· MY UNCLE TERWILLIGER ON THE ART OF EATING A POPOVER My uncle ordered popovers from the restaurant's bill of fare. And, when they were served, he regarded them with a penetrating stare...Then he spoke great Words of Wisdom as he sat there on that chair: "To eat these things," said my uncle, "you must exercise great care. You may swallow down what's solid...BUT...you must spit out the air!" And...as you partake of the world's bill of fare, that's darned good advice to follow. Do alot of spitting out the hot air. And be careful what you swallow. Theodor Geisel (Dr. Suess) "Epic Poem" from Lake Forest College commencement address 1977
· "I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was — I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds." Jack Kerouac ~ On The Road
· Chapter 111a ~ Poetry is nothing more than an intensification or illumination of common objects and everyday events until they shine with their singular nature, until we can experence their power, until we can follow their steps in the dance, until we can discern what parts they play in the Great Order of Love. How is this done? By fucking around with syntax. [Definitions are limiting. Limitations are deadening. To limit oneself is a kind of suicide. To limit another is a kind of murder. To limit poetry is a Hiroshima of the human spirit. DANGER: RADIATION. Unauthorized personnel not allowed on the premises of Chapter 111a.] ~ Tom Robbins "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues"
· COWGIRL INTERLUDE (BONANZA JELLYBEAN) She is lying on the family sofa in flannel pajamas. There is Kansas City mud on the tips and heels of her boots, boots that have yet to savor real manure. Fourteen, she knows she ought to remove her boots, yet she refuses. A Maverick rerun is on TV; she is eating beef jerky, occasionally slurping. On her upper stomach, where her pajama top has ridden up, is a small deep scar. She tells everyone, including her school nurse, that it was made by a silver bullet. Whatever the origin of the extra hole in her belly, there are unmistakable signs of gunfire in the woodwork by the closet door. It was there that she once shot up one half on an old pair of sneakers. "Self-defense," she pleaded, when her parents complained. "It was a outlaw tennis shoe. "Billy the Ked." ~Tom Robbins "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues"
· THE KOOL-AID WINO When I was a child I had a friend who became a Kool-Aid wino as the result of a rupture. He was a member of a very large and poor German family. All the older children in the family had to work in the fields during the summer, picking beans for two-and-one-half cents a pound to keep the family going. Everyone worked except my friend who couldn't because he was ruptured. There was no money for an operation. There wasn't even enough money to buy him a truss. So he stayed home and became a Kool-Aid wino. One morning in August I went over to his house. He was still in bed. He looked up at me from underneath a tattered revolution of old blankets. He had never slept under a sheet in his life. "Did you bring the nickel you promised?" he asked. "Yeah," I said. "It's here in my pocket." "Good." He hopped out of bed and he was already dressed. He had told me once that he never took off his clothes when he went to bed. "Why bother?" he had said. "You're only going to get up, anyway. Be prepared for it. You're not fooling anyone by taking your clothes off when you go to bed." He went into the kitchen, stepping around the littlest children, whose wet diapers were in various stages of anarchy. He made his breakfast: a slice of homemade bread covered with Karo syrup and peanut butter. "Let's go," he said. We left the house with him still eating the sandwich. The store was three blocks away, on the other side of a field covered with heavy yellow grass. There were many pheasants in the field. Fat with summer they barely flew away when we came up to them. "Hello," said the grocer. He was bald with a red birthmark on his head. The birthmark looked just like an old car parked on his head. He automatically reached for a package of grape Kool-Aid and put it on the counter. "Five cents." "He's got it," my friend said. I reached into my pocket and gave the nickel to the grocer. He nodded and the old red car wobbled back and forth on the road as if the driver were having an epileptic seizure. We left. My friend led the way across the field. One of the pheasants didn't even bother to fly. He ran across the field in front of us like a feathered pig. When we got back to my friend's house the ceremony began. To him the making of Kool-Aid was a romance and a ceremony. It had to be performed in an exact manner and with dignity. First he