Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Cheers to festive fourth!

Hello Friends & Family ...

Attached below is an article that describes one of my fourth of July heroes. Wouldn't it be nice if we were all together, sipping cold beer that's been iced all day in a converted horse tank, listening to Willie and Trigger?

I just picked up his 2006 book, The Tao of Willie, in which he talks about meditation, drinking water, writing damned fine songs and Poodie wisdom. In the section titled "The Man in the Mirror," Willie discusses the need to unearth your own nature, be true to yourself and not be "dazzled by your own bullshit."

He goes on to say: "My family, my friends, my music and my willingness to just be me have made me strong and carried me far. They are happiness in my heart ... Even when I'm far away, they're all with me. Especially when I look in the mirror."
The miles may separate us this 4th o' July but you will all be thought of fondly (is that better than fondled thoughtfully? hmmmm ...).

You are all happiness in our hearts!!
Kenya, Nathan Dana, Po and Jackpot (aka, Seven Lives Left)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Untitled Poem

by Woodrowe Barber

I've known a bunch of good cowboys
Also some good cowmen.
I've worked big herds of cattle
Where you had to read the brands.

I've seen some bad cold winters
You had to feed'em or they'd die.
But I've seen it rain in August
With the grass up to their eyes.

I've been bucked off some horses
I had to get back on and ride.
The work went on, you couldn't walk home
Also, I had my pride.

The honesty of a good cow horse
Is very hard to describe.
He knew his job, he did the work
I was just along for the ride.

Now it is just friends and family
The years roll on, but memories stay.
I hope they have good horses and wild cattle
When I'm tried for Judgment Day.

(You're on our minds and in our hearts Grandpa Woody)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bus Poem


Macias, the old, dead poet
wills the pencil to the page
from deep inside the casket

the sunflower
even torn from its stalk
still follows, attentive, the movement of the sun

the clams from Maine
taken from their tidy beds
west to Monterey
still open with the ebb and flow from way back east
their mute cries falling flat
on laboratory ears

and the corn never tastes as sweet
as it did in summer
at home
with you

Nathan Dana Aldrich

Monday, May 21, 2007

O.J and The Bus

(With apologies to Jerome Bettis...and football fans who don't glorify murderers)

So...less than a month after my O.J. and Coffee post, I got to see someone else sporting an O.J. Simpson jersey in public. This time on the Culver City bus. Even Johnny Cochran would be rolling over in his grave - laughing. "Hee-hee. Man, that race card beats everything else in the deck. Hee-hee, they're still buying it. And merchandise, too! If the glove don't fit...then buy the jersey! Damn - I was good." Which is more than you can say for his knife-wielding client - a guy who had more in common (money, celebrity, ego, entitlement, connections,"juice") with every white, millionaire limo-flashing scumbag in Beverly Hills than any young brother riding the bus. Seriously. The guy in the photo above probably spent the better part of his hard-earned weekly salary (ie. a couple of Bills) to champion the worst of all the Bills: a jealous, privileged, woman-abusing, murderous millionaire with blood on his hands and a Dream Team of lawyers to make it all go away. Talk about being Buffaloed. Doesn't he know Simpson wasn't innocent? That he carved up his wife the same way he knifed through all those NFL defenses? That people (women, especially), of all races and walks of life might not exactly appreciate his very public form of sartorial free-expression? Either he (and the woman in the coffee shop) doesn't know. Or, worse: THEY DON'T CARE. What's next? White boys and rocker girls busting out Phil Spector Throwback Jackets? Turnabout's fair play - but not justice...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

downtown adventures: the LA Library

i'd lived here for 14 years prior to venturing into our downtown library. suffice it to say that's just far too long.

but driving from breezy santa monica beach to downtown LA was never high on my list of priorities. now, however, i just hop on the Metro 33 or 333 along with something to read, a notepad and my blackberry and soon my city-powered chauffer drops me at Fig & Venice. once downtown, the Dashes take over with enviable frequency and cleanliness.

