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“Hey Mr. Tamborine man, play a song for me

April 27, 2012

I’ve been hounding people to get me their old photos and memorabilia about the Art Bridge era (late 1960s to the Loma Prieta Quake) and everyone tells me they will get it together and show me some really good pictures, but, you know what? I have gotten just about zip and zero from all the well intentioned, amatuer historians in Town. So, I’ve got a new approach to this: I’m going to camp out at the renewed Mountain Charley’s Saloon every Tuesday afternoon and sip Joe Farwell’s $3 beers (a 24 oz. Pabst or a smaller Coors light on tap) and a good variety of other great beers and cocktails also selling for a very cut rate, but not all are $3.

I will have a flat bed scanner handy so you bring the pics, I’ll scan them right there on the spot and you can take them back home just after you finish your beer or whatever. Now, what could be easier?

And since we are going to be taking over the Saloon for the afternoon, why not expand our horizons? The semi-retired blue grass and country rock officianados could bring their instruments around and we could have some mild jamming taking place. Let’s kick it around.

Hell, the scantily dressed bartendress’ are worth a gander just on their own.

So, on Tuesday, be there or be square, and maybe you might bring a of bag or chips or nuts or celery sticks to share and we could have a real cocktail hour. All in the name of great, old art, music and appreciation of the beautiful.

C’mon guys, let’s get this show on the road. At least show up to do some girl watching and check out the new bar. It is very, very cool.

See you Tuesday,

p.s.: a blast from the past (1974 newspaper ad):


  When I had finally worked with Bell Labs for more than six months, I could feel pretty confident my newly formed computer consultancy was going to maintain itself for more than another six months. Now I decided to get myself a dog. I hadn’t had a dog since I’d moved from my parent’s place. I promised myself I wouldn’t get another pet until I could truly afford it and I lived in a place where this pet wouldn’t have to live the pathetic, cramped life of a suburban pet, in no more than a tiny back yard. Now that I was living adjacent to a large, open parkland that had its own free running herd of deer, I figured, it couldn’t get any better than this; a house next to a meadow in the woods?
The last dog I had was a wonderful little mutt that we got before I entered kindergarten. She was basically golden brown with big white splotches here and there. She never weighed more than 25 pounds. We got her at the Santa Clara County County pound when it brand new. Unfortunately, because I was just past four years old when we adopted the dog, my mom got to name the new pet and, of course, she picked the least macho name imaginable; Trixie. I called her Trix. It didn’t take that many months for Trix to show off her breeding; she was a natural born pointer. If there was a bustle in a hedge or a fast, high break from a cluster of weeds into the clear sky, Trix would stiffen up, raise a front paw and straighten her tail and follow her quarry with her nose like a sharpshooter with a ‘scope. Every few years of her life, some local farmer would offer me a fairly substantial sum to take her off my hands, but no way, Trix was my partner. We were inseparable except when she’d join a local two or three day rabbit run with the spontaneous pack of local dogs that sometimes joined together for some unknown reason.
Trixie was the quintessential farm dog and was respected by all. In my early 20s, my new wife and I moved up to the Vancouver area of British Columbia to explore potential new homelands. My mom called us and asked for permission to put Trix down. She was blind, her back legs didn’t work and she wasn’t eating. “Of course,” I said, “Don’t make her suffer.” That was the last we ever spoke of it.

Years later, living in the house on the meadow, I decided I was finally ready to take on a new partner. In those days, one of my employees was an old friend who was the same age as my mom and, she was an animal nut. She belonged to several local animal rescue outfits and was always rescuing some poor soul or another. Her name was Jeanne and the problem with Jeanne was that she wasn’t any sort of a gentle, feminine, meek girlish waif. She was more stubborn than me, she had more brass than a door knob and having been the manager of a bunch of dispatchers in the Los Angeles Police Department just after World War II, she was someone who wouldn’t take no for an answer. All I had to do was mention that I was considering getting a dog and every day afterward Jeanne would bring four or five of her strays over to my house. She drove me nuts.
It took a couple of weeks for Jeanne to respect the fact that I would only adopt a really young pup. I didn’t want to inherit a bunch of someone elses issues. I wanted to start from scratch with just my own issues. Finally she quit bringing every gnarly stray that wandered into the town limits over to my house. Then, plo! one day this tiny, little fur ball is scampering all around my desk. Good God, now I had a dog, that was clear. The girls were all huddled at the back end of my office corner telling me how cute the little thing was. That’s when I knew I had no say at all in the matter. The fur ball had a black saddle with white to gray from the snout down through the belly with a white tipped tail. The damn thing was, he was always smiling. It was kind of hard not to succumb to him. Within a few hours I was calling him Jethro, later he became simply “the Jet.”
Following in my mom’s footsteps, I trained Jet in the basics of discipline; sit, stay, come, stop. The basics, our family wasn’t into the fancy stuff but we insisted on the basics. I was very strict with Jet, he was turning into a big boy and I wanted to be the alpha-male before he started questioning that position. However, I added one thing to Jet’s cirrriculum that my 1950s mom never taught our female farm mutt; “fetch.” I got him to fetch so well that he’d chase anything that flew out of my hand, even over-filled water balloons. And he learned so well that often he bring me the gingerly caught water balloons intact, to explode in my face when he bit down with distinct intention.

