Grew up as a child prodigy on the piano. At age 12 participated in a Carnegie Hall Annex recital, followed by an encore performance for an audience of one: Louis Armstrong. Former writer and editor for the Miami News, technology columnist for The Miami Herald, freelance journalist for the Bucks County Herald in Lahaska, Pennsylvania.
Twenty photos have been chosen for inclusion in the last installment of our cross-country travelogue. We have gone over them, cropped most and decreased their file size to fit the criteria necessary to upload them onto this site.
All that remains is for me to spin the narrative necessary to weave it all together. We should have it up and presentable within the next two days, maybe even tomorrow.
Check back here then to see what passed in front of our eyes. Alice’s photos are wonderful.
As I drove to meditation Sunday morning, I considered the carbon footprint being put into the atmosphere from the Ford Escape SUV that I was driving. And I asked myself, “What am I doing to personally lessen unhealthy carbon emissions I am responsible for emitting?”
As I pondered the question, I took stock of some sizable changes Alice and I are making. Two weeks ago, we downsized from a two-car family by selling the Chevrolet Cobalt I owned. Our imminent move near Portland, Oregon, will position us one mile from a light-rail station that will speed us into the city. Therefore, we will drive less and enjoy a healthy lifestyle more.
But, like Don Quixote, are we tilting at windmills?
Our day-to-day routines are predicated on automobile travel. Grocery stores have been built in strip shopping centers, far enough away from residential areas that a vehicle is required to patronize them. Box stores have grown bigger and bigger to become Super Stores. Sure, it’s convenient to find the staples we need under one roof, but what cost are we paying for the deteriorating air that we and our neighbors breathe?
Look around, and ask, “How can I and my family properly function if we toss the car keys away?” The answer – for most of us – is like a kneejerk response, “Not at all.”
Local municipal, state and federal planners are failing us. Functioning in today’s society requires a car, except in urban areas with rapid transit – and many of those cities harbor high-crime risks.
What’s worse, highway travel is encouraged in the media. Commercial television saturates its cable/satellite frequencies with car advertisements, one after another. Happy drivers flaunt shiny vehicles in light traffic with catchy music – hardly a dose of reality. And dare I mention the trucks flooding high-speed expressways with their choking contribution of carbon monoxide-laden exhaust?
As responsible citizens, we must hold our elected officials to a higher standard. We cannot continue this way, because the Earth is holding us accountable. Every time we turn on a car engine, we’re bequeathing future generations a disgusting legacy.
We need to stop this polluting lifestyle now.
To supplement this story, the 2006 poem “Road Rage” was added to my poetry page. Check it outhere.
The cost of a long-distance move, especially from eastern Pennsylvania to western Oregon, is daunting. Accordingly, I had to engage in some serious downsizing, and an emotional price is being paid.
The most difficult part was to take a vast 300-record library of rock classics and cull through it to keep only 50. What music would I throw away? What would I sell to a used-record outlet? And what will I keep?
Most of the choices were split-second gut decisions, and as I look at the thinned box of vinyl, I wonder which choices were correct. The prospect of moving to Oregon is certainly heart-thumping, but some of the “stuff” I discarded – to use the George Carlin euphemism – is already deeply missed.
Today I viewed a Chris Rock video that brilliantly bridges the gap between contrasting perspectives on the Ferguson police shooting of Michael Brown. Sometimes we need to get down to basics, and reveal bullying that is being carried out in uniform.
I find bullying abhorrent, especially by those whom we grant permission to use deadly force.
This morning, at the stroke of 9, seven people began meditating at Doylestown’s Pebble Hill Church, with Norm Danis.
Meditation ended at 9:45, enough time for an in-depth session. But only five people remained; a couple of first-timers had tip-toed out halfway through the session in order to make a phone call. (During meditation, isolating one’s self from outside contact, including electronic, is de rigueur. ) A former facilitator then left the circle before our customary three “OM’s” were chanted.
Breaking the circle is distracting and sends a confusing message. And I wonder: Why would a meditator turn her cellphone ON during a spiritual journey with fellow companions?
The world outside is not conditioned to respect thoughtful silence and peaceful meditation.
After writing and publishing my first book, Gulag to Rhapsody by Paul Tarko, life changed dramatically. I sold my ranch-style home near Biscayne Bay in Miami Shores, ended a marriage of 22 years and moved to Bucks County, a picturesque region of Pennsylvania.
Over the last eleven years, I succeeded in adding one more book project, Pickled Punks and Girlie Shows by Rick West. Although modestly successful, my contribution was limited to editing West’s manuscript and finding a reputable, reliable publisher to design, print and market the coffee-table-sized book. Not too shabby, though.
I spent a lot of time writing for a local newspaper, the Bucks County Herald. Although the free weekly paper’s demographics are enviable, its growing five-figure distribution does not compare with the mass-circulation readership I experienced in South Florida. So to survive, I supplemented my meager income by driving for several limousine companies.
Well, the old adage – life is what happens while you’re busy making plans – is now apparent. Four years ago, while chatting up two young honeys in a wine bar in Doylestown, a lean, towering force of a woman named Alice McCormick infused me with new beginnings, a healthy lifestyle and a rewarding partnership.
This year, Alice began the process of selling her spacious Doylestown two-story home, including pool, gazebo and Irish-bar-themed basement. With its disposition in sight, she is dragging me – willingly – to the outskirts of Portland, Oregon where we will set up stakes on September 20.
Oregon is an awesome, environmentally sensible state and also reputed to be 420-friendly. Preliminarily, I find a beckoning writing community throughout the Beaver State to be far more active and embracing than what Pennsylvania has to offer, but the cynical side of myself says to wait and see.
After an expected soft landing, I will report on what we find out there, including a report on our 3,000-mile trek across the country with our finicky tabby cat, Millie. Stay tuned!