Colorado Travelogue: Red Bank

I tagged along with Karen to a yoga studio in Denver on our vacation. On the mat next to Karen is a woman who lives in Connecticut, although she grew up in Red Bank, NJ.

Karen grew up in New Jersey and we lived in Tabernacle, NJ during our early years of marriage. We are stretching and sharing stories about the Jersey Shore. I have never heard of Red Bank, NJ.

Later, we walked along Broadway avenue to Illegal Pete’s for some mexican food. We strolled by a creaky weathered bookstore with a rack of $3 books and I picked up a thick regal-looking volume of “Edmund Wilson: a Life in Literature.

I read the synopsis inside the cover and put the book back on the sidewalk rack and went into Pete’s. After savoring a carnitas bowl and soft tortilla, we walked back down the sidewalk and I passed by the book rack, until my daughter Lauren said, “Aren’t you going to buy the book?”

I took the book inside, handed the clerk a twenty and she fumbled around trying to find seventeen bucks change. Apparently this isn’t a cash infused enterprise.

I opened the book and read the first two sentences.

“Born May 8, 1895, Edmund Wilson, Jr., was a shy boy, the only child of Edmund and Helen Mather Kimball Wilson. He grew up in Red Bank, New Jersey, thirty-some miles south of New York, near the ocean.”

I wondered if the Connecticut lady on the mat who grew up in Red Bank, knew any relatives of Edmund Wilson.

What made me pick up one book…only one book off that rack?

Life is full of wonder.

 

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55

Yesterday was Karen’s birthday. She is 55, but tells me her bones feel 65.

She looks 35. I’m a lucky man.

We went to the mall before dinner to check out Dillard’s 30% off of 50% sale where they price things really high then make you do complex math in your head to figure out the real price. After a while, I realize that I don’t need a pair of stylish Dior socks originally $20 but now $7 so I sit on a recliner in the middle of the mall and read 126 Happy Birthday wishes on Karen’s Facebook feed. This is obvious, but she has way more friends than me. Here is one of my favorites:

Happiest of birthdays to one of the best friends in my life. We may not see each other often, but when we do, we are just as goofy as we were in high school. Love you, Karen Mason Taylor!

Kim, you are spot on! She is goofy. Cute, but goofy.

We ate dinner at Laffa, described on the menu as Mediterranean & Middle Eastern. I asked our waitress what was different about the Israeli Cappuccino. She said, “It has a little whipped cream on top.” I replied, “OK, give me the Hot Green Lemon Ginger Honey Tea,” because whipped cream sounded Bavarian and I wanted something more Jewish and with a longer name.

We love the laffa which is a kind of bread. The menu says that laffa is named after the conical oven that is used to make it and that bread is thought of as a gift from God and only the hands should be used to break it because cutting it with a knife would be like raising a sword to God!  If some bread should fall to the ground, it is picked up and symbolically pressed to the lips & forehead as a sign of respect.

We tore Laffa bread with our bare hands and dipped it into West African Hummus-spicy, sweet potato & peanut hummus with a touch of coconut served with curried tehina, balsamic glaze & feta and Muhammara-roasted red pepper spread made with eggplant, walnuts, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic & spices.

There is even advice on the menu from a Jewish grandma which was apparently stolen by my grandma since my people are not as old as the Jewish peoples…(we are Upper Corner White Bread Okies…paternal grandparents northeastern Oklahoma and maternal grandparents northwestern Oklahoma panhandle):

“EAT! You’re skin and bones!”
– Every Jewish grandma’s catchphrase (Along with “take a sweater!”)

We dined with my brother Greg and his wife Jill. I always enjoy our conversations with Greg and Jill. They understand us. We talked about our children who are college age to 28 years old.

Karen is lower right if you need help

Isn’t it interesting how children believe their parents to be fools when they are of “a certain age” and then they pass through vintage moment(s), return to us, and want to hang out, ask for advice, laugh at our jokes (or at least not roll their eyes quite as dramatically)…and yet they are still our children, only smarter than us, better looking, and somehow poised and eloquent and we think it strangely odd?

Except for some moments when they revert to childhood bath hairdos. 

Before dinner, we parked near the Tulsa Performing Arts Center so after the 8:00 showing of the musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, we would have a short walk in the downtown cold and darkness. I brought a stocking cap for the walk from the restaurant to the PAC which any Jewish grandmother would have admired. I told Karen my hat gives me such warmth that I would be happy to sleep outside tonight if I had to. She said that I could still snuggle with her if I wanted which made me glad I married her.

