Did he really say that?

The kind of humor I like is the thing that makes me laugh for five seconds and think for ten minutes = GEORGE CARLIN...Stained glass, engraved glass, frosted glass–give me plain glass = JOHN FOWLES...Music is the mathematics of the gods = PYTHAGORAS...Nothing is more fluid than language = R.L.SWIHART

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Civil Rights Heroes

Matt Maddox was a colleague of mine at Jefferson High School. He taught Social Studies and every year, he required his students to write an essay about "Civil Rights Heroes."
Even though it did not receive the highest grade, this was the only essay he proudly shared with his colleagues. Due to "creative naming," Ms. Hill's grade was an A-.
by Nikki Hill
My personal civil rights heroes are two Berrys and a King but the King is not Marti Luther King who was a beloved hero of underprivileged people everywhere, like me. Enough students are smarter than me in Mr. Maddox's class and they will write about Dr. King and Myhatman Gandhi from India. But the King who is my civil rights hero is The King of Rock&Roll, Elvis Presley, and the first Berry is Chuck.
Elvis did not invent Rock&Roll. He just put it on every television in America, thanks to the Eddie Sullivan Show and a crazy hound dog with a pair of blue suede shoes. That was in the Nineteen Fifties.
Before there was Elvis there was a lot of great Rock&Roll but it was called “race music,” said my Uncle Leon and it had nothing to do with the 100-yard dash. It was funky music by black singing groups like the Moonglows and the Clovers but it was considered devilish for white kids because it would make them shake and shimmy and get their parents really pissed off. Leon Hughes, my uncle, was a founding member of the Coasters who sang a song called Along Came Jones.
Then along came Chuck Berry who is black because Elvis is white and Chuck wrote songs about school days and sweet little sixteen parties. Chuck Berry did not sound crazy black and Elvis did not sound lazy white but they both sounded pretty cool and were great to dance to. Uncle Leon used to be on the same shows with Elvis and Chuck Berry singing "Yakkety-Yak Don't Talk Back" and "Charlie Brown He's a Clown."
There was a lot of hostility and hatred from older white people because they could not understand the fun of jumping around to a juke box and doing demon dances. But then it happened that Mr. Moneybags from Madison Avenue learned something valuable. Whenever Chuck Berry sang "Maybelline" on the radio or television, it helped sell Maybelline Perfume. Then Chuck Berry told Johnny to be good on the Dick Clerk Show and suddenly, you had white kids and black kids dancing to the same music on the same dance floor and having the same kind of fun together.
Elvis got very philosophical and sang Wombapashobop a womp-bam boom. He was really a very polite person and made white mommies and daddies stop being afraid. But Elvis was black on the inside and white people began thinking maybe it's all right to be black on the outside.

It is now 1999 and I am a student at Jefferson High School and almost all students here are brown or Latino like my boyfriend Luis and he is not black or white but is a really fun guy. But I am not writing to talk about Luis or Carlos who can steal my heart any time he wants it. I am talking about bringing the races of the world together which is what Civil Rights is all about and Rock&Roll was a big helper to heal racial dividers.
Rock&Roll can take fear & prejudice and throw them both out the window. This has worked for white & black kids but, like I said, almost all of the students at Jefferson High School in South-Central Los Angeles are brown. And they got Rock& Roll in their blood whether they know it or not. Latinos answered the question Why Do Fools Fall In Love because Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers included two boys named Herman Santiago and Joe Negroni. Frankie Lymon asked the question and the Teenagers answered.
Fools fall in love because de doom-wop a doom-wop a doom-wop a doedoe which is a good a reason as any, I guess.
Also, brown people inspired the most recorded song in the history of music and that is why Richard Berry is my third personal Civil Rights hero and the second Berry. And also, Richard Berry was a student here at Tommy Jefferson High School just like me but only much older like his classmate, my Uncle Leon, who helped me a lot to write this essay.
In 1955, Richard Berry became a singer and songwriter who was performing with a Mexican band in Anaheim, which is where Disneyland is. The band was playing a song called “El Loco Cha-Cha” and it inspired him to write Louie Louie on a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom. This is what Richard Berry told students when Mr. Maddox got him to perform at Jefferson in 1988. Mr. Berry also said the same thing on television to Larry King who is no relation to Marti Luther King or Elvis the King.
But Louie Louie did not become famous until some white boys called the Kingsmen sang it Rock&Roll style in a really cheap studio with a microphone hanging three inches from the ceiling. The lyrics sounded fuzzy and twisted and they bent the ears of millions of teenagers who swore they heard dirty words in the song. But Jefferson students know better because the original lyrics are on a poster in Mr. Maddox's classroom and the Kingsmen didn't change them except for the line “We gotta go” which Richard wrote as “Me gotta go.”
Louie Louie was recorded over four hundred times. Plus all the times rock bands played the song in someone's garage early in their careers. I think that means that just about everybody in music did Louie Louie except Beethoven, who had rolled over, according to the other Berry (Chuck Berry, no relation). Richard Berry wrote the song when he was a black kid and it was white boys who made it famous but it was brown musicians who inspired the second Berry to write it. That's Multi-culturism!

