Ladies of the Road

Another Fun Event at the Automobile Driving Museum: The Women’s Car Show

On Saturday, Martine and I dropped in at the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo to see a car show dedicated to the wheels of women auto enthusiasts. This weekend, for the first time I began to detect a spring of hope in this grim pandemic season. Americans are getting vaccinated, and businesses are slowly beginning to open up again. (For the first time in over a year, we ate indoors at Ye Olde King’s Head Restaurant in Santa Monica.)

I was curious to see what a Women’s Car Show would be like, and found that the ladies liked vintage cars as much as men do. The men, however, would not accompany it with a fashion show.

Poster for the Women’s Car Show

Martine has developed a real fondness for the Automobile Driving Museum and its various events. I enjoy going because there are so few things that she likes so much. I also enjoy being with car enthusiasts, because many of the old cars are indeed works of art that I can well appreciate.

Multipleheaded Spirits

Trevor Noah of the “Daily Social Distancing Show” on Comedy Central

The Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, author of Things Fall Apart, once wrote that the criss-cross of Africa to Euroamerica is a place of “a certain dangerous potency; dangerous because a man might perish there wrestling with multipleheaded spirits, but also he might be lucky and return to his people with the boon of prophetic vision.”

There are several people I could think of who have weathered that crossing and managed to have come out ahead in the process. Trevor Noah on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Social Distancing Show” is one such African. According to his autobiographical Born a Crime, Noah’s very existence as a mixed-race baby of South African and Swiss parentage was a violation of Apartheid at the time of his birth in Johannesburg in 1984. After his successful hosting of the 2021 Grammy Awards Show, his show biz career is looking up.

I watch his show on Comedy Central whenever I can.

Franco-Senegalese Novelist Marie NDiaye

One of the greatest contemporary French novelists is Marie NDiaye, who although born in France, has produced stunning body of work (My Heart Hemmed In, Three Strong Women, and The Cheffe, to name just three) that I think puts her on the track to the Nobel Prize for Literature. It’s even harder to do this in France than here in America.

Nigerian-American Novelist Teju Cole

Finally there is Teju Cole, born in Kalamazoo, MI of Nigerian parents. He is the author of Open City, Every Day Is for the Thief, and Known and Strange Things.I have read the first two titles and found them a revelation, the first about life in New York City, the second about life in Nigeria.

It is my belief that Africa has a lot to give us. The old Anglo-Saxon literary and artistic hegemony is in tatters, and the same goes for Europe. It is infuriating that people see the Africans as a threat. The descendants of the slaves have given us our music and excelled in the performance arts. More recent Africans continue to make this a more interesting country to live in—if only we let them!

Wrong Direction: U-Turn Required

Two Paintings by Mark Rothko (1903-1970)

I feel that with abstract expressionism, American art took the wrong direction. Instead of the painting becoming something for the viewing public, it became something produced because the painter had to work out something not quite communicable in his or her own mind.

It was during my college years during the mid-1960s that I first developed my dislike of what had become the dominant movement in American painting. (Fortunately, it no longer is.) In fact, it was Mark Rothko who first came to my attention—and I didn’t like him from the first.

It was Anais Nin who wrote in Volume 1 of her Diary: “I am essentially human, not intellectual. I do not understand abstract art. Only art born of love, passion, pain.”

Jackson Pollock’s “Convergence”(1952)

There are many abstract expressionist painters I do not like, so I am highlighting the three who particularly came to my attention: Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning. If I somehow came into possession of one of their works, I would not under any circumstances put it on display. Instead, I would find some fool to pay hard cash for it. It would be ideal for a corporate head office, and not at all for the residence or office of a person who has chosen not be be schooled to appreciate such work.

Willem de Kooning’s “Untitled” (19 Something or Other)

I have come under fire from some of my friends over my attitude on modern art. I don’t dislike all modern art, just art that is divorced from reality as I know and understand it. I do not care a fig for whatever reality is in the mind of the artist if it does not in some way intersect with my reality.

Very interesting rectangles, Mark. I’ll let you know if I’m in the market for any. Oh, Jackson, I hope you’re not doing any graffiti in my neighborhood. And Willem, you built yourself quite a career with your multicolor daubs of an indiscriminate nature.

