Tuesday, July 31, 2012


At least I do. Quite a trip watching the girls win the gold and Phelps, with the help of his teammates, become the Olympian with the most medals of all time (and more still possible). I'm hooked.

Monday, July 30, 2012


So I missed most of the opening show and was sorry. Mostly because I didn't get to see the nurses bouncing on hospital beds dance number celebrating "national health"—the Brit healthcare system that covers everyone for free and even the conservatives don't complain about.

But I did get to see the march of nations or whatever it's called and couldn't help thinking how, despite the spreading diversity of most countries now, there are some nationalities that seem to produce more beautiful people than others. And it doesn't seem to have anything to do with what people still call "race" because some east European countries or African countries or Asian countries seem to be full of beautiful people while others not so much.

I know, that's judgmental, but nonetheless true enough from my perspective.

And despite, or rather because of, Paul McCartney's voice not being what it used to be, especially as he began singing "Hey Jude" I was all the more touched by the power of a musical riff to become universally familiar and comforting.  Also touched thinking that he's an old man now no matter how much he dyes his hair or can still jump around a stage.

Yeah, there were some moving moments (like McCartney), some yuck moments (Mitt and his wife standing up and waving like royalty to the USA contingent as if they were already the first family), etc. But once the games got really under way so much of the scoring and the rules and procedures seemed so arbitrary and subjective that I quickly lost interest in some things (what is it with the mostly weird "dance" moves the "American" female gymnasts do in their floor routines, whereas say the Russian female gymnasts who, the announcer said, have to take ballet lessons from childhood on in order to be gymnasts, were so less muscle-y and stiff and strange in their "dance" movements that actually flowed and seemed, well, dance like).

Yet somehow I get invested in seeing the USA win more medals than China anyway and become fascinated with women's archery, or two man beach volleyball, or the team volleyball, especially the women and the impressive and amazingly named Destinee Hooker, or women's weightlifting or men's and women's soccer (things I would normally lose interest in quickly). So I guess I'll keep checking in, especially on the cable networks that are carrying some events during daytime which are less popular, or so the TV execs think, but I often find more interesting.

And I'll remember some moments even as I'll continue to not like the announcer's seeming to get almost everything wrong, talking when I wish they'd keep quiet, keeping quiet when i wish they'd explain something, getting way to personal and pushy with young athletes who have just lost or totally cliched with others who have just won something. It's a strange ritual these games, and totally hyped and as I said mostly arbitrary, but in the end they celebrate the capacity humans have for going beyond what would normally be thought of as possible, making our spirits, or at least mine, transcend the daily challenges and disappointments. Which I guess is the point.  

Friday, July 27, 2012


I haven't seen the new Batman movie yet and really have very little interest, despite some rave reviews. I read and heard and saw rave reviews of the last Batman, DARK KNIGHT, but was pretty sure I wouldn't dig it, and I didn't.  I saw it because my youngest son wanted to, and I wanted him to see it with someone who would have a more critical eye.

I wrote about it in a post back then, seeing some plot points as seeming justifications for the actions of the then administration's (Bush/Cheney) actions and policies. From what I hear about this latest flick, it too seems to have some rightwing over, or under, tones.  But as I have said in many posts, not just the one about the last Batman movie, and as my friend the great photographer Robert Zuckerman has said in many comments on this blog more succinctly and better, I believe these kinds of violent movies, even when clearly fantasy, contribute to the level of violence in our world.

Michael Moore made a point recently in his response to the Colorado movie theater massacre that Canadians have a lot of guns and watch pretty much the same movies and video games etc. we do and yet they, like all other industrialized nations, have only a tiny fraction of the gun deaths we have in this country. So it can't all be about gun control and culture. But nonetheless it is clear that the automatic weapons ban could have kept the massacre to fewer dead and wounded, and that our violent films and video games etc. coupled with our violent history and bias toward vigilantism etc. has contributed to a culture of less sensitivity toward brutality.

