into each other with enough force to rock us both back on our heels. Instinctively, we both reached out in an attempt to steady ourselves and prevent falling to the ground. I grabbed onto the nearest person, as did he. I grabbed onto Henry Fonda and Henry Fonda grabbed onto me.

When we steadied a bit we both shouted, “Are you alright?” After all, Mr. Fonda was getting up in years, speeding toward his role in “On Golden Pond.” He had his entourage behind him pushing him back to a fully upright and locked position. I had him.

I’m sure the look on my face must have been a mixture of pain, shock, and “Uh-oh, I will be hated by the movie-going public forever if he dies.” The look on his face also reflected pain, shock and, “Uh-oh, this could cost me a bundle if this guy sues.”

For a remarkably skinny older gent he seemed pretty strong. He had ahold of my jacket with both hands and pulled me back up straight.

We stood there just looking at each other for a few seconds until our eyes stopped rattling. We both apologized for the collision and then we shook hands. At that point his “People” hustled him to his limo like they feared I was some sort of clumsy assassin with three names.

Kevin McCarthy was nowhere to be seen. I guess his body had been snatched safely out of my reach.

And then there was the time I almost killed Rock Superstar Graham Nash.

One of the stellar attractions of Washington D.C., aside from the ability to vent one’s frustrations by standing on the Mall and being able to shake your fists in the direction of both Congress and The White house simultaneously, is visiting the Smithsonian Institution. There you can experience both American and World cultural treasures.

A few years ago my wife and I were in D.C. and enjoying strolling through the exhibit halls of the Smithsonian. While there we saw a sign by the top of an escalator announcing an event having to with “The Greats of Rock and Roll.” I think you can see where this is going – up the escalator.

The collision, while not seismic in magnitude, certainly made an impression on both of us – actually on all three of us. This time it was my wonderful wife, Dawn, and I who “met up with” one third of Crosby, Stills and Nash. We had a two-to-one advantage.

My first impression of Graham Nash was, “Who the heck is this clumsy oaf?” My second impression was that the answer to that question was, “Me.” I have to admit that I really wasn’t paying attention to where I was going as we stepped off the escalator. I was busy reading the sign about the “Rock and Roll Greats” who were going to be visiting the Smithsonian and I turned directly into the path of the tall guy in the really nice suit.

As the pattern established in my previous near homicidal experiences, he and I grabbed each other to steady ourselves. Actually, I think we both grabbed out in an effort to steady just me. Graham Nash was much younger than Henry Fonda and I was now considerably older than I was when I rammed into Mr. Fonda.

While Dawn and I were there to just casually roam the halls, it appears that Graham Nash was there to participate in a scholarly seminar on “Woodstock, Flower Power and How David Crosby Has Managed To Still Be Alive,” or something similar.

Once we disentangled ourselves, Graham Nash and we all apologized and asked if any of us were mortally injured. Assured that we would all survive to collide another day, he hurried off to be scholarly-like and Dawn and I gazed after him, wondering out loud, “Who was that guy? He looks familiar.” Dawn commented that he certainly had a nice head of snow-white hair and I said that he was quite tall and had a great tailor. “Nice suit.”

It wasn’t long until our mutual light bulbs flashed on. “That was Graham Nash,” we both said, almost simultaneously. And we were both right. Of course, by then it was too late to prolong my grabbing hold on him and pose for some snapshots. Instead I have to be content with the memory of our brief encounter and to add him to this pantheon of my proximities with other people’s passing.

And then there was the time I almost killed well known actor Danny Glover.

I was minding my own business, not bothering anyone, when all of a sudden I found myself seatbelt deep in another near-manslaughter experience. And this time I had the feeling that at least one of us was truly going to buy the farm – and it was more likely to be me. Size matters.

I was living in San Francisco, in the old Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. It is an area, in a city known for being crowded and not motorist-friendly. The streets are narrow and clogged with cars, buses, trucks, and out of work performance artists steering pedal-cabs through traffic hauling around frozen tourists from Indiana. You can always spot the tourists in San Francisco. They are the blue people. They come to California expecting it to all be sunshine and surfs-up weather. Instead they find polar current powered gale force winds and hordes of eager sweatshirt vendors.

I was in my compact Ford approaching the intersection of Haight St. and Masonic Ave. – one of the busiest intersections in the area. I was planning on going straight up Haight. Unfortunately my plans meant nothing to the guy in the huge woodland green Range Rover coming the other way who decided to make a left turn onto Masonic. I must assume that Range Rovers did not come equipped with turn signals for that model year. Either that or the other driver had never mastered the complicated ritual involved to activate his turn signals. Luckily both vehicles had good brakes. If one of us had not had them we would have ended up sharing a front seat.

