Friday, August 27, 2010

New Letter to My Atheist Friend (MAF) et al.

Though my own thoughts on the Ground Zero Mosque (GZM) may be hopelessly confused, it is abundantly clear that Katha Pollitt's take is at least as simple-minded as any of her opponents'. The problem for Christians and for those of us who still take our ethical cues from the remnant of a Christian culture is not just the First Amendment, but predominantly the golden rule. Before any recourse to constitutional law it made, we firmly and devoutly wish to treat the Mahometan and his accouterments as we would have him treat us and our stuff--not merely as he may in fact treat us. Thus those of us who point to Christians’ plight in Arabia as an example to reciprocate are to me a source of shame (not that their direction of our notice to the "muslim" in his own element is entirely gratuitous, as we shall see). To a large degree, Christian, Jewish and secular Americans have been commendable--especially since "9/11"--in their fidelity, however grudging, to this aim. However, times are when it would seem that the barrier laid across our path is a suspicion not easily dismissed that we are being asked to treat their tiger (or if it be only a polecat the question is the same) as we would have them treat our good mouser.

We may note that if the analogy only really applies at a mundane level--that of politics--we still are called to be sly as serpents, not to hold politics beneath us. I'd be the last to argue that the problem of our treatment of Allah's children is not complicated immeasurably by its consideration on a spiritual plane. For example, how do we take into account the observation that Christianity blossoms under persecution and wilts almost as soon as it is able to poke its head above the fray? Luckily that needn't concern us here as long as due care is paid to avoiding sinful action and motive.

Certainly we have these things. First, the peace among religions in America has had a long development: the mythic torture and execution of a Fountainhead, catacombs and early fathers, a long period of medieval philosophy, inquisitions and pogroms, Reformation and Counter Reformation, thirty years' war (thirty?) and Enlightenment (for good and ill) all shaping the eventual Westphalian detente which was the social and political nesting place of the Bill of Rights and whose benefits we had enjoyed until comparatively recent times' crises of education and belief allowed secularism to claim for itself a default position. While this novel secularism, maintaining a synoptic if not myopic view of religions, is able to treat with Christianity and Islam as though they were different colors of the same bird, the fact that the evolution of the religion of mosque and minaret is layered with little variation on its inception as a triumphalist revelation to a prophet finding immediate ratification in supranormal success at arms holds open the question whether the even handed ornithologist is not in fact considering pigeon and merlin as one.

This open metaphor is fleshed out in perfectly reasonable hesitations over such questions as: the extent to which the mass of Islamic believers embraces the notion of the division of the world into two houses Islam and war (Harb); what is the preponderant interpretation of jihad (there can be no question of not embracing the Koranic concept jihad--the only possible wiggle room is in its real world application and I personally have heard intelligent Mahometans argue each side) and to what extent is the current condition of, for example, the Coptic or Chaldean Christian at home its end in America; and finally indeed to what extent in the minds of not only American “muslims”, but also GZM backers (moral and financial) worldwide, its construction is a consummation of the events of September 11, 2001--just as, arguably, the construction of the Dome of the Rock on the site of the last temple signified the triumphal conclusion to the conquest of Jerusalem.

We might heartily endorse {MAF}'s obeisance to religions’ freedoms with its proviso that they cannot effectively act against other religions and still maintain a healthy agnosticism concerning where the limit of being meets that of acting or whether indeed they may overlap--nay, whether in some philosophies they be synonymous. Can the First Amendment be held to protect a religion to the extent that its essence is act--and that act of war? Building a "cultural center" certainly is action not ontology, and whether it is an act against someone is another open question. The pain felt by Sep 11 victims' loved ones if not decisive cannot at least be dismissed outright.

I think those who unreservedly endorse the GZM should stop to consider a hypothetical case in which Christian internecine frictions approach in intensity those between Christians and Mahometans not just in the U.S. but throughout the world. Suppose for instance a poor Black Protestant church (and under-insured) in the South is successfully targeted by Klan arsonists. What is the proper Christian attitude for members of the congregation of that church to take, when they discover that a comfortable White Protestant congregation whose members probably include a few Klan sympathizers (though less likely Klansmen and probably not arsonists) has legally purchased the land and is planning a larger more opulent White church on site? What should right-thinking city planning and zoning officials do?