got a gallon jar and we went around to the side of the house where the water spigot thrust itself out of the ground like the finger of a saint, surrounded by a mud puddle. He opened the Kool-Aid and dumped it into the jar. Putting the jar under the spigot, he turned the water on. The water spit, splashed and guzzled out of the spigot. He was careful to see that the jar did not overflow and the precious Kool-Aid spill out onto the ground. When the jar was full he turned the water off with a sudden but delicate motion like a famous brain surgeon removing a disordered portion of the imagination. Then he screwed the lid tightly onto the top of the jar and gave it a good shake. The first part of the ceremony was over. Like the inspired priest of an exotic cult, he had performed the first part of the ceremony well. His mother came around the side of the house and said in a voice filled with sand and string, "When are you going to do the dishes? . . . Huh?" "Soon," he said. "Well, you better," she said. When she left, it was as if she had never been there at all. The second part of the ceremony began with him carrying the jar very carefully to an abandoned chicken house in the back. "The dishes can wait," he said to me. Bertrand Russell could not have stated it better. He opened the chicken house door and we went in. The place was littered with half-rotten comic books. The were like fruit under a tree. In the corner was an old mattress and beside the mattress were four quart jars. He took the gallon jar over to them, and filled them carefully not spilling a drop. He screwed their caps on tightly and was now ready for a day's drinking. You're supposed to make only two quarts of Kool-Aid from a package, but he always made a gallon, so his Kool-Aid was a mere shadow of its desired potency. And you're supposed to add a cup of sugar to every package of Kool-Aid, but he never put any sugar in his Kool-Aid because there wasn't any sugar to put in it. He created his onw Kool-Aid reality and was able to illuminate himself by it. ~ Richarad Brautigan "Trout Fishing in America"
· KNOCK ON WOOD (PART TWO) One spring afternoon as a child in the strange town of Portland, I walked down to a different street corner, and saw a row of old houses, huddled together like seals on a rock. Then there was a long field that came sloping down off a hill. The field was covered with green grass and bushes. On top of the hill there was a grove of tall, dark trees. At a distance I saw a waterfall come pouring down off the hill. It was long and white and I could almost feel its cold spray. There must be a creek there, I thought, and it probably has trout in it. Trout. At last an opportunity to go trout fishing, to catch my first trout, to behold Pittsburgh. It was growing dark. I didn't have time to go and look at the creek. I walked home past the glass whiskers of the houses, reflecting the downward rushing waterfalls of night, would get up early and eat my breakfast and go. I had heard that it was better to go trout fishing early in the morning. The trout were better for it. They had something extra in the morning. I went home to prepare for trout fishing in America. I didn't have any fishing tackle, so I had to fall back on corny fishing tackle. Like a joke. Why did the chicken cross the road? I bent a pin and tied it onto a piece of white string. And slept. The next morning I got up early and ate my breakfast. I took a slice of white bread to use for bait. I planned on making doughballs from the soft center of the bread and putting them on my vaudevillean hook. I left the place and walked down the different street corner. How beautiful the field looked and the creek that came pouring down in a waterfall off the hill. But as I got closer to the creek I could see that something was wrong. The creek did not act right. There was a strangeness to it. There was a thing about its motion that was wrong. Finally I got closed enough to see what the trouble was. The waterfall was just a flight of white wooden stairs leading up to a house in the trees. I stood there for a long time, looking up and looking down, following the stairs with my eyes, having trouble believing. Then I knocked on my creek and heard the sound of wood. I ended up by being my own trout and eating the slice of bread myself. The Reply of Trout Fishing in America: There was nothing I could do. I couldn't change a flight of stairs into a creek. The boy walked back to where he came from. The same thing once happened to me. I remember mistaking an old woman for a trout stream in Vermont, and I had to beg her pardon. "Excuse me," I said. "I thought you were a trout stream." "I'm not," she said. ~Richard Brautigan "Trout Fishing in America"