Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

The material I post on this blog represents my views and mine alone. The material you post on this blog represents your views and yours alone.

Monday, February 20, 2006

CROSSROADS COMMENT -- A Deafening Silence

Why is it so quiet at the Crossroads? When will we hear about the war again?

There is a disquieting silence around here. Nothing much about Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and the gung-ho war gang Americans voted into power--at least once.

So why is it so quiet? Has some kind of battle fatigue set in? Is this what happens when you feel like you are stuck in the quagmire of a war without end? Is this how we cope, how we tune out the sounds of sorrow created by the heart rending deaths and horrendous casualties that continue to pile up?

Why is it so quiet when ex-CIA and State Department officials who were present at the scene of the beginning of the crime that is this war report that data was misused by the Bush administration to get us into war? These officials were standing near Cheney's elbow when that mighty hunter mendaciously proclaimed Saddam's weapons of mass destruction threatened us-- right now. Since then, these and others in the Bush asminstration have decided that they no longer could remain silent.

But they're not speaking for us. Only we can do that.

Why are we so quiet? Is it because we feel cornered, led into a cruel box of an unwinnable war lined with mirrors reflecting our policy lies and tactical failures? Are we silenced by what we see in those mirrors? Struck dumb by the reflections of a disaster partially of our own making, our own failure to ask necessary and hard questions of leaders who have failed to lead?

We pursue policies ignoring reason, history, and culture. And a deteriorating nightmare unfolds before us. Each day, each night, we turn away from the DVD of death, violence and destruction that should control our attention, move us to speak and act. Yet we sit mute. Why?

It's so very quiet. Is this quiet what Bush and the war machine around him is counting on? When Senator Bayh, one of the many leaders who failed to question the false and inflated information waved in his face hears nothing from us, does he interpret this silence as a form of permission and acceptance of the war? Is this why our representatives in Congress, Republican loyalists, but nearly every Democrat as well, feels free to pussyfoot around their gullible, silent blindness in the past? Why are they so quiet?

Why isn't there loud and continuous concern for the flesh and blood tragedy of sending more and more young and vital Americans into a many-sided war that cannot be won, a war that will have no winners, ever, no matter how long it drags on? The monetary waste in Iraq shows up in our sky rocketing national debt and we shrug it off; brave lives lost and courageous lives broken in battle can never be summed up, can never be ignored, will always be honored . But why are we so quiet about the lives that will be ended, will be broken, next week, or next month or next year?

And why do we remain quiet now that our reason for being in Iraq has been switched still again, turned into a war for pie-in-the-sky, cheer-leading, feel good objectives such as riding the country of the tyrant Saddam and "democratization." Saddams come and go in this world. And democracy is a fine ideal, but it's only an abstraction in the context of Iraq's history and the internal realities of religious differences within that sad, beleagured collection of peoples and warring religious sects.

In red state Indiana and red county Vigo, most people saw the Iraq War as a necessary action that would protect them from W.M.D.s. Why so quiet now that we have been swindled by Bush's Scare and Switch tactics?

And why are we so quiet about how the United States has inflicted deep wounds upon the bodies and the memories of the people living within the artificial borders of Iraq? Why are we quiet about what those wounds and memories mean for our foreign policy in the long future? Do we truly believe we are making lasting friends and supporters with the family clans of Iraq, the families that equate our intervention in their lives with the bombs of war, the deaths and injuries of war, the deprivation of war and Abu Ghraib?

These Iraqis have long memories and will not be quiet in our lifetimes.

We are quiet, far too quiet about all this and more.

When asked by those who have a political and ideological stake in the false and failed policy of interventionism: So, what would you do now, give up and abandon Iraq? We should scream in indignation for an immediate withdrawl from the scene of our high level policy crimes.

Voices, ours and our elected officials, should be loud and unrelenting in the expression of how it is wrong and cowardly to continue to send the best of our nation's women and men up and down roads lined with lethal and maiming bombs.

Clear voices, voices expressing our anger and our outrage, should speak the truth, the hard truth that the road we chose and continue to follow in Iraq leads nowhere.

Why is everyone so quiet, so silent, so mute, so blind, so passively accepting of a war that is so deafening in its consequences?

