NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND
By Honey van Blossom
(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)
California was once an exotic place for people “in the states.” Those people who called everywhere they had come from as “in the states” had not brought themselves to understand California was “in the states.”
They arrived until 1869 by trekking through the Panama Canal, or going “overland” in covered wagons, and both were hard and dangerous routes. They may have come “around the horn,” and people died in some of those ships as well. They then came by stagecoach, which was miserable rocky unpleasant way to travel.
In 1847, Dr. Robert Semple, the founder of Benicia, established ferry services across the Carquinez Straight. The first boats were small sail and oar-powered scows. From the mid 1850s until the early 1960s, various ferries operated intermittently between the two cities until 1962, when the Martinez-Benicia Bridge was completed.
Harris Newmark, who was to write at the end of his life, Sixty Years in Southern California, 1853-1915, (https://openlibrary.org/books/OL6589719M/Sixty_years_in_Southern_California_1853-1913) arrived in Los Angeles to a cluster of houses around the plaza. “Graded streets and sidewalks were unknown; hence, after heavy winter rains mud was from six inches to two feet deep, while during the summer dust piled up to about the same extent….” No one obeyed any city ordinances. People threw all of their trash, including used clothing, into the streets. Read more
By LIONEL ROLFE
A half century or so ago, I took a trip to the top of the Sierra, where I made the acquaintance of the fragile land of delicate meadows and lakes and dramatic ice fields and glaciers just below the jagged peaks that form the spine of the Sierra. As I recollected my adventure, it became more and more like a dream, hyperrealistic, a place I know I could never really return to.
There is no Trans Sierra Highway that crosses the John Muir trail along the spine of peaks anchored in the south by Mt. Whitney and in the north by Yosemite. Much of that pristine land would be destroyed if there were such a road. Some years back, the freeway bureaucracy wanted to build such a road, but luckily, wiser heads prevailed.
The only way to get there is to hike in, carrying your sleeping bag and provisions. Physically I am no longer up to such a task, and that means I will never see God’s country again, which makes me sad.
But in my mind, there is one moment I can not lose. It was the moment I stood next to a glacier at the top of the Sierra.
We had parked our cars at Florence Lake, the source of which is the Stanislaus River, along whose banks we’d climb to where the river begins. We slept bone tired that evening beside the Stanislaus, which at that point was racing down a narrow heavily wooded canyon with the speed and noise of a thousand steam engines. We slept among the aspen groves along the dank forest trail under the luminous stars and brightly burning falling stars. Read more
The Author As A Young Man
By Stanton Kaye
© Stanton Kaye, 2014
Communication may be more of an art than a science:—Some people take no account of what’s being said, so we can say they lack the appreciation of the art.
My father was just such a person;—indirectly through a business associate, a Mr. I. Lugosi, who was selling him sweaters from Mexico or China—wholesale—at the time. The associate, Mr. I. Lugosi, operated (usually retail) from a small double storefront located just across the street from the Dupar’s side of the Farmers’ Market on Fairfax Avenue.
I was only sixteen. It was the fifties in Los Angeles and the early and late migration of Jewish businessmen liked to live in the proximity of a lot of Kosher amenities. At the time, this part of town—including the C.B.S. TV crowd—was like a pickle barrel of amenities from butchers to bakers; from Deli owners to deal makers; from Rabbis to ruminations on Zionism; yet my father still had room to swim between the pickles, so to speak:—That was maybe the most important thing about his business, perhaps more than profit margins. Read more
By Mary Reinholz
Jason Slade’s corporate cubicle at The Daily Bugle had a bay window with an expansive view of The East River. I could see tugboats through that window towing freight cars on barges heading to the Hunters Point section of Queens on the other side of the river. There the cars were lifted by giant float bridges on the water’s edge and connected to railroad tracks bound for Long Island.
For a few seconds, I was transfixed by the scene. After all, I was carrying my own heavy boatload of information, hoping for an uplift, a big picture of it all from the mind of Slade, my editor. But he looked frazzled and not especially organized in his blue jeans and work shirt.
“I’m moving into a larger office,” he explained, greeting me with an apologetic smile. “Everything is a shambles right now.” His voice conveyed both amusement and despair. He was somebody who didn’t like messy personal situations.
But Slade perked up when I mentioned my lunch with porn king Harvey Jewell from the day before, noting Jewell’s proposal that I join him and two of his Mafia distributors for a shark fishing voyage on Long Island Sound. Read more
The Open Road–Route 66, in New Mexico
by Umberto Tosi
We’re friends, Benny, that’s all. I made that clear. I said it for myself, much as him. I’m on a diet – no more men. Not till I learn better, not till Keesha grows up, or both.
“Sure thing, Makeda.,” he says. Cheerful, but I can see his disappointment.
Now he lays back just enough to make it safe for us to flirt. “I know you love me,” he say, teasing, offhand, grinning.
“As a friend,” I add, too quickly.
Benny is one of those kind who gets away with all kinds of shit by being odd. He doesn’t have to try very hard, with that albino look – not creepy. More like marble come to life, but no Greek god – too skinny. Skinnier. The shades help. Then he dresses cool – not hip, not trying too hard. I won’t say he’s handsome, but those crystal blue eyes hold me.
Right off, I noticed that Benny never oob-eyed my tits like a lot of men, no sneaky peaks. I would catch him if he did, like the those jerk-off white boys since fifth grade back home who I could tell thought black girls easy. Read more