You can never be too careful or plan too well. This is how you get when celebrating birthdays on the downslope of 100 years…as if it matters at this point.

Birthdays change along with us, marking our lives like pencil marks on a door jamb. Some have fat candles, others pin tails on donkeys. This one was fine wine in a vintage oak cask. It was good to stroll along a city street with my girl during the calm of a winter’s evening, basking in the warm glow of family and conversation and a lovely table of food.

Happy birthday my love!

Le Temps

Certain languages, including French and Bulgarian, have one word for both“time” and “weather.” The French is rendered Le Temps.

One of my treasured moments as a Dad combined weather, time, and beauty. I was sitting on a peak in Arkansas with my son on a Sunday morning singing while watching a thunderstorm roll in not from above but from our flank as it wrapped itself around the mountain and we were, for just a moment, spun into a vortex of time and weather that made my heart skip a beat. The weather became time and time became weather and God seemed very near.

My son taught me to look at the sky. My daughter constantly reminds me of the beauty all around. Brandon is a meteorologist. Lauren, a budding artist and designer. I read some excerpts from this book and thought of them.

Maira Kalman and writer Daniel Handler celebrate in Weather, Weather —  the idea of what I saw on that mountain with my son. I only wish I had taken a picture.

There is a picture in Weather, Weather, taken by Carl T. Gosset Jr./ The New York Times: “This Photo Was Made Just before 4 P.M. at Broadway and 43rd Street, Looking East across Times Square.” July 24, 1959 

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In this picture, time stands still for me even though it was 58 years ago. A man stands with a hand in his pocket looking down at the sidewalk oblivious to the torrent of rain as two women dressed vaguely like my mother dodge puddles and shrink against the elements as they run across a New York street.

I was born the day after this picture was taken. And yet it was only yesterday…

Here are some pictures from Weather, Weather by Maira Kalman and the writer Daniel Handler. Enjoy!

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Illustration by Maira Kalman, based on Hatsuo Ikeuchi’s Snowflakes, c. 1950

 

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László Moholy-Nagy: The Diving Board, 1931

 

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Illustration by Maira Kalman, based on Man Diving, Esztergom by André Kertész, 1917

 

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I was in my room wondering what it was like somewhere else.

What’s the weather like?

It’s like summer. It’s like doing nothing.

Delicious.

Illustration by Maira Kalman, based on Alfred Stieglitz’s Apples and Gable, Lake George, 1922

 

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The newspaper said it would be nice today.

What does the newspaper know.

International News Photo: “The Portent of Coming Disaster: A Tornado, Photographed as It Moved across the Sky toward White, S.D., by a Cameraman Who Was the Only Person Who Did Not Take Shelter in a Cyclone Cellar. None of the Buildings Shown in the Picture Was Damaged, as They Were Not in the Direct Path of the Tornado,” 1938 

 

 

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 Illustration by Maira Kalman, based on Barney Ingoglia’s photograph for the New York Times article “Rain Raises Fears of Flooding: Pedestrians in Times Square Wading through a Puddle as Heavy Rains Began Yesterday. The Rain Was Expected to Continue Today, Melting Much of the Snow and Causing Fears of Flooding,” January 25, 1978

 

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Clarence H. White: Drops of Rain, 1903

 

weatherweather_kalmanhandler14Illustration by Maira Kalman, based on Children Playing in Snow by John Vachon, 1940

 

weatherweather_kalmanhandler15Illustration by Maira Kalman, based on Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Alberto Giacometti Going Out for Breakfast, Paris, 1963

I can’t even say what it’s like. It’s perfect, the whole thing. Come with me, take me with you. Let’s go out together and have poached eggs.

Delicious.

 

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Valery Shchekoldin: Uliyanovsk, 1978

Toronto journal 4: King Lear and the Subterranean Underground

We are going to Hyde Park to see King Lear,” Brandon said. Turns out he said High Park. Which is where we sat, perched high on a hill overlooking the outdoor stage at High Park in north Toronto. My expectations were low but I did carry high expectations in a picnic bag, a sub sandwich giving a measure of hope for enjoyment during the evening performance.