Affidata al Cuore Immacolato di Maria

Yesterday they installed I discovered they had installed the stone at her head sometime in the last three days. It's beautiful and I kissed the letters in her name.

I'm not sure it's where they said they'd put it though. I thought it was going to be just half on her spot and half on the spot next to it which I've two thirds paid for. It looks better where it is. Maybe we can wait to move it until I'm underneath.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 11, 1962 - April 1, 2010

Today was her birthday.

Date begins

Pro'lly a mistake to try to walk for nearly an hour in this humidity to make 7 AM mass at the Shrine of Bl.FX Seelos (yes, he's German, but seemly). They asked me if I swam, but I know they were joking because I didn't smell as bad as the River (not quite as bad). Weekday early morning mass isn't at the Shrine, though, it's around the corner and six blocks up ________ St. in the little wooden chapel associated with the shrine. The small rectangular white wooden building seems like a small country Protestant church, complete with an organ lofts so tiny there wouldn't be room for much more than Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn to sit with their legs dangling over between the rails. The Mass was Catholic but with a Protestant Evangelical sort of atmosphere. The way people came up with their own Prayers of the Faithful reminded me of giving "Testimony"--I did too, though,;I asked for prayers for the repose of ms' soul. Fr X (I know his name, but I'll leave him anonymous here) toured the whole church--maybe thirty people--at, what's it called, hand shaking time? People were good though and greeted with kind words and condolences afterward. And I can't say there were any liturgical abuses, although I prefer my sacred vessels purified on site rather than taken off stage right by the server and returning after a minute or two of loud pressure washing sounds. I joke, but when I think of all the churches around the world in which the Blood of Our Lord is not worshiped down to the smallest trace it disheartens me. In aggregate, the tiny drops spilt must be an ocean for each tiny drop spilt on Calvary.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Day 7 ends up all well.

Ah, THIS is why I came: Gumbo at Coop's and Miss Sophie Lee at the Spotted Cat on Frenchman Street.

Day 7 in NOLA continued.

Once or twice I've mentioned the smells I'd noticed coming in the car window in this or that location, or in such and such county. Drive with the windows down in hot summer in Louisiana; a new aroma meets your harried senses each time you inhale. The odors ranged from deadly sulphur to animal carcass through rotting vegetation; the fragrances from far off sea salt to sweet fruit pies baking, including ripening summer crops and heavenly fried chicken and seafood. Most often you'll encounter a maddening mix of any three to five of these, and more, too--unidentified, sure, but instantly remembered should you ever pass by again.

New Orlean's famous French Quarter is different. Here, every city block has its own peculiar scent. The few block of Bourbon street between St. Peter and Bienville is oppressive. The smells are largely rotting garbage, vomitus and excrement smells plus others I don't recognize. The sights seem to confirm that no one here is happy; everyone desperate: the locals on the make desperate to suck the next dollar out of the brushcut and coiffed, rounded pink middle-American boys and girls desperate to suck "experience" out of New Orleans. Fail to quicken your pace and avert your eyes when passing the fleshpots (at once viscerally and intensely attractive and just as intensely repulsive in nearly the same organs), their hands are on your shoulders and back and fingers tug on your sleeve. (is there a possibility I'm guilty of slightly more than failing to quicken and avert? Ummm.)

I return to my hotel to wash for dinner. Panic is a point like one of those black spots in your eye that darts over to a different locus when you try to examine it, but never disappears--but in my head not my eye. The rest of my body seems to take the brunt of Bourbon's Street's oppression, and I'm slow of foot and heavy of shoulder, my entrails sunk deep in my abdomen. Misgivings. Why have I come here?

Friday, August 06, 2010

First post in NO. Day 7.

I've only been NO a few hours, but everyone here seems a little subdued, even slightly unhappy. At least people speak more quietly -- they come to life at night maybe. We'll see.
I checked in and parked my car about 8 blocks away and on my way back from the parking lot to the B&B with all the stuff I had forgotten (natch) in the car, including a framed 8X10 of ms--like, I know, I know; stupid, eh?--carrying a picture of your dead wife around on vacation--I stopped in to have lunch at Fiorella's on Decatur (their specialty is Fried Chicken--and it IS good--but they were out of oysters [do you even serve oysters in August?]) and I didn't exactly set the photograph up on the table on purpose, but it was face up on top of my notebook, another book and some papers. Anyway, although of the two waitresses I had the middle aged one, the twothirdsways pretty twenty something one kept looking at me and smiling. The mind of a 30-pounds-overweight and on the short side, fifty (can I say -ish? Nah, guess not) year old (hey, at least I'm not balding) widower... boggles. Still, my grip on reality still can curb my considerable vanity from running away THAT far! I noticed, too, that had I brutally inflicted multiple fatal stab wounds on my waitress screaming that the red beans were cold, the stunning eighteen year old houri that had entered the restaurant five minutes behind me would never have picked me out of a line-up.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Day 7. Red Stick