There really is not anything else I have to say. I’m not the artist, and certainly not the artist’s psychoanalyst.

Cruz del Cóndor

They’re Not the Prettiest Birds, But They Are HUGE!

Along the south rim of Peru’s Colca Canyon, midway between Chivay and Cabanaconde is a place called Cruz del Cóndor. We stopped there late one morning waiting for the thermals that bring that condors up from the canyon below. I had a hard time focusing on the birds when they were against a dark background, so I was not able to take the above picture. Below is the best of the ones I shot, up against a blue sky:

Condor at Colca Canyon

To be a good wildlife photographer, you have to be patient … and you have to have the right equipment. Unfortunately, I have only a digital rangefinder camera, and I wasn’t able to stay put and wait for the right shot to happen. So it didn’t.

Condor on the Dining Room Wall in Chivay

Here’s one condor I was able to photograph—at the restaurant where we ate lunch after viewing the condors. Then it was on to the high point of the trip—Patopampas at 15,000 feet (4,600 meters)—enroute to Puno and Lake Titicaca.

Vaccinated!

My Covid-19 Vaccination Card (with Date of Birth Obliterated)

Yesterday I finally got my second Pfizer Covid-19 second dose. As my doctor predicted, I came down this morning with a slight fever, some chills, and achy shoulders. I hated to think that I would die of the ’rona after all the quarantining I did over the last year. I went all the way out to Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Baldwin Park, where it all went down like clockwork.

Cañon de Colca

Coporaque, Peru with Volcán Sabancaya Erupting in Background

On my kitchen table, I have two guides to Peru which I consult from time to time. Even at my advanced age, I am thinking of going there once the coronavirus is but a dim memory (should that time ever come). I see in my mind a tour I took from Arequipa to the Colca Canyon area back in 2014.

We were in the Andes at between 12,000 and 15,000 feet (3,600-4,600 meters) altitude. I was chewing coca leaves with an alkaloid to keep me from suffering the effects of soroche, or altitude sickness. With meals, I would drink a tea of maté de coca, which had the same effect. Man was not made to live at that kind of elevation without some assistance. Please note that the difference between coca leaves and cocaine is like the difference between Lipton’s Tea and Bath Salts. At that level, it is simply not a narcotic.

Colca Canyon with Farming Terraces Created by the Inca

As it works its way down to the sea, Colca Canyon becomes even deeper than the Grand Canyon. At its deepest point, it is 10,730 feet (3,270 meters) deep. And the whole canyon is only 43 miles (70 km) long. (Just north is an even deeper canyon: Cotahuasi Canyon at 11,004 feet or 3,354 meters deep.)

There is a place west of Coporaque called Cruz del Cóndor where you can see giant Andean condors rising on thermals from far below. At a wingspread approaching 9 feet (3 meters), it is one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. Later this week, I’ll show you some pictures I took there.

A Fiesta in Chivay, Largest Town Around Colca Canyon

The Colca Canyon area is inhabited by the Cabana and Collagua peoples. It is only about three hours from Arequipa along a high, desolate, and unbelievably picturesque route.

I spent only a single night in Colca, and I would like to remedy that. There are scheduled intercity buses that go from Arequipa to Chivay along the same route I took, and I can probably find a tour guide in Chivay. He might not speak English, but my Spanish is tolerable—if the person I’m talking to is patient.

Allergy

What It Looks Like When You Don’t Cover Up a Sneeze

When I was a child, I was an allergic mess. I would both look forward to and dread visits to my uncle and aunt, because they not only had a dog, but cats as well. My eyes would start to itch and swell up, I would sneeze, and I would constantly blow my nose into one of the two handkerchiefs I always had on my person. I even saw an allergist named Myron Weitz once a week for the better part of a year. He performed numerous scratch tests on me, indicating that I was allergic to tomatoes, oatmeal, tobacco, and a few other things. Then I would get a shot each week which was supposed to make me immune to allergens. It never did.

In the end, I think I was allergic to Cleveland. Once I moved to Southern California after graduating from college, my allergies lessened—especially after I learned to stay far away from cats. There was a time in the 1970s when I developed asthma and had to take a horrible medication called Tedral which kept me awake all hours.

