You can quote me

The internet is awash with quotes. There are so many quotes, being quoted by so many,  that I rarely stop to read them when they appear on my social media news feed. These days, it has to be a helluva quote to suck me in. I’m suffering from ‘quote-fatigue’, and you may quote me on that.

It is all so easy. If I want to project a certain point of view upon my social media followers, all I have to do is to perform a quick internet search for an individual whose interests/beliefs/values/religion, or whatever,  align somewhat with mine, enter her name along with the word ‘quotes’, and just like that…an instant pool of quotes appear into which I can dip my virtual ladle.

For example, a search for ‘Richard Nixon quotes’ turned up a boat load of quotes, among them:  

I can take it, the tougher it gets, the cooler I get.”

(This is by far my favorite Richard Nixon quote.)

Or a search for Charlton Heston quotes turns up this oft repeated, bastardized, and misused quote by both the political right and left:

There are no ‘good guns.’ There are no ‘bad guns.’ Any gun in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a decent person is no threat to anybody, except bad people.”

And so it goes with the quotes.

What I am interested in knowing, is if you have any quotes that have stuck with you over a period of time – say at least a month or two. Do you have any quotes attributed to the famous, or even the marginally famous that have caused you to get out your notebook and mechanical pencil and jot it down for future reference? Maybe you taped it on an index card so you could read it every day and maybe you placed that index card by your computer, or taped it to the dash of your car, or maybe it’s on the doghouse of the 18 wheeler you’re driving. Maybe it is attached by magnet to your refrigerator door, or you folded it and placed it in the bottom of your purse. Or it’s tucked into a pocket in your wallet under your Blockbuster card. What is important is that this piece of writing inspires you to do something – to exercise, lose weight, relax, maximize your workday, or just make it through another 24 hours on this rock. Do you have anything like that???

Yes, of course I have a great and meaningful quote, or I wouldn’t be writing this would I. I have it written in a notebook that I use every day, and although I don’t read it every day (I don’t do anything EVERY day), I do read it quite a lot. It is by Ralph Waldo Emerson. So here is  the quote:

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

Being more of a windshield guy than a rear view mirror guy this quote makes sense to me. I like to spend more time thinking about what’s ahead, rather than what’s behind.

I rather like the thought of starting each day unencumbered with old nonsense.

How about you?

Feel free to leave your favorite quote in the comments section.

Ed’s end times reading list

Months ago, back before the pandemic, back when I made frequent trips to bookstores, I came across a book titled “100 Books to Read Before you Die”. I had the book in my hand intending to buy it, but before finalizing the purchase I reconsidered. Did I really need someone telling me which books I need to read before my demise, I asked myself? Maybe I do not need that kind of structure in my life. So, I put the book back on the shelf. Still, the idea of such a reading list intrigued me. In the months since, I found several such lists on the internet. After reviewing a couple of these lists, I decided there were simply too many books. 100 books are too much reading to plan.

 If I read a book a month, it would take me roughly 8 ½ years to read all the books on the list. Of course, I have already read many of the books on the list, so that would shorten the time required but still it is an intimidating list. So, I decided to come up with my own list.

I quickly jotted down about a dozen or so titles – mostly books that I already own but have never gotten around to reading. Still, the list was too long. I slashed it down some more, eventually deciding that my own personal list would contain only four titles. Three of the titles are what I refer to as projects. They are more than simple reading assignments. They require time and commitment. They might require notes. They are my project reads. The fourth, by no means is a project read, but I include it for reasons I will describe later.

Here are the books that I hope to finish before I go on to that great goodnight:


Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace; Word count 543, 709. Roughly 1000 pages. Four and a half pounds.

 I have a confession to make. I sometimes find myself reading a lot about the lives of writers, even though I have read little of what they have written. David Foster Wallace (DFW) is in this category. I first started reading about DFW in 2008, in the wake of his tragic death by suicide. Since that time, I have read a lot about him. I have read his 1994 Class Syllabus “How to teach serious literature with lightweight books”. I know that he was a hopeless nicotine addict that chewed tobacco to help relieve his dependence on cigarettes. I have read a great deal about his personal struggles. But I have not read Infinite Jest. It remains on my bookshelf unopened.


Ulysses by James Joyce; Word count 265,391

This one remains on my Kindle. It has taken up space there for nearly two years. It is said that when Joyce completed this work, he handed a copy to his wife who read a few pages and tossed it back at him saying “Why don’t you write something people can understand”. That alone is enough to consign this one to my must-read before death list. Maybe right before death. It is also said that after he completed this book, he did not write a word of prose for a year. So yeah, I must complete this one before the lights go out.


War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy; Word count 587,287

Some years ago, I picked up a hardcopy of this book in a New Jersey bookstore. At the time I was commuting by train and I intended to read it on my way to and from my job in New York City. Today, a piece of note paper marks my last reading of this book. It marks page 93. The piece of note paper was, at one time, a shopping list, and it lists the following items: milk, eggs, dog food, cigarettes. The last item caught my eye. Since I have not smoked in nearly 30 years, it looks like I gave up both smoking and this book around the same time. Both were taking a toll on my health. One needs to keep notes to get through this one. I will do it though, right after the Madagascar Ultra Marathon.


Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway; 517 pages

I have been a Hemingway fan for as long as I can remember. I have read about everything Papa has written (including his poetry). In one of my blogs here at EEOTPB I mentioned that the first chapter of “A Farewell to Arms” was the best damned first chapter of any book written in the 20th century. So yes, I am a Hemingway fan. I have been a frequent visitor to Key West, and I have travelled there to attend Hemingway Days (where his poetry was read). I have travelled to Bimini to see the ruins of the Compleat Angler Hotel, and if I am lucky, I will live to visit Havana and have drink in the Floridita Bar. I will see what is left of the Pilar. I would love to see Finca Vigia. I’d like to go to Spain one day. At present, I have Hemingway’s last posthumous book, The Garden of Eden loaded on my Kindle.

But I have not read Death in the Afternoon. Not yet.

I am saving it for the end. I am saving it for post-diagnosis.

What books are on your end times reading list?

Drop a list in the comments section…

Fix Spring

Of all of it, God, fix Spring first,
It is far too long and
the miserable April rains are a lot to
slosh through on my way
to the Farmers’ market.

Are you talking to God again,
You old agnostic, she says to me?

You barely observe Christmas,
And now you want a fix for Spring,
You’ve some nerve…

You should be asking for peace
In the middle east,
not a clear path to the organic radishes.

You should be asking about the state
of your soul,
You believe in a soul don’t you?
You old Radish

MENDING FENCES

A couple of nights ago, my friend Tulip called from Long Beach. Some of you who have been around this blog since the beginning will remember Tulip because I mentioned her in some of my first posts here on EEOTPB. Tulip and I were really good friends at one time, but we had a falling out over nothing really and although neither of us was truly angry at the other, we fell out of touch over an inappropriate barb aimed at a political personality who shall remain nameless here.

That’s the way most old friendships end. All is going well, and then there are a couple of terse words about something nonsensical and the phone goes dead and stays dead forever. These days there is no telephone receiver to slam down in its cradle in disgust. No telephone booth to rush forth from in the middle of a rainy night, leaving the receiver dangling from its cord…just the dead weight of a smart phone, heavy in your hand, which can be immediately redirected to social media to confirm whatever we need to confirm about our own particular viewpoint or belief. In the end, I think we all might be better friends if we had landlines tethered to the earth.

So, until two days ago, I had not spoken to Tulip in years. But she sent me a card at Christmas this past year saying she’d remarried and was moving to Long Beach, and her new husband was recently furloughed from one of the airlines where he’d worked for more than a decade as a flight attendant. She told me she had given up smoking and she had been watching lots of YouTube videos. She was painting. She was drinking red wine instead of gin. She said she was taking vitamins every day and she and Gavin (not his real name) were planning a trip to Costa Rica in the fall. She was walking ten thousand steps a day and she wanted to go zip lining in the rain forest. She told me she was going to Weight Watchers and reading a book a week. Gavin was taking cooking classes online.

We talked about the day we met in Muir Woods in 1980 and about how she’d driven out to California from Minnesota in the late 70s to work for a paint company in the Bay Area.

But all of that was in the past. Like Reaganomics and the Carter administration. Like B1B Bob Dornan. But this is today, and the pandemic had hit Tula and Gavin hard. Tulip wanted to move to Phoenix, but Melvin hated the desert. I suggested Tacoma but Tulip cut me off. Fed Ex was at the door she said, and she had to go. Fed Ex was delivering dog food for their rescue Chihuahua named Minnie Pearl.

Then it was time to go.  I told Tulip I was  happy for her new life. I suggested that they move to Denver, but she said no. Gavin is not a skier. I suggested the Midwest, but she said it wasn’t in her blood any longer. St. Paul had left her drained even after all these years. She said the winters would kill  her. It was all over in an instant. Tulip went her way and I went mine and she said she’d call back in a couple of weeks.

On the road to Brush Trail

My password expired today,
or so they said,
I was busy reading an article
about Brussel sprouts and
another about the
death of Dylan Thomas.
And another about the Hollywood sign.
There is a hiking trail, just so
you know — Brush Canyon Trail.
It takes you to the sign.
We will hike it someday, you
& me. In better times.
Today I want to
trade a stock that I read about
drinking late one night and the
guy who said the pick was solid
was the same guy who said that :

“All the Gold in California” by
the Gatlin Brothers was the best
fucking song ever written.
I listen to it on my vintage

Walkman, hiking,  mornings near
Mt. Pocono.
Now, we are almost on the trail again.
No cell phones, Sweetie.
No technology.
We are in the Scouts,
pioneering our way through the
Rocky Mountain West.

Put one foot ahead of the other.
We are like Lewis and Clark
trying to find the Pacific.
You and me.
We are trying to find the

best place to buy Brussel
sprouts in Long Beach, look it up you say
to me
“it is at your fingertips Mr. Clark”

lesser mountains

clamber up the ladder
&
rest your elbows on the ledge
don’t overthink your next breath
consider the Himalayas —
as mountains you won’t visit

forget K2; think Polecat Peak
forget Everest; think Stowe.
think Mount Sunflower
and Oklahoma High Top.