It thundered and poured all night but it cleared up for me to make Mass @ St. Agnes. Found it in time for confession with bad directions, one educated surmise and one stone dead guess. Again, someone wanted me to find it. Agnes? Simple respectful celebration in the Ordinary Form nothing to complain about, but I'm still in withdrawal after the Oratory. The church itself is impressive, but I forgot my camera in the hotel. The priest knows people from Canada (I confessed being from Canada as one of my sins)--Alberta--and he asked if I knew them (okay, he never asked that). Within seconds of reaching the hotel after Mass, the sky opened up once more with capaciously diluvian intentions.

After cooling my heels (or jets, I can't remember) for a coupla hours in the hotel, we set out for New Orleans in a steady but much reduced rain. Great White, Once Bitten, Twice Shy came on the radio and got me ta thinkin'. So I did some research and discovered that twice bitten is not four times shy, but three. And like you I erroneously jumped to the conclusion: n times bitten, n+1 times shy. For upon further investigation it was revealed to me that three times bitten, five times shy--and shouldn't it have been obvious from the beginning that Fibonacci was behind it all?

I called it "Nawlins" once quietly to myself in the car, but even though I was alone, I blushed; so we won't be doing that again. It's sunny here.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Entering LA day six

I wish my right ear weren't deaf instead of my left, then I could listen to the radio in the car when the windows are open. Instead, I sang: Me and Bobby McGee and Don't Get Around Much Anymore, both twice straight through and I thought about ms (somewhere near Salinas, I let her slip away; awfully different, without you). Then I cried for while and afterward repeated snatches of Don't Get Around all the way through St. Francisville.

Now I'm busted flat in Baton Rouge.
No, wait! Here--I have my credit card and it looks like about forty-five bucks in cash. Sorry about that; false alarm.

More day 6 in MS

In Natchez the river stinks. It's flat and broad and iron rust and grey and it looks dead, but it's not, it's just very tired. While the Mississippi in Minnesota can betray a gentle but buoyant hope and even down in Missouri can cling to those expectations, nowhere on its length does it manifest that boyish exuberance that comes only from springing--a synonym of giving, not coincidentally.
The Mississipi is a taking river, sucking up all the waters of every rivulet and stream from the Rockies to the Appalachians. Like an old man (to dust off a hackneyed metaphor) who's spent his entire life taking, who once vainly expected to find life restoring novelty in each avaricious aquisition, and whose impotent lust finally now is worn off, in Natchez the river is jaded, flat and broad and it looks dead, but it's not, it's just very very tired.
In New Orleans where the river seems to lie in pieces, I fully expect to find them celebrating its wake.

Note to self: Change boyish to youthful.

Day six in Vicks (burg)

I like Vicksburg; my foot started to feel better on the Vicksburg National Military Park Tour (I recommend it, if you haven't been: it's very moving, and large scale--actually surrounding the town just where the Yankee besiegers and Confederate defenders did at the time); The people there are very friendly--it's the first place I'd say I'd encountered true Southern friendliness--and industrious. And I did one of my favorite things to do in a strange city--got my hair cut. And I got my picture taken with the barber (shamelessly allowing her to believe that the haircut was so good, I was gonna show the photo to my barber at home).
It's a picturesque city with still many very magnificent plantation houses kept up, but what they really know how to do is cemeteries. On top of all the memorials to fallen officers which simply are absolutely everywhere in town, the graveyards just poke themselves out at you, ironically demanding your attention where the graves themselves, row upon row, are individually so humble and nondescript--the private not just the military graves. The whole town's a memento mori--but more: a testament to courageous, anonymous and thankless death. We flatter ourselves that people will remember us when we're gone. Not for long, buddy, not for long.

