True stories with a twist!

Posts tagged ‘tattoos’


Everyone I told  “We’re taking a trip to La Jolla, California,” had the same response.

“I love La Jolla. The weather is ideal, the scenery is beautiful, and the restaurants are top notch. It’s paradise.”  A friend said, years ago, after returning from a business trip to La Jolla, “If I lived there I would never get anything done. It’s always so beautiful that I’d want

to be outside all the time.”      

When we arrived my first impression was everyone seems so healthy and physically fit. Wherever I went I had to jump out of the way of bikers, dash aside for joggers, and scoot off from power-walkers. People are slim, trim, energetic.

Styles are distinct. Never have I seen so many tattoos on all manner and ages of people. Not just subtle little rosebuds on shoulders, but body engulfing colorful designs on whole arms and legs. “Do body colors clash when friends go out together?” I wondered.

Dogs are very much in vogue: most people have a couple of them lying around the house. They provide dog parks, dog beaches, and dog novelty shops for their pets. I overheard someone ask her friend, “What’s your dog wearing for Halloween?”

On cross streets, drivers politely wait while pedestrians walk in front of them, crossing streets free from traffic lights or signs. The city must save tons of money in electricity bills that traffic lights would cost. After a few days of walking along ocean beaches and through hilly streets of town I was beginning to feel fit too, not to mention relaxed and mellow. Maybe this really was paradise.

And then things changed.

We were walking back from “Cody’s,” a small cafe where we stopped for breakfast. The sidewalk was quite steep. As I looked up ahead I saw a figure walking fitfully, having trouble with his balance. He occasionally tipped toward the figure walking next to him. The hill was not slippery, but he was having difficulty maneuvering his way down. A sudden glint of metal appeared as we approached, and we were startled to recognize that he was wearing two prosthetic legs. As we came closer we saw a boyish face that had not yet known the experience of shaving cream and a razor.Then came the next shock; Behind him was another young man wearing the same prosthetic legs as the first one. He was walking quite well without anyone’s help. When we saw the third amputee we knew this scene meant something unusual. I heard someone say:

“Good luck in the Triathlon on Sunday.”

Back at the hotel I learned that we were witnessing the arrival of United States’ Service wounded athletes, there to compete in the annual Challenged Athletes Triathlon of La Jolla. It  consists of a one mile swim, .44 bike race and a 10 mile run.

The courage I witnessed that day went straight to my heart. The brave, struggling young servicemen allowed me to see first hand the tragedies that war leaves behind.

What a coincidence that the passionate anti-war governor from South Dakota, George McGovern died the same day we returned home. He flew bomber fighter planes during WWII, and said  “No hell could be as painful as war.” He was a strong opponent of the Vietnam War and a critic of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He knew firsthand the kinds of tragedies war leaves behind.

Even Paradise has its limits.


In my own car can I indulge in my guilty pleasure. And I do.

Listening to the radio station playing Golden Oldies. My ears and memories become enriched with the nostalgic music of youthful times. I know I should be listening to Bach, Brahms and Beethoven but am transported to a happy place where I listen to Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Rosemary Clooney.

While my friends discuss timely celebrity interviews on the Public Radio station, I am replaying “Rock Around the Clock.” As they discuss the Presidential debates I think of Fats Domino and “Blueberry Hill.” As they ponder world politics I ponder “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?”

The Four Aces. The Crew Cuts. The Big Bopper. As my father said about the music of the 40’s, “They don’t write’em the way they used to.” He meant HIS music and I mean Mine.

From the generation of Big Bands and crooners to the bopping rhythms of Rock ‘n Roll to the noisy beats of heavy metal, every generation has its style and its sound.

I  fondly remember attending a concert at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Some of the greatest names in Rock ‘n Roll music appeared during those two glorious hours. To see “The Temptations”, “The Penguins,” and the “Dell-Vikings” all at one time on one stage was the thrill of a lifetime.

Every group in the 50’s had a soloist with a voice lower and deeper than “Ol’ Man River”. The lyrics usually explored the pain, thrill and angst of a sixteen year old’s love woes.

And the current youth’s views?

No matter how “cool” any member of any generation thinks they are, the teenagers of the next generation laugh at the silly way they dressed, looked and sounded.

The current styles of tattoos and body piercings, will be sneered at by the two year olds right now having temper tantrums in supermarkets.

Everyone is entitled to his own taste and style, and I love my secret rendezvous in my car with its AM radio.

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