Thursday, December 29, 2011

Doing things I used to do

After so many of them, one Christmas tends to blend into another. Even the Christmas tree's I've done over the years tend to a sameness. That's all right, though, I guess I find it comforting, wrapping me up into the warm folds of a nostalgia blanket.

There's the ornaments from the 1940's given to me when I lived in that entrance on the alley apartment in Ocean City, NJ back around 1970. Jeez. That's when the local cops thought I was a drug dealer and was having me watched by the FBI. (Or maybe they were doing the watching but their observations were, I was secretly told, going into such a file. I've never cared enough to find out if it existed or not.) It was worse than they imagined; I was training to be a draft counselor. I also harbored, on occasion, a lost soul who did have legal problems for having been caught using drugs. When he 'went away' for several months, I inherited his dog, Happy. A truly wonderful spirit, that Labrador. He was the one who figured out how to put his mouth on and turn the doorknob to let himself out. He never figured out closing the door, though - which could be a mite disturbing at 4am in the middle of winter when winds would knock out the heater's pilot light. As it turned out, the lost soul was the scion of a wealthy Philadelphia area family whose fortune derived from a common household invention. It was one of his stories I never believed. Except that one Christmas, the one with the 1940's decorations given for the tree by friends when I lived in the apartment that opened into an alley, when I got back from a quick Christmas stay at my Dad's, there were a couple of presents under the tree. Donna had moved out to marry what's his name, so they couldn't have been put there by her. Lost Soul didn't have a key to the place and was away visiting another friend for the holiday. When locked up, that place was locked up tight. I found out the hard way when I left my key behind once. I had to wait for one of my roommates at the time to arrive.  The presents turned out to be for the lost soul, and one box for me. They were labelled. My gift was a crystal brandy snifter and glasses set. It was of a lovely quality. And it was nothing any of my circle could afford. It was from the Lost Soul's parents. It was a lovely thing to do. And little creepy in the way it was done.

That was my second Christmas living on my own. The previous year, I remember I was living way out from the center of town (on 33rd Street, right on the beach! Downtown was the 9th street area).  I was so broke. I managed to get a tree, but didn't have the money to get a stand. As the apartment was on the beach, I found a bucket and filled it with sand. Worked great. I think that was my favorite tree stand to this day. I had been able to afford a string of lights and two boxes of balls, one all blue, at Stainton's, the local downtown department store. They had an annex around the corner and down a bit where they put such stuff. During the summer, the annex would be filled with tables with penny and ten cent merchandise, a major stop every year when I was a kid on vacation staying at Great Great Great Uncle Harry's for two weeks.  Even though time has taken its toll and the boxes are no longer full, the remaining balls are still in use on this year's tree. As are the ones from the 1940s.

This year did see a few casualties, though. It will be remembered as the second year I gave up entirely on the seven dwarfs, of which I only managed to get five. Purchased at that 5 and 10 cent store that used to be on 6th Avenue south of 8th Street in NYC about where Cornelia Street came in but on the other side, they have officially been retired due to deteriorating conditions. (But the box of glass balls from there is still in use - the box fell apart, though.) And this year, I didn't use the little birds that used to attach to the tree limbs with little wires at their feet (they were a present with the balls from the 1940's). The little wires were pretty much gone, as were many of their feathers and a number of beady eyes. But every year I had them on the tree (and I still have a few to put back some year) I put two of them, beak nuzzling beak, the way Jerry Campbell put them once. Tradition. For Absent friends. The two glass balls with a red ribbon hanging inside, which have written on them "miracles happen" are still in use. For absent friends. I purchased one. The other was given to me by my step sister in law. As I opened it she said she didn't know if it was appropriate. It was, I assured her, it was. For absent friends.

Today is the birthday of Marianne Faithfull. She's 65 today. And Good God, but somehow she managed to survive all that. And end up as a great chant-hussy. You can sometimes hear the days, every one of them, in her voice. Happy Birthday, Ms. Faithfull. Happy Birthday.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

No comment

From my Aunt Lorraine who estimates 1954 or 1955.

My father labelled this one. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

And so this is Christmas

Without thinking too much about it, it feels obvious that any number of traditions hold this time of the year to be somehow special. It's a magical time for some - and it is a time of magic. As celebrating the idea of the giving of gifts takes on its own meanings, one thing that doesn't seem to be understood much these days is that in the giving, you have created magic. A moment, a memory. Creating magic is up to us.

Over the last couple of posts, I've mentioned my opinion that over the last so many years there have been three great pop Christmas classics written. This one does it for me. It hits the dreamer. It catches something about this time of the year. It's not just a way-point marker in our souls, a little tick on the chart of survival. Much of the planet on which we live comes to a halt this one day in this one season. And many thoughts turn to peace, and joy. Condemn the consumer ethic, ridicule the sheer vulgarity of it all, but remember that we also create magic on this day.  And let the memories of it be a reminder of the magic we can create - if there's enough of us - if we find a way to stand together - if we really want it. The magic is created by living it, the best we can, every day.

Merry Christmas.
Create magic.

'Twas Christmas Eve, Babe

Tomorrow, December 25th, is Shane MacGowan's birthday. It's a wondrous thing. He's spent most of his life as a moving train wreck. He even managed to get himself thrown out of The Pogues, a group he founded. Between 1983 and 1985, he wrote the last great Christmas song written in the 20th century, and it hasn't been topped yet.

This song is important to stevil for many reasons. Back around 1973 or so, when such things just weren't done and could have caused bodily injury, I remember giving in to the moment in the East 70's of NYC and kissing a special guy openly on the street corner as we danced  through the night... Everyone should get such a moment.


Merry Christmas,
I loves ya baby.

