The Bumbastories Sunday Magazine Section

Today’s Sunday section features the following:

Keen Political Analysis: What Is Really Going On in Washington Anywaze?

Sitting On Top of the World. A song to listen to so you don’t get too bored.

As I Sat On The Hill and A Childhood Memory. This wayward departure from the As I Sat On The Bus formula serves double duty as an AISOTB and as a folksy piece of nostalgic fluff.

A Sports Section: a tribute to a fine basketball player and a Los Angeles Clippers Playoff Update. What? You didn’t know Bumba was a Clippers fan?

Another Art Review: Alexander Calder at the LACMA museum


The Obama Presidency, the Republican party’s secret strategy: the role of Big Money in Politics etc, etc.”

Although the media markets and sells their coverage of politics as entertainment with good guys and bad guys, the actual forces moving the players in Washington are larger than life: Government institutions, entities that take on lives of their own (What a life!): Bureaucracies, fueled by petty, personal concerns, but with great inertial force, like glaciers: and then the corporations, flooding the floors of Congress with dollar bills. Currently, moneyed interests are in control. It’s the age of banana republics. The forces, the players, are monolithic conglomerates. A guy like Obama, the politician on whom so many pinned their hopes, is just a guy like everybody else – an ambitious fellow who instinctively knows to go with the flow. He is just one of the players. The moneyed interests (and there are many of them) currently trump Obama and the U.S. Congress. It’s time for some simple constitutional amendments.images

1. Direct election of President. After the Florida election debacles you’d think this one would have happened already. Nope. Everything’s a struggle. The people will have to organize and fight like dogs for even the simplest of reforms.

2. Publicly-financed elections. The politicians currently spend half their time fund-raising. They are indebted to their donors.

3. Shorter election campaigns and primaries.

4. Removal of corporations’ individual rights

5. A graduated income tax where the rich pay higher taxes. Oh, that’s right. They already have that amendment. Oops.

6. Repeal of the 2nd amendment, or at least abolition of assault weapons.


Sitting On Top of the World

imagesThis is a plain blues that is sung a number of different ways as it is rooted in a number of different traditions. But, no matter who, when, or where it’s being sung, it’s still Sitting on Top of the World. I like the image of sitting on top of the world – feet hangin’ down. However on this version I forgot to sing the verse about top of the world feet hanging down. Mostly it’s harmonica.


As I Sat on the…..(AISOTB#34) and a Childhood Memory

Announcing an expansion, an extension, a widening of the rules for the Bumbastories As I Sat On The Bus Invitational!

Entries will now be accepted for anything that begins (or includes somewhere in the text) the phrase As I Sat On.

Under these new rules, you can be sitting anywhere, albeit the bus and other modes of public transportation are still preferred.

This week ………

I sat on top of an grassy incline, an artificial hill at the public park, and gazed out at the setting sun. IMG_1491 On the field below a nine-year-old boy with a plastic baseball bat was whacking a wiffle ball senseless. And then chasing after it, tossing it up fungo-style, and smashing at it again. Then walking after it, picking it up again, taking another swing…Etc, etc. The boy tired after four or five of these wearisome maneuvers, tossed the bat in the air, and layed down on the grass.

I was reminded of a boyhhod friend, Bill M, who would play stickball by himself for hours at a time early in the AM’s during the summer months.

Bill just loved to play, and he played viciously – which is how Bill did just about everything. Bill was fundamentally violent, solitary, almost disdainful of others, and competitive. Not many of the kids ever liked him. And Bill didn’t care about that either. Bill was a great ballplayer, and as such, qualified as our leader.

When Bill tried out for the high school baseball team, it was immediately clear that he had made the team. The coach asked him to pitch some batting practice to some of the team members. Bill was striking them all out. Blowing it past them. What a fastball. And Bill had a curve too. Then Bill messed it all up for himself. He beaned two batters. Intentionally. I guess he thought he had to brush them back from crowding the plate. Or maybe Bill just got mad. That’s just how he was. Bill never played for the high school team. And, as I say, nobody ever liked Bill very much. But he was some hell of a ballplayer.


