K STREET STRAVINSKY, 1995

WHERE HAVE THEY GONE, THE ORIGINALS?
 
K STREET STRAVINSKY, 1995
K STREET STRAVINSKY WHEN PEOPLE ON THE STREETS WERE INTERESTING

K STREET STRAVINSKY

 He’s at his post,

On the corner of Connecticut and K
Where the subway sends vibrations
up the escalator
to mix with the rhythm of rush hour traffic.
He’s dependable
as horns at intersections.
 
Bike couriers, briefcase carriers, joggers
        pass by adding their parts
But HE’S the street’s original,
Its Stravinsky,
He creates the dissonance.
He conducts the Rush-Hour Suite.
He sweats
        Clothed in every emotion he’s ever owned,
        and pushing a wailing Safeway cart
        loaded with thunder and rage,
        he screams his sermons —
       obscenities mixed with Bible verses
        trough a homemade megaphone,
        at strangers who rush, shoulders hunched,
        away from the madman’s strange music
        for fear they’ll wake up
                      humming it in the morning.
 
 
 
 

I WAS 10 OR 11 THE FIRST TIME I SAW A FIRE

Georgetown Library Fire

Georgetown Library Fire in 2007

When I passed the Georgetown library yesterday, I remembered the awful night when it burned. Fire

a A sad, broken-toothed, skull with awful, empty eye sockets where windows should be

 glows red and orange and looks beautiful till it’s over. Then it leaves a sad, broken-toothed, skull with awful, empty eye sockets where windows should be.

My house in Potomac was partially destroyed by a fire 20 years ago. Even after it was repaired and was, “as good as new,” I couldn’t forget the smell, the feeling of vulnerability. I sold it soon after.

I was 10 or 11 the first time I saw a fire. Mr. Cunningham’s shotgun house burned down. It was the one just across the ditch from Delilah’s house.  As I saw the them, the houses on our street fit into two categorizes, poor houses and not-so-poor houses.

”]One of the shotgun houses still standing on Petain St. [2011]The main difference was grass. Poor houses had no grass on the yards, not even a weed or dandelion — just gray, dusty dirt.

Most of the poor houses were on the other side of the ditch, which was really a shallow run-off from a creek that ran from somewhere up in Chickasaw, crossed Haig and Petain Streets, and stopped a few streets past Aunt Pauline’s house.

We lived on the not-so-poor end. We had not just grass, but St. Augustine grass. Daddy had planted it, sprig by sprig. Mr. Cunningham’s house was on the poor side.

Until the fire nobody knew how many dogs lived with Mr. Cunningham in the two-room, tar-papered

house. There were almost always a half dozen lazing around in the shade under the porch or flopped on the steps or sleeping with Mr. Cunningham on the old mattress that lay on the iron bed on the porch. Delilah and I tried to count as many different ones as we could when we walked past to school – I counted nine. She said she counted seventeen, but I don’t think so.

We’d never had a fire on Petain Street before so the whole street came out. We stood closer to that house than we had ever been before. Firemen went in and out of the burnt house. First they brought out Mr. Cunningham, wrapped in a gray blanket and put him in an ambulance that roared away. Than they brought out bundles – two and three at a time and stacked them in the yard Everyone said it was a terrible sight. Mr. Wilson said there ought to be a law against keeping dogs like that.

A fire is a bad thing to happen no matter where it is.

AN OPINION OF CHILDREN AND PUPPIES

OWEN

OWEN

Breathes there one with soul so dead that he can encounter a two year old child or dog without smiling or laughing….
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonor’d, and unsung.
(apologies to Sir Walter Scott – but his copyright protection ended 200 years ago)       
MR. MAGOO ON BEACH

WALKING THE BEACH

                    

I think two is the beginning of the very best age for children. From there they get better every day until they until, at their peak, they are the funniest, brightest and most curious creatures on earth. It’s the age before self-consciousness sets in – no guile or

OWEN

OWEN

judgment, just ideas, impressions, and wonder. The world is an inviting, interesting and hysterical place to be. No unexpressed emotions. They love, cry, laugh, sing, and whine with enthusiasm rarely seen in adults. They see the silliness of limits and boundaries. They see us in our own absurdity and think we’re comical, not sad.

I have a friend, Owen who’s four now. When he was three, he decided he needed to start paying his own way. He determined the future was in pinecones. He gathered pinecones and took to the sidewalk with his toy microphone to announce, “I’m selling pinecones today. My stand is open and I’m selling

2009 Mackie on beach

JOY

pinecones today.” But one day his mom told him they had to go shopping so he couldn’t sell. Committed to communicating with his customers, he took his microphone out and announced, “I’m not selling pinecones today. My stand is here but I’m not selling pinecones today.”

With that early success behind him, Owen is thinking of following the path of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerman. He told his mom, “I’m

MR. MAGOO TASTES THE SEA FOR HIMSELF

MR. MAGOO'S FIRST TASTE OF THE OCEAN

finished with school. I’m ready to make some money. I’m ready for a man job.” Then he took his toy lawnmower and mowed the driveway.

Two begins the best age for dogs too. They still have the energy and spontaneity of puppies but they are beginning to throw off the limits. The

MR. MAGOO FEELING THE SAND AND SURF UNDER HIS FEET

world is there to enjoy. There are sand and sea to feel, to jump in, and to try a taste.

By two, dogs have added a few tricks and some social manners as well. Mr. Magoo herds me, grabs a toy and dares me to take it, and fights for a knotted rope, but he has other interests as well. He loves to go antiquing with me.

WE'LL TAKE IT IF YOU THROW IN A TREAT

WE'LL TAKE IT IF YOU THROW IN A TREAT

Store owners welcome Mr. Magoo because his shop manners put to shame many adult shoppers. When I lay his leash on his back, he lays down and stays there till I’m through looking (I taught him that!). When he stands at the counter to negotiate my purchases with the owner, I promise you I get a better deal.

Isn’t the world beautiful when we can experience it through the senses of Mr. Magoo and Owen?