Monday, August 21, 2017

DETROIT

Another well intentioned effort that turned out for me to be a disappointing movie experience. So much talent, especially among the actors (I've followed and loved John Boyega's work since I saw him in ATTACK THE BLOCK when he, or at least his character, was a teen). But the parts don't add up and the inconsistencies and dubious motivations (a seasoned street character, who happens to be "black," holed up in a motel in the middle of a riot in 1967, with tons of mostly if not exclusively "white" cops, state troopers, and National Guard troops nearby, in fact right out the window, decides it would be funny to stick his hand out the window with a starter pistol and shoot it, not just once but repeatedly...?!) of way too many characters for me to keep everyone's story clear, ruined the impact of an otherwise powerful story.

And that's on the director, Kathryn Bigelow, for hiring the writer, Mark Boal. I can see why she did, because he wrote THE HURT LOCKER and ZERO DARK THIRTY for her to direct and they were both big successes for her, though I had problems with them as well. But all the controversy over her being "white" and directing an essentially "black" story based on a real historic incident, is beside the point to me, except how it figures into her hiring a "white" writer who she's obviously comfortable working with. There are moving moments of high drama that are compelling at times, but in the end, I wished someone else had told this story, with better focus and coherence and understanding of the subject matter.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

DICK GREGORY R.I.P.

I was in the military when Dick Gregory was becoming famous. I only knew him through his appearances on TV, but he had already changed the entire game for not just stand-up comedians of any kind, but the entire TV landscape as well. Because he addressed directly the still legal racism in the South as well as the de facto segregation and oppression in the North. And made his audiences, and me, laugh doing it.

Then in September of 1964, the month after I married my first wife (rest her soul), while I was still in the service, his autobiography came out with its challenging title and I immediately bought it and read it out loud to my new wife as an introduction to my taste and concerns and beliefs. She had marched for Civil Rights and had friends who had gone South for the voter registration campaign who had been beaten and even killed, so we were on the same page.

I was so struck by this book, I wrote my first and only fan letter. I had already been moved to action years before by other examples of courage and wisdom and leadership in The Civil Rights movement, but for me Gregory pulled all the various strands of the drive to end segregation and systemic racism and even in-your-heart racism together in a unique and accessible, and ultimately tough, way that moved me to even more of a commitment to the cause.
And as seen in the quote on the paperback copy above he did it all with a cutting edge humor that was revolutionary at the time. Richard Pryor and George Carlin, and so many others, might have become comedians, but not the kind of comedians they are now known as without the example of Dick Gregory. In later years he added other kinds of causes to his activism, like animal rights etc. but for me he will always be the Dick Gregory who cut through the miasma of 1950s repression and conservatism to tell the truth to "white" people from "the establishment" to the streets, and some of us heard it.
Condolences to his family, friends and fans. May he Rest In Peace and Power.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

LAST OF THE DUOS (2010-2017)

me (with my post brain-op soul patch) and the late poet/artist & old friend Ray DiPalma (mustachioed) after a reading we did at The Saint Mark's Poetry Project c. 2010
auctioneer & friend Norman Scribner & me c. 2010
me & best buddy Sue Brennan (see previous duo posts) c.2010
my sister Irene & me at our last family reunion in 2011
poet & friend Burt Kimmelman & me Sept/2011 
old friend poet Doug Lang & me after he read at The St. Mark's Poetry project NYC Nov/2011 
Jeannie Donahue & me dancing at my 70th birthday party in Great Barrington MA May/2012
me & Genevieve Keefe dancing at my 70th May/2012
my youngest son, Flynn & me c. 2012
poet/songwriter & dearest old friend Terence Winch & me NYC Nov/2012
another best buddy, Jeff Coleman & me c. 2013?
my cousin songwriter/musician/voiceover artist Nick Ciavatta & me c. 2013?
me & my youngest, Flynn, at the Occupy Wall Street march c. 2014?
actor/director and dear old friend Karen Allen & me c. 2014?
me & poet/writer & dear old friend Susan Hayden before we each read at The Cutting Room in NYC c. 2014
me & my grandson Donovan Lally on his 16th birthday I think, Aug/2014 (he's a little bit taller than me now)
my youngest son Flynn Lally on his 17th birthday & me Oct/2014
singer Julie Christensen & me at The Cutting Room c. 2014
my buddy poet/playwright Rachel E. Diken & me (photographed at an event by a professional photographer whose name unfortunately I no longer remember) c. 2015
me & dear old friend actor/writer Jamie Rose 2016?
me & dear old friend & partner in poetry enterprises, writer/director/poet/& much more Eve Brandstein after performing poetry at The Gotham Comedy Club NYC 2016
 me & John Vogelsang after performing poetry & story-telling at same as the above 2016
my buddy poet/playwright Rachel E. Diken & me before my reading/talk about my Hollywood experiences and the spiritual lessons learned, Oscar eve 2017
poet/singer & friend Angela Lockhardt & me at my 75th May/2017
me & poet/friend Don Yorty at my 75th May/2017
Rachel Diken & me dancing (I'm having a blast despite my squinting into the camera making it look like I'm scowling, I've since been to the eye doc and am back wearing glasses again) May/2017
me & dear old friend Jeannie Donahue at my 75th May 2017
me & my best buddy Sue Brennan in my apartment kitchen sometime in 2017
me & professor/writer & dear friend Mindy Thompson Fullilove (whose books you should own) at the first Maplewood NJ Book Fest, at which we were reading (me my poetry) & speaking (Mindy on gentrification etc.) on different panels Spring 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

YOU'VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT

I saw South Pacific when it came out in 1958. I remember the impact this scene had on me. I felt the truth in the lyrics. Especially since the character supposedly singing them (sounds like someone else's voice) has fallen in love with a woman with "brown" skin, against the law still in many states, at least if you wanted to marry.

I was sixteen and just starting to notice, and secretly falling in love with, some of my fellow teens who happened to be females with darker skin than mine. It's great that inter-racial love (and marriage) is no longer against the law and even quite acceptable most places in this country now. But obviously after this weekend, there are people still being carefully taught.