The Frivolous Cake
by Mervyn Peake
A freckled and frivolous cake there was
That sailed upon a pointless sea,
Or any lugubrious lake there was
In a manner emphatic and free.
How jointlessly, and how jointlessly
The frivolous cake sailed by
On the waves of the ocean that pointlessly
Threw fish to the lilac sky.
Oh, plenty and plenty of hake there was
Of a glory beyond compare,
And every conceivable make there was
Was tossed through the lilac air.
Up the smooth billows and over the crests
Of the cumbersome combers flew
The frivolous cake with a knife in the wake
Of herself and her curranty crew.
Like a swordfish grim it would bounce and skim
(This dinner knife fierce and blue])),
And the frivolous cake was filled to the brim
With the fun of her curranty crew.
Oh, plenty and plenty of hake there was
Of a glory beyond compare -
And every conceivable make there was
Was tossed through the lilac air.
Around the shores of the Elegant Isles
Where the cat-fish bask and purr
And lick their paws with adhesive smiles
And wriggle their fins of fur,
They fly and fly 'neath the lilac sky -
The frivolous cake, and the knife
Who winketh his glamorous indigo eye
In the wake of his future wife.
The crumbs blow free down the pointless sea
To the beat of a cakey heard
And the sensitive steel of the knife can feel
That love is a race apart
In the speed of the lingering light are blown
The crumbs to the hake above,
And the tropical air vibrates to the drone
Of a cake in the throes of love.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Friday, July 14, 2006
The following excerpt is from the soon to be published memoirs of my years as a Construction Worker, tentatively titled either, "Everything I needed to know, I learned on the Job-Site", or, "Men Have a Penis and Women are from Bars".
It was the best of times, it was the best of times. It was, as usual, some time in the mid-80's, and me, in my natural prime, had now been working for my Uncle Frank's 'ZVI Rolling Thunder Revue and Construction Company' for nearly three years. We had, to this point, participated in many various hijinx, some previously mentioned in this blog, some either neglected or selectively ommited for taste. We currently found ourselves in Newton Mass., the hub of prep schools, upward mobility, and most importantly, just 20 miles from the Home Office in Brookline Mass.. Now, When we had been out on the road, certain things could be overlooked in the interest of the bottom line, as in 'what happens in Toledo, stays in Toledo' ( that's another story, by the way). As long as the job was getting finished, and under budget, then a few incidents, arrests, property damages, or bar charges could be overlooked. Especially with Frank's crew, the less the home office knew, the better.
But, here we were, right in plain sight of not only our bosses, but the home offices of Northeast Apparel, the largest wholesale buyer of Women's Clothing in the U.S., and our biggest client. Now, as you may have guessed from previous entries, the ZVI 'Rabbit-Killers' were not model citizens, nor were they skilled craftsmen, for that matter. This job was again no exception. There was the instance of Muddah and Cousin Bill's ill-advised trip to Cape Cod for a little 'betting on Billiards', eventually landing them for the weekend in Plymouth State Pen (long story). Then, there was the time we got shut off and kicked out of the local Papa Gino's on a particularly spirited Friday afternoon (another long story), to the aghast stares of the women and children patrons of this fine family establishment. All good things, brother, good things.
But the fondest memory, or infraction, of that particular job was a charming and wondrous Pig named Lucille.
Lucille came from a small farm near New Bedford Mass., also home of one crazy Portugese bastard, Mark Cote, Nee 'Animal ', one of my esteemed cronies on the job. 'Animal' thought it would be funny to buy Uncle Frank a pig for his birthday. Frank had certainly been known to frequently associate himself with pigs, and had even dated many (I'm speaking in metaphor, here). Animal and the whole crew thought it was a splendid idea. And it was. Lucille came to the job-site, one day late in May, wrapped in swaddling cloth, nursing from a bottle, and being cuddled by the crazy mellanzanna Cote, who snuck her there under cover of darkness.
She soon became the hit of the job-site: Guissepi, the Italian Brick Mason, who I was scared to death of because I was sure he was MAFIA, would bring in little pieces of Italian bread to hand feed her every lunch. The carpet guys would often be spotted fawning over her in her little pen by the entrance to the store. Store, oh yes: I forgot to ,mention. We were constructing a fine upscale women's apparel store, and we were nearly finished. The rugs were being laid, the paint was going up, and the final shelves and fixtures were popping up in place. Nothing incongruous about a posh little pig-pen right in the middle of that, is there? I didn't think so either.
Nobody on the site seemed to mind either. She became kinda like our mascot. All the different trades guys loved Lucille, and never a day went by when at least 5 or 6 crews would be sneaking her in treats from their lunch. She soon to exponentiated in size, and was no longer a demure piglet, but a husky sow of over 100 pounds. She was kind of a distraction, I'm sure , but also a big morale booster, not to mention a pretty big fuckin' novelty.
