May 2005

A spotless record

By Art Goodtimes

DRIVING ‘EM CRAZY … My dad turned 85 recently. And it was time to go get his license renewed. He’s still alert and all, although his physical body is hardly spry, and he’s limited in his mobility. So, he was a little worried as he got ready to take his driver’s test. Making sure to study up on the state’s regulations … But as it turned out, he needn’t have worried … When the gal behind the counter asked him how long he’d been driving, he proudly noted, “Seventy-five years, without a ticket and not one accident.” … And it’s true, back in 1932 he’d started driving. A year later, at age 13, with an older brother’s borrowed license, he chauffeured his entire family (mom and 4 kids) to L.A. to visit a Hollywood uncle in their Model T Ford … En route, the old car broke down going up a hill. Although he didn’t know much about cars, he took out some tools and got the gear shift apart, substituted the reverse gear for the broken one, and made it to L.A. without backing up … The family found lodging in some cheap bungalows. When the Model T broke down this time, he had to rebuild the entire engine, after school and on weekends, outside in the motor court parking lot, and then put it all back together. And when he’d finished, it worked. And he safely drove the family back to San Francisco … Of course, my two brothers and I grew up with that story — of my father’s amazing vehicular exploits as a youngster. So it came as no surprise when the license examiner waived him through at the examining window. “You don’t need a test,” she told Grandpa Vince, and could have added, “You, sir, deserve an award” … And truly, imagine the accomplishment — driving in California for 75 years, amidst freeways and precipitous coastal highways and daunting industrial traffic, with no tickets, and not responsible for one accident … Urrá Bontempi!

DAKINI DANCE … Tara Stapleton, a Tibetan Buddhist tantric teacher of the Yeshe Tsogyal lineage, held a daka class for men up in Telluride’s Mountain Village a while back. I was glad that I got to join in … I’ve always hated guided meditations. Knees folded. Sitting still. Someone telling you to see things and feel things. It never worked for me. Maybe I remember too many forced morning sessions in the seminary of my youth — being told, before breakfast, the sun not yet up, to focus on various cloyingly religious texts, inert in my chapel pew or hunched over the green leather kneeler … But Tara’s imagining flames being stoked in various of my chakras worked for me because hers is a tradition of sacred dance. And on my feet, moving to the meditation, I was able — in my own kinetic way — to make sense of visualizations. Translating her words into my own idiosyncratic motions … Further, attuned to the Western mind, Tara encourages each person to co-create the energy fields she helps us access, each in their own way. A feminine way. Where diversity and individual vision are honored. Instead of being funneled, in the Eastern way, into set forms. Strict observances. An implacable tradition … Dakini can be translated as “sky dancer” and a daka is the male counterpart, accessing the celestial realms via dance. It is a very powerful practice. And it certainly felt empowering for me … For more info, contact Tara in Santa Fe at

THAT OWENS … Amendment A earned near-universal Western Slope enmity for our honorable Governor, the once-promising Bill Owens. I must admit I knew something wasn’t exactly right when I met some of his “techsavvy” staff – bureaucrats who couldn’t get their heads on straight, let alone design a rural backbone … Of course, there remains the question of the $54 million “computer error,” and the more recent $8 million in overpayments to welfare beneficiaries (again blamed on “computers” – those faceless excuse bins for “government waste”) … Personally I blame a lot of the fiscal jams we’re seeing in state and federal government on those Big-Spending Repubs. Not your neighborly rural GOP folks – mostly ranchers and mainstreet mom&pops – I mean your metro & beltway-based Enron Republicans.

-for Danny Boy
Long slim graphite stick
whittled down to stubbie.
Its misnamed lead encased
in wood. What better instrument
to scratch out lines? Lyrics.
Love poems, rants & reveries.
Than this non-toxic, cheap,
unassuming tool? As common
as words themselves. Needing only
paper. As verses need only voice
to complete the enchantment.
Connecting telescope to star.
to tongue. As in any well-wrought
urn of Grecian simplicity.
Any turn of the carpenter’s lathe
that shapes the village universe.