Here’s to blind ambition! Blind Ambition, now that I mention it, was a terrific book by John Dean about Watergate. images images-2More recently, John Dean Dean has written several other fine books. Nixon’s presidential counsel turned out to be hero, a diamond in the rough. Hurray for John Dean.

Anyhow, I was talking about ambition. It all depends on what you’re looking for, what your goals in life are. And then it depends on how much you’re willing to sacrifice to achieve those goals. And that all depends on…… ho hum….

Anywaze, here’s a song about a lower-class, red-nech, sort of ambition, and a fine and laudable ambition it is!

Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms, a country classic, sung here by Bumba and Matbank just yesterday is a fun song, and an inspiration to those of us whose ambition is to “lay around the shack til the mail train comes back”.

Bumbastories’ Semi-Monthly Weekend Magazine

Bumbastories’ Semi-Monthly Weekend Magazine presents its Annual Special Edition

Table of Contents

The Compulsion to Write : a psychological analysis (from the back of the bus)

Another Essay About the Compulsion to Write (but written this time from the train)

Another Essay about the Compulsion to Write (Yikes! It really is a compulsion)

An original song by Bumba about the great American city of New Orleans

A Scoop from roving reporter George Packard

A Book Review: a Science book (Oh no, not again!)

Another song (Oh no, not again!)



As I sat on the #20 Wilshire bus I felt the urge to write. Well, not exactly an urge. It’s more like a reflex. The bus image does that to me. Don’t worry, I didn’t make a mess. Ah, but how to explain my life-long fascination, nay, the emotional bond I share with buses and other forms of mass transportation? Any explanation would surely involve a long-winded “train of thought” as well as a pointless exploration of unconscious commuter lines, so let’s just forget about it.

What was I saying? Yes… As I sat on the bus I wrote. I scribbled. I put stuff on the paper. Like most writers, I was confident that if I could only keep on writing, eventually something of some value would emerge. “Just keep writing,” I told myself. (This unfounded and irrational belief in the inevitable appearance of the the Muse is the writer’s version of the “gambler’s fallacy”).

All the same, just the physical act of taking pen to paper, the act of forming letters on a page, composing words and thoughts (even playing on a computer screen if you like) is somehow calming, reassuring, and comforting. However, it’s definitely a compulsion.

I looked up and noticed for the first time that there were other passengers on the bus. I looked out at the window. We were moving on a river of cars, and trucks, other buses. Wilshire Blvd was alive in its way. But while I was writing I hadn’t given any notice to Wilshire Bl. – or anything else. I had blocked everything out except for the paper and the pencil, and my writing, this scribbling, this reflecting on my own thoughts, this somewhat elevated form of monkey chatter. Writing is a compulsion for some (for most of us, if you’re still reading): writing serves to remove us from the world, from reality. It keeps us “busy”.

My elderly cousin calls gambling “her therapist”. Everybody has their “therapist”. Maybe I’ll write something about that……..



th-2 Here’s a song to the City of New Orleans, so fabled in song. What need, you ask, is there for yet another New Orleans song? None I can think of off hand. Anyhow I’m still working on this song about New Orleans, and it’s almost complete. It has that weird throw-in of a slow minor chord section, and I wonder if that works. Anyhoo.

Well, I never been to New Orleans

They tell me it’s the land of dreams

Gonna get down to New Orleans someday

I’m gonna come in on that Mississippi Queen

Prettiest darn boat you ain’t never did see

Gonna come into New Orleans in the morning

Oh, the rains came falling down

Oh, the rains came falling down

And then the levee didn’t hold

On that awful day

Still I’m goin on back to New Orleans

Gonna walk down Basin St

Gonna hear that music, gonna shuffle my feet,

When I get down to New Orleans



George Packard, roving reporter for Bumbastories Magazine, roved the streets of Los Angeles  looking for a scoop, a Breaking News story. George was hungry. Hungry for a scoop……..

