Sunday, April 29, 2012


Wish you could have been there (the release party for BELL ENGINE's first CD ROOMS, the band my oldest son Miles plays bass in). Two great hard charging sets, a packed house (restaurant bar actually) and lots of dancing, shouting, whistling and other energetic expressions of appreciation.

I tried both taking photos and filming it on my phone, but it was the first time I experimented with that and the results weren't too good [and I couldn't figure out how to get the tape onto the blog anyway].

Best thing is to check out their CD at either CD Baby (where mine, LOST ANGELS, also with my son Miles on bass, is also available) or download songs—if only one to find out if you dig them, I suggest making it "Soul Breaker," the song Miles wrote and the band's singer John sings, with harmonizing from the other singer in the band Lisa (both write the songs too except for this one)] from iTunes or Spotify.

I'll try to find the links tomorrow and insert them in this post [just did], but it was a late night and an early morning [went to see my daughter Caitlin sing a with a chorus and do a solo for an Easter season cantata at a Sunday service for three churches—I think the choruses were combined as well—in a very beautiful old Episcopalian church in Sheffield, Massachusetts with Tiffany stained glass windows, and despite fighting a cold her voice awed me with its angelic purity as it always does when I hear her sing, and I'm not just being a proud father—because as anyone who knows me knows, I don't hold back on critical opinions about people's creative work—her voice was simply the purest and most effortlessly conveyed among many in that chorus, and for that matter that I hear on recordings] so I'm heading to bed.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


The band my older son is in—BELL ENGINE—is having a release party and gig to celebrate their first CD (ROOMS) at The Brickhouse in Housatonic tonight at 8PM. Details here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


So, a lot of good poetry read last night in Brooklyn. And a lot of old friends and folks I knew back when. Good to see Harvey Shapiro still at it and pushing ninety, and Jack Anderson and Hettie Jones still going strong. I can't mention everyone (and apologies to those I don't) but Gerald Fleming read a poem that brought the reality of female "adulterers" experiencing execution by stoning that was as powerful as anything I've read or heard on that subject. And Dick Lourie used his poetry chops to explicate from his alter ego's musician chops an alternative reading of what the "delta blues" mean, while Chuck Watchel used his novelist's skills to evoke a dead friend's presence in a way that had me present in the scene he made real.

Donna Brook read a poem that metaphorically and literally captured the sense of loss so many felt at poet Paul Violi's passing. Terence Winch read poems that displayed his unique wit and insight in ways few poets can match and none can surpass. There was lots of laughs, not just for some of Terry's lines, but for Ed Friedman's riff imagining some of the poets present in more surreal drag than anything on "reality" (or "surreality") TV, and Charles North, Larry Zirlin and Bill Zavatsky, among others, got the audience laughing as well. Though none got more laughs than Bob Hershon, and well deserved.

I hope we see some of the work that came out of the reading in future issues of HANGING LOOSE (and wasn't already published there in past issues). In the meantime the 100th issue, now available and the point of the reading, contains some of the poems read last night as well as a variety of others. But what I'm most grateful for in HANGING LOOSE 100 is a long interview with the late Paul Violi, a poet many of us loved and miss. Check it out.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I should have posted about this sooner. But tonight, at 7PM, to celebrate the 100th issue of HANGING LOOSE magazine and HANGING LOOSE books, I will be reading along with these poets and writers, all of them unique and worth hearing:
Harvey Shapiro, Kimiko Hahn, Elizabeth Swados, Jayne Cortez, Charles North, Jack Anderson, Joan Larkin, William Corbett, Mark Pawlak, Tony Towle, Donna Brook, Dick Lourie, Gerald Fleming, Keith Taylor, Indran Amirthanayagam, Hettie Jones, Terence Winch, Michael Cirelli, Gary Lenhart, Steven Schrader, Joel Lewis, Joanna Fuhrman, Sharon Mesmer, D. Nurkse, Ed Friedman, Chuck Wachtel, Larry Zirlin, Mark Statman, Christien Gholson, Ron Overton, Jeni Olin, Bill Zavatsky, Marie Harris, and Robert Hershon.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


