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Today I realized I would like to live with many people—a very numerous household. But I want quiet individuals: many, silent people. Perhaps these roommates of mine will not speak English. Thus, I will not be disturbed by their conversation. Albanians would be perfect.

They are quiet, muttering, and often Muslim. I would like to share my life with soft-spoken and devotional Albanians.
I began thinking this while reading Macaulay’s essay on Samuel Johnson.

Johnson was poor (a scholarship student at Oxford) for 30 years. Twice in the year after he published his dictionary he was “arrested and carried to spunging-houses” (which I think are “poorhouses”) for indebtedness. However, in 1762 “a great change in his circumstances took place.” George III ascended to the throne, and provided him a pension of three hundred pounds a year.

Soon after, Johnson formed a little commune—”the most extraordinary assemblage of inmates that ever was brought together.” Macaulay explains: “At the head of the establishment Johnson had placed an old lady named Williams, whose chief recommendations were her blindness and her poverty. But, in spite of her murmurs and reproaches, he gave an asylum to another lady who was as poor as herself, Mrs. Desmoulins, whose family he had known many years before in Staffordshire. Room was found for the daughter of Mrs. Desmoulins, and for another destitute damsel, who was generally addressed as Miss Carmichael, but whom her generous host called Polly. An old quack doctor named Levett, who bled and dosed coal-heavers and hackney coachmen, and received for fees crusts of bread, bits of bacon, glasses of gin, and sometimes a little copper, completed this strange menagerie. All these poor creatures were at constant war with each other, and with Johnson’s negro servant Frank.”

We see gold so often—perhaps every day. Yet if you add up all the gold you have seen—earrings, the edges of books, Russian icons, wedding rings, gold-plated candlesticks—in your whole life, that is less than a pound of gold.


Antique Roman
The Romans collected antiques,
as we do.
Challah Abstraction
I interviewed Cynthia Pollan, a local artist.
Sparrow: Your press release says that you practice
“challah abstraction.”
Cynthia: Yes, I tear up pieces of challah and rearrange them. Then I photograph them.
Sparrow: Challah is the bread traditionally baked by Jews
for the Sabbath.
Cynthia: Yes. It is a braided bread, and quite airy.
It looks something like a crown.
Sparrow: But in your photos, it’s not recognizable?
Cynthia: Not usually. The shapes are extremely varied—
flowers, ships, maps of Paraguay.
Sparrow: Is there some reason you use challah?
Cynthia: It’s so light. I’ve tried using rye bread, and whole wheat bread, and the pieces just sit on the table like scraps of linoleum. But the challah is fanciful, and seems destined to take shapes. It is a bread of imagination.
Sparrow: The same way the Jewish scholars constantly
question the Talmud, you reshape challah.
Cynthia: Yes. I had considered that.
Sparrow: Do you eat the bread when you are done with it?
Cynthia: No, I’ve never liked the taste of challah.
I feed it to the birds.

Coke and Pepsi
will eventually merge

to create a drink
called “Pepok”.

Doctors’ Parade
Beginning in 1812, a yearly parade of doctors took place in New York City. Physicians would march down Broadway holding tools of their profession: stethoscopes, scales, plaster casts. They would sing the Hippocratic Oath, and other medical songs (mostly in Latin).
A bitter dispute between pediatricians and cardiologists ended the march in 1883.

Multiplied Poem
I have I multiplied
have I this have
multiplied this
poem this multiplied
poem 3 poem 3 times
times times 3.

[Note: “I have multiplied this poem 3 times.”]

Salad Parade
Each June in Santa Monica, thousands attend the Salad Parade. Spectators line the streets holding bowls and forks, while the parade showers them with vegetables. Usually the first float will throw lettuce leaves. Subsequent floats hurl shredded carrot, diced tomatoes, artichoke hearts, etc. The final float sprays the crowd with salad dressing.
This is the only salad parade on

Speaking of Funny, musing

  • Musings by Sparrow.


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