Category: Travel

Leaf Blowers

The Season’s visage wears a scowl. 

Cold smoke moves on specter toes. 

Join the lonely wind in howl,

Chant the words in Winter’s prose.

It has been a long, cold winter but the worst has passed. February brings milder temperatures to South Texas. The only sign of the old frigid man is yellow grass, some bare tree branches and pruned crape myrtles. A sense of season is easily confused. Landscapes surrounding office buildings and cul de sacs alike are planted with invasive, perennials of implacable green. The display of chocolate hearts is replaced by chocolate rabbits beside a sale for sunscreen. The new line of patio furniture relaxes in cool umbrella shade, inviting a shopper to sit and consider the sale price on the laminated tag. Everyone should own a grill at least once in their life but no one really needs a leaf blower. Did Washington and Lincoln believe in one nation under God with liberty and justice and 30% off for all? Wait! Don’t buy that, put it back on the shelf. Save your money for a weekend getaway to Port Aransas. The seashore is enticing but beware the Ides of March and the college students who storm the beach in amphibious assaults like drunken Marines. Spring loves to tease but she is just around the corner. Open a bottle of wine and listen to Carmina Burana. You may have to turn the stereo up loud to be heard above the mating call of leaf blowers.

T for Texas

McGovern Centennial Gardens

I have moved to Texas, Houston, to be exact. After over 20 years in NYC I finally threw a dart at a map and headed west. “I loved the crime and the traffic but it just was NOT hot and humid enough,” as that old bon mot goes. The time was right to escape. The events of 2020 destroyed everything I liked about the city, I started feeling less and less safe and I didn’t want to be trapped under the rubble when the metropolis finally collapsed under its own weight.

In other news, I have a car for the first time in over 20 years, a condition that will only add to Houston’s vehicular congestion and another …er..um… imperfect motorist to a population already replete with drivers on the offensive. (At least when they aren’t busy backing into a parking spot – a peculiar Houston idiosyncrasy)

Galveston Beach

Things are refreshingly different here. For instance, the weather is mild. As of this post a good old fashioned nor’easter is dumping two feet of snow on my old home. Snow is only fun once a year, the first fall of the season, and then only if you are inside with no where to be and a drink in your hand. It is isn’t quite mild enough to perform my famous cannonball off the swimming pool high dive, however, although the clear blue of her undulating skin beckons. This amenity is another first. Access to a pool in Gotham required a steep membership fee and 6 a.m. lane reservations. Yawn.

It was not warm enough over the extended weekend in January to go plunging into the Gulf of Mexico but walks on Galveston beach and delicious Pier Beer in the warm sunshine was pleasant, indeed. Having this new car sure is handy for getting away for the weekend. Corpus Christi and San Antonio are next on the road trip list and beloved Lafayette and New Orleans have never been more accessible.

I am going to miss my friends. I am going to miss walking home from my favorite bars. I am going to miss my band Dixie Automatic. Yes, ironically enough I was in a New York band called Dixie Automatic. It was a good group and we always had a lot of fun together playing Country music for Yankee hipsters.

Below is a sample from a live show in NYC before they boarded the place up.

Honeymoon by Dixie Automatic

Zandvoort Storm

stormy-window-holland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature paints a violent portrait
In a thick impasto of worried gray, bruised maroon, frigid blue
Gulls get stuck in the oil
Invisible wind punishes the sea grass
And blows sand onto the canvas
Blending with the palette’s tortured colors
Half a tube of titanium is squeezed
To frost the curling surf
Endless coils of leaden thunder break
In silence behind rain distorted glass
The stormy world melts with a Van Gogh eye

The Long Trip to Paradise

A pineapple cookie in both shape and taste

8000 feet below are souls I’ll never meet

The newly wedded groom has beer, his bride, vodka

Three hours has exhausted polite small talk with giddy strangers

Shades pulled. We are a fuselage of midnight

Crossing coordinates our bodies cannot understand

No matter how patiently the brain explains

Night swallows the East as the West basks in gold

We glide ahead of shadows on the shoulder of Apollo

Classes separated by diaphanous curtains

The sounds of crystal, silver, smiles

Drift back in a cloud of gourmet aromas

To the starving ears and noses of the budget proles

Hush! London is sleeping. New York yawns.

The stomach of earth churns and vomits

Molten sick into the shivering Pacific

Eons of uncomforted turmoil and viola, Paradise

Salted nuts and a cold martini, sudoku, a movie

Words yet unexperienced assemble to be written home

On the pale paper underbelly of a stunning view

I dream of white noise in sleep’s fitful lap

Stiff, restless, motionless at the speed of sound

Sipping black coffee in heaven’s blue parlor

I smell an exotic flower blooming in the travel guide

Her ancestors adorned waving, brown bodies

Welcoming His Majesty’s brave sailors

Ravenous with ribs showing, thirsty mouths agape

Months adrift in Neptune’s wilderness

Surviving on salt pork, beetle and grog rations

We dine on pasta primavera, white wine, salad

The nectars of dry land restored a sailor’s faith

Finding God waiting for them in a heathen paradise

Puzzle Wit

A bright light in the Texas sky over Walmart. Also, spoke that guy in German. Joyce filled Ulysses with enough symbols and metaphors to keep readers busy for years and criticized critics who criticized him for his lack of prudence and restraint for being puzzle wits. How does one reach a puzzle wit who tosses your masterpiece aside for a fast paced bit of pulp fiction? Is the author responsible for edification or entertainment? A concertina is limited but can still play a memorable tune whereas the extended range of a clarinet playing Schoenberg is ignored and from it a hasty retreat is made. The bright light in the sky over Walmart advertised a special on bratwurst. Sausage is a popular menu item at a Texas barbecue restaurant. It is has lineage to early German and Czech settlers who got lost on their way to Midwest homesteads. Just like Ulysses. Well, sort of. I wouldn’t know for sure because I am a puzzle wit who tossed the novel aside to watch the Dallas Cowboys. My mother’s family is from Texas but are not German or Irish like the brilliant James Joyce. Or, for that matter, Czech like Kafka who said of Ulysses, “one should not write while drinking.” Kafka was an Eastern European puzzle wit who might have benefited from the vitamin D in the Texas sun but he would have found the sausage too spicy, probably.

For Leilani

Erupting Volcano credit Steven Hager
Photo credit Steven Hager

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am an active volcano
Beneath my mantle is magma fommented
Sulphur roils into toxic venting clouds

Seams tear through my crust, opening
Furious pools of boiling crimson, spitting
White, scaly ash in the air, landing
All over everything like oily snow

Capricious Pele is offered sacrificial ointments, salves and creams
Pacified, the inflamed goddess sleeps
Dormant for days, erupting again with no warning

And yet I am not Paradise rising
A gift to Heaven from the Sea
Covered in flowers, fruit, and trees

Swan

swan

I have nothing against the duck

They are very well and good

The emerald sheen on the mallard head

In the flesh or a decoy of wood

Yet sometimes they hint of discarded old shoes

On the banks filthy and wet

Then in glides the swan and all that is foul

We are obliged to forget

I Don’t Sleep on Planes

truelove_plane

I have spent longer periods of time getting from point A to point B but the longest single flight was a trip from Newark to Tokyo. I was sure, given the duration, that I would be able to grab a little shut eye if not from fatigue at least pure boredom but I was awake the entire passage.

I studied my conversational Japanese and wrote this song. Rather than using my typical means of production, I arranged and recorded it with a free version of Ableton Lite software. It was a challenge to fit everything into the limit of 8-tracks and, frankly, learning Japanese was more intuitive but the software helped me achieve an ethereal sound that works for the theme of the tune.

Download it and play it in your future travels. Yes, (ha, ha) it could indeed help you fall asleep. Send me a postcard.

http://www.johntruelove.com/music/2016/sleep_on_planes.mp3