New Year's Eve, December 31, 1969. Four of us in my car. Rick and Gloria and Laurel and I. On the radio comes Credence Clearwater. 'Fortunate Son'. All the complaint -- Nam, draft, social class, social stasis, social disease, post-adolescent ghosts, bad luck, bad breath, bad karma -- shot through my arms and legs into a drive-by dance, into a shout-along, into a full-body poetry. Me 'speaking' it. 'The whole world was watching'.
In Boston, I didn't run; I could have, just following the green streetcar past Fenway toward what was then and still might be 'The Big Dig'.
In Chicago, I didn't run; I could have, just taking a streak down Michigan Ave by the Trib. I was that close, but instead had a deepdish broccoli pizza, waited an hour to get it, too, and it was terrible.
In London, I didn't run; I could have, you know, around those nifty canals at Maida Vale above what's Little Cairo, just curved the streets, I could have, like Arabic, and with a bit of huff-and-puff, gone down to the Arch, gone further to the public loo in Harrods, one UK pound per entry. But I took the sooty Tube.
San Francisco, I was there, but didn't run, just stepped up to the girders underneath the Bridge, but the access lines were far off, and if memory serves, a guard or two preventing Kim Novak from standing as close as she did in Vertigo.
In New York, I didn't run; sure, I could have done that if it hadn't been for the cordon set up by police and more police for the GOP. The cyclists got arrested mere days after I saw an Arthur Miller play. I'm safe.
In L.A., I didn't run; my daughter's school had scheduled rooms and very few slots, and in missing her appointment, a bureaucrat told us to come back in twelve days. Ten minutes off, you'd think that time was gold, and here I was with a burning desire to burn and pillage and shave heads and shame whole family honors, so you'd think I'd have the get-up-and-go to run, but instead we sat with iced teas.
In Portland, I didn't run; I could have, but we only planted ourselves a day in place, and drove around that whole northwest of the state, through Salem to Corvallis to Eugene up McMinnville and Astoria and, well, back. Drank coffee, touched the Spruce Goose, sat in a pine grove around a seashell altar built to the Mother of God, and ate croissants, but never broke 3 mph on foot.
In Tucson, I didn't run; I could have, but I'd have had to rise at 3 a.m. for favorable heat. By 8, it was in the 80s, a triple-digit noon. Don't get me wrong, the Beaver Cave in the Desert Museum was cool, but cramped, and the thunder storms that broke at night refreshed the glass-partitioned restaurant. But who can run with a spoon and stoneware bowl? Instead, I stood barefoot on the cool tiled floor and thought tai chi.