Here’s to Jamal Crawford

What follows is the ¤Bumbastories¤

¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤Clippers Report¤¤¤¤¤¤¤

This article was sent in by one of our readers (OK, it was me) …

¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤Here’s to Jamal Crawford¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤



OK. The Clippers had a nice season. They’ve blossomed. DeAndre and Blake, together with a sterling (no pun intended) backcourt of Chris Paul, JJ Reddick, Darrell Collison….. and the wonderful Jamal Crawford – surely one of the most enjoyable players to watch in the NBA, nay, in the history of the NBA – have a chance to be NBA champions.

Here’s to Jamal Crawford! What a pleasure for the Clippers – and what a treat for us fans – to have this beautiful player who is capable of scoring at all times.

Now, if Jamal and JJ Reddick are both strong and healthy… Well then maybe ….just maybe… we Clipper fans may have us a championship this year. Could that be? After all these long years (like 30!) of second division finishes? It’s a long shot, but it’s possible folks.

Ah, but can they overcome San Antonio and Oklahoma City? Or Miami, Indiana. Or Memphis, Portland? Or nearly any of the Western division playoff teams? Can they overcome their first-round oppponent, the Golden State Warriors?

It’s bound to be a great NBA playoffs this year. A lot of teams could win it.
To quote the great Ralph Lawler: “Clipper fans, fasten your seat belts!”


                 ………………..CLIPPERS UPDATE


OK, the Clips lost the first game. Maybe I put a curse on Jamal. He had a terrible game. Couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Looks like a great series between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors, who are a terrific team too.

Still, and looking forward to more playoff action, I’m glad we have Jamal Crawford on our side.


Art Review: Alexander Calder at the LACMA museum

Another heads up to those readers in the Los Angeles area. The Alexander Calder exhibition at LACMA is still running. It’s a treat. Our official Bumbastories art critic visited again and wrote the following.

This Calder exhibit, so lovingly displayed and presented at the Resnick Hall at LACMA reminds us of the joy of art for its own sake. Calder celebrates beauty and balance. He entertains us with his craftsmanship. He brings joy. What a pleasure. Again, Bumbastories gives this exhibit two thumbs up.

Seen below, an outdoor Calder mobile at LACMA. (Photographs of the special exhibit are forbidden)








How do you write? Keyboard, touchpad, or good ol’ pen and paper?

Writers, writing in the night.
Dickens, writing in ink and pen I suppose.images
A quill and a bottle of ink.
At his desk.
Three candles burning,
The great man writes on.

Hugo, writing reams of prose.images-1
Spewing it out.
Writing by day, writing by night.

Dostoevsky, writing deep, deep into the night.images-2
Feverishly of course.

All of them.
I see them writing in the night.

Screenwriters, hecklers, princes and poets.
Writing late into the night.
All of them, all of us.
Writing into the night.


Sitting on the bus and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

Sitting on the bus…..

“Whatt? Is this going to be another of those As I Sat On The Bus things?

Whatt? Are we to suffer through yet another of those ridiculous AISOTB diatribes about public transportation, and writing on the bus, and how the buses are always late, and what this country needs…..”

…on the way to the train IMG_1454 IMG_1469 IMG_1470 IMG_1471 IMG_1472

…..on the way to the annual L.A. Times Book Festival at the USC campus……



Actually, it’s just a George Packard  piece about…..

“Oh. OK. We don’t mind George Packard too much….”

Well then. With your kind permission, George Packard, retired schoolteacher and roving reporter for Bumbastories, was down at the USC Book Fair.

It was jam-packed with all kinds of people, crowding all kinds of booths selling all kinds of books, courses, club memberships, and even some snake oil. But mostly books.

George checked out some of the publishers, publicists, printers, and some of the other writers at the Festival. George had some lovely conversations with some lovely people, It was a pleasant day at the Book Fair.IMG_1473IMG_1474

George Packard wondered whether he’d ever get to sell the two books he had written and self-published. George thought he might try to sell them on the Bumbastories blog. After all, he noticed that Bumba’s buddy, Stephen Baum, had done that with his two books. Both of Baum’s novels were up for sale on the Bumbastories blog.

