The junk mail spam I get is far more interesting than the email. The Twelve Best Penziones in Scudari, Learn Coding Overnight, Natural Erection Medicine and Is Rose the New Riesling? All pull me in with the eagerness of a kid at a carnival midway geek show.
The search engines have me pegged. Wine, New York City travel (hey, it’s nearby and sometimes cheap) and porno; but they just haven’t gotten that last one quite right. I get tons of girl on girl action solicitations and a pretty regular MILF’s in Your Neighborhood newsletter (They’re sopping wet and nearby!!!). But alas, I’m homosexual. Take that in the ass Palo Alto. Wrongy Wrong RONGO. Bad Algorithm, bad metadata, down boy, sit.
These junk mails, these sponsored contents, this commercial intrusion(s) are welcomed, but the ones deleted first are from pure hucksters. Kohl’s, Matador, Bob’s, Bob’s Big Boy, Bob’s Discount Furniture, and Jordan’s, another furniture store with climbing walls, raw bar and a pedicure and vasectomy section. Once people went out like once every four years and bought a couch, no climbing, disco slides or karaoke rooms. Now, like sopping MILFS right in your closet!!, they blind you with bread & circus so that thirty feet up the climbing wall you spot the sofa of your dreams. You came for cotton candy and selfies with the two headed alligator and were tricked into going home with a daybed. I have no idea what a daybed is, but it sounds divine. My next job, when they show me my new desk, I’m going scream; “What no daybed!! This is fucking barbaric.”
Jordan’s pissed me off when they advertised that BUFFET would perform at the grand opening, and I wore my parrothead shirt and filled a slurpee cup with strawberry margarita’s. I was quite let down when the crowd, which consisted of soon to graduate Yale School of Management students, cheered for a dude, who, while years older than me looked less haggard and was not Jimmy, but Warren. They hung on his every word about the failure of interest rates to keep pace with junk bonds and M1 money supply.
Top of the Kings and Queens of the Spam Age were two called Saveur and Greatest. Greatest had this article called the “The Seven Questions that Changed my Life” by Susie Moore.
They were simple: you want my phone number?, let’s talk about salary, can I buy you a coffee?, can I ask a favor?, can I write for you? How can I get a discount? and what do I really want from life? But they have the effect of boosting confidence, clarifying life and being open and conditioned to rejection. Saveur has some simple recipes and one that’s just Persian cucumbers and watermelon. I try not to pry into ethnic backgrounds so I used seedless English cucumbers marinated in cider vinegar and lots of sugar.
I wanna write for this drivel sheet called Fatherly, which bills itself as the Dr. Spock blog of the tattoo generation, but my article “Why I Hate my Kids Even More Now That Their Grown Up” was rejected.
I am bitter and sad when I get anything about wine. Wine is such a ripoff. If Vodka changed year from year, vintage to vintage, the FDA would close them down. Lazy vintners blame the weather and harvest conditions when it’s really that they couldn’t get off their fat asses and choose the right artificial additives to sex it up.
And finally the emails about birds. All my life I loved watching birds and raptors and kites and storks and herons and hawks and kestrels. My favorite bird moments: a flock of seven flamingoes flying over Tampa, eagles floating down the Connecticut River eating a fish on an ice flow, two eagles stealing fish from ospreys, huge condo like monk parakeet nests filled with squawky, colorful resident birds, two adult Sand Hill Cranes and a baby walking on a rain soaked golf course, diving ducks, pelicans, bluebirds, scarlet tanagers, orioles and owls.
Before the interwebnet of all things (my smartphone dishwasher tells my toaster how dark I want it and my television places orders for food and booze while I sleep, and that’s why I paid $32 for a bottle of Tuaca, a butterscotch liqueur which the dishwasher drank with the stove before they banged each other and gave birth to a nosy, self-cleaning oven that keeps telling me my milk is sour.) birdwatchers had newsletters to report their ornithological triumphs. “Saw two phoebe’s, a pie billed grebe, a titmouse and a dickscissel.”
At Hammandeggit State Park they keep a bird log, which is a throwback to gentler times. Birders,
NOTE: birdwatchers have changed their name to birders, they no longer go birdwatching, they bird. I am going birding Hurrah!!! However, I call myself, a bird voyeur; stalking, snooping, peeping tomming on their reproduction rituals and actions. Creepy.
manually write with pens and pencils what they have peeped in the park. The log was informative and funny. From the log I learned that seals,sun themselves on the rocks at Meig’s Point, that hundreds of larks and falcons and cranes and egrets and ducks pass through. Once in a while some jokey kids write things like; Honda Accord, dog, crow, pterodactyl and landshark. It’s funny.
The zenith of birding watching was the interwebnet posting board, now gone away with long distance charges, words in phone numbers, remember Maple 2-3259?, faxing, dial-up squeals and trills from AOL and long distance operators. Here were the precious Rare Bird Alert posts. The entire site chirped with excitement as someone, probably Dori or Mike, spotted a Red Necked Phalarope in Stratford. Thousands descended to watch and stalk and peep. Unfortunately, a major defence contractor was located near the sanctuary and the poor bird was sucked into the intake of an S-61 helicopter and mulched. Connecticut seems to have a thing about grinding living things up. An idiot put his wife’s body through a wood chipper, a small boy was pulled in when the stick he was grinding up snagged his jacket sleeve, a senior citizen was ground when the same thing happened, leaving just his right leg, severed but intact.