That too is an exaggeration, after all I've been doing this blog for several years now. But still. Good used to be so cool [I meant, of course, to type Google used to be cool, but figured I'd leave it just to show that over two years since the brain surgery I still struggle on a regular basis to type what I mean, redoing typos and out and out weird mistakes more odd than that one, at least I got the first three letters correct so you can see why the typing part of my brain might have typed "Good" instead of what the creating part of my brain was telling my fingers to type: "Google"]. You could look something up and find it pretty quickly and know that everyone else would find it in the same way. Then they changed (was it just last year?) the algorithms so that if you and someone who doesn't share your web surfing history look up the same thing you'll both get different listings and the order they're in etc.

Now they went and changed all the pages I use, to write my blog and add or change things. Today I tried to add a link to an old friend's blog, the novelist and critic William McPherson's McPherson's Lament. But the window you make changes on for my list of blogs and sites I dig (to the right) had been redesigned and kept telling me to correct errors on the form, but as far I can see there are no errors, it's all exactly as it was when I added the last entry (another friend's blog, the writer Elaine Durbach's Trying To Be Cool blog, worth checking out) without any problems.

Wassup Google? You never hear the old adage: If it ain't broke don't fix it?

Monday, April 23, 2012


I got these from recent posts to my Facebook stream thingee (that I'm told doesn't post everything my friends post just from those I have responded to, or something so arbitrarily about getting customers and so anti-randomness-of-the-kind-of-art-and-living-I-love).

[PS: And yes I know Facebook helped spur The Arab Spring and other collective actions against tyranny and assorted evils. The title of this post is mainly a reflection of my personal (and many others from what I observe) frustrations with the way Facebook does business and works for the average user etc. etc.]

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I've been meaning to note what everyone already knows now for days, that Levon Helm has passed.

He seemed like a really decent man, though I didn't know him personally. I saw THE BAND, thanks to my old friend Willy ("Alameda Tom") as I remember it in 1969 in Virginia. And in my Hollywood years I ran into Robbie Robertson several times and he always was friendly and at ease with me in ways a lot of "stars" out there seemed to have a hard time being.

I have the feeling I maybe met Helm once at a party around the time he played Sissie Spacek's father in COALMINER'S DAUGHTER even though they were about the same age. He was the kind of guy you just had respect for instantly, music-wise, acting-wise, human-wise. He radiated a kind of quiet integrity and dignity not that common in the world of "rock" music, though The Band's music could never really be categorized.

It's almost too obvious to say he will be missed.

Here's two videos of Helm playing and singing with The Band, the first in 1969, the second '70.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


So I bought myself an early birthday present (it isn't until next month). Some friends said I should get one, that it would make my live easier, especially one I can talk to.

Others said it would drive me crazy with frustration. I'll let you know. But so far, I've only used it for calls (which not a lot of folks do anymore, and not just the younger ones, everybody texts and messages and etc.) and one message and one check of my email when I was on the train coming back from the city.

And I have to admit, even with that limited usage, it's pretty fun. I guess my Luddite days are over for real.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Sorry, but I went back to you having to type in a squiggly word to leave a comment because even though junk mail and mass mailings (and some pretty atrocious stuff) wasn't showing up on the blog, I have comments automatically emailed to me and they've been showing up there like sucky SPAM.

So, hopefully you won't mind doing that before publishing your comment. Ain't it amazing that we've come so far that it seems like an imposition to have to type in a word or two to send a comment you might have on something out into a world of friends and strangers that'll then be there theoretically forever!?

(Oh, and anyone else notice that the rightwing Republicans are trying to blame the Secret Service prostitute scandal on Obama but NOT on the head of The Secret Service who was appointed by Bush/Cheney? Anyone surprised at that?)

