…Son: Counterculture Feminist Poet Raises Football Player

October 1, 1976
Officials at Emery High School in Emeryville,
California, were surprised when a popular female
gym teacher showed up with a beard. Doris Richards,
in a yearbook photo eating a banana, described by a
former superintendent of schools as “the sweetest girl
I’ve ever known,” spent a six-month sick leave under-
going a sex change operation. The teacher, who now
wants to be known as Steve Dain, informed the school
he wants to stay on the job.
           The San Francisco Chronicle

The Alien Becoming the Familiar

During our fifty plus years of residing in north Berkeley, my family and I have had the opportunity to sample a wide variety of cuisines. Nearly a decade ago, strolling down Solano Avenue we counted nearly 30 restaurants offering Indian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Mexican, Vietnamese, Chinese and variations of all- American meals with the exception of a Subway sandwich franchise, no fast food outlets.

Sweet Alabama

My social media feeds were full of calls to “Boycott Alabama!” “Leave!” “Never go there!” Andy Borowitz, one of my favorite political humorists, posted: “Americans given new reason never to go to Alabama.” I saw lots of Likes and Ha-Ha emojis. And then disparaging comments along the lines of: “Stop writing insults about Alabama; they’re 50th in education. They can’t read that shit.” More ha-ha’s.

Not So Fast, My Dear

If you read the popular press, it seems many people dread turning fifty, feeling as if the hourglass has now been flipped and their life is certainly half over. Against all common belief and expectation, however, fifty turned out to be one of my best years ever. Not only did I go way beyond my comfort zone, stretching my mind and body, by hiking the full fifty-mile circuit of the High Sierra Camps in Yosemite National Park, ascending from about 6000’ to 11,000’, but I also met Norton.

On Not Getting Down To Write

I think this morning, after I check the headlines and start the laundry, I’ll get going on a couple of pieces of writing I have in mind.  Exploratory things.  One, an account of my year in Walthamstow, East London over 40 years ago; a year of robust immigration to the UK of British Subjects from India and Pakistan. I was living in Manor Park, E. 12, and teaching reading in a primary school in E. 17. The idea for this piece was sparked by a news story I’d recently read about the arrest of several putative airplane bomb plotters from Walthamstow . I think I’ll see if I have anything to say about that so I begin:

Virtual Robert Levin

We sat in my car parked by the beach at Todd’s Point smoking a joint; this was Mendocino after all. I had brought Robert the book of photographs we’d produced after he’d moved into the nursing home. He was pleased with the quality of the photographs.

IF

We are sitting in the living room, the late afternoon sun making its way toward the horizon, casting a warm glow on the walls. My son and I have been chatting, catching up on family news. He is about to leave when we are startled by what sounds like an escalating argument on the street below.

The Holdup

“What children of a marriage rarely witness is the nature of the love that brought the whole thing – themselves included – into being in the first place.”
– William Trevor, May 1993, New Yorker Magazine