johnpoetflanagan

TO LIFE

i cannot say how many times i’ve loved you
as i love you now
or how often in the past i loved you
if i had the chance to love you over and over

and i cannot say how many times
i will love you in times to come

that i love you now is what matters
that i love your wild green and blue canopy
your perfumed reds in borders
you tumbling and still waters
your uneven paths and manicured ways
your antlers paws hooves long necks
and calls of longing in the night

that i love your pains and disappointments
laughter and celebration
and the air you let me breathe

i will go on loving you
against the threat of hoods salutes and banners
against the unthinking voices of division
against hate and race creed and colour

for to love you is to know
you are…

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Donald Osborne ~ Lecture at Blackhawk Museum

So enjoyed the lecture today at Blackhawk Museum by Donald Osborne, author, classic car historian, regular on Jay Leno’s Garage television program, appraiser, consultant and even opera singer! A video of exactly how they positioned all of the cars in the Museum for the exhibition is a must watch.

He was touting his stunning new book Transatlantic Style/ Stile Transatlantico  which beautifully illustrates the exchange between Italian and American car designers from the end of World War II until 1960.

But the most fun was when an audience member asked what he drives every day. He reported that he just bought a 2017 Alfa Romeo Guilia Ti 2 weeks ago and has already put 2300 miles on it. So last month I took a test drive of this very car! So this is what he wrote when he signed his card for me. And I quote: Grandma deserves a Guilia Ti!!

The expert has spoken! It’s a sign! As soon as my ship comes in, I’m going to buy mine!

A smokin’ hot memory from 1972

Exactly forty-five years ago today, my husband Tom and I, along with a few friends, stood on top of rickety wooden folding chairs in the 20th row of the main floor of Chicago’s International Amphitheater for a couple of hours screaming our lungs out for the Rolling Stones. And Stevie Wonder, whom we had never seen before, was the warm up act!

To get our much sought after tickets, we had an inspiration and headed to the Sears in the heart of Chicago’s South Side where only a handful of folks were lined up at the box office vs. thousands on the North Side. Good thing it wasn’t Roberta Flack, Al Green, or Chuck Berry performing!

And as I wrote this and started counting back on my fingers, I realized that I was probably about 6 weeks pregnant with my first child at the time. I’m surprised I wasn’t throwing up through the entire concert.

No live album was released from the tour…the above YouTube video is one recorded by an audience member on the very night we attended. The tour grossed $4 million which in today’s dollars would be almost $24 million but at the time was record-breaking.

The standard set list for the tour was:

  1. Brown Sugar
  2. Bitch
  3. Rocks Off
  4. Gimme Shelter
  5. Happy
  6. Tumbling Dice
  7. Love in Vain
  8. Sweet Virginia
  9. You Can’t Always Get What You Want
  10. All Down the Line
  11. Midnight Rambler
  12. Bye Bye Johnny
  13. Rip This Joint
  14. Jumpin’ Jack Flash
  15. Street Fighting Man
  16. Encore: often none, sometimes “Honky Tonk Women“, a few times “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” / “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Feels good to remember that this 73 year old woman had her moments! Proof that you CAN sometimes get what you want.

With a little help from my friends…

Matisse Woman with a Hat; Diebenkorn Seated Figure with Hat

A recent visit to San Francisco’s MOMA for the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibition and the purchase of a book on Matisse spurred me on to drag out my seldom used oil paints and create something myself. I do not consider myself an oil painter, perhaps more of a wanna be. A few paintings here and there over the years. So this is more about the inspiration to try something creative at any age than an expression of a true artist.

Vincent van Gogh Bedroom at Arles

Henri Matisse Interior at Collioure

I was inspired particularly by Matisse’s Interior at Collioure and also by Vincent van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles (Musee D’Orsay), a print of which hangs in my bedroom.

Karen Stephen Flamingo Dream

As my painting evolved, I found myself wanting to portray the sleeping girl as a child who has lost her dream of being a ballerina to a malady that requires her to wear a leg brace. But the common artistic device of showing the exterior through an open window, common in Matisse’s day, allowed me to bring a different world view to the sleeping child. There stands a beautiful pink flamingo in it’s natural pink tutu, standing proud and free on one leg, bringing her a message of wholeness no matter what our circumstances.

