Monday, March 15, 2010

Aimless Reading: The G's, Part 6.2 (William Gibson)


Burning Chrome
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Gibson, William
Burning Chrome


The "SALE" sticker on the front cover of this likely indicates that it was purchased at the lost and lamented discount book store at the Niagara Falls Outlet Mall. It cost $2.50.

I had a long phone conversation with my mother yesterday.

I was sitting on the couch re-reading Sebald's The Rings of Saturn, which I think I need to read about once a year for the rest of my life, when I began thinking about my childhood in California. My parents moved to Los Gatos in 1970 and we lived there until 1976, when my father took a job outside Washington, DC. I had the idea to call my mother to ask if she could remember the addresses of the three different homes we lived in in Los Gatos. I wanted to see if I could bring them up on Google to see if the images called forth any memories.

She couldn't remember any of them, so I'll have to dig through some of her stuff the next time I visit. We did manage to peg, more or less, the name of one street as Blossom Something Something. That would have been our last house, which we lived in for only a year. Turns out there are at least 10 streets in Los Gatos containing the word "Blossom." I am pretty sure that it was Blossom Glen Way. I spent an hour or so zooming around the town on Google maps and when I brought that street up on Google it looked very, very familiar.

I tried to confirm this by Googling the name of a friend, JB, that I remember having, who lived in the neighborhood. I had no luck confirming the neighborhood, but I did find out about him. Apparently he became on of the greatest athletes in Los Gatos High School history, going on to be selected in the 1991 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. Doesn't look like he made it to the big show, though, but he did make the LGH athletic hall of fame, and his high school picture assured me it was him.

My only real memory of JB is slightly traumatic. You may recall I had a thing for hanging out in sewers -- this began in California, where we had a drainage system that began very near our house and went deep into the neighborhood. We used to get groups of kids together and go wandering into the pipes. We would keep records of who got to the furthest manhole. We could tell where they were by the slivers of light that passed through the finger holes on the steel covers above and stabbed weakly into the darkness below.

The big score, which no one had ever achieved, was to get to the seventh manhole. JB decided to lead four or five of us on the expedition. As we got deeper and deeper into the drainage pipes, the water began to rise, so that by the time we got to the fourth manhole, we had to straddle the stream and walk with our legs spread out so far our feet were nearly half-way up the sides of the concrete pipe. JB was about a hundred feet ahead of everyone else. Suddenly, we heard a splash and a scream. We all gave up trying to stay dry and splashed through the water to where he had fallen.

He kept screaming, My Head, My Head. We helped him up and began walking back to where we had come from, with him screaming My head, My head, the whole way. When we go to one of the manholes, we put his face up to the thin ray of sunlight that filtered down. His whole face was covered in blood. I think we all started crying at that point, as we carried him out of the sewer tunnel and toward the light.

I don't recall it being serious -- just a couple of stitches, but the sight of all that blood coming out his head obviously made an impression.

Got to get to work -- more on California tomorrow!

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