UNDERGROUND

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I recently visited London and Paris. I had long dreamed of vising these places as they have lived in my imagination for years from reading books. Using the subway systems of Philadelphia and New York City, primed me for the London Underground and the Parisian Metro system.

On one of my many excursions around London, I descended the steps into the underground, and encountered a smiling, red-faced uniformed attendant.

“Hello!” I said.

“Hello!” he returned.

I inquired about the best route to get to my destination.

“Take the Circle Line to Baker Street, transfer to the Jubilee Line. Get off at Southwark and it is only a short walk to the Globe.”

“Thank you!”

“Cheers!”

This was typical of my experience in the London Underground— easy to navigate with friendly attendants and patrons who were willing to answer your questions.

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In Paris, perhaps the incongruity of being in a strange land made my existence there somehow congruent. I felt at home at last. Once I arrived in Paris, I approached a Parisian Metro booth and spoke to one of the attendants.

“Parlez-vous anglais?”

“Un peu.”

Although I did not speak the language, I was able to communicate well enough to find my way, with a few words and hand gestures.

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On one of my last days in the city, I was sitting outside, having a glass of red wine at the Café de Flore on Boulevard Saint Germaine. A Frenchman who took the table next to mine, lit up a cigar and then glanced in my direction to ask if I was offended by the cigar smoke.

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“Oh, no,” I said, “I understand that people who sit outside often smoke and I am not offended.”

He nodded and smiled. He took a couple of puffs off his cigar and we began talking, he in perfect English. We talked for a long time about a wide range of events including the recent terrorist attacks. I mentioned the increased security around the metro. He shared that he had just talked to his daughter who lives in the neighbourhood where the attacks occurred and she felt safe using the Metro System.

“Yes,” he cautioned, “but the police and soldiers cannot be everywhere. You have to be vigilant. In effect, we have to be responsible for our own security.”

As we were sitting there, we watched many police vehicles driving by with their sirens blaring.

“Something’s going on,” he said.

Then he pointed out that if a car were to pull up in front of us right now and gunmen got out and started shooting, what could we do about it? Nothing! He was right of course. So I concluded that the French are a little fatalistic about such things.

C’est la vie?

I travelled to London and Paris by myself because I needed to be alone. I needed time to think about my life and my absurd existence with only myself for company as I walked the cobblestone streets of Montmartre. The encounters that I did have gave me reason to believe in the possibility of happiness and the hope for humanity. I found in both London and Paris, a big smile and a hello or bonjour broke down the normal barriers humans seem to erect between themselves. You can be anonymous, but by using the universal language of a smile followed by a greeting you can still be touched by the human heart.

 

 

 

THIRD STREET DIVE BAR

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Third Street Dive Bar is located in the heart of beautiful downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Kentucky, as we know from previous entries, is the land of beautiful horses and fast women. But if you are fast enough, you can catch them! Louisville is full of dive bars and all manner of other drinking establishments. It is also known, as of late, for its bourbon tours. Tonight I visited the Third Street Dive Bar for the very first time. I wasn’t disappointed.  It is a music venue but it was early when we arrived so no band was playing at the time.

My friend Dan and I sidled up to the bar and ordered drinks. The prices were right and they had plenty of specials. Don’t go with the well bourbon, though, because it is worse than rot gut. I switched to Beam and that was much better. I like my bourbon on the rocks with a splash of branch water. If you don’t have any branches any kind of water will do. But please, just a splash.

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There were a couple of ladies at the bar to our left and of course Dan had to chat them up. He tried to talk them into joining us at another bar down the street about six minutes away. They demurred. It was just as well as they were both married and from Toledo and I don’t know what’s worse. They were here on convention and staying at the Hyatt.

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I loved the decor of the Third Street Dive Bar. There was plenty of neon signs and graffiti on the walls, especially in the bathrooms. The back room had a pool table with a red velvet top that looked rather inviting.

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We finished our drinks and went down to Meta. Meta is a cool hipster bar with a story all its own. We had a few drinks and struck up some conversation with some of the local hipsters then came on back to Third Street. By the time we got back a band was playing and another one was setting up. The place was starting to fill up with some pretty wild looking characters. So far so good. My friend Dan is a blues guitarist and singer. He talked a member of the band into letting him play with them. Dan did a rousing version of Jimmy Hendrix’s Along the Watch Tower. The crowd loved it!

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We left shortly after that. All in all had a pretty good time.

Third Street Dive Bar, 442 South 3rd, Louisville, Kentucky

 

 

CLOWN SIGHTINGS

 

dscn2348Jokers to the right of me, clowns to the left. You know there have been a lot of clown sightings lately. Did anyone stop and think that this might because we are in the Halloween Season, the October Country, and the Silly Season? You know why cannibals won’t eat clowns? Taste funny….just saying.

OF SPIDERS AND WEBS

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What is it about spider webs? You will be walking along the trail in the deep dark woods and on a sudden a web will strike you across the face or on your bare arms.

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Your startle response kicks into high gear. Why is that?

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Could it be because deep down on a cellular level you know where there’s spider webs there be spiders?

 

Snake Story

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Snake in my path

I met this guy a while back while taking a walk in the wild, wild woods. He looked  little poorly so I took him home to nurse him back to health. He gradually got better and one night after he was fully recovered we were sitting by the fire and he slithered over to me and bit me on the ankle.

“Why’d you do that?” I cried as I lay dying.

“You knew I was a snake when you brought me home, now didn’t you?”

The moral of the story is a snake is a snake and will always act like a snake and do the things that snakes do no matter what you say or do. Be careful this fall on election day not to vote for no snakes, especially orange headed vipers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philly PD

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When I moved back to Kentucky a few years ago I got into the car business for a while to make some quick easy money. I did this for a few years with a little time off to do some teaching in the Jefferson County School System.

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One day while I was at the car lot a customer came in and said he wanted to take a look at that Land Rover we had on our lot. I said sure and proceeded to show it to him. During the course of our conversation I noticed a medallion hanging around his neck from a gold chain. I recognized the symbols on the medallion and I asked the man, “Say, were you ever a Philadelphia Police Officer?”  “Why, yes,” he answered, “But I retired from the force to move down here.”

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“Oh, I see. Well, I lived in Philly for 18 years and I recognized the medallion. What made you decide to move to Kentucky?”

“The cost of living is much cheaper here,” he answered. Which is true. “And I got a job teaching kids with learning disabilities here in Louisville. It’s an easy $50,000 a year. You should give it a try.”

“I just might,” I answered. Little did he know he was the inspiration for my short lived career as a teacher.

As we got to know each other a little better during the demonstration process he let me know that he also did a couple of tours in Iraq.

“Wow!” I said. “Let me ask you, I just have to know, what was more dangerous, Philly or Iraq?”

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Without an instant’s hesitation he said Philly. I smiled because I was pretty sure I knew the answer to the question. I thanked him for his service. I didn’t sell him the car, but I got a good story out of the deal.