Essays: On The Road And A Little Off

Sign Panama's Guestbook

More essays
at KindaMuzik:

Panama and the Live Sex Show

Soulful Trip Revealed:
Panama Red Plays Roosendaal

Welcome to Amsterdam, Buffy



(scroll down please)

Nashville, TN August 3, 2003 - -
I've been fascinated with the idea of France for a long time. Ever since Mrs LeMaster's seventh grade French class and my first French kiss. For a while there recently, though, we were all eating Freedom Fries, at least in the US Senate. C'est la guerre, ne c'est pas?

Having heard that the French are very resistant to speaking English, developing as they have their own word for the universal "e-mail" (la courielle, which is a made-up French word that means, in French, "e-mail"), I've been over at the library here in La Vergne, TN, honing my conversational French skills with the library Babes back in the stacks. And they've been very helpful. So far I can definitely tell any Frenchman who wants to know exactly where is the pen of my aunt. On the table.

Sadly, though, I have not been able to come up with a workable translation of the one conversational phrase every American needs to know when going anywhere abroad. That phrase is, of course, "You don't know squat. Let me tell you something..."

There are questions to which I hope to learn the answers. I'll be performing in France during most of August, a month when most Frenchmen traditionally are on holiday, and therefore presumably somewhere else. Where do they go? In my mind's eye I can see tumbleweeds blowing silently across a deserted Normandy while all the Normans are hanging out on the Cote d'Azur. One of my correspondents has pointed out that France without the French might conceivably be regarded as paradise, however.

Thanks to the grace of an anthropologist friend in Paris, on our nights off Rob "The Doc" Dokter and I will have a place to stay in the City not far from the Left Bank. Or maybe the Right Bank. It would depend on which way one were facing, I suppose. I guess I'll find out when I get there. Anyway, not far from the Seine, at any rate. And the Louvre, of course. I'll take a bye on the Mona Lisa, but I do want to see "A Starry Night", mostly because I've long been called "the van Gogh of the guitar".
That is, no ear.

One of the things I've noticed lately while watching CNN and Fox is that the ranks of the military expert talking heads have been steadily going down. Early on in Desert W. Storm, all you saw were full generals. Then the guys with one star started showing up. Then colonels. Then lieutenant colonels. Majors. Yesterday I saw a lowly captain. One of the things I hope to accomplish in my three weeks in France is to become an expert on that country, so that, if the current trend toward lower-ranking experts continues, I can get the occasional emolument for rendering my military opinion on all things French. Mostly I just want to see my name and rank under my video image: "Panama Red, PFC, US Army (ret)". What the hey.

The past week has been pretty bittersweet around the Phoenix, our old bus, as Patty and I gear up for an extended separation. However, duty calls, I chose this life and am blessed to live it, there are too many people involved to let them down now, yadda yadda.

So tomorrow, August 4th, I will swear off cigarettes for fourteen hours or so, go to Briley International (yeah, right) Airport in Gnashville and be frisked by a security guard who is not only a felon but who converted to Islam while in the slammer.

But I will do all of this for you, dear browser, out of a sense of journalistic duty.

Because I know that there is one question that has been nagging you all your life. Is there really a place in France where the women wear no pants?

I'll keep you posted.

Zwollechem, NL, August 6, 2003

Okay, so there is no Zwollechem in the Netherlands, but if I mention the actual name of the little Dutch city where I am hanging out with my friend and webdude Riny, people might start coming here and then it'd be ruined. You'll understand, I'm sure.

Rob "the Doc" Dokter and I are using Riny's place as a staging area for
our upcoming invasion of France, which will begin after sundown tonight,
when the blistering Saharan heat currently blanketing Europe has abated
somewhat. People are falling over left and right here from it. Paris,
according my friend Michael, is currently at 39 Celsius. That's 103 in
the shade, hoss. Doc himself had a couple of episodes of heatstroke on
his way home from his girlfriend's in Czechland. The reasons for the
absolute lack of fluids in his body I will leave to the reader's

Anyway. I will, in a couple of hours, put my grubby driving shorts on so
that Big Steve and the twins can breathe free, and head into the unknown
wilds of France. Our first gig is tomorrow night, way over on the left
coast of France, and we're determined to drive through the cooler part of the evening, and not rest until we're past Paris.

