A Report From Harold Taddy’s Variety Showcase (27 Feb 2015)

Harold Taddy puts on a great show. Tonight he brought a varied group of poets, musicians and dancers to the Bremen Town Ballroom in Millheim, PA. He also brought a crowd — the place with packed with attentive, appreciative folks who braved the single-digit temperatures to support local artists. Huzzah! for everyone involved.

A personal note: Last night I timed out my set, including the banter, and came out at 13 minutes (two minutes under the limit). Tonight I stuck in a bunch of jokes and went three minutes over, for the first time in my life. Embarrassing! My apologies to everyone who had to suffer through the super-sized set of poetry.

Regular readers know that the camera on my phone is horrible, and tonight I forgot my real camera. So here are a few bad photos of some of tonight’s performers. You can also listen to, or download, my poetry reading using the player above.

Laura Boswell played several beautiful classical guitar pieces.
Laura Boswell played several beautiful classical guitar pieces.
The Psychic Beat, Danny Brumbaugh's one-man band, was a heck of a lot of fun.
The Psychic Beat, Danny Brumbaugh’s one-man band, was a heck of a lot of fun.
Peter Buckland read poems that rely on his deep knowledge of central Pennsylvania.
Peter Buckland read poems that rely on his deep knowledge of central Pennsylvania.
Eli and Harold and trees.
Eli and Harold and trees.
Alyson Kate read poetry while Harold Taddy and Eli Bryne played soundscapes and songs.
Alyson Kate read poetry while Harold Taddy and Eli Bryne played soundscapes and songs.

POEM: tonight I miss New York


tonight I miss New York

tonight I miss New York
so bad it makes my stomach hurt

I long for it like the tan stuffed dog
I had when I was a little boy

I want to take New York into my arms
pull it tight to my chest
feel the warmth against my skin

tonight I need its hard streets
under these Chinatown boots

the sound of the subway coming up
through the grate in the sidewalk
where the snow doesn’t stick

tonight all I want is to go back there
to remember how the parts of me that stick out
and the parts of me that curve in
fit perfectly into its wild beautiful jigsaw

tonight I want to flee these fucking fields
run from these goddamn hills
back where the trees were planted
where they didn’t just happen
where somebody intended the green

tonight I miss New York
ten years is a very long time

/ / /

Jason Crane
15 February 2015
Oak Street

Image source: Obvious Child

POEM: Smallman & 21st

Smallman & 21st

she said nobody
had ever kissed her
on a street corner
right out in public
that seemed like
a damn shame
so I kissed her

/ / /

Jason Crane
7 February 2015
Oak Street

Closed On Sunday (Martinsburg & Huntingdon)

I took a hundred-mile ride today in the company of my pal Wiggus, who rides a sweet Triumph motorcycle with a much bigger engine than Zaphod’s. I didn’t ask him, when it was all said and done, how much slower than normal he’d had to ride, because I was afraid he might tell me. Truth be told, I don’t think he had to throttle down that much. Those winding Central PA roads tend to even out the size of one’s engine.

Today's route was breathtaking.
Today’s route was breathtaking.

So that’s the route up above. Believe me when I tell you that the map can’t even begin to represent the beauty of this drive.

Our steeds, parked outside Chez Wiggus.
Our steeds, parked outside Chez Wiggus.

The first part of the ride, over the mountain in the direction of Hungtindon, was one I’ve taken a couple times before. In fact, I first did it on Vroomfondel (photos). And I rode part of Route 305 just the other day. But today we took 305 much further. And it was stunning.

On 305 to Alexandria.  It ain't ugly.
On 305 to Alexandria. It ain’t ugly.

We spent most of the non-riding time photographing our bikes.
We spent most of the non-riding time photographing our bikes.

I don’t have a picture of most breathtaking moment, which was coming around a corner to see a wall of mountains to the right and a mile-wide swath of farm fields between the road and the mountains, all of it stretching away over the horizon. I can’t remember if this happened before or after Martinsburg, but I do remember the tingle that ran up my spine when we rounded the bend and saw this majestic vista.

We made it to Martinsburg only to discover that Mamie’s Cafe, our destination, was closed on Sunday. I peeked in through the window and it looked lovely. A counter covered in pastries and cakes and pies, with classic round tables and wooden chairs visible through an archway. Definitely worth a return trip.


Wiggus knew of a place in Huntingdon, so we headed up Clover Creek Road and over the mountain to get there. At one point we were passed, fairly dangerously, by four guys on crotch rockets. They whipped around Wiggus and me and the car ahead of us, all uphill around a blind curve. All four survived. Later we were passed by their two friends, one of whom barely missed hitting an oncoming Harley, the driver of which was not amused, if his gesture was any indication.