“Oh, oh. I can see this comin’. George Packard, lazy slug that he is, is going to ride to the beach looking for a scoop. We’ll ride all around innocent little streets and alleys, metaphorically speaking, anyway, etc. etc…. And at the end of the report you show some photo like this one” images-5

It was nothing at all like that. Please, crazy voice in my head, please let me continue.

“Do you promise that George Packard’s journalistic scoop is not going to be some ice cream cone?”

Of course. I promise. It was ….

“And it’s not going to be soft-serve ice cream either?

imagesDefiniely not! It was Carvel!

“I tell ya Bumba, that takes the cake!”

Actually all I had was a cone. Chocolate. By the way, Carvel’s, which used to be a great institution in the Bronx, has a store in LA. Hey, the ice cream is still great!


BOOK REVIEW: The Secret of the Universe, Revelations in Science by Isaac Asimov

images-3  Another fine, fine collection of essays by the incredible Asimov. The Secret of Life, perhaps a trifle presumptuous of a book title, is simply the title of one of the essays in this charming little volume, It’s a particularly interesting essay that opens, like most the others, with a light, personal anecdote and then coyly proceeds to explicate some complicated matter (or non-matter in this case) of physics. All the essays have Asimov’s personal stamp: a dry sense of humor and a deep and sincere desire to share his knowledge with others. All the essays are written with ease and masterful grace. In this collection, written in 1990, Asimov covers the Solar System, the Outer Universe, and concludes with several pieces on nuclear fusion, chemistry, and human evolution. The breadth of the man’s knowledge continues to amaze. Naturally, Asimov is most expert in the physical sciences, but his erudition extends into mythology, religion, politics, and nearly everything else under the sun (which would bring us back to astronomy I suppose).

Best known for his science fiction, Asimov also wrote hundreds of science books. What a prodigious author! He wrote about 500 books! Truly a masterful writer, he had the essay down pat. To conclude: if you like science, and/or you wished you knew a bit more about science, especially astronomy, and/or you just like being entertained by clear and lucid prose, then give this book a try.



A song to conclude this week’s semi-annual Bumbastories Weekend Magazine. It’s This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie, performed by yours truly last week, and you better sing along.

Have a good week!

Long Black Veil

Long Black Veil. It’s a sad one. I heard it first from a Johnny Cash record. The Band did it on their first album in 1969, the Big Pink one. It’s a gem of a song. It was written in 1959 by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin and recorded by Lefty Frizell, who had a big hit with it. Maybank and I never seem to tire of playing it. So, if you’re not either, then click and sing along. We played it in D.imageUpdate: And here it is again


Another Bumbastories Mid-Week Magazine Special Edition

This week’s semi-quarterly Mid-Week Magazine features the following:

A News Update on the Presidential Race

A Poem with commentary

A hats off to Rolling Stones with a Bumbas Maybank cover of Love in Vain

An advertisement for one of Stephen Baum’s books

A Consumer Corner Report on the 99 Cents Store


News Update:

In 1984 George Orwell predicted a constant state of war – manufactured by the monolithic System in order to control the masses. I’m not sure of their motivation, but recent U.S. governments have generally upheld the necessity for nearly constant military interventions all over the globe. War, including the so-called War on Terror, keeps everyone distracted, on their toes. Naturally, foreign policy, works to insure the outbreaks of more and more wars.

In the U.S., we are the beneficiaries of not only a constant state of war, but, thanks to over-eager media coverage, we also receive a nearly constant state of electioneering. Yikes! The race for President is on. And picking up steam, as a slew of Republican Bozos scamper and scrape for attention. It seems like a joke, but those guys, each and every one of them, thinks they are presidential timber. On the Democratic side, perhaps we will see a real race/debate if Bernie Sanders and perhaps some others can make a serious run. Hillary Clinton has it all thought out, and apparently wrapped up. She is working on her image fastidiously, towing the line laid out for her by her campaign staff, which is somehow sad to see. The race will be the major news story for the next year and a half. Yikes! Yikes again!