That Bumba is a genuine supporter of the arts, thought George. Either that or genuinely stupid. It’s hard to tell sometimes. IMG_1482






















No Expectations

No Expectations by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards is perhaps one of their lesser known songs, but it’s a great one nonetheless. And Maybank and I love to play it.

“Take me to the station”….

Click to hear it.

Dreams, hopes, aspirations, ambitions, even expectations – all these lofty constructs – are generally sources of psychological pain.

OK, I know. People like to hold on to their hopes and pie-in-the-sky dreams. Idealists, pollyannas, dreamers, people of “faith”. They say that without hope life is simply too cruel. Well, I say that life is cruel enough without clinging to false ideas and hopes. We’re only here for so long – a blink of the eye in geological time – and there’s no sense wasting time dreaming.

“Blues is truth,” said Brownie McGee.
“All is sorrow,” said the Buddha.
“And keep playing that country music!” says I.

As Sat On The Bus (AISOTB) #33


Bumba felt truly sorry for his coverage of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority. So many times had he scolded and scalded and scrutinized the bus service, teased and taunted the L.A. mass transportation system (or lack thereof). Why was he always so rough on the MTA?

Bumba felt bad about all these posts on he had written full of snide complaints about the long waits! All those various and sundry other whinings and whelpings and wailings about the poor service!

As Bumba sat and waited for the #20 bus he felt genuinely contrite about his past treatment of the MTA. There is no such thing as a bad bus after all. Buses aren’t born bad. And of course the drivers were most all of them good people. They were good drivers. There was no reason to be so hard on them.

Bumba liked to argue – and still does – that reducing the fare to 50¢ would invigorate the system and probably even pay for itself in increased ridership. That increased ridership would lead to improved service, more frequent buses. “Build it and they will come!” If we want to save the world and not choke ourselves to death in a fossil-fueled calamity we need to use less energy.

As he wrote, a large, red truck, a heavy armored Dunbar truck pulled up and parked right in front of him filling the immediate area with its exhaust fumes.

“We gotta reduce the noxious emissions,” Bumba told himself as he got up and found another bench just a few paces up the street. “And they should have more of these benches, shaded benches too, at the bus stops. That would be another decent thing to do.”

Any extra costs (if any)(and the Federal government already funded about half the MTA budget) caused by the reduction in fares could be paid for by a gasoline tax of, say, 50¢ a gallon. In fact, a national gas tax of 50¢ a gallon would not only reduce emissions but could probably bankroll a comprehensive, commuter-friendly mass transportation system in every state.

As he wrote on, Bumba reflected that he was either writing very fast again or waiting a very long time for the bus.

What? Is Bumba going to start complaining about the long waits again???

Ah! There it is! The #20 bus! Bumba could discern its orange rooftop peeking over the Wilshire Blvd traffic horizon. (Bottom line was that Bumba liked the buses. It was a bit of a love-hate relationship, I suppose). Never mind. Here’s the bus. Bumba gotta go.

By the way, tomorrow, Sunday, Wilshire Blvd will be clear of all the noise and fumes. It’s bicycle day (CicLAvia) on Los Angeles’ grandest boulevard! No cars allowed.

“Should be cool,” thought Bumba. “The other time they did it was really interesting. A great success all around! Hey!” images-1 images


Nobody Knows You

That’s right. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out. This is true. And sad. Feeling down and out is something we all go through each in his or her own way. There are hard times and good times. Ups and downs. We all struggle to keep our heads above water sometimes. But some people seem to have it harder. People on the streets. People without homes. People without money for food. We who have more walk past (or drive past) homeless men and women every day. It is always sad. Many prefer not to look. And we all try to do what we can to help. We give a few dollars. But a collective effort is required – the kind of effort that we should expect government to apply. Surely it is the task of our government to help the needy, to house them and provide at least for their safety and good health. The problem of homelessness mushroomed under the glorious reign of Ronald Reagan the actor cowboy. We should demand of government a fairer distribution of wealth. This song was written by Jimmy Cox in 1923 six years before the world-wide Great Depression of the 1930′s  It’s a wonderful song. Hoping you’ll join in.
But don’t be sad. It’s not a sad song at all, as it simply and openly looks at the truth. And firmly announces the speaker’s intention to bounce back. People bounce back. All of us struggle on. We bounce back.

