BrooksLooks @ Dark Matter

Dark Matter

they say this all started
with a great big bang
fire and rain
yin and the yang

millenia passed
left plenty of clues
like how we crawled out
of a primordial ooze

we’ve come so far
to get to where we are
on another lap
around this old star
where are we headed,
will we ever arrive?
gravity bound
to live and die

still we fight
over border control
incivility takes a tragic toll
hate for hate’s sake
how much more can we take
religious divisions
deep and dark
and the rising tyranny
of the oligarch

are we dumb as a box
of asteroid rocks
after eons of years
dark matter appears
much of it lies
between two human ears

blind-sided
will we ever find
a way around
the dark matter found
in a dangerous mind

© Copyright 2015 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks

BrooksLooks @ The Great Quinnipiack Club Soup Controversy of 2006

front_of_clubhouseAREA HEADLINES:

“SOUP CONTROVERSY BOILS OVER!”

“CLUB HULLABALOO OVER SOUP ON THE FRONT BURNER”

“STIRRING THE POT IN CLUB SOUP DEBACLE”

“SOUP BATTLE: A REAL BEEF!”              “STOCK POT TEMPERS FLARE”

“AD HOC SOUP COMMISSION APPPOINTED”

“Q CLUB ‘SOUP-GATE’ REVEALS CANNED PRODUCTS

WERE USED EXTENSIVELY…AND PREFERRED BY ITS MEMBERS!”

NEW HAVEN, CT — In an act of desperation, eleven Quinnipiack Club members from the club’s self-described O.F.& H.B.’S (old farts and has beens) presented a strongly worded request to the Board of Governors today. It seems the long-simmering issue regarding recent changes in the club soup recipe has bubbled to the surface at the venerable private club.

As a result, an ad hoc ‘Soup, Broth & Consommé’ Committee is now being formed to address the rather dicey club issue. A Soup Task Force commissioner has yet to be named. It was unknown at press time whether the club’s new soup is actually being dumped into the New Haven Harbor (a la the Boston Tea Party) however Club Q Soup loyalists are really stirring the pot and ladling out cries of fowl.

The heat is also rising in the club’s ancient kitchen as the new chef was unaware there were any old “recipes” as the soup rebels claim. It seems that the club’s vital soup secrets (and a rusty can opener) disappeared about the same time as the former chef.

It is rumored that the new chef (with twenty-five years of cooking experience) actually arrived with some of his own soup recipes. Chef Jack Hodes when asked if he knew how to make soup, replied, “Yes.” And, “My soups have always been made from scratch. I know they are being well-received by the other club members because they actually have taste now.” The chef reports that the usage of salt, pepper and crackers has shown similar gains concurrent with the new homemade soups.

Compounding matters, one of the new chef’s first acts was to bring all of the old canned soup, soup base, stock and canned vegetables that were in the club’s kitchen when he arrived over to the nearby New Haven Soup Kitchen. While not homemade, management was certain that less fortunate members of our local community would really enjoy the soup, canned or otherwise.

Uncannily, we’ve all been shocked to discover that the Soup Traditionalists actually preferred the canned soup over the new made-from-scratch soup! Temperatures are boiling over as vehemence and vitriol pour out! Meanwhile, soup sales at New Haven’s Broadway Soup Kitchen have soared ever since the delivery of the Q Club canned food products. This however seems to be related to unfortunate economic reasons rather than dissenting Q Club members actually dining over there now.

The entire unsavory issue may be brought to a referendum in order that common ground is forged among the group’s steamed-up members. The emeritus leader of the “Soup Party” claims that “with the hiring of the new chef, our revered club soups have disappeared from the menu!” Reports from other members label this as simply “hogwash.”

It seems a majority of members actually prefers the bold, new direction of having some taste in their soup! “I find the club-made stocks to make all of the difference, bravo to the chef!,” exclaimed one gushing chowder-head. The general manager has been bowled over by the controversy and has vowed to address the concerns of all ‘soup loyalists’ with compassion and sensitivity. The situation remains fluid.

The Great Q Club Soup Controversy Simmers On!

© COPYRIGHT 2014 Brooks Bradbury ǀ BROOKS LOOKS

BrooksLooks @ Running a Remote Western Guest Ranch

cropped-chiricahuas-in-snow-2-21-13.jpgRunning a Remote Guest Ranch in Arizona

“There is a tarantula in my room!”

Thus began a three year adventure and a unique hospitality repositioning assignment in the Chihuahuan Desert of the American southwest. More specifically, my wife Susan and I went to live in the remote southeast corner of Arizona an hour’s drive from the historic town of Tombstone. There in Cochise County, a single county the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, the west remains as wild as the cowboy TV images of our childhood.