Paris miniatures, Renoir’s Dance in the City, photo of original oil created by Carol Quinn from photo I took of Albert Pub in London 2009

I’ve placed it near some of my other favorites in my living room.

Vroom! Vroom!

Having had a delightful birthday (hers) luncheon with my daughter at Berkeley City Club in Julia’s (i.e.,  Julia Morgan of architectural fame, who designed hundreds of buildings including this club and Hearst Castle to name a couple), and with nothing else to do on a Friday afternoon, I trotted over to an Alfa Romeo dealership in Berkeley and took a test drive in an Alfa Gulia ti.

So this is my old lady’s dream, to have one more great car in my life. A very nice young man pulled it out of the dealership lot and turned it over to me a few blocks down. Now, downtown Berkeley is not the best place for a test drive, but within a few turns we were on a deserted side street. A perfect place to the put the pedal to the metal and experience that Alfa Romeo smile as it took off like a bat out of hell. Not, of course, the power of the top of the line Quadrifoglio model, but then again, not the price tag either. And how badly do I want to get arrested for speeding at my age…not.

I sunk down into the luxurious interior with it’s wood paneling, softer than soft buff leather seats, adjusted the driver’s seat that moves every which way at the touch of a button to make even a 73 year old back with its attendant aches and pains quite comfortable. I start to imagine long rides on the open road. Although I may have to cave and get the “regular” model with it’s smaller wheels in order not to feel every bump in the road. But then again, with that choice I can’t have the cool rims. Beauty…pain…beauty…pain! Such a dilemma!

The only glitch, of course, is the lack of funds. Do you think a Go Fund Me campaign would fly? Help this elderly woman buy a car beyond her means. Well, one can dream and if I could settle for the “regular” edition, perhaps it is doable. Stay tuned.

Countdown to Paris ~ Special memories

Each week I will post my favorite photos of Paris and the rest of France until I am once again in the City of Lights at the end of July.

A few photos that evoke special memories of Paris

An elderly Parisian stoops to water the flowers in the Marché aux Fleurs located on the Ile de la Cité, close to Notre Dame Cathedral

I find some Flamingo friends in the Metro

A young woman casts a critical eye on a Rodin statue in his museum.

Louis Vuitton remodels their Avenue des Champs-Élysées store using giant signature bags for scaffolding

Montmartre’s famous Le Consulat–meeeting place of the artists of Paris and home of the best moules et frites in France

Le Consulat–the proof is in the pudding…er…moules et frites

A great combo–my favorite car on my favorite Avenue des Champs-Élysées, available for tours

Countdown to Paris – Tour Eiffel

Each week I will post my favorite photos of Paris and the rest of France until I am once again in the City of Lights at the end of July.

I begin with the Tour Eiffel in all its colors and moods and dining at the Jules Verne restaurant which I hope to do again this summer

Window table overlooking the Trocadero in the Jules Verne Restaurant October 2004

December and a solitary ride to the top

The view

I love Paris in the springtime

Shimmering in the evening

The next generation

 

hickory dickory

This is a delightful take on the old favorite nursery rhyme.

johnpoetflanagan

the clock is generous with its charms
coasting noon to six
the mouse is giddy in his want
gouging a goldmine fix

the clock moves easy up the hill
seventh to eleventh hour
the mouse is flagging out of breath
systemic loss of power

the clock arms toward magnetic north
prepare the twelve bell peal
the mouse requests a moment’s pause
to unravel false and real

the clock emits a moonround laugh
convulsing sea and land
the mouse is rigid pale impaled
run through by the second hand

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A Paean to First Love

What hour took you that day, that fourth Wednesday of January in 2017? Where was I? Was I sitting through a boring meeting sorting out policy issues? Was I driving home exhausted, listening to debates contentious political issues on NPR and rethinking my decision to remain in a high profile health care position at age seventy-three? Or was it later as I tried to keep the peace between my four and seven year old granddaughters while preparing their dinner of sliced tomatoes, beef and rice, and yogurt, and hoping that the promise of dessert would keep the mayhem to a minimum until their mother returned?

How could it be that the enormity of your last breath faded into eternity before reaching my senses so many miles and decades away? And what mystic force drew me to my computer on a rainy afternoon five weeks later and led my fingers to type your name and the word obituary? Running late for the play, I found myself reading the words once with disbelief, twice with an aching teenage heart, and a third time with tears that no one could possibly understand.