Friday, February 17, 2006

February 17, 2006 -- Letter from Manhattan Beach

I Found It at the Late Late Show (Part 2)

Standing in lines is part of life. I'm thinking that one of the reasons people are so enamored with cell phones, iPods, pagers, text messaging and that whole technological menagerie that is designed to "keep you connected" is based on the false hope that they will make lines a part of a quaint and receding past. Maybe. Probably not.

One of the first things the CBS studio guards did while we stood in securty line #2 was require that everyone with a cell phone or other such device stash it in their car or turn it over for safe keeping. As I am a totally "not connected" person in regards to instant communication, I could smugly ignore this request/demand. To my mind, the "instant" and the "communications" part of this march into a future of connectedness is problematical. The "instant" part appears to work-- but only if you're standing in exactly the right place and only if you're speaking in a very loud voice and only if the recipient of your urgent communique feels like punching you into their gizmo. The "communications" part, what is said and what is listened to on these wizards of so many wasted words is a whole other subject. My research, wholly based on eavesdropping while standing in lines, would indicate that very little that could be classifed as "communication" really takes place.

Anyway, for the connected Late Late show crowd, a very large container was filled with cells of various sizes, shapes and colors. Check slips were handed out, but some of the people depositing these devices into the care of others turned away from this bin of electronic shells with a look that must have resembled the giving up of the first born to the Lord of the Manor in medieval times. Others only grimmaced, the amputation of a body part not being as nearly painful as expected.

We Late Lates now huff and puff up several flights of stairs. There are only one-hundred of us. We walk down a nicely carpeted hallway which is flanked by walls that have, to be kind, a distinctly weathered look. The entire route looks as if it is a converted warehouse, which perhaps it is. On turning a corner, you half expect to see a fleet of fork lift trucks coming at you.

Along the way, young people in official CBS gear are smiling brightly. A raft of people, dressed very casually. They all are working hard at looking indifferent. I presume they all must have titles beginning with the term "Assistant." We stare at them, they stand talking to each other, ignoring us.

We're just another 100 here for what? To fill up the seats, of course. I'm not in a sour mood (though this may sound like it), but I start wondering what they call The 100 when they hold all those important meetings they must have. I start thinking about what label or shorthand term is slapped on The 100 Late Lates that troop into their oversized garage every afternoon. I'm certain it's snarky and always delivered in the tone of a sour school marm.

Now I've done it. I turn as sour as that imagined school marm. I start thinking about the Andy Griffith movie "A Face in the Crowd." It gets worse, now I'm thinking about "The Larry Sanders Show."

The Important Assistant does the seating. He works at making his job appear to be a really, really important job. I'm guessing that he regularly congratulates himself for having a good eye, taking in the look of each and every one of the faces of The 100. He chooses the location where each and every person sits in this cramped venue. I'm looking around and thinking (sourly, of course) to myself that I've been in more inviting basement spaces created by struggling experimental theater groups.

Important Assistant seats my companion (OK, it's the very same person with insomnia I mentioned in yesterday's Letter) and myself in two seats up front and isolated, no one next to us on either side. It looks good to us, but this is not be. Important Assistant decides he has to fine tune the seating. He comes by ten minutes later and tells us we will have to move.


Oh, up and over to the side, and he points to seats right next to what looks like a damp, greasy wall. I almost pulled out my Indiana Card, but I have a self-imposed rule against using it more than once a week. Instead we frown, we respectfully complain, we point to a row of almost empty seats up front and center. Happily, that's where we are relocated.

Our satisfaction fades with the start of the show. The sight lines of these seats turn out to be partially blocked throughout the taping by a very large TV camera swooping and cornering in front of us. My companion has to watch the entire opening monolgue on monitors hanging on, yeah, a damp, greasy wall. I think I hear Important Assistant chortling with that snarky laugh of his in the back of the studio.

Quickly now: audience members of some significance. Two come to mind. One, the Cinderella of the Hills, an instant communicator who had given up her cell phone with startling aplomb. She is a youngish woman in bright, tight clothing and absolutely amazing shoes. She's short, but her height is lifted a good two to three inches by the platform shoes she's wearing. And these shoes are made entirely of glass. It has to be glass. Even space age plastic has not reached this level of translucence combined with strength. I stared at those glistening shoes, expecting to see tiny goldfish swiming within the confines of the space created by these not so classy glassy lifts.