Day before hollywood (d)reaming

Over the last few days, as I've busied myself this this project or that, I've kept my eye on the tv (now cable) dial for some of my old friends of the season from Hollywood and other entertainment purveyors. Some of the cable channels have been running soapy by the numbers supposed to be heartwarming not really inspirational claptrap whose connection to the holidays is often as tenuous as a game of pin the tail on the donkey. Where have the movies and shows we've all come to love gone? Well, I found them all-right. They are now available as cable and internet "on demand". Which means that they now make you pay about $3.00+ a pop for everything from old tv shows to movies. The collection of stuff to watch covers everything from Hanukkah (all for free) to Holiday music, also free where you can experience such classics as Jessica Simpson singing "O Holy Night", No Doubt's "Oy to the World" (oh, my God, Christina Aguilera  was even younger once?), or even Twisted Sister.There are three different versions of the Nutcracker (but not the classic Balanchine NYC Ballet version which has been filmed a few times now. There are Yule logs (free!), Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree with music, snow covered covered bridges with soothing music, Santa on radar, even "Yule Dog" in which three basset hounds sing a song. There's a selection of Disney movies. And the $3.00 movies. Bam Margera did a Christmas special? There's even the Harry Potter section, which includes several free tours (by the Weasley twins) of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park at Universal's Orlando resort - and they are all 233 minutes?!! (I do think that must be a typo). By the by, the "On Demand" menu structure is a mess. You often can't back up a section, and have to start at the top menu all over again. Just what everyone wanted - a chance to pay more and be tortured at the same time trying to see what you want. Fun!

As I look out my sliding glass door window onto the world of Putney Road, it's evident that something is wrong. There's something missing from the Vermont Christmas landscape. At least YouTube still exists with free old holiday friends (for now.... add ominous background music while thinking of bad legislation half approvedby the US Congress but yet to pass like SOPA [Stop Online Piracy Act] and PIPA [Protect IP Act] which will turn the internet over to government and corporate control, but hey, it's Christmas, so we'll talk about this another time.)

Ah, back when songwriters knew what they were doing. Irving Berlin, a Jew, wrote this great classic for the movie above, "Holiday Inn". The song was used again in the early 1950's in an eponymously titled project, using plot elements from the older picture. Originally, it was intended to re-team Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Stories vary as to why Astaire was replaced (some say he turned it down after reading the script, others maintain he was ill) with Donald O'Connor (ill) who was replaced with Danny Kaye. The movie was directed by one of the most reliable to turn out a good piece of entertainment no matter what you throw at him but he is crazy you know directors and by the way he doesn't play well with actors in Hollywood, Michael Curtiz - whose birthday is today. His Academy Award for Best Direction of a movie was for the make it up as you go along classic "Casablanca", a movie with the coveted and rare stevil seal of approval.

"White Christmas" also had a young, hot, vocally cool at her peak Rosemary Clooney torching out with "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me". The movie's uncredited  choreography is alleged to be the work of a very young Bob Fosse.

Which reminds me, Darlene Love belted out her "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" number on Letterman last night. She looked fabulous. There is no way on the face of the earth that I can accept that she is 70 years old. Brava!

And, in case anyone didn't get to see it (sitting through Letterman was a chore - he fell back on slightly homophobic jokes a couple of times, which he always does when he thinks he's losing the audience and which is one of the main reasons I don't watch him) here's a most wonderful way to spend 10 minutes or so that I just found on YouTube:

In my dictionary, the slangish use of the word "fierce" has a picture of Darlene Love.

It's time to get cleaning and laundry done. I'll be back later today with more.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our little traditions

This time of year is marked and observed by traditions. Some of us may not even realize that we have them. But if you watch "A Christmas Story" every Christmas Eve, you have one. If you put up holiday lights every year, you have a tradition. There may be changes within, but...

For instance, after my father built his house in the late 1950's, we used to put up lights around the windows that fronted the street every year. He had planned on it, and had built in places to plug the lights in for every affected window. For a couple of years, we would get yards of laurel, wrap it around each set of lights, and using a twist tie kind of method with preset eyelets, put up the lights. As the pace of life changed and made such tasks too involved, he solved the problem by creating special wooden window frames, painted green, on which the lights were permanently fixed. All that remained to do was add the laurel and use the hook eye sets to put them up. Quick, easy efficient. It was even quicker after laurel became expensive and was no longer used. But the central idea was one of the traditions we had. There were also 3 light candelabrum which were put in each of the windows. There was an electrical outlet under each window, and the top slot of each was turned on and off by the room's light switch if one so desired.

One of the traditions here in Brattleboro is actually across the river in New Hampshire. Many long years ago, a local boy-scout working for a merit badge, created a large star to put up facing town on the top of Mount Wantastiquet.  It uses large #10 sized tin cans to hold light-bulb sockets (and act as reflectors), each illuminating a point on the star. It plugs into a microwave tower related building that is there. The local troop hikes up there to relight it in early December every year. It is truly a light in the darkness, a candle burning in the window. And, it's just plain neat.

This morning, I was searching for something on YouTube when I noticed a little holiday bonus which I hope becomes a tradition. After a video starts playing, a snowflake appears at the bottom of the streaming window. It is clickable. Of course, I am posting a sample video so you can try it out. So, here's a medley of songs which originally appeared on the Phil Spector monaural sonic spectacular long playing album, "A Christmas Gift for You" as performed by two of that record's performers, Ronnie Spector and the great Darlene Love.

A word of warning: your chin is likely to drop to your chest when you start watching this. Please try to remember to click on the snowflake by the time Ms. Love starts belting "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)".

And one further note, regarding Ms. Darlene Love. I fell in love with that woman's voice as I was growing into the start of my teenage years way back when. Today I Met the Boy I'm Gonna Marry. He's a Rebel. And so many others. Even during her "stardom", The Blossoms, the group she joined as a teenager, performed as session and touring back up singers for everybody from Sam Cooke to Elvis Presley. She was almost at the top of the pop business when the British Invasion changed American music, and she had a falling out with Phil Spector. "River Deep, Mountain High" was created for Darlene Love. The story has it that he was mad at her so he gave the song to Tina Turner, whom it made famous. In 1986, there was a Broadway revue format musical based on the life of songwriter Ellie Greenwhich. Ms. Love played herself. And, she got to sing "River Deep..."  Hers is the only rendition I ever heard that beat Tina Turner at anything. Every year now since 1986 when she was in New York doing the show and they first got her to do it, Darlene Love has appeared on the last live David Letterman show before Christmas. As the program's finale and Christmas present to all, she and Paul Shaffer and the band perform "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)". This will be the 25th year they've done it. The song, one of the last three great pop Christmas songs created in my lifetime, was written in 1963 for Ronnie Spector, but Phil felt it needed someone stronger and gave it to Darlene instead. She still performs it like it's nobody's business. I look forward to her performance of it every year. It's one of my rituals, my traditions of the season. She'll be on the Letterman show tomorrow night, Friday December 23rd, 2011 if you care to join me, and I do hope you will.

