154 Almost Legless

May 2, 2017 § 4 Comments

Good English friends of ours use “legless” to name one’s state when three sheets are to the wind.  In the middle of last October, I thought I’d soon be full enough of legs that I’d be walking with a cane or with no aid at all, booze-aided or otherwise.

But I passed out on the patio of the Hi-Spot and ended up in Virginia Mason diagnosed as having sustained a “miniscule stroke.”  The symptoms were gone in a day, but the  template(s) released by the stroke into the bloodstream dictated postponement of the scheduled replacement  of my right hip.  Ten,  when I met with my surgeon in mid-April, he said that going ahead with the hip replacement would reduce or eliminate pain in the leg, but would not lead to my being able to walk without a walker.  Since this had not been part of his prognosis in October, his citation of problems–balance, posture, weakness in walking–had arisen or grown worse in the interim.

There had been a large accumulation of arthritis in the right hip in 2015, and after my neurologist had taken x-rays , he recommended waiting until it hurt; hurt led to cane, then walker, and that led to the schedule for the surgery that was  postponed. Along the way I was referred to Physical Therapy, and I went until neurology and orthopedic laid out a route that let me be passive.  I had let moving to Horizon House dictate my giving up running because its terrain is so much more severe than that of other places where I ran.  I did spend some winter months in the HH gym,  then slid away partly because I did some walking with my old running pal, then that slid into short walking on First Hill, and downtown to movie theaters. When we then moved into Supported Living, our walking, indoors and out, was somewhat restricted.  Also, walking very far on city sidewalks with a walker tires very quickly and so I’ve gradually lost all habit of thinking exercise beyond HH.

But there are lots of people who walk around the building every day, and who use the exercise bikes despite the absence of holders for books for bikes.  And it seemed a miracle that I started over thirty years of running when I was in my late forties. So I live with the walker forever.  Andiam






I”ve not scrolled back, but I know there have been at least a couple of previous visits to the ale house describing pains in the leg.  This time pain is not the issue; to have the hip replaced increases the possibility of another, and much stronger stroke, and doubling or tripling the dosage of tylenol is free for nothing,

But I doubt if this is the end of the story.



















































153 An Evening with Jane Jacobs

April 30, 2017 § 2 Comments


I was reminded of that evening when a recent issue of the TLS carried reviews of the first full first full biography of Jane Jacobs, and a collection of her hitherto unpublished  small writings. She had been a hero of mine since DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES in 1961, and I had been flattered to learn, after I reviewed THE ECONOMY OF CITIES in 1968,that I “know what I am all about.”

But we had never met.  So when I retired in June of 1999,  I set out to drive across the country.  I stopped in Montana and Michigan to see high school girl friends, and drove across Ontario to find Albany Avenue in Toronto where, she’d told me over the phone, she lives, the street tree lined, and lying between two good commercial streets.

We did not hit it off well.  I  gave her, having taught in a large university, a gloomy assessment of American ways of conducting its teachings, its evaluations of its teachers’ works’, and its means of promoting and granting tenure.  “How cynical you are,” she said, having hitherto gathered a different sense of me. “my oldest son lives down the street, and having gained a Ph.D in Physics, he opened a successful business, and I couldn’t live here by myself after my husband died if he didn’t live just down the street. After I replied that that said little about academic life, we agreed to pause and break for dinner.

Prospects were much better.  Good ethnic foods of as many varieties within fifteen minutes walk, which she managed with a cane and “Yes,” she said to my suggestion among choices. “Italian will work fine”  It did, mightily aided with a full magnum of vino roso.  We never returned to academic life(but only a few years later she’d written how quickly she learned I was right.)  We seemed quite able to talk about cities the other didn’t know, Toronto for her, to which they moved to keep their sons out of Vietnam, and found neighborhood streets like theirs, and causes for action as worth fighting as those she’d fought in New York.  I came back with Seattle, where my students claimed she didn’t know enough, about some of whose details they were right, though about others they were wrong because they hadn’t read CITIES AND THE WEALTH carefully enough.  I added Palermo, which Jane knew only from the Mafia, and I’d learned from reading  its history for a fortnight, and from the best meal I’ve  ever eaten,  fettuccini in lobster sauce, one whole lobster/person in a small place across the street from the post office.

Needless to say, evenings that keep getting better, and keep insisting on how cities and their details create their “wealth” also are worth driving across states and provinces to find a friend for life.




















152 What Has Happened

December 13, 2016 § 3 Comments

       Kirk Sale has written  an op-ed piece in the Charleston Courier-Journal for Monday December 12(available online) about the revolution Donald Trump has begun, intended to overthrow the liberal world established in 1945 to combat Communism, entrench Keynsian economics and monetary policy, and “democratic” politics. Almost everything you can think of where you might think of as an instrument of government of with positive results, from to Social Security to NATO to the National Parks to minimum wage could be dismantled–infrastructure tends to mean the likes of Mount Rushmore or Hoover Dam or London Bridge, or the wall to keep Mexicans out.

       My sense about my brother is not that Trump is to be trusted but that the necessary dismantling of federal power could not be done at all without there being something scary about it, especially for Democrats who have become comfortable with massively large governments, and Beltway Republicans.  Given the size of Clinton’s popular plurality, it may be no later than 2018–unless gerrymandering has taken its toll–that many who voted for Trump go looking for others when they find out what they’re in for.