The Arizona border with New Mexico was a just a few miles to the east beyond the 9,800 foot peak of the Chiricahua Mountains. The more active border with old Mexico was just 25 miles to the south. Sunglow Ranch lies at an elevation of 5,340 feet, well above the worst of Arizona’s summer’s heat and just below the winter snows that come to the peaks above.

Adventurous American and European visitors still arrive here in search of the iconic Wild West. Germans in particular visit in large numbers to explore the land once made famous by beloved author Karl Friedrich May and the legendary characters of his novels such as Winnetou and Old Shatterhand.

This is a geographical location that rarely elicits a knowing response from world travelers. Old street signs there still reflect its remote location: signs like High Lonesome Road, Far Away Ranch and Double Buzzard Gulch. Cochise County is a corner of the United States few ever venture into except for avid birders and naturalists in search of the vast diversity of species there. Hikers, herpetologists and geologists also wander here for obvious reasons.

More recently, the area is emerging as an exceptional viticultural area. Perhaps one day you will recognize “Chiricahua Bench” as a new growing area on an Arizona wine label. It has been one of my life’s joys to get to know local winemaker friends there at the vineyards of Lawrence Dunham, Keeling-Schaefer, Pillsbury, Sand Reckoner, Aridus, Zarpara, Flying Leap, Kief Joshua and others. A remarkable development of Tasting Rooms is occurring today in Willcox, Arizona especially around Railroad Street. If you have yet to taste wine from southern Arizona, I am certain you will enjoy this distinct pleasure one day soon.

A dusty old airport that once welcomed Amelia Earhart to the area was just to our south toward the border towns of Douglas and Agua Prieta. We enjoyed visiting the old Hotel Gadsden in Douglas where Pancho Villa himself once charged in on his horse and rode right up the hotel’s main staircase. Bisbee to the west of Douglas is another fascinating Arizona border town in its own right with a rich copper mining history. We love exploring Bisbee’s picturesque streets and discovering its very special local shops.

As I arrived at the ranch a few months prior to Susan, there were moments when I felt exactly like Lieutenant Dunbar (Kevin Costner) must have felt in his assignment to that remote wilderness outpost in ‘Dances with Wolves’. In spite of feeling marooned, we both came to love the Chiricahua Mountains as a rough and untamed home for a while. (That’s “cheer-ih-cow’-a.”) We learned a whole lot about cowboy poetry and music, barbed wire fences and water rights, cattle brands and ourselves in the process.

We left our picture perfect Blue Ridge cabin atop the ridge itself in southern Virginia after opening the luxury Lodge and Spa at Primland in Meadows of Dan, Virginia for the late Didier Primat of Geneva, Switzerland. Mr. Primat sadly died before the project was completed and all too soon at the age of 64. After Primland opened and was well on its way to being named to Condé Nast Traveler’s “World’s Top 100 Hotels,” Susan exclaimed, “I’m ready for an adventure!” No sooner than the words been spoken than it seemed we were on a plane to Tucson.

From there we picked up our rental car and drove two hours into the high desert, deep into the Chiricahua Mountains. Turning off I-10 eastbound we took a few back roads that eventually turned onto long dirt roads as we ventured further into unknown territory. We continued for about 6 miles beyond the pavement on primitive dirt roads when Susan was famously quoted as saying, “There better be a miracle at the end of this road.”

It was the end of July in 2011 and in the next morning’s soft light we beheld the beautiful 400 acre ranch for the first time. We were pretty sure the ranch had never encountered the likes of us before. It wasn’t exactly a miracle. It was more of a very special new adventure.

The Horseshoe II forest fire that had raged for months in the mountains above the ranch was just about contained by then having burned over 200,000 acres of mountain ridge above us from the Chiricahua National Monument (a not-to-be-missed national park to our north) all the way south to Rucker Canyon. The fire destroyed houses on our nearby Turkey Creek road as flames advanced to within one-half mile of the ranch. Thanks to amazing firefighters and Mother Nature the ranch narrowly averted a complete evacuation.

As is our nature, we set out to bring service excellence and quality to a place that had some pretty well-worn ruts of mediocrity. We also commenced an all out effort to polish the so called “Jewel of the Chiricahuas.”

The oil in the old ranch truck had been unchanged for years and the landscape was thoroughly neglected. We faced failed septic fields overflowing with raw sewage, a grease trap long ago rusted through and a general malaise that had been oozing through the ranch for at least a decade. While still in business, the kitchen’s walk-in coolers were filled with more garbage than fresh produce.