By the way, a shameful oversight was corrected this year, 2011, when Darlene Love was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Longest Night

It's solstice and I have no time....
Unless I become unstuck in it again.

I'm not gonna get the post I wanted to do done.
Story of the old year passing.


And in the bad graphic classics:

Baby, it's cold outside.

My, my what hath those boys from "Glee" wrought?

New this year is the following video from Mister Chase and Chris Salvatore, a recording of Frank Loesser's 1944 song  "Baby, It's Cold Outside". Proceeds from purchases of the the song will go to organizations that help provide crisis and suicide prevention for at-risk gay youth. Therefore, a rare link to an obscenely profit oriented itunes for anyone with a couple of bucks to spend for a most worthy cause :

Written as a duet to be performed with his wife Lynn Garland at their housewarming, she considered it "their song" and was furious when he sold it to MGM. The studio used it in a 1948 Esther Williams bathing beauty pic, "Neptune's Daughter". It was not considered (or used as) a Christmas song at the time. There were two performances of it in the movie; one between Ricardo Montalbán and Esther Williams, the other between Red Skelton and the under rated Betty Garrett. It won the 1949 Academy Award for Best Original Song for a Motion Picture. In Mr. Loesser's score, the duet's parts are noted as being for "wolf" and "mouse".

Here's the video, but I suggest that you skip it and watch the second version below, in which Mister Chase performs his lines in ASL.

I am really going to have to find out more about these two guys. They also made available an American Sign Language version of their video. If anyone has been reading my missives here, it should be becoming obvious that I've been struggling since giving up the anti-depressants and anti-anxietals. I got a huge boost from not only this version of the song, but especially from the ASL version. Years and years ago, a show on which I worked and for which I wrote a good deal of material was given an ASL performance. It was one of the proudest and happiest moments of my life. Just recalling it has tears welling up in my eyes, as emotions have been very clsoe to the surface these last few weeks. Very Special Thanks to Edonline for letting folks know about this.


And, for anyone who isn't familiar with the Fox tv show "Glee", here's the version they did last year. With so many lovely moments on the show, it amazes me that I do not watch it religiously. By the way, the two characters here, high school students, finally succumbed to each others charms a few episodes ago. I recorded it, but haven't had a chance to watch it yet. I wish Jerry Campbell had lived to see this. He'd have loved it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Everyone telling you "Be of Good Cheer"...

The world is growing cold again.
An un-named evil seems to be growing, sensing that it's time is near.
The signs are everywhere.

I've been able to keep the crying in check, but every now and then a sob still suddenly wracks my system.

Many customers are acting out.
Good morning! How are you?
(Mad that I spoke) "I'm in a hurry".
That was a nice customer.

The staff is acting out.
I got called into a 20 minute you've been very bad session because my register was near locking up for having to much money in it and the supervisor who showed up to take money out wanted me to get change instead. I suggested the deposit be done first. She went to management. She lied about what I said. Management believes and backs their own. If you want to keep your job you bow and shuffle. It's the same if a customer complains. They are always right. We are always wrong. I am told there are many complaints from the staff about my attitude. I guess I didn't bow and shuffle hard enough or low enough. My life there will be utter hell for the next month or two.

I have no money until payday, Thursday. To eat lunch, I wrote a check knowing that I will be able to get money into the bank before the check will be there to clear. The computer refuses to accept my check. It refers me to the bookkeeper. The book keeper discovers that I had a check that bounced at the store in 2004. It must have been resubmitted, as it then cleared. But, there was a $20.00 fee. It's been unpaid all these years. They didn't know about it until I tried to write a check. I didn't know about it either. My boss immediately noted, "you were sent a letter, everybody is". It is very very bad, as I am now an employee. I have to sign paperwork that I will pay the fee from the next two paychecks. A bit later, before they put me back on a register, I am called into another "conference". I must sign paperwork that states that I will pay the fee this Thursday or be dismissed. I ask if I might make the payment on the second week originally mentioned. This is, after all, the last paycheck before Christmas. I take home less than $200.00 per week. The answer is a resounding no.

I immediately hear the deep voice of Thurl Ravenscroft singing, "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch".
Then, when no one is looking, I start sobbing.

I don't belong in this world.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Where do they go?

Every year, I wonder the same thing.

As I unpacked the balls for the Christmas Tree, I immediately became aware that most of them do not seem to have hangers. At first, some years back, I took this oddity with only a mild bit of consternation, I knew damn well that I was careful that every single ball had its hanger when the box was put away. As the years have progressed, it seems to get worse and I'm starting to get a bit pissed off about it. Where do those damn hangers go? Do teeny little mischief making elves sneak in over the summer, open every box and carefully remove the hangers? What do they do with them? I also note that the bag that never got packed away properly, the one with the few spare bulbs and hangers that popped out of every corner imaginable from the only shelf in the closet to fall reproachfully in my face every damn time I open the built out closet door is now nowhere to be found. I begin to wonder if maybe I'm getting too old for this. Little persnickety elves. You gotta watch them, you know. Keep it up fellas. It's not my first time, I've been to the rodeo before. This means war.

I start to wonder what it must be like to decorate really big trees....

December 1913 - Christmas tree, Madison Square, NYC
Nurses at the  Garfield Hospital Christmas tree, Washington, D.C. circa 1921

The Kennedy White House, 1961

The Christmas Mysteries

Yesterday I had most of a post ready. I've been using the new blogger interface in the Google Chrome browser. I accidentally clicked the browser window closed. No problem, I thought, in writing draft mode,I have auto save turned on.  Except it wasn't. So I went to turn it on. And I can't find it. I can't find it in help, either. It was one of the nicest features here.  And now it's like it never existed. I hope I'm just being dense. Wait - it just auto saved. I guess I have to hit the "save" button after which Blogger takes over? If you're in cyberspace can anyone hear you scream? At any rate, my immortal words vanished into the sub electronic ether.