Maybank and I love to sing this one.




The Bumbastories Sunday Magazine Section

At a time when most print newspapers are closing shop and the big, fat Sunday newspapers – with their familiar Sunday Magazine sections -  are becoming relics of the past, Bumbastories proudly presents…..

The Bumbastories Sunday Magazine Section

Today’s Sunday section features the following:

A song

An As I Sat On the Bus feature article

A poem

A Word Puzzle of “Humorous” Anagrams

An Art Review/Recommendation


A song

First a song for you to click on and to accompany your reading. Click to hear Bumba and Maybank perform a Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee composition (and an apt title for what follows): Confusion.


As I Sat On The Bus (No. 34)

or Bumba Complains About the LADOT Bus Service

IMG_1410As I sat on the bus I reached into my backpack and took out paper and pen to write. And I began to write. I wrote furiously. I wrote one lengthy tract on The Fall of the Roman Empire. I knocked off a three-volume work on Egyptology. Also a 250-page book tentatively titled Some General Patterns of Human Cultural Evolution.

Yikes!!! What a slow bus!!!  I had already written eight major tomes and we were just barely half-way to my stop!

As the brave little bus chugged along I wrote on. Nothing could stop me nor the flow of ink in my pen (indeed some of it got on my sweater). The poetic image of “Blood-Ink” coined by Shaheen Dhanji came to mind. My pen kept going, my hand moving by a force of its own.
I wrote what would later be called by the New York Times Book Review as “a Confessional”. Actually, I believe it wasn’t the Times but I myself who used the word “Confessional” to describe this sudden outpouring of raw emotion.
But undeniably this was my final note and I include herein instructions that this autobiography be opened one year after my death (may I live to 120).

This is my final draft. My truth. The truth about myself. Not the phantasmagoric blatherings of Chester Knowles or the Phantom, nor the silly personna that I (or perhaps it’s Bumba) present so slyly – or as slyly as we can.IMG_1411
No. It was the real me that I wrote about on that long and lonely bus ride. I wrote of the dark and secret places where I seek shelter and comfort – those mental recesses, those foggy, shrouded haunts where my imagination takes me. I wrote of…….

Well……Sorry, I have to sign off now. My stop is finally coming!



A Poem of Long Shadows

At the time
Of long shadows behind us
We walk toward the orange sun

Residential streets
Bask in their brief moments of warmth

Peace to the world!

A gesture of peace
What could be finer?
As the sun sets on another day



A Funny Pages Presentation: The Scrambled Puzzle – which, of course, you are to Unscramble.

Unscramble these four words to reveal an unimportant message of questionnable humor.

M L P G H E __ __ __ __ __ __

E L B I __ __ __ __

E P E E E P __ __ __ __ __ __

O D O O O D __ __ __ __ __ __

Now, take the letters indicated by the double lines, unscramble them, and you have

a  — Y — – — joke.

Ha Ha.


Art Review



Finally a reminder that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is hosting a wonderful exhibit of Alexander Calder mobiles. If you’re anywhere near L.A., Bumbastories recommends checking it out.

The Magic of the Threes


Welcome to the Bumbastories Countdown.  A semi-mystical review of the numbers. A salute to the Magic of Numbers. Today we salute the Three.

Ah! The Three! The Triad, the Triangle, the Holy Trinity! The Three Graces before that. Everybody loves the three.

We all know that you get three wishes. Three’s the charm! On the other hand, three strikes and you’re out!

The Two (the number two, the concept of duality)  splits unity (the One) into our world of opposites: the dialectic: yin and yang, life and death,  Abbott and Costello.

Forget who’s on first and what’s on second. The three complements the picture, makes things more balanced and interesting – that is, if you can manage a trois (sorry).

Connect two points and you have a line. Connect three points and you define a plane, and there’s interplay between three points, three people, three forces.