The joint in Huntingdon was also closed, because this is central PA, so we ended up getting drinks and snacks at Sheetz and then coming home via 26.

Wiggus up ahead.
Wiggus up ahead.

Going back up the mountain on 26 I started losing power, but Wiggus pointed out that it was likely a fuel delivery problem, and when I thought about it, that made sense. I was nearly out of gas, going up a steep grade with the throttle wide open.

We parted ways to our respective homes shortly thereafter. A fabulous day, and definitely not my last ride with Wiggus.

Riding to Big Hollow

Perusing Steve Williams’ Scooter In The Sticks blog, I came across this line from Lao Tzu: “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” This is similar to the idea of “pashal,” which I’ve explored in two poems.

The quotation and the concept are apt descriptions of today’s ride. I was sitting on the couch around 5:30, listening to the Red Sox and playing Triple Town, when I suddenly realized that I wanted to be on my scooter. Five minutes later I was out the door with no idea where I was headed.

I drove north on North Atherton, heading toward Park Forest and beyond. Wound through some neighborhood streets till I ended up on Valley Vista Drive. Because I seldom know where I am or where I’m headed (I’m stilling learning my way around), I ended up crossing back over Atherton, onto the expressway. I got off at College then took a random right onto Puddintown Road. And that led to the adventure.

Click for a larger version of today's route.
Click for a larger version of today’s route.

Eventually, after exploring a few small, newly built neighborhoods, I took a left onto Rock Road. The name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place it. Later in the ride, I figured out why I knew it. I zipped around the curves and up and down the rolling hills. As I came around a turn, I passed Big Hollow Road to my left. I decided on the spot to try it, so I turned around.

It’s a paved road with trees close in on both sides. I love this kind of riding. I was minutes from home but the densely packed strip malls of my neighborhood were hard to even imagine in this setting. And then, not to far along, even the pavement was gone and I was on a narrow dirt road.

Looking ahead from the start of Big Hollow Road.
Looking ahead from the start of Big Hollow Road.

Same spot, looking the other way.
Same spot, looking the other way.

As you know if you know me, I never wanted to live in Central PA, but having a scooter has given me a greater appreciation for the countryside here. I can leave work or leave home and within 10 minutes be in a dense forest with turkey vultures lumbering through the air just above my head. I saw three of them on Big Hollow Road, both as I was going out and coming back. They were in the same spot both times — a rocky dip beside the road. I couldn’t see what they were eating.

My Aprilia Scarabeo 150 has two things that make it especially fun: a Rotax engine and big wheels. The former means it goes much, much faster than a typical 150cc engine. The latter means it handles dirt roads with relative ease.

Down the dirt road we sped, passing even smaller side roads, most of which were probably private roads leading to a single house. Eventually, even the dirt road ended. There was a nice house with a big yard at the end. Just to the left of the road was a path leading off deeper into the woods. The path was two sets of mostly overgrown tire tracks. Of course I took the path.

Here endeth the path. At least on the scooter.
Here endeth the path. At least on the scooter.

Eventually I came to a gate. I had absolutely no idea where I was, or where this path might lead. I now know it’s the Arboretum To Spring Creek Canyon Trail (PDF brochure). I walked up the trail just enough to realize that bug spray would be essential to any enjoyment of this path. I’m not ashamed. I’m more of an indoor kid.

P1020915 P1020917
P1020918 P1020919
Click for larger versions.

Then it was back to Rock Road, which winds along Spring Creek, hugging the water tight. Water is very important to me. This is one of the few times in my life I haven’t lived near a big body of water, usually either a Great Lake or an ocean. I get a thrill each time I spot a creek or a pond. And I’m still excited by the feeling of cruising along on Zaphod beside running water.

Geometry is wonky in Central Pennsylvania. Or maybe it's the panoramic photo.
Geometry is wonky in Central Pennsylvania. Or maybe it’s the panoramic photo.

I stopped at a wooden bridge across Spring Creek that served as the entrance to someone’s driveway. I-99/Route 220 passed overhead like two massive contrails. I thought about how people had probably used Spring Creek for transportation hundreds (thousands?) of years before anyone thought to mar the landscape with highways.


I continued down Rock Road till it met up with Fox Hill Road, which runs past the airport. It was then I realized why I knew Rock Road — I use it, briefly, when I take the back way to Bellefonte. I watched a single-prop plane land as I passed, headed for home and more baseball.