our 'brary is gorgeous, from the large courtyard with ample shade, to the vast atrium ... but the old section is the real glory. now the children's zone and also the locale for exhibits, you can still see murals originally hung in 1928.

get there prior to the end of July and check out the Getty Gallery's exhibit of Fred Marcellino's work. Marcellino illustrated the covers of some of my favorite books (Bonfire of the Vanities, Handmaids Tale) as well as Puss in the Boots (he'll be quite familiar as a member of Shrek's posse).

one more tip: if you go during the week, wear your swimsuit under you clothes and treat yourself to lunch at the rooftop bar of the Standard ... you'll have the pool -- and view -- to yourself ... perfect for devouring the books you just picked up!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

More mobile poetry

Eastbound Downtown 33

light falls heavy


long shadows
on the backs of us busriders
headed home
in the spring evening
our work on our shoes
under our nails
in our yawns
and the driver has miles to go
before eyes sleep

Nathan Dana Aldrich
April 2007

Monday, April 30, 2007

March 12 Venice Beach

March 12 Venice Beach

sitting on top of misplaced granite
i watch these wicked waves break with rocky New England bombast

the wavesplash
shockingly cold

the sky
a lie
of the summer yet-to-be

June and July don't exist now
and here
where cat-quick crabs magnetically move
over the stony jumble
amid my braincoral thoughts of other oceans
and the creature I will always be and
simultaneously of O'Neill
likewise haunted by the sea but oh-so-much-more unhappily
on the rocks
in the shadows
anemones hide, retracted from the sun
their purple pulpy arms pulled in
they wait
as I do
on powers moving

and on the Police Station behind the break
here's the evidence
of the power that can pour forth
poets' quotes soften the strongbronzed arm of The Law
carved like a surfer's wake
words on a curving wall
is it an epitaph after the fall
a funeral for what was or a plea for what could be?
not even the writers know
the future or the past of their prehistory
but at least they got in the flow and got it down so the moment would never get
wiped out
look up at that wall
see what lived in
sea and sand and sin
for better or for verse
Exene and Viggo
are still together there
and Jim Morrison makes his point - all stoned and concrete
these thoughts and their thinkers
some whole some beautifully broken
once so liquid and mutable
now stand fixed for all to see
under the iron V for venice
by the spray-painted dayglo

switzerland by way of payola

lots of chatter about carbon neutrality and the offsets market.

for the uninformed, a company or individual can estimate their output of greenhouse gases. then donations are made to projects designed to "offset" the emissions (tree planting, solar panel installation etc. and the options in the etc. category are growing daily).

the concern is that substituting dollars for deeds not only doesn't solve the rapidly increasing amounts of carbon dioxide spewing into the air, but that these programs actually distance consumers from the real problem at hand.

well, of course, it's a bit yes and no. yes, it does prevent the average consumer from getting their hands dirty by insulating them from tougher choices and real change. however, on the "no" side, mightn't it open the door to the many ways to add environmental consciousness to their lives?

so, let's salute the projects designed to diminish our wicked fossil fuel dependent ways. then let's keep recommending, pushing and suggesting, making it seem easy and natural to evolve. sorta like toning up the ol' bod: it's not just one long day in the gym that gets you there; it's more the daily, small shifts.

here's what we do know: you can get carbon-neutral real quickly when you break the habit of sliding your key into your saudi-powered mobile at every whim. simple, no?

time for a nice, long walk ...

Poetry In Motion

Hi. So, riding the bus has led to an off-and-on "discipline" in captive creativity, wherein I attempt to put the ride to good use and use the traveling time to write with the intent that the existence of this blog would encourage me to post the Observational Poetry results here. Someday soon, I plan to at least create a blog devoted to my poems (whether bus-borne or not) but scattered amid the next few posts, expect to find some poetry on display. (Consider this a warning.) I would like to say that each ride to work in the morning (or ride home) either results in a list of restaurant-things-to-do-today or a decent poem - but I'd be lying. And since the only good poem, or song, or story is a "true" one, hopefully these won't suck. Yeah - and hopefully the bus will pick me up on time...