A poem on idealism:

A Prayer


Save us

from our dreams

A comment on the above poem

“Whattaya mean, Bumba? It’s good to have dreams. People need ideals. They need their dreams.”

“Perhaps I’m a cynical bastard….”

“No perhaps there Bumba.”

“OK. So I’m not a big fan of idealism. I’m a fan of the truth. I don’t like seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. I don’t like pie-in-the-sky promises, lazy pipedreams, false images, icons, advertisements, all the isms, most of the religious world, and you can throw in all those pictures of cats too.”

“OK, Bumba, what about Plato?”

” Ah, the search for the truth. Plato’s ideal is something else and there are no isms attached to it. Plato’s Ideal is Reality, the great hidden reality that underrlies all we see. The true light. Something abstract and transcendant.”

“Yeah….Well you’re still one cynical bastard.”




Here’s to the Rolling Stones! Hey! Hurray for the Stones. They’ve launched another American tour, just as they’ve re-recorded and re-released the Sticky Fingers record, which is surely one of their best ones.

Here’s a Stones cover done by Bumba and Maybank last week. I think it was on the Let It Bleed album, though, and it was written not by Jagger/Richards but by the blues giant. Robert Johnson. images-2However I learned the song from the Stones record. It tells a poignant story: a goodbye scene, it has a train in it, it’s fun to play and sing along, and, you guessed it, it’s Love In Vain.


Here’s an advertisement for my book. Click on the photo, or go to the Bumba Books page for info.



Here’s to the bargain hunter’ paradise: the 99 cent store, where bargain basement, but decent enough merchandise, often it’s even the identical product they have in the supermarket! are offered at half, sometimes a third of the price. In terms of consumer awareness, the 99 cent stores have been highly educational. We shoppers didn’t realize just how badly we were being ripped off.

The first 99 cents store, which is located on 6 th St. just around the corner from the one pictured below, opened in 1982. Dave Gold, a retailer who lived in the neighborhood, founded the store and quickly built the 99 cent store into a huge corporation, which went public in the nineties and which sold in 2011, after Dave’s death, for $1.5 billion.

Hats off to the 99 cents only store, a venerable and venerated Los Angeles institution. To our great sorrow and disappointment, the 99 cents store now sells things for over a dollar. The packages are also smaller than they used to be. But generally they try to stick to the 99 cents standard.

The stores are perhaps a bit more hectic and way busier than most. It’s not a store for the creme de la creme of LA society, which is fine with me. But overall, like I said, everybody likes the 99cents store. Everybody has their favorite 99 cents items. For me it’s the pretzels, the LED flashlights, not to mention the dollar watermelons etc……All items that cost double at the pharmacy or super.

So a hearty 99 thanks to the 99 cents store.image

And a good week to all.

The Bumbastories Monthly Weekend Magazine

IMG_1107Table of Contents:








Whilst Angelenos celebrated and reveled images-2 images-3 in this week’s unseasonably moist weather (actually just some mild showers, a bit of mist and a bit of cooler spring weather), and whilst the meteorologists wet their fingers, held them up to the wind, and happily announced that there’s a good chance for an El Nino, big rainfall next winter (actually the meteorologists stick their fingers not in the air but in the ocean to test the temperature) – whilst all of these scientific calculations, mist-ifying phenomena, celebrations, reveling and other revelations were going on, the West Coast drought remained critical – particularly in the long-term.

Water consumption, according to LA Times reports, has been reduced statewide by 13%, far short of Gov. Brown’s goal of 25% voluntary reduction. Much more water needs to be conserved. Yes, but how? At whose expense? The politics of water management and control of water resources in California has a long and mostly crooked history. All the same, the politicians in Sacramento will need to intervene extensively with mandated usage limits, rate increases, and construction of infrastructure that will recycle waste water. After all, if you look around, Californians, you’ll notice a lot of desert. And a lot of people…….