Great peaks are beyond you.

Silence is a decade away
it stings and you
hear it when you bed
down at night, near
the horses…

circle the wagons

wear your best hat to Safeway
&
flirt with the checkout girl
she won’t remember you

vegetables are your solace
cheap wine your friend

Seneca is your confident,

Beethoven is for late night
Strauss for morning

scratch that lottery ticket
&  buy your way out,
or, have your body

quick frozen in one of those vats
out in Michigan (think Mount Curwood)
wait for the cure
to arrive in the 34th century

you could wake
to a dozen or more years of this

Screen door 1971

Screen door – I miss you.
I miss your frame,

your spring,
your hook
your eye.
Man, that’s a door
for the ages.
Hang it outside in the
storm and wait.

You won’t keep out the drunks,
or the memories.
Or the dirt from the past,
or the gravel dust from the road,
or the bad blood or
daylight.
You won’t keep out,
Aunt Laura.
But you do a
good job with the
 insects.

You allow the first breath of
spring to waft in across the
mud porch.
How they slam you,
you damned old
green, painted – bastard.
But after midnight
I close you gently, old relic
from 1955.
You creak
like petrified bones headed for the
graveyard.

In the daytime, I’d let you fly
fast and hard – wood on wood.

The day I left home
I closed you for the last time.
I was smoking then
I had a suitcase
from Montgomery Wards,
and a  half dozen 8 track
tapes.

You Locked behind me
as
I drove the Ford Fairlane
north
out of town.

Mars

There is a door
we walk thru every day.
We carry our coffee in paper cups.
We drive south on the
freeway. We look North
toward the Sound.
We look West toward the pier.
We prepare for
shit that nobody told us about.

We look for cheap gas.
We call the insurance company.
We worry about the keys,
we left in our pants.
We worry if Kansas
will ever welcome us
home.
We wander like there are
no other humans in the
Milky Way.


Let us down easy God.

Look up.

Mars is out tonight. Is it  red?

Looks pink to me. She says. Mars that is.

my July

You remember July like
you’ve lived it
for ten thousand years.
Since before the buffalo
roamed the Great Plains.
Since before the ice bridge.
Remember July 1973 when
you discovered Truman Capote.
In Cold Blood.
You: reading
and tearing off the pages
while parked in your 1967 Ford
three quarter ton truck.
Ten miles outside of Topeka.
Broke. Nowhere to go.
Capote: The Best damned writer of the 20th century.
How many miles to Holcomb, Kansas?
Heat wave full on – fuck heat,
and barking dogs.
Remember grain sorghum and
Oat straw.
Twisters.
And fear of lightning,
And 45 caliber guns.
In July, it’s all better
after dark.
Fireworks and snakes,
and all the things that
pile up on the front lawn.
Sparklers and trash.
Locals moving on to jobs out west.
Sleazy salesmen selling properties
on the lake.
Pontoon boats fishing gear.
First things first.
You should
have hitchhiked across the USA
and written a book.
Too few days, are never enough
for the old dogs,
so enjoy the ride to the
beach, enjoy your
life to the end but do not
confront my July

The logger

i
When I was ten, I wanted
to be a lumberjack.
There was a I picture
I saw in a book —  2 guys
on a two man cross cut-saw,
cutting  down a tree bigger
than the business district
of Champaign, Illinois.
God give me a saw, and give me
the woods, I said.

The woods
live forever.  There is no end to
the trees.
They’ve been growing for
6 billion years.
Saw them down.
All of them.
Take me with you
if you can.
Take me out west.
To big tree country.
Fuck the plains
and North Dakota, there’s
too much dirt.
And screw Long Beach,
there’s too much water.
I’ve no fear of flying, or trains.
Drop me off in Kalispell.
Lend me a hundred
dollars, old pal,  so I can
live off the land.

ii

Oregon —
is the promised land —
I’ll take a bus
to Bend.
I’ll wait tables
and take hotel
reservations.
I will wait for the last of them
to leave town.
I’ll keep a bag packed, for I
pack like a prophet.
I read the Bible
and the Book of Mormon.
I’m a Buddhist by faith.

iii

In time,
I will take my axe deep into the
woods and chop until
I am blind. Until I find nirvana
or Jesus or the Saints.

Or until I cross the river
into Portland.
I’ll see my day’s work loaded onto
flatbed trailers. Pulled by
Peterbilt and Kenworth
tractors and
Trucked down icy
mountain roads.

A lumberjack am I.

I want to watch the timber
disappear south toward
Klamath Falls.

iv.
By aunt Lana’s husband,
Gideon, was a lumberjack.
and part time preacher.

 He drove
cable cars in San Francisco
in the 1950s, then one day
he quit his job and
drove up to Washington State
in an Edsall car and got a job
as a logger. He must have
cut a million trees
and became a world
class logger.
He bought a house in Enumclaw
and he died there in 1971
a happy man

v

When I was 25, they told me I was
Killing trees.
Back away from that copier
young man.
Your 440-page document
does not need to be copied in triplicate
— think of the planet. Tree killer, you
need to find a job that fits you.