It was Mr. Browne, the first black music teacher in Los Angeles, who brought famous people to Jefferson High School where I go and made famous musicians and singers out of students like Dexter Gordon and Charlie Mingus (who played hookie to come to our school) then the Coasters & the Platters & the Penguins who sang Earth Angel which was written by Jessie Belvin, a student Mr. Maddox showed us in a 1950 Jefferson yearbook.
When we hear Earth Angel, Luis and I want to kiss. Or maybe I will kiss Carlos. I would tell you more about Mr. Browne but someone else is going to do that if Mr. Maddox invites my Uncle Leon to come to school. He will talk about his favorite teacher and the Coasters and other stuff.

For more information about Richard Berry, click here.

After School Session was Chuck Berry's first studio album.

For more information about him or Elvis Presley,
talk to anyone who likes Rock&Roll.

For more information about Leon Hughes, click here.

For more information about Nikki Hill, click here.


"How old are you?"
"According to what? My driver's license or my poetic license?"

Sunday, March 25, 2012

With a Shot of Gilbey's

Marie Antoinette once said
"Let them eat cake!"
But now it has come to this:
A monster has said
"Let them drink piss!"

Saturday, March 24, 2012

This is not Jack Benny

This memorial statue of George Mason is from the Smithsonian Institute. It is not as famous as the monument for the other George: the Washington Memorial. But maybe it should be.
Before he became President, George Washington resided in the colony of Virginia. So did Thomas Jefferson. The Governor of that colony was George Mason. In June of 1776, Mr. Mason drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights. It included the following statement:

All men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights...namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

One month later, a slightly more famous declaration was adopted by the Continental Congress, giving birth to the United States of America. The Declaration of Independence was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, who referred to George Mason as "the wisest man of my generation."

Everywhere, President Washington is referred to as the "Father of our Country." Somewhere, Thomas Jefferson was referred to as the "Father of our Mind." But people much smarter than G. FatMat have referred to George Mason as the "Father of the Bill of Rights."

For many years, students in Virginia have been discredited for giving the wrong response to the question "Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?"
Their answer: George Mason.
Maybe they are smarter than we think.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dylan Math & Marilyn

The geometry of innocent flesh on the bone
Causes Galileo's math book to get thrown
At Delilah who's sitting worthlessly alone
But the tears on her cheeks are from laughter.

The part of Delilah was played by Marilyn Monroe. The lyrics are from TOMBSTONE BLUES.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Abner Malone’s parents were so cheap they bought used Pampers. Whenever they paid him a compliment, he had to give them a receipt. On the occasion of his eighth birthday, he received a brand new bicycle but it was borrowed from a neighbor and had to be returned the next day.

On the occasion of his first date, Abner asked dear old Dad for the car keys but his Father would only trust him with the trunk key. Thus, Amanda Nevewill and Abner Malone sat on a fender and played with a hydraulic jack. In a gesture of approval of her son’s first date, Mrs. Malone gave them a 2-for-1 Big Mac coupon. But Amanda was a vegetarian and it suffices to say that the young romance did not last beyond the first burger.

Abner Malone limped his way through adolescence because of his parents’ frugality. They saved money by buying him one shoe at a time. He was mocked by his peers for wearing such lopsided combinations as a “discounted for defect” platform shoe alongside an old loafer.

Abner did not want to grow up because he believed adults were controlled by fear: fear of not having enough money or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. He wanted to be eternally 10 years old. It was a nice round number and if things ever went wrong, he could always blame them on his kid brother.

Abner spent as much time as possible at Lake Mirage. But as the years went by, his favorite beaches all disappeared. Giggles Beach, with its soft sand and tiny pebbles, used to tickle his feet until they were wet with laughter. It became another Long Island shopping mall with an underground bowling alley where people knocked down innocent pins and wore shirts advertising Harry’s Hardware store.

White Rock Beach was a unique oasis where Abner fabricated water nymphs who would chase him along the shore and make him a prisoner of passion.

Upon that scandalous sand, a housing development was built.
The homes of Ersatz Estates were equipped
with a spectacular view of the mall.

"Man cannot live by beach alone,” proclaimed Joe Gotalotti, the contractor who transformed the sand and surf into concrete and commerce. Though he looked like a bulldozer and had a comparable level of intelligence, Mr. Gotalotti got it right.

Abner Malone became romantically attached to the mall when he fell in love with a delicatessen clerk. It excited him to watch her slice the salami and wrap a sandwich as if she were packaging the family jewels.

Everyday, he bought cashews just to hear her say “Thank you” when she placed the change in the palm of his hand. But Abner no longer had the beaches where he could eat his cashews so he limped around the mall, popping nuts into his mouth.

He had as much ambition as a flat tire. He regarded the future as a big black hole.

Abner needed spiritual illumination beyond the “catechism cataclysm” of Bishop Rook High School. Taught that God was everywhere, Abner wondered whether that left enough room for everyone else. So he (Abner, not God) went to Swami Givabukortwo’s Surplus Spiritual Supply Store and purchased a Divine Light Assembly Kit.