Shakespeare is sometimes difficult to follow. Lots of humor missed but I noticed veterans of Shakespeare in the audience chuckling so it must be funny and I’m just slow to the meaning translating Queen’s English into a slow Okie drawl. The production was performed with members of York University’s Drama and Arts School. York is the University where my son is working on his Masters Thesis on Radar Differential Measurement or something meteorologically spatial.

Anyway, it’s the shape of stuff in the atmosphere before it hits us on the head. He has developed a certain expertise in radar and was recruited to York University by the noted Atmospheric Scientist, Dr. Peter Taylor.

We also met Brandon’s buddies in the program, ZQ, Tim, Kai, and Isaac. My evaluation of Brandon’s friends: they are easy-going and smarter than I am. We are eating at a sports bar and there are several televisions tuned to street motorcycle racing, the kind where the rider turns corners with the bike leaning over sideways and Isaac (17 years old) is asking how the bike makes the turn at such high-speed. Tim, the one the guys jokingly call the savant, is studying atmospheric pollutants and has just returned from the northern Canadian woods where he is downloading data from the atmosphere. Tim pulls out a plain paper notebook and begins to sketch a model of movement at speed describing centrifugal force with mathematics, a simple graph and pencil and paper.

I don’t understand the sketch and I want to snap a picture but don’t want to appear to be a hayseed and make a big deal out of what they take as a mundane mathematical explanation for a visual and visceral sport like motorcycle racing. I wonder if this happens everyday in their world.

We’ve enjoyed the food in Toronto. One can eat at any country in the world when in Toronto. Bahn Mi from Vietnam, Pork Shoulder sandwiches from Cuba, and of course the traditional Canadian meal of Poutine, fries, gravy, cheese curds, yummy.

We’ve had a wonderful trip! We drove through Michigan after crossing the Canadian border at Sarnia, about 30 miles north of Detroit. We listened to the Audiobook version of Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann while driving home. It literally wore me out, but it was fascinating. A lot of King Lear in Osage County back in the 1920’s, when the Osage Indians were the richest people per capita in the world and J.Paul Getty and Sinclair and Frank Phillips gathered under the Million Dollar Elm to bid on the Osage Indians’ subterranean kingdom.

The Osage built mansions and drove Cadillacs and succumbed to the foolishness of riches just like most of us do, and then one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The story is an indictment of the prejudice toward American Indians that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity. Utterly compelling, but also emotionally draining. The bad guys could just have easily been actors in a Shakespearean tragedy like King Lear…

rascals, eaters of broken meats; base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knaves; lily-livered, glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogues.

Bill Shakespeare could really talk some trash.

A few evenings back, we sat with Brandon and Liz watching some old home movies that I had sent off to Legacy Box. They converted our home movies in 8mm and VHS format films into digital which we accessed through wi-fi. We stumbled upon this: Brandon struggling to breathe his first breath. One of the nurses was a good friend, Maresha Scarsdale, and I handed her the video camera. He is purple. Brandon thinks he looks like a purple lizard. Oxygen hasn’t coursed through his body and made him pink yet. I’ve never watched this. I was there, yes, and I held him and marveled then. I’m tearing up again watching and remembering…Brandon is struggling to breath, gurgling cries, his airways still not clear…Ello Stephney, another nurse friend of ours is working on him, clearing out his mouth and nose, and he magically begins to glow pink…he isn’t a lizard, he is human.

“When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.” ― William Shakespeare, King Lear

We all cry before the blood fills our veins and oxygen brightens our countenance and we nestle in the warmth of human contact, and we determine that the fools and knaves and killers of the flower moon may share the stage, but they won’t rule the story.

Thanks for showing us around Toronto Brandon and Liz. You really put on a great show!

 

Why the SI swimsuit issue is in February 

Why is the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in February?

Sports journalism is boring in February, at least 52 years ago it was. So sports were fabricated in February. Barrel jumping on ice, demolition derbies, and…bikinis?

So 52 years ago, a bunch of men decided that bikinis were sport by proclamation.

My brothers and I grew up loving Sports Illustrated. The Swimsuit issue became a moral curve ball that buckled our knees. Even though it wasn’t sport we were given tacit societal permission, in the name of red-blooded male dominated locker room culture, to leer at mostly naked women. Two years ago my brother Greg said, “Let’s write a letter to SI.”

It was our penance for marginalizing and objectifying women under the thinly veiled guise of consuming a sports magazine that sold it’s soul one week each February.

