Collections


The first things I collected were stuffed animals, but only two of them slept with me at night. Of all my friends and playmates, I dearly loved the little gray cat and floppy brown and tan spotted dog who slept under the covers and kept me from feeling lonely at bedtime.

I’ve never lived anywhere very long without cats. I sleep with a little calico cat named Sally now.

I collected small metal cars and loved to drive them around cities I made from colored blocks.

When I was 17 years old I raced my mustang at Irwindale Raceway and won a few trophies.

I collected 45 rpm records, songs I heard on the radio. I listened to them over and over again. Each week when I went to the music store for my trumpet lesson, I bought a new “single” to add to my collection. I pretended I was a disc jockey and would announce each record I played.

One summer I won a contest on radio station KFWB by being the first caller. I talked to disc jockey Gary Owens and he sent me a Gary Owens coloring book and KFWB bumper sticker.

When I was 42 years old and working as a reporter for a daily newspaper in Newport Beach, California, I did daily newscasts for a local FM radio station. Someone once told me they heard me in a supermarket where the station was playing.

I collected coins and stamps, ordering them from catalogues and putting them into albums. I looked through everyone’s pennies, trying to find a 1909-S VDB, the rarest of Lincoln pennies. It never turned up. I learned that the reason certain coins and stamps were worth so much money was the same reason I’d never find them.

I began investing seriously in my late 40s, having more luck in recognizing an undervalued stock than knowing when to sell it. I learned that for many investments, value and worth are temporary.

As I grew up, my collections shifted from things to experiences. I collected friends, lovers and accomplishments. I collected books I’d read. I collected knowledge and learning. I collected songs and poems I wrote. I collected performances I played as a musician. I collected the talented musicians I played with. After I became a newspaper reporter, I collected my best published stories. I collected every famous and interesting person I met.

I collected family photographs, all the way back to great grandparents, arranging them in albums. I collected my family, my parents and grandparents, the years of my marriage, the companionship of my sons. I'm waiting to collect a grandchild or two.

I collect memories and as I grow old they reveal meanings to me I’d never fully understood. I collect the acts of kindness I’ve received and try to pass them on to others. I collect wisdom and continue to learn and relearn the lessons I’ve been taught from those still living and those who have passed on, their words still speaking to me.

I collect knowledge of the joy and sadness in this world, the tragedies and victories of the spirit, the damnations and the revelations. Sometimes it’s all too much and so I pack some of my collections away in boxes and label them, knowing I can always go back and unpack, knowing I’ll never look inside some of these boxes again, knowing all things change and life should move forward, mindfully forward.

My house is full of things useful and decorous, impractical and silly, remnants of a long life. I look at these things and they remind me of who I have been, who I still am. I suppose I will never completely discard my past, as long as it has something to teach me. I suppose all that I’ve collected has been an attempt to preserve happiness, wisdom and love.

Someday I will leave all these collections behind, passing these objects and their meanings on to others, but keeping the joy of having lived on this Earth in my eternal heart.





~ Text and photograph by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Flying



I can’t remember the first time I dreamed of flying. But oh how natural it seemed, like becoming my true self once again, unrestricted by gravity. No more up and down, just here and there. Each altitude a sovereign space.


I was flying,
Swift and sure
With the lift of a hand,
A miracle on demand.

But more than the addictive bliss
Of flight,
Or the intoxication
Of height,
I was most proud
Of my position above the crowd,
Most proud
And most alone.
I was the only one.

Out of loneliness I descended,
And flew closely by,
Urging all to try.

But not one would leave the ground,
So sadly I ascended
And flew once more above them,
Unnoticed,
Without sound.


I flew over yellow gold meadows, lifetimes of oceans and mountains, lakes and forests, sometimes above the clouds and sometimes skimming the surface of the water.

Then I started flying closer to the ground in some of my dreams, more like hovering. I’d be walking down a city sidewalk and then lift slightly off the ground and slide along like a sailboat in a strong wind gliding over the water, angling my body in order to change speed and turn, like a freefall, only sideways.

In some dreams I felt possessed by the need to demonstrate this remarkable ability to others. I would be in a crowded room and lift myself up off the ground about three feet or so. It felt like something akin to proving that God is real and manifest in our everyday lives, proving that miracles are within our power. "Behold!" I would declare.

But in these dreams no one thinks my flying is remarkable. They are always busily engrossed in day-to-day activities and seem not to notice -- not to care.

When I awaken it takes me a while to realize I can’t fly. When I was younger I’d actually try to reach that certain mechanism in the back of my brain that could lift me off the ground, but alas, it never worked. I could not defeat gravity. Perhaps there are other ways.