I mean just look at the way we went from the "Marcus of Queensbury" idea of rules for boxing to all out kicking and strangling etc. in the kind of fighting now more popular among boys and young men on TV. Yes, a boy from a stable home with a good upbringing and positive models for settling disputes through reasonable discussion etc. will most likely not massacre innocent people in a movie theater. And one who has had a psychotic break or some deepseated mental aberration that can lead to inhumane, let alone inhuman, behavior, may become violent without watching merciless brutality on a movie or TV or computer screen. But even in the latter cases, a sick person might opt for a less destructive weapon than automatic rifles and handguns.

Recently a woman was accosted by a mentally sick man on the street in Manhattan and sprayed with Mace and stabbed. She survived the stabbing thanks to a nurse among the passersby helping until an ambulance arrived, and the man was easily caught without harming anyone else. Imagine if rather than Manhattan with its tougher gun laws, he was somewhere where he had access to automatic weapons when that same destructive impulse to harm a stranger came upon him.

I worked in commercials in the 1990s. Not something I had planned to do, and I did my best to avoid doing commercials for products I thought contributed to the culture of violence (and refused to do voiceovers for violent video games which was a big income loss at the time). And one of the things I learned in doing that was how corporations spend billions on research into how to get people to respond the way they want them to through filmed commercials.

No corporation would spend that kind of money unless they got results. So for people to pretend that violence on movie and TV and computer screens doesn't impact people, especially young minds, and sick minds, and yet commercials on the same screens do, is disingenuous at best. I suppose I'll eventually see this flick when it's shown on TV. My youngest has already seen it with a friend and dug it. My take doesn't have as much of an impact as it used to. But he's capable of critical thinking and if and when I see it I'm sure we'll have a lively discussion, as my older boy and I used to about the same thing, only then the violence wasn't even as bad as it is now. (I remember how the first GODFATHER movie and CHINATOWN and THE WILD ONES and other 1970s movies that first introduced a level of realistic violence never before seen on screen upset me at the time, and now they seem so tame!)

So, my take is that if the killer of those theater goers in Colorado had not see DARK KNIGHT and Heath Ledger's impactful performance as the ruthlessly violent Joker and didn't have easy access to automatic weapons, those people in that Colorado theater that night, or at least more of them, would still be alive and unhospitalized.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


There's a lot of lies out there coming from the rightwing media and parroted by most Republican politicians, but maybe the biggest in some ways, or maybe I mean the one with the widest impact is the idea that the more money the rich have the better it is for the rest of us somehow. The "trickle down" economy that was discredited even in its heyday under Reagan.

It's no accident that the change in economic disparity and the diminishment of economic opportunity began to register in 1980, the year Reagan took office. We now trail every other advanced democracy in the world, our children have less opportunity to improve their lot economically and live with a greater disparity between rich and poor than any European kid, or Canadian, or etc.—something that would have been unthinkable in my childhood and even early adulthood.

The old "America" the right seems to have so much nostalgia for is often depicted as the "Happy Days" of the 1950s. And they're correct that the country was much better off than in many ways, mostly economically. But that was because unions were strong and all working people benefited from that because the threat of strikes kept corporate bosses wary of trying to cut wages etc. so a working-class family could actually afford a house and car and be able to put their kids through college on the wages of one adult.

And corporate greed was kept in check by progressive tax rates that were as high as they've ever been for the richest. And yet, the economy was booming, the country was in great shape, except for the treatment of minorities and women. Maybe that's what the rightwingers are really nostalgic for. But the truth is, the economic inequality that now exists in the USA is greater than anywhere in the advanced world, and even greater than in some developing countries. The only time it's been this bad was in the gilded age in the late 19th century when corporate bosses hadn't been brought into check by fairer work laws and anti-trust legislation etc.

The idea that rich people are "job creators" and the more money they have the better off we all are is a lie, plain and simple. Rich people didn't create the Internet which has led to a lot of the jobs in our economy, the government did. Et-endlessly-cetera. Maybe Will Rogers said it best back when we were heading into The Great Depression, an economic situation that was only matched by the one Bush/Cheney led us into. Fortunately Obama and his administration kept it from getting as bad as then, but not with any help from the right which includes most Republican politicians. But that's another post.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


It's kind of bogus to compare "artists" (in this case movie actors) especially ones so different.  But I watched a corny old Hollywood "swashbuckler" last night starring Gregory Peck called CAPTAIN HORATIO HORNBLOWER and couldn't help thinking about the difference between Peck and John Wayne.