The Cinderella of the Hills was seated by the Important Assistant in front row seats on the left. These seats turn out to be the best in the house. In her row of four, I also note the presence of Snow White, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty. When the show starts Craig Ferguson appears to glance and wink in their direction as he notes, "Once again we have our favorite VIPs in the audience." Perhaps a part of the Hollywood Dream, the fractured fairy tale of casting couches and personal assistants that get real personal, has unfolded right before my sour eyes. But I bring my imagination to heel. After all, the Cinderella of the Hills and her posse are part of The 100--solidarity trumps cheap musings.

Seated directly next to me was a woman closer to my age. As "Chucky Cheesy" (aka Chunky Dee) warmed up the audience with a combination of ass kissing ("You're the most important part of this show.") and bad dirty jokes intended to teach us how to laugh and clap heartily at anything Craig Ferguson might say or mug, this woman looked somewhat flustered. I met her and her son in line #1 earlier. They're from Kansas and without cell phones, naked and vulnerable. I couldn't resist turning to her and mumbling the line she has probably heard thousands of times in her life: "I guess you're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy." I instantly felt like a cleaned up, lame Chucky Cheesy. She gave me a wan smile. I wondered where she parked.

The show itself? I give it an 8.4. Craig Ferguson is lively and intelligent. I give him extra points for just being of Scotch heritage, sounding like it, and "making it" in the cold, cruel and demanding world of show biz. His lengthy opening monologue is always well crafted and seemingly delivered extemporaneously. He picks a theme and weaves it through the five to ten minutes given over to this part of the show--a little like Garrison Keillor without a hint of the Lutheranism. He's a talented guy.

When I manage to stay up Late Late, this is what I stay up to hear. I just don't think I'll be a part of The 100 again anytime soon.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

February 15, 2006 -- Letter from Manhattan Beach

I Found It at the Late Late Show (Part 1)

Yesterday was a trip into one of the glamorous hearts of the City of Dreams. Big city, many hearts.

It seemed liked the thing to do. So I left the edge of L. A., the strand of Manhattan Beach, the friendly confines of the local coffee shops and restaurants, to drive into the city proper. None of this, however, should be seen as an aimless wandering about, a gawking, objectless journey to wherever. I had a ticket to the taping of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at the CBS Studios on Beverly Boulevard, that's just down the street from Santa Monica Boulevard, a stones throw from Rodeo Drive. And those dark shadowed trees marching into the highlands just to the north? Yes, the Hills of Beverly. Let the Dreams begin. I was a man, albeit a Hoosier tourist type man, with a plan, and the plan had been in place for a month.

Big stuff, right?

Well, maybe not, not if you've never heard of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. And this is quite likely. True to it's name, the show comes on at 12:30 in the a.m. which qualifies for Late Late in my book. Ferguson follows the David Letterman show. Somehow I like Letterman but he annoys me. On three nights out of four he can put the most avid TV viewer to sleep. He cruely tries to wake everyone up by finishing each of his hyper nightly efforts at entertainment with some alternative band, usually from some small wheat growing community on the western plains of Canada. The band bashes out some monotonous beat on the bass, a lead singer snarls or painfully mopes through a lyric that is incomprehensible. All to the cheers of everyone in New York City's Ed Sullivan Theater. This serves as a kind of wake up call and introduction to the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson out in far off L. A..

Frankly, I only know one person who watches the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson with any regularity. But she, and this is no cheap joke, suffers from insomnia. When I emailed a good friend in Maine about my being part of the audience, he dove for cover by diplomatically informing me that all of Maine went to bed early. When I applied for tickets to the show online for a specific date, the instant positive reply smelled of producer desparation.

As I gingerly (big mistake, never show any sign of fear) nosed the car my California friends are letting me use onto the 405 Freeway, I experienced my first blast of real L. A. traffic. It was an unbroken line of mostly large SUVs and vans, magically joined at the bumper, the whole resembling a kind of segmented flashing metal centipede. This beast was streaming and screaming north on our six lanes of the 405. And I became part of it, it became part of me. I think my knuckles are now permanently white. But I have since craftily assigned this driving adventure to the "it's all part of the experience" rationalization bin in my brain.

The taping of the show was scheduled for the late afternoon and my email printout ticket indicated I should be there by quarter to four--I was at the gate of the CBS Visitor's Lot at 2 pm. When you're on the 405 time has no meaning. My travel estimate was off by exactly one hour. Should I rate this estimate: 1) bad, 2) very bad, or 3) very, very bad even for a Terre Haute driver who only knows of rush minutes not rush hours?

