'Antique Wave', by Rick Piper

Hello again, I'm sorry it's been so long since we last met... I was lost, you see, wandering among these twisted, jumbled streets... I must have spent a full week trying to navigate away from wikipedia.org, which is nothing to say about the hardships I endured on cnn.com, espn.com, people.com, nbc.com, imdb.com, 2ndlight.com, along with some of the more obscure, dangerous areas of this jungle they call the internet, places I won't mention here for fear of losing myself down those back roads again...

But all's well that ends well, I suppose, and here we are again, in the quiet serenity of the cafe, among friends and good folks.   How could I have forgotten this place?

Now that we're here, let's at least enjoy some of the old reliable fare, shall we?

un cafe au lait
un sandwiche mixte

So I've all but quit listening to AM radio... it's rotten with commercials anyway and the only one of those fools worth a lick is Michael Savage... yes, I've moved back to listening to audio books on CD as I drive my filthy truck back and forth across the state... Presently I'm listening to Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, a wholly unreadable book which just so happens to be a delight to listen to when it is read aloud... I find that you can drop in and out of the thick prose, like slipping between the dream state and the dim blueness of morning, opening and closing your eyes without losing anything important, and knowing that the alarm clock still has fifteen minutes before it beeps... Some of the language is so heart-wrenchingly evocative, so terrifyingly true in its imagery, that I can't help but feel like a fattened, ruined sop as I listen to it, a weak-minded fool who has taken too much from this world and who thinks too little of the things that are truly important in life... as I slouch down in the driver's seat, I am reminded of my younger days, around the turn of the century in Paris, wandering the Rue Vaugirard along the outskirts of the Luxembourg Gardens, my collar turned up against the snow, my eyes turned down to the concrete, delinquent dreams of greatness swirling through my sleep-deprived head... as I sift through the dried-out leaves of time, I think about the juice and the pain and desire of youth, rubbed smooth by the slow erosion caused by financial success... I wonder if it is true what Hemingway said about hunger, how it makes you think more clearly, sharpens all your senses... it's a rational concept, when you consider the native state of man, who needed to hunt and scavenge for his food to survive... wouldn't hunger necessitate creativity?

Sometimes one can't help but feel guilty for having so much... maybe it's true that you can't be a great artist if you are too comfortable... goddamn if it doesn't makes me think of some of these jackass authors like John Irving, John Updike, or this smiling dolt, Carl Hiaasen, as portrayed in this sweetly idiotic picture from the back of one of his book jackets...


Look at this happy wretch... it isn't hot blood that flows through his veins, but apple juice... in fact, he looks like he belongs on the back of a cereal box... if I had more time, I'd paste him onto one...

So I've gone back to starving myself now and again, trying to recapture that sharpened state of wakefulness... after all, how can you write from the gut when you're living high on the hog?  In fact, I'm not even going to eat this sandwiche mixte.  You can have it if you want.  My friend Jay, a brilliant mind to be sure, says he can't think of anything but food when he's starving, that he can't write or think or anything else until he's had something in his stomach.  Ah, but he's probably just bragging, isn't he?   No, I never thought I'd become one of those people who raises his kids in a cozy little neighborhood, plays tennis at the racquet club, and says, sort of casually, as he wipes his hands on his starchy blue jeans, how hard it is to keep such a big house clean... sometimes it repulses me... sometimes I want to go back and live in a hovel somewhere, go back to flicking roaches off my pillow, eating week-old rice, wondering where the next check is coming from, and content to know that world can simply fuck off... it is a pure of spirit who understands that there is no one who wants or needs anything from him... ah to see the world clearly again, in cold, monochromatic outline...

Wasn't it the Buddhists who said that the natural state of man was suffering?

But then again, there are too many moments of sweet bliss, of rich, wondrous color in this little utopian world... when I look into the eyes of these pretty little girls of mine... no, no you have to keep humble, to understand that the whole world can come crashing down at any moment... and then all this.... this big old house, this roaring truck, these stainless steel appliances... they all become a some sort of big joke, and the truth is revealed yet again...

Yes, it is important to keep moving, to always keep moving, and to keep a sense of humor about such things, especially things of this world, things that will never, can never last...