This is not what I had in mind, driving through France at night, but I
also didn't plan to drive through France in a sauna, either. I suppose
that when people ask, " was France, Panama?" I'll have to answer
"Dark. Very very dark."

Paris, Friday, August 8, 2003

The Doc and I began our invasion of France Wednesday night, leaving Riny’s at precisely about 20 hundred hours, or 8pm for you civilians out there. In a bold move designed to confuse the Belgians, through whose midst we had to pass in order to circumvent the Maginot Line, we staged a direct assault on Brussels but cleverly concealed our true intentions by pretending to get completely turned around and nearly all the way back to Holland before thrusting deep into French territory near Dunkirk.

To mask our assault from the watchful Surètè I also drove three times around the perimeter highway of Caen before waking Doc to get me back on the road to Rennes.

On through the night the unstoppable juggernaut rolled. We drove west along the North Sea coast, then south through Nantes, arriving in Bordeaux at about 10 am. We got to the first gig, La Rotonde, a western theme campground set on the tip of a peninsula.

We’re getting out of the car. I ask Doc for the names of our bosses for the gig. “The woman’s name is Fa-da-dee,” he says.
“Fa-da-dee?” I ask. “What kinda name is Fa-da-dee?”
“French, apparently,” he says.

Just then she sees us and walks over to the car.

“Bonjour,” she says. The way she says it makes it instantly my favourite word in this tongue-twisting language. “Je suis Fa-da-dee.”
“Fa-da-dee?” I ask. I notice the Doc is regarding me as one does a stupid puppy, his smiling face creased in lines of benign contempt.
“Oui. Fa-da-dee.”
“Look. How is your name spelled?” She starts slowly.
“Valerie!” I exclaim.
“Oui. Vous ettes Panama?”
‘Oui. Je suis Panama, et le plume de ma tante est sur la table.’’

All the way across and down the coast this guaranteed ice-breaker has served only to secure me an alarmed eye, as apparently no Frenchman cares to know where is the pen of my aunt.
There is more to it than that, as I am to learn later, but Valerie looks perplexed for only a moment before breaking into laughter like music: I’m glad that the first French person I actually met was Valerie. Her attitude toward me was everything I’d been warned NOT to expect.

We crashed in the shade of the chickee-like structure where we would play the evening’s music. I woke up to see that while I was sleeping Valerie and her elves had quietly moved tables and chairs into place all around me.

The Doc and I do our little show, which, despite our not having played once together, not even in rehearsal, goes well. We close with “Poor Boy.” I look down. There is a frog watching. Not the derogatory term for Frenchman, but the real item; little guy has come in out of the swelter to press his belly on the cool concrete and catch the show. What with the tour name and the locale I thought it fitting and a good omen. A frog coming home to roost.

I spent half the night drinking with Valerie’s husband Arnaud. Next day Doc and I set out for Paris.
The French are fascinated by bread. Every other Frenchman you see has a baguette under his arm or sticking out of his backpack. All the ladies carry a croissant or two in their purses, I’m sure. So that when one remembers the story of Marie Antoinette saying “Let ‘em eat cake,” it becomes eminently clear why this would piss the French, especially, off. Bread is regarded as a necessity here, but also as a comfort food. A Frenchman and his loaf are not easily parted.
Driving through Bordeaux is like driving through Napa times ten. Vineyards everywhere. When Doc and I drove down the west coast I started seeing Limogen cattle: feed ‘em a handful of grass and another muscle pops up on them somewhere. Last night I ate Limogen beef and drank Bordeaux wine…in Bordeaux. Tres cool.