I partially redeemed my auto ego at the CBS parking lot gate. The very nice Jamaican lady working there told me that the lot was full and I should come back around 3:30 pm. Visions of driving around in the L. A. traffic for another hour or, worse yet, parking somewhere and being towed, flashed into my mind.

So I played the Indiana Card.

The Indiana Card is when you look your potential friend or foe straight in the eye and say: "But I can't do that, I'm from Indiana." This has the effect of either gaining support through humor or through pity--depending on the delivery and the personality of the power broker with whom you are dealing. The Indiana Card ploy has a record of working well in cities on the Atlantic or Pacific coast with a population of more than a million people and located at least seventy-five miles from any corn field.

Anyway, this princess of the Caribbean either laughed or took pity on me and waved me on into the parking lot. The gods were smiling and I slipped the car with a sigh of relief into the one empty place in the entire lot. Now it was time to stand in a few lines.

But that's enough L. A. excitement for one day. Tomorrow's Letter will take you into the cramped compartment of Ferguson's CBS studio. There you will meet Important Assistant, Chucky Cheesy (aka, Chunky Dee), a sparkling Cinderella of the Hills and her fairy tale posse, a Dorothy who has escaped from Kansas with her son, and, briefly, the star of the show, the displaced Scotsman, Craig Ferguson.

Go to Part 2

Friday, February 10, 2006

Feb. 9, 2006--Letter from Manhattan Beach

I feel I should write something about the way people dress around here. After all, I'm living near the epicenter of the glamour capital of the world. But this won't be in detail or at length because what I know about fashion was learned going through stacks of sale items at Kohls and, long ago, with side effects still waiting to bloom, looking at the bones in my feet through the x-ray machine in the Sears Roebuck shoe department at the 63d and Halsted Street store in Chicago.

I limit my observations to women type people because male dress continues to be relentlessly uninteresting. Leather, camo, cascading utility pockets and zippers up the gigi just don't dazzle the eye, at least not this observer's eye.

Saturday morning is Double V Day in MB. Everyone, en masse, is out in their very best velour or velvet exercise outfits. It's a virtual sea of pile out here. I would estimate, and this is just using the designer garments that passed my table in the "Founded in 1963" (see Feb. 7 Letter) last Saturday between 9 and 10:30 a.m., that if you carefully cut this never ending train of garments at the seams some twelve year old in Bangladesh spent hours putting together, you could outfit a very large billboard into a framed quilt of plush that would keep three or four "Elvis on Velvet" artists busy doing their thing for days. The rainbow of colors of these pieces, which run from dusky desert dawn to jet afterburner heliotrope, would be a challenge. So would those silken stripes that flow across shoulders and down the sides of legs. But in the hands of the right artists I'm certain these problems in the materials at hand could be turned into inspired details of realism. You know what I'm talking about. We've all seen photos of the late in life Vegas Elvis.

Footware is a whole other world. Rhinestone flip flops are big. And so are feathered flip flops. Don't forget beaded flip flops. And stenciled, inked, crocheted, and finger-painted flip flops. Painted toes abound--tickled and tortured by rubber and leather strapped accoutrements defying imagination. The possibilities of what can be done with the lowly shower shoe seem endless. At least the end hasn't shown up here.

Finally, what really catches the eye in regard to women's apparel are the handbags, or whatever they are called today. Long ago in a land far, far away we used to have the "purse" and the "pocketbook." Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, the great historian of women in colonial times, has written about the power represented by the small pouch containing items related to their daily work that women carried about with them as they did their chores in the late-17th century. This tradition continues, at least this is what I am told, in those secret places within today's bags that hold cell phones. I, however, cannot personally attest to ever having seen a cell phone around here returned to the inards of a handbag.

There is no doubt that the bags are works of art, and probably come with price tags to match. Michaelangelo's shop of artisans would be working day and night on these things. If Rembrandt were alive, "The Night Watch" would never have been executed, all of his work would be on totes of varied sizes and shapes. Paul Revere's silver shop in old Boston would be polishing studs and intricate clips and smoothly functioning hinges and flashing bangles with an unbelievable ferocity. Commerce and art happily wedded.