Like a vacuum cleaner, the divine assembly kit included various attachments for different levels of fulfillment. An instructional booklet listed the most ideal hours during which prayers would be answered satisfactorily. (Due to cosmic union regulations, this was no longer a 24-hour service.)

Unfortunately, Abner Malone used a stronger bulb than the Divine light required and the excess illumination blinded the seeker of spiritual vision. This tragedy was enough to drive Abner crazy. But where there is drive, there is purpose suggesting, perhaps, that it is better to be driven blind mad than to have no drive at all.

Abner was unable to get his money refunded for the Divine Light. It was guaranteed to "guide his life" but the warranty did not specify where it would guide him. However, he was able to sell his life story to Peephole Magazine. Here is an excerpt:

How I Lost My Sight But Found Myself
I felt as secure as jello on a toothpick. If I could find God, I’d probably lose His address. For peace of mind, I like to recall pleasant events. I remember the wonderful little birds and fishes I drew in kindergarten. But they’re all dead now.
I found a light at the end of the tunnel.
It is a flashing sign which reads "DO NOT ENTER."

That issue of Peephole Magazine sold more copies than any other until the issue in which  Madonna revealed that, in a previous life, she had an affair with Eleanor Roosevelt.

The limping, blind visionary became an "overnight" media sensation.
Larry King (just a radio host in 1972) asked Abner why he appealed to intellectuals:
I  don't deserve their following...I always thought Fellini was an Italian cat food.

Blindness can easily cause words to be misspelled but, peculiarly, Abner Malone would only misspell certain key words. (Peephole censored "Realigion is when you find a real God.")

The amazing popularity of the former cashew-popping wanderer inspired a book.
Neonderthal Man is the ultimate evolution of the Nuclear age. One big blast and if anyone survives, they will glow like neon.

Itheism is the religion of self-worship in the Church of the Sacred First Person Singular. Statues have been replaced by mirrors and the pews replaced by Nautilus equipment. The more crucifying the work-out, the more praise for the Holy Trinity of Me, Myself & I.
Homesexuals love their home above all else.

Minus Envy is what females experience when the first girl in school (usually named Rosie) loses her virginity and gains a motorcycle jacket. While everyone else goes home on the school bus, Rosie mounts a Harley- Davidson and rides off with a guy named Duke. Rosie minus her innocence is the secret idol of her classmates who openly shun her in order to gain moral brownie points.

The dubious appeal of his social comments spawned an "Illumination Through Darkness" cult.

Cult members called themselves Darkies.
They considered it spiritually fulfilling to wear blindfolds and bump into strangers on the street. Some school-teachers were giving extra-credit for misspelled words and motorcycles jackets became a symbol of alternative education. Limping became fashionable and shoes no longer had to match.

To curb the chaos created by a blind man, public officials and educators agreed that if they could restore Abner Malone’s eyesight, things might return to normal.
Abner was lured into the Hospital of Good Intentions on the pretext of an eye examination and five days later, he went home miraculously cured of his blindness. He was also cured of his deviant spelling patterns and learned how to correctly spell such words as "lobotomy."

As if all the trees had been cut down to improve his view of the forest, Abner regained his eyesight but lost insight. The only thing he was able to write were checks to pay for his hospital bill. The Darkies disbanded and pledged new allegiance to a guru from Garbanzo who developed his oratorical skills by gargling with chick peas. "Stay askew," they understood him to say when in reality this gargling guru was telling them to "Stay in school."

When Abner Malone regained his eyesight, he limped his way back to the Ersatz Mall.

Lo and behold, the same girl was still slicing salami at the Corner Copia Delicatessen.
Lisa Wells had wanted to join the "Illumination Through Darkness" movement but the day she came to work blindfolded, Lisa cut her finger on the slicing machine.

Before you can say "Hold the mustard," she fell in love with the former messiah. They celebrated their romance over a can of cashews. Abner rented the store next to Lisa's  delicatessen and became a television repairman. But he did not generate much business because he believed that a blank screen provided the best TV reception.
It will require the viewer to exercise pure imagination.
This is what he told his customers, who became an endangered species.
Abner's repair shop shut down after three months.

However, having written a "burstseller"–a controversial book that burst upon the scene, catapulted its author into celebrity then just as quickly ushered him into obscurity–generated more than enough income for Abner Malone and guaranteed a future full of cashews, matching shoes and salami sandwiches.

THE STRAITS OF MALONE is the copyrighted property of LCSoL.

For permission to use any part of this story, please contact this website.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Multiplication of Jesus

Jesus mumbled something like “It’s all relative” 
and looked askance when someone exclaimed “Miracle!”

The someone was a New Testament cub reporter.
He was eating a tuna fish sandwich.

“Miracle, schmiracle," exclaimed Mr. Christ.

"This is a family chore, nothing more.
But mine is not your everyday family.
My Father gave me a list and a loincloth
and said ‘They need you. You’re outta here.’