Chronologically, here is the first one I wrote since joining the masses of mass transit.

Nathan Dana 5/29/07

they call it
Poetry In Motion
these poems posted on the city bus
today it's a good one
the stanzas rolling smoothly and steady-on and


suddenly obstructed

by the hulking Latino with the hoop in his ear

I wait.

No good. He won't budge. The poem stops. The bus moves.
My eye drops
from the poet to

a man in my grandfather's hat.
His head, from behind, recalls Nate in my mind. For a beat until
he turns and I see the difference. The door opens.

He walks off the bus

taking me
(for just a little bit)
with him

just like a good poem.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tipping my cap to David Halberstam today...

Very strange. Last night, before going to bed, I happened to pull his book
THE TEAMMATES (about Ted Williams and pals) out of storage and read a few passages before going to sleep. This morning, out of habit, I checked the sports page online upon waking and found that he was dead. Such a shame. I always liked reading him - not only for his talent for the Truth, but admittedly for the fact that he, like me, had both spent some college days at UMaine and hung his hat in Los Angeles.

Beyond his classic, SUMMER OF '49 and other works (or the occassional TV interview, if you didn't know what kind of journalist this guy was - read the links below. Of course, this was in another bygone America, when heroes were more than ballplayers and News Organizations would actually let you report on a war.



BOSTON -- Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky reacted with sadness when told of the news that legendary author David Halberstam died in a car accident in California on Monday.
Pesky, along with Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr and Dominic DiMaggio, was featured in a stirring 2003 book by Halberstam titled "Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship."
With enriching detail, Halberstam described the bond of four men who not only played together on the Red Sox, but grew up together, and remained friends their entire lives.
"He wrote the book about the four of us and it was very flattering," said Pesky, speaking from Fenway Park during Monday's Red Sox-Blue Jays game. "I know it was a best-seller for a number of years. I was very sad to hear this happened. Just a fine man. A great reporter, a great writer, he did everything that possibly a good human being could do. He was just an outstanding man. I feel really badly about this. I haven't talked to Dominic or Bobby yet, but I hope to tonight when I go home."

The book represented a must-read for baseball fans everywhere, particularly on the heels of Williams dying in July 2002. The riveting read gave generations young and old an in-depth glimpse into Williams, and three of his closest friends.

Pesky didn't know Halberstam until the book project, but instantly was impressed.
"He talked exceptionally well. He had that great voice," said the 87-year-old Pesky. "I've heard him speak other places. He was spell-bounding. Just an outstanding man. I met him because of the book."

After the release of "The Teammates", Pesky, Doerr and DiMaggio did some appearances with Halberstam. "He wrote the book, and how that came about was Halberstam was in Florida when Dominic was there," said Pesky. "Halberstam found out Dominic was in the area so he called him and Dominic invited him over to the house and that's how this book came about. He talked to Dominic and Dominic told him we were going to go to Florida [via car] to see Ted. He said, 'Boy, this will be a great book."

The drive that Pesky and DiMaggio took from New England to Florida to visit an ailing Williams is a memory captured forever by Halberstam. Though Halberstam wasn't in the car, he did enough in-depth reporting with Pesky and DiMaggio to make readers feel that he was.
"I really feel bad about this," said Pesky. "Here's a guy who wrote a great book about four old guys, they tell me it was a best-seller."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Coffee and O.J with local flavor...

Wake up and smell the ignorance. It was Monday morning and my wife didn't know why my jaw had dropped into my java. Gulp. We had just done our sleepy-eyed morning walk down to Culver City's Conservatory of Coffee, and were enjoying the fresh-roasted brew and view of our fellow city stumblers when I saw her. Forty-something. Upscale, well-coiffed and accessorized and put-together, having a smiling, lively conversation with her friend as they she got into the coffee line. In an O.J. Simpson jersey. Not an ironic, snarky "FREE O.J". t-shirt. No. A vintage, limited-issue, long sleeved, very expensive-throwback kind of jersey. 32 in putrid yellow on a field of maroon blood red. (Sorry - couldn't resist the overkill.) I had to explain to my wife that "No, no. It is THAT Simpson."
I was stunned that somebody so apparently all-there would go there. HERE. In the city where it happened. Where was Fred Goldman when I needed him? He could tell her everything that was wrong about it. He might even get through to her or get an answer as to Why Her and Why That Outfit? Who was I to ask and what could I do... except tell you.

