Monday, January 28, 2013


Photographer Steve McCurry shot one of the most enduring photos ever in 1994, the “Afghan Girl.” Sharbat Gula, a Pashtun refugee who had escaped the Russian invasion of her country to Pakistan was noticed because of her electrifying eyes. Shepherded by her grandmother (her parents killed by air raids) she and her three sisters and brother hiked a week through mountains covered with snow to get to the camp. The photo appears as the June 1985 cover of National Geographic. Recently, at age 28, 29, or 30 she was found 17 hard-lived years later—a married mother of three (a fourth child had died)… a survivor in Afghanistan. Invasion. Resistance. Invasion. A quarter century of war, 1.5 million killed, 3.5 million refugees. She barely looked at McCurry for the reunion photo and certainly wouldn’t smile, since that bit of intimacy is reserved for her husband.

A Country A Week

In an effort to learn even a little bit about the world beyond the USA, I'm picking a country a week to learn a little bit about. There are 257 countries in the world (including 66 partially disputed). In alpha order, Afghanistan is first.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Doorman's Diary 1.18.13

I arrive. Man my post at the door. People come. I could end my entry right here. It is uneventful, except I am flummoxed twice. A young couple comes and I ID them, more as a show for the bartender who fights off demons all the time. There’s the what-if-the-cops-come-and demand-to-know-if-we-checked-IDs demon and the if-I-get-caught-serving-the-underage demon and there’s probably a mamma-wouldn’t-approve-if-I-get-caught-breaking-the-law demon. The young man shows me his driver’s license, while the woman shows me her passport. The passport throws me for a loop. The photo doesn’t match her in real life—hair length and hair color are different, but those are variables that 20-something females change. I wave them in. The second flumox is when two couples crowd the entrance. One gentleman offers to pay but only has $15 in cash and while we’re doing the what-do-you-mean-you-don’t-have-an-ATM dance, the other guy wips out a $50 bill. I’m confused at first and think I was just handed a $20, then learn I’m mistaken. The simple arithmetic of 50 mnus 20 elludes me. I punt to the bartender, who often struggles with simple math. He handles the transaction like the captain of the grade school math team. He looks at me like I’m an idiot, which I am at that moment. I said, “Sorry, they were changing out dfferent demoninations on me so I needed to break the flow so I wouldn’t be victim to a shell game scam.” He shakes his head and I think, “Good, keep the bartender wondering, which is fine since I am the mystery known as The Doorman

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Doorman's Diary 1.10.13

There is a blue hue to the though a backlight was being smothered  by black cotton. It's comfortable, not menacing...a perfect night for jazz. I arrive for my duty at the door knowing I will enjoy the night more than I should. We have a jazz guitar quartet. The guitarist is ancient and could easily claim to have invented jazz. As far as he's concerned, he least for the greater city where we live. He created the jazz program at the local music conservatory where most everyone in jazz with local roots has studied, taught, or tutored. He is a god. And like all old gods, he's cranky, impatient, and less perfect than he used to be. He still plays exquisitely but the the frenzy is gone. He's more relaxed, which matches my need for the night. It also matches the needs of a young couple, in town here for a government employee convention. They melted into their stools at the bar and had exhale aaaaaaahhh grins of satisfaction -- as did a foursome sitting next to them. I notice that two guys of the three guys and a young woman foursome has ordered Jameson neat. I mention to the Jameson sippers that they need to someday soon try the 18-year-old Jameson. I learn that they are both a couple years within university graduation--one is a CPA and the other a mechanical engineer. "You guys defy the stereotype of being quiet introverts," I say--realizing as I say it that I'm being rude. "Oh, not at all," they say. "In most instances, that's accurate." They are genuinely nice and likable guys, and emblematic of a generation that goes to a university for a profession, not to expand one's view of the world, and gets a high-paying job after graduation. The expectations are realized. The well-ordered plan is followed. I break from them and watch the old guitarist finger his way through a lovely solo and smile in appreciation knowing that my enjoyment--as well as everyone else's in the club--is his pay.