I woke up early today, even though it was a cool night, the first in about a week. I was up and about at three-fifteen.
As long as it was ungodly early, and there was nothing else on the agenda, I started searching through the crap piles on my desk until I found the not-yet-typed-up manuscript translation of the only archival-based biography of the greatest astronomer of his generation, Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, which you may be surprised to know was written in Russian in 1964 by the “strawberry-blonde” (I quote for that fact the late Smithsonian Institution curator Silvio Bedini, who made a gift to me of an inscribed, autographed, copy of her book when I worked with him at the so-called National Museum of History and Technology in the mid-1970s) Zinaida Sokolovskaya.
I note in passing that this book, which until the late 80s I worked to translate into English, and have off and on since labored to prepare for publication, is not listed among her works (the scholar is still among the living) on the Russian-language Wikipedia entry, linked above.
I found it, the notebook [Notebook Number 16, dated 1986] with the continuation of the manuscript translation, and input about five pages in the next two hours. It is slower than you would imagine, because I have to edit as I go and I have to put her footnotes at the back of the chapter (rather than at the back, at the bottom of the page, or in the middle of the text, the way she does it, depending I guess on her whim). Why it has taken three or four times as long to prepare a translation for publication as it did to make the translation itself, I choose not to discuss at this time and place.
So around six o’clock I took a break and made breakfast for my thirteen-year-old son, John Dominic Meo. When at seven o’clock I went into his bedroom and told him his breakfast was ready, he said, “Oh, great, now it’ll be cold; thanks, Dad.” I responded that it was impolite of him to complain about breakfast being ready earlier than usual — that is, at 8:30 — since he was awake and on his iPad already. That warranted no apology from my surly teenager, who was out the door to his mother’s (the woman I married 24 years ago, who has separated from me and who ordered me into our nuclear family’s rental unit, so that she did not have to abide living in the same house with me) shortly after he ate breakfast at, you guessed it, 8:30.
At around 9:00 I brought a paycheck over to said spouse, made out to my 15-year-old son Michael Kepler Meo for his singing “Norma” at a summertime performance of Opera in the Park, I think it was. It had been addressed to “Mike Meo” at 2925 NE Weidler, across the street from my wife’s house, 3003 Weidler, and she handles the boys’ bank accounts. She thanked me for delivering it and I left.
I got in my wife’s car (we agreed she should have it when we separated, and I had asked for and received permission to use it for a couple of hours this morning) and drove over to Vancouver, where I stopped in front of Main Street Marijuana. Naturally, it wasn’t open yet (it opens at 11 am), so I had a danish and coffee at the Bleu Door cafe across the street. I’m sure it’s illegal, but all the employees there are heart-wrenchingly beautiful girls: it’s good for attracting male customers, and the women like to be around lovely-looking members of their gender.
I looked at my watch when my cup of coffee — “small” — was running down, and there was still more than an hour to go before the marijuana outlet opened. I got up and moved my stuff to a table next to the street, where as chance would have it there was a Starbucks plastic cup, complete with plastic cover and plastic straw, literally in the gutter. Its contents went into my paper Bleu Door cup (reduce, reuse, recycle, mon), and I found to my displeasure that the previous drinker favored spearmint flavoring.
Heck with it. I got up and started to stand in front of Main Street Marijuana. Apparently my arrival was not unnoticed, for the manager popped his head out the front door and advised me that they wouldn’t be opening until eleven. “I’m aware of that,” I replied. It wasn’t long before I was joined by another old geezer (that is, I find it hard to believe him less than 55) who, upon inquiry, admitted to being, like me, from Portland. I gave him my card and explained that I am the Pacific Green Party nominee for the U.S. Congress, District 3 seat in Oregon, which started a conversation that lasted right through the waiting period and the lengthening of the line to around the corner of the building. We agreed on politics, and he found it of interest that I could condemn Steven Hawking for not warranting his reputation. Hawking predicted mini black holes, which would collapse, releasing Hawking Radiation, I told him: we looked for it for about 20 years and then gave up. So someone who predicted a nonexistent natural phenomenon, I concluded, is hailed as the greatest astronomer known.
The six-foot-six and heavy, but personable, black man who acts as bouncer to Main Street Marijuana came out, asking how I felt today. I swear the guy reads psychology textbooks. I answered that I’d had the chance to talk for an hour, which made me feel great, and I went inside. There, the most beautiful woman in the (it’s Clark, is it not?) county told me that no bags of marijuana would be available until Friday. I turned around and drove home without buying a $50 tin box of ready-made joints.
As soon as I got through the door I felt the effect of early rising, and took a nap. I woke up at three. What to do. Well, I thought I’d walk over to Fred Meyers and have a cup of coffee while continuing to read Elizaveta Fedorovna Litvinova’s biography of Struve, published first in 1893 but republished in 1999 by a Siberian publishing house in Chelyabinsk, famous for one of the worst-ever radioactivity spills in history. Purchase of the reprint cost me one dollar at The Title Wave, the Multnomah County Library’s outlet for books they no longer want to keep. I made the decision after masturbating to orgasm over some internet porn site but will refrain here from explaining the unusual interest that site had.
[Sokolovskaya used to same arrangement and chapter titles that Litvinova had, but the most intriguing thing is how Litvinova, the pre-Revolutionary historian, holds out geodetic measurement as crucial to Struve’s career, while the Soviet authoress, Sokolovskaya, well-versed in geodesy, makes no such claim.] For my opinion you’ll have to read the footnotes in my book, when it appears.
As I entered the Starbucks I looked at the pile of what passes for our national daily newspaper, Pravda-on-the-Hudson : today’s front page has the caption (and I don’t know how to link to a caption of a photograph), ” . . . Tuesday, and more U.S. military advisers were heading to the area. Page A8″ I accepted my cup of espresso for two bucks, with change back, from my friend Rachel, and opined, “You know, I could sit out here” — I pointed to my sidewalk table, laden with books — “and smoke up a storm, and no one would notice, but let me loudly denounce the U.S.’s illegal war in Iraq, and within minutes I would be asked to leave.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what happened. Within minutes, at 4:10 pm to be precise, when I had re-entered the store to get my water glass refilled, two burly white men entered Starbucks and said, and I quote,
“You. Get out of here.”
“I refuse,” I answered. “Call the police.”
They do not tell you, ladies and gentlemen, why you are being kicked out; they do not tell you their names, nor do they condescend to use yours. It’s happened to me several times. It’s that the corporate bosses find my politics objectionable, that’s why.
As for how they knew what I had said, there are only two options. Either a customer who heard me complained — Rachel sure didn’t — and that option involves finding out where to complain, waiting at some desk, and then persuading the security guards that that was worth action, or the conversation was heard directly in corporate offices because the store is bugged. The very short time frame makes the latter the far more likely.
I waited to be arrested, then, for the next fifteen minutes, until 4:25. The two guards asked Rachel whether she had their telephone number (she did not) and left.
Almost arrested for my political opinions again. So, what else is new?