Wayne made a lot of movies I love and he did what he did well. Same for Peck, though Peck worked in more genres (Wayne was confined almost exclusively to Westerns and war movies, with a few exceptions, while Peck was in almost every genre except musicals).

They both played pretty much heroic men. In their private lives Wayne was a "conservative" and like many conservatives made a big deal of his patriotism but somehow never served in the military even when many others in Hollywood did during World War Two. Peck was a "liberal" but also didn't serve during that war due to a back injury from dance classes when he was young, though the studio said it was an athletic injury since dance didn't sound very macho (you can sometimes see when he's moving fast in a film that his walk seems stiff and awkward). Wayne got out of serving under other circumstances, the issue's been interpreted in various ways depending on the politics of the person doing the judging.

But the fact is both were big men (a few inches over six feet, back when that was rare) and charismatic on screen.  But Peck looked like "the tall dark and handsome" hero of popular myth in those days, Wayne looked more like an everyman, just bigger.

Wayne's best role, for my taste, was as the ex-boxer in John Ford's THE QUIET MAN, a film I can watch anytime and enjoy and an exception to the usual Western or war movie. Peck's best is usually considered TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and I agree. Obviously the latter was a more serious movie that had a bigger impact on peoples consciousness. But the roles the actors play in them kind of summarize my feelings about them.

Wayne is someone I often enjoy watching perform, and as a boy I sometimes fantasized being as heroic as the characters he played, but never wanted to be them, or him. Peck, on the other hand, played characters I wished I could be not just as heroic as, but as dignified and as quietly and gracefully courageous as.  That's really the difference I was thinking about last night. Even in a film as flimsy as CAPTAIN HORATIO HORNBLOWER, Peck projected an inner conviction and self-respect, and that dignified manner, that made me wish I was like the men he often portrayed.

I never met Wayne. He was dead by the time I got to Hollywood I think. I like watching many of his flicks and I've long stopped judging him for his misplaced political inclinations, but in the end he's just an entertainer who created a character—"the duke"—that he played well. But I did meet Gregory Peck and wasn't disappointed. He came across, even in his later years, as a really decent human being. I feel honored to have had the chance to be around him the one time I was. And I feel honored by his presence in any movie I see him in.

Monday, July 23, 2012


I found this in an old journal I was glancing through for archival reasons. It's from 7/13/74:

      I feel myself on the verge
       of expressing what hasnt
       been expressed since some
      prehistoric or at least ancient
    human wandered on the outside
    ('edges') of a cruel society
       (or a society which at least
        sometimes required cruelty)
   and knew he/she could not
     only live without that but
      could be 'happy and well'
      and even fulfilled!—"

[I did add a coda:      "only
      it never gets to be more
        than a 'feeling'
             an internal experience

Saturday, July 21, 2012


I have to share this moving musical creation inspired by my nine-year-old granddaughter. Here's her mother's Facebook explanation of the piece:

"This is what my beautiful girl did today with a beautiful woman who is teaching her piano in the most natural way. I'm moved to tears again. The first part is my daughter's own composition, imagined and played till she has it memorized. The next layer is her piano teacher Jessica Roemischer playing the bass notes w/both hands while mine is playing the treble notes w/both hands. Life is a very tender thing that right now I am glad to be a part of even when there is so much pain and hate. Thank you music, Jessica and my sweet little girl!"

Here's the link.



Friday, July 20, 2012


The rightwing stalker of this blog commented on a previous post that if a theatergoer in that massacre in Colorado last night had been "packing" there would have been less death and injuries. I realized my response to his comment is my response to the entire "gun control" argument.

The insanity of that kind of automatic rightwing thinking is what has created the atmosphere we now live in, both the actual atmosphere (the air we breath etc.) and the political and social and cultural one. The escalation of arms whether literally or metaphorically has created a nation, and in some cases a world, where the answer to every tragedy is to raise the stakes.