I went from His Kingdom to yours.
Feeding the poor was high on that list, naturally.”

"Is 'loincloth' one word or two?"

"Thank you, Jesus. 
But tell me what else was on the list?”

“An idea to arrange rows and columns of loaves and fishes;
to set up a times table to feed the masses in body and mind.
Enlightened children would be my messengers:
‘Five loaves and two fishes–ten combinations!’ “

Doubts crept into the reporter’s quill pen:
Was it a miracle or was it a math lesson?
Only the New Testament’s editor 
would know for sure...

The reporter’s editor said
“Fogedaboudit, Cubby.
Who wantsa think about 
multiplying Roman Numerals?
Just call it a miracle!”

Photo: Rocky Point, NY

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Midnight # K-9

Behind the box hedge ice cream cone and the picket fence, everyone is dreaming about dogs.
The father is being chased down the street by rip-roaring rottweilers. It is the first of the month and the rent is due. The mother, hosting some neighbors to coffee & cake, is feeding the TV Guide to the family dog, an Irish Setter named Ramparts. The eight-year-old son is sitting in Taco Bell with a table full of chihuahuas.

At breakfast, not a word is said of anyone's canine visions. The father reads the sports section while the mother waits for the toast to brown. Young Albert smothers his scrambled eggs with ketchup.
Ramparts barks restlessly. No one knows why.
Or do they?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Function of America

f(America) = (-h) (b) (F) (N)

b = Be all that you can be.....F = Love your Family.....
N = Love your Neighbor and your neighborhood.....
and (-h) = Do not hurt anyone. Just be good!

Multiply these variables together and the Function of America will be defined for ALL values of human beings.

To quote from the King James Brown Bible:
The first syllable of Function is "Funk."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Amazing Grace

If the sun could get one look at you
It would never shine on anyone else.
If only I knew where to find you
I would probably forget where I am.

This is Not a Dead Tree

"This is not a dead tree"
Said Mr. Woodbug
"It's a salad bar."

"Not only that"
Said Mrs. Woodbug
"It's our new condo."

Simon & Garfunkel + G. FatMat

We've got a groovy thing going, baby...But every time you say I love you, I look for the bar code.

I can't get no satisfaction...But I can get a pack of cigarets for under four dollars.

Never mind the bollocks...They just moved out of the neighborhood.

A cat has nine lives...But no life insurance.

You aint nothing but a hound dog...The least you can do is get a pooper-scooper.

I'm talking about my generation...But I'm sixty-two years old.

I'm living right next door to an angel so all I have to do is dream. I met her on a Sunday and when we have no particular place to go, we go up on the roof. Maybe baby, we can take a ride in the little deuce coup and get a cheeseburger in paradise. Chantilly Lace has a pretty face but we gotta get out of this place.

The block-quoted paragraph is collaged from song titles in the Long Beach Johnny Rocket's juke box. The photo, dating back to their Tom & Jerry days, was found in a truck stop diner on Rt 11 in Hazeburg VA

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


In the 2-DIE-4 PHOTO GALLERY, located due South of the text posts,
there is a sequence of six photographs.

Two were taken in Long Beach, CA; one is from Hazeburg, Virginia
The Rosa Parks photographs were taken last Sunday in Eugene, Oregon

The pictures are numbered "in order" but the first one is #142857

The "order" is established by doing the following:

142857 x 1 = 142857
142857 x 2 = 285714
142857 x 3 = 428571
142857 x 4 = 571428
142857 x 5 = 714285
142857 x 6 = 857142

It is a simple fact of life that not all numbers are equal.

At the Lewis Carroll School of Logic, we learned that
some numbers are more acrobatic than others.

142857 is–beyond a digit of a doubt–the most acrobatic
six-digit number in the world.

If you click HERE, you will understand why.

By the way, be sure to take a good look at the six photographs.
Your eyes will thank you for doing so.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Queen Jose

In the world of inanimate objects, Jose was the Queen and she showered her affections on her lovers, each of which was named Finny, short for "Finial." They protected her with wrought iron fencing. She kept them clean and shiny.
It was true love.

Queen Jose sanitizes her lovers in the industrial depths of the borough of Queens which is where the New York City Department of Sanitation parks its trucks.

Adjacent to that parking yard, The New York City Board of Education parks its school buses.

(In the foreground of this photograph, seasonally-retired snow plows are flirting with the caged school buses.)

In the world of inanimate objects, these next-door neighbors are playing the pick-up game. The vehicles from one yard pick up the garbage. The vehicles from the other yard pick up the students.

(Photos: Jamaica, NY...October 16, 2011)

Monday, March 12, 2012

L.A. Times Typo

On March 16, 1987, I was anointed "Godfather of Arithmetic" by the Los Angeles Times but "Godfather of Math" is easier on the keystrokes. While being treated to burgers & fries at a San Diego Carl's Jr., I was interviewed by Tom Gorman. He naturally asked how I got interested in Math. My reply appeared in print as
"Instead of counting sheep at night, I counted factors of two up to eight digits."
I said every word of that quote with one exception. What I actually said was
"Instead of counting sheep at night, I counted the powers of two up to eight digits."
At your own risk, you can do the math but if the printed quote were completely true, I would have developed better sleeping skills. The only "factors" of two are 1 and 2 but Jefferson High School would never have hired me if Mr. Gorman hadn't interviewed me.