Many changes were still ahead. In spite of plenty of issues, the property presented extremely well (and still does) as a peaceful destination nestled in the hollow of an ancient caldera, the ancestral home of the Chiricahua Apaches. It was the first time in our lives here that we experienced a place of truly profound silence. I mean there were nights when ALL we could hear was our own quiet breathing. The area’s dark skies provided a remarkable nighttime panorama of stars and constellations, most of which are completely invisible elsewhere. Meteor showers were uniquely spectacular, each like a scene from Star Wars.

An incredible diversity of wildlife exists in the mountains of southeast Arizona in what are known as ‘Sky Islands’—high mountain peaks separated by broad open ranges that contribute to isolated individual species. Even Jaguars still roam the ancient mountains of Cochise County, the northern extent of this large cat’s habitat. The Elegant Trogon and the Olive Warbler are two of the avian prizes to be glimpsed in the Chiricahuas especially if one is adventurous enough to drive over the mountain to the even more remote towns of Portal and Paradise, and the remote scenic beauty of Cave Creek along the New Mexico border.

The best we can really say about the ranch staff that we inherited was that they meant well. They hadn’t a clue about service levels or hospitality standards and we gathered there wasn’t much interest in learning. It was to their disadvantage that the new management team had previously learned from and trained some of the world’s finest hospitality employees. We had little tolerance for chronic whining and we insisted everyone move a whole lot faster and follow our lead on elements of precise guest service or prepare to get out of the way. Training commenced even though most of this original staff moved on within the first year when they realized we were still there and that we had no intention of running the ranch the old way.

There were plenty of perplexed looks as to why there were copies of “Who Moved My Cheese” in the kitchen and a new carved wooden sign placed over the employee entrance door that read, “Nils Satis Nisi Optimum.” It was quite a moment too when undermining (now former) key staff reacted to another sign: “We’ll take 50% efficiency for 100% loyalty” on the back door. We drove excellence and quality always insisting that every guest was properly welcomed, greeted and well served.

There in that lovely arid high desert we also encountered dangerous mojave and diamondback rattlesnakes, javelinas, mountain lions, scorpions and beautiful (yet huge and terrifying) cinnamon colored black bears. Free range longhorn cattle from the open range grazed on into our guest areas making for some interesting moments. We faced drought conditions there and a few hungry and thirsty illegal aliens passing through occasionally from Mexico. Toward the end of our tenure, the drought grew worse, forcing the ranch to purchase truck loads of potable water—we hoped just a temporary condition until summer Monsoon Rains arrived.

Occasionally circling overhead were official helicopters, an indication of the intense battle between Border Patrol and syndicated Mexican “coyote” drug smugglers in the area. Southern Arizona’s omnipresent U.S. Border Patrol provided us with real comfort and peace of mind knowing they would be at the ranch in seconds if we needed help.

Taking over a ranch or even a country against its will has some parallels. Machiavelli (and Dr. Judith Best my college political theory professor) would agree that some of the tactics are by necessity similar. There were times we needed to be very heavy handed and times to be gentle and nurturing. We bit our tongues way more often than we were comfortable with and we chose to take on additional workload ourselves rather than put up with the indolent “I only do it my way or I quit so I can collect unemployment” type of employee. We strove to maintain a balance somewhere between these well-worn hospitality gems: “never cut off the branch when you’re sitting on it” and “never give in to terrorism.”

Running any kind of luxury business in a rural setting means that only a few people in the local community can or will afford your goods and services. In spite of this, it was always a pleasure to welcome our local guests especially those from Pearce and Sunsites and Willcox who came for dinner often and supported the ranch in so many ways. We will always be grateful for their friendship and encouragement. When the chips were down it was our regular guests who made us feel that our efforts were well appreciated.

To be honest, there were among our ranch team several diamond-in-the-rough heroes who stayed true to us and the ranch, working incredibly hard long days from beginning to end and making a real difference. Thank you to Mike, and Xiaoyan and Dan and others who helped Sunglow Ranch to achieve so much against all odds during our tenure. We will always be grateful to each of you.

There were long days and long nights to be sure in the running of the ranch and we were determined to prevent a lack of training and bad attitudes from undermining our guest service goals and our reputation. In the end we take a sense of accomplishment that we had actually led our team to reposition the ranch in anticipation of the real estate sale while achieving 6 TripAdvisor awards including two of the more coveted Traveler’s Choice awards in the process. We owe our thanks to amazingly loyal guests and the core of rock-solid employees who were as committed as we were.

