March 27th, 2009


Old, good friends

Really have to thank my oldest good friend, Chas, for discovering the "I Blinked Once" video on YouTube that's been rolling around in my head for the past day (from Streets of This Town). He posted it last week, but being busy, it took me a while to get around to it. This song affected me greatly in the late 80s...but I first discovered Forbert when I was a senior in high school and working for the family business after school (a block away in the Brown Hotel)--listening to everything I possibly could--and saw a notice in The Rolling Stone about "Alive on Arrival" during lunch in the lunch "room" at Progressive Optical in the Speed Building (Arthur Loomis, architect). I went and bought it immediately at Vine Records (or did they order it for me, hmm?) on 4th Street just a half-block from my Dad's and Progressive Optical's office. I found the record immediately is my any rate I was soon in love with it--Goin' Down to Laurel, Big City Cat, a great record all the way around.

We just saw Steve Forbert at Gerstle's Tavern last week, btw. Enjoyable show if somewhat obstructed by the tavern management's indecision over sports vs. live music. At any rate, we've been back around to contemplating the many "phases of the age of the time(s)" with respect to Forbert in our lives. We stuck with Steve through Streets of This Town (an American masterpiece, frankly) when I had my old apartment on Jaeger Avenue...those were good times...we hardly knew it. The American in Me, and for me personally having moved to San Francisco in 1994--The Mission of the Crossroad Palms entirely personal and poignant--"count the miles on the highway, San Francisco today" felt like Steve followed me to California along my phasic age.

Nevertheless, remorsefully, I missed Steve live at Phoenix Hill in the 80s and a few other times, I missed Steve appearing in California a time or two. Missed, missed, and missed, until last week.

This morning I'm working on a few new articles in Find Out How and determined to bring a solid week to a solid close. Otherwise, I blinked once and it was gone.


The Gate

The Gate (A History)

The gate to the transformer
in the alley behind miracle #32
that abuts history at a right angle,
Also abuts your mind.

The alley's made of cobblestone, and
the abutment smells of honeysuckle,
the stones wear well, except the one
 that rots, being made of wood,
that trips you when winter heaves
the frozen ground.

A place for the cable car turnaround,
now abandoned, is marked by a steel
rail that flares onto the main road
from this lesser alley, that hides the
old conductor's longtime scream

"Turk Street, Turk Street,
get your bread and get your meat!".

What is horror but the paint factory
smell within sight of the woods
that live beside the transformer
just off the alleyway that buries
the cable car rail? And those cries?

The children play, honeysuckle
strangles the old boards --
a fence that saves them shock.
The rail juts into the main, and
the conductor, railman, is a ghost
when the turpentine fills you
with a willingness to die.

5 May 1996
James A. Gardner

©1996, 2000, 2009 by Pen & Sword