You can read this article by clicking on the photograph of me by Don Bartletti. It is sub-headed "Have a Nice Link."

You can ignore the following but just for the record:
16,777,216 is equal to TWO raised to the 24th power.
Of course, you may have already known that or, at least, feel free to tell me that you did.

Have a nice day and come back soon.

Friday, March 9, 2012


This second-generation photograph originally appeared in a Long Island newspaper.
Since I was eight years old, the man facing Pope John Paul II has been known to me
as "Father Frank." The photo commemorates the moment in 1998 when my uncle
officially became "Monsignor Oliverio."

He will always be Father Frank to me.

"Why were you laughing when you were facing the Pope, Father?"

He looked left, he looked right.
He made sure no one else was within hearing distance.

"If I tell you the truth, Nephew, promise me you will never tell anyone else."
"You have my word, Father Frank."

Again, my Uncle looked left; he looked right. Slowly, his eyes scanned
the entire Long Island patio on which there were only the two of us.
All kinds of noise came from inside the house where a dozen other relatives
were preparing Thanksgiving dinner.
We were the only smokers in the family.

Puffing on his Cuban cigar, Father Frank looked heavenward. With the cigar,
he made a quick sign of the cross then he riveted his eyes on me.
I felt as if I was the center of the universe.

"About two hundred priests were part of the Vatican ceremony to be anointed as Monsignors. We stood in a line that moved pretty fast but when it was my turn, the Pontiff–after branding me–leaned over and whispered into my ear. The priests behind me started getting restless."
"What was the Pope saying."
"Johnny was telling me a joke about a Tanzinian pole dancer."

"You call the Pontiff Johnny?"
"Only when we were alone. It was his idea. He called me 'Frankie.'"
"In Italian or English?"
"In English but everything else we said was in Italian."

In the "Employment Office" of the Vatican, a very important position
had to be filled in 1996 but it was not in Rome, nor anywhere in Italy.
It was smack dab in the middle of New York City.
Can you guess which of the new monsignors got the gig?

"What was it like to serve mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Father?"
"I only enjoyed it when I was the con-celebrant."
"What's that?"
"Well, if the priest saying mass was Tony Orlando, then I was Dawn.
I was the equivalent of a back-up singer."

"Did you sing in Latin or English?"
"Both but more importantly, I had to sit in the back of the altar
and look priestly–until we served Holy Communion."
"Why didn't you enjoy being the lead priest?
"You mean the celebrant?"
"If you say so."

"Because Sunday was supposed to be my day of rest."
"I thought all priests had to work Sundays."
"Not if their title was 'Business Manager of St. Patrick's Cathedral.'"

"What business did you manage?"
"Distributing church money to the needy."
"You mean helping the homeless?"
"Amongst many other needy people, places and things. I worked six days a week
–at least sixty hours–mostly in neighborhoods where white people fear to tread."

"But you weren't afraid?"
"Not only did I have God on my side, I had the Crips & the Bloods outdo each other
on how well they could protect me."
"How so?"

"A lot of my workdays didn't end until three o'clock in the morning
because I refereed Midnight Basketball Leagues. Then the gangbangers
would insist on taking me out for breakfast–my favorite part of the job."
"Why was that?"
"It was the only time I would not have to pick up the tab!
It may have also been the only time that Crips & Bloods sat peacefully together.
My gang name was Montz."
"Where did that name come from?"
"It is short for 'Monsignor.' One of those Crips–I should say former Crip–
is about to graduate from the prestigious School of Visual Arts
in Manhattan. His name is Tyrone Morse."
"A survivor of the mean streets."
"We helped him move to Staten Island to keep him out of trouble.
Tyrone painted a portrait of me holding a lamb."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

.....Round Tables & Round Numbers..... ................. A SHORT STORY.................

The roundtable AA NoonTime Attitudinal Adjustment meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas was–on that day–chaired by Sam W. But it is the only woman in this photograph who is sharing her story. Her name is Hillary C. The group is seated in the basement of St. Stephen's Church.
However, the centerpiece of this post is twenty-three people beyond the perimeter of the photograph.
Ten of those people were "guests" of other alcoholics. This sub-group was  commonly known as the 
"N. Whackers." 

That name is derived from the acronym of the college they attended. They were there because of an alcoholic commonly referred to as "The Professor." What that man had to "share" was significantly more profound and meaningful than anything Hillary C. ever said in Bentonville or the Governor's mansion. 
For the Whackers, this gathering was "the meeting before THE MEETING."

The narrator of this posted story is...Ernie Hemmingwide. 

Ernie is a retired security guard who was so fat he didn't need clothes, he needed aluminum siding. He didn't have a waist, he had a circumference. When he was caught shoplifting a candy bar from a liquor store, the court ordered him to attend AA meetings.