The gunman who killed those twelve people in that crowded movie theater in Colorado was wearing armor, not just a bullet proof vest but a helmet and gear to protect his head and neck, so he was prepared for any police officer or military person who are taught to aim for the neck or head to avoid wasting shots on armored vests.

The rightwinger stalking my blog suggested that if a theatergoer had been "packing" the gunman might have been stopped. But the theatergoer would have had to be packing armor piercing weaponry and an automatic assault rifle to counter the gunman's personal arsenal and armor. So if this gunman learned from past gun massacres to up the ante in terms of armor and weaponry, in order to counteract that escalation theatergoers would have to not just carry assault weapons but also wear armor and then the next homegrown "terrorist" gunman might come armed with rocket propelled grenades so theatergoers and attendees of churches and sports events and schools and other locations of these kinds of individual homegrown "terrorist" attacks would have to bring their own tanks or armored vehicles to events.

It's ludicrous to continue to defend the so-called "right" of anyone to buy assault weapons and armor etc. let alone handguns. There is nothing in the second amendment that pertains to automatic assault weapons, obviously, because they didn't exist when that amendment was passed. Guns should be licensed and registered and limited to non-military weaponry. There is no need for a hunter to have an automatic assault rifle, a single shot old style hunting rifle should suffice anyone's desire to shoot a defenseless wild animal where legal (which I am personally against) or beer cans or whatever. And handguns should be outlawed like they were when I was a kid and gangs fought with their fists or at worst switchblades, so innocent bystanders weren't shot and killed in drive-bys etc.

But the escalation of what "gun rights" means to the right, from owning hunting rifles to owning submachine guns and all kinds of military weaponry, is matched by the escalation in mudslinging, distortion of facts and lying about anyone who challenges whatever the right's latest position is. The present hubbub over Michelle Bachman and other rightwing politician's trying to tie the disgraced ex-Senator Wiener's wife to the Muslim Brotherhood because her father, deceased for many years knew a guy who knew a guy who might have had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood so therefore they could accuse her of secretly working for that organization even though she's married and has a child with a Jewish-American strong supporter of Israel (etc.!) is emblematic of everything wrong with our nation.

The right throws this crap against the wall to see what might stick and distract the conversation (the media and many of the rest of us) away from what is destroying our very world, not to mention our health and well being etc., and that is corporate power overriding any and all concerns and perspectives other than their own greed. The very oil corporations that have created the climate mess we're in are more profitable than at any time in their history, as are the very financial institutions that have created the financial mess we're in.

Anything that distracts us from confronting the unbridled power of "corporate America" and bringing it back under the control of government and law and we the people is a rightwing ploy.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


It's the muggiest day yet of the present heat wave. Seems like a good time to share this one. I always think how tough it must be for foreigners to learn our language because of these kinds of tricky usages:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


As we suffer through the fourth, I think it is, heat wave of a summer that's only a couple of weeks old, and the hottest summer on record, and the entire country suffers from the worst drought in over half a century, and extreme weather becomes "the new normal," the right continues to propagate the lie that all would be made right if we only cut more taxes, especially on the wealthy.

The fires that raged recently in Colorado, caused by "ghost forests" (trees hollowed out by bugs moving North as heat zones extend further and further North) and exceptionally dry weather and high winds, etc. were eventually controlled by firefighters paid for by the rest of us because that area of Colorado is mostly populated by people whose minds have been taken over by rightwing media propaganda and so even local officials have taken the Norquist pledge to not only never raise taxes but to cut and cut and cut them so that local firefighters had been cut to a smaller force than ever, etc. etc. etc.

This is a ploy of the right, to get state and local governments to cut taxes so they are forced to cut workers so the federal government is forced to rescue them causing a larger federal deficit that the right can then rail against and use to cut even more government etc. etc. If it hurts the rest of us, tough. The irony is it hurts a lot of rightwingers most (the states where the drought has been worst until this year were almost exclusively so-called "red" states).