My post yesterday ("... and now the scratching starts...") was written in full nasty virus rampaging through my system incoherent babbling can't type properly for shit mode. (To tell the truth, I am often a lousy typist even when I'm feeling quite well.) Austanspace posted ????? marks in the comments, noticing "I'm not poor enough to get anything better." When I saw her note at 5:30am or so this morning, I found myself totally flummoxed as to what the hell I'd meant. This was no right wing reference, not even for satire's sake, of social services programs, which I suppose is one way to look at it. (I once went through a mini hell of applying - with the assistance of a social services worker - for subsidized housing. After a lengthy wait, I was denied assistance because my then current landlord told them that I was late in paying my rent. Which was why I was applying in the first place...) I think what I intended is "I'm not paid enough", but that's an odd phrase for me, I think I'd write something more like, "I don't earn enough". The upshot is that I have no idea what I intended to write. I still have very claustrophobic feelings about my living space, though. As I sit in my chair typing, my knee bursts forth a pain bubble that makes me move my foot backward. I smash into a box temporarily under the chair because I've no place else to put it. These remarks should not be interpreted to mean that I am unappreciative of the space I rent, or my current landlord. Or spell check which I seem to need to use every three or four words because of my "there isn't enough light in here for me to see clearly and I never learned to type properly" attempts....

I had written a bit about the time I worked at Macy's one Christmas. I had a very desirable position selling VHS and Betamax video  tape recorders in the electronics department on the mezzanine off the Main Entrance (on the Herald Square/Broadway side). I'll have to tell that story again later. I just lost my train of thought again between my typing and the toilet flusher breaking. Again. 

I also wrote about working for Columbia/TriStar pictures in Boston and the morning of December 23rd, 1992 when a very non-professional-NPR voice suddenly interrupted my attempts to get up with an essay in which its writer reminisced about working at Macy's at Christmas. Needless to say, I loved it. It's now a true holiday classic. Get that cuppa, snuggle in for a few minutes, and give a listen:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

...and now the scratching starts...

Currently, as in all day today, I seem to be experiencing anger, frustration, anxiety, resentment, oh, just a whole heavenly host of Holiday hoo-has. Early this morning I managed a ride to Vernon where I have stuff in storage in a friend's barn. This was happy news. I hadn't been there in a couple of years, and the potential to locate missing items (as well as check on the collectible  movie posters) was heartening, But, as it turned out, Bob (the fellow being kind enough to give me a ride there and back) really didn't have any time available. It was grab and go. This did, however, turn up an item in the suitcase I grabbed... I mentioned the other day that my friend Tom Toth used to make Christmas cards featuring Carole Lombard. Here's the last one I know of that he did, and the least fancy (the others got printed in frames, with printed greetings, & etc.):

I did make a wee little change. Tom had it printed in sepia. I think t looks slightly better in black and white...

Anyway, after lots of strum und drang yesterday, I managed to get a Christmas tree. I'd come to the end of the paycheck until next Thursday, and there really just wasn't anything left. Last year, I noted that the Rotary and other Christmas Tree purveyors were sold out almost a full week before the holiday itself. So, after enlisting a friend with a car, I managed to get the Rotary guy to agree on a postdated check, and purchased a scrawny but full (from one angle) tree. I'd been sniffling and occasionally sneezing all day yesterday at work. Friggin people who sneeze on you.... The inside of one nostril felt swollen like it had a a blood vessel had burst. But it wasn't too bad. Until this morning.

Arrrghhhh! There''s only one string of lights left... Gggrrrrr.
I've been sneezing like a fairy tale dwarf all day. I am, of course, paranoid that I have now developed an allergy to Christmas trees and will have to put this one down. Or maybe they've sprayed some preservative on the tree so it will last longer or smell nicer that's the culprit. I do hope that's not the case. It was just one such sudden onset of swelling, watery eyes, and sneezing by my stepmother that was responsible for the premature destruction of one tree some years back when my father was still alive. The following year or two there was a mid sized artificial tree. When Dad started the six year slide into the finalities of prostrate cancer, she was too distraught to think about Christmas. I can't remember if she got a tree that first year or not. The next few years saw a minimally decorated 3 foot artificial tree. I would go "home" for the holidays, enter what had been my bedroom and find the tree, decorations, lights, and all, sitting on my bed. She'd pick it up, carry it back to the living room, find a spot for it, plug it in, and the deed was done. Quick, efficient. Not my style, but I like it. 

I'm still part way through putting the lights on this year's tree. I've been at it since about 10:30am this morning. Along the way there was a successful hunt and updated software replacement for my printer/scanner/copier. The programs on the new computer had more than enough stuff to run the show, but I liked the results of the program that came with the printer much better. I'm glad that's been taken care of. And there have been radio station phone calls and emails to deal with. And enough this's and thats's to drive anyone into bouts of delirium. Use the toilet, and the flush thingy beaks. Again. Take a few steps and the only belt I have stretches a little more and my pants start to fall down - again. And again. How do today's kids do it? I guess you have to have a bubble butt. I'm from a family of flat butts.

In an small studio apartment this size, there is little room for anything. Need the stapler? Move this there, that there, and viola! One stapler plus instant mess. This past summer I began rebelling against the spartan minimalism in which I've lived the past few years. As I closed the paid for storage place, I added a guest chair (the other one I had replaced my rocker office chair which, sadly, is no more), and my old art deco side table - the one with the etched blue glass, into the "living" room. I can not get everything I need to into the small storage space my apartment gets in this building's basement. The result has been stuff everywhere, especially as I've been trying to get the pre bleak winter deep cleaning and dust dinosaur eradication done. I'm putting the old dust catchers back into play, and it is making me feel better. There is absolutely no reason I should have or need to have an hour glass, well, more like a half hour glass, but it does reflect something about myself and I like having it out. Ditto the picture (really a xerox blow up of a polaroid) of my Dad from a Christmas long ago (c 1954).

Every step backward is met with an oops! Every reach to get something results in something else being knocked over. Every step into the kitchen or bathroom means moving the pumpkin which still hasn't been cut up for pie. (It sits in a corrugated cardboard box so I don't kick it to death - and I do end up kicking the box a lot). There is no place to put anything. There is no room for, well. there is no room. I've spent most of my life living in studio apartments. I'm sick of it. Having the space to have your stuff where you can get it without moving things around like a chinese puzzle box has become a luxury. I'm not poor enough to get anything better. As I get up to get a tissue to blow my nose, I trip on my cane. If it's Christmas can anyone hear me scream?

Well, I'm going off to make some shells and veggies for dinner. Then I'll move enough stuff to get into the built out closet where I put the spare Christmas tree light bulbs so I can replace the ones that didn't make it through to this year.