Now I come down with allergic reactions for only a few days each year. Unfortunately, this is one of those times. Something is in bloom that disagrees with me. My nose is stuffed up, I’m sneezing, and my eyes feel as if I had sandpapered them. It could be that the winds are blowing something in from the desert. I just don’t know.

I checked the pollen reports, and supposedly there currently is no major threat. Yeah, but tell my nose and eyes that!

Unwoke

It’s the Left’s Equivalent of Jewish Space Lasers

Do I think that Andrew Cuomo should be impeached for being clueless about women? No, because I think most males are clueless when it comes to women; and there do exist angry women who think they should have their heads chopped off. Even the bit about undercounting Covid-19 deaths of nursing home patients is sort of a peccadillo. Let’s face it, our former president would have raped the young women and murdered the nursing home patients through spineless inaction. And moreover, he would have gotten off scot-free.

By insisting that Cuomo be thrown out of the New York governor’s office, people are just being woke. For that, they get one million S&H Stamps, which can be exchanged for a knowing smirk and a small baggie of fresh dogshit.

While the right was inventing Jewish space lasers and Democrats abusing toddlers in shady pizza parlors, the left was, usual, setting up a circular firing squad.

… In Which Democrats Are the Only Casualties

One of the reasons I left the Democratic Party was that I was sick and tired of seeing good politicians fall by the wayside due to political correctness—people like Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. Who gets points for otiose political virtue? No one. We all lose (except for the Green Stamps).

So am I woke? For one thing, I would never use the term in reference to myself. I am no Mother Teresa. I do not wash the feet of lepers. All I do is try to make my way through the labyrinth without destroying myself or it.

How I Like Them Apples

Bags of Apples from Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, VT

The best apples I ever ate were from Vermont and New Hampshire. Sorry, Washington State, but you’re a distant third. I remember when Martine and I went to New England and Quebec in September 2012. We flew to Boston, rented a car in Salem, and drove to Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vermont, where we bought several bags of apples. I swear that for the next three weeks, our car smelled of the tangy Vermont apples.

As good, when we could find it, was unpasteurized apple cider from Vermont and New Hampshire. The pasteurized stuff is just like supermarket apple juice—a big yuck!—whereas the unpasteurized stuff had a tang and a bite that went down well. We indulged at the cost of diarrhea during the early part of our trip, but it was worth it.

We hoped to find good apples in Quebec, but we were sorely disappointed. I guess there’s something about the soil of the Connecticut River valley that separates Vermont from New Hampshire that makes for great apples.

I dream of going back and spending more time in Northern New England.

Living With Type 2 Diabetes

I Always Knew I Was Going to Become Diabetic

It seems that all the older people in my family were diabetic: my father, my mother, and even my great grandmother. Now even my younger brother is borderline.

Each day, I have to give myself three shots of Humalog (Lispro) and one shot of Lantus (Glargine). The Humalog shots all come before or immediately after meals, and the Lantus just before going to sleep. That’s not so bad, because both types of insulin use a KwikPen with an extremely skinny needle. I administer the insulin either in my gut or my thigh, with only occasionally a bad stick that hits a nerve.

What is worse are the finger sticks, which I have to do three times a day before meals. I have to poke a lancet into my fingertips and squeeze out a bead of blood so that I can tap it with a test strip connected to a device that reads the glucose level of my blood at that point. The problem is that I have trouble getting enough blood to give me a reading. Sometimes I have to poke the same fingertip as much as three times to draw enough blood.

As if that weren’t bad enough, some of my fingers (left thumb and right thumb) require a thicker lancet in order to get blood. My left forefinger has sustained some damage from all the finger sticking, so I usually skip it altogether. So I do a 9-finger rotation over a three-day period.

I don’t mind going with pen needle, nibs, and insulin to a restaurant, but I refuse to also prick my fingertips at the same meal. After all, the finger sticks are for measuring, whereas the insulin keeps my blood sugar low.

The good news is that what I’m doing is working for me. My last A1C reading was 6.5; and my finger stick readings tend to be in the low 100s.