But all good things must come to an end, and it was the same with Lucille. As the job neared to completion, there were less and less grubby construction types, and more and more clothing store executive types frequenting the Future home of "Show Off" fashions. Suprisingly, they took umbrage to the image a Pig would imply upon the patrons of a women's clothing store. So Lucille's carefree days of roaming the sales floor were about to come to a close. One day, Rick Sternberger, a suit from Northeast Apparel, came in to make an inspection on the job's progress. Now, I was aware that some people might think a pig on the job-site unusual, but even I was shocked by his reaction. Maybe it was because he was Jewish, or maybe he was not an animal lover, but his reaction was swift and decisive: Lucille the Wonder Pig could not stay.
So sadly Frank and I loaded her into the ZVI van and headed up to my parent's farm in Newport. I sat in the back and comforted her through the 4 hour journey, and she was a trouper throughout, let me tell you. The fellas on the job all sadly bade farewell as we drove away, crying and waving their hankies, tears in their eyes.
But the ending is a happy one, brothers and sisters. Lucille spent the rest of her natural days in repose on my parents estate in Maine, being hand fed goodies and lying in the cool dirt, like a good pig should. Never was the time, no matter how long it was between visits, that when she heard your voice, she would not grunt and squeal with delight and run to see you. She grew, under my Mom and Dad's care, to what I'd say was over 4 spins on the scale. Not bad for a city girl.
And though Newton Mass. never became known for having the first women's apparel store with a pig mascot, I'm sure out there somewhere, there are still electricians, or ceiling guys, or tin-knockers who'll remember Lucille, the wonder pig, and bring her up at a shit-shootin' session or coffee break, and not be able to crack a smile.
To think, I could have been working.
I got done mowing the lawn today, and evidentally one of my neighbors slipped this note under my front door
Shirtles fat guy mowing the lawn
Does all chores with no shirt on
Hairy back is angry red
NASCAR ball-cap on 'is head
Protuberant belly Bongo tight
Loafers brown, socks of white
Pabst Blue Ribbon, need some more
Drive the Yard Boss** to the Package Store
Shirtless Fat Guy, Good God Y'all
Make short grass where'n it used to be tall.
** Yard-boss is a registered trademark of Sears, I think
Monday, July 10, 2006
Friday, July 07, 2006
You already know how my lil' Princess constantly keeps me updated on the progressive state of my increasing decreptitude. Well...todays observations: my ears move around when I chew my food, and, my tonails are a creepy yellow color. "Thanks, Honey, that's really good to know".
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Long time reader, first time writer.
I'm having some of the guys up to my fishing camp for a little 'rest, relaxation and Trout fishing' this weekend. I've got all the fishing supplies lined up, but I'm having some difficulty putting together a grocery list. These guys aren't exactly finnicky, but I'm no good at this shopping thing. It's usually my wife's department. Can you be of any help?
Useless in Eustis
When grocery shopping for guys, I usually try to remember the four food groups: Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and starch. Wait, and cheese. Oh wait, and meat.
Let me start again. When I go grocery shopping for my outdoor buddies, I usually try to remember a few simple rules that apply to most any fella in these situations. Rule #1 is what I call ip"'The Law of the Chip". The LOTC states that if you have 4 bags of chips or 40 bags of chips, they will all get eaten. In other words, you can never buy enough chips. I am not exaggerating when I say this. I once had a guy party where 12 of us devoured 68 bags of chips. Also, if there is going to be sports watching at your fishing camp, add 10% more chips. Rule #2 of shopping, for me, is what I call "the Power of Cheese". The POC states that when you get a bunch of the guys together for drinking and dining, they will eat most anything, strips of cardboard boxes or even dog dookie, if you melt Mozzerella cheese over it. If you don't have a Micro-wave at your camp, unplug the one you have at home and bring it with, so's you can make Nachos. You'll be glad you did. Nachos to a drunk guy is like S'Mores to a 6 year old kid. So don't scrimp on la Fromage, my friend. Speaking, as I was, about drinking, that brings me to Rule #3, the Beer Exponent Factor. BEF states that the more guys you have together without their spouses, and the more beer there is to drink, with each extra guy and each extra beer, it is exponentially likely that something spectacularly stupid will happen. So in that spirit, make sure you have enough beer on hand (for just how much beer to keep on hand,see Law of the Chip, by-law 1A) and watch the Fun happen. Don't forget, by the way, to keep a well stocked 1st Aid kit, including burn treatments at your camp. Aside from my first 3 rules, I can only add, buy plenty of meat. Any kind of meat will do, for you are probably going to incinerate it on an open flame, and they are still going to devour it. I once had a guy party where we made a big ol' batch of chicken wings that were completely scorched on the outside, but completely pink and raw on the inside. We ate them. And so would you. Theye were good. With your meat, make sure to buy plenty of BBQ sauces and hot sauces. When guys get to drinking together, they love to show off how much 'hot' they can tolerate (see Beer Exponent Factor). And don't, I repeat don't forget to buy plenty of Bacon. Bacon is the staple of any camp menu, and an important start to any healthy breakfast. Did you know that Bacon is chock-a-block full of those Anti-Oxidents? O was it Trans-Fatty Acids? Either way, Bacon is really good.