Thursday, April 19, 2012


This is a trip. Steve Hamilton and me reading on a half hour public access cable show in Manhattan in 1977 that included over the course of its run a lot of good young New York poets of that era. (It's pretty much split in half, Steve the first fifteen minutes, me the last fifteen). I'm not crazy about some of what I read, though I think the selection improves as I go along and there's a couple of old favorites on it.

The camera work is sometimes distracting and sometimes fascinating in that slow student film detail oriented way that was so popular in avant-garde movies of the late 1950s and early '60s. But the first thing that struck me was the hair! And the last was my quietly aggressive arrogance (unintentional, just the way I was and often still am, from my youth and background and experiences in the service and jazz world and whatever etc.) especially criticizing the hardworking fellow poets putting the show on (Gary Lenhart I think it was, the final credit was too complex for me to get, I guess I should have paused it there) almost always thinking I knew better (sorry Gary and others over three decades too late).

This was a couple of years before I started acting professionally in movies and on TV. Folks used to ask me if I was an actor or tell me I should be in movies and there's a few angles where I can see why they did that then. At any rate, see what you think. (And thanks to PENNSOUND for getting it online and making it available, no matter how embarrassing.)

[By the way, among the few folks who were in the studio watching the woman is Eileen Myles and I think that's Alfred Milanese on one side of her and Tom Carey on the other and Gary Lenhart up on the ladder, or whatever he's perched on.]

Install the Flash plugin to watch this video.


What a wonderful event. Catered (seems like the first time I encountered that at St. Mark's, at least with uniformed waiters working the room with platters of fancy delights), crowded (great to see so many young people out for Joe's work and so many older old friends, too many to list, but a great chance to let them know how much I still feel for them whether they believe it or not or care or not) (hmmm, I'm writing this a little like Joe after a night of hearing his words aloud).

One of the most gratifying things about the event was that with sixteen people reading, with very different voices and perspectives and selections, Joe's voice still transcended all that and his personality and character and living presence came through it all and made clear how great his writing is. I read a few selections I included in an anthology I put together in the early '70s that came out in I think '76, called NONE OF THE ABOVE. The first time Joe's writing was included in an anthology I'm pretty sure. I just wanted to include people whose writing I dug who weren't in any of the many poetry anthologies that came out in the 1960s and first few years of the '70s.

Anyway, I was so happy that his writing is getting this kind of attention and recognition. It's almost disorienting to see his name and work—THE COLLECTED WRITING OF JOE BRAINARD—under the logo of The Library of America (and more credit to them, and editor Ron Padgett and whoever else helped make the book happen). I can't think of any other writer they've published in what they consider the "American" canon (I always like to put that word in quotes as it usually is used to mean the USA and excludes a lot more of what is also "America") whose writing is anything like Joe's. Or maybe "like" isn't the right word. Any other writer who approaches writing the way Joe did and communicates with the reader as honestly and directly and clearly and succinctly and contains the unique combination of a childlike almost naive innocence and optimism with an old-person-like wisdom and world weariness no matter what age he was when he wrote it.

I wish you all could have been a part of the standing-room-only crowd that not only filled all the seats but the floor and leaned against every inch of wall space. Next best thing is to buy the book and I guarantee—if you dig honesty without arrogance or emotional manipulation—before you are half way through you will love Joe and his writing as much as I, and a lot of other discerning folks, do.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Tomorrow evening, Wednesday April 18th, I'll be reading, along with many others (including poets Lewis Warsh, Charles North and Anselm Berrigan, actor Keith McDermott, performance artist and writer Johnny Stanton and artist Donna Dennis and more) from the new Library of America edition: THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF JOE BRAINARD. (It's at St. Mark's, Tenth Street and 2nd Ave, 8PM)

If you don't know who Joe is, or was, look him up. For me he was an intimate friend who I loved and am sorry I didn't stay in touch better after I moved to L.A. in the early '80s. Though we did correspond a few times before he passed almost twenty years ago. I miss him. Fortunately I have a few art works that he gave me over the years, as well as his letters and art work he sent with them, and of course his writing.