Still, on the highway to Paris today I had to wonder why it is that every time I come to Europe it’s the hottest summer on record.

While I had been prepared, or at least expected, to see vineyards in Bordeaux I was surprised to see cornfields. And huge plots of sunflowers. Because of the heat and the lack of rain the fields are a light green shading to brown. The vineyards remain a dark green. I don’t know what effect less than normal rainfall has on grapes, but it can’t be good. There is the possibility that this Saharan inferno will retreat south before I go home, but today France is an oven as Doc and I drive to Paris for the weekend. There is no real elevation to relieve the heat until one’ reaches the Alps, ‘way over on the east side.
“Le biro de ma tante est sur la table…”
You just can’t trust the French. On the one hand they are so resistant to change in their language from outside, yet when my pen began to run dry I was unable to make a clerk on the highway understand that I needed a new “plume”.

“Je ne comprend pas,” he said, and for a moment I thought “oh, shit. We’re getting close to Paris, where everyone will refuse to understand my French.”
Turns out, though, that there is a new French word for my auntie’s writing implement, and that “plume” has apparently not been in vogue since around the time of Mrs LeMaster’s French class. The new word is “biro”, taken from the brandname of a ballpoint and used by the French in much the same way we use ‘kleenex’ to denote any paper hankie. I doubt that much has changed with French in the kissing department since my galvanizing experience with Candy Jordan’s tongue, however.
The keypad on French computers is skewed. The ‘a’ is switched with the ‘q’, the ‘w’ with the ‘z’, the ‘m’ with the semicolon, you gotta hold down the shift key to make a period. It’s maddening, not being able to race through the typing of these notes. Goodnight, dear Diary.

Dordogne, 11 ou 12 Aout, 2003

Things that are true about the French, OBSERVATION TROIS:
No matter how hard you try or to what lengths you go you cannot do an Inspector Cloisseau impression thqt the French will find funny.
There are those things that the French do with "l" and "r",
where sometimes they are seemingly switched and at other times take on different characteristics entirely dependent on the vowels in front of or behind them, as in "croissant" where the "r" becomes a "w", and sometimes they are silent entirely.

What is most astounding to the American ear, however, are the long
strings of vowels such as "ieu" or "eui", and the way the French torture
them on their way to pronunciation, beginning at the very root of the
tongue, then up against the soft palate, down to the back of the tongue,
bouncing up again to the hard palate, then back down to the tip of the
tongue, and through the teeth. The journey is not over yet, for to
escape, the vowel sound must still pass through lips impossibly pursed.
This grows more difficult of course if the vowel chain is preceded or
followed by an "r" or an "l".

When Michael was giving me directions to the Left Bank, for instance,
he mentioned my going down the Rue Montreuil, the last syllable of which is that royal family of vowels preceded by an "r" and followed by an "l". I asked him to repeat this, three times, not because I hadn't understood at first, but because I was fascinated by the odyssey this one syllable took on its away to being pronounced. "Montro-ay-oo-ee-u-l-oy," Michael gargled pleasantly.

This vowel abuse and the stubborn Gallic defense it has predictably
transformed the Doc and me into ugly Americans, and the
Doc is Dutch. All day Sunday in Paris, while rehearsing at the park
bench in front of Michael's office while he did the lonely work of
anthropology, we did Peter Sellers' Cloisseau routines; requesting a
lyoom, asking to use the phyune, looking for our minkey.

It is typically American to make such sport of those things foreign that
are not immediately accessible to us, and I have tried to explain the
absolute truth behind this and other aggressive American behavior, namely that it arises from a sense of inferiority for which we overcompensate by being loud assholes. My French friends cannot see this element of an inferiority complex in us, mainly I suppose because we bombed the dogshit out of them sixty years ago, that is they see us as eminently superior in the sense of being always overhead, and cannot imagine us seeing ourselves any other way either. Michael's wife Marika, no slouch in the anthropology world herself, told me "the French used to pray the planes were British because their bombardiers were more accurate."

