Anyone for the key of “E”?

I have a musically gifted friend who lives (at the moment) in an apartment nearing a loading dock. Trucks back continually into the area during portions of the day.

The high “E” tone the trucks emit is a major distraction. It won’t be after he and his wife finish remodeling the home they bought in their city, but, meanwhile, that “beep” gets on his nerves.

He says he can tune his guitar with that back-up tone going off. It’s that predictable.

He asked, via Facebook, for favorite songs in the key of “E” he could play to play over the tones.

He got plenty of suggestions. Mine was “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder.

He posted a great piece that I have to reference here. “Sky Church Hymn” by David Sancious and Tone made for a great listen for a Saturday morning.

Next time I’m bothered by back-up tones, I’ll know what to cue and find the volume control.


The Little, Brown hard-covered collection of iconic images by Ansel Adams is worth every minute I gaze on it.

Every once in a while, there are nuggets of prose, too, that are worth re-reading. Here’s one, reprinted from his foreword the 1979 publication of “Ansel Adams: Yosemite and the Range of Light.” (There are a number of essays worth their salt at then end of the collection of stunning photos.)

Adams writes of his time with the Sierra Club, his involvement with the conservation movement (He valued still more getting away on his own in his beloved wilderness with his pack animal.) and his time as custodian of the Le Conte Memorial in Yosemite Valley.

“I passed through the messianic period, battling the implacable devourers and mutilators of wilderness, and gradually I entered a more philosophic, humanistic stage where I was able, in some small way, to separate personal euphoria from impersonal appraisals of the rights of man to participate in the bounties of his environment. The fact that he has fouled his nest and seems certain to continue with his destruction seems now more of an illness than an expression of evil intent. The problem is not whether we must save the natural scene, but how we may accomplish it.”

I wonder what Adams would photograph and write now, if he were alive. I wonder if he would be able to maintain a philosophic stance. I doubt it.

Here’s a try



Tuck and roll.

Chin tight against chest.



A light kick.

Over you go.


Sometimes coming back,

Arms high,

Sometimes not,

Palms up

Back flat.

Worlds spin

Atoms curl

Around a gravid,





And repeat.

Writing that sparkles

Columbia Journalism Review, in one of its weekly e-mail updates, included a link to a collection of stellar writing, titled “The Lives They Lived.”

The link showcases stellar writing for the special web feature by The New York Times Magazine. Pick any of the pieces. You’ll be rewarded.

Particularly gripping for me are the stories of Cheo, a Puerto Rican at heart, and the short story on Maggie Roche.

While I would much prefer to hold a printed volume in hand, I have no bookstore handy and I’m far too impatient to order on line. Thanks to the web, I have a fix.


“Butt ugly.” That’s the word a school official used to summarize the action of a recent basketball game here in town.

After 30+ years with a small weekly, I’m finding myself wool-gathering at times, and tonight, the summary “butt-ugly” sticks while I muse.

I’m a little more charitable myself when describing less-than-graceful high-school basketball. I lean more towards “character-building,” which is more of an evasion than a description.

I’ll have to go with the school official and his description of the evening’s play after tonight’s game, though. Add to the general ho-hum-ness of the action a trio of officials that made more poor calls than good: an out-of-bounds call when the ball was stopped inches within the sideline — dozens of hand-check fouls, some called, some not, mostly not — body checks that sent players to the floor — three or more steps allowed on a drive to the hoop… the list goes on.

When the shoulders of the head coach from each team slump almost in unison on call after call, you realize you’re not the only one noticing. When a couple of parents that patiently endured the junior varsity game give up and head for the door rather than yell at the refs, you realize you’re not the only one noticing. When the cheerleaders for either side just raise their voices a notch hoping not to be noticed, you realize you’re not the only one noticing. When there isn’t enough high spirits among the players to tempt a technical-foul call, you know it’s time to put the game to bed and hope for a better showing next time out.

When the game’s over and there are no high fives or commiserations among the players, you realize it will be best just to write off the evening and hope for not-too-many wind sprints for the players in the next practice.

Well, upon a moment’s further reflection, both terms can apply. If the coaches can communicate effectively the butt ugliness of the play there is hope for character building.