Living on the meadow gave Jet free reign and as big as he got, he was always trim and lively. He and the herd of deer had a friendly chase routine that they would practice every couple of mornings. Jet taught himself to sort of “spronk” up high on all four to get himself high enough over the tall grass to watch the deer change direction. And he still liked to fetch. He wasn’t quite six months old and he still had a lot of puppy in him.
There was no front yard at this house. As you drove out of the woods, the driveway widened into a big, oval turnaround. On side was the house and its funky old car ports, on the other side was the meadow, dropping down from edge of the turnaround. We could park about ten cars on the oval. I had my Porsche 928 in one carport, a dune buggy in another and my 1970 Chevy pickup, Gray and a VW bus were parked under a tree. When Jethro was in the mood to fetch, I would stand on the far edge of the oval and lob a stick or a Frisbee out into the meadow. It was great exercise for the dog and a peaceful, lazy diversion for me; the furthest thing from computer science.
One day I came up with a rather obnoxious variation on the fetch routine. There was a long pile of cord wood to the right of the front door. Some of the wood was old and rotted, some was actually quite fresh. Instead of looking for odd sticks under trees, I started using some of the rotted and dry cord wood as “fetch sticks.” The unused fire wood was a simple, close-by source of diversion for the dog. But I had to take it to the extreme. I decided to start tasking the young genius dog. I began using the fresher wood, not that old, super light stuff. It began with lobbing small diameter pieces of the cord wood out into the meadow. The strong dog would bring it back to me and drop it at my feet, still with a big smile on his face. I took this as a dare. I would use bigger and bigger diameter logs until it got to the point where I wasn’t throwing them out into the meadow but I rolled them down the hill at the edge of the oval and they would roll and tumble their way down into the meadow. As these new entities came trundling down, the Jet was a little confused at first but he finally devised a way to chase these things from the side and by biting them and using his claws, he’d stop the rolling logs and then he’d open wide and get a good hold into the bark of the wood. He’d lift the heavy log as high as he could then deliver it at my feet, always with a smile.
Well, of course, I had to take this to its next extreme, I used heavier and heavier logs until the poor guy just couldn’t stop the really big rolling logs and he’d chase them all the way down the meadow to where a dirt road crossed the meadow’s lowest end. On Saturday mornings I’d take my pickup down the dirt road, load the logs he couldn’t stop and return them to the woodpile. When friends came over, we’d badger the dog and set him to work chasing the rolling logs until he was exhausted. We would just be in stitches because the Jet just refused to give in, and his tongue would hang long as he panted and wheezed from our torturous dares; could he get hold of this one or not?

I had hired the most reputable accounting firm I could find to manage my finances and a junior partner would come out once a month to review the books. When he came over, he always had to spend fifteen minutes or a half an hour rolling the logs for Jet. We drank beer, rolled up our sleeves and laughed a lot as we over worked that poor animal.

However, he WAS the genius dog. As he approached his first birthday, the accountant came by one month and after checking out the books, he rolled up his sleeves, loosened his tie and walked to the edge of the oval with a very substantial log from the wood pile, the dog already out there, napping. Jethro got up as the junior partner approached. The log went rolling down the hill but this time, the more mature and more wise Jethro sat his butt down on the pavement. He rolled his eyes from the accountant and then over to me, “Give me a break!” is all he said, rolling his eyes roundabout one more time. “You’ve never even given me a Milk Bone when I try to help you guys with those stupid things. Besides, they make my teeth hurt. Screw this!”

That was the end of that game.




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