Frankly, my head is still shaking - and it's not the caffeine. Maybe she has her reason. Then again, maybe she should use some. Or maybe she likes scream in her coffee.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Monday, April 02, 2007


Lumber, next exit.

This clever billboard has long been one of my favorites. And it quite sums up where we are with this blog: bored.

So, when in doubt, reinvent! We're mixing things up here on Wheeling (because if we didn't, we'd definitely never come for a visit, let alone post something).

To give you a taste of the new direction and kick things off, here's some bus poetry, meaning it was written on the bus by our very own N8theSk8. Enjoy!

twenty four play
Wilhelm Reich's
A 110 year-old Willi
still he
looks for redemption
in this Armored Age
where the erection
of monuments to troublemakers
never happens
in time
for them or for us

so go
you messed up, sexed up masses
huff and puff
put your lips together
sextinguishing their flame
and their wishes for us all

in the dark

Friday, February 16, 2007

Making me CROSS(walk)

So on the heels of hearing that more people (at least in California) are killed in crosswalks than while jaywalking - here's more proof that He Who Loves to Jay, Lives to See Another Day.

In theory, crosswalks are supposedly designed to make it safer to cross the street, right? In reality, they offer a false sense of security and visibility for pedestrians. Frogger, anyone?

I used to (selectively) kick cars when they violated crosswalk rules (next blog) and common sense. Now, I realize that - with almost every crosswalk crossing containing unacceptable chances of death and injury, drivers who practice sensible and safe behavior at these intersections of People Vs. Machine are all too uncommon.

From Yesterday's Almost Hit Parade:

Picture me and a very Old Man attempting to cross Washington Boulevard at Culver Center from opposite sides of the street - WITH A SIGNAL. On my right, as I step into the street, I see a car languidly moving into the intersection, turning left, hoping to proceed through the crosswalk and head towards Sony. So far, so good, right? Left? Indifferent? So was I...

Flash forward a few precious seconds. The car is now out in the middle of Washington Boulevard and we're well into the crosswalk when the latest example of stupid, selfish, ASSuming drivers rears its ugly cylinder head. To give you a picture: The car is where it should be - minding its business, waiting for the foot traffic to pass. We're where we should be - IN THE CROSSWALK. (Here's where, once again, the bets get made and things get dicey. Fast. The Old Man is halfway to the middle of the boulevard and I'm AT the middle of the boulevard now which leaves a gap of maybe 15 feet and closing which this moron is now attempting to shoot. (Why do I think of bullets and cars as inextricably intertwined? Deadly power at the fingers of idiots? Metal vs. flesh? The inability of "Oops" to stop the Laws Of Physics in their tracks and repair all the resulting damage to flesh and bone and families?) Anyway. Just so you understand - she's not idly, casually, slowly taking this turn towards the gap (which might, in the moment, at least inspire confidence in her driving ability, if not her judgement) - NO - she's actually revving up from her rolling position - you know, the typical I'm -waiting -for- you- dumb- pedestrians -to -cross -and- just- as -soon -as -you're -clear-I'm -comin'- on- thru position (ie: the middle of the road) and gunning it like a hitter in baseball exploding out of his slow and expected turn a few feet off of first as he decides then and there to catch everyone by surprise and stretch a pedestrian single into a risky and oh-so-thrilling double. I'm stunned. I can't believe she's doing it. It's like the fat kid who can only hit homers deciding he's Charlie Hustle . It's a Volvo. You're a Mom? Are you kidding me? If she wore a different face - say Young Guy In A Truck, Young Gal in a Mustang, Cellphone User In A Coma, I might understand her - I'd certainly fucking recognize her having seen this crosswalk gambit too many times, in too many places, but look at her. Late Thirties - Educated, Upper Middle Class, Horn-rimmed glasses, Kind of dweeby and with a Gal pal, both hands on the wheel, perfectly sane looking. And STILL - doing this." At this precise point where the Old Man's life flashes before my eyes, I see she sees him and also see her now go into that doubly-dangerous Waffle Face. You know the one: the face your friends or siblings made just as their feet left the diving board and their braingears attempted to turn that routine, planned-to, perfect Jackknife into something else in midair. The look that hung there suspended between two beautiful possibilities and caught staring down frozen at the cold reality awaiting them. You watching bemused, suspended in time along with them, as their confidence went slack and the result was a gutsmacking, balls whacking hybrid of both maneuvers, an ugly and painful bellyflop smashup of mixed intentions and sudden changes of mind.