We inherited a ranch that had undervalued itself for years—presenting itself in the marketplace as a deeply discounted venue to guests who really wanted to pay even less. For instance we heard a lot of, “What if we opt out of meals and housekeeping, can we get the room at half price?” Or, “We’d like to use the ranch for our wedding but we have our own catering.” Then there was the horde of discounted stays from the likes of misguided marketing initiatives like “Groupon.” There were those who tried to bring their own alcohol into the dining room in spite of the ranch’s liquor license. It felt good to move away from all of this.

We were as pleasant as we could be to this discount strata there when we arrived, and we worked to steadily increase the quality of our guest experience while pushing the average daily rate higher. Happily, the ranch came to provide needed sanctuary and real civility to discerning travelers who helped us to achieve new standards at the ranch. This in turn helped us to attract a new clientele better able and willing to support the emerging new Sunglow Ranch.

In spite of the forbearance required of us and some of the challenges outlined above, we were proud of the ranch we left behind. All along, we were well supported by the ranch’s owners and we enjoyed seeing a part of the country few others ever do. With grateful appreciation, we had the privilege of working for these two very special people who were always committed to making the ranch even better. Thank you Mitch and Chrissy for the opportunity to be a part of your team–for believing in us and for your patience and support. We will always be honored to know you and hope that our paths cross again one day. We wish you much success.

In the face of ownership’s renewed efforts to sell the ranch it was time at last for us to begin giving serious consideration to new opportunities. Early in 2014, an agreement was reached with a Chicago area real estate firm that was given the task of orchestrating the dispossession process. In the end, an auction was planned. This resulted in plenty of rumors by the uninformed who rumored that the ranch’s demise was caused by foreclosure and bankruptcy.

In fact, the time had been long overdue time for the owners to sell their ranch and a public auction was their last step in trying to move on. To their amazing credit, generous bonuses were paid to the loyal employees who stayed true to the end. No checks bounced, and no ranch debts were left unpaid.

After turning down four written offers to run unique hotel properties around the country, I accepted a position at a very special luxury inn in western North Carolina. I packed up a rental truck and left Sunglow Ranch behind for good at the end of February 2014. Susan decided the best thing for her was to manage the ranch a few more months on her own knowing my days would be immersed in a new post. She always knows better!

For me, it was disconcerting to imagine that Susan might have to face the wild west on her own. I took some measure of relief knowing she kept her .38 caliber, laser-sighted Ruger handy. She had already demonstrated that her aim was quite good. Out there, you quickly learn who is working for you and who is working against you and it’s always better to be prepared.

This time apart proved to be a great opportunity for Susan to shine on her own. On her first day as the ranch general manager she fired her first employee for performance reasons thereby setting the tone for the rest of her tenure. Thanks to Susan and the team’s continued efforts even more positive TripAdvisor reviews were posted.

Actually there may have been no person better suited than Susan to help the ranch through this period. She presented the ranch in the most professional manner as she met with the real estate company agents, prospective buyers and eventually surveyors and appraisers. A new buyer had indeed come forward, and a contract was signed by the end of Susan’s term. We’ve kept our fingers crossed hoping the new buyer would come along and build on our efforts, keep a vital presence in the Sunglow community for our neighbors and help the ranch’s owners to move on.

Post Script

Special thanks to Baxter Black, famous cowboy poet and Western personality extraordinaire–and our wrangler the one and only Miles “Bucky” Buckley for teaching us the true ways of the west. Thank you too to our very own cowboy singer Joel Eliot for his great performances and for helping us to know what cowboy music really means. We have a great new appreciation for the lives and work of Ian Tyson, Dave Stamey, Rex Allen, Stan Jones and poet Charles Badger Clark among so many others. “Navajo Rug”, “Ghost Riders in The Sky” and “I Love You Arizona” will resonate in our hearts forever.

© Copyright 2014 Brooks Bradbury ׀ Brooks Looks

BrooksLooks @ City on a Hill

City on a Hill
Brooks Bradbury

HE’S GOT A THOUSAND DOLLAR SUIT
A MILLION DOLLAR SMILE
HE’S GOT HUNDRED DOLLAR SHOES
TIME TO SIT AND THINK A WHILE

AND HE THINKS ABOUT THE HAVES
AND THOSE WHO DO WITHOUT
AND HOW HE’D GOT SO LUCKY
AND WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT

HE KNOWS SOME QUESTIONS
HAVE NO ANSWERS
HE KNOWS THEY NEVER WILL
LIKE HOW HE CAME TO LIVE
IN A SHINING CITY ON THE HILL

EVERYTHING ONE NEEDS AND MORE
CITIES RICH BEYOND BELIEF
THERE’S MONEY TREES IN FORESTS
DOLLAR BILLS ON EVERY LEAF

THEY’VE GOT IT AND NOT A CLUE
OF POVERTY’S TRUE COST
NOW THE BILL IS COMING DUE
RAVAGED SOULS ARE LOST

OUR SHINING CITY ON THE HILL
ITS DISTANT VIEWS OBSCURE
THE SQUALOR FAR BELOW THEM
DESPERATE LIVES THE POOR ENDURE

THE CLOCK IS TICKING FOR THE HUNGRY
AND THOSE WHO DO WITHOUT
A TIME BOMB TICKING, TICKING
TO A RECKONING NO DOUBT

POLITICS WITHOUT COMPASSION
FAILURE TO SHARE OUR LOT
LEAVING BUT A MEASLEY RATION
IN ANGUISH THE POOR CRY OUT

© Copyright 2014 Brooks Bradbury ǀ BROOKS LOOKS

BrooksLooks @ One Life

20170805_150802 (1)

One Life

there at the outset we’re missing the smarts

act less with our brains and more with our hearts

we don’t even know that we don’t even know

and the current of life continues to flow

carried along as the wild winds blow

are we only vigilant guardians of some fatal narrow view

who don’t even know that we haven’t a clue

and at the end of our live’s will we discover it’s true

that it was less about me and more about you

like bulls in life’s great china shop

always ready to fight

never know when to stop

oblivious to what’s right

addicted to the daily news

am I only the vigilant guardian of some narrow view

do I not even know that I haven’t a clue

at the end of my life will I discover it’s true

that it was less about me and more about you

are we leaping from one extreme to another

is our age nothing but over-reaction

padlocked ideas and polarized factions

narrowing views and distant blood brothers

and the fading age of our loving mothers

where are we as a nation, a city a town

as people and races

and parties astound

are we heading

toward consciousness

a new-age ethos to be

or are we only drifting about

in a wide open sea

will our species ever achieve

unconscious competence

will we truly believe

or will we squander our providence

lose the flight of the dove

with spirits diminished in the face of lost love

are you only the vigilant guardian of some narrow view

who doesn’t even know that you haven’t a clue

at the end of your life will you discover it’s true

that it was always less about you

you could have taken a wider view

it was always less about you

limited by your narrow view

© Copyright 2014 by Brooks Bradbury ǀ Brooks Looks

BrooksLooks @ Turkey Creek Caldera

TURKEY CREEK CALDERA

Brooks Bradbury

CORONADO RODE RIGHT BY HERE

THOUGH HE DIDN’T HAVE A CLUE

THERE WAS GOLD IN CHIRICAHUA

AND QUITE A LOVELY VIEW

A SWEET, SECRET CHAPARRAL

FORGED LONG AGO IN A FIERY HELL

VIOLENT FORCES AND SEISMIC SHOCK

LEFT A BUCOLIC BOWL OF MOLTEN ROCK

NOW A TRANQUIL, REMOTE CALDERA

SACRED HOME OF APACHE AND VAQUERO

WHERE BLOOD WAS SPILLED ON RHYOLITE

CHOKONEN WAYS LOST IN EVERY FIGHT

DOWN THROUGH THE AGES

DESPITE THE WISDOM OF SAGES

HUMAN TURMOIL RAGES

ON NATURE’S SWEET STAGES

MAY THE PEACE WE FIND HERE REMAIN IN OUR SOULS

ITS GOLDEN SILENCE EVER CONSOLES

AND MAY THIS RARE BEAUTY ENDEAVOR

TO GO ON LIKE THIS

BEYOND FOREVER

© 2014 Brooks Bradbury | BROOKS LOOKS (Written at Sunglow Ranch, Pearce, Arizona)

BrooksLooks @ Service

I Tremble

I saw your face on Facebook today.
You died serving our country.
We’ve lost you at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
I can hardly breathe in gratitude.
Your supreme sacrifice is overwhelming.
My heart breaks for your proud family.
And for each life you have touched.
You will forever be a part of our American Soul.
Your life is a reminder how precious
the freedom you have helped to provide.
I tremble to receive such an extraordinary gift.

