Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ant Trails

There are dark passages in The Hive I hesitate to visit, corridors I'm almost afraid to go down without a flashlight in one hand and a .45 automatic in the other. I don't know where they lead or what's waiting for me down there.

My grandfather and my father were both cops. I barely remember my grandfather. He was a big Irishman who smoked cigars and threw his blackjack at me when I tried to lift it off his belt. I was six or seven. I gave him a wide berth after that, and he died of a heart attack the next year.

My father and mother were divorced right after I was born. I spent time with him on weekends and vacations in the Summer. He was cynical and suspicious, and I don't remember him ever accepting anything I said at face value. He assumed I was lying. Maybe it was the job made him like that, or maybe he was like that and found the perfect job. I'm sure he was the kind of Southern cop who hated black people, except for the little kids. He thought the kids were "cute."

When I was four or five, my mother and I were walking home one night, and we were attacked. My mother threw me at the attacker, ran to the house and let our dog out. He was a big dog and very protective. They had to put him outside if they were thinking of spanking me. When the attacker turned up at the emergency room later, my father and his friends were waiting for him there.

My wife was a mid-career artist when she got the idea it would be interesting to document how institutions imprint themselves on people. She started the project in Seattle and almost joined the Seattle police, but she got a fellowship in Houston and ended up completing the project down there. She went into the Houston Police Academy right before her 35th birthday. She recently gave me permission to talk about that year from my point of view. I didn't experience it myself, though I heard some of it on the police-band radio I kept by my bed, but I have some idea of what women run into in that world. I've heard what it's like to chase a car load of kids across Houston at high speeds -- I actually listened to this one -- and then have to race on foot to get to the kids before the cops in the other cars can beat them up. I know what happens when you turn a fellow officer in for putting his gun to a kid's head. And I have an idea how it feels to go into buildings without being sure your backup will be there if you need it. I know about the three kids and the kitten with diarrhea, cooped up all day, watching television in an apartment on the East side. And I know about the helicopters that circle poor neighborhoods all night, but never go near River Oaks.

I'm sure all that personal history plays into the way I see the Gates, Crowley, Obama flap. But for the life of me, I can't figure out how.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


From a young designer/musician friend of Subject of Science's. It's pretty amazing that young people are listening to things like this and passing them on. We were at a pool party. I'd been doing my Julia Child imitation and passing on my roast chicken recipe. I mentioned my daughter's music teacher had told her a little exercise she was playing would be exciting when she started "connecting the notes," but he hadn't explained what that meant.

More than a fair trade for a roast chicken recipe.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Damn Right He Did

Apollo 11 command module pilot Michael Collins, who circled the moon alone while Armstrong and Aldrin walked on it, said the moon was not interesting, but Mars is. "Sometimes I think I flew to the wrong place. Mars was always my favorite as a kid and it still is today," Collins said.

The Apollo crew is pitching an expedition to Mars to Obama today.

In the meantime, we have to get past the solar eclipse on Wednesday, and get over the shock of finding out that our wiley old Obamaman isn't doing as well as we thought with the electorate. It's his economy now, his war in Afghanistan, his health insurance reform and his very existence that's being challenged by three old men today. If he can't get it up for Mars, what good is he?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

To Hell With The Internet

Be sure you listen to the audio of Ray Bradbury, telling us what he cares about. This is a man who understands Mars and obviously understands what is important in life.
Not to press the point, but no Internet, no Wiki, no google and no Hive. Haha!

Monday, July 6, 2009


The first time I used a GPS system was in an AVIS rental we picked up at the L.A. airport and drove up to Santa Barbara. Had a reasonable female voice. I called her "Honey." The joke wore thin with my wife in a couple of days, but my daughter never got tired of it.

Now, when I'm driving my daughter to swim meets or wherever and she's reading the google directions to me, she does a pretty good job of imitating Honey. Turn left on Shawnee Drive, she says in a slightly robotic voice.

Today she had an interesting idea. What if people gave you samples of their kids voices, and you programmed Honey to sound like the kids? You could have your daughter's or your son's voice giving you directions, keeping you company on your trip away from home. Sort of a personality module downloaded into any Honey. Turn left on Shawnee Drive, Daddy, the little Honey would say.

I like it. Hell, you could even give the personality modules personalities. Instead of just the wife, you could have the nagging wife. How many times do I have to tell you to turn left on Shawnee Drive, Bonehead? Or the husband who refuses to ask for directions. That turn is around here somewhere. Give me a goddam minute, will you? Old guys could ramble. Old ladies could talk about the grandkids between turns.

The possibilities are endless.