So,just as her Waffle Face pops out, all confidence in her ability vanishes and the Volvo seems to (ever so slightly) buck, as she now (far too late) starts to calculate just how close she can still cut it. I stop her. And seem to make the Volvo - if not her - change its mind. Even though she doesn't apparently see me, she hears my HEY - not screamed - just barked - and looks up startled, like the nice girl caught passing notes in class by the Substitute. The Old Man looks up from his shuffling feet as the car brakes decide to lock completely. ARE YOU IN THAT BIG A RUSH? (I slow to a stop now, point at my watch) HUH? IS IT THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU? She blinks at me like a frightened rabbit. Like I'M the crazy one. ARE YOU IN THAT BIG A RUSH? I repeat - just for effect. (I pause, stand there, reclaiming the area between the white lines for all mankind. Now she's uncomfortable. Awwww. Silly Rabbit. Tricks are for you. I can see/feel her friend muttering shit under her breath about me, a "Yeah, yeah, buddy, whatever." I stare on at the driver, from behind my bugeye, black sunglasses and she looks back at me, blankly, busted. I point at my head as I pass her bumper and The Old Man reaches safety THINK! (disgusted) MAN... (shake head as I walk away). The Volvo skulks past.

Day in, day out, people driving 3000 pound missiles around and how many of them are doing so consciously? Consistently? Even in f'n crosswalks. Terrifying. And they're they go zzzzzoooooom...crossing the line(s) of right and wrong and gambling with your life as they roll on through their deluded dayze. I'm inclined to agree with the statistics and take my own proactive chance where i can with jaywalking, picking my time and place to leap across the squash zone rather than rely on rules no one gives a damn about and the Average Driver.

Me, angry? No, me cross. Safely.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Weren't "nathan" goin' on here fer awhile...

Yes. it's official. Regarding this blog - the wheels definitely fell off.
But now they're back on and so am I. Obviously, I wasn't driven to post anything and...
if it takes a few gratuitous puns and clumsy transportation metaphors to get back up to speed, so be it, damn it!

Let's see...it's February 12th. WTF??!!! FEBRUARY?!!! How long HAVE I been away? Did I miss the Super Bowl?!(Hey - speaking of cars - maybe they should change his name to "Wrecks" Grossman. Or rename the mistake-prone Ursines as DUH Bears.) The answer: no - I didn't. But in the interim,I did miss a wide variety of buses, MTA, Culver and Blue, too. And by that much. But I didn't miss everything...

Some random observations from the field:

Despite the warning posted to the contrary, every bus driver I meet loves to talk. As long as you don't stand in front of their mirror.

I'm starting to learn their names. (Their routes, no. Thank goodness, the paper maps on board give me one more way to avoid the Internet.)

I'm beginning to see the wisdom in the monthly pass and the complete lack-thereof in the "in-flight entertainment" playing on the bus monitors. (Oooh - an idea for the next blog! I am soooo BACK!) Of the bus, that is. Where it doesn't smell like ass. Much. (Too bad, I can't say the same for those puns and metaphors.)