There are some run down parts of Vicksburg and some people hurting, but nothing like the degradation in Memphis (especially in the South). Pray for the people of Memphis. ( I was gonna write, "they need hope... and change" but that would be insensitive of me).
Fruit only idea died after seeing "Solly's Hot Tamales" on Washington Street and admirably resisting temptation only to discover I've been heading down Washington in the wrong direction. I defy anyone to drive past Solly's Hot Tamales est 1939 twice. The tamales are twice as good and half again as Abe's in Clarksdale.
Driving through Port Gibson the main thoroughfare corresponding to highway 61 is known as Church street (as in "Save Church Street") and it is literally lined with churches, one after another First Baptist, Second Presbyterian, Third Methodist, Second Baptist, Third Presbyterian, Second Methodist, First Episcopalian, First Methodist--I couldn't figure out why the Methodists rans in the opposite direction to everyone else.
You DO know I'm just making most of this stuff up, right
Update August 8: I only just noticed now that the enormous couple of sunburnt whales I met on the Vicksburg Park tour and kepts running into (not literally, I should point out to those who know it's a driving tour) at the many points of interest, who said they were from Louisiana and who told me each time we met to "be careful" in New Orleans--were in fact angels.
So... I apologize for being so unobservant and slow.

On the sixth day...

I missed 6:30 Mass at St. Mary's in Vicksburg. Slept through my wake up call and my alarm. Own damned fault: on this computer much too late.

At breakfast I got my first southern, "Bless your heart," of the journey--maybe of my life if you don't count jocular ones--after I apologized for standing, "confused and dazed," like a slack jawed lump in someones way. I'm going to treasure it in said heart. Anyway, the fruit only idea took a little knock 'cause I slept late so there were no fruit left at breakfast.

Day V - Northanger Abbey (No Spoilers--they're unnecessary)

Day five comes to a close with me navigating my Chevy up the drive of Northanger Abbey, General Tilney at my door graciously to hand me down...

Naw, just kidding. I meant to say I finished Austin's (Jane, not Steve) Northanger Abbey at lunch and the ending is horrible. What's more, the authoress knows it is and jokes about it. The last snippet of narrative relates the facts Henry and Catherine walked to the Allens' house and back after a short visit. The rest is just the authoress herself--not even the "narrator"--telling us she's not going to write the ending, but here's how it would end if she did, complete with a little, "Remember that little machina I introduce back in chapter twenty summat? I forgot to tell you there was a deus in it; anyway, he popped out, so that solved that problem, right?"
There was a place for the authoress to slip back into the first person she began the novel with, so I'm not complaining about that. Just that it should've been two or three chapters later, when the story was actually finished.

Dafe I've

Breakfast at memphis econolodge (actually in the basement of the club across the driveway). Self toasted--in a broken toaster--bagel and more bad coffee all in plastic and polystyrene was so tawdry it was literally funny. The News Readers on the TV were scaring me with tales of "record breaking" (they actually repeated the phrase several times) heat in the mid-South.
"How ya doin'" seems to be the standard greeting in this part of the country.
Doh! Looking for Madison Avenue in Memphis (you can see where they tape Mad Men) I run up third past Jefferson then past Adams and I see Washington up ahead and I STILL don't realize I'm heading in the wrong direction.
So you're from the Great White North; you're rolling down the 61 at 70 or 75 mph (you don't actually know because you don't have cruise and your speedometer is in kilometers) in 104 degree heat with the windows wide open; not daring to tempt the A/C to fail in case you need it in Arizona; wondering seriously if the engine temp guage needle really hasn't tiny-fraction-of-an-inched up since you last glanced at it... And every two or five miles you come up to a bridge over a little stream or gully with sign just ahead of it warning, "Bridge May Ice in Cold Weather"
Do you drive into oncoming traffic?
The smell of hot humid Tunica county MS is an order of magnitude more intense than that of Jefferson county MO and commensurately more affecting. Fortunately, they've fine tuned the growth:decay ratio to more like 5 to 1. It's a pleasure just to breathe. Sometimes, I never want to stop.
Vicksburg, MS. Foot hurts; touch of gout I think; been eating nothing but meat the last three days. Also it doesn't smell gangrenous and it hurts to much for leprosy... so ya, definitely gout... or cancer. I'll eat nothing but fruit tomorrow and see what happens...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

New facts learned earlier in Day 4 about Day 3

At lunch I was reading the Preface to the Vatican Edition of the Roman Chant and on page xvj at paragraph VII it says in part,
When the Preface is finished, the choir goes on with the Sanctus and Benedictus. If these are sung to Gregorian chant they must be given without a break; if not, Benedictus may follow the Consecration...
That is what happened yesterday. A polyphonic Sanctus preceded and a polyphonic Benedictus followed the Consecration, confusing me no end... well, end, I guess.

