Memoirs -- fact and fiction, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

The cabbie’s life: One night in Toronto

Back in the day — before Uber & Lyft, before Google street maps, before the Internet — there was a thing known as The Thomas Guide. It was a spiral-bound book of maps and street indexes for many of the major West Coast cities in the U.S.

It was a godsend for journalists and taxicab drivers alike.

Toronto had a similar book, as I discovered one night when I arrived to cover the Toronto Film Festival for my California newspaper.

“Where to, eh?

“Sutton Place,please.”

“Good, good. Is that cab in front of us going there, too?”

“No, they’re going to another hotel.”

“Good, good. OK. Sutton Place. That’s not far. Do you know where it is?”

“No. Don’t you?”

“Yeah. Well, no. Well, sort of. I usually work the West End. Don’t get up here that much.”

“Um … Bay Street. I think it is on Bay Street.”

“Bay Street? Good. Good. Bay Street. Bay Street. Right you are.”

“I think it is a main thoroughfare here. North and south.Turn here on University. You’re bound to cross it.”

“OK. Yeah. Right you are. Here, look in this book, page four. Got to be on page four or near it. Look on four.”

“There’s no map on four.”

“What do you mean? No! Index. Look at the index. You read; I’ll drive.”

“I can’t find a map. Look here, there’s Bay Street! If you turn here, we ought to find Sutton Place.”

“I can’t turn. See the sign? It says ‘No left turn.’ You really ought to learn how to read that book. You can get anywhere with in this city with that book, you can. Ah, I’ll turn anyway.”

“Why do I need to read this book? I’ll be leaving Toronto in two days. You live here. You learn it.”

“Sure, but what if you come back? You really ought to learn.”

You ought to learn. You live here, you drive the cab!”

“Right you are!”

“Look, there’s the Sutton. Just drop me off behind that car.”

“Right! The old Sutton! There you are! I got you here, didn’t I? You really ought to get one of these books. Invaluable! Fare’s $4.25. Told you I’d get you here. Well, have a good evening then.”

“Right. Keep the change.”

True story.

Standard
Memoirs -- fact and fiction, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Schultzie’s transistor radio started a revolt

Pocket-sized transistor radios were probably one of the first great subversive technologies. And smuggling one into a culturally hermetic community could spark a revolution.

That’s what happened when rock ‘n’ roll invaded the cloistered walls of my seminary.

Thank God.

As an eighth-grader I felt God was calling me to the priesthood. Two years later I realized that he had dialed a wrong number and I had, regrettably, answered.

I went all in: a missionary order whose Latin name translated to Society of the Divine Word (SVD).  The order had a very gothic looking building about 20 miles south of Erie, Pa., where they educated their high school recruits.

Continue reading
Standard
Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, The Log, Writings

The Log for June 2: Binging on depressing podcasts, ‘Space Force,’ and my own House Hunters Int. drinking game. And your day?

IMG_1832LOOK UP IN THE AIR! IT’S CLUELESS MAN!: Took Moppit for her morning walk and I must say, there are far, far, more people with masks on than without. Are morning people more considerate of their own health and that of others?

I wouldn’t know since I usually take the evening walk but yesterday a woman was mugged two blocks over and I immediately went into Superman mode.

“I’ll walk Moppit in the morning,” I said. “It isn’t safe out there. You can go running if you like. You can outrun most anybody that would mug you. Can’t do it with a little dog on a leash.” Continue reading

Standard
Camino: Porto to Santiago, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

J.K. Rowling wrote here, and here, and here, and over there … but apparently not here

IMG_7369

Yes, this may look like something you thought you saw in a Harry Potter movie but author J.K. Rowling says, “No way.” It is the interior of the Lello & Irmão bookstore in Porto, Portugal, which has its own Harry Potter Room in which Rowling neither wrote nor slept while creating the popular series.

By my unofficial and completely speculative count, J.K. Rowling launched the “Harry Potter” series in upwards from 234 bistros, flats, castles, coffee shops, libraries, phone booths, buses, trains, caves, back alleys, and pawn shops spread over 27 countries and a few former colonies.

