Prelapsarian (before the Fall)

18 September 2011





Peter Albin.


Local Marin musicians at their Wednesday meeting, Aroma Café, 2011.


Elise Piliwale, Chicago.


Japanese calligraphers very often start with this character because it has every stroke possible, vertical, horizontal, diagonal, the dot, the tail. There are two pronunciations for this, EI and naga, which mean eternal, everlasting, permanent, long, perpetual. “Nagasaki” means a “long point,” a geographical term. A point of land. “EImin” means “eternal sleep, death.”


Puellae pulchrae sunt.



Kristina Kopriva and George Michalski.


Vicki just back from Marbella, Granada and Madrid.


Noah Murphy, 2011.


A street in Okinawa not so long ago.


Euripides was the first person on record to denounce slavery.


Miriam Makeba, a South African singer. She often sang with “clicks,” a feature of an African language made well known in a film called The Gods Must Be Crazy.


Elmore James had a distinct singing style and en even more distinct guitar style. Once you hear him, you will never forget what he sounds like.


The top of the guitar is called die Decke in German, the deck.


In English, this part of a guitar is called the top or the “soundboard.” In other languages, there is a notion of a table. The same part in French is la table d’harmonie and in Italian la tavola armonica. in Spanish it’s la tapa armonica.


“Tapa” sounds quite a bit like “top,” doesn’t it? Tapa in Spanish means “a lid, cover, cap, top.” “Saltarse la tapa de los sesos” means “to blow one’s brains out,” and it sounds funny in Spanish, because it’s like making your brains jump. Tapas are a kind of appetizer, something that goes “on top” of the meal.


I love this woman. Maybe not as much as Jim Carrey does, but I love her.


Der Gittarenspieler, le guitariste, el guitarrista, il chitarrista, Chris Vitale.


They should engrave this on a medal and sell it in churches.

Davide Galassi, Arianna Antinori, Ben Nieves, Sam Andrew.


Enko Elisa Vaccari and Oreste Vaccari wrote a series of beautiful books about Japanese grammar and life in the 1940s. Their texts are, by far, the most interesting, informative and well organized studies of Japanese life and language… even now today. Every time I go to Japan, I take one of the Vaccari books with me. Some of the alphabet is outmoded already, but, still, these works are a joy.


A page from one of the Vaccari books showing how a handwritten letter would look. This is legible, but it is the beginning of what Japanese call “the running style.” In their very careful culture, the Japanese prize writing that is flowing, fast and almost illegible.


This is how Japanese write now. When I’m in Japan, I get notes like this frequently. It says:

To Hayashi san

This Saturday

won’t you come to my apartment.

We will watch American videos.

Curtis san will come too.


February 24


A very kind Japanese woman wrote this out for me. This shows dramatically that even if you can read Japanese, you sometimes won’t know the meaning:


I visited Texas last summer where Janis Joplin was born and brought up. The hot climate reminded me of her destructive passion. But, on the other hand, I remembered the fact that she was considered a strange person, knowing people there were conservative. There were some people who made a grimace and referred to the cause of her death. Maybe it is because America has serious drug problems. I took it with surprise and sorrow.


With Ben in Mostar, Bosnia, 2011.


Perfect sentence by Anthony Lane in The New Yorker:


Given that Gainsbourg resembled a horse with a hangover, it may seem unfeasible that creatures of rare perfection kept falling into his hay, but such are the mystical rules of attraction that prevail under Gallic skies and, alas, nowhere else.


Olivia Newton-John’s grandfather Max Born won the Nobel Prize for physics.


An acre is about the size of a football field without the end zones. Elise Piliwale and I live on two and one half acres, or, in the metric system, a hectare.


Privatizing Social Security? I wouldn’t trust them with a nickel. Every time they get in charge, they ruin everything financially. From Ulysses S. Grant to Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush. This is the party of fiscal responsibility?


If my friend Dario, a chef, found himself transported back in time to a first century Roman kitchen, he’d be able to prepare a meal using bronze frying pans and coppper saucepans, a colander, an egg poacher, scissors, funnels and kettles… none of these things very different from what he uses today.


Non racconto storie.  (Let’s don’t tell any lies.)

Per quanto sia divertente, non lo è come ai vecchi tempi.

Ma a settant’anni, che cosa è divertente?

As much fun as this is, it’s not like in the old days. But, at seventy years of age, what is fun?


Here are two completely sober guys in Thailand. Even the photographer is sober.


If you fear change, leave it here.


Well, surely, anyone would be gay with some Ovaltine in the morning.


Construction on the tower at Pisa began on 9 August 1173. There are 296 steps to the top.


Sexy Sadie, written by John Lennon for the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who, John reckons, “made a fool of everyone” by pretending to be pure when he really was a womanizer. Oh, gee, isn’t this a shock? All of these shlockmeister holy men are so bogus anyway. I don’t believe any of them and never did. What about these evangelical pastors who specialize in speedfreak boys? What a bunch of hypocrites. All Republicans, of course. Total idiots. Preaching to us about family values. Please. Rick Perry anyone? This guy wants to trash social security and turn it into a RICK PERRY ENTERPRISE, INC. Unsexy Sadist.


A lump of gold the size of a Matchbox car can be flattened into a sheet the size of a tennis court.


In German, it’s a Mittelfinger, but in French it’s a majeur. Medio in Spanish. That’s on the right hand. The left hand, interestingly, has its own nomenclature. The same finger over there is called der Zweiter in German. The second. (They don’t number the thumb.)


It takes 110 cocoons to make a tie, 630 to make a blouse. A heavy silk kimono equals the work of 3,000 silkworms that have eaten 135 pounds of mulberry leaves.


There was a young speller, frighteningly good, who spelled everything so well, all the while being spontaneous and musical. He played Star Spangled Banner on his guitar, when any other contestant would have been studying hard. He went down on the word “banns.” This is a tough one. During European feudal times, all public announcements concerning death, taxes, , births or weddings were called “banns.” Harry Altman was a Jewish boy. How is he going to know the word “banns?” Or, as his mother said, “I just feel sorry for that kid from Texas who got “yenta.”




Non so se Willow le senti, ma in quel momento un topo di media taglia schizzò fuori improvvisamente dal camino.

I don’t know if Willow heard it, but in that moment a rat of medium size scurried suddenly outside in the street.


This is what a Valentine Dance looked like in 1960.


Elise with her aunt Joan Piliwale.


The word “checkmate” in Chess comes from the Perian phrase Shah-Mat which means “the king is dead.”


Lucie Baratte, bon voyage, douces rêves, bisous.


There’s an Abba tribue band called Bjorn Again.


Tommy Castro at Aroma Café, Fall 2011.


How high?

You can describe the location of objects that are low in the sky by holding your hand in front of you at arm’s length, with your palm facing in and your little finger on the horizon. The width of your hand covers 15 degrees of arc above the horizon.


Salvador Dalì and Coco Chanel.


The Sanskrit word kupa meant “water well,” and was appropriately adapted for the oldest of household drinking vessels, the cup. “Glass” came from the ancient Celtic word glas which meant “green,” since the color of the first crude and impure British glass was green.


Note sulla società, compilate da un rifiuto della società.

Notes on society compiled by a social reject.


There’s something about this woman. Could it be… intelligence?


The universe is flying apart faster and faster. How to account for this when, by the laws of gravitation, everything should be imploding? Either gravity has some unknown laws or some other force is pushing galaxies apart. Scientists have named this unknown force “dark energy,” and they have decided that  it makes up SEVENTY THREE PERCENT of all the mass and energy in the world. So, next time you think we know a lot, consider that we don’t even know what almost three fourths of the universe is.


Az di kale ken nisht tantsn, zogt zi az di klezmorim kenen nisht shpiln.

When the bride can’t dance, she says that the musicians can’t play.     (Yiddish saying)


Nunc novi quid Manipupa sentiat.     (Now I know how a Muppet feels.)



The guitar neck is called in German der Hals. (Yes, Franz Hals was Frank Neck.) In French the guitar neck is called le manche which sounds like the English Channel (la manche “sleeve” in French). LE manche, masculine, means a “handle” for a tool, which seems like a misunderstanding of the neck’s function. In Spanish the neck is el mango or el mástil and in Italian it’s il collo. So English, German and Italian see the guitar neck as a human neck, where French and Spanish see it as a handle.


Mark Twain read his own obituary. So did Bertrand Russell.


Some of my friends at Aroma Café. I miss seeing Shelley Champine here, but someone had to hold the camera. She and I trade off.


She can sing too. Really well.


If you see blue fireworks, you are watching a top-notch display.


With Mary Bridget Davies and Elise, Athens airport.


And now, my impression of Dick Cheney.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company