Day four ends in Memphis, TN

Beale Street is a cartoon parody of... I guess, Beale Street. I stopped in the first place without a cover charge and caught the The Dr. "Feelgood" (naturally) Potts Band, fronted by Dr "F" Potts himself (naturally). The band was quietly competent if a little staid, and Dr F had one of those great fat blues voices like cranking the Bass AND clicking the Loudness button, if mic'd to distortion and a tiny bit out of tune. He played a mix of well-WELL-worn (I'm talkin' REALLY well-worn)standards and material from his own CD which he introduced by track number (making me laugh out loud, as they say).
I went next door for a pulled pork sandwich. And the band there was SMOKIN'!! But after their break they started to play again and were actually quite good (see what I did there with the "smoking" joke? Funny, eh?) But, seriously, the two white kids on guitar and bass (the first with a thin white person blues voice, I actually found much more credible than Dr. F's) were really good and the drummer was nuts amazing. Crazy imaginative but always always in time. Utterly fresh!
Memphis has some N words who really know how to handle pan. I wonder if an angry rebuke would have turned them away, but that wasn't in me (not to my credit--I'm just built like: always greedy; only rarely angry). I ended up just giving it up, certain enough that my time in town was short enough that they wouldn't have time to take it all.
I think I'll try to make saying "The 'N' word" as taboo as saying the "N" word. Then if it ever comes to pass, I'll giggle myself to asphyxiation, a suitably ironic death.

Day four continues on hwy sixty-one south. I've just entered Perry County

When you live on a river like the Red, it's so little affecting, like a single nondescript tree, you can stare at it every day and walk away unchanged. When you live on the Mississippi, like a terrible mountain, you don't want to look at it. It's too insistent that you come down to the end with it, refusing to grant permission to turn around and contemplate its Source (that must be done sneakily). It's like falling from the sky--or any other activity that comes to an abrupt and unpleasant end with no second chances--I mean, like life.
So people don't look at the river. In the big cities they cater to tourists who wanna see it for the romance, but in the towns and farms they don't look at it--except perhaps those with an already fey disposition, I don't know. You can't see the river from town, there's a railroad between you and it (I asked one fellow if the river was just on the other side of that right-of-way over there; I might have asked him if his victims were just in that freezer over there). And along highway running its length, you're separated by not only the train tracks, but the next set or next two sets of hills or at least a broad muddy cultivated flat (cultivated with what? I'll have to find out). You can't see the river, only the steam above it. But the mist, too, reminds me of death.
There are quite a lot of roadside Marian shrines about.
Stopped to take in the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal at Saint Mary's of the Barrens Church in Perryville, MO for another three decades and to collect on a couple of--uh-- shall we say favors?
Passing through Cape Girardeau, Mary made me turn off 61 onto William to ensure I saw her Cathedral (a fellow in Ste Gen mentioned it, but didn't say where it was, and I didn't find out till I drove up to it), but I forgot to wear a shirt so equally she ensured the doors were locked. So I walked once around it, and on the fourth corner I looked up to see a little fountain garden just in time to glimpse a cardinal flitting off from a drink before flying up to a tree across William Street. "Wrong diocese!" I yelled after her. Old St. Vincent's was also locked... Odd. I thought old St. Vincent didn't get around much anymore.

Day 4

Mass @ Ste Genevieve (Ste. Genevieve, MO), after yesterday is like crashing to earth. The cruciform church itself is very fine but with a small altar plopped down in the front half of the sanctuary like a card table, a very tall priest (with a very short alb) and one elderlish server in civies offering a simple ordinary form Mass in English, it seemed like a little girl playing tea party in a palace with a plastic toy tea set while the good china lay behind her in an ancient cabinet. The tea was real anyhow, so, however humble, it was no counterfeit.
Breakfast a the Old Brick House in St. Gen. Apparently it's the oldest brick building west of the Mississipi to offer free wi-fi (1790 I think they said).
Actually the new altar in St. Gen was lovely, with fine carving in front. It's just small and, to me, looks a little out of place in such a grand sanctuary.
Stopped in a St. Mary's (in St. Mary, MO) for a decade for ms--another church built when architects and artisans still knew that beauty lies in forms not in informalism. No one around. Church door unlocked. (Only the certainty that no one reads this blog quells the concern that someone will now use this info to go steal the silverware).

