Charlie Munger on models

“What is elementary, worldly wisdom? Well, the first rule is that you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang ’em back. If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form.

You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience—both vicarious and direct—on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head.

What are the models? Well, the first rule is that you’ve got to have multiple models—because if you just have one or two that you’re using, the nature of human psychology is such that you’ll torture reality so that it fits your models, or at least you’ll think it does. You become the equivalent of a chiropractor who, of course, is the great boob in medicine.

It’s like the old saying, “To the man with only a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” And of course, that’s the way the chiropractor goes about practicing medicine. But that’s a perfectly disastrous way to think and a perfectly disastrous way to operate in the world. So you’ve got to have multiple models.

And the models have to come from multiple disciplines—because all the wisdom of the world is not to be found in one little academic department. That’s why poetry professors, by and large, are so unwise in a worldly sense. They don’t have enough models in their heads. So you’ve got to have models across a fair array of disciplines.”


San Diego!

That means tank top days. Shorts and jumps in the pool and the Wine Company.

That means La Jolla and Del Mar, but it also means Mira Mesa and Convoy.

It means choy lai fut, my kung fu brothers and sisters, and a bowl of pho afterwards. And Shanghai City for “dumplings with soup in the middle” – the hand gestures necessary.

It means tooling around in my candy apple red 87 Civic CRX, 5 speeds, and passing someone on onramp as I jerked that little kid I named Ana onto the freeway. Ana at first after Anaïs Nin, but later after the Bad Religion song because it fit her personality better.

It means Mike Halloran and Anya Marina on the old 94.9 playing music that didn’t suck.

San Diego where we’d get in my BMW and (I’m such not a ‘BMW guy’ but I loved my BMW) drive to Jesse’s and I’d had to sing the song to remember to turn on Chantilly Lace Road. (see?)

San Diego the time Jimmy came for a visit and I wore my crown to the Chinese restaurant and told them I was the king. And we took anyone and everyone to either Hamburger Mary’s or #1 on 5th, where you might get groped on your way to the men’s room and two nights in a row we took over the back bar with different groups of friends. And both nights laughing all the way home to see that I really did have a big jar of congealed duck fat in my refrigerator.

It mean Saturday morning at Caffe Calabria working on the novel over a double macchiato.

It means Saturday afternoon at the SDSU Library, third floor, third desk in the middle set of desks, next to the fiction section.

It also means Jenny and I walking home from the Pizzeria, or Arivaderci, or the Thai place, shivering and my teeth chattering in the moonlit night because I didn’t even own a jacket.

It means the time we carried our Christmas tree home from the nursery in Mission Hills. It means stumbling up the hill hand-in-hand from a night at the Casbah, yelling in the streets about the band we’d seen. It means the bike and taco shop rides and taking the Coaster to work.

It means breakfast at Chloe, lunch at Testa, dinner at The Link.

It means falling in love with our city neighborhood by neighborhood: First with Hillcrest, then with Wee Italia, then with North Park, finally with Golden Hill where my friend and writing co-conspirator Abbie Berry lived.

It means this paragraph I wrote out a hundred times until it degenerated into nonsense:

The next morning a fresh whim hits me. I’m on my way to Wee Italia to meet Owen, walking down Market because I’m don’t have $2.25 for the bus, when I feel the urge to skip. You get to this spot coming down off Grant Hill where our downtown’s oddly angled scrapers are arrayed in front of you like a palace of Suryavarman the Great. There are clean gaps where Market and Broadway flow arterially through the clusters of structures. On one flank is the Dog Dish, to the other the crenelated hump of Cortez Hill. Front and center, the twin sails of the Hyatt Towers yank the goodship Didadicus de Alcala into the Pacific, where a bank of fog hunkers off Point Loma.

It means the file I called ENCHILEDADA which opened in an app called Mellel which was the whole first draft.

It means all those poems I wrote trying to write like I thought I was Wallace Stevens (even dreamed of being punched out by Hemingway) and the painting of the Jacaranda I did in one hungover morning and which still hangs in our living room to this day.

It means sitting at a sidewalk table in Hillcrest or on Cortez Hill trying to conjure Paris. It means dreaming of the Pacific Northwest and all the oysters I can eat. It means sitting on the beach at North Torrey Pines after work with an oil can between my legs and a cigarette between my lips, looking out at the breakers, ‘I always go there when I can, thinking “Jonny, you are such a lucky man.”‘

Cause it’s true.


I have immensely enjoyed
every cigar and cigarette and cigarillo that has ever
given me an excuse to stand on a street corner
Paris, France or San Francisco
Kettner Ave in San Diego
anywhere the red light of America
– or to squat
in my garden
in a light rain
to inspect my arugula
and to the see the first strawberry
of spring bursting from the box planter


Madison Bumgarner chugging bers
posted in Uncategorized


Harvest Season


posted in Fall

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Cid Corman

Cid Corman’s The fabric

downstairs as
I look in
from the street

I can catch
the loom and
can sense the

strengthen the
night coming

“Cid Corman” sounds like a character out of some noir vision of Brooklyn, New York City, New York. “Cid Corman” sounds like the image you see when you Google him. Cid Corman, something of and out of the 20th Century.

“Corman is the poet of quiet” writes Lorine Niedecker, who also sounds like poet of the 20th century, “Lorine”, especially when we read her poem You are my friend, which we are introduced to, along with Cid Corman, in ModPo. On Coursera.

Notes On Smell


William Carlos Williams, 1883 – 1963

Oh strong-ridged and deeply hollowed
nose of mine! what will you not be smelling?
What tactless asses we are, you and I, boney nose,
always indiscriminate, always unashamed,
and now it is the souring flowers of the bedraggled
poplars: a festering pulp on the wet earth
beneath them. With what deep thirst
we quicken our desires
to that rank odor of a passing springtime!
Can you not be decent? Can you not reserve your ardors
for something less unlovely? What girl will care
for us, do you think, if we continue in these ways?
Must you taste everything? Must you know everything?
Must you have a part in everything?

And she asked me, what words come to mind, when you stick that snozola of yours into the basil, as you just did?

But darling (which sounds so much better than it reads, darlin’), no words come to mind.

If pressed I might say peppery, piquant, herbaceous. But really what basil smells like is Caprese salad, is the sight of you in june at the market sticking your head in a bunch of green leaves, is even the way it yellows and sadly scraggled as I pick off the last leaves from our plant in November.

One might as well ask a dog what the ass of his doggy friend smells like; he might give as Williams might: An answer in a grin.