The handlebar mustache sequence

The English professor looked like a smaller version of David Crosby. Like if you let the air out of David Crosby, that’s what he’d look like. Except they let too much out of his face, to where the cheekbones looked jagged and taut. But the eyes were the same: soulful, deep and far away. Crazy cat’s eye marbles. And it was a handlebar mustache that must have been the same he’d started in the 1960s and kept all that time, a good 25 years, graying but still the same — wiry and tough like a brush you’d use on a grill.

And we were there to learn poetry two times a week which was ridiculous the professor said: he strode into class with a western style hat, a suede leather jacket that was frilly with designs on it and chocolate-colored, southwest jewelry on his belt buckle, around the wrists.

I think about him at this time of year because there’s always that first really nice spring day it gets into the 70s, when everyone rolls their car windows down and turns their car stereos up. It was like that in his class one afternoon, when all the dorm windows opened and the blankets came out on the lawns and people started sunning themselves and fanning their hair out.

We were just starting class when a rock song came by from a nearby car and the music was so loud it became like this new reality, like a black hole where gravity goes backwards or something and everything bends to some new, immutable force. The professor was talking but visibly distracted by it, getting pulled away by the song, to where he just broke out of character at once and threw his hands up and said, Oh how can I compete…with the masters?

He was fumbling for the name, fingering the air for it, and one of my classmates blurted Led Zeppelin!, and he said, of course: Led Zeppelin.

And he cocked one of his hips out like Jimmy Page and threw his head back and said we should all just go home now, there’s no need for any of us to be here today. And that seemed right somehow: yes! This class we’d paid for (or our parents had), we don’t need on such a day as this. The real poetry is out there, people: Go, Be.

We up and left and went about our days and he gathered his things, put his hat on and gave me a smirk that said I get you. 

And I don’t remember his name but I imagine him on days like this when I play Led Zeppelin in my car with the sun roof open, when I’m removed for a moment and my senses return with the season and it all just happens like that, one day.

Categories: music

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21 replies

    • Yes, it matters less his teaching I think. He was kind of ‘out there.’ Would have liked to get to know him better. And I can picture his blog-style, if he were still around.


  1. And all because of some dude cruising by blasting Led Zeppelin. Yet some still say there is no God.


    • Exactly. Thanks for your notes this week and it sounds like you’ve got a lot going on, of course. Try track 2 on Houses of the Holy and sit back in your robe, with a cat or something, after the kids have gone to bed. Or put them down in the basement with some proper entertainment that bespeaks the real world.


      • Sounds good. But I don’t own a robe. Maybe I’ll pick one up and mix me up a batch of White Russians.


      • I had White Russians once and felt like I couldn’t stop. Something about cream and alcohol, I don’t know. Rub it on, rub it off. I have some African robes I could sport you. A couple are from Morocco but the rest are J. Peterman. You should get back to work and stop this nutting off here. I found an excuse not to write my memoir this morning and look what happened.


      • Well I’m on vacation, but sitting here in the doctors office hoping I’ll get out in time to take my wife to the airport, so it’s either nut off or stress about my move. I’ll take one of those Moroccan numbers.


  2. People who live in warm-weather climates never experience days like this. It’s why I left Phoenix after 18-months. I missed that freeing first day of 70 degree weather after a torturous six months. It’s glorious. Throw in some Zep and you’ve got yourself a genuine memory.


    • That’s right Mark — in the Pacific Northwest (probably like other places too) people get this kind of giddy, intoxicated happiness. It’s like, “I never realized I was depressed for so long and forgot how it feels to be normal.” I just can’t stop listening to Led Zeppelin for some reason. I’m spinning around Physical Graffiti again and can’t stop. Even read about the making of it before posting this yesterday, never knew they’d pieced together outtakes from other records onto this one, which now makes sense. And I want to go to the cottage in Bron-Yr-Aur and like have tea there, and mutton.


  3. That’s one solid moment you’ve painted there.
    One of my English professor’s names was Albert Furtwangler. Just thought I’d mention that.


  4. There are magic times in the PNW and you have captured it. Two days ago, I was outside BBQing, having a malt beverage, and gazing at the Olympic Mountains. It doesn’t get much better…unless it is one of those July/August evenings when the light hangs on until 10 and I forget the darkness that surrounds Dec/Jan.


    • Yes — I recall you were going to BBQ. I got inspired for this post driving down to Portland a month ago, and sensing that mid-Friday afternoon feeling of a warm afternoon, when everyone’s getting ready for the weekend and sort of car stereo dueling. And then we get weather like today, when we’re reminded of what’s normal, and people bitch about it. I’m going to put on some mopey music and investigate long term rentals in the UK and Croatia.


  5. Great post, found myself nodding in recognition and agreement

    Liked by 1 person

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