Meanwhile, at the Bumbastories Institute for Sustainability and for the Obtaining of Government Grants and Individual Contributions, research scientists report a major breakthrough in water recycling. It’s a bit “hi-tech” and beyond the understanding of most laymen (Please see diagram below). Some of the scientists at the Institute have dubbed their invention “The Plug”. Others are calling it simply “The Stopper”. According to the scientists, the regular insertion of “The Plug” into kitchen and bath drains, together with the occasional use of another piece of technology called “The Pail”, combined with another technique the scientists call “bailing water”, results in significant water recycling savings! “Use that soapy water to flush the toilet. Or throw it out on your new low-maintenance, lawn!” said one of the hi-tech guys at the Institute.images-4

Gee! What will they think of next?



The following field recording was purportedly made by Alan Lomax about 80 years ago. However, it’s also possible that it was recorded sometime last week.


Here’s some info on how to obtain Stephen Baum’s novel titledIMG_1095 One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles



The jukebox at the Step Inn Bar and Grill in West Middleton, Connecticut was playing Bridge Over Troubled Water, an old Simon and Garfunkle song. In a side booth sat Richard Cory, together with his friends Marco, Henry and Franz. Richard Cory, who bore no relation to that other Simon and Garfunkle song called Richard Cory, was gesticulating with his hands, waving them up in the air. Finally he smacked them down loudly on the hardwood table. He leaned forward and announced to his friends:

“Let me tell yez. I’m a victim too. That’s right, a victim too. Of this rotten, effen, capitalistic, sadistic, corporate, capitalistic society  that….”

Here Richard’s words slurred, as he had been drinking beers all night.

As the four friends staggered out the bar onto the still-wet sidewalk, Richard added, leaning against Marco, “And let me tell you something. I ain’t gonna live like this in this dumb-assed town for the rest of my life neither.”

“Well, none of us were ever going to live past 25 neither too. And here we are,” responded Henry with a chuckle.

“Yeah. It all changes, my brother. It all changes,” added Marco.

“Oh, go fuck yourselves,” said Richard Cory.


Note from the Editor: We thought that this might be the beginning of a little novella. So, if you like, you can continue this story yourself. Write the next chapter!



Bumbastories would like to recommend very highly to one and all the music of Madagascar.

The folk music of Africa shines brightly, but is only occasionally brought to light in the West. Paul Simon, Taj Mahal and others have introduced African music to their repertoires. But for most, the mainstream commercial rock/rap/glitz is all they hear. Which makes Malagasy music such a great treasure. In my musical meanderings amongst the stacks of CDs at the public libraries I was lucky to chance upon Malagasy music maybe 15 years ago. The first Malagasy musician I heard was the monumental Rakotozafy, who remains the island’s great musician. Compared on the album cover to the blues giant Robert Johnson, I would place Rakotozafy  closer to the Babe Ruth level. He is a magnificent musician. He plays the valiha, a Malagasy cross between a sitar and a banjo. The Malagasy instruments have beautiful tone. The numerous musical styles of today’s Madagascar are a unique mix of Indian, African, and local traditions. Rakotozafy, who died around 1968, only made one album titled Rakotozafy, valiha malaza, famous valiha. As I say, it is a gem.

There are several fine anthologies of Malagasy music. The Rough Guide to the Music of Madagascar of the Rough Guide series, all of which are quite good, is worth a listen. The
World Out of Time, a two-CD set, is excellent. The Moon and the Banana Tree anthology is also a very good one. Simply there is a wealth of great music and great musicians in Madagascar. Talking of great musicians, Rajery, another valiha player, is a marvel, a phenomenal musician. Justin Vali too. Check it out.


Wishing everyone a pleasant week



Bumbastories Weekend Magazine

This month’s Bumbastories Weekend MagazineIMG_1107 returns to haunt delight us once again with the following features and articles.