© 2014 Brooks Bradbury | Brooks Looks

BrooksLooks @ Quasi Gray & Fuzzy

20190114_152514Quasi Gray and Fuzzy

life is quasi gray and fuzzy

while I hoped for more-finite

i’ve received my share of nebulous

while in search of black and white

perhaps approximate and nearly

is all we really get

instead of crystal clearly

and conditions somewhat met

doesn’t mean we give up trying

as the brass ring comes around

but to have a taste of everything

makes for life lived quite profound

would rather have a full slice of life

than to never know the breadth

but to know even just a little strife

provides dimension and rare depth

i’m getting kind of greyish too

my shoulders worn in slope

my days seem a whole lot more finite

as I’m learning how to cope

grey and dusky evenings

follow Arizona’s crystal days

perhaps the palette’s full of color

and all that really matters

is how we spin the platter

and where we focus our life’s gaze

© 2014 Brooks Bradbury | Brooks Looks

BrooksLooks @ Delirium

DELIRIUM
Brooks Bradbury

YOU TRIED TO LEAVE
YOU SOLD YOUR SOUL
NOW IT’S YOU WHO’S IN THE HOLE
SEEMS YOU WERE JUST A BRIDGE FOR US
A HERE-TO-THERE WITH TOO MUCH FUSS
YOU TRIED TO GET THE SHIP TO SINK
NOW IT’S YOU WHO’S SUNK, ‘S WHAT PEOPLE THINK
YOUR MACHINATIONS WORE MIGHTY THIN
NOW YOU’RE OUTSIDE LOOKIN’ IN
LET ME GET MY VIOLIN
NOW YOU’RE OUTSIDE LOOKIN’ IN

WATER RISING IN A SHIVER
YOU HELPED US CROSS A LITTLE RIVER
YOU ROSE AND PEAKED A SHORT TIME LATER
WE SMILED AT EACH ALLIGATOR
AS WE REACHED THE OTHER SHORE
YOU TAPERED OFF TO BUT A SLIVER
OVER SUCH A SLOW AND GENTLE RIVER
BOTH SIDES OF YOU ARE NOW MUCH CLEARER
TAKE A LOOK INTO THE MIRROR
HOLD OFF ON YOUR FINAL BOW
YOU WERE BUT A PATH FROM THERE TO HERE
A BRIDGE ACROSS THEN AND NOW

YOU TRIED TO LEAVE
YOU SOLD YOUR SOUL
NOW IT’S YOU WHO’S IN THE HOLE
SEEMS YOU WERE JUST A BRIDGE FOR US
A HERE-TO-THERE WITH TOO MUCH FUSS
YOU TRIED TO GET THE SHIP TO SINK
IT’S YOU WHO’S SUNK, S’ WHAT PEOPLE THINK
YOUR MACHINATIONS ARE MIGHTY THIN
NOW YOU’RE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
HOLD OFF ON THAT GREAT BIG GRIN
NOW YOU’RE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
I’LL ROSIN UP MY VIOLIN
NOW YOU’RE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

LIFE’S HARD ENOUGH WITHOUT TWO FACED LIARS
PERHAPS THEY SIMPLY CROSSED THEIR WIRES
BUT LIFE CAN BE A LOT MORE FUN
NOW THE BASTARDS ‘R ON THE RUN
CAN FINALLY SEE THE SHINING SUN
NOW THE BASTARDS ‘R ON THE RUN
TRAPPED IN THE SILKY WEB THEY’VE SPUN
BASTARDS ARE FINALLY ON THE RUN
AND OUR SPIRITS WON’T COME UNDONE
NOW THE BASTARDS ‘R ON THE RUN

© 2014 Brooks Bradbury | Brooks Looks

BrooksLooks @ Additional Therapy Required

Additional Therapy Required

They were the matter-of-fact, high-wire requests every local innkeeper and inn-team fielded and responded to over the course of a frenetic summer in the Berkshires.

These were life’s serendipitous brushes with greatness in sweet and personal ways. People serving people. If we took too much time to think about each of these moments, we could have flirted with even higher levels of stress knowing that if we screw “this” up, the whole world would surely know!

On this day, Mary Tyler Moore might request a brownie sundae in the wee hours of the morning. Or Ann Jackson would require an impromptu ride back to NYC for husband Eli Wallach, who wasn’t feeling well.

Martha Argerich would require a well-tuned piano in her guest room. Such sweet sounds! Or Garrison Keillor could be stamping his feet because he was unhappy with his room.

Or Shimon Peres might prefer a bottle of Bordeaux this morning. No matter that his personal time zone was out of synch with Eastern Standard Time and local liquor laws.

Or Lyle Lovett and his band would prefer that our New England chef prepare huevos rancheros for breakfast at noon. Or Marlo Thomas might need some help setting up her off-premise suite this morning.