Greg wrote the letter and I edited and approved it and we sent it on the 50th anniversary of the Swimsuit issue. (We never got a response)

An Open Letter to Sports Illustrated

As a kid coming of age in the 1970’s, I eagerly awaited each issue of Sports Illustrated. Through that window of writing and images I understood the thoughtful and magical side of the world of sport that otherwise, would be limited to an occasional weekend game on television. That sophistication and intelligence applied to sport helped shape my worldview and I’m thankful for that childhood experience. Thank you.
Over the past five decades, I have appreciated stories by writers — to name a few more recent — Gary Smith, Tom Verducci, and Rick Reilly that explore the heart and soul of humanity, struggle, triumph, family, beliefs, all in the context of sports. This is what you do best.

I didn’t get the swimsuit issue opted out this year, so when it arrived in the mail, my wife, my ninth grade son, and I decided to throw it away without looking at it. This moral drama has been replayed in countless homes since Babette March graced the cover of SI in 1964. Perhaps it’s a teachable moment, but I wonder why those moments have to be annually justified with pleas of beauty and sport, at the expense of the dignity of young women sacrificed on the altars of skin-deep imagination.

The only regret I have over what is published in your pages leaves me in an awkward position of explaining the validity of evocative nearly naked women posing for no good reason other than they inhabit fabulous bodies and they are paid well. I struggle to justify this to my 9th grade son, my wife and my daughters…not to mention my Mom back in the 70s, as she presented my SI swimsuit issue sans front cover and models removed. I suppose there are similar conversations of confliction in homes around the world.

Has there been serious conversation at Sports Illustrated about the conflicting values presented 51 weeks of the year and the one week of the swimsuit issue? Have you given your two hundred staffers an anonymous poll to find out if the swimsuit issue conflicts with their religious and human values, whether Jewish, Humanist, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, or other? I know you understand a certain minority of readers object to the swimsuit issue, because you’ve allowed us to opt out, and I appreciate that. I also understand, from a letter dating back to 1960 [thank you for the SI Vault!] by Sidney L. James, that sportswear, including the bikini, is sport, and that’s your call.

I confess that I have willingly seen a few past issues of the swimsuit issue over the decades I’ve been a subscriber. But I’ve found that my looking at the issue does not promote a good relationship with my wife, and seems to be counter to the teaching of Jesus that says to look on a woman with lust is tantamount to adultery, so Jesus exhorts us to love and appreciate the beauty of God’s created males and females but not to exploit another human for money, sexual pleasure, and power.

The crux of the matter is that it would be beautiful to read the magazine or web site and not have the swimsuit issue promos constantly put before me as a temptation to defy the teaching of my Lord and the wishes of my wife, and the hopes of my son that I truly love his mother enough to honor her and not look at women in bikinis young enough to be his sisters.

I suppose I could just move to another medium, because I know I have choices, but Sports Illustrated has been a great magazine for many years, and I truly want to remain a reader. But couldn’t you also move the swimsuit issue off the regular site and subscription?

Those who find the magazine offensive to values are as diverse as Muslims, feminists, homosexuals, atheists, Hindu, Jewish. We are not merely a prudish minority of Christian evangelicals who dishonestly sound off about pornography and secretly sin in worse ways. We’re trying to live out our faith and respectfully joining others who share human and religious values to join us in creating a better society.

I’ve tried to convey honestly, transparently, and fairly what one reader thinks. My request is that you poll your employees and editorial board for their opinion about how the swimsuit issue conflicts or matches their values? Then I trust that you’ll act according to the values of the organization.

My hope is that you are not imposing corporate policy and subscription values over the beliefs and values of your employees and readers, men and women, young and old, who annually wrestle with a plain contradiction of their beliefs about human dignity and morality, diminishing an otherwise respected publication that celebrates the triumph of the human spirit through sport and competition.

Greg R. Taylor

An Artist is Never Poor

Mushroom consomme’ with asparagus dumpling, watermelon radish, baby greens and chili oil…Spring pea & Carrot Salad with shaved rainbow carrot, pickled cucumber, hijiki seaweed, Parmesan, nori cashews & orange-mustard vinaigrette…Alaskan Day Boat Halibut with Chanterelle mushroom, fava beans, cherry tomatoes, quinoa tabbouleh, cinnamon, ginger beer gastrique & smoked fumet…Espresso alongside dessert of whipped chocolate ganache, almond brownie, orange caramel & vanilla.