But it's fine to ruminate on Paris now and again, to remember those days of sad, wild beauty... I think the guy reading Henry Miller on the recording said something like, "Paris attracts the tortured, the hallucinated, the great maniacs of love..." Damn, that was a fine little bit of truth, there.

Tut, tut.  I leave you with a public service announcement:  I hope you all turned your lights out the other night for Earth Hour.  Mine were off for a half-hour; I told Trixie that since our house was so big, we saved as much energy in 30 minutes as most people saved in an hour.   She said I was a dummy, that my mind had twisted itself into a bizarre form of backwards logic, but I saw that the Eiffel Tower only turned its lights out for five minutes, and so I must be right in my thinking (or at the very least, French.)

Aubrey, for her part, didn't have to turn the lights out in her house, as it is completely green.

... or at least I thought it was, before I was invited inside (notice the good Doctor in the background)...

 I guess it's like they say...  things aren't always as they seem.

Another birthday... interesting to consider that each birthday is statistically less important than the one before... that is, the passing year as a percentage of one's total life... on the bright side, although birthdays become less significant with each year, the difference becomes more minimal as you go...

Take that as you will.  But come in, please.   So sorry to have kept you waiting.   I've been traveling, you see, to the most bizarre places... Cartagena, Disneyworld...   Yes, yes, the corner table, of course.  Please, sit down.   What can I get you to drink?  Absinthe, you say?   Well, well.  We must be looking for trouble today.

As some of you know, I've been doing a series of articles for the Beachside Resident.   Last month I decided to write about dolphins, who I've been studying over the past few years... a pod of them live in my backyard.  I've noticed they always arrive at the most opportune times, and they seem to be communicating with me, silently, almost telepathically.

So it was something of a piece d'amour for me.  I was quite proud of it, actually... although when I read it on the website, I got a bit itchy because some of the phrases were changed by the editor (some for the better, some for the worse), but I was mostly pleased with the whole thing. Then I read the comment on the page.

Apparently, one of the foremost experts on the study of dolphin intelligence (Dr. Lori Marino... no relation to Dan), was 'compelled' to write a response to my story.   It was a scathing rebuttal, a bit of high-grounded bolt throwing if you ask me, but some of the points were relevant, I suppose.  Nonetheless, I was honored to receive such a comment, and I responded in kind.

Here's the article (and comments) if you're interested: Dolphins

Oh, and here comes the little one with the menu.

la carte du jour

chilled oysters on the half shell
pinot grigio - Ca'Montini L'aristocratico, Trentino-Alto Adige, 2006

Doctor Truth says that we are 'celebrating imagination' tonight, so you can't eat too much.  I might have added a main course, but I suppose the oysters and pinot will be crisp and cold and fine enough indeed.

Doctor Truth also wishes to add that 'science fiction is taking over science.'   It's the idea that these so-called expert scientists are at a loss when pitted against those with more imagination.  Dr. Truth also would like to mention that in 1943, Arthur C. Clarke invented the satellite.

The rest, he says, is just technical stuff.

My first thought was that science is the lifeblood of science fiction... but I suppose this is like saying that Christ is the lifeblood of the Catholic Church... which reminds me of a picture I took at my friend Juan's wedding, which, I must say was a grand and glorious, hot-blooded, swirling, pounding, drumming, Columbian sweating jounce of a time, with much beauty and flowing energy and peace all around...

As you can see, the podium is at the bottom of the picture, then the Christ figure above that, propped up against a blazing sun, and above him you will see someone who appears to be an archbishop, or maybe the Pope.   If you were actually in the church, you could continue the upward progression and look above this figure, where you would see heavy wooden rafters, and upon the beams in the ceiling directly overhead, small white shields emblazoned with the word, D I U S.

Doctor Truth couldn't help but notice the irony... a mere word being the highest visual point in the church.  I told him that above the word there were pigeon nests, and he felt somewhat more comfortable about that.

No time to discuss politics today... suffice to say we've got high hopes over here...

You'll notice the sun is setting later now, and we've got plenty of time to sit here this afternoon.  In fact, I might stay open late tonight.  I can even pour you another absinthe...