The sound of screeching brakes brought all other traffic, automotive and pedestrian, to a halt. It was a shame that I had left my celebrity autograph book at home because, in that moment, I found myself bulging eyeball to bulging eyeball with Danny Glover. I enjoyed him in “The Color Purple.” I enjoyed him in all six hundred of the “Lethal Weapon” films. I did not enjoy him looming over me, with a death grip on the steering wheel of his six thousand pound chunk of British Status Symbol inches away from my car window. Danny Glover has a very large head. Perhaps it just looked that way because he was so close.

That Range Rover is a legendary off-road vehicle and Danny Glover came within inches of taking it off-road and “On-John.” My car would have, maybe, left a smudge on his bumper if we had collided. The Ford and I would have been reduced to a wet spot.

Sitting there in the intersection, Danny Glover, grimacing down at me, I felt, just for a moment mind you, like Oprah felt in the early reels of “The Color Purple.” Danny can be an imposing figure. I feel that I can call him Danny since we were so close.

Finally, other drivers on the street began to honk their horns. No one was dead. There were no flaming infernos blocking the way – just two guys who had come close to crashing. “Nothing to see here – move along, people.”

Slowly, after his blood pressure subsided and his eyeballs receded back into their sockets, Danny Glover finished his ill-advised left turn and exited both the intersection and my life. If Danny and I ever meet again under more sociable circumstances I will remind him of our first meeting and tell him that he holds a special place in my list of the five people I almost killed. And that he owes me for the cost of having my upholstery professionally cleaned.

And then there was the time I almost killed, lead guitarist of The Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia.

“What a long strange trip it has been.”

Why, why, why do these things continue to happen to me?  Is it just a case of being in the wrong place at the right time? Am I meeting these people or are they meeting me? Is it all some sort of a sarcastic, dumb as a box of rocks, Kismet?

I never meant to almost shuffle off Jerry Garcia’s mortal coil. It’s not like I was stalking the man. After all, our coincidental meeting took place in my neighborhood, not his. Actually, it took place at the same intersection where I shared a special moment with Danny Glover.

This time I was the one making a turn. I was in the right-hand lane. My car had turn signals and I knew how to use them. I indicated my intention to go right onto Masonic Avenue and I started my turn. It was at this point that Jerry Garcia almost joined “The Suddenly Dead.”

While Danny Glover was at the wheel of a large off-road vehicle, Jerry Garcia, a Rock and Roll icon, adored by a huge, fanatically loyal following known as “Deadheads,” and incidentally, a very wealthy man, was moving through San Francisco traffic on a bicycle. That is a dangerous thing to do – even if I’m not nearby.

I began my turn onto Masonic, heading downhill at this point, when from behind a vehicle coming uphill, a rather chubby, bearded man on a bicycle pulls out into the downhill lane, pedaling furiously. At this point we were no more than twenty feet apart. While riding a bike in heavy traffic is risky business, doing so into the face of oncoming traffic, with me headed right at you, is just asking for it.

Calling upon my gazelle-like reflexes I hit the brakes and Jerry, with the sudden realization of the situation all over his face, swerved his bike toward the curb. I have to admit that he had a pretty good reaction time for a man his age. He threaded that bike out of traffic, over the curb, narrowly missing a tree and a large bus shelter. He skidded to a stop, across the busy sidewalk, up against the side wall of a local brew-pub. The people seated inside must have been surprised to see a real, luckily alive, rock star outside the window gasping for breath and, undoubtedly, with the pulse rate of a hummingbird.

 If I had hit him with my car, he would not have qualified for my list because of the modifier “almost.” Jerry Garcia would have died several years sooner than he did.

 As an afterthought – I was still living in that neighborhood when Jerry Garcia actually did die, without my involvement. The street was quickly besieged by news crews wanting to photograph Deadheads in Mourning. On the corner of Haight and Ashbury, ground zero for misplaced and discarded youths, CNN and a couple other news contingents were crowded around a young woman who was sitting on the sidewalk tending to several lighted candles. She appeared to be weeping and wailing. Surprisingly, she stopped suddenly, looked up at the cameras and said, “You want more, it’ll be twenty bucks.” The cash quickly appeared from the networks and she resumed her sobbing and keening for the Evening News.

 I can’t help but think that if Jerry had died underneath my Ford, instead of while in a drug treatment center, it would have been more dignified.

 Oh, well.

 Three of these near-misses with death took place while I was living in San Francisco – a quasi-risky place under the best of circumstances. Graham Nash was in Washington D.C., while Henry Fonda and I met in New York City.

As of this writing two of my semi-victims are, quite positively, dead. I had nothing to do with it, I swear. I have alibis, or at least really good plausible deniability.

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