I swear, for example, that she got the original idea while living in a flat just above mine in a funky old apartment building in Point Loma, a once-funky waterfront corner of San Diego, California. Continue reading

Standard
Memoirs -- fact and fiction, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, The Log, Writings

The Log for May 29: A podcast fest, shopping in-person & online, someone likes my blog, Lovett & Hiatt sing, and summer job memories

IMG_1759

After a wonderful dinner in a friend’s backyard last night, I felt the gentlemanly thing to do is walk Moppit this morning. It was a reunion of Casa de las Poetas former residents. John & Linda and Jimmy & Gina moved elsewhere in town.

Then the pandemic hit. It was good to sit around a table again, outside, and safely distanced.

I had my first fake-meat burger — whatever they are called. It was quite satisfactory and if I ever go vegetarian, I will order a case.

So, Rose usually walks Moppit in the morning and I take the early evening shift. Today, I hoped she would sleep in for once. Naturally, she was preparing her yoga mat before we even hit the street. Dedicated. Continue reading

Standard
Memoirs -- fact and fiction, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

‘We arrived at the Dam in tattered cut-off jeans — covered in sweat, sawdust, and dirt’

matson1

The modern Matson Lumber Co. looks a lot more streamlined, automated, and efficient than in my day. But stacking lumber is still the name of the game. (Photo: Matson Lumber)

“What did you do on your summer vacation?” I bet the answers in 2020 are going to be a lot different from those in 1966. 

A newsletter for ex-newspaper folks (specifically those bred in the incubator known as The San Diego Union-Tribune) recently spooled out a thread on summer jobs. The question was neutral but the recollections quickly veered toward the worst, hardest, most humiliating.

Well, those are usually the most memorable, aren’t they? Continue reading

Standard
Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, The Log, Writings

The Log for May 27: A romance-comedy triple feature, origins of reality TV faux show ‘Dark Pastry,’ and the best crossword puzzle ever

IMG_1749Did you ever have one of those days when you wake up and a word or phrase is jammed into your brain sideways like a rusty shard of steel and you just can’t get it out?

Happened to me today. The phrase was “Dark Pastry.”

Now a normal person would have thought, “Yes! Substitute dark chocolate in all recipe instances in which chocolate is required.”

Me?

I thought, “that would be a great name for a baking/horror/reality TV show.” Continue reading

Standard
Memoirs -- fact and fiction, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Read it first: Origins of ‘Dark Pastry,’ the most successful horror/baking reality TV show ever

imageedit_11_5838111086A lot of you have been asking me, “Bob” you say, “how did you come up with the award-winning and fabulously successful reality TV cooking show “Dark Pastry.”

To date, my natural gift for modesty has kept me from spilling the beans on the cooking/horror reality show but so many urban legends and out-and-out lies by a very jealous POTUS have forced my hand.

Is it my fault that my reality show has been so much more-fabulously successful than his ever was?

Yes.

Yes, it is my fault. Continue reading

Standard
Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

The Log for May 16, 2020 — U2’s R&R Hall of Fame concert, the funniest TV sketch ever, and Barack Obama speaks to 2020 grads

IMG_1690

IT’S ONLY ROCK ‘N’ ROLL: Back when I wrote about rock ‘n’ roll for a living, I was sometimes able to take one or two of my sons “to work.”

As young high schoolers, Brendan and Ryan got to see Pink Floyd from the nosebleed seats at Jack Murphy/Qualcomm/San Diego stadium — but even up there, the band’s impact was powerful.

When U-2 played the same stadium, the experience was a bit different. A traffic jam made us miss the start of the show. Still, walking my sons down to 20th-row seats on the floor, next to the band’s runway proscenium — it was like landing in Oz. Continue reading

Standard
Memoirs -- fact and fiction, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

The Log for May 13: Hey, brother, can you loan me a dime for a ride into the mystic?

IMG_1672Oh, this day has begun all right — an All-Music Morning for Wednesday.

#1  “The Girl In Byakkoya,” Susumu Hirasawa,  from the animated film “Paprika.” This is the music that gets you up and moving. Check out the movie, too — anime magical surrealism at its finest. A mad enormously ballooning parade that absorbs everybody, everything — all energy  — as it progresses. Who can stop it? And how?

#2  Delbert McClinton channels his inner-Tony Bennett and sings about “San Miguel”! (Even mentions San Francisco in the first line … (Thanks for the tip, Robert Cooksey.) Continue reading

Standard