But before I go, here's a couple of scans I did this afternoon to test the replacement program. These are protective sleeves in which single 45rpm records were sold. And yes, I still have the records.

All I Want for Christmas...

Okay, I'm not a fan of the song, nor Mariah Carey. nor the Biebs - whose voice still hasn't changed ( I hear he's really a baritone). And a few seconds of this makes me want to club baby christmas seals. But it is just so goofy it makes me smile. And a smile at this time of year is a good thing and deserves to be shared.

I saw a clip of the above on some nameless tv magazine format show. It might have even been the news. So, when I went looking for it on YouTube, I was surprised that it wasn't in some special "hot" listing, and didn't even come up in the first couple of pages of results.

BUT, the following did. So for that semi Anglophile over at Austanspace, here's a different take, also smile worthy:

By the buy, the song was introduced on Mariah Carey's 1994 album "Merry Christmas", which has now sold over 5 million copies making it the best selling holiday album of all time.

Needless to say, listening to this - okay, I was going to call it dreck, but since I'm trying to get into a more Christmasy spirit, I'll be kind and simply call it oh, "paint by the numbers my husband is in charge at Columbia records manufactured not written pop trash", it occurs to me that I may have stumbled upon one of the reasons I haven't really been so into Christmas for a number of years now. I think I've figured out that indescribable something that is missing. Enlightened self-interest. So, for the first time in I don't know how many years, my Christmas Wish List:

1. Santa's Land
Because I've had a freakin' lifetime of being good and I deserve the chance to preserve something like this, so there. Yeah, it's a big ticket item. But check this out, I'm beginning to think there is more here than is known or being told.

The second pic is used online on a tourist website promoting the area, and the file name identifies it as Santa's Land, Putney, VT. I can't say I've ever noticed this guy by the side of Route 5 in Putney. But it's not just that, it's what looks like a roller coaster in the background. It all reeks of West Coast to me, But I like the Santa. Like the other one above, he;s almost kind-a scary looking.

Actually, I might just want to own the place to keep it for myself as a great living space, the hell with the public.

2. I need a car. This has gone on long enough. I promise to take good care of this one. Basically, I'm looking for a 1936 Duesenberg  Model J (it's a Dusey!").

If Santa can get one for me, I will promise (if necessary) to be seen driving up and down Main Street in summer with the top down, wearing a large fur coat - and nothing else. Hey, if it's good enough for Madame Sherri.... I mean heck, when I moved here it was still whispered that the West Chesterfield Bridge was built to allow some of the better known gentleman of Brattleboro to sneak over to her parties without being having to be seen down town heading for Hinsdale.  Except Madame drove a cream colored 1927 Packard.

3. The Heywood Wakefield art-deco stick-wicker club chair is still available in that chi chi store on Main Street. I went back to take a couple of pictures...

It's late, so finishing my wish list is going to have to wait until tomorrow.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Building Christmas time

Whoa! Sound. Surround Sound, at that.
Here, here's what I was listening to when sound went from stereo to surround sound and engulfed the room.

I haven't played music through the sound system (home theatre dvd player) for awhile. I'm not crazy about it for regular sound. Half the time when I listened to WVEW, it was with a mono clock radio. And I'd listen to the webstream for stereo. Much of what I've been listening to is in mp3 format and played through the computer's sound system. Sadly, when I found that I would need a pair of amplified speakers for the new computer, I didn't have enough cash to get something really good. As I've been doing the deep pre-winter holiday as if someone was actually coming by for a visit clean, I've been getting the old sound system out and putting it back together. But something possessed me. I'd never burned a disc on the new computer. It was time. So I gave it a test whirl. Four mp3 albums to mp3 cd, 2 minutes. I'm very satisfied. If I could get there, I'd almost be happy with it. So far.

I was talking about getting unstuck in time, a Vonnegut phrase that does a good job of describing what I'm trying to say. Maybe I wasn't talking about it. Yet. I was in the edited version due a minute or two from now.  I'm telling you, moving beyond the concept of linear time gets a little messy from, well, from time to time. For instance, in my humble abode, bathroom time is different from my living space time. It's slower. Time in there progress at a different rate. Really. It just does. The clock proves it, but it's a long explanation, and that's not where I was headed with this. I'm not trying to get all quantumy on you or anything.

So I'm working at it. Building Christmas. Today was one of those days when I only get 4 hours of work. I've been trying to get to a series of things ever since I got home. And while I've gotten some things done, I seem to have become unstuck in time again. Unexpected callers. Expected visitors. Late start to the stew. When I brought the ingredients after my shift today, I fully intended a large stew that would last a few days, a couple 'a meals, a couple 'a cold snacks. I'll just nibble. Still, the cost was enough that I'm now figuring I need to make to last for a week. After I brown the meat, I cover it with part Merlot and part crushed tomatoes. Except I made a mistake and bought diced tomatoes, which changes the amount of liquid drastically. And then it hit me. A cookbook which takes each dish through a series of options: Oops, not enough liquid? Add more wine. Prefer to drink it? Okay, add water, and if it gets to liquidy, stir in a teaspoon of flour, raise to a boil and... I don't believe I've ever seen a cookbook which really gives you much except a recipe. A few will give you optional ingredients. But a what to do if  kind of thing? Hmmmm.

So anyway, it seems like so many things I wanted to do not only didn't get done, but didn't get started. I'm not freaked out about it or anything. One foot in front of the other and all that. The stew is superb, if I say so myself. I love the taste yukon gold potatoes gives it. Now back to cooking up the holidays. Groan. That was bad. I should have said something like "adjusting the ingredients" or something. There were a couple of things I wanted to note here today.

The Census Bureau has been at it again. They had one of their little analysis of data reports moving up in the news charts with a bullet. It was there at 5:30am. It wasn't by the time I got home from my four hour morning shift. I was able to find it in a search easily enough, but then again I knew what I was looking for. Anyway, catching up with 2010 census data, it looks like the US currently has 97.3 million Americans who are now defined as being in a low income category. If you add in the 49.1 million Americans who are considered to be below the poverty line, the total  of 146.4 million Americans equals 48 % of the population. In other words, one out of every two people is, by definition, "poor". Can you imagine what it will be like when the social assistance programs are cut?

