Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lunch with Rus ...

... I had lunch with Rus Bowden this afternoon. He was on his way up from the South to the Dodge Poetry Festival. I treated him to a real Philly cheesesteak and we spent a couple of hours chatting about all and sundry in what used to be my book room at The Inquirer. I'm going to be there for a couple of days trying to restore order to it so that John Timpane, who is doing the honors for books these days, will be able to find what's up for review. Meeting with Rus is just one more example of the value of blogging. I wouldn't know Rus except for blogging. But even before we laid eyes on each other we knew we had a lot in common. This establishing of contact between people is something whose potential hasn't begun to manifest itself. But the process of organizing that it suggest is taking place could prove to have more impact that anyone currently imagines. At any rate, I had a great time - Rus is great guy, sharp and down to earth - and I hope Rus did as well, and that he reached his destination safely.


  1. Some guys have all the luck! What a treat! Sounds fantastic; and, a little like meeting an old friend, almost. I really like Rus; and, now, I like him even more. Three questions: Any good gossip? And, what's a Philly cheesesteak?* Does it have something to do with cream cheese and cake? Was it hard returning to the ol' stompin' ground?

    (Okay, I lied. Four questions.)

    Isn't Rus involved in the car biz? And, is this Dodge Poetry Festival in *that* (Get-Outta-Dodge) City? I'm sure he'll report on it. I drive a Dodge Dakota, eh?

    * But, no, I am not vegan nor vegetarian; I like prime rib (and, thanks to winning a bet on The Blue Jays' backs, I get to eat some bloody-raresome tomorrow night :))

    Tap . . . tap . . . tap . . . Twenty-three hours and down for the counting

  2. Hi Frank,

    It was great to meet you. It made for a perfect and memorable afternoon. I just finished sending out a few e-mails about meeting you today. I said:

    I spent an extended lunchtime with Frank Wilson at the Philadelphia Inquirer. He had some work to do there, so we hung out in the book room. What a great guy, a really great guy.

    After clicking "send" I realized I should have mentioned the Philly cheesesteak. And now I click in here and see it brought up right away.

    So for Judith,

    I didn't know where we would be walking to get our cheesesteaks, but we ordered right off one of those lunch trucks parked at the side of the street right around the corner from the main entrance to the Inquirer building. Frank ordered first, with the fixings he favors, and I said that I'll have the same. There's nothing like it. It's one of those things, you have to be there. And we ate in the famous book room where Frank has been photographed. Needless to say, one of the most memorable lunches I've ever had.

    We chatted about many things, food, politics, business, memoirs, poetry, people, baseball, aging, dying, drugs, and, in lowered tones, other things I just cannot mention here. Can't, sorry.

    I also got to meet John Timpane, and we'll reconnect Saturday here in New Jersey at the Dodge Festival. So I'll go up to the Dodge thread to continue my thoughts. Anyone who can get here it is wonderful.

    By the way, on the subject of food. I had one of the best meals of my life in The Florida Keys, in Islamorada. Poet Carol Saba's son Joe had (skillfully) caught kingfish. Carol, her husband Pat, poet Helm Filipowitsch and his wife Carol, and I took a bag of some of this very fresh catch to a restaurant close by and asked for it to be cooked, chef's choice, but not fried. The platter of fish that came back looked so amazingly good, and tasted so good, cooked three different ways, depending on where on the platter you served from, it was completely natural and unconscious to eat all the way to the point where no more could physically be eaten. This was a shared experience, not just my own.

    On River Street in Savannah, there is a restaurant called Tubby's Tank House. Like my son says, they serve a remarkable salad dressing. I sat at a table overlooking the river, eating a delicious oyster salad with a lemonade. When it was time to pay, I was surprised that this treat was only 13.01 including tax. I put my credit card away and paid cash with cash.

    I love Savannah, people and all. I love the Keys, including Key Weird at the tip. I love Fort Lauderdale. And today, I got to love Philadelphia.


  3. Whoa . . . This sounds delicious, cheesesteaks and all the fixings which, I am sure, included onions or, even better, jalapenos (sp?), too.

    Very happy for the two and/or three of you (because a] you got to stand in the very room where Frank spent much of his adult life and inhale the atmosphere while scarfing down the mysterious cheesesteaks; b] you met John Timpane and can answer the question of how his name is pronounced, that is, the "e" at the ending, is it silent or . . .; c] the conversation both of you obviously enjoyed immensely; there's nothing quite like meeting a like-minded soul who speaks from the heart with spirit about that which is dear to us; it's the best natural buzz on the planet, IMO; and, d] you demonstrate your ability to practise discretion and not share the juicy stuff with us, laudable and commendable, especially considering the see-all tell-all times in which we dwell, uneasily, ISTM).

    (Alright, I'll bite: I bet the stuff you can't reveal has mucho to do with where you stashed the semi-colons I was going to re-sell to you :). Punctuation, IOW! Ha, you think I'm a newbie naivester, eh? Nope ;).)

    But, on the subject of food and places, I'm all mouths! Lived in Key West for a year or so during the eighties and, man, the restaurants really outdid themselves, a fact you prove beyond a reasonable. Sounds unforgettable and, clearly, it was since you remember it in such detail.

    Have only driven through Georgia (and, one can't get much sense of a place if one goes by its road-side relieveries).

    Isn't Islamorada a great place name? When I got married, I did my best to make it happen in Azilda, a northern town near Sudbury, just so I could say I got married in Azilda. If I'm not mistaken, isn't "Jesus of the Abyss" in Islamorada?

    I know I'm right when it comes to the tree in Key West upon which Hemingway left his mark: It used to have a plaque which read, "Hemingway pissed on me," BION; but, eventually, the owners of the property stopped putting plaques up because, yep, invariably, they were stolen. They took to leaving a little bizth card, last I heard (which cost nothing to print, not compared with a bronze / brass wood plaque, anyway).

    Well, I will make a point of seeking out the Savannah (another great place name) eatery you describe . . . In fact, after reading your comment, I went and made something to eat, not nearly as exciting as the Tubby's Tank House fare; but, close. Seafood, of a variety good for shrimps like me me me.

    Finally, you obviously had a great trip to this point; and, your prose glows with that joy we all deserve to experience as often as we can.

    Thank you for taking the time to so colourfully and satisfyingly relate your on-the-road trip to date. Do tell more (and, if the details are too salacious to share, that's okay; been that, done there), you lucky guy/s, you!