NEXT: OBSERVATION QUATRE: "Good morning little schoolgirl" is not an effective pickup line in France (Doesn't work in the States, either)

Un Encountre Avec le CIA, and Driving Through Dordogne

Although the last entry was dated August 12th, we have to back up a
little. On Sunday August 10th, Doc and I set out from Paris, where I had
done nothing but read and gone nowhere but Michael's library, for the
second of our gigs, at a vacation spot back over on the west coast called
Ronce les Bains, another town at the estuary where the River Gironde,
basically southwest France's version of the Mississippi, dumps into the

We had gotten in late and thus had not arranged for a place to sleep,
when out of the crowd marterialized Mark Freeman, originally from
Hazzard, Kentucky, and now the banjo/fiddle player in Wild Country, a
band of some repute here in Europe.

Mark has a retreat at Ronce, and put us up at his maison for the night,
courteously insisting all the while that he had heard my name as being
worthwhile over here.
"Of course," Doc pointed out, "he could be CIA, keeping an eye on you for George W."
"Nah. Condi and I go way back. In fact, she was quite the little Texas
Jewboy groupie," I replied.
"You're kidding, right?" Doc asks.

Whatever, we picked a little, drank a little, had a good time. Mark and
his sons are indeed good hosts, and it was refreshing to talk hillbilly

Next morning, Monday, Doc driving, we set out at about eleven for the
beginnings of our drive through the Dordogne. As I'm making this entry
in my notebook, I'm sitting in a sidewalk cafe while Doc does some
personal banking. Watching the filles, baking in the heat. I learn my
first really useful phrase in French, one that I suspect I will employ a
lot: "Combien cela carte?" or "How much is the bill?"

Doc returns and we set out for Angouleme, passing through Vibrac,
Hiersac, Montignac, and other towns here whoes names generally tend to end in -ac, surmounted of course by that -ac town of all -ac towns,
Cognac. We pass distilleries of Martell, and of course, Courvoisier,
where vin ordinaire is transformed into headier stuff.

Passing through Angouleme I see my first French chateau. Southern France is Chateaux galore. We round a bend and I see a sign: Lascaux!

The caveman in me jumps, startled by some atavistic memory perhaps, for it is here in these caves that thousands of years ago our Cro-Magnon
ancestors drew pictures of the bison they had just killed or hoped to
kill soon. This whole area is a spelunker's paradise. I saw small caves
being used as garages, restaurants, even a laundromat. These are not so
much mountains here in the Lascaux region as they are huge rocks, of
eminently workable stone, and I saw in the cliff faces high above me
grottoes carved out in the Middle Ages by the locals as refuge, perhaps
from the neighbors in the next valley over.

We spent the night near Lascaux in a pleasant inn, the Chambres Les
Eyzies, going into the nearby famously medieval town of Sarlat, famous
also for its menus. I had the saucisse grill au magret de canard, or as
we say in Tennessee, duck. They are very big on eating fowl here, and
everywhere you go you see signs advertising foie gras. I sent Patty a
postcard of some happy geese going for their daily stuffing, little
knowing what the long term has in store. Just like everyone else,
really. And I had wine. Spo-dee-o-dee.



Next day (Tuesday Aug 12) my seventh in Europe this trip and my fifth in France, Doc again at the wheel ("So you're not looking at a chateau and kill us"), we set out again, stopping at a campsite so I could post an entry.

We left and while driving through Cahors, a small southern French city on the River Lot, we pass a babe crossing the street. Her eyes, blue as ice, and mine seek each other out and lock. Time slows, two seconds stretch into eternity, and old souls are bared.

"Whoa! What was that?" Doc asks.

"It was two seconds of love, or something like it," I answer, still
trying to catch my breath.

"I think so," says The Doc.