Boston. 1994. Five days before Christmas. The entire office 9 person staff of Sony Corporation's Columbia/Tristar Pictures filed into a meeting room at the city's Unemployment Office. An appointment had been set for us; our office had closed the day before. An executive met with us. We were told that in all likelihood, none of us would ever have a full tie job again. We would have a series of part time jobs. We would never have a job with benefits again either. Those kinds of jobs just didn't exist anymore. This was the current and new reality. Get used to it. And oh, yeah, Merry Christmas. And a Happy New Year.

In the United States Congress, there has so far been a failure to pass any legislation to extend a payroll tax cut about to expire. Republicans, who want the extension, are holding hostage passage of a bill to extended unemployment benefits. The Democrats are offering to give up seeking higher taxes for the rich. The government could shut down tomorrow. No one has yet said anything about the unspecified spending cuts which by law are to take effect at the end of the month due to a committee's failure to attain agreement on budget cuts. Kind of a shame really. If they'd timed it better by just a few days, they too could have explained the new reality. And oh, yeah. Merry Christmas. And a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Just so wrong

Some things are wrong.

The last several days have been a lunartics Holiday. Full Moon. And Seasonal Panic. People who play the wretched card have been dealing aggressively and attempting to "buy the pot", which is kind of amusing in a return the circle to the wretched kind of way as there is no pot to be had.

Yesterday, I started work at 11:30am. By the time I was sent off on my first break at 1:15pm, I had managed to experience the worst, most abysmal hour and three quarters I have ever spent in retail. In my life. I am 61 years old and have been in and out of retail situational ethic awareness employment since I was a teenager. I've been dealing with the public in some form or other since I was 6 or 7 years old, when I would occasionally cover the town librarian when she needed to excuse herself, or had other work which needed her attention. (Luckily, she never held that incident where I chased Patricia Ann Smith around the library stacks in order to obtain a kiss against me.) Somewhere around 8th or 9th grade, I even ran the regional school's student supply store, so I've been around, ya know? Read that again. A student run supplies store for student purchases.  Yes, I'm that old.

Bookstores, Department stores, bookstores and department stores at Christmas, Dining room service, free loan film services where hiding behind a desk and a phone was no insulation from the inane insane. And so on and so forth.

The parade of torment and pain seemed never ending. It wasn't the monosyllabic grunters, they were (by and large) reasonably well behaved. It wasn't even the people who refuse to speak to you at all - it's usually beneath them, you know. It wasn't the woman who watched me ring up and pack her $120.00+ order on express, and just as I started to pack her last 3 items spoke up, "I have my Own bags." Oh, how nice! I'm glad you're doing this, it does so help the environment. The plastic trees are endangered, you know. It wasn't the woman who grabbed things out of my hands as soon as I had rung them up. No, it took at least 10 minutes until she arrived. She held up a gallon plus size of liquid Tide and said "5". She held up her fingers, "Five". No, mam. You have two different products there, I will need to ring them up separately. Empty Blank Stare. Hand up. "Five". No, man, I'll need one of the white bottles and one of the orange bottles, "two", plus "three". She stood there. She waved her hands around. She pointed. She spoke no English. She didn't understand. I walked around the counter, around her, reached in to her cart, moved the two white topped bottles to one side, and the three orange tops to the other side. I counted them, one, two - and rang up the white topped bottles. I then repeated the effort with the orange three. She looked at the computer screen. No, no.  She put her finger on the computer screen over the sale discount, a minus line item, as in " - 10 cents". I tried to explain that she wasn't paying that amount, it was on special.  People were rolling their eyes and loudly grinding their gritty teeth, and they weren't even in my line. Eventually, the war of comprehension was won when she waved at one bottle of detergent as though she were pushing it away. I took it off of her purchase. She was satisfied, and thankfully left. 

A minute or two later, a well dressed middle aged woman set down her purchase of a container of fresh soup made by our deli. I rang it up. That's six dollars and fourty three cents, please. "SIX DOLLARS!!!" (It wasn't a question.) "SIX DOLLARS !!!!!  !!!!" THAT'S OUTRAGEOUS". Well, mam, it's this amount per pound, and you got this weight - would you like me to re-weigh that? "SIX DOLLARS!!!!" Yes, mam, I'm sorry but that's about right. "I DON"T EVEN HAVE SIX DOLLARS." "SIX DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!"

Then came to the two backwoods types. As I rung up the first guys' order, it was evident that he was  concerned about the second guy. He said he was going out to the car and would wait for him, and no, it was all right, he would drive him home, he wanted to do that. The second guy looked horrible. Long term sickness haggard look. Hi, how are you today? "Not good." Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. "I just lost my job". He worked as a handyman for someone who'd had a heart attack a week ago. The son had just let him go.

A smiling bald headed woman stepped into view. "Hi, Steven". Hi. We used to work together at Northeast Cooperatives. She'd lost weight. And had a very shiny head. I see you've had a few changes to deal with.... "Well, they told me if I was going to get cancer, then this was the one to get, it's only a year or so of chemo left..." I told her how much I admired her for not covering up, for being seen. I don't think I would have gotten through the rest of the day without her.

And so it went, people whose bank cards were declined and who had to return food. A few feeling no pain thanks be to the spirits. The children who stare at you with hollow eyes.  The woman who was upset because the plush toys display didn't have a full set of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer product tie ins. She'd purchased the tv show's characters over the previous two years, but never got a Clarice. She has to have a Clarice. I mentally hear Anthony Hopkins and manage a sympathetic smile. Sorry, mam. 

A guy who likes to talk politics (even though I've been "requested" to not do so) was next - he has no money for presents this year and was wondering about the morals of selling a photo he took years ago when he was standing next to Robert Kennedy in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel.

There was my ex-landlord and his wife - he looking gaunt, obviously living with something ill. I rented from them until he got upset over a late promised check to catch up my rent (in arrears after Northeast Coops was bought out and there were no jobs available) and had me evicted after having rented from them for 10 plus years.

About 10 minutes before I was sent off to break, a woman I've known for years - since back when Sovernet started up and finally offered a local dial up ISP service in Brattleboro, fer Christs'sakes,  put her purchases on the register station's belt. She smiled broadly and said something on the order of, "It's so good to see you again".  I started to cry. Really. It was the first nice thing anyone had said to me all day.