I skimmed over your accomplishments listed one by one, more reminiscent of a resume than a tribute to the vibrant young man who stole my heart in 1961. Your devoted companion, three fine sons, five enchanting granddaughters, a dear sister (I remember you telling me how much you loved her), even nephews and cousins, all dutifully named. Were they there at the end? I have to believe they were. You were too precious to me not to be a million times more cherished by the ones who were truly in your life.

Your loved ones know nothing of me, nor the grief I feel. Yet I too caught glimpses of that courageous man who fought on as his life and body progressively diminished, often quite literally, throughout an arduous and determined battle against diabetes. Ordeals made bearable by your impish humor—writing me after your second amputation that you used to be six foot four but now were four foot six!

They know nothing of those months we spent together so many decades ago, these people who shared a lifetime with you and are trying to make it through each day, hoping their grief will lessen with time but perhaps grateful that your ordeals have come to an end.

Our writing brought us together. You penned more than a half-dozen novels, well-crafted, filled with romance and suspense. I discovered them online in 2008. I had written two novels myself, the first bearing the back story of our romance at Stanford—I, the naïve freshman dreamer and you, the charming, seasoned senior. Degrees of Obsession was an apt title for a paean to a first love that refused to fade and, in fact, ultimately had no replacement. I searched further and found what I believed to be your home address and mailed my fictitious version of our romance to you. Within days your name popped up in my email inbox, causing the same palpitations that had seized my heart forty-seven years earlier. I had a trip to Southern California already planned and we met soon after.

You greeted me at your door in your wheelchair, the body of that handsome, virile young man I had known hidden behind a beard and infirmity but the magnetic eyes and alluring basso voice still recognizable. We exchanged a few sweet nothings and then you wheeled your chair chose to me and drew me into your arms so that I could smell the scent of that special cologne that you always used, the musky one created by that haberdasher in Beverly Hills. You had dabbed in on knowing that it would take us back to our beginnings and for the first time I heard from your lips the true story of our parting. How after I had made a suicide gesture and was forced by Stanford officials to tell my parents, that they had called the University and demanded action. How you had been hauled in by Captain Midnight, the campus cop, for a three-hour inquisition and had been told to never speak to me again. How they threatened to keep you from graduating and going on to law school if you defied their orders. And worst of all, how these despicable actions on the part of my family had left you with a lifelong impact that was eons beyond the broken heart that I had endured.

What a gift that was. Knowing, after all these decades, that you had loved me after all. An unforeseen resolution to the agony of unrequited first love that few are privileged to find, told in an embrace filled not with the fumbling passion of youth but with the grace and forgiveness of age. I thought with amazement how brave you had been on that one occasion, sitting on the hood of your white MGA, the gray wool sweater I had given you on your 21st birthday draped around your shoulders on a hot June day, and calling me over. And I, on the way to the Anthropology class we mutually shared, caught up in the pique and heartache of a rejected eighteen-year-old turning away, giving up that one in a million chance for reconciliation. But even then in your sweet honesty, you explained that had I made a different choice, I might not have fared better, that your road as a husband had often been a rocky one.

So here are the EXCERPTS FROM MY NOVEL that tell our story, from my point of view of course, for those out there who care to read it, as told through the voice of my protagonist, Dr. Charlie Pedersen. I called her “Charlie” because it was the nickname you gave me. I called you “Danny”.

The excerpts are taken from my romantic suspense novel entitled Degrees of Obsession. Watch the book trailer.

Monkey Inn night ~ Berkeley Early Sixties ~ where music and mayhem were born

monkey-inn-barOne of my fondest memories from my wacky sophomore year at Cal Berkeley in 1962-63 was chugging $1 a pitcher beer at the Monkey Inn on Thursday nights. Proof that it cost $1 a pitcher is right there on the wall behind the bar in this photo. 25 cents a mug and a guarantee of 5 mugs to a pitcher. Such a deal! My three roommates and I would hop into my 1959 Morris Minor and drive the mile or so from our off-campus digs in a Parker Street duplex just off Telegraph Avenue. This was the year before Sproul Hall and the Free Speech Movement, so frat parties, beer kegs, and panty raids were still in. And I had in hand. not a fake ID. but a real CA driver’s license saying I was 25 that I’d obtained by taking an actual driving test and dressing “older”. Later my mother, viewing a Berkeley police report when I went temporarily AWOL would see a reference to a certain Karen Veazie AKA Karen Scott Billings and would exclaim, “My daughter’s not a criminal!”