The Bird Peepers still post, but now, since nobody is ever away from the phone, they use twitter and the death knell of western civilization; the phone app.
Want pizza? There’s an app. Tunneling into a bank vault?, use the app. Wanna find hot MILF’s, app it. So all these bird gazers get a text or alert or ding and they drop everything: brain surgery, childbirth and grinding stuff up and fly to the sighting. It just seems too Metropolis, too City Lights. Fuck you Big Blue, suck my dick Watson, open the goddamn pod door Hal or I’ll grind you up too. Gotta close me and the refridgerator are apping AILF’s (Appliances I’d like to Fuck)
Once i played tennis in Tinkhamtown on a private clay court owned by the Tinkhams. It was in top condition and had an impressive view of the manorial cranberry bog. The Tinkham’s made their fortune running crooked faro games on the Mayflower and had every dime they ever made, being too cheap to spend. Although it was farthings back then.
Besides the tennis court they had an old wooden chair from the Jacobean period that had the most ratty looking wool and damask upholstery. It would have looked decent is the shredded seat cushion was fixed, but Tink, swear to god it’s his real nickname Tink Tinkham, said it would only reduce the authenticity of the piece. God knows how many workers Tink’s ancestors oppressed seated on this demi throne. And how many Tinkham butts had graced the chair. Such is old money in New England.
Hartford had and still has numerous old money families, left over from the insurance, manufacturing, shipping and finance days. That time is gone. No central industry, no mega company holds sway. It ranks with Des Moines in influence on the nation. The last time I was in Hartford at night was December 2000. The Festival of Lights had Constitution Plaza glowing like a Swedish modern showcase, only there were no people. Two weeks before Christmas and just me and Norrie, a family of six from Vernon and a shady dude with two women lurking in the north end near the shuttered fountain. And this was way before the TV station moved out. Eventual the whole area became shady and acquired the much deserved, Prostitution Plaza moniker.
That night i laid down on Main Street, in front of the Gold Building for 5 minutes, and not one car came by.
Each time I’ve worked in Hartford, it’s become less and less crowded. I really miss the Marble Pillar where you could get a quick beer before the bus over Avon Mountain.
Once, before I told the manager he was ; “a grifter and liar who was unqualified for running anything but an NCO club on Guam.” I worked at a private club.
The atmosphere was that of a colony of seals slowly drifting out to sea on a shrinking ice floe. But it had it’s moments. One was Gil, who shared his wine knowledge and enthusiasm with me.
The other was a group of guys. Phil was the leader and he sought me out cause i was trying to get famous in Hartford. What a stupid idea. He had been to my comedy shows. He showed up at our murder mystery. He was a big fan and a legacy member of the club. Kevin was lawyer for Morgan & Ellsworth, Sal, by far the most handsome in my opinion, was an obstetrician, Eddie, the poorest, was a childhood friend who I reconnected with after 18 years and the tall one whose name I never remembered was a financial planner.
One summer I got invited by Phil to his big house on the Connecticut River, up the left bank, north of Gillette Castle. This was one of my last expeditions into my old social circle. Sadly, as we talked, Sal, Phil’s lover told me that Eddie had died of esophageal cancer. I was kinda hurt and bewildered because he had been a lover in the teenworld days of the 1970’s and now he was gone at 38, plus, the fact his passing had eluded me or been neglected by me and that I hadn’t bothered or cared enough to follow the tragedy left me with a feeling of surprise and shame.
I think Phil knew about Eddie and me back then and I’m sure when we reunited at the Club, Eddie told him. Life’s conversation threads.
Phil served Champagne; Chartogne-Taillent Brut 1993. He was quite the mixologist and he served me my first negroni. And he made a great martini.
Gil and his wife were there and had been before. Phil was a jeweler and enjoyed many different social groups. Chamber of Commerce, gays, straights, theater league, all separate little compartmentalized circles with just a hint of overlapping at at the edges and by destiny; like me.
He saw me in the late 80’s doing improv, took in our murder mystery show. Belonged to the club i worked at and loved Gil and his wife. I was kind of a hit that day because we’d stopped at Brown’s and I found an 1983 Lynch-Bages which was marked at $34.99 on a sticker with blue ballpoint writing , but the Saturday lunkhead worker rang up the nearly identical hand written blue ballpoint pen catalog number of 1432. I handed him a five and a ten and waited for change.
Gil produced high grade marijuana cigarettes which he said was White Widow, named for the white pistils that glowed like a Norwegian Blonde just before full potency. And I started in on a story.
“Some friends from Avon moved up to Amherst. I was cruising on the back roads near their new home on a sunny fall day. they had me stop at this gated driveway festooned with sign that said DO NOT BLOCK DRIVEWAY, NO VEHICULAR TRAFFIC and NO TRESPASSING. It was a water company road and it was open to hiking, but liberally fenced. The path led us to a gorgeous pot smoking area that overlooked a huge inland lake. You could see across, but the length was huge. Twenty miles. This was my first glimpse of the Quabbin, a huge reservoir created in the 1920’s to feed Boston’s water needs. “