Anyway, it's too hot to spend too much time on this rant, let's all find a good air conditioned movie, maybe there's one about how the rightwingers clung to their misinformed beliefs as all they cared about burned to the ground while their corporate masters built bigger and safer guarded zones of air conditioned relief for themselves. Nah, that'd be too depressing.

Monday, July 16, 2012


The rightwing media just ignores facts that contradict its positions on "the truth." The leftwing media does get more facts correct but at times misinterprets or over generalizes (I'm guilty of this meself sometimes) based on them. But still there's more factual evidence given to support say Rachel Maddow's perspective on the news than anything on the rightwing media.

Anyway, I was watching the fiasco about Bain Capital and Romney's role in it during 1999, 2000, 2001 etc. unfold and was struck by how the mainstream media kept fudging the truth, pretending that the Romney camp's position was in any way factually supported. I think NBC news actually said something in its news promo to the effect of "What are we to make of conflicting claims" etc.

They actually portrayed Obama and his representatives as somehow possibly going too far by suggesting Romney had a role in moving jobs overseas during his reign as CEO of Bain! And no one in the mainstream media I watched (and I like to surf the news to see what all the major network and cable outlets are saying) called Romney on his lies!

The facts are pretty simple. Romney signed legal documents stating that he was the CEO of Bain Capital during the years when Bain cut a lot of jobs in the U.S. and moved them overseas. But he claims he had retired from Bain to run the Olympics during those years. So either he's lying now about running Bain at that time, or he was lying at the time in the legal papers he signed saying he WAS running Bain at that time.

That was easy. And not mystifying a bit. Romney is lying now, or was lying then, with the legal documents supporting the fact that he's lying now otherwise there was no reason for him to list himself as CEO at a time he now says he wasn't.

It's absurd, actually worse, it's criminal and should be prosecuted, that the media can dither about Obama's birth certificate for years when all the facts, legal documents and public records etc., made it clear he was born in Hawaii.  And now they can dither about whether Romney's lying when all the facts, legal documents and public records, make clear he is.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I haven't been writing much about what I'm currently reading. So here's a quick response to Orhan Pamuk's ISTANBUL: Memories and the City.  A memoir more about Istanbul than Pamuk, it was a good introduction to his work for me. I've been meaning to read one of his famous novels, even before he won the Nobel, either SNOW or MY NAME IS RED, but hadn't gotten to it yet.

There's so much still unread in my own language that reading translations seems like more of a commitment these days. But this book was given to me by an artist who has a storefront studio around the corner from my apartment, a big man with a big personality whose art I love especially because it is figurative, realistic in an early 20th century rough way and as passionate as he is in person.

Whenever I pass by his place that he shares with a framing business I've used since moving to this place, run by a beautiful blond woman with a twin I was always mistaking her for, he is often sitting at a table on the sidewalk out front holding court with other friends who he always invites me to join, or alone and expecting me to join him which I usually do. He grew up or lived as a young man in Istanbul, his accent a deep and definitely Eastern one, in respect to where he now is, in Jersey, but I couldn't tell you if it was more Eastern Europe or Mid Eastern, not because I'm not aware of accents but because his is so theatrically big it seems like his and his alone.

Anyway, one day not too long ago he handed me the paperback edition of Orhan Pamuk's ISTANBUL and asked if I'd read it, then told me to take it but bring it back as it was inscribed to him from a friend. It took me longer than usual to read, because in part it is so detailed about Istanbul in the early and mid 20th century that it felt like reading one of the big Russian novels and trying to remember the unfamiliar names. And also partly because it is repetitive.

There are some personal revelations, though nothing prurient or as revealing as most "American" memoirs. It's more about how the city plays in Pamuk's childhood ambition to be a painter and how that eventually turned into his becoming a writer. It got not just flack but threats in is native Turkey for his brief comments that could be taken as political (Kurdish rights, for instance) but also because he makes it clear he and his family had very little to do with Islam except in some passing references and occasional family rituals.