The vesica picsis - the intersection of the two circles –  generates the equilateral triangle. We  were introduced to the triangle in geometry class. Remember? Congruent triangles, similar triangles, isoscoles, and right angle ones? The triangle is the cornerstone of trigonometrimagey – and the main character in Euclid’s plane geometry, which has provided scientists and the rest of us with the template for logic – a system where you need to prove things before you think they’re true - a condition which is apparently hard to swallow for some of our modern-day “believers”.

Once again, hurray for the triangle! Hurray for its strength of structure! Paste two of those sturdy equilateral triangles together and you get a hexagon. And then, if you happen to be a bee, well, you’ll have a place to store your honey.

More about the hexagon in another post. Back to the three. We grow up listening to stories about the Three. The Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs. Three wishes! Of course, we heard those stories during the Terribles Threes, and childhood goes by 1,2,3, as they say.

As adults we encounter the Three Musketeers, Three Coins in the Fountain, Three Days of the Condor, Three Dog Night, the Three Stooges, and the Tri-State area. In basketball there’s Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, Miami’s Big Three, and the Triple Double (sounds like an oxymoron, though!). Baseball has the triple play, three bases (the fourth is called Home), and three strikes and you’re out as already mentioned. Speaking of three strikes and you’re out, I’m out of here (three sheets to the wind!).

A Satisfied Mind

“But little they know

That it’s so hard to find

One rich man in ten

With a satisfied mind”

Is there one rich man in ten with a satisfied mind? Is one out of ten or less an empirically accurate portrayal of the spiritual health of the upper class? Is it really so hard to find a rich man with a satisfied mind? Should we be feeling sorry for all those “poor” 1% ers? This song, this old country song written by Joe “Red” Hayes and Jack Rhodes and recorded extensively – by Johnny Cash, Porter imagesWagoner, Dylan, Baez, even Ella Fitzgerald! (I heard it first performed by Ian and Sylvia) - clearly posits a highly negative correlation between wealth and satisfaction. Last I looked, one out of ten is not exactly great odds.

Is it really easier to find satisfaction when you’re poor? Sounds like a load of “you know what” to me. However it is undeniably true that happiness is not easily purchased. As the Beatles said, “money can’t buy me love”. And, in general, most would agree that “better rich than poor”. Well, Bumbastories doesn’t want to get too heavy or philosophical at this juncture, but certainly many people have given this issue a lot of thought.

“Money, Money, Money, Money!” chanted the O’Jays. They cautioned that “Money is the root of all evil”. But, as a wise man once said (and I’ll conclude with this quote), “Rich or poor, it’s good to have money.”

Satisfied Mind is one of the first country songs I heard and that I tried to play on guitar. It’s pretty simple. I like the way it springs into the fifth each verse. I’m not sure of the lyrics anymore so I only played the tune on the harmonica, which is just as well. But here are the lyrics for your reading (and singing) pleasure. (As always, you are invited to please sing along).

How many times have
You heard someone say
If I had his money
I could do things my way

But little they know
That it’s so hard to find
One rich man in ten
With a satisfied mind

Once I was winning
In fortune and fame
Everything that I dreamed for
To get a start in life’s game

Then suddenly it happened
I lost every dime
But I’m richer by far
With a satisfied mind

Money can’t buy back
Your youth when you’re old
Or a friend when you’re lonely
Or a love that’s grown cold

The wealthiest person
Is a pauper at times
Compared to the man
With a satisfied mind

When my life has ended
And my time has run out
My friends and my loved ones
I’ll leave there’s no doubt

But one thing’s for certain
When it comes my time
I’ll leave this old world
With a satisfied mind

How many times have
You heard someone say
If I had his money
I could do things my way

But little they know
That it’s so hard to find
One rich man in ten
With a satisfied mind

Key to the Highway posting

Here’s another Key to the Highway hot off the press. For more Key to the Highway posts click on Key of X or Key of Y , or Key of Z to the Highway or another

On some of the other posts I talked about Key to the Highway, so you can consult them for more information on the song if you like.

There are lots of other lyrics and there are several different blues songs that use this same progression. Anyway, please join along if you know the words.


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