It gets worse, you know. But I just don't have it in me to go on (about it). I've been taking drugs again for a few days now. Just the trazadone. Otherwise I don't sleep. And when I wake up in the middle of the night, my breathing is weird. Which freaks me out because a few weeks ago, when I woke up around 3am, I suddenly said out loud, without thinking about it, "I'm going to die before the summer". Needless to say, even though I put no stock in that what so ever, it doesn't help to make waking up hourly with breaking weirdness a calming stabilizing selection force in my life.

This morning, I did speak with a very nice woman at the Comcast office out there, somewhere. She turned out to be upstate in Burlington, and understands the local economies. I'd expected that I would lose my internet/phone/tv service today. I often call them to point out that their turn off date is always two days before I get paid (sheer accident of timing, yup) and will gladly pay them as soon as I can get my pay into my bank account. I've often  had to have supervisors get involved over this. The bill always shows a huge amount due. I always have to make it clear that I know they bill a month in advance, that the prices listed are before all of the various discounts and deals are figured in when you pay, and that the only money I owe them is about a third of what the computer shows, namely the current month, dammit. I often get a spiel that this is the last time they can offer me a two day delay for 6 months. Et cetera.  This time though, I wouldn't be able to pay the full monthly amount. I just don't have it. But no, this woman gave me no such grief. Problems worked out in a minute. Except that she turned out to be a survivor gabber and I had a hard time getting off the phone. And no, I'm not complaining, just observing.

The dryer in the basement isn't working right. I had to reload it with quarters. It took everything I had. I'd been hoping to use that for the bus fare home tomorrow instead of walking. Oh, well.

When I had been feeling like I could actually handle Christmas, and could interact with it again, I splurged on something I shouldn't have. I bought a new ornament for the Christmas Tree. It was a wild thing to do. It's a little tiny ceramic Tinkerbelle, sitting on a red ball and holding up a star to put on the tree. It's one of those dated keepsake ornaments that won't be made again, and was the last one they had. There would be no more. I bought it. At least I shopped local.
Of course, at the moment, it looks very much like I won't be able to afford a Christmas tree this year to put it on. I'd been counting on getting paid for 20 hours of holiday time at work that needs to be taken by the end of the year or I lose it. I had been getting small payouts on unused vacation and sick time (meant for next year, but subject to the new use it or lose it regulation). But they suddenly stopped after Thanksgiving week when I got a whole 32 hours of work, count my blessings. In asking for a monetary payout to be added to my check, I got a lecture. It was too late to include in the next check. If it gets approved, I might get it the check 3 days before Christmas. I bowed and scrapped and tried not to shuffle as I said "Thank You" to the person whose job it was to have kept the arrangement going in the first place.

So, with this swirl of emotion and loathing, I was looking through some old files on my computer when found the following. As I said, some things are just plain wrong.

Today is December the 13th, the 347th day of 2011, CE.
There are 12 days remaining until Christmas.
There are 18 days remaining until the end of the year.
There are 372 days remaining until the end of time.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A new arrival in town

Without much time to write, but before I get ready to go off to my 11:15am-7:15pm shit, I wanted to take a moment to welcome a new resident of Hobbiton, Ms. Hilde Beest. She is sharing quarters with Austanspace. Sadly, I shall have to wait to meet her, but any friend of Austanspace is a friend of mine. Well, usually, anyway.

I hope Laura wired up the tree so it won't fall over, just in case Hilde tries to climb it. When I first moved to New York City just after the 1972 election (it was one of the only places left where humans could be safe), I shared a studio apartment on the Upper East Side with a Student Veterinarian whose name escapes me for a moment. He had two kitties. They had a great time climbing the Christmas tree. And knocking it over. And destroying half of my ornaments at a go. So I started wrapping wire around the tree trunks, and fastening it to the wall or baseboard.

Gosh, I hadn't thought of that apartment for awhile. It was way east on 87th Street, about a half a block from the Mayor's Mansion. It was extraordinarily safe. Single women could (and did) walk their dogs around there at 3am without worry. Our next door neighbors (who became a one apartment, not two) were a radio DJ who broadcast as "Roy Fox", and his girlfriend Ada. She was a stewardess, and a real sweetheart. Every great now and again, she'd bring us a baguette baked fresh that morning. In Paris. Bitch.

My kitty, Jezebel, never exhibited the slightest interest in messing with the Christmas tree. She never climbed it, even though I always wired it up just for safety's sake. She never swatted at low hanging balls, either. I always thought she enjoyed the tree as much as I did and didn't want to mess it up. In all truth, she was probably indifferent to it.

Ahhhh, lookit the time. I have got to run and get cleaned up or I'll miss the bus...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Beat the Christmas Holiday rush.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that Brattleboro just isn't every place else. Where else would a Santa's Land close a few days before Christmas? Ah, but never fear, Brattleboro Hollydaze are here. And Santa will be available for your picture taking I want this for Christmas secret spilling edification.

You know I want to go. I'd really like to have my picture taken with Santa pushing me into the crematorium chamber. It would make a great Christmas Card. 

I've had this old ad in my files for awhile now I can finally use it: (no, I'm not going to tell you where the punctuation is in that sentence, thank you.) I've no idea where it's from, but it does seem to have the right Brattleboro holiday spirit.

In yesterday's Reformer there was a picture accompanying a story about a crime wave on Flat street. The color printing was a bit off. Taken on a rainy day, it has that great noir quality that conjures up Bernard Herrmann and a milieu far removed from Brattleboro, well, between fogs and 100 year appearances anyway. Yet noir is perfect for Brattleboro, and vice and versa. So I scanned and monkeyed around with the pic a bit...

Down the street behind the photographer and around the corner one can find the New England Youth Theater, currently opening its production of A Christmas Carol. It is directed by a clown. Literally. In yesterday's paper, there was a promo write up of the show. Big orange letters in the black surrounding a kid in a suggestion of Victorian garb proclaims, "Occupy Scrooge".

Over at the Congregational Church, they already had their annual group sing in of Handel's Messiah. It doesn't get much press, it's one of those things that just is. It's very Brattleboro. Staged by a group of friends of music from nearby Guilford, the lead vocal performances go to semi and professionals. The rest of the oratorio is sung by whomever shows up. Bring your own score. And people do. I've always wanted to go, but I've either been working, couldn't raise admission (now by donation), or forgot it was happening. Here's a You Tube clip from last year, filmed via a cell phone in a most properly annoying arty Brattleboro 2010 fashion:

There's plenty of other Brattleboro seasonal celebrations, but it's getting late and I have to be at work at 6:45am Saturday. There's a few stories to tell from there, too. My favorite "you're lucky you're still living award" nomination so far went to a late middle aged bleached blond Pillsbury dough-ball guy at the register who struck up a conversation with the woman in line after him. He wouldn't stop talking long enough to pay attention to the fact that I'd rung his purchases and was attempting to get his attention and payment. The people in line after them were moving into post scrunchy face mode. He was the discussing something only he knew how to do properly, there is a trick after all to making a proper plum pudding, You have to - well, we shouldn't be discussing this in pub-lic... (tilt of head towards my humble self)...