And who the hell makes all of those sequins? I haven't seen that many shiney scales of plastic on women since Busbey Berkely movies were colorized.

Feb. 8, 2006--Letter from Manhattan Beach

Today's L. A. Times included a column by Erin Aubrey Kaplan opening with what I would call a sensationalistic scare headline: "I hate Black History Month." Of course, it turns out that Kaplan loves black history. He just hates what he sees as conscience assuaging, penance inspiring, public-service ad explosions that change and compensate nothing while overshadowing everything. And he does have a point, but . . .

His piece is in the vein worked so marvelously by Tom Leher in his "National Brotherhood Week" song of forty plus years past. Remember this?

Oh, the white folks hate the black folks
And the black folks hate the white folks
To hate all but the right folks
Is an old established rule
But during National Brotherhood Week
National Brotherhood Week
Lena Horne and Sheriff Clark
Are dancing cheek to cheek
It's fun to eulogize
The people you despise
As long as you don't let 'em in your school

Accurately and unfortunately, Kaplan is on fertile ground when he chooses to undercut the shallow feelings and motives so evident during Black History Month. So much of what passes for celebration and re-dedication merely massages the surface of emotions, so little pierces to the core of needs--material or intellectual. Feel good listings of Black Contributors and Contributions of the past in the face of today's failed schools, failed health care, failed job creation and the resulting smothering blanket of poverty can be fairly characterized as exercises in denial, window dressing on a store front, a facade that hides much and reveals little.

But I wouldn't go too far down the road of indignation with Kaplan. Black history does have a role to play in creating change in the here and now. Taking a month to highlight black history, and I hasten to add highlight, not spotlight and then drop the curtain until next year, is an annual project that should be seen as an opportunity not a diversion.

The problem is an old one. How do you go about creating a usable past without turning history into a bromide, or the audience for that past into fiddling antiquarians? Today, when the word "disrespect," or "dis," jumps off of every young black man's lips every five minutes, doesn't providing a modicum of historical consciousness, including real heroes out of the past, have a role to play in creating perspective on personal and the public injuries?

So yes, I wish every American by the end of this month knew something about Lena Horne's life and art. I would also see it as being a good thing if everyone knew how brave people working for change in the South reacted to Sheriff Jim Clark when he "dissed" them in ways that injured more than their self-respect, self-respect being something they had in abundance and always kept a firm grip on. Knowing this history in the full sense of the word knowing won't magically bring about the changes Kaplan rightly expects from America, but I do think it has a role to play in turning anger and disgust into deeply informed actions and solutions.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Feb. 7, 2006 - Letter from Manhattan Beach

It's about a 20 minute walk to the commercial center of MB from where I
am staying. “Commercial center” stands for the usual array of shops and

businesses found in most upscale communities today--real estate offices, pricey restaurants with catchy names, even pricier apparel and jewelry shops with even catchier names, and an array of coffee and bakery shops.

My walks to breakfast the first three days in MB led to a place called The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. I take it this store is part of a chain. But it tries hard to be a chain with a difference. Windows and awnings outside and every cup and napkin inside proclaims in heavy block letters, "Founded in 1963."

Perhaps this bit of branding is intended to keep the youthful upstart just down the street at bay. It's not working. Starbucks has taken over a prime corner location and when I walk past it each morning around 8:30 a.m. I see crowds at the door and people already sitting, lattes in hand, on the low window sills that surround this jolly green giant of the java world.
There’s no indication as to when any of this first came into existence.

This is not to say that "Founded in 1963" is without its regulars and supporters. But somewhat at odds with its emphasis on its early establishment, "Founded in 1963" appears to attract mainly young mothers maneuvering Humvee style baby carriages up to the counter.

Most of these women were born during the Reagan years. Their mothers were probably infants during the founding times of "Founded in 1963." I would estimate that these now proud
grandmothers were then being rolled about in what has now been designated dangerous, roll over prone baby strollers. As you may recall, these were all painted in bright blue and cream colors and rolled about on hard wheels not more than three inches in diameter. There is no record as to just how many toddlers suffered breaks to their rubbery limbs due to tragic tip overs.