In the Dordogne it seems that every peak and promontory is the site of a
chateau. And there are a lot of peaks and promontories. My cries of
"Look! A chateau!" soon deteriorated into a glum awareness of the need
the peasants who actually lifted the stones must have had for a good
chiropractor. The countryside is, literally, strewn with them. Chateaux,
I mean.

Not having anywhere to be, Doc and I dawdled in the Dordogne a day and a half, but we had a gig in Serre Chevalier in the French Alps on Thursday and driving around in the heat, even along the shady roads we chose as our path was taking its toll. Doc suggested we get back on the national highway and light a shuck for the Alps. If you've seen two hundred chateaux you've pretty much seen them all, so I concurred.

We got off the pleasant little roads and headed north along the highway
toward Grenoble, the gateway to the French Alps.



August 14th, 2003 - - The central massif is not mentioned much, at least
in the travel books I've read. For some reason it does make an
occasional appearance in spy thrillers, but only en passant, and never in
a descriptive sense.

One doesn't ordinarily think of France as Big Sky country, but the
Massif, as seen from the highway at least, goes a long way toward
recalling Montana and even the Grand Canyon, for it is basically a gigh
plateau into which nature has carved thousands of canyons. And on a
clear day, of which the current heatwave has certainly provided many, the visibility extends a hundred miles in every direction. It is, even, almost Dali-esque, merely needing the molten watches.

We passed across the Massif and in Grenoble turned south again, heading up into the French Alps. Briançon, in winter a ski resort, lies on the other side of a range, through which the gap is 2050 meters (call it 6200 feet)in elevation. The Rockies are higher, and I haven't seen them all, but for spectacle, waterfalls cascading hundreds of feet, the Alps are more than somewhat magnificent.

Doc and I got into Serre Chevalier, where the Blues Fest would actually
occur, a day early, checked into the Hotel Olympic, and got in touch with Claude, one of the promoters of the festival, and our contact person. Turns out his colleague is also named Claude, so for Rob and me they became Les Deux Claudes. Or, Ponytail Claude and Other Claude. We dawdled all day, which is to say we baked some more, for even this high up the temperature stayed above one hundred. Doc informs me that there have been three thousand deaths in France alone from this unrelenting heat, the likes of which haven't been seen for more than a hundred years.

Wednesday night the Other Claude treated us to pork ribs from the
kitchens in his chalet complex. It wasn't barbecue: it was charcuterie
and quite tasty.

Thursday was our first gig since the Sunday before. There were four acts: me and The Doc; the French band Mary-Lou, more about them later; Jeff Zima, an American blues ex-pat now living in the South of France; and the French boogie band Doo the Doo. The Two Claudes had done great promotion, with hundreds of posters on every vertical surface throughout the valley, some radio spots, including an interview with Doc and me, along with constant radio airplay.

On Thursday sound check was at 4:30 and the Doc introduced me
enthusiastically to his friends Mary, Jean-Luc, Jean-Philippe, and
Patrick, who together make up the band Mary-Lou, and who had been a great deal of help to us in booking the dates of The Frogs Come Home to Roost Tour. There will be more about them later, for the Doc and I will spend next week with them in Brittany, yet again across the country to the Atlantic side.

Review: Great Show. Great Crowd. Sold a buncha CDs, always a good sign.

Friday August 15 --
"Wake up, Panama, il est l'heure. Time to leave the lyoom."
We got up at 5 am on Friday, for we had to drive to our next gig, a
festival in the farm town of Chateau Chinon, 600 kilometers away, and
because of the necessity of getting back over the mountains, about a
six-hour drive. We were supposed to arrive at noon, and did. I slept
most f the way.

Chateau Chinon is, among other things, renowned as being the home of the writer George Sand; they have a primary school named after her in the middle of the little town. Which would probably not happen in the US, her being a scandalous baroness who had had intimacies with, among quite a few others apparently, Frederic Chopin when he'd come thru town on HIS invasion of France.

