Honey takes the train to Los Angeles

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April 1, 2014 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · 1 Comment 

 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

 In the first car of the train from Martinez light comes through the window in front as well as through the windows on the sides.  If I stand, I see the landscape rushing towards us.

The daylight is watery — as I imagine light is in the Netherlands.  The land is flat around the Delta and in the Central Valley. There is so much sky and so little land seen from the train windows that it seems we must be traveling underwater.  Clouds are bruised from their weight of water, and the wind pushes them into changing shapes. One is a polar Teddy bear, and he occupies most of my window.

A man I haven’t met sends me a poem, which I read on my tablet.  He once wrote that he was a lesbian and in a relationship with another woman, but he is a man married to a woman.  His name is Ed Underhill.  I have never heard anyone call him “Ed.” Perhaps because “Ed” is too short although Americans always shorten names even the names of foreigners, but if his name is too short, he could be Edward.   He writes: Read more

Honey Reveals The Truth About Jack London

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March 1, 2014 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

 Some of those fascinated by Jack London seem to see aspects of themselves in him.

Most of his readers think of his having an adventurous life, and he did.  One of his adventures started with the great earthquake of 1906, begging rather in his own backyard when he and his second wife Charmian Kittererdge London rode their horses to the top of Mt. Sonoma and looked down at the destruction in San Francisco and in Santa Rosa.  This is the journey Charmian was to call “Jack London’s magic trail,” but it was actually a trip to visit old friends, bathe in hot springs and enjoy riding through  the redwoods to the Pacific Coast.  The Londons were to follow much of the same journey in 1911, which he  described in “Four Horses and a Sailor.”

London inherited the travel story as a vehicle for making a little money from Charmian’s Aunt Netta, a travel writer.   Background for reading both Charmian’s and Jack’s writing about the magic trail is enhanced by getting to know a little about them.   Jack’s life was his greatest literary inventive contribution to California, and Charmian was his hardest working assistant. Read more

Honey Sees From the Sky Descends an Angel

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February 1, 2014 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

 

Old people comprised most of the audience when I saw Saving Mr. Banks. They sat through the film without moving their white heads and stayed to the end of the subtitles. They were entranced. They could have read the Mary Poppins series, which began in 1934, as children. They could have read the books to their children. Everyone knows Walt Disney. His Steamboat Willy came out in 1928. Each of the old people in the audience grew up with Disney animations and with Walt on television. Disneyland in Anaheim is 58 years old. I was one of the children who went to it soon after it opened.

There were no parking structures but asphalt lots. Women wore high heels, and they got stuck in the asphalt. Real leeches floated in big clear glass containers set on the counter of the Main Street pharmacy.

Both the P.L. Travers book series and Walt Disney affected the way a lot of people saw the world when they were children. The time we spent as children seems like a very long time. The beginning of summer vacation seems like the beginning of forever with adventures still unaccomplished ahead like a vista without a horizon. The older we get, the faster life goes by, and so childhood seems to us to have been a longer period than it was, and what happens in childhood is important. Read more

Honey’s Writing From The Second Gold Mountain

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January 1, 2014 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

 

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

No one knows when people began to talk.  One theory is that a genetic mutation in a gene such as FOXP2 allowed people to speak.  It is almost impossible to imagine that one day a human baby born with the mutated gene was able to talk but his family could not.  Babies learn language so there had to have been more than one baby but Noam Chomsky proposed that a single chance mutation occurred in one individual about 100,000 years ago, so Chomsky could imagine what I almost cannot.

A friend of mine today told me that alien intervention explains everything.  Aliens mutated the gene.  “So why,” I asked, “did a four legged mammal who walked the earth mutate into the whale?  Why would aliens care?”

Other scholars place the beginning of speech as about 200,000 years ago.  Neanderthal man in Europe and central Asia had the larynx, cranial capacity and the FOXP2 gene for speech and archeological evidence indicates they could talk.   Neanderthal is our closest extinct relative and probably interbred with modern humans when we arrived in Europe and central Asia. Read more

Honeyed Frankenstein

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December 1, 2013 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

 

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

Eighteen-sixteen was “the year without a summer.” An historic low in solar activity combined with a volcanic winter event caused by a succession of major volcanic eruptions capped by the 1815 eruption of MountTambora in Indonesia caused severe climate abnormalities. Average global temperatures decreased by 0.7-1.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

During the wet miserable summer, nineteen year-old Mary Godwin Shelly, Percy Bysshe Shelly, aged twenty-six, Lord Byron, also twenty-six, and John William Polidori, twenty-one – Polidori was to write the 1819 short story, The Vampyre, one of the first vampire stories in English – stayed in a rented villa on the shores of Lake Geneva. Mary and Percy had lost their first child, born prematurely. He had left his wife for her, and his wife committed suicide.

Forced to remain indoors by the weather, they read horror stories from the book Fantasmagoriana. (1813) The group also discussed experiments by Erasmus Darwin (Charles Darwin’s grandfather) with galvanism, the contraction of muscles stimulated by electricity.

The poets proposed a contest between all of them to write horror stories.

The framing of Frankenstein’s in the artic, its many water passages, its sense of disassociation of people from the environment, may have been drawn as some writers believe from Shelly’s fascination with indigenous people but can also be because that year’s extreme cold, and because the villa was on Lake Geneva. Read more

The Land of Mulch and Honey

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November 1, 2013 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

 

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

The side yard to my house in Conquered was hard dry soil and two bushes, one of them with inedible orange berries.  A wood fence faces the street, which was overgrown with two-foot tall weeds.  Last winter, I planted a baby Pluot, a little pear, and an apple tree in the side yard.   The Pluot is not self-pollinating.  If a neighbor does not have a Santa Rosa plum, I’m going to have to buy one.