The most famous thing he wrote was his long poem "I Remember" began as a series of memories in a clear and almost childlike honesty that immediately caught everyone's attention among the poets and artists I knew and cared about. From the first slim book (or what people call "chapbook") came several more, eventually collected into one volume which has been reprinted over the years in various editions, and now in the new COLLECTED WRITINGS.

That alone would make the book worthwhile getting. But then there's his unique and mostly early short "fiction" (in quotes because there is almost always an element of not just "truth" but of Joe putting himself and some current experience or observation or question of his into the fictional story) as well as very short essays and many diary and diary-like entries.

It's almost impossible to summarize, or even characterize, what makes Joe's writing so unique. The immediate impact is that it isn't, that it's generic, him playing with or off various genres like children's or young adult's stories, or almost parodying more adult prose like art criticism or philosophical essays. Then again a lot are simply straightforward diary dailiness reporting, where he shares what a day has been like, almost always including comments on art or making art as well as writing and writers and reading other writers.

The basic feeling is that after just a few pieces you know Joe, or at least his personality, or think you do. He seems so amazingly accessible and forthright and modestly sure of his taste and take on things, and willing to expose his fears and moods and questioning of given attitudes and beliefs, though often freely honest about his lack of knowledge or sometimes ambiguous feelings about people and things as well.

Most of the selections in THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF JOE BRAINARD are too long to quote here as examples, but I'm going to just open to a few pages at random and quote what I notice:

    "I remember the disappointments of picking up a developed roll of film at the drugstore.

     I remember jumping beans, and how disappointing they were. (Lazy.) A few flip-flops and that was that.

     I remember egg salad sandwiches "on white" and large cherry Cokes, at drugstore counters.

     I remember drugstore counter stools with no backs, and swirling around and around on them.

     I remember when the floor seemed a long way down."

That's one of the most banal selections I could have found, but see how it moves from the first two being connected by disappointment, the next two connecting to the drugstore theme in the first, and then the last a combination of all the previous themes so succinctly captured in that final one bringing us right back to our own childhood satisfactions and disappointments (in drugstores!).

Here's a diary like entry:

     "Went over the hill today to do some shopping with Bob and Bobbie. Driving home, feeling abstractly sad, alone in the back seat (to great radio music up front). Bobbie gave me her hand for the rest of the way home. (Thank you.)
     Nice to know that you can still be a bit embarrassed.
     Thank you for that too."

Many of the people he writes about are well known now and some were then as well, at least in the whatever-we-call-it-now ("indie?" "alternative?" etc.) art and literary worlds. There's art too, reproductions of drawings and illustrations [and his version of comix, like his great 1960s original PEOPLE OF THE WORLD: RELAX!—the title of which may be the best slogan for a poster not only of the 1960s but a lot of other times too].

It's definitely a one-of-a-kind volume and totally unexpected and unlike any other Library of America book. Worth getting just for that.



Monday, April 16, 2012


This flick was playing in my local theater a while ago and people kept asking me about it, if I'd seen it, what I thought of it. I had heard a little about it and actually was put off a little. The "true story" of an Irish-American mobster in Cleveland who more or less brought down the local Mafia (the film implies he was responsible more or less for the collapse of "the Mafia" in general across the country) who couldn't seem to kill him despite repeated attempts from blowing up his house to shooting at him with revolvers and rifles etc.

I'm a little tired of the fascination with brutally violent men (and in some cases women), or with films about them anyway. This one's a tad more realistic than something like THE BOONDOCK SAINTS but it's still over the top at times, at least in it's seemingly awed response to the protagonist's supposed "fearlessness" (which may have been real, but ultimately the root of that kind of that kind of violent behavior is often unexamined deep set fear).

The movie was made by a screenwriter (DIE HARD I think he wrote or co-wrote), Jonathan Hensleigh, whose other two movies include one called THE PUNISHER, so he obviously is drawn to the kind of violence the movie displays. Some would say violence only a sociopath (or psychotic) could enact. Ray Stevenson in what I assume is his first real lead is a big broad shouldered man who gives a decent performance, though decent I guess would be the wrong adjective for his character, at least for me.