We played two sets, one each on two different stages. The French are great at clapping in rhythm, we were very warmly received, came back for two encores at our second show, and sold more CDs. Even more than Chopinm himself, Doc pointed out.
"But Chopin did get laid," he added morosely.

Next: Farewell to Paris and Hello to Bretagne (Brittany)

August 27th, 2003

The Doc and I got back to Paris on Sunday, August 17. We spent two days there this time. I did manage to escape the clutches of Michael's
library long enough to see the Arc de Triomphe up close and the Eiffel
Tower from a distance. I took a bye on Jim Morrison's grave.

I had come to Paris wanting to see "A Starry Night", only to discover
that it is housed in New York's MOMA, back on my own side of the

Nevertheless The Doc and I took the Metro to the Champs Elysees and we poked around there a bit. The Champs, for all of being arguably the most famous street in the world, is really only reminiscent of other
toney-trendy streets I have seen, from Fifth Avenue in New York to the
Kalverstraat in Amsterdam, as the same sensibility seems to pertain,
reflected in the businesses and stores along its course: the headquarters
of airlines and international banks, a Gap store, a Virgin Records
superstore monolith, a whole bunch of basic pizzerias tricked out to
appear to be more, including of course Planet Hollywood. Oh, yeah,
McDonald's, which I have seen in alarming profusion throughout the
countryside. I did, in the south of France, prevail upon the Doc to stop
in at one so I could order a La Royale, out of some loyalty to "Pulp
Fiction". Tasty.

Tuesday August 19, we bid adieu to our hosts Michael and Marika and set out for the wilds of Bretagne, or Brittany, as they call it across the Channel, to spend the rest of the week as guests of Jean-Luc Brosse and the band Mary-Lou at their home in Pen Marche.

For all of the French insistence on their right to maintain their
language and hence its culture in an increasingly English-language world
environment, Bretagne exists as proof of a contradiction, if not outright
hypocrisy, for it was here, beginning in the 1920's, that the government
outlawed the use of the "ancient language", spoken both in Bretagne and
Wales, across the Channel. Later, the central government relented and
highway signs are now in both; "Quimper" is also spelled as "Kemper", for instance, and now the ancient language is taught as an elective in the schools. Too much time has gone by, however, and correct pronunciation is problematic.

Perhaps it is some ancient Gaelic something coming to the fore, or maybe merely the fact that I have sojourned longer here than in any other part of France, but I feel drawn to Brittany, to the peak-roofed farmhouses, the narrow unpredictable village streets, the unexpectedly familiar cadences and melodies of the music shared with my relatives across the Channel and in the Appalachians.

When I was first preparing to come here, if all those sensible things I
should have done but didn't could be called preparation, I received
numerous comments and warnings about the French: among them that the French are unfailingly rude to Americans, everything which everyone says back home I found to be not true.

I did not meet a less-than-courteous native the entire time. The phrases
"Bonjour Monsieur" and "Bonjour Madame" go a long way toward establishing the foreigner's friendly intentions, even if atrociously pronounced, and any subsequent gaffes are easily excused by the French. Spoken French is tough, because there is only the scantiest indication of how a phrase is to be pronounced in the spelling of that phrase, and so it is a language to be listened to carefully before attempting to speak.

But we persevered and played a gig or two with Mary-Lou and one on our own. Sunday night found us back in Paris, at the home of Jean-Philippe, the bass player. This was to be our last night in Paris.

We left Paris on Monday at 3:15 pm, driving straight through, and we
arrived in Amsterdam five hours later. The Doc went on home to Zwolle,
where I was to join him for a final strut upon the stage on Wednesday.