There was the moment James Taylor simply asked to purchase a newspaper. Or the night Ray Davies came to dinner. Or the time Buzz Aldrin required some technical help with his laptop.

The answer to such requests was always yes–of course–right away in the same way “How high do I jump?” was followed by “How long do I stay up there?”

There was that one day in particular when Marge Champion’s massage was the day’s top priority. That is, until Senator and Mrs. Ted Kennedy called from the road to request a massage therapist be ready on standby for their imminent arrival.

Oh, by the way “our limo is just passing through Worcester now.” This could be loosely translated as, “We need two massages the moment we arrive in order to make it to the grand opening in time.”

Yes. Of course.

It really was all very simple. Making it happen was what we always did. After all, a career in service is just that–a ministry of serving guests well and the daily dispensation of The Platinum Rule–serving guests the way they wanted to be treated.

It really isn’t WHAT you know at moments like this but WHO you know! In this case the Kennedy’s were well on their way and my loyal assistant Pam began the process of calling all the licensed, high quality massage therapists on our list.

All too soon, we arrived at the bottom of the list without success. Pam already knew it was time to bring out the big guns—for instance leveraging area massage therapy coordinators. I had to leave a message for my friend “LL”. She had her finger on the pulse of local massage therapy, although on this day she was busy like everyone else. I had to leave a message for her.

Minutes began passes like seconds as Pam had to resort to the “phone book”—we were approaching that desperate territory now somewhere between the rock and hard place. But at last, Pam found a therapist who WAS available right away.

About this point, I found myself taking a gulp of air—it was a male therapist who was available. Was he our only option? Yes. Did we know anything about him? Not enough.

In a moment of loneliness at the top, I gave the ‘go ahead’ not feeling quite settled with my decision. The therapist would arrive in 15 minutes and the Kennedy’s would arrive moments later. For better or worse, this die was cast.

Just then, the front desk reported the massage therapist and his portable massage table were arriving at the front door right now. I met him at the door and personally ushered him to the suite. It was show time.

I was cringing inside that the therapist’s appearance was not quite spa worthy as I walked him to the Fire House suite. There, I introduced him to the arriving Senator and Vicky Kennedy. It was a joy to see them as always, but now there were massages to attend to and their schedule was quite tight.

I left the three of them in the suite and I returned to my office still on pins and needles. Then the telephone rang. It was my friend LL. “Now you call!” I said, and she asked if I was able to find someone.

I told her who we found, and a deafening silence commenced on the other end. “What is it, I asked?”

“He was terminated for reports of improperly using his hands.”

More silence–as my entire career began passing before my eyes…

“What do you mean?!?”

“I can’t say anything more.”

As I hung up the phone, a feeling of dread cast its pall over my very life.

As happened frequently Kennedy family members would enjoy enjoyed a full and high profile stay and in this case, two days later they left before I could say goodbye. The uncertainty was unbearable!

At a chamber of commerce meeting a few days later, I had a chance meeting with a key Kennedy politico who provided my first chance to ask how the visit actually went. “Brooks, they had a wonderful stay as always!”

Not satisfied, I pressed for more feedback relative to the massage therapy. I was able to exhale when I heard: “The massage therapist was fabulous! Thank you for arranging this on such short notice! Ted and Vicky loved him because he was such a staunch democrat!”

A handwritten thank-you note followed from the Kennedy’s as it did after each family visit. I was breathing a little easier. A few days later, an article appeared in the local newspaper detailing the charges against the massage therapist. Somberly, I faxed it to LL. I don’t know about the massage therapist’s career, but mine would happily go on.

Somehow, a bullet was dodged! Joyful moments of service to others have always provided amazing dimension to life. Such is the pleasure of hospitality and a life spent serving others well.

© 2014 Brooks Bradbury | Brooks Looks

BrooksLooks @ Backlash

BACKLASH

it never ceases
to amaze
what people do
and why, these days

perhaps it’s me
or global warming
why such a spree
of strange is swarming

whom shall I tell?
to whom complain?
perhaps it’s me
who’s gone insane

Copyright 2013 © Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks

BrooksLooks @ Berkshire Dance

BERKSHIRE DANCE
Brooks Bradbury
Stockbridge Massachusetts
29 May 1999

It is invisible at first. You can’t quite perceive what surrounds you having arrived from points beyond with stress clearly visible in your eyes. The veins in your neck throb and protrude. They are surely the result of unhealthy dances you’ve been performing elsewhere. Only in time and by being still inside will the gentle rhythm and strong essence of the Berkshires be revealed to you, soothing you.
 