IMG_1520That was my favorite meal from a recent vacation with Bob and Sheila Martin, Beck and Lauren Martin, and my wife, at a restaurant that is 100% powered by wind energy, called Root Down. So yes, it’s a trendy chic hippy-dippy Denver hot spot, but after paying the check, I thought about a couple of wonderful lines from Babette’s Feast, a short story by Isak Dinesen, who also wrote  the book Out of Africa, “I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills.”

IMG_1570The waiter asked if we wanted dessert, I said give us the first four listed at the top of the menu. There is a fine line between gluttonous indulgence and eating sensibly. It was such a memorable meal partly because I had to check my credit card balance after paying because it was, well, a lot. But not 10,000 francs like in the story Babette’s Feast.

So I thought about how those who share great food and friendship are never poor even if they have nothing else, and of two great quotes from Babette’s Feast.

The first great quote is a toast after the feast prepared by Babette. General Lorens Löwenhielm, now an old Swedish cavalry officer and once a young dashing suitor of Martine, the object of his unrequited love, is now famous and married into royalty. As the various never-before-seen meal ingredients arrive from Paris and preparations commence, the pious sisters, Martine and Phillipa, begin to worry that the meal will become a sin of sensual luxury, if not some form of devilry.

In a hasty conference, the sisters and the congregation agree to eat the meal, but to forego speaking of any pleasure in it, and to make no mention of the food during the dinner. It’s comical to watch the congregants attempt to not enjoy something truly remarkable as it overwhelms them. As a man of the world and former attaché in Paris, Lorens is the only person at the table qualified to comment on the meal. He regales the guests with abundant information about the extraordinary food and drink, comparing it to a meal he enjoyed years earlier at the famous “Café Anglais” in Paris.

Although the other celebrants refuse to comment on the earthly pleasures of their meal, Babette’s gift breaks down their distrust and superstitions, elevating them physically and spiritually. Old wrongs are forgotten, ancient loves are rekindled, and a mystical redemption of the human spirit settles over the table.

“There comes a time when our eyes are opened and we come to realize that mercy is infinite. We need only await it with confidence and receive it with gratitude. Mercy imposes no conditions. And lo! Everything we have chosen has been granted to us. And everything we rejected has also been granted. Yes, we even get back what we rejected. For mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another.”

Denver Martin Taylor Vacation 2016

After this once-in-a-lifetime meal, the sisters assume that Babette will now return to Paris. However, when she tells them that all of her money is gone and that she is not going anywhere, the sisters are aghast. Babette then reveals that she was formerly the head chef of the Café Anglais, and tells them that dinner for 12 there has a price of 10,000 francs.

 

Martine tearfully says, “Now you will be poor the rest of your life”, to which Babette replies, (this is the second great quote)

“An artist is never poor.”

Philippa then says: “But this is not the end, Babette.. In Paradise you will be the great artist God meant you to be” and then embraces her with tears in her eyes saying: “Oh, how you will enchant the angels!”, which is how the story ends as well as the movie which was made in 1987.

Here’s a clip of the General’s Speech from this incredibly simple but remarkable movie…but don’t watch it hungry!

 

The Cruise of the Rolling Junk

I was ready to say, “One Provolone With”, which means give me one Pat’s cheesesteak with provolone cheese and fried onions. But I choked.

Since the lines at Pat’s King of Steak often stretch out onto Passyunk Avenue, you have to order quickly or risk the disdain of the cashier, not to mention the withering stares of South Philly cheese steak veterans who order with the swagger of Peyton Manning calling an audible while shouting “Omaha.”

Pats-HowOrder

“I guess I’ll have a…umm…a cheese steak. Oh, and provolone cheese with it also. And I forgot the onions, can you do those fried? I like them fried. I really hate cheese whiz, glad you have the provolone. Ya know, I’m from Oklahoma. We have license plates on the front of our vehicles that say, “Eat more beef…it’s what’s for dinner…or something like that, I can’t quite remember how that goes, but it’s really catchy and steak-like…”

pats-cheesesteaks pic

And then I noticed a guy who looked like Salvatore Tessio in The Godfather (Abe Vigoda of Barney Miller fame). He was staring at me with a steak spatula leveled in his right hand as cheese and beef painted his white apron in Philadelphia earth tones. I threw a twenty-dollar bill on the counter and slid down the sidewalk outside the order window. “Keep the change,” I mumbled, which was a 100% tip, but you are more grateful when you have felt the death stare of the steak man and lived to tell the story.