But the flick is full of amazing cameos and small roles by actors like Christopher Walken, Vincent D'Onofrio, Val Kilmer, Paul Sorvino, Tony Lo Bianco, etc. Most of them do their usual terrific jobs, though Kilmer seems to be wasted and he has one of the biggest parts which he doesn't seem to know what to do with, and I found pretty much unbelievable. The best acting in the whole movie for my taste was a small role as one of the lead's sidekicks, "Billy," played by Marcus Thomas. He nailed it I thought.

There's a lot of faux "Oirish" business that I also found a little embarrassing. the lead character is supposed to be a big reader, like a closet intellectual (who seems to enjoy beating people's faces to pulp with his fists or a board or bat etc.) yet he talks about Irish history like someone uneducated about it. I may be being a little harsh because he does get the general outline correct at times. Maybe that's just a quibble from a print junkie like me, but the bigger issue is the glorification of crime and violence and self-righteous self-glorification.

I've been guilty of the latter myself, so I ain't pointing a finger out of my own self-righteousness. I'd just like to see a movie get this stuff really right, the nasty selfish sociopath behavior without any aura of specialness but instead the banality and stupidity of it all.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I caught most of the new TITANIC on ABC. Julian Fellowes of course is the creator of DOWNTON ABBEY, though this TITANIC was not as critically acclaimed it seemed to me to be almost a prequel to DOWNTON ABBEY, and in fact confirmed some of my suspicions about one of the second season's subplots. What I don't get is why it was on network TV and not advertised as a prequel to DOWNTON ABBEY in some ways (or I guess more a sidebar since DOWNTON ABBEY begins just before the TITANIC sunk).

[I know, I know, this TITANIC isn't really connected to DOWNTON ABBEY in any necessary way, and perhaps the use of at least one (that I spotted) actor as a different character (actress actually, Maria Doyle Kennedy, one of my favorites) would seem to dispel any actual connection, but still...]

Between Fellowes' TITANIC and the new season of THE BORGIAS I feel like I'm getting more than the usual dose of cable (mostly) violence and melodrama and anachronistic historical perspective. But a lot of really terrific acting makes up for all that and more of the usual tropes, as they say these days.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I'm sure you already heard about the Arizona law that says that life doesn't begin at conception, it begins before the egg is even fertilized! read bout it here.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I still don't have what was once a lifelong compulsion (pre-brain op) to make lists, no inclination at all. But I do now and then find lists. A post-op compulsion has been to go through my iTunes library alphabetically, and I just noticed in the late "S"'s a series of songs that began with the word "sweet" so here it is:

SWEET & LOVELY Thelonious Monk (various versions, including from MONK'S DREAM and MONK AT CARNEGIE HALL)
SWEET BLACK ANGEL The Rolling Stones
SWEET GEORGIA BROWN Anita O'Day (on JAZZ ON A SUMMER'S DAY, one of the most original and greatest all time jazz vocalizations)
SWEET GEORGIA BROWN Bing Crosby & The Rhythm Boys (very early)
SWEET GEORGIA BROWN Stephane Wrembel (two versions ten years apart)
SWEET JANE Cowboy Junkies
SWEET LORRAINE The Nat King Cole Trio (two versions)
SWEET STUFF Horace Silver
SWEET VIRGINIA The Rolling Stones

Thursday, April 12, 2012


So I had seen the movie FAT CITY when it came out years ago and remember it as looking colorful, feeling dark and desperate, and kick ass acted (Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges and Susan Tyrell directed by John Huston). But I either didn't remember the book it was based on or never read it when my old friend Dale Herd gave me a copy of the new paperback edition a few days ago and said I should read it. So I did.

It's set in the late 1950s in Stockton, California, and was written by Leonard Gardner, who grew up there, and was first published in 1969 to great acclaim for it's depressing take on the world of lushes and SRO hotel occupants and basically the denizens of most skid rows back then, but the main milieu is the world of prize fighting, the lowest layer of that world.