Monday, August 02, 2010

Day 3. Cont.

In the valley, leaving Jefferson County and entering Ste Genevieve. The crickets are incessant; their whispers culminate in the roar. "Breathe in the fragrance," they say: wet, sweet, lush and green-- to my untutored senses, used to the frozen and sterile North, almost jungle-like; three parts growth and one part decay it fixes my attentions soul and body down to my bowels insisting, "you are temporary." Don't I know it.

Up on the crest, highest around, I catch sight the great rolling waves of treetops running East, bluer and bluer they recede until finally after one more crest lies unglimpsed the brown ribbon--how far?--the brown ribbon that will join me to the sea.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales begins promptly at 10 with the ringing of bells. The priest enters anticlimactically at the end of a great procession; such a slight figure with tiny face and hands he looks a callow sixteen, reminding me of some medieval child saint whose holiness at eight years of age is so profound he is allowed to take Holy Orders at thirteen. By 10:14 the last echoes of the Introit have died away and the Kyrie immediately follows; it is short lasting only three minutes or so and we have the Gloria well under our belts by 10:25. Things are spinning along. The homily is largely on pride and so speaks strength to my weakness. Cloths are laid on the altar rails at the Offeratory in anticipation of Communion, a practice with which I was not familiar. The polyphonous Sanctus and Agnus Dei are breathtaking.

The family sitting in the pew directly in front of me are of three daughters well bespectacled, well mantilla'ed and deadly pious looking the image of their mother but for the colour of their mantillas (white) and the lack of a certain gentle and wistful softness only a few years and motherhood can bring; a fourth daughter, too young for mantilla has beautiful big black doomed eyes with which she moons at me; and finally, the son just on the cusp of toddlerhood. Before Mass his father stroked his eyebrows and his lashes blinked closed and open more and more slowly, finally settling on a closed position. I stare at them and think of ms and I cry and I cry again as I write this.

I saw them again all lined up for confession except the three youngest and blest them (for what that's worth) as I left.

Later the Cardinals beat the Pirates as I eat tapas like the antipasti ms used to make.

On my way to lunch I stop and listen to a shirtless old man with grass shears in a lawn chair (with an empty lawn chair beside him--meant for me?) gripe about Mexicans and city hall until I realize there will be no way to end the conversation except for me just to leave. The conversation began, "Know why I'm cutting this grass here (about 2 sq yards) with these?" I resolve to go back and share a bottle of beer with him and sit and listen, but he's gone.

Day 2 finishes up in St Louis.

Exposition, Vespers and Benediction in the Fearful St. Louis Cathedral.

DAY 2 begins in a fog (so what else is new?)

On the road by seven the fog finally lifted by seven twenty (that's a dangling participle, to those who were asking me) giving me my first glimpse of Iowa. It turns out I was misinformed: they DO have corn, there! I also saw some miniature cows which I assumed were closer than they appeared and if you take exit 21 off the I80 you come eventually to a town called What Cheer (no exclamation point, but hadn't there oughta be?).

In Hannibal MO (Birthplace of Mark Twain--though, in one of those strange quirks of literary history, none of the locals knew he was called that until much later) I ate sausage gravy which stands up in peaks on biscuits, and I caught my first glimpse of the Mississippi River. It is not nearly as crystal clear or fast flowing as I'd been led to believe.

Day 1 (cont)

Entered MN @ 4:04 PM. Wilkin County has cornfields and Otter Tail County has great rolling yellow sandy hills.

I fell asleep for a while; suddenly I was in Iowa without understanding why (oh wah). Night comes much earlier and inkier in Iowa. A sickly sweet warm mist lay on Ames I didn't know warned of a dense marine-style fog which was to last the entire night swallowing up Des Moines and then Newton, where the promise of tomorrow's race had poured gentle American folk into all inns to brimming. Slept in a fog, in a car in a fog.

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I'd be a blackguard and a cad, if I weren't so ineffectual. The less said "About Me", the better.