I have a complicated relationship with relationships.
I also have a complicated relationship with life, work, religion, technology, toasters, wine, my kids, tequila, the Chicago Cubs and basic conversational French.
The other night, we were halfway through an episode of “The White Lotus,” and poof, we lost the streaming signal. The TV made this smearing, glissando sound, like that moment in Mahler’s 9th when 30 violins give way to the two harps.
We didn’t panic. Because, right up there on the TV screen was a helpful solution.
Error code: 4567-Cv99-2037-dshdk-1953-fubv-5729-a377-0384-dkgu-+453-cjds
Whatever. Nothing a slice of nice warm pie won’t solve.
Seriously, I used to get so upset over this kind of thing; now I just laugh. The adults have left the building. Technology triumphs! Humanity has lost the war. Half the world loves tech, the other half loathes it.
Music blows. Movies get worse and worse. But, boy, do we love our phones (note how we cradle them like cigarettes).
As it happens, I am learning to embrace technology. So many error codes and bugs and inexplicable little surprises.
Poof, airlines quit flying. Poof, electrical grids go down. Just wait till the bots get hold of the banks.
No one representing consumers can grasp the issues well enough to fix them.
FYI, I’m really hoping JPL might hire me as its resident poet, where I might knit together space travel, technology, distant nebulae, and Shakespeare’s best sonnets, into something ethereal and somewhat spiritual. Another Torah? Or, at the very least, a Hitchhiker’s Guide to Los Angeles.
I mean, nobody wads together words like me. OK, maybe the brilliant Carl Sagan. He treated words and ideas like celestial ornaments. I treat words like half-eaten sandwiches you stuff into the fridge after you’ve been drinking a little.
As Sagan once explained: We are “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
On that speck, he noted, is “Every hero and coward … every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer … every saint and sinner in the history of our species.”
Sadly, Sagan is gone now. He was one of a kind – a poet, a hard-core empiricist, and in many ways, the artist of our time. He turned the cosmos into our finest symphony.
My theory: Sagan was swept away by rogue aliens he ran across one night while doing research at Cornell. Just a hunch more than anything.
Here’s all I know for sure about the universe: There are billions – perhaps trillions — of galaxies much like our own. Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, contains up to 300 billion solar systems alone.
Do the math. Some other oozy planet must be just the right distance from its sun to promote sophisticated life, build Dyson Spheres, or even streaming cable that actually works.
How many Mahlers must there be out there? How many Dolly Partons?
And don’t the odds favor the possibility that something out there must be capable of kidnapping Carl Sagan, just as something kidnapped your youthful glow, your sense of purpose and whatever political and moral leadership this great nation once had?
Once I get the JPL gig, I hope to accomplish two things very quickly: 1) Find Carl Sagan 2) Put all this into perspective, in a poem maybe, or if I really nail it, post it to TikTok, where it will rise above the inane videos of twerking teens to give the world a better understanding of itself.
And a few laughs maybe.
If nothing else, I want to be able to say to my grandbaby: “Hey Cakes, here’s what’s ahead?! So excited for you.”
The closest I’ve gotten to the stars lately is atop snowy Mt. Baldy, 6,000 feet up from the 210 Freeway, a stone’s throw from La Verne.
Me, I’d rather sit in a chairlift than a pew.
Besides, my leggy date and I are in God’s front hallway. On the chairlift, clouds pass over us, leaving ice crystals in our hair. It is simply heavenly.
Sure, it’s a mob scene up there on weekends – don’t even bother. But midweek like this, you’ll have the place to yourself.
What’s there to do? Not much, fortunately. Hike in summer. Sled in winter. There’s the Mt. Baldy Lodge, fetching as an old piano. You can shoot pool there, or order something called an Irish Monk. It’s the cosmos in a cup, spiked with Frangelico and Irish cream.
That’s how this whole place feels – spiked, heightened, creamed.
Let me tell you, cowboy, that’s really no way to explore the universe (spiked, heightened, creamed). Yet, for one cosmic afternoon…
You don’t have to be a skier to enjoy Mr. Baldy. The scenic chair lift takes you to the top for $40, where you can grab a burger, a beer and a bowl of chili. Dress for temps in the teens, though. And stop at Mt. Baldy Lodge on the way home for warm pie or a game of pool. Info: mtbaldyresort.com/