Today I decided to do an internet search and see if I could find any reference to the Monkey Inn in that day. And, boy, was I surprised!

bill-erickson-trioThursday night was indeed Monkey Inn night. The superb Bill Erickson jazz combo: Frank Goudie (clarinet), Jimmy Carter (drums), Bob Mielke (trombone) and Bill Erickson (piano) held sway Thursday nights at the Monkey from the late 50s up through 1962. Do I remember the music? No. I called my best friend, and she didn’t remember it either. Just the beer and the frat boys (mostly the bad boy Betas AKA Beta Theta Pi’s or the notorious Fijis AKA Phi Gamma Delta’s). Needless to say our little quartet from Parker Street did not represent the prim. round-collared, pearl-bedecked sorority girls of the day.

I found an account that said it was a beer and pizza joint near the Oakland border that was a rough UC Berkeley student hangout with sawdust on the floor and, “fraternity guys out on their first beer benders. It got pretty rowdy sometimes.”  I guess no one noticed that there were at least four “girls” out on their first benders as well. The account added that the musicians rarely sounded happier than when playing primarily for themselves, and only secondarily for a mostly indifferent college crowd. Must be why we don’t remember the music.

karen-and-mary-louBut when I read about what happened the next year, I was even more astounded. By 1964 my best friend and I (I’m the tall one!)had returned to La Jolla where we had grown up and found a minuscule apartment under the front stairway of a Spanish mansion across from the famed Wind ‘n’ Sea beach. I attended the 3rd and 4th of my undergraduate schools (yes, Berkeley was school number two after a freshman year at Stanford, but I finally went to grad school, got a Ph.D., and was a therapist for 40 years and still work in the mental health field at age 73–so there!). My best friend got a totally cool job at the new Saks Fifth Avenue store in La Jolla.

Meanwhile back in Berkeley, a new band, known as Blue Velvet, arrived at the Monkey Inn to perform in the Spring and Fall of 1964. Formed by John Fogerty, Doug Clifford, and Stu Cook at El Cerrito High School, Blue Velvet played instrumentals at the school dances, and later backed John’s older brother, Tom Fogerty. They also played at frat parties at Berkeley. I had no clue that we came that close to witnessing the beginnings of Creedence Clearwater Revival. One historian remembers listening to what was to become CCR at the Monkey Inn and having peanuts and beer for dinner.

There is even a mention of the Monkey Inn during the 1964 Sproul Hall events: It is difficult to reconstruct what happened next, for later campus reactions to the events left few people willing to talk about their roles in the affair. Dean Rice believes that three groups of male students converged just outside the Bancroft-Telegraph entrance to the campus. One group apparently came down from Channing Circle, another from Larry Blake’s, a popular fraternity drinking place, and a third from the Monkey Inn, another beer-drinking spot popular with fraternity members. (These are hearsay reports, rather than firmly documented descriptions.) An aside, Larry Blake’s was certainly our second most favorite venue for finding beer and boys.

In 1968, the Monkey Inn moved closer to campus, to the corner of University and Shattuck Avenues. The new club at 2119 University was called The New Monk. It had local rock bands headlining on weekends, but most of the time it was just a beer and pizza place for college students. In the middle of 1971, however, The New Monk started booking higher profile club bands. Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders played there on June 4 and 5, 1971, and then again on June 26 and June 27.

So here’s the end of the story. In 1992 I began work as a psychologist at a Bay Area Kaiser. During my first week of work, my boss, the Chief Psychiatrist, took me to a luncheon event. We got to talking and discovered that we were at Berkeley at the same time. Then he asked if I ever went to the Monkey Inn on Thursday nights! He told me he and his Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers never missed it. My life flashed before my eyes as I frantically searched my memory and hoped against hope that I hadn’t cozied up to him at the bar or even worse! I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw not a hint of recognition on his face.

After my internet search, the Monkey Inn has become even a better memory for me. It is now the home of La Peña Cultural Center promoting social justice, arts participation and intercultural understanding. We’ve all come a long way, baby!