Trance Brignac had been an invaluable asset to the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship because it included a dozen Philosophy majors from NorthWest Arkansas Community College. Before and after meetings, the Philo majors flocked around the defrocked “Professor.”
Helping other alcoholics is essential to the success of AA. Despite being a helpless drunk, Trance (Rhymes with FRANCE) was capable of uniquely helping other alcoholics who also happened to be studying philosophy, which is the art of thinking. As for this court-ordered attender of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, I helped one and only one alcoholic by driving him to meetings. It was a privilege to be the last chauffeur of Trance Millard Brignac.
His voluminous vodka intake was tolerated at four major universities but sleeping with a Chancellor’s wife was cause for dismissal. Such was not the case for dismissal at a prestigious Ivy League school because the Chancellor was gay. But Trance’s perfect pronunciation of all words Greek or Latin catapulted tenured Philosophy professors to dizzying heights of jealousy.

On this day, the after-meeting philosophy session involved fifteen folding chairs in St. Stephen's parking lot. The chairs were arranged semi-circularly around “T-Brin.” Fifteen folding chairs plus a standing room only section.
The weekly sessions lasted as long as an hour, during which time I energetically (but inconspicuously) walked laps around the perimeter of the church parking lot. The benefits of this exercise were manifold: to minimize the guilt associated with an addiction to Reese’s Pieces; to optimize the wisdom communicated from Trance Brignac to the college students; to prepare the body for the vodka that awaited both chaffeur and chauffee in the privacy of my home.
“Just because we sin is no reason NOT to go to church.”
According to Trance, St. Stephen’s was a split-level church. The Catholics congregated upstairs. Below them, alcoholics congregated in the "Church of Jack Daniels' Nightmare."
Were any of these students ever to violate the unwritten privacy rule and reveal to their community college philosophy instructors the name of their AA parking lot teacher, they probably would have been granted extra-credit. Between 1999 and 2001, “Brignac Studies” was taught at NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC). A thirteenth generation French American, Trance’s ancestors were both exclusive colonial suppliers of cognac and significant cogs in the development of the Post Office and the Public Library. They let Benjamin Franklin take all the credit as long as they could take another drink.
For Trance, alcoholism was more a birthright than a disease. Another birthright was obtaining a Ph.D from either Yale or the University of Chicago. Seven consecutive Brignac generations had doctorates in Philosophy. Seven Ph.D's plus twenty-one DWI's.

That Pythagoras was the man who coigned the term Philosophy was something the NWACC students learned from Trance Brignac. “Quasi-alcoholics” was my term for the numerous classmates of the alcoholic Philo students who attended the AA meetings as “guests.” Their primary purpose for attendance was not to seek enlightenment about alcoholism but to join in the after-meeting sessions with the “Professor.”

“Is seventy-two a round number in Greek?” asked a quasi-alcoholic named Alicia.
“I assume you’re asking that because of Plato’s ideal Republic,” replied Trance, in a professorially proper tone.
“Yes. I asked one of my teachers why Plato determined that the ideal government should rule over seventy-two states. She said it was because the Greeks regarded seventy-two as a ‘round number.’”
“An interesting response, indeed. στρογγυλό αριθμό is literal Greek for ‘round number.’
"In ancient Greece, that phrase meant more than a number ending in zeroes. In the original manuscript of Plato’s Republic, the author included a vary large circle with twelve numbers, at equal intervals, marked on it. Like a clock, the first four numbers were 1, 2, 3, and 4. But unlike a standard clock, the next two numbers were 6 and 8.”
A cloud of confusion descended upon the students.
“Allow me to demonstrate,” said Dr. Brignac, who always introduced himself at AA meetings with My name is T Brin and I'm an alcoholist.
“I need you to spread out in circular formation. But first: all the folding chairs must be returned to the downstairs AA meeting room.”
The students did exactly as they were told. Fifteen of them carried the chairs they had occupied across the parking lot and down the stairs. A half-dozen students, who had been standing behind their seated classmates, huddled together during the interim, talking about whatever students discuss in the back of a classroom, before the lecture begins.

Five minutes later:
“Alicia, would you please stand in what we will call the middle of the circle.”
He handed her a piece of lengthy string.
“As close to the end as possible, place your foot on the string.”
She eagerly did. Her fellow philosophy students, standing in circular formation around her, bubbled with excitement, as if this group of twenty-one college kids was a bunch of mute five-year-olds in a candy store. There was no chocolate candy but there was a piece of chalk taped to the other end of the string. On the asphalt surface of the parking lot, Trance stretched the string whose opposite end was tethered to the ground. Keeping the string taut, a perfectly drawn chalk circle created a foot-wide path between it and the human “circle.”
Alicia, whose silly-sounding question initiated this lesson, stood proud & tall and blonde & beautiful at the center of everything. Physically speaking, her footprint was the actual center of the actual circle but all eyes were upon T-Brin. Rolling up the piece of string, he untaped the chalkstick. He pocketed the string.
“In deference to the twelve steps of spiritual recovery, we now need twelve evenly spaced tick marks.”
Trance drew twelve inch-wide evenly-spaced tick marks around the chalk circle. The asphalt image was now a minimalist hands-free numberless clock.
“Alicia, please select which point will serve as ‘twelve o’clock.’”
She selected a point (or tick mark) that was directly in line with the larger-than-life statue of St. Stephen but she just as well could have selected any other point.
Dr. Brignac said “Thank you” and made a quick scan of his circular audience. All the while, his left index finger was focused on that point. (In this al fresco classroom, my friend was re-creating the ancient Greek "Groves of Academe" in the middle of Bentonville, Arkansas. It was my unique privilege to refer to him as "Dr.Brignac.")