That is probably why Western critics found it so accessibly engaging. Pamuk writes as one who has lived almost all his life in Istanbul and yet has felt at times and comes across as one who is almost an interloper, a foreigner of sorts, the intellect maybe, because of his family's taste and education and his own interest in European writing and especially the European writers who wrote about Istanbul.

At times enlightening and lyrical and revelatory and engaging, ISTANBUL can also at times be, as I said, repetitive, labyrinthine, over detailed and dry. But for my taste, it worked for what I wanted and more. I now know Pamuk's voice and writing better than I did from the few excerpts I'd read in THE NEW YORKER and elsewhere, and I have the sense that I'll really love one of his novels which I intend to get into before the year's over.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


I meant to post to this link of Bill Moyer's latest, said, as always, succinctly and clearly. But I didn't do it before I left for an event in the city and got back just now so here it is [and no I still haven't got the Adobe flash player thing worked out so I still can't stream any video and yes, for those who've been inquiring, I'm still suffering from a summer cold or something and I have seen the doc and hopefully it'll clear up soon, and I can't believe I didn't take a photo of the event I was at as I was leaving because it was a NY Philharmonic concert in the park which they always cap with fireworks which were set off against a Central Park South skyline glowing with all kinds of colors as bright or brighter than the fireworks, but I rarely remember to pull out my iphone and snap a photo, hopefully next time, NYC needs it's Kevin McCollister].

Thursday, July 12, 2012


If, like me, you didn't get a chance to see THE GUARD when it came out last year, I highly recommend you catch it when you can. It's a bit of a fantasy, but a well played, written and directed one, about an Irish cantankerous cop who sees through most people's shite (as me mother used to say) and is misjudged by most people. He's played by Brendan Gleeson and that's reason enough for my taste to see it.

But then he gets to play off Dob Cheadle, another actor I can always watch even in bad films and get something from, but thankfully THE GUARD isn't a bad film. It's actually a treat. The supporting cast is all excellent with the likes of Fionnula Flanagan (whom, full disclosure, I know) and Liam Cunningham and too many others to list. But for my taste, there wasn't a false move in the entire film.

The plot and writing are at times obvious, but then there'll be just the sweetest little twist that'll keep you wanting more, or at least it did me. In fact, I could watch a movie with the same cast tonight if one was on.  So put it on your list, or catch it if you can with random channel surfing like I did. Either way you, I predict, won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Don't know if you noticed that the people fighting those horrendous fires in Colorado and elsewhere were given the chance to be a part of the federal workers health insurance plan because before that announcement today, these folks would spend weeks and months on the front lines of voracious fires risking their lives for others and yet because there aren't necessarily fires to fight all year long were considered part time workers and therefore their health challenges were their problem. Until today.

Does it strike anyone else how absurd it is that we expect all kinds of sacrifices from all kind of workers in this country and yet deprive them of healthcare for various inhumane reasons because the USA, the wealthiest country in the world, can't compete with England or France or Latvia or various Asian countries etc. How strange this land has become when it comes to understanding the basic needs of our fellow humans.

I'm lucky I have health insurance so I could see my doctor today, but there were many years when I was younger and raising my older kids when I couldn't afford health insurance. After visiting and having friends in countries like Canada and England and France and Japan etc. where healthcare is universal and yet cheaper than it is here, once again its clear that the entity that matters most in our society these days is corporations, not individual humans. God bless "Obamacare" for beginning the process to make healthcare more widely available.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


So, I guess I did something I shouldn't have, though I did nothing I'm not always doing, but for some reason I cannot access any videos on the web anywhere. I had some trouble with this a few weeks ago or so and my oldest son helped me straighten it out. At that time I was having trouble accessing some videos. Starting yesterday just after I shared a YouTube video on this blog, I lost all access to that and every other video on my blog or anyone else's.

I tried going through the Adobe Flash help pages but they were saying they were showing me something that wasn't there. When I tried to follow directions anyway, I just ended up with another downloaded version of the original flash player that also didn't work. When in frustration I finally called the company, I got a man in India who seemed pleasant enough but he was having difficulty understanding me and I was finding it almost impossible to understand him.

I've "met" over the phone many helpful folks who are working in corporate customer service out of India who I have