To be continued....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A date on an almanc

Thirty one years?
It can't be.

Last night started a couple of days off from the site where I do the Birthday lists for an Almanac I started about 5 or 6 years ago, give or take. If I had the time, I'd start a new blog just for a (maybe) cleaned up version. Ricola, who stepped in along with his friend Todd4212  and took over the birthdays portion when I moved to Brookline a few years back, is filling in, bless him. I mention this in case he should stop by, so he'll know how much I really do appreciate this. The site where the list has been kept had some sort of storage crash back in October. The Birthday section had grown quite a bit over the years, every person mentioned had at least one picture. Several different people contributed regularly to it. Huge portions of the image library vanished overnight. I still have about 6 months of the original Almanac in my files, and Ricola and Todd's work on it is on a different server (a very wise move). The current owner of the site has been getting a good portion of the broken links fixed as he recovers the libraries. Even so, there were a number of days in November where I was finding and replacing close to 98 images a day. I could go on, but I won't. The thing I'm getting to is that the site  was originally started in the early days of the web by the late Marvin Jones, who was quite a character. Some years back, Marv was known for his Christmas Cards. I had one friend from my NYC days, Tom Toth, who used to send privately printed cards with Christmas scenes featuring his favorite actress Carole Lombard. I saved them all, but they are either in storage hell or maybe they're with everything else that has gone missing over the years. But he had nothing on Marv, who knew many of the early exploitation guys in Hollywood. The sample of his cards which follow were done years before computers and photoshop, and date to an era in which such imagery just wasn't done.

So, anyway, this morning I checked into the site to read the Almanac, where upon I had one of those unstuck in time moments. I see Laura over at Austanspace went on the journey, too.

It was 1980. I was living in a studio apartment in New York City's Greenwich Village. I have no idea if I was watching something on tv that night or if I just had it on. It was my habit to watch the 11pm news on the ABC o&o, Channel 7. There was a football game ending. Howard Cosell said something, What? WHAT? I think it was Rose Ann Scamardella who suddenly appeared  repeating the story as the intro into the news.

A minute or two later, the phone rang. "Who would be so crazy as to shoot John Lennon?" It was my best friend, Jerry Campbell. He was in Los Angeles directing a workshop rehearsal of a script in development called "Without Reservations". Someone has passed him a note, and he had briefly stopped the rehearsal to call. Jerry did not do such things. That's how big this was. ABC had a reporter outside the hospital. I shushed Jerry. They had just confirmed that John Lennon was dead.

So many people flocked to his home at the Dakota that the police closed the streets. I think the subway stop was closed, too. It wasn't even 11:15pm yet.

The next day I had an appointment a block away from the Dakota. I had to go three blocks out of my way and then double back just to get there.

Yoko, seeking a respite from the crowd, asked everyone to meet at Lennon's favorite spot in the park a few days later. There was to be no funeral, and instead of a memorial ceremony, she asked for Lennon's death to be mourned with 10 minutes of silence.

It was a Sunday afternoon. The picture on the tv faded to a picture of Lennon. Not just the channel I had on, but every channel. Every channel. Radio stations fell silent. No rock and roll. No country and western. Nothing. There was nothing. There was silence everywhere. Slowly, almost every radio and tv station in New York City began playing "Imagine".

Thirty one years.
So many of my friends from those days are gone.
And I still miss them, even though I got used to it.
The rest of my world has changed a few times since then, too.
I moved to Boston, and then later here to Brattleboro.
But I still remember.
And I'm not the only one.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fast away the old world passes

Christmas, always a mixed bag of emotions, has just gotten a little sadder. On Saturday night, I saw a news story on the 11pm news out of Burlington. The story was expanded upon on the Sunday news show. Santa's Land, an old school amusement park just up the road in Putney is closing for good. Again.

Developed, built, and opened in  1957 by WOR radio co-founder Jack Poppele (also from New Jersey), the place has been a family visit tradition for a few generations now.

It is just north of Putney on Route 5, which used to be a major highway. Times change. Insurance prices skyrocket. Gas for a day trip becomes prohibitive. I wish I still had a car. Not only would I rush up there to have my picture taken with Santa and see the place, but I'd take a cake or something else for a wake to the Wells family who restored and ran the place these last few years.

I remember when it was closed, overgrown with weeds, seedy. I loved it and wanted to get inside in the worst way. It would have made a great set for a horror film. I would have had a field day photographing it.

I was once in a car being driven by a friend on the south shore of Massachusetts, just a bit  before the where one would turn onto the Cape. I saw a tiny abandoned park out of the corner of my eye. My friend agreed to stop long enough for me to take a picture through the chain link fence surrounding the place.

Such scenes have a kind of grandeur all their own, mixed with a bit of sadness, and a bit of Killer Klowns from Outer Space weirdness. My favorite "motivational poster" also uses.... well, just look:

At any rate, it is no secret that I have a love for old amusement parks, and for abandoned buildings, remnants of a time gone by, that sort of thing. If anyone out there believes in special kindnesses to aging blogsters and wishes to know what I'd like for Christmas, well.... hint hint.  And don't forget lots of money to add things like a monorail - at least then I can count on Chris over at ibrattleboro purchasing a few tickets.

I've never been inside Santa's Land, so I poked around the web a bit and found this map/brochure kind of thing:

I come from a family of pack rats. It was a huge relief to me to discover this and know that I could blame my insanity on someone. It's because of this tendency that I am able to pull this out of my files: from the Brattleboro Reformer, a little good natured promo for the 2005 reopening of Santa's Land (I did try to fix the color fading & etc., and the first three scans should be clickable for enlarging ):

So let's lift one to Santa's Land. 
It's the kind of place that they just don't make anymore.

The last word, so to speak, belong (as it should) to the Poppeles.