Karen and I love to eat when we travel and our rule is simple. If we can get it back home, we are not eating there. I went to the doctor recently and my cholesterol was 208 and I’m sure it was from the cheese steak I had in Philly. That’s why we only travel occasionally because the cheese steaks, lobster rolls, and cannoli kill me faster than going for a drive in the New York countryside with Rocco and Clemenza (Clemenza stops to take a leak and Paulie gets three bullets to the back of the head and all Clemenza can think of is the cannoli…”leave the gun, take the cannoli”).

Eating makes me happy, which also makes eating dangerous. If it really tastes good, I make soft but audible yummy noises, while Karen likes to sing and dance, which makes me sometimes uncomfortable in fancy restaurants. We are all different, and just like we have geographical linguistic differences, we have geographical food differences.

While a student in the foothills of the Ozarks at Harding University, Karen tried to order cream of wheat and the lady in the hairnet corrected her. “Honey, dem is grits.” Grits are well named. They are terrible unless smothered with cream and butter and gravy (and perhaps a little Cheese Whiz).

I was reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, “The Cruise of the Rolling Junk” recently and a passage reminded me of regional food differences when Fitzgerald writes of his wife singing about biscuits.

F Scott Fitzgerald the cruise of the rolling junk

“Zelda was up. This was obvious, for in a moment she came into my room singing aloud. Now when Zelda sings soft I like to listen, but when she sings loud I sing loud too in self-protection. So we began to sing a song about biscuits. The song related how down in Alabama all the good people ate biscuits for breakfast, which made them very beautiful and pleasant and happy, while up in Connecticut all the people ate bacon and eggs and toast, which made them very cross and bored and miserable–especially if they happened to have been brought up on biscuits.”    F. Scott Fitzgerald   The Cruise of the Rolling Junk

Zelda was from Alabama and Scott from the North. I’m an Okie and Karen was raised in New Jersey. Although Karen and I are thirty years happily married, we are not soul mates. At least not in the usual way of knowing what the other is thinking and finishing sentences for each other. But there are moments when we are the same spiritual soul.

Like Zelda and Scott, we travel for biscuits and cheese steaks, but also to hear music. Music takes us places. And if it’s Saturday, we time travel using Sirius satellite radio with an assist from Casey Kasem and replays of his American Top 40. Now, you can Google the top-selling song in the land, but in the Seventies, a gradual building of anticipation developed in living rooms, cars, and bowling alleys, from 40 down to 1. And if you had an FM radio, you had cutting-edge technology, although I preferred the AM crackle which seemed more urgent and authentic to me like Walter Cronkite was more believable than Dan Rather.

Now Karen and I try to eat well, by leaving the gun and the cannoli behind. We shop for groceries together, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, local farmer’s markets, and try to make up for all that cheese steak, tiramisu, and fettucine alfredo from the Seventies. It seems like the food is getting better these days, healthier, less added stuff, but the music, ah the music. The music from our formative days will always be our music. Springsteen, Eagles, JT, Three Dog Night, Stevie Wonder, Boston, Billie Joel, and yes Karen, even Barry Manilow.

That music was heavy, like our food, full of saturated fat and sugar, sentiment by the glow of the dashboard radio. I’m glad I only have to listen to Casey Kasem while traveling on Saturdays, and that we only eat cheesesteaks when we are in NJ or Philly. Otherwise, it would be too much, like eating dessert for breakfast and pancakes for dinner.

But it’s good for the soul to stroll up to a Pat’s King of Steak every now and then and say, “One provolone with,” and know that you ordered well and that the spatula wasn’t pointed at you and you can glance back at your linemates and nod in acknowledgement that you did your job well. Because after ordering well, all that’s left is to sit down and sink your mouth into the wonder. To eat in another world across cultural differences, like the time we enjoyed Indie food in Wittenberg, Germany, or Johnson’s Caramel Popcorn on the boardwalk in Ocean City, or Bar-B-Que at Fat Belly’s in White Springs, Florida.Ralph Fat Bellys

We travel a lot like Zelda and F. Scott. We are the Cruise of the Rolling Junk. And we travel backwards on Saturday with Casey Kasem. We travel back to days when our hearts were full and our arteries were clear and the number one song could only be found on the radio. It makes me hungry thinking about it, our next road trip. Think we’ll head out on a Saturday. Until then, we’ll be happy with keeping our feet on the ground, and reaching for the health food stars.