French is merely a dialect in France

It is now official.

According to Mario Dumont, leader of an opposition party, the language spoken in France is merely a dialect and not an “official” language in the Province of Quebec because

his children were unable to understand the Parisian dialect used in the French version of Shrek the Third. — globeandmail.com

Unfortunately for M. Dumont, the “dialect” that he fears – whether French or English – will limit for generations the ready participation of Quebec citizens in local and world events. Isolation, whether practiced by language in this case, or formerly by religion, can’t be a good thing in the long run.

Keeping them down on the farm keeps them ignorant. But then, that’s the way – whether it be past or present – Quebec has always liked to keep its citizens.

Link to Montreal Gazette article here.

Fear and loathing in the valley

She was hired to sell biker clothing, and she was good at it. Prior to that she was somewhere down the hill, at a discount mall on the way to L.A.

I don’t remember exactly when I started paying attention to her, but I first noticed her for her saucy walk. It wasn’t overtly sexual – nothing like that at all. It was just, well, saucy. Her long, dark, thick straight hair would swing with her every step. She had bangs that covered her forehead, cut to a perfect line. Her eyes were the darkest brown that I’ve ever seen, and believe me on that, because I’ve seen my share.

She was intelligent, and could talk knowledgeably about almost anything. She had a degree in something, but I’ve forgotten now. She spoke Spanish too. I thought that was pretty cool for a girl from Arizona who left home when she was 14, moved west, went to high school on her own and then university.

She had traveled a bit. North to Vancouver, where she got bored out of her tree and then headed back south. Imagine that — bored in Vancouver. We laughed about that.

I was afraid of her, mostly because I knew inside of me that it would be a long, hard fall and I wasn’t certain I wanted that again at that stage of my life. Then I got involved with someone else and put those thoughts away.

For a while she dated one of the sales guys, got to tweaking with him, and I mostly forgot about her. Well, let’s say that I forgot about her as much as one could while still laying my tired eyes on her every day at the shop. I remember one quiet lunchtime when she told me she had a splitting headache, and one look into her pinprick eyes told me it was from tweaking. I wanted to kick her ass, but of course I didn’t. I hoped she was smart enough to figure it out for herself. Eventually she did, and the salesman with the dyed hair left town.

I still wonder what I would have done had she not stopped on her own.

Much later, just prior to my leaving, we went down together to see the Bettie Page movie. We made plans to attend the film noir festival, but it wasn’t to be. A few days later, she was gone, and then I was gone, and I never saw her again.

I trust you are well, Delissa, and happy.

And one more thing: Thank you.

Derby girls rock!

Sittin' it outI was fortunate enough to show up at a derby demo earlier today, and I was impressed. Those girls are something else to see.

If you’ve ever watched a derby girl close-up doing her thing, you’ll fall instantly in love. Who else could be graceful, tough, agile and quick – not to mention good-looking – while banging out a member of the opposing team? How they keep it all together while slamming each other around a flat track is beyond me.

Rolling on by while warming up

The costumes are outrageous. Torn fish-net stockings. Mini-skirts. Tank tops. Tube tops. Stay-ups. Make-up is grossly exaggerated to match the clothing – with a look from girl-next-door* to naughty* to virgin*.

Yes, they’re wearing elbow pads, knee pads, helmets and gloves while getting slammed onto the floor or into the railing. Not so tough, you think? Just watch them compare bruises before the match.

Did I mention that those girls can skate too?

In my next life, I want to date a derby girl. She’s got it all goin‘ on.

Oh, yeah, there were also some guys wearing skates, but who the hell cares about them?

*For characterization purposes only. I would never impugn the character of any woman, no matter how she appears.

The beat – like the road – is still going on

The mighty scrollIt was released fifty years ago, but Jack Kerouac had been paying his dues for a long time before that. I discovered On the Road on a library shelf when I was 12 or 13. I remember reading the first page there in the library — and I was transfixed; then taking it up to the desk to check out. Perhaps the librarian hadn’t read it, because back then it didn’t even warrant a concerned look from her. I wonder if that would hold true today.

*     *     *

Years later, I pulled into Dalhart. It had been sunny and hot and dry and dusty all day, and I was looking for a cool, shady place to sit down and relax and have a cold one. I parked behind a bar out of sight of the road — I don’t remember the name now, but it’s just one building off the corner of the main crossroad, and still painted gray with a black star on the wall — walked in and sat at the bar. It was mid-afternoon. I exchanged a few pleasantries with the barkeep and asked for a Lone Star.

After only a few minutes of sitting in the cool, dark bar, the sheriff wandered in — in full modern regalia — and proceeded to sit down beside me and be neighborly. He must have watched me pull into the back and wanted to see what was going on. He started out by pushing his hat back on his head and adopting that yokel demeanor that was supposed to hide his interest, and then settled in to tell jokes so bad that even I knew the punch lines.

Well, I wasn’t in the mood for that, so I started stepping on his lines. After about three more jokes I could tell he was getting annoyed, so I finished my beer, got up and got the hell out of there.

I never stopped in Dalhart again.

Neither did Jack Kerouac.

The road must eventually lead to the whole world. Ain’t nowhere else it can go — right? But no matter, the road is life. — on the road, Jack Kerouac

For Julia with the bear claw on her shoulder

It was back in ’96 and I was nursing a beer on a slow, dark Wednesday night in the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar when she walked in and saddled up beside me. She told me that she had been outside on the river all day, and was exhausted from the effort. I mentioned that I had never rafted, and asked questions — probably too many. We talked easily in the dim light, trading adventures until closing time. Finally we stood up together and walked to the door, each ready to go our own way.

“Are you coming?” she asked.

* * * * *

I woke up at twilight. I watched you sleeping soundly, your shoulder uncovered in the early-morning light. I pulled the covers over your shoulder and opened the curtains so that when you woke up you would have an unobstructed view beyond the window and the sunlight streaming through.

I thought of you as I rode along the river in the early-morning mountain dawn. I’m remembering you again today.

Highway Angel

My memory of this is a little hazy now, but back in the fall of ’95…

I was running hard, headed west on the 10.

A couple of hours earlier I was out of Alamogordo – where the day before had been hot and dry, just like all the rest – and through Las Cruces. I had started my journey before the heat would set in for the better part of the day, and thankfully it stayed cool into the morning.

I grabbed a tankful in Deming, and that got me into Willcox at around 0800 in the morning, maybe 0830. Maybe a little later. It was still cool, but the sun was getting up and it was looking to be another scorcher. I pulled into a gas ‘n’ go, picked up some water and climbed the overpass to hit the westbound 10 one more time.

She was leaning against the steel railing at the top of the overpass. I didn’t know she was a she until I was past, of course, but in that split second of recognition I hit the binders and pulled off onto the shoulder. I figured since she had a small bag that I could strap it on the back and we’d be off post-haste.

Instead, on the walk towards her I decided that I’d take my time. She was wearing dark sunglasses, so I couldn’t see her eyes. She was bundled up against the fresh morning air in an old army parka. A scarf covered her head. She had socks and sandals on her feet. She was holding onto a mesh bag filled with what looked like mail, or letters or documents of some kind. I didn’t ask any questions about that.

I pushed my sunglasses onto the top of my head, hoping she’d do the same. No such luck. She left them on the bridge of her nose, revealing nothing.

Angel. She said her name was Angel.

I took her for a local.

She told me she was headed west for a bit, and then north to a music festival, of all things.

Well now, I thought, I could use some entertainment. And it’s Friday. Why not detour around and check out the sights and sounds?

“No problem,” I told her. “I’m going that way.”

I don’t remember the exact exit now, but I’m certain it was well before Benson, and probably by Johnson. She told me to pull off so I headed north. Eventually the road turned west again onto two-lane blacktop.

Now, I’m a gullible bastard when it comes to women, but I try to keep my eyes open. For a music festival trail, this road was remarkably free of traffic, notwithstanding its closeness to Tucson. In fact, I didn’t see any other traffic on the road at all.

I mentioned that.

Well,” she said into my ear, “maybe I got the day wrong.”

Oh, okay.

Let’s see now. I was in the middle of nowhere, having swallowed lock, stock and two smoking barrels a music festival storyline that had started to look and sound more and more like a fairy tale. The woman on the back had her days mixed up and I had no idea where I was headed or what was waiting down the road. I was adventurous, but this was starting to get a little strange.

I went on for another ten miles or so, and eventually came to a small country store, pulled in and shut down. I was somewhere, finally. The road ahead rose up into the hills, and looked to be gravel. I used that as a perfect opportunity to explain that I couldn’t take this heavy decker onto gravel. That’s not the truth, of course – I’ve ridden on plenty of gravel – but it seemed the prudent thing to do at the time.

Angel seemed happy to be there, so I said goodbye and left her to wander into the store while I backtracked on the music festival route to the 10 and on into Phoenix.

In retrospect I’m sure she wanted only to get as close to her destination as she could, and selling a story probably seemed the best way to do that.

Still…