“But now it is again time for the chalk to talk.”
He then pointed to the tick mark immediately to the right of the one designated by Alicia.
“Everybody, what number goes here?”
“Correctimundo,” said the poly-linguist Trance. Aligned with that tick mark, he drew the digit 1 on the outer side of the circle. Repeating this call & response, the numbers two, three and four were chalked in place. Then, for the first time in this parking lot classroom, the teacher raised his voice to a shout.
“Ernie, what are the next two numbers?”
“Si-si-six and eight,” I shouted back, without breaking stride in my church-laps.
Normalizing his tone of voice and scanning the students, he said.
“Some of you might have remembered that I already gave you those numbers but as to what comes next involves where Alicia had earlier planted her foot. For all intents and purposes, her standing body is the center of the circle. If we drew a straight line (or diameter) from the 1 tick mark through the center, the other end of that line is where a regular clockmaker would put a 7 but this is not a regular clock.”
The shouting voice returned. “Heeeey, Ernieee. Whaaat’s the next numbaaa?”
“Sev-sev-seventy two,” answered Ernieee.
The teacher’s shouting voice was muted. “I taught him well.”
He wrote a 72 immediately outside it’s corresponding tick mark.
“The chalk gets a moment’s rest but I now need a mere molecule of brainpower from all the students of the world-famous NorthWest Arkansas Community College philosophy department. Direct your attention to the freshly drawn invisible diameter with numbers at opposite ends.”
He pointed to the 1 and the 72
“Please multiply these numbers.”
“SEVENTY-TWO,” was screamed loud enough to be heard throughout Bentonville.
“Do we need to write that answer anywhere?”
“Correct. Doing so would only add clutter to the diagram which disappeared from later editions of Plato’s Republic because editors were superstitious about this clock-face. They were afraid to alter the look of Time. Now, however, we need to complete this utterly unique clock-face but I have it from my higher authority that doing so will not get us turned into a pile of salt. Just because it was obvious that 1x72=72 does not mean that it is not important. I repeat: Just because it was obvious that 1x72=72 does not mean that it is not important.
“Please use your imagination to draw another invisible diameter from the point labelled 2 and utilize a bunch of brain molecules to put a number at the opposite end of that invisible line.”
A mist of confusion fell over the human circle.
“To translate what I just said, answer this question: two times what is equal to seventy-two?”
Where ordinarily on a clock-face would be the nine, ten eleven and twelve. On the Platonic clock were a 24, 18, 12, and 9. I will leave it to the reader to do the Platonic math. And if the reader is willing to tempt fate, he/she can duplicate what effectively was censored from conceivably the first book ever written about “ideal government.” (This may also have been the first oxymoron.)
Almost as loud as the student’s shouted answers was the applause for "Professor Brin." He had a Ph.D in Philosophy from the University of Chicago and a Master's Degree in Humility from the University of Alcoholics Anonymous.
“STOP! Most of that applause is misdirected. For asking what seemed like a childish question, Alicia deserves half of that applause. There would be no intelligent answers in this world if it weren’t for courageous students asking simple questions. The other half of your applause should go to her philosophy teacher who originally referred to the number seventy-two as a ‘round number.’
“That teacher was figuratively a relay runner who passed the figurative baton to Alicia who passed it to me. But I was already standing at the finish line. The Greek alphabet looks nothing like our own and the ancient Greeks actually meant for seventy-two not to be a ‘round number’ as the modern English language defines it but as a very very very divisible number.
“If Plato were a fan of hip-hop, he would have repeatedly said ‘break it down.’”
“As in ‘Seventy-two. What do you do? Break it down to 36 times 2.’ THEN ‘Seventy-two. Can’t you see? Break it down to 24 times 3’...etcetera, etcetera. But, in fact, Plato’s Republic was a serious document about how government could best serve the people. Think of different government services: schools, hospitals, libraries, police stations, fire houses, public transit... Ideally, these services–and many others–could be ‘equally’ distributed throughout the nation. Imagine quality schools in each state with thirty-six public libraries each serving two states. Eight equally equipped hospitals each serving nine states ...etcetera, etecetera,
“Of course, in ancient Greece, Plato’s ‘states’ were not the equivalent of Texas nor Idaho nor Rhode Island. But we can imagine neighboring ‘states’ like Israel and Lebanon having an inter-library lending system; musical performers on stages of both ‘states’ with appreciative audiences freely mixing Jews and Arabs. As John Lennon once said Imagine all the people living life in peace.
“And now for my closing words: Math knowledge is knowing that 8x9 =72. Math wisdom is using that fact to help make a better world. Enough said. Everybody go home.”
“Tha-tha-that includes you-you, Professor Brin.”
This chauffeur thought he got the last words in. Close but no cucumber. My stutter was bogus. It enabled me to not have to share at AA meetings.
As we were pulling out of the parking lot, Alicia hailed the Honda. Trance was in the backseat. He opened the window.
“Professor Brin, early in the lesson, you mentioned your higher authority. I am curious to know what your higher authority looks like.”
“Whatever you want him to look like.”
“That is sooooo cool. Thank you for sharing.”
“It would have been impossible to share as I did, Alicia, if you hadn’t the courage to ask that simple question. Thank you!”