Today it would be insulting to call these machines "strollers." They are jet black and gun metal gray in color; they are high tech monsters, but like the SUVs that fill the narrow streets of MB, they're your monster. Fitted out with a minimum of six wheels, they are la
rge enough to skip over a freeway divider without jarring the precious cargo perched like a Roman Senator on a fringed litter one bit. The lines and formations created by these rolling mastadons hint at scenes of warfare rather than leisurely walks with the bambino. They probably cost as much as what I paid for my first car. I hope they create and deliver on the the sense of safety and security they are designed to impart. When they run into your shins they cause permanent damage.

Every one of these young mothers in "Founded in 1963" that I manage to check out without appearing to be a dirty old man is trim and fit. It appears that in MB you are required to be in shape. I’m certain this requirement is written into some local ordinance. When you take your car in for its emission test, they probably weigh and give the driver a strength and flexibility test. The
nation is obese, but thanks to the svelt muscled weight of the locals here in MB the average weight in the nation must be at least a half pound lighter.

Three blocks from where I sit drinking coffee is the sandy shore of MB.

I don't plan to go into the water during my stay in MB. I saw a vintage photo of this beach on the wall in a mall last night that pictured this strand of sand. Emblazoned across the top of the photo was this bit of reassuring information: "Manhattan Beach--Safest Beach in the United States." Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Safe from what? Killer sharks and dangerous undertows? Nothing posted in the way of warnings today; nothing about "Safest Beach" either.

What you see when you step out onto the iconic architectural landmark of MB, a long pier poking a finger into the mighty Pacific Ocean that culminates in a small refreshment stand and museum, and look north toward Los Angeles are the waves rolling in and surfers skittering about on the surface of the sea. The same sight meets your gaze when you look south, toward Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Long Beach.

Look away from the surging waters (which is hard to do when you're from a landlocked city in the heart of the midwest), onto the long stretch of sand that gives a name to MB, and you will see an endless procession of beach volley ball courts. Muscular men and tall, wirey women can be seen just about any time of the day leaping above the nets to spike balls or "dig" saves off of the sandy floor of these courts.

And there always seems to be a woman standing just off to the side of the court, nervously bouncing a child in a menacing looking space age vehicle. You can almost feel her longing to get back into the action.

Feb. 6, 2002 -- Letter from Manhattan Beach

And now for something completely different, or maybe not.

As I am spending some time away from the Crossroads of America, enjoying the pleasures of Manhattan Beach (MB) , California, for a few weeks, I thought some impressions of the place and the people would be in order.

Manhattan Beach is just down the road from the sprawl that is Los Angeles. In a column in the Los Angeles Times today a local writer, her tongue planted only half-way in her cheek, called L.A. the center of the universe. She had the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena in mind, but went on to add encomiums in regard to L. A’s cultural contributions and style leadership.

For those of us who believe in evolution and other forms of science, an expanding universe is a given. L. A. may not be central in this vast scheme of things, but no would dispute that it continues to relentlessly expand. Up ravines and mountains, across deserts and dunes, and leaning out over the waves of the Pacific, it has been a battle for decades to match L. A.’s physical size to the size of the “Dream” it represents in the minds of locals and in imaginations around the world.

And in the United States, and especially in southern California, growth is considered the realization of all dreams, the answer to all problems, even non-existent ones.

Manhattan Beach fits this pattern. Even without the aid of deep historical research, its easy to surmise that Manhattan Beach was once a sleepy beach town, at once an escape and a reach. For those in the L. A. area who could afford it, purchasing a beach house in MB, insubstantial frame cottages not unlike those remembered from childhood, was two steps in exactly the right direction. A step forward to be sure, but also a step back in time, back to cabin-like cottages that nestled by lakes in the woods of Wisconsin, back to fall line retreats in the Appalachians, or, even closer in kind, back to weathered clapboard summer homes on the sandy shores of the southern end of Lake Michigan.

Most of the modesty and “roughing it” qualities of these not so distant get-away summer and weekend abodes disappeared long ago. Many have become “Properties.” They have ballooned into McMansion size homes sited on estates listed as “Available” in the back pages of the New York Times Magazine section every Sunday. Unless your name is Vanderbilt or Rockefeller or Kennedy, no one today buys one of these behemoths because they are on a nostalgia trip.

Find a vintage post card of MB c. 1950, which is vintage to the max when you’re thinking of southern California today, and you will see a MB that could be found just about anywhere in Vacationland U. S. A.. From what I’ve seen, there’s not much of that left around here. But what is left is very interesting.