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August 2023
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Music Reminder/Heads Up

Until this week, if  you listened to Paul Sings Paul on Spotify, you heard two versions of my songs; one sung by me and one sung by my freelancer. Alas, that  set up a sometimes invidious comparison. Still, Mine are better orchestrated and sung with more heart.

Or go to the PSP page and listen for free to either the MP3s of the individual songs, or the half-hour program that presents all 10.

Will there be more? Ask my muse if you see her.

Falling in Love With History

Helen Cox Richardson, whom I blogroll every week (Letters from an American) mentioned recently that she fell in love with history early in life.

History and I have a had a rocky relationship for 58 years. We’ve been friends, even friends with benefits, but I’m not sure the relationship ever rose to the level of love.

I kissed her first in 1962, a month after my tenth birthday, when, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, my mom put my brother and me to bed one night by telling us there might be nuclear war before morning. That dalliance continued for a decade of duck-and-cover, during which she was an overhanging presence.

Then we started going steady in my teens. I understand that it wasn’t uncommon in my generation for teenage boys to be interested in World War II. I read all the books I could find on the subject…

[See this entire entry here]


[length warning] My wife recently decided to cull the museum that I call a clothes closet. I could not have made the decision alone.

One of the first things to go: all my suits, including my first custom-tailored suit: a three-piece black pinstripe made for me by the Scottish tailor in the back alley behind what was then Bank of America world headquarters at California and Kearny. Given downtown SF’s regular icy fogs, it was made of sturdy wool. In sunny Contra Costa County, it was less suitable. I had only worn it once or twice a year for a decade, so out it went. Since my weight has varied by 80 pounds over the years, that suit had been taken in and out more than an accordion.

Fortunately my high school letter sweater escaped, so I wore it for the first time in decades this spring. Shockingly, no moth damage. Also shockingly, it still fit.


Tux sweater-piecesofstring1

The 1940s white Tuxedo jacket bequeathed me by my father-in-law (my dad only owned one tie, and I got that too; so far, no tie culling) is still there; I wear it once a year at a band concert.

I wear my tuxedo at least four times a year at band concerts, and although it was tailor-made for my in 1985, it looks as good as new because a) it is seldom worn, and b) I paid a ton of money for a quality job.

Cull to the contrary notwithstanding, I still have shirts that are older than my daughters.

I am certain my 30 ties will end up being worn in some of the Bay Area’s finest homeless settlements, but I am slightly saddened that my two dozen cufflinks, unwanted by my sons-in-law, are going to end up scrapped―not even used jewelry stores want them. Outside of acting, television and politics, there is no man left in America who still wears French Cuff shirts.

I, on the other hand, wore then in high school 57 years ago, at a school where most boys wore tee-shirts.

Now you know more about me than you ever imagined you would. Throughout history, people have judged others by their clothes. I used to wear bow ties because I thought they made me memorable. As one colleague said to me at the time, “Bow tie or not, no one who has ever met you will ever forget you.”

Retiring Old Subway Cars

BART recently announced the retirement of all its 53- year-old subway cars. I could not help remembering my July 1975 interview with MBTA Chairman Robert Kiley, new on the job after stints at the CIA and Boston City government. I have a copy of the article, and found I didn’t include this exchange, although I recall it distinctly.

“Why is it that the first train on the Blue Line each morning is a 1923 car?” [Then 52 years old]

“Because the 1923 cars will start reliably in bad weather, while the 1956 cars will not.”

I am hoping that the experience will not be repeated here, since the old BART cars will not be available the way the MBTA 1923 cars were. Maybe the new ones will be able to run on wet tracks.