150Trying to Get It Right

December 10, 2016 § 2 Comments

All 2016 Barry Sanders and Donald Trump were alone among the presidential candidates who drew big crowds.  The reasons in Sanders’ case were fairly obvious: he was running against the single establishment candidate, Hilary Clinton, and had inherited the young voters who had run against Clinton for Barack Obama in 20o8.  Trump is definitely anti-establishment enough, but he lies, invents, swears, doesn’t court the young or any other age group, or any easily defined ethnic  group.

Clinton could not have run as any kind of anti-establishment had she wanted to:  First Lady, Senator from New York, Secretary of State, half the wealthy Clinton Foundation, good at all these, good at raising money from among the wealthy.  I was going to vote for Clinton. in any vote against Sanders, or any Republican.  In my head I was clear: she had “earned” my vote, and  I went about my business.

My parents were Democrats who had always been surrounded by Republicans in upstate New York.  They had voted for FDR, “that man in the White House.” four times. I was politically conscious enough to know why I would have voted for Harry Truman in 1948 and Adlai Stevenson in 1952 if I’d been able to vote. I can say that my vote for Stevenson in 1956 was automatic.  I could not possibly have voted for Dwight Eisenhower.  Eisenhower played too much golf; Eisenhower had let Joe McCarthy get away with too much; he’d picked Richard Nixon, minted from the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, to be V P.  The fifties were the fifties, not my decade. I got my Ph.d and got a job.

     But I never gave a thought to why those who sent Eisenhower to slaughter Stevenson had done so.  At some point I listened  to Eisenhower speak thoughtfully about his relation with Nehru, which pulled me up short, and then ,of course. there was the farewell warning about the military industrial complex, and that, I think, was the last thought I gave to a Republican until this fall.

     The big mistake I made along the way was Reagan. He had the perfect voice for a politician. He had chased down commies who wrote movie scripts, had a brief career in films, rose in politics to be governor of California while pushing liberals. anti-war students and academics around.  Next step was pushing Jimmy Carter around in debate, and becoming president, full of confidence that  Nixon and Ford lacked.    His attitude toward forestry was well known”–“if you’ve seen one redwood you’ve seen them all.”  He was tough with Soviets.  He invaded Granada, then Lebanon.  He cut budgets, he presented deficits “the politicians gave me.”  He declared it is “Morning in America” and was overwhelmingly reelected.





















149 Cradle to Trump

December 8, 2016 § 4 Comments

         I am closer to my young brother’s birthdate than

anyone else alive, but recently I found it hard to feel close

to him at all.

   On Election Day morning, I called him(Kirkpatrick, Kirk), and asked him to give me his picks for the swing states. By sunset EST it was clear he had gotten them all  and I had gotten only the forlorn blue ones.

       On Memorial Day, 2009 Kirk and his mate Shirley announced they were planning to move to Charleston, SC, where two of Shirley’s sons lived. Two additional reasons:  In the North, all winter, for over a mile, the unpaved road leading to their house above the Hudson was mostly unplowed and impassable. In the dry months the house is also occupied by Kirk’s daughters and granddaughters. So they  moved.

       Through the years and many books, secession and the breaking down of largescale power had been Kirk’s major subject.  It took only a brief time in the south before President Lincoln had become the subject of a book.  I’d had a roommate in college who was fond of “The Union, next to our Liberty most dear.”  Who, then, started the Secession? And who but Lincoln needed it most? Was it not clear  that the Emancipation Proclamation was needed to find freed slaves to fight on the Union side? Kirk had become a southerner.

         Move forward to the past winter.   Giving me my major information was the man who had been cleaning house for us for over fifteen years and  he was full of Bernie Sanders. I could see that Sanders was entirely admirable, and he could not win the nomination. The Republicans were being led by a lying clown ahead  of fools like Bush, Rubio, and Cruz, who could not beat Hilary Clinton.

         In the 64 years since I first voted in a presidential election I knew why I voted for the Democrat, and  I paid little attention to why Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, and Dwa Bush had won, and the Supreme Court had won the latter’s first time around. So last November I paid little attention except to those whose polls showed Clinton had had only to carry, say, Florida, and one other swing state.  I simply could not take in Kirk’s swing state picks, and of course I was far from alone in being stunned.

     Tell me, Kirk, could you really have voted for Donald Trump?  He wouldn’t say he had done so, but he made it clear he couldn’t vote for Hilary Clinton.  Since I first realized I couldn’t vote for anyone else, including the admirable Sanders, I now had to admit there was something wrong in my political education, and perhaps had been from the beginning.


















Books I’ll Never Read D

October 30, 2016 § 4 Comments


THE FOLLOWING LED FOR MOST VOTES: MARQUEZ: 100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE, PROUST, REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST, Tolstoy, WAR AND PEACE. JOYCE, ULYSSES.   The following got only one vote but most likely were most  started the least finished:  THE BIBLE, SHAKESPEARE.

These were listed only by author:  Pynchon, Derrida, (read some but no more): LeGUIN, Lessing, Camus, Heinlein. Started but never finished: MOBY-DICK.  TITLES: Lewis,Arrowsmith, Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country; Galasso, Ka, Bolasso, The Savage Detectives, Mitchell, Cloud Atlas, Murusaki, The Tale of Genji” Johnson, Irene; James, The Golden Bowl: Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment  Dante, Inferno.

Thanks to those who pitched in.     Roger






October 25, 2016 § Leave a comment

Another list.  Please get me new lists by Halloween, and I’ll make that the last one.     Roger






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