It reads like the pulp fiction of that time but closer to the mastery of Elmore Leonard who wrote the book OUT OF SIGHT the movie is based on, which I caught on cable and am posting about for probably the third or fourth time since I started this blog, because every time I stumble across this caper flick on TV I can't stop watching it, it's so well constructed and directed (by Steven Soderbergh). It stars Jennifer Lopez at her most appealing and in her best role ever for my taste, and George Clooney, as he finally found his stride as the handsome charming bumbling n'er-do-well hero.

It's a classic to me because I always dig watching it. And then late tonight I caught a sci-fi flick (at least in that it has an attack by aliens) I'd read about and meant to catch when it came out last year ATTACK THE BLOCK. Set in a London working-class or out-of-work-class high rise which are called "blocks" (but are much nicer, at least in this flick, than comparable working and unable-to-find-work high rises in say Newark, called "projects" in the USA) a gang of mixed race, and mixed races, young teen boys fends off an attack by aliens in a story with some terrific twists, and a lot of engaging acting as well, even though some of the actors playing the teens are total newcomers with no previous acting experience.

I don't usually like these horror style sci-fi rampaging aliens flicks, but this one's so clever and fresh and successfully plotted and directed (by Joe Cornish who both wrote and directed it) it's another "classic"—i.e. a film I will be able to watch anytime and dig even though I know the ending. I don't want to see the movie of FAT CITY again, which Tyrell stole and now reading (or rereading) the novel I can see why, she brilliantly embodied the character from the novel in a way Bridges and Keach despite their acting chops could not.

The novel is violent and mostly depressing (and I believe shortchanges the kinds of poor and working people it's about to paint too bleak and hopeless a picture, for the most part) but the writing is so tight and quick and easy to register it moves along like each chapter is an old 45 record capturing the mood of a certain place and time in a way that somehow, despite the almost one dimensional characters, still brings that time and place to life and keeps you interested. Or it did me.

So, not bad for a few days of reading and viewing, three classics, in their various ways.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Terry Winch's reading, with the help of poet and moderator David Lehman, at The New School tonight (actually last night now) was one of the great ones, with poetry legend John Godfrey in attendance, as well as prose legend Dale Herd, and sundry other legendary folk from the NYC downtown poetry scene back in the day (and still) Elenor Nauen and Simon Pettet [and Johnny Stanton], and the Brooklyn maestro and misstro Bob Hershon and Donna Brook, as well as old friends great to see (like Beth and Lisa et. al.).

One of those nights that makes the struggle to create original art from words or notes or paint or etc. all worth it, no matter how much the mainstream world pays attention or not. An energizing, inspiring, very laugh inducing as well as thought provoking Winch word jam session I wish had been filmed and uploaded to YouTube immediately. But I suspect it weren't. So, if you weren't there, you'll just have to take my word for it and do your best to be at the next one wherever and whenever that might be.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Notice how there's been no outrage from the right over the Roberts rightwing dominated court's ruling that the police can strip search any of us anytime for any reason? The right is always yelling about The Constitution and how "liberals"—especially our president who taught constitutional law!—don't believe in The Constitution or want to alter it's original intent.

But the Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves with the latest rightwing assault on The Constitution (and yes the Obama administration is guilty of continuing a lot of the Bush/Cheney post-9/11 infringements on the rights of citizens with the excuse of preventing "terrorist" attacks, but how does not wearing a seat belt or picking up after your dog in places that have laws against that give the police the right to strip you and probe your body cavities?!).

Anyway, it's obvious when the right talks about "liberty" and "freedom" they mean for corporations to do whatever they want but as for the rest of us (especially women) the only "freedom" they want us to have is the freedom to succumb to their ideology and hypocrisy.

