What would you grab if you had five minutes before a fire started licking at your front door? After the North Bay holocaust it’s not an idle question. Don’t depend on a fireproof home safe guarding all your papers. I saw shots of safes that melted like butter. Have a couple of big envelopes with important documents ready to go. Photo albums are bulky and you should have edited all the pictures that matter transferred to the Cloud. You are on the Cloud, aren’t you? Everything backed up on your computer can be retrieved later. Have a Go Bag stashed in your front closet with a change of clothes and some cash. Always keep your car’s tank at least half full. Right now look around your place and pick out two things of irreplaceable sentimental value you can carry away. Not three. Not four. Two.
Speaking of disasters, were you as frustrated as I was with the media coverage the first few days of The Fire? Teams of reporters failed over and over to tell us exactly where – what neighborhood, what street – were being consumed.
At this stage of life when I am asked, “How are you feeling?” I prefer to lie and say, “Fine” rather than begin what my father called an “organ recital”. Who really wants to know anyway? I am insufficiently narcissistic to discuss my health history but lately I have begun to acknowledge that we are all part of an informal senior medical network and that when I mention a certain ailment, there is inevitably a response like, “Oh, my brother-in-law’s sister had that” and am told what remedies failed and succeeded, what doctors to consult, how much was covered by insurance and where to research it further. We are becoming unlicensed, unprofessional, amateur medical consultants. Now when we step inside our physician’s office we are far better informed though I know someone with too much information who developed a serious case of hypochondria. But better data also lets us be better advocates for ourselves. Doctors, I am shocked to learn as I grow older, don’t know everything.
Who’s winning in Yemen? How are things in Mexico City? Whatever happened to the Octomon? Have you noticed that today’s hot news story, over the course of a few days, drifts to a tiny item on page 18 or to the bottom of online news feeds and then vaporizes like it was nothing but a senior moment? Many of us need to know this stuff. Now that we have the time to keep up with the news, we are becoming junkies and at dinner parties contribute obscure details from the life of Paul Manafort or the anesthesiologist who decked Rand Paul. I know people who, even as the news gets darker and darker, read every inch of the New York Times and watch 4 hours of MSNBC every night. That can’t be healthy.
Nostalgia does not hold much appeal to me (no regrets as the endless celebration of the Summer of Love shut down) but I have to admit to being riveted reading “Sticky Fingers”, the intense biography of Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone who was there partying away at every major event in our generation’s narrative. It helps that the book is written with Tom Wolfe panache. It’s many notches above the HBO chronological historical documentary about the magazine. If you’re looking around for a seriously awesome documentary I highly recommend Netflick’s life of the incomparable Joan Didion.
Detroit seems to be suffering from a lack of imagination. Even Teslas look like Audis. Where once cars were emblazoned with names like Wildcat, Roadmaster and Avenger now we have alphanumeric monikers like the LS, the C70, the Five Series and the S-Class. Yawn. Speaking of automobiles a casual survey of fellow geezers (and Consumer Reports) seems to give the prize to most senior-friendly vehicle to the Subaru – easy to get in and out of, better sight lines, controls that are easy to read and operate.
Nominated for the Most Gobsmacking Example of the Income Gap is at the SF Civic Center BART station. As you gingerly step over the besotted bodies on the sidewalks of the Tenderloin, have a look across the street at the new Proper Hotel, a hipster hangout running $350 a night.