I put up in Amsterdam with my tempestuous-but-usually-worth-it friend,
the famous Amsterdam rocknroller Rory Campbell. Or to be more precise, Rory put up with me. Most of Monday I spent in Willem's bar, in theory closed for remodeling, but which Willem keeps open in a display of maatschappij for a few on the locals, me included. All of which somehow seems to make sense to the authorities, they being Dutch and all; a bar that is closed but not really, because Henk, who works at the bank across the street traditionally comes in for his after-work quaff, and where would he go if Willem didn't keep the bar open?

These regulations do not permit of special instances, which this one is,
having to do with a little microcosm of Dutch society in general, a man
and his beer and all, and the place and company deemed coziest by him to have it after a day at work. These are important, and if regulations get in the way of this special case...well, regulations are not meant to be enforced in every instance. So everybody's happy. Happy is good. It's a good regulation.


So anyway, the rest of this entry takes on overtones of Chapter Nine in
that nursing book, the one about the digestive system. So the squeamish
are at least officially alerted...

I have been riding around France sitting on my butt, moving and yet not
being very motile, if you get my drift. I have been stuffing myself with
canard this and boeuf that and sitting in a car for 5000 miles of French
tour. Meanwhile my lower intestine has begun to manufacture a cement
block down there. I'm not sure how long this has (not) been going on,
but it is long enough that I cannot recall in vivid detail shall we say,
my last productive encounter with a toilet.

At some of the places we stopped in France we came across a very strange apparatus, said apparatus consisting of, basically, a hole in the floor and places to put your feet. Anyway maybe the dread of possibly having to employ this method of elimination caused me to send signals to my large intestine to cease and desist in the motility department at least, which it did, backing up until Sunday morning I was catapulted from sleep by an incredibly painful wrench in my gut. I have been trying to move this monolith out of there ever since, walking, eating fiber, drinking water, all of the indicated stuff.

Tuesday morning I went to the pharmacy in Amsterdam and bought some laxative pills. At least that's what I asked for. And I'm pretty sure that the condition in which I have found myself would be described by the ever earthy Dutch as it is described on the box, which is "verstoppen". I took three and all day long sat in Willems bar waiting for Godot. I was hoping that it would happen before my flight on Thursday. Otherwise I'd have to buy it a ticket. I'll keep you posted. Or maybe I've kept you posted a little too much already and you will hear no more about it from me.

Speaking of keeping you posted, there IS a place in France where the
women, or one of them anyway, wear no pants: Paris. Doc and I were
coming off the Metro after an abortive attempt at tourism. There's this
solid-looking ittle Babe in front of us wearing a pleated mini-skirt very
reminiscent of that cheerleader number Candy Jordan used to have. You
remember Candy, from Mrs LeMaster's French class.

Anyway we came to the stairs going up, and I noticed that if a person,
not that I did, of course, but if a person were to place himself just so,
and tilt his head a little, while flexing his right knee a little more
than his left, kind of lay his head on his right shoulder, he could gaze
the length of this paragon's lower limbs, from her bobby-soxed ankles
past the smooth rounded calves to the creamy popliteal areas, and from
thence up the milk-white soft insides of her thighs to her pan...WAIT!
she's not wearing any pants! I am in a place in France where the women
wear no pants! This has indeed been a worthwhile trip, proving as it
does the wisdom of the ancients.

I spent Tuesday night in the company of my Pollux friends Andy and Tanja the Babe and Tanja Senior and Frits and Rene and another friend who for reasons of critical music business stuff must remain unidentified. Also joining us were two gentlemen from Turkey, one of them a 737 pilot who astonished me by telling me that the papers in Istanbul had recently been full of stories about the Melungeons in Appalachia. We spoke of everything and when we parted I was given lots of kisses to convey to Patty when I got back home.

On my way out of town on Wednesday, the tram I was taking to Centraal Station passed a new construction in the Leidseplein: a neo-Roman series of columns, above which, reflecting in Latin another truism of Amsterdam attitude, was written: "HOMO SAPIENS NON URINAT VENTUM", which means, I think, anyway, "Smart man does not piss into the wind". Not gonna see that anywhere else.