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Who is this?

Is this or–is this not–the same person?

Aint She Sweet?

A thespian moment for Graziela Re, named for the grandmother she never knew. The moment was named "My Uncle has a Camera."

G. Fatmat is about to visit Eugene, Oregon where everyone loves the Ducks and the University of O.

Eugene is the middle name of my Uncle who was a F.O.PJP but I never called him FopJeep. I have always called him "Father."

Photographic evidence of their friendship is here and there.

The Midnight Series

This is Midnight #6
The midnight series was inspired by rls but somehow this particular picture muscled its way out of the 2-DIE-4 PHOTO GALLERY.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Late Worm

The early bird gets the worm but if that worm had slept in, he might still be alive today.
The bird has flown out of the picture. She flapped her wings and digested her "pasta vermicula."

Friday, March 2, 2012

Reality TV

October 6, 2001
My fiance and I parked the car one mile away from ground zero but you could still smell the smoke from fires that were four weeks old.

9/11 is the only day in history important enough to be remembered as a fraction.

No single day in history has fractured this planet as much as the events of September 11, 2001. The collapse of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center was broadcast live on television.

Reality TV began and ended on 9/11

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hap-Be-Lated Birthday, Dexter Gordon ..........(From Chopin to Coltrane)..........

That is not a photograph of Dexter Gordon. It is a 2nd generation photograph of Samuel Rodney Browne. That is, I took a picture of a photograph that originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times. The PIN in the background was cropped from CHOPIN. Reliable sources have told me that Dr. Browne insisted on impregnating Jefferson High jazz students with an appreciation of classical music.

The orange thing below Dr. Browne is a copy of my payment from Dexter Gordon's widow for unearthing her husband's report cards from his student days in Los Angeles.
After graduating from McKinley Junior High, Dexter attended Jefferson High School.
(McKinley changed its name to Carver Middle School.)

Dexter worshipped Dr. Browne. Going so far as to spend Saturday mornings mowing the lawn of his music teacher in exchange for private lessons. If you are unfamiliar with the music of Dexter Gordon, please link here. The most famous photograph of Dexter Gordon appears below. It was taken by Herman Leonard and I have the image on a t-shirt.

At the end of the performance videos, when Dexter bows to the audience, you will notice that he is holding his saxophone parallel to the floor. This is an ultra-polite expression of gratitude that Dexter learned from Dr. Browne.

John Coltrane has been quoted as saying that the primary influence on his musical genius was Dexter Gordon. Therefore, Coltrane was a 2nd generation student of Samuel Rodney Browne, who had posters of Frederic Chopin's music in his classroom.

Unfortunately, I am not old enough to have been a teaching colleague of Dr. Browne but throughout my career at Jefferson, the walls of my classroom were graced by a high-quality 20" by 33" poster enlarged from the LA Times photograph of the immortal Samuel Rodney Browne.

On my best days as a math teacher, I was good enough to mow Dr. Browne's lawn but the most distinguished person to cut Dr. Browne's lawn is seen below with something other than a lawnmower.

Atheism is Lacking in Imagination

  Long before the existence of time, two guys were walking in the forest
  because they had already created trees. It was a beautiful sunny day
  but the two guys hardly noticed.

  To them, there was no difference between sunshine and moonshine.
  All of it was just stuff that they were in the process of creating.
  One of the guys wore a long-flowing white robe
  and the other guy had fangs.

  It was God and Satan.
  Satan walked with a limp and upon God's shoulder
  was a man bag.

"Hey, God," said the devil, "Whatcha got in that bag?"

"It is something I call Religion," said God.

"Trey cool," replied Satan, "Can I organize it?"

"What a great idea, Satan. You can help lighten my workload.
  I'm having serious difficulties–and doubts–creating this thinguld
  called human beings. I will let you organize religion
  but you got to promise to accentuate the positive."

"Of course, boss. Don't I always accentuate the positive?"

"How the hell do I know?" said God, "The reviews aren't in yet.
 We still got a lot of work to do on this friggin' creation project."

Blogger's Notes
This story is based on something I heard on WFUV
from Fordham University.

This page would not exist if it were not for
the late, great  Ray Peterssen.