At first, you will be fooled. Your first pass through these Berkshire Hills, no doubt driving along and jumping to the conclusion that this Route 7 corridor is “all there is.” As if one paved road was the only dimension you could imagine. 
 
So What? You think to yourself. (You can’t feel it yet.) But if you’re in search of, or you only have time for the superficial, you’re best continuing on.   You will miss what’s here and the Berkshires will be lost on you. To those of spirit and openness, a place of wonder will begin to unfold around you.
 
When you are ready to perceive with all of your senses (i.e., more than five) these Berkshires will begin to make sense. Further from the pavement, it may begin as you notice quietness–the  joyful lack of mechanical intrusions, automobile horns and piercing sirens.  And this will build within you, as you receive the kindness of a Berkshire resident or you hear Nature begin to speak.
 
It will crescendo with a symphony and peak with an artist’s proof before your very eyes. Dazzle you from a stage, even leap at you from a “Pillow.” Or perhaps a genuine Berkshire essence will occur to you when you reflect on relics of the Berkshire past.
 
It is this Berkshire spirit that can transform your soul bringing you to a place you could be, inside. You will begin to ‘see’ what is here when you venture far beyond the roads into the corners to the quiet places—where solitude grows louder. Every idea is clearer here in these places–you’ll hear insects and breezes, brooks and trees.
 
Loudest of all, your thoughts emerge from the cacophonous static of a modern age onto a blank and tranquil new canvas in your mind where you might imagine more clearly all that is possible, where your life might lead you.
 
And then, your dance with the Berkshires has begun. And you’ll realize why we who live here move to an invisible rhythm, savor moments in time a little longer and treasure our lives more deeply.

Welcome to the Berkshires!
                                                                          You’ve arrived.

BrooksLooks @ Native Son

NATIVE SON
Brooks Bradbury 
16 NOVEMBER 2013
 
THE GENERATION AFTER THE GREATEST ONE
GREW UP PROUD AS NATIVE SONS
HEIRS TO THEIR NEW BRAVE WORLD
THEY RAISED THEIR FLAG NEW LIVES UNFURLED 
 
FRESH CHALLENGES AND FUTURE SHOCK
NUCLEAR TICKS OF A DOOMSDAY CLOCK
ALWAYS MINDFUL OF THE PRICE THEY PAID
GRATEFUL FOR THE PATH THEY MADE

PERPLEXED AT TODAY'S REALITY 
AND TEAR-IT-DOWN MENTALITY
PERHAPS THE GREATEST NOW REGRET 
WHAT THEY'VE GIVEN AND WHAT THEY'VE DONE
AND THE FEELINGS FELT BY NATIVE SONS 
 
LEAVING NOW AS CHILDREN NURSING HALLS FILL 
NATIVE SONS CARRY ON THEIR CHERISHED HIGH IDEALS
PRECIOUS FEW UPHOLDING WELL-LEARNED VALUES STILL
THESE ARE THE DAYS OF NATIVE SONS
OF A WELL-EARNED FUTURE THANKFULLY SOUGHT
WHY DOES IT SEEM THE GREATEST ONES
REGRET WHAT THEY HAVE WROUGHT 
 
GROWING UP SOME NORMAL KID 
WE THOUGHT WE DID AS NEIGHBORS DID
HALLOWED GROUND AND VALUES DEAR
WE'VE COME SO FAR AND AS I LOOK AROUND
WHY AM I THE STRANGER HERE? 
 
A PACHYDERM PARTY A HERD OF RED ASSES 
VIGILANT GUARDIANS OF A NARROWING VIEW 
NATIVE SONS SHOCKED AT WHAT NOW PASSES
FROM THE GENERATION THAT 'GOT IT DONE'
FINAL TANTRUMS BEFORE THEY'RE GONE  
ANGER AT CHANGE AND VEILED ATTACKS
RACISM CONTINUES AND CIVILITY LACKS
 
HE HAS ENDURED THE AGE'S GREATEST CHANGES 
AND SAVORED EVERY GIFT
FROM THE GENERATION BEFORE HIM 
OLD MINDS ARE NEGATIVE AND STIFF
WHERE EVER HAS 'WHAT'S RIGHT' GONE?  
NATIVE SONS PONDERS THIS
IT SEEMS THE GREAT GENERATION 
REJECTS WHAT THEY HAVE DONE 
LEAVING NOW THEIR NATIVE SON 
TO PONDER HOW HE'S BECOME 
A STRANGER ON THE RUN 

© 2013 Brooks Bradbury / Innspired Hospitality