So there you have it. Aside from about 3 pounds of coffee, that should about cover it in a pinch. You get at least the stuff I told you and you'll be shitting in tall cotton, my woodsy buddy. So be safe out there and rememeber: Keep your fly wet.
Anyone who knows me well enough could tell you that they've never been dazzled by my political acumen. However, I am a keen observer of the absurd and surreal. So this last friday's Boston Globe did not fail to catch my eye. The article told of our President and Japan's Prime Minister getting a tour of Graceland from none other than Pricilla and Lisa-Marie Presley. If you did not know, th P.M. is a HUGE Elvis fan. He donned the shades, mimed E's famous Karate moves and even serenaded Mss. Presleys with a romantic E ballad. All while our illustrious President and First Lady looked on bemusedly, if not a little embarrassed.
So the piece der resistance, as they say: I'm reading this article, and when my fit of apoplectic laughter finally subsides, I read on to find out that outside Graceland during the tour, there were four Elvis impersonators/Protesters picketing the President. Perfect. There I went again, back onto the floor. Elvis really do bring us all together, don't he? I love America.
Elvis is everywhere, Elvis is everything,
Elvis is everybody, Elvis is still the King.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Sweney gave us a good push off from the dock and we moved forward into Long Pond. Sweney, now retired, used to be one of the best teachers at Colby, a scholar of Melville. My boy Zach was in the bow. He’s a scholar of pizza.
I was at the helm. It was a perfect summer morning in Maine, and we were off to do a little fishing.
We had a thermos of coffee, some sunscreen, a dozen suckers in a mayonaisse jar, and a very large net. I had a big floppy hat. Sweney and Zach had well worn tackle boxes, filled with things like snelled hooks and plastic frogs and “Dr. Juice’s Fish Pheromones.”
We had all that we would ever need.
We headed south, passed below the Castle Island bridge. For ten minutes or so, the three of us just looked at the horizon, at the Kennebec Highlands, covered with white pines, at the early morning sun reflecting off the water.
At last we eased our way into Frenchman’s Cove, what some people call “The Graveyard,” since the large number of rocks provides plenty of opportunities to send your propeller to the afterworld. But we managed to avoid these, and soon enough the engine was cut and we drifted in total silence through the tannic water.
Zach managed to get a sucker on his hook without any adult supervision, which struck me as a mark of progress. I was concerned about Zach’s lack of patience, a fairly typical personality trait for a middle schooler, but not of much help in fishing.
He’d announced last summer that he no longer had any interest in bluegills or perch—that these were the pursuits of men much younger than his twelve year old self-- and that from here on out it was bass, or pike, or nothing.
Sweney sat at the other end of the boat, casting out with his never ending trove of ridiculous lures, his hulapoppers and smelly jellies and rapalas. He doesn’t talk much when we fish, which suits me fine. I know what he’s thinking. Every once in a while, as he’s changing lures, Sweney will look around at the sparkling water and say something like, “This is pretty good.”
And I agree.
Zach stood up in the bow and threw out his first cast. Line unspooled from the baler and for a while my boy stood there watching the water, with an expression not so unlike that of John Sweney.
And then it happened. The end of his line bowed, and I thought, oh what a shame, he’s snagged his line on the very first cast.
But it wasn’t a snag. It was a sixteen inch largemouth, nearly three pounds, and it leaped out of the water with a sound, in that quiet early morning, that seemed like the crashing of cymbals.
Zach fought with it for a while, and then got it near enough the boat for me to reach in with that ridiculous, giant net, and haul it out.
The beautiful fish wriggled there in the morning light. We could see the red feathering of the gills, the mottled green scales, the fins moving wildly.
And my son looked at me with amazement and pride.”I caught it,” he said. “A monster.”
Sweney nodded and said, “That’s a good one.”
When we got back to the dock, nearly three hours later, Sweney had caught, and released, a half a dozen nice bass. It was the day before my birthday, and I couldn’t imagine a greater gift than being out there with my good friend and my son, the sun on our faces.
Zach looked out at the water, an expression of pride on his face, and for a moment I had a vision of him fishing this same lake, many years from now, after I’m long gone. Maybe he’ll watch some day as his own son--or grandson--casts out his line.
As for me, I hadn’t caught a thing, which was fine. I’m not really in it for the fish.