An As I Sat on the Bus Poem

A Book Review of Kurt Vonnegut’s Jailbird

A Sports Report, with words of wisdom about the Los Angeles Clippers

An unauthorized Advertisement



As I sat on the bus I wrote. The Muse of Sweet Poetry had struck me again. Poetry? Whatever it was, it had to be brief, because the darn #720 bus was bumping and thumping so much that it was hard to write anything legibly. I needed to write something concise, something endearing. Yes, endearing. Such was my intent.

An Ode to the 720

Bouncing along

Racing through that open stretch past Beverly Hills

Through the golf course

Clanking Careening

Clunking up Wilshire

To Westwood

Shaking us to our bones.

Can’t be beat



(Warning: Writers like to take this kind of stuff seriously)

Ahh, the Great American Novel: The novel that captures the spirit and tells the story of America. Ahh, the Great American Novel….According to Word Smith, the compulsively alliterating narrator of Philip Roth’s fine novel titled, that’s right, The Great American Novel, the entire world is still waiting for the great American novel to be written. In his backhanded way Roth himself shoots for the Great American Novel crown, the GAN as Word Smith liked to call it. Most fittingly, the story is about the great American game of baseball, quite an admirable effort by Roth. All the same, Melville’s Moby Dick is generally considered the G.A.N. Winesberg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson is also mentioned. I think of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath as a GAN. Surely a minimum requirement for any GAN is that it be American. American in subject, American in values and tone.

Which brings me around to nominating Kurt Vonnegut’s “Jailbird” as a GAN. Last week I re-read Jailbird……images-1It’s a book about modern (1979) America: a farce, a satire, a scathing criticism, but somehow a friendly nod to the U.S. of A and to all of us. Vonnegut always aims to entertain, to give us a good chuckle. However, he is thoroughly political, even pedantic at times. He is up on a soapbox, or is it a vaudeville stage? Vonnegut entertains, he teaches us history, he wants to tell us what’s what, to set us straight – and to share a good laugh besides. Vonnegut, native of the great state of Indiana, was an American sort of genius. SteJ of Book to the Future who reviewed Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 two weeks ago, prompted me to pick Jailbird off the library shelf, so thanks to SteJ. The book is a gem. The GAN? Maybe, maybe not. As Kurt would say, “Toodle-loo”.



The Clippers have lost. It was not an easy one for us Clippers fans to watch, the way they folded at the end and did not advance to the division finals (once again!). But never you mind. We Clippers fans are used to it. We can take it. Next season is next season. Life goes on. Wait til next year!



For info on One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles One Life as well as The Phantom Speaks sequel, and Up in the Bronx by Stephen Baum check out the Bumba Books page.


Good News, Bad News, Good News Again

There’s good news and then there’s bad news…. And then there’s good news again. Say whatt? The good news is that my second novel One Life One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles  is available as an ebook on Amazon Kindle for just $0.99! The bad news is that its sequel, The Phantom Speaks, is not available as an ebook. Sorry, you’ll have to read that one hard-copy, which is just as well because it has lovely illustrations. Order via Bumba Books or Amazon. Wait, there’s more good news. Because if you order The Phantom Speaks directly through the Bumba Books Paypal option, The Phantom Speaksyou will receive a complimentary copy of the author’s (that’s me) own One Life companion piece CD called Chester’s Songs. Chester’s Songs is also available as a download on CD Baby for just $0.99.   Here’s a sample from the CD called There Been Some Lonely Times

There are 11 songs on the CD, but There Been Some Lonely Times is the only song that I actually wrote. The other songs are covers of songs that appear in the book. There Been Some Lonely Times IMG_1103which appears on page 196, provides a cryptic summary of the Chester Knowles story. The other songs hopefully complement the One Life story. To the best of my knowledge, which I admit isn’t very much, this sort of book/soundtrack combination is unprecedented. For more info on One Life One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles as well as The Phantom Speaks sequel check out the Bumba Books.