Spanish missionaries brought the European plum to California.  Luther Burbank bred the Santa Rosa plum from the Japanese plum.  In 1885, he imported 12 plum seeds from Japan.

Without bees, the wind pollinates a little but not enough.   In agricultural areas in California, farmers have to bring in bees because pesticides kill them off.  Fortunately, bees have so far survived in the cities.

My youngest grandchild wants me to get chickens.  He wants me to build a chicken coop.  He planted broccoli, beans and corn.  He agreed to eat the corn.  The corn crop grew beautifully but I only got two ears of it because of the birds that got it first.   I hung a giant cloth parrot over the fence.  It wobbles in the wind and scares off birds.  Nothing scares off gophers but mine may be blind because they missed the vegetables. Read more

Honey does not care for Tina Fey

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October 1, 2013 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

 

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste.)

Tina Fey won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.  My daughter and granddaughter howled to her Bossypants Audiobook on their drive to Conquered.  To laugh at the lovely Fey’s humor would be, for me, like laughing at Martian jokes of there are Martians and if they tell jokes or like laughing at Turkish humor.

Turkish humor is an oxymoron like industrial parks or military intelligence or marijuana initiative.   A former colleague from Turkey – Zeynep — was funny.

Once she said something, and it was funny, and I could not breathe.  My head only got larger.  She said, “I know.  Turks aren’t funny.”  I later learned she was a Kurdish Turk.  Not any of the Kurdish Turks I met when I lived in Turkey were funny and there’s also a good chance they think the term Kurdish Turk is an oxymoron.

When I mispronounced Turkish words, no Turks laughed but only looked at me with alarm.  Who would know that the Turkish word “to squeeze out (laundry)” sounds almost exactly like the word for “to have sexual intercourse?”  Not many I bet.  It wasn’t my fault what happened next.   I also could not ever get straight whether the curse on taxi drivers was, “I jump in your grandfather’s mouth” or “I shit in your grandfather’s mouth.”

I once asked a trick question on an exam on LA history: what is a zoot suit?  An Armenian answered, “A law suit that goes really fast.” I’m open to the possibility Armenians are funny — after all, there was Saroyan.

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Honey Goes to Pittsburg

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September 1, 2013 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comments Off 

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste.)
Here I lay me down to sleep
To wait the coming morrow,
Perhaps success, perhaps defeat,
And everlasting sorrow.
Let come what will, I’ll try it on,
My condition can’t be worse;
And if there’s money in that box
‘Tis munny in my purse.” 

(1878 poem by Black Bart, a Concord elementary school teacher, at the site of one of his stage coach robberies, that one on the road to Oroville)

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Honey explains why we have the Silver Lake neighborhood in Los Angeles

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August 1, 2013 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comments Off 

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste.)
Today’s Libertarians would have found utopia in early American-occupied Los Angeles.  Americans – including among them new American citizens from Europe — stepped into the Mexican system of public and common lands and transformed the land through private entrepreneurship. Speculators created “Ivanhoe Town,” the boundaries of which roughly correspond to the Silver Lake district, towards the end of that free market idyll.  The Kenilworth tract adjoined, and that is now partly Los Feliz and partly Griffith Park.   Also, there were other tracts that adjoined the Ivanhoe area:  Golden Gates, Childs, Edendale.  Today’s Silver Lake neighborhood was to remain, however, mostly grazing land until the 1920s.
 

The early speculators acquired the former rancho land that comprised much of “Ivanhoe Town” because of the 1851 California Land Claims Act, which led to the former Mexican citizens’ loss of the ranchos that had thrived through peonage labor; that is, Indian labor that was close to slavery.   The Americans also used “free” Indian labor to build their capitalist city.

 

Rancho property often became the property of the rancheros’ lawyers, who sold the land to real estate speculators.  American property owners voluntarily taxed themselves to build roads, and speculators financed a complex system of privately owned interurban railways so that prospective buyers could reach home sites.  The Feliz family daughters sold off some of the land on the Feliz Rancho for $1 an acre to the family attorney and the son transferred most of the rest to him when he died, perhaps for legal fees incurred in claiming the rancho in American courts. Read more

Honey on the long narrow road

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July 1, 2013 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comments Off 

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste.)

 

Once upon a time, or as the Turks sometimes begin their stories,

“There was once and there was not (once upon a time), many were faithful to God. Inside past time when straw was a cradle, when the camel was the town crier, when the flea was a barber, when I was pushing my mother’s cradle, and the cradle said ‘tinger minger.’”

In that straw cradle time when the flea was a barber, I lived in the village of Degirmindere on the Gulf of Iznit.

Iznit is the Turkish name for what had been Nicea, which is where the Nicean Creed was developed.  In 1331, Orhan captured Nicea from the Byzantines.   I had memorized the Nicean Creed in Bible studies when I was a child at the Silver Lake Presbyterian Church.

There were cherry trees and hazlenut trees surrounding Degirmendire.  When the gypsy women harvested the fruit, I sent my children – then about four and six years old, down to the orchards.  The gypsy women filled their aprons with cherries and hung cherries from their ears.  In the early spring, the gypsies sold cucumbers, parsely, later artichokes and eggplants, in the marketplace.  Thirty years later, Degirmendire was the epicenter of the Marmara earthquake and almost completely destroyed. Read more

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