Are You Or Have You Ever Been a Member of the Friends of the Salt Cedar Society?

My property manager of this triplex in which I live is rather nosey. Perhaps it comes with the territory. This quality of hers has very little impact on me, as I mainly interact with my landlady. So feel free to call me neurotic, because yesterday as I walked outside, I saw her car parked in the driveway beside me truck (it's a very wide driveway). I assumed she was waiting on a potential renter to look at one of the apartments. And as she seemed to be in a doze (perhaps sleeping off a hangover), I decided not to rouse her. I turned left and headed two door's down to Phil's house. He was out of town, so I was walking his dog. So, as me and Cutsie were passing in front of my house, it struck me that perhaps the property manager noticed me in her rearview mirror. And if so, she'd probably think that I was harboring an illicit pooch (pets being verboten in my lease agreement). But, what did I care? I had truth on my side. After a short jaunt down to the river and back, I noticed that her car was no longer in my drive. I thought nothing more about it.

Fast-forward to this afternoon. I was heading out for a bike ride and I saw this guy standing in front of my house. He said he was waiting to look at the apartment. We chatted for about fifteen minutes, and then I saw the property manager drive up. She and the potential renter introduced one another. And then I asked her, “How have you been?”

“Busy, busy. Working like a dog.” And then she smiled at me. “Woof woof.”

Well, it doesn't take Father Fucking Brown to read between those lines. Or am I just being paranoid?



I was at the library the other afternoon browsing through the fiction stacks looking for some inane low-impact reading. Man, I must have been in a bad mood, because it all looked so awful. I thought to find one of Huxley's earlier novels. I remembered Chrome Yellow (his first) to be unpretentious and whimsical. Maybe they'd have Antic Hay or Those Barren Leaves, as I'd never read them before. Nope. There was Point Counter Point. His first serious novel. Not really what I was looking for, but I got it anyway. I also picked up The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond by Chesterton (which might help to excuse my Father Brown reference above) — the appeal was that I'd never heard of this title, and I recall enjoying very much his The Man Was Thursday. And then I ambled over to the science-fiction section. Again, it all looked so awful. I randomly grabbed a Philip K. Dick novel that I'd never heard of before. Eye in the Sky.

That night I flopped down on the sofa and leafed through each and finally decided to start on the Dick book.

I hadn't read him since I was a teen. And soon I realized why I never got deeply into his books — I don't think I've read more than two novels and a handful of short stories. The problem is, he's just not a very good writer. What will keep his books in print for decades to come is the stunning creativity of his work. The ideas are dazzling, but the writing feels very rushed and expository with no character development. And like so many of the novels from the so called golden age of science fiction, the ending is rushed, truncated, and far from satisfying. This is a problem I usually ascribe to novels written to be serialized in pulp magazines. However, I do believe Eye in the Sky was a paperback original. But the man was incredibly prolific and perhaps the only way he could get any payment from Ace Publishing was to hurry the manuscript off in the mail. Make no mistake, there are great ideas in his work. In fact, I'm afraid what will happen to Hollywood (where creativity is as common as Victoria's Secret outlets in the Pennsylvania Dutch country) once they have filmed every novel and short story written by Philip K. Dick. They'll have to start interacting with LIVING creative beings.


I was pleased to receive an email today that a video job I had sent out had been accepted. The pay isn't much, but it came when I needed it. It's actually a mixed blessing. The assignment was for an online video tutorial service where you can learn anything. “How do I macramé a bustier?” “How do I play electric bass in a speed metal band?” “What is the proper way to eat escargot?” These folks over at the Expert Village website got the answer. The reason I equivocate is because I not only produced a set of video tutorials for a particular subject, but I also functioned as on-camera “talent.” (And no, the videos have nothing to do with the consumption of invertebrates.) You see, I am far from a fan of my own “acting.” I get by (one day at a time) reminding myself that I never have to watch the stuff. To put a positive blush on the assignment, there was no tension between the production side of things (myself) and the talent side (again, myself).


A couple days back I got an email from my sister. I was instructed that if a certain birthday parcel arrived before my DOB, I was to hold off on opening it until that day. It came earlier this evening. Shit. It's rough going to leave something be. You know. Like a present. I've slipped that package under the medical examining table that dominates the living room. Out of sight, out of mind. We'll see how that works out.


I know of three large salt cedars scattered around San Antonio. The salt cedar, also known as the tamarisk, is an alien species brought to America in the early 1800s as an ornamental. It has been thriving in the American southwest, most notoriously along the Rio Grand river valley.

I've already written about my friend Enrique's desire fight the bigotry against this universally hated plant.

He has created the Friends of the Salt Cedar Society, but it's a word-of-mouth group only. Not yet official. But make no mistake, I am an early inductee into the FSCS.

Don't try and google the phrase “friends of the salt cedar,” or even, “save the salt cedar.” The general consensus seems to be an almost universal final solution of extermination.

I say, hold back on the herbicide. Take a look at the noble Tamarisk. Here's a particularly tall local specimen — it's in line of sight of Mission San Jose. I'd guess it's about thirty-five feet high. Those black blobs on the grass to the left are medium dogs for scale. (Click on the thumbnail for a larger image.)

Here we see a close image of the foliage, which are sort of feathery needles, somewhere between pine needles and cedar foliage.

So, the next time you hear some goddamn arboreal bigot speak disparagingly of the grand tamarisk, softly query him or her with a “why must you hate … you goddamn arboreal bigot?”

It's all about forging coalitions and building bridges.


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