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NauenThen

Collecting

My friend Abel came by to say fins aviat on his way home to Spain. He's a Bukowski scholar who got in touch a few years ago because we'd featured a nude Bukowski on our 1978 KOFF calendar. He gave me a copy of a book he edited, Bukowski on Cats, 1 of 3 (on writing, on  Read More 
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Thinking about voting

Eleanor Roosevelt, 1936
I worked on a project the other day that is about getting more states to use vote-by-mail (VBM) by accepting digital signatures—which the IRS & many other federal and state governments do. I know that in the three states that are entirely VBM, many more people vote. I know it’s the future (as are all things digital).

But… among my earliest & most treasured memories is that of  Read More 
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Madrid

We wandered into a huge park near the Prado, where we took our shoes off & fell asleep on the grass, then found this rose garden. The wildly trained arbors were the loveliest part, the combo of art & artlessness, of small & tall.

Likewise, Spain was a perfect combination of activity (mostly walking all day & admiring the architecture) & indolence—long dinners.

According to Merce, a Spanish expression we don't have is sobremesa (on or over the table), meaning that after the plates are cleared away is when people really settle in for conversation. Here, once our meal is done, we are expected to pay the check and get going. I began to enjoy letting myself lounge over a meal once I realized no one was trying to get rid of me.  Read More 
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Palace of Music, Barcelona

My first favorite place in Barcelona was the Palace of Music. I found an apartment for sale across the street, but it felt a little too much like St Marks Place. Merce, my friend from Barcelona who now lives near Girona, said the acoustics are amazing & she goes to many concerts there. It's sometimes stunning to realize that the world is full of complete cities. I'm no Hank Snow—I've by no means been everywhere. Read More 
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My block

We interrupt our regularly scheduled travelogue to recount what I saw and heard on my block yesterday:
* A giant turtle gobbling lettuce; its shell must have been 3' across.
* A guy on a unicycle on the sidewalk.
* Someone saying earnestly: "be fair to the nation."

I love 5th Street!
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The demotic

Alisa bought eyedrops here, a very old shop, on the Ramblas in Barcelona. I like the pictures I took of people, businesses, unremarkable buildings better than those of La Familia Sagrada, Gaudí's masterpiece cathedral, which look like postcards, except out of focus.

I like churches, don't get me wrong, but I'm interested in people, what they do, what they say, what they want.  Read More 
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Famous for oranges

Naturally I was thrilled to be in Seville, because it's where Byron's Don Juan was born, & thrilled to see many trees full of oranges, all out of reach alas (I'd need to be 6 feet tall or have a stool). I did buy this little oil on pressed board painting to hand over my desk & remind me of our trip. I also bought a little bottle of bitter orange perfume but it gave me a rash. The Moorish tiles were pretty wonderful too. Read More 
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Girona

The river Onyar, Girona, Spain
This is the place in Spain I want to go back to. I could get a little room, take immersion Catalan, walk around the 14th-century stones. Part of it, for sure, is my good friend Merce, who lives nearby in the village of Romanyà de la Silva. Part of it is that it's a slower-paced version of Barcelona. I can see myself walking the same streets every day, running into Merce or Isabella, eating the best potato omelette that I had in Spain at the same restaurant. I saw the old Jewish quarter & the birthplace of the scholar Nachmanides (the Ramban), red flowers in pots on windowsills, and many Catalan separatist flags.  Read More 
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Denise McCluggage (1927–2015)

Known for her polka dot helmet
Farewell to one of my heroes, the writer & racer Denise McCluggage. Her 88 years were packed with adventures and firsts. She raced at Sebring & elsewhere, beating such drivers as Stirling Moss. She was a sportswriter for major newspapers in the 1950s when that was, needless to say, practically unheard of for a woman. She knew Steve McQueen as a fellow MG owner, was married to actor Mike Conrad, went everywhere, did everything the hell she felt like.

She was also incredibly generous. I contacted her (of course) when I was putting together  Read More 
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Johnny

I intended to stay in Spain in this blog for as long as possible but got derailed by Johnny having to have an angiogram & stent. Too much hospital of late, & I'm exhausted, but my question is: am I supposed to tell people? Is it the kind of thing one's family should be told as  Read More 
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