~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Scene #19 by Cristian René
© All Rights Reserved

Notable People I Have Met


The Whole Bunch

(Names in blue are linked to short essays.)

(2nd part means the person is on the second half of the post.)


Bill Clinton: Author, screenwriter and winner of a Pulitzer Prize lifetime achievement award.

Ray Bradbury: Author, screenwriter and winner of a Pulitzer Prize lifetime achievement award.

Sherwood Rowland: UC Irvine chemistry professor who won the 1995 Nobel Prize for discovery of man-made depletion of the ozone layer.

Alex Trebek: Host of “Jeopardy” ~ A brief question and answer period during taping of the show.

Rafael Mendez: Trumpet virtuoso.


Gary Owens: Radio and television personality.


O.C. Smith: ~ Pop "Little Green Apples" singer. (2nd part)


Ralph Humphrey: Virtuoso drummer who played and recorded with Frank Zappa.


Carlos Vega: Virtuoso session drummer who toured with James Taylor.


Tom Hayden: California state senator and activist at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.


Abbie Hoffman: Political activist at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. (2nd part)


Harlan Ellison: Science fiction novelist and television screen playwright.


Don Callender: Founder of Marie Callender’s restaurant chain.


Stan Wall: Pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Johnny Carson: 30-year host of "The Tonight Show." (2nd part)


Steve Allen: Original host of the “Tonight Show” and songwriter.


Marty Baron: Journalist and editor who hired me to work for the Los Angeles Times, later editor of the Washington Post.


Michael Chabon: Novelist who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001.


Michael Dukakis: Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee.

Quentin Crisp: Author of “The Naked Civil Servant” and gay rights advocate.


Robert Bork: Solicitor General nominated by President Ronald Reagan for the Supreme Court in 1987.


Chang-Lin Tien: Chancellor of UC Berkeley.


Jack Peltason: Chancellor of UC Irvine and later of the entire UC system.


Oakley Hall: Author of “The Downhill Racers” and head of the UC Irvine writing program.


David Stockman: Reagan administration budget director.


Jack Kelly: Co-star of 1950s TV show “Maverick”


Joey Bishop: Entertainer and member of the “Rat Pack.”


Sonny Bono: Singer with Sonny & Cher, later congressman and U.S. senator.


Leslie Nielsen: Film and television actor in “Airplane,” “Naked Gun” and others.


Politicians: Dana Rohrabacher, Chris Cox, Bob Dornan, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Kathleen Brown, George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson, Dan Quayle, Ann Richards.


Oliver North: Ronald Reagan aide implicated in Iran-Contra Scandal and later NRA president.


Ed Meese: US Attorney General in the Reagan Administration.


Barbara Bush: Wife of President H.W. Bush.


Mamie Van Doren: “B” movie actress and sexpot.


Arnold Beckman: Inventor of the PH meter and philanthropist.


Duvall Hecht: Founder of Books On Tape.


Daryl Gates: Los Angeles police chief.


James Edwards Senior: Founder of the Edwards theater chain.


Chuck Jones: Animator and creator of Porky Pig, Daffy Duck and others.


John H. Dalton: Secretary of the US Navy.


Arthur Laffer: Supply-side economist who influenced President Reagan’s monetary policies.


C. Everett Koop: US Surgeon General


Boyd Coddington: Hot rod and custom automobile designer.


David Broder: Washington Post writer, political columnist and author.


William Kennedy: Novelist and author of “Ironweed” ~ mail contact


Patrick Stewart: Actor who portrayed Captain Jean-Luc Picard on “Star Trek.”


Ken Norton: Former boxing heavyweight champion of the world.


Adrienne Rich: Poet


Edward Albee: Playwright


Robert Hass: Poet


Seamus Heaney: Poet, playwright and translator.


Czeslaw Milosz: Poet


W.S. Merwin: Poet


James Roosevelt: Son of and secretary to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


David Harrington: Co-founder of the Kronos Quartet.


John Cleese: Actor and a member of Monty Python.


Robert Pinsky: US Poet Laureate.


W.D. Snodgrass: Pulitzer Prize winning poet.


Louise Gluck: US Poet Laureate.


William Rusher: Publisher of the “National Review” magazine.


Neil deGrasse Tyson: Astrophysicist, author, television host & many appearances ~ by email.


Henrik Drescher: Children’s books illustrator ~ by email.


James MacGregor Burns: Historian and presidential biographer.


Jean-Michel Cousteau: ~ Environmentalist, oceanographic explorer and son of Jacques Cousteau.


Frederick Reines: UC Irvine Physics professor awarded the Nobel Prize in 1995 for discovery of the neutrino.


[And many more who I've either overlooked or forgotten.]


~ by Russ Allison Loar

© All Rights Reserved