Monday, October 27, 2014


Today I am fifty.

This means I have now lived for fifty years.

One year for each State in the Union. 

This last year was Oklahoma. No particular reason, it's just what was left. Perhaps I should have taken care of it in my teens, but I did Nebraska and then I just kind of forgot. For this year I have no states left. Had we made Guam, or Puerto Rico a State I could have carried on, but, in the end, there weren't enough states for me anymore. 

I am understated.


I want you to know I have thought about this and now I am doing what I can to have you think about it too. What should we think?

If you are younger than me I will say to you that you will be fifty one day as well! And you will find it is neither old nor young, but rather what is happening just then. And if you are like me it will bother you for awhile, but as you get closer and closer to the day the smoke will clear and you won't be bothered really. You will wonder, instead.

What will you wonder?

I wonder.

If you are older than me you know things here that I don't.

And if you are the exact same age as me?

Oh my God! It's our birthday! Happy Birthday!


  1. I do not know if there is something called gorilla blogging, and I'm not sure if this is indeed gorilla blogging or an extended comment that goes far and beyond the average length of a comment or indeed if the comment box will even allow me a comment/gorilla blog of this length (in which case I will likely break it into sections or days!) In any case, I am here to celebrate Feldenstein Calypso's 50 years on this planet with his readers with--what else?--a list!

    (On a totally unrelated and fun note, I did some calculations: If Feldenstein lives to 80 and continues to blog daily, that means 10,950 posts! Yes! Imagine that!)

    On this day celebrating 50 years of Feldenstein, here are the top five reasons why I am forever happy and grateful that Feldenstein became my friend. Some of these become clear in his blog; others (see # 4), probably can't :).

    5. Music: Melanie Safka, the Moody Blues, Neil Young: Feldenstein has always been passionate about music (especially Bob Dylan! Dear Reader, have you noticed that?), and he was never shy about sharing his tastes, with always a bit of a religious fervor. I was deeply influenced by his tastes, which by the way, are not limited to rock or folk music. We once, for example, went to see Mozart at the Hollywood Bowl; we once drove to Knott's Berry Farm to see Eric Burton (I know, back to rock and roll). As a teen, he opened a lot of musical doors (The Doors!) for me, and music, we all know, is beautiful and important.

    4. Bowling, miniature golf, Wilderness Bocce Ball©: I wonder how many of you know that Feldenstein once bowled a 76, followed by a 290? Well, he did, and the bowling alley shut down and served free pizza. That day he also played the game with the collapsing metal claw, and never once missed bringing up a small toy or a stuffed anima! Anyway, we bowled. We bowled quite a bit. We made up names for ourselves, and what a joy it was to find a like-minded competitor. And while there were clearly upset feelings at losing (I mean, we are human!), it was always fun and we always wanted more.
    Hence, miniature golf. The first 700 rounds we played by the rules: small pencils, keep score, lose ball on 18. Then one day we decided it was best to replay holes many times; to invent new rules: using the handle of the club as a pool cue to hit the ball; between the legs striking; hitting while saying the alphabet. This creativity coupled with a competitive streak was great, great fun!
    You may have heard about our trip to the shark-laden waters of the Channel Islands, where I, Grape, fended off a school of many thousand bloodthirsty sharks as they attacked my dear was on a similar trip to Santa Cruz Island that Feldenstein invented Wilderness Bocce Ball ©. You see, after a day of rigorous kayaking (whoa...I'm getting woozy!), we needed some down time, and since there was no miniature golf or bowling, Feldenstein came up with a great idea. "I have an idea!" he said. "What?" I said. "Wait, you'll see!" I sat and watched for a while as he arranged some rock piles here and there, drew a line, and explained the rules of Bocce ball, which I did not know, then adapted them to island rocks. I have a feeling he had this planned and had in fact been on the island for days practicing...because, um, I'm not bitter about it or anything, but I think he won every game.
    Anyway, gratitude for fun!!!

  2. CONT...(only allows 4,000+ characters!)

    3. Reading and writing: FC was the first voracious reader I knew. He read Tolkien, he read Thoreau (see below), he read read read. And he shared his books. We backpacked (see below) and read Rimbaud together; we read out loud to each other. Reading. A lifetime of reading. A friend who read and who was better read likely than many of his teachers (see below). A friend who said by his actions reading is more than important--it's like breathing and living and life. And now he works at a library, where from what I understand a great deal of people go to read books.

    And with that came the journaling. Feldenstein carried a notebook around wherein he had drawings, conversations, cut-outs, etc. I quickly and without shame copied him: I carried a notebook around and did the same. It was great fun to add thoughts, poems, comic strips, just like Feldenstein.

    And on a related note, letters! Many letters over the years. Long letters, letters that would take days to write, letters that were always so fun to compose and receive. I miss those letters. His letters are more to the world now, which is great.

    2. Nature: I remember once (this was later, when we were both in our 30's), we were visiting Malibu State Park after a rain. Our shoes were impossibly muddy. We turned a corner and there was the river, surprisingly wide and strong for the chaparral mountains. Anyway, we just stared, and I said, "There's something about a river." And Feldenstein said, "Yes, there is."
    We backpacked in the California Sierras, in Death Valley, in Anza Borrego desert, in the Ventana Wilderness, in the Boundary Waters. I believe there are other places, too. Feldenstein was my first friend (with a shout out to my older brother!) who truly loved being in the wilderness, who treasured nature at its root: its rhythms, its language. And not just one place: the desert, the beach, the rivers he so loves, the majesty of a tree. I learned from him. He planned our trip to the desert, where we carried our five gallon water container to a canyon in Death Valley, where we met some guy studying for the Bar exam with only a law book. Feldenstein in fact first brought me to the desert, which has become a lifelong love of mine.

    1. Himself.

    Let me explain.

    FC struggled with high school. I can, I believe, with confidence say he didn't like it. He didn't like the rules, the system, the authorities. I do not mean he was indignant for indignance's sake. For example, we both were enamored of our rather eccentric English teacher with black curly hair and a love of Greek myths. (I think she liked him because he was himself.) This, however, caused some trouble: FC once, upset at ********* because of ******** stood on a lunch table in the heart of the campus and recited from Thoreau's Civil Disobedience.

    He has never been afraid to be himself, and that was and continues to be deeply inspirational. He has found a way through the world on his own moral and aesthetic terms. As a teenager, I felt that, and I wanted it for myself, and I saw in him an example that it can be done--sometimes at a cost, but that's all right. It's worth it.

    And now all these years later, his is himself on his blog, which is the best-marketed, most-interesting, most-read by-Bob Dylan, blog in the blogosphere. He continues to see carefully, to think, to feel, to reach outward into the world he loves, and then back in. He is clunky, sensitive, smart as heck, funny, opinionated, generous, and now...50! Grape is here to wish him a happy birthday.

    Please, Dear Reader, sing with me. Okay. Ready. "Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Feldenstein Calypso. Happy birthday to you!"

  3. Happy Birthday mon ami!
    Gracious, that previous guerilla post certainly is big and handsome. I want to tell you that today's post is grand and brought to mind the image of you on a plinth, in a toga, and speaking to the hushed crowd. Hurray!! Gawd kid, I hope you're having a blast in dat enchanted place. ♡

    1. Thank you kind friend!

      That's a very nice image. Where I was for 5 days the crowds were not very hushed. No, not very hushed at all.


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