For a really good take on this issue read this from the Hulabaloo blog.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


The great poet and Irish musician and songwriter (and friend), Terence Winch, will be the guest of honor at The New School's Poetry Forum, hosted by David Lehman, this Tuesday, April 10, 2012 from 6:30 to 7:45 at the Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall, room 510, 66 West 12th Street NYC.

If you are in or near Manhattan Tuesday evening I highly recommend this rare chance to hear and see Terence in a program dedicated just to his work.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


My blog is set up so whenever anyone leaves a comment it comes to my email. Lately, like yesterday, I'll get a comment that's been left on the blog in my email but it never shows up on the blog. And folks have complained to me about it but I have no idea why that happens. I just read about a second virus that's effecting some Macs (I had one hit me last year and no one believed me, but the guy at Apple did because he knew it was happening to a lot of Mac users). Maybe it has something to do with that newer virus since they said it started by invading Google, which is where my blog is, on Google. Hmmmmm....

Friday, April 6, 2012


I've written about Tom and his poetry before here, and have had his blog(s) on my recommended lists (to the right somewhere) ever since I discovered them. His main blog, BEYOND THE PALE, is a daily selection of poetry or prose (sometimes his own, thankfully) and photographs or art that is a unique blend of brilliant insight, great taste and original editing that always leaves me feeling like I just attended an abbreviated version of one of the best TED talks.

I'm posting about Tom because I just learned from his wife Angelica that his blog will be on hiatus while he recovers from a car accident. Unfortunately, he wasn't in the car but was crossing the street when an older Asian woman turned the corner and ran right into him.

The accident was so severe they sent for the "fatalities" squad to investigate it, according to a newspaper report. But Tom survived, thankfully, though rushed to the Oakland hospital rather than the one in Berkeley where he was hit, because supposedly they have a better trauma unit (though Angelica said it wasn't a fun experience with victims of gunshot wounds and suicide attempts etc. wailing and crowding the emergency room).

He's home now, though may need a return hospital visit to remove something the MRI or CAT scan showed that they think may be more glass from the car. It was that bad that witnesses were certain Tom was killed.

Let us all send healing thoughts and prayers, and love and gratitude, to Tom Clark, a compellingly enlightening force in the worlds of poetry and blogging whose temporary absence while he heals will leave this fan and friend feeling that something vital and essential is missing in my daily encounters with the world, whether online or in person.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


This may not have much to do with you, unless you're a member of either The Screen Actors Guild or The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, but it's a great day from my perspective. I've been a member of both unions for decades and it was their health plans and and strike funds etc. that made it possible for me to survive some years.

I love both unions and what they have helped me provide for my family over the years by protecting me from unfair economic exploitation—as my old friend Hubert Selby Jr. used to quote to me often, from The Bible, "The worker is worthy of his hire." That seems to be an old fashioned idea these days when Republicans have reframed the public discussion so that Eisenhower's predicting that no political party could ever survive by attacking unions now seems naive and even "socialist" etc.

Attempts have been made at merging the two film and recording artists unions over the decades but it was usually a group of Hollywood movie actors who held out to keep SAG free of the TV and radio riffraff. A quaint idea itself, which I am happy to see die. It's also a sign that my fellow members in these unions realize the perilous times we live in for unions and recognize the old adage "there is strength in numbers" as not only true but more necessary to adapt to than ever before.

If we are ever to rekindle "The American Dream" of not just the 1% (or the .01% in most cases) enjoying the benefits of our democracy but the rest of us too, strong unions have to play a major role in making that a reality once again. I'm too tired to recap the history that most of us know anyway, of how before the union movement came to have enough power to influence politics (i.e. pre-FDR) the gap between the rich and poor was what it has once again become today, not just the worst of the advanced democracies, but worse than even some of our Latin American neighbors we used to castigate for their lack of a middle class.

It was unions that made it possible for many working people to be able to afford to own a home and send their kids to college (with usually the wife able to "stay at home" etc.) that created the LEAVE IT TO BEAVER landscape of 1950s USA (at least the "white" majority) that the rightwing Republicans pretend to be so nostalgic for and yet do everything they can to make sure never happens again. Let's hope the SAG-AFTRA merger is just the beginning.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


I went to see THE DEEP BLUE SEA reluctantly. A friend suggested it but I wasn't in the mood to be depressed. I consented because so many critics had raved about it and about Rachel Weisz's performance. I can see why.

It's an unexpected film to find in 2012. Based on the early 1950s' play by Terence Rattigan (and reinterpreted by contemporary critics like much of Tenessee Williams as a closeted gay work, which to my mind is disrespectful to the playwright whether true or not) it is smart, sparse, self-contained and way too "slow" for a lot of today's audience.

But brilliant in its own way. I was all set to be disappointed, especially when the movie opens with a Samuel Barber composition that swells and almost overwhelms you with the manipulativeness that movie scores can sometimes have, and then, it became to insistently melodramatic it was almost Brechtian the way it called attention to itself and I surrendered. 

Not exactly emotionally, which may have been the intent, but intellectually. It is so intelligently and beautifully designed and directed and edited and shot and acted and written (adapted by the director Terence Davies) that though I never felt almost any emotional identification with the characters I felt totally intellectually engaged, more so than any movie I've seen in quite a while (I'm still in thrall with it as you can ell by the slightly tony vocabulary I seem to be still inhabiting).

I left it not emotionally drained, which I suspect one might have on seeing it on stage the first time, but more like I'd just had a very compellingly thoughtful theater experience, cerebrally if not soulfully satisfying. Really. One of the few emotional moments for me was how Davies employs the Jo Stafford recording of the early '50s and my boyhood of "You Belong To Me"—so that I kept thinking it's never sounded better (Jo Stafford was one of the few vocalists even Sinatra said he learned from and admired most).

One of the most disappointing moments though was the use of a group sing of the old Irish standby "Molly Malone" which it's hard for me to believe would have been sung by a class mixed group of Brits during the blitz when Ireland was indirectly siding with the Germans (by many in England's reckoning) by remaining neutral. It's a surreal moment, as one of the friends I saw it with said afterwards, as is the entire film in its way. Dreamlike and evocative in ways both precise and ambiguous at the same time.

As I said, everyone in it is excellent, but Weisz's performance is the most stunning, Oscar worthy in its mixture of complete and appropriate control (for her character's upper class and the standards of the time) with complete and utter abandon. I fell in love with her capacity, as is true in photos of her as well, to be at turns as perfectly attractive as a movie star lead or as ordinarily imperfect as the rest of us.


Monday, April 2, 2012


"We want to create a world in which love is more possible."  —Carl Ogelsby (I no longer remember where I read this, just wrote it down at the time, the late '60s)

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Found this old snapshot of me holding one of my older children not long after their birth. Not sure if it's my daughter Caitlin or older son Miles, though I suspect it's the latter. What interests me is the boho bookcases of bricks and boards that had been a domestic staple for decades by then (this was the late 1960s), with, I can spot relatively clearly, some paperback Beckett books like WATT, almost an obsession in those days, and the ubiquitous rocking chair, my main seat in every home I lived in for decades (we'd always sell whatever furniture we'd collected or picked up from discards or bought at Salvation Army when we moved and hit the same haunts for new furniture wherever we landed) and the sibling connections like the framed temple wall rubbing down the hallway my oldest sister brought back from a trip with her policeman husband one year (actually that hallway pretty much determines it's Miles) and the sweater I'm wearing that was a hand me down from my oldest brother from the late 1930s early '40s that I inherited in the '60s (and still have today! [woops, blew it up and looked closer and I'm NOT even wearing that sweater, just thought I was, same colors etc.).

Life was incredibly challenging as were the times and yet in an old photo like this it seems like it was not only so much simpler (true enough in technical ways) but almost halcyon days. But digging deeper into the historical archives proves not necessarily. As I think Borges put it, more or less, everyone is born into tough times. And as experience teaches, all times are both "good" and "bad" (since each term depends upon the other or is meaningless) just like today.

Anyway, here 'tis: