This time I scheduled my flights so I would have over six hours between arriving in Philly on my national flight and leaving on my international flight, because in March I had only three hours between flights and American Airlines managed to delay my national flight so much that I had to run between terminals and barely made my flight to Lisbon. There is a nice Amex lounge in terminal A and I don’t mind waiting… And yet, and yet, American Airlines managed to get me to Philly late again, and yes, I had to run again. Planning a six hours layover is crazy enough, but now that’s not even sufficient?
ENT doc gave me a prescription for a cream last week. Used it once and it made my ears well. During the flight I listened to Rain Poems on my AirPods Max at least four times all the way through. I probably used the headphones for six hours altogether and my ears are still clear. The album is coming together nicely and I really enjoyed the experience. I have a couple of melodies to finish and Jon has a few bass parts to record but it’s not long now. This is my first album record with the new mobile set up and the first album NOT recorded in my studio in Santa Fe since 1995. Oh, that’s not entirely true… most of Pedals On the Path was recorded at Jon’s studio, but I mixed and mastered it at mine.
Lisbon is hot during the day but cools off nicely during the night. The trick is to get up early because at 0600 it is 65ºF. At 0700 I walked a little over four miles and didn’t get lost. A few times I wasn’t sure where I was but at this point I just have to keep going in a direction and I will eventually find a landmark I know. Look ma, no GPS.
Watched the first half of the movie Tár last night. Wow. If the second half keeps up with the first, this is an amazing movie!!
In a statement accompanying the teaser trailer in August 2022, Field said that he wrote the script for Blanchett, and that he would not have made the film if she had declined it.
I can understand that because she is truly amazing in the role.
Flying home yesterday I had a lot of time to look at an old friend, the Tao Te Ching as told by Ursula K. LeGuin. I read the notes that follow her rendition–she doesn’t speak Chinese and makes it clear that it is not a translation–and they are quite wonderful.
Evidently we aren’t the only society or generation to puzzle over what a family is and ought to be.
Or this one:
There are times Lao Tzu sounds very like Henry David Thoreau, but Lao Tzu was kinder. When Thoreau says to distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes, I distrust him. He is macho, flaunting his asceticism. Lao Tzu knows that getting all entangled with the external keeps us from the eternal, but (see chapter 80) he also understands that sometimes people like to get dressed up.
He is macho, flaunting his asceticism. :-)
I love LeGuin’s directness. Take the example of chapter 33. One translation I have says:
Die without perishing and your life will endure.
Pretty mystical, that translation. Or here is another one:
Those who die without being forgotten get longevity.
A little more simple, but not quite to the point, equating life with remembrance.
Here is LeGuin’s version:
To live till you die is to live long enough.
I shall end this post with another wonderful observation in LeGuin’s notes:
Having replaced instinct with language, society, and culture, we are the only species that depends on teaching and learning. We aren’t human without them. In them is true power. But are they the occupations of the rich and mighty?
I had my ear pierced for the first time in 1978, in Taipei, Taiwan. Walked by a jewelry store and spontaneously decided to buy a little gold stud. Asked the sales person to put it into my right ear. She used a gun-shaped device to knock it into the ear. Why? I am not sure. Perhaps I felt I looked too bürgerlich. That’s an interesting German word that can have a lot of different meanings. Civil and normal would be closest to what I felt. Earrings were often worn by pirates, but also by carpenters and traveling musicians. Perhaps, at this point in my year-long journey I started to feel that I might want to live the life of a musician and the stud was the signal of my intention. I wore the little stud and soon forgot about it.
A few months later I found myself in Thailand, about to board a bus from Bangkok to Phuket Island. A lot of busses were getting hi-jacked and robbed at that time and in order to attract less attention I tried removing the stud from my right ear. I couldn’t find the lock behind the ear and tried pulling out the stud from the front. Something was resisting and it hurt, but I gave it a good tug and the stud came out. Since it seemed a little infected I did not put the stud back into the right ear.
A few months later still, I found myself in New Delhi and staying on the roof of a hotel – the cheapest beds were on the roof, under a tent-like structure, with maybe 10 beds placed under the tent… An Australian girl pierced my right ear, again – by placing a potato behind my ear and jamming a needle with thread through the ear into the potato…
Fast forward about six months and I am walking around Cologne with my brother. Something had been itching in my right ear-lobe for a few days… and I kept touching it. I walked into a restroom and looked into the mirror. A strange shine seemed to emanate from my right ear lobe, only when the light hit it at a certain angle… I leaned forward and closer and started pulling on my ear – and removed the clasp that had been fastened on the stud in Taiwan, and which I could not find in Thailand. Apparently my ear-flesh had grown around and over the clasp while I was in Taiwan and Hongkong, and caused the resistance I experienced in Bangkok when I tried to remove the stud. The girl in New Delhi had re-pierced my ear in a higher spot – above the clasp inside my earlobe. And now the clasp had completed its journey from behind my ear through my ear to the front.
I started wearing an earring in the new, higher hole and soon the weight of that ring made the top hole unite with the bottom hole to form one rather large hole…
Anyway, in the Summer of 1979 I lived in New York and Vermont and it was cool to have an earring in the right ear. In the Fall, however, I moved to Boston. Different rules applied in Boston – I believe Keith Richards commented somewhere on this silliness also: while in New York an earring in your left ear was considered a gay-signal and an earring on the right was a thing a lot of musicians wore, it was the other way around in Boston. My solution was simple, I got a hole in my left ear as well and started wearing two earrings.
The two gold earrings I have worn since 1990 were custom-made since I couldn’t find anything I liked. I wanted simple earRINGs and the solution was to buy two wedding bands and modify them by removing a small section and adding a hinged lock to each.
I remember a conversation with my accupuncturist in Santa Fe, a wonderful woman I went to for many years and to whom I took lots of friends and family. She told me that she figured that some drunken sailor got an earring and by sheer luck the ring went through an acupuncture meridian that can improve the eye sight. Their sight did improve and from then on many other sailors attempted to improve their sight with rings.
Actually, men have worn earrings throughout history. In most depictions the Buddha has elongated earlobes. He probably wore heavy earrings in his youth but later discarded them. Depicting the distended earlobes is supposed to show his rejection of those material possessions. Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun’s death mask shows earring boreholes. Friezes from Persepolis, the capital of the Persian Empire (550–330 BC), show warriors wearing earrings.
Like everything else, earrings are cyclical, they come and go. That’s my earring story.
I arrived in Lisbon yesterday morning after a long, long day of traveling that started in Durango at 0600. Well, all of me arrived, except my guitar. (((I like William Gibson’s idea of the “Soul Delay” of long distance travel, whereby the soul can’t keep up and will invariably arrive later.))) Guitar had to travel as baggage, because the overheads for international flights are too small and I can’t afford a business-class ticket (((Business Class: no worries, your guitar can go into this closet. Economy: your guitar travels with the other suitcases or you won’t fly.))). I am not too worried because it’s a new case that was recommended by my luthier Keith Vizcarra, who also set the case up perfectly for the instrument. Plus this guitar will stay here and won’t have to travel for a long while. (((Tip: Don’t just buy a case and jam the guitar into it. Either take the time to set up the case yourself or ask a luthier to do it. It can make a huge difference. You don’t want the guitar to move even a fraction of an inch!!))) So I spent a long time at lost baggage in Lisbon which, after 22 hours of travel, isn’t fun. As the man, who created the claim, said: “Most likely you will get a call from us tomorrow and we will deliver the guitar case to your apartment. Most likely.”
Called an Uber to the airport. The driver called my mobile and asked me where I was, because it can be difficult to find the Uber pick up spot at this airport. I replied where Uber pick ups always happen, indicating that this wasn’t my first rodeo. A few minutes later he arrived and another twenty minutes later I was in my flat, or most of me was. Too wired to sleep and too tired to do much. Eventually I walked to a favorite cafe and had lunch. That helped. Went to the store and got a few basics, something to make for dinner, milk for morning coffee. Bought another type of oatmilk, hoping to eventually find something that can replace milk for me. The two milk products I haven’t been able to replace are yoghurt and milk for coffee. I love yoghurt.
I wanted to go to sleep at 1900 yesterday but made myself stay up until around 2200. This morning I feel much improved. While I am still waiting for my guitar, my “soul” must have caught up overnight. I got up and made coffee and enjoyed the light show of the morning sun in my apartment.
Good news: I just received a phone call from the airport. My guitar was found and will be delivered later today…
Venice is cursed. I walked cursed Venice in a cloud of confusion. Why did so many people bring so many roller suitcases? Did they not know they were coming to Venice? Did they not know Venice has a stone-stepped bridge every fifty yards? Sweat soaked beneath the savage sun, they heaved their suitcases — all of which were big enough to hide a dismembered body or two — up and down and huffed and seemed distraught at the amount of heaving required to make headway.
Walking Venice — Ridgeline issue 144
This opening paragraph from Craig Mod’s very enjoyable Ridgeline Newsletter could have been written about Lisbon as well. One hears them from afar, the tourists’ suitcases clattering up or down steep cobblestone streets, their wheels squealing from the abuse while the people get the workout of their lives. Mod calls this noise the Rimowa Thunderdome.
Some cities have cobblestone streets while the sidewalks are concrete or asphalt or otherwise fairly smooth. Not Lisbon. Here many sidewalks are made from a different color cobblestone, a smooth beige stone that becomes super treacherous when it rains. I am still experimenting with different pairs of shoes, hoping to find some that offer enough grip during a rain shower, so as not to break a leg. The experience of walking on snow in Santa Fe for thirty years gave my body the very useful ability to react to a slipping foot without going down. So far so good.
What’s the ideal baggage for travel? I don’t think there is one right way. Jon is in the duffel camp and has carried a Tumi duffel for at least two decades. It’s traveled all over the world and has been repaired several times. I used to be a duffel man but a few years ago I switched to a suitcase. There are times when it is so much easier to push a suitcase with one hand (those wheels have become really great, haven’t they!), with my backpack riding on top of the suitcase and the guitar case slung over the other shoulder, while Jon carries his bass case (not exactly light!) in one hand and the Tumi in the other. But arrive at a cobblestone street and he is the one smiling while I have to put the backpack on my back, hold on to the slipping shoulder strap of the guitar case, and drag the suitcase along pitifully.
A few things I have learned:
– we carry more than we need to and could make do with less
– be aware of the terrain of your destination
– will you ride to the hotel or will you need to walk and carry or pull your luggage
– suitcases, especially hard plastic or metal cases, break like oak trees while duffels can bend like bamboo
– can your luggage be repaired or will it need to be replaced?
Even if a company replaces the broken suitcase, as they did with mine after the frame got bent, it would no longer lock properly, and a wheel came off, it’s a waste of materials and not a good solution.
Back to the clattering suitcases on cobblestone streets and sidewalks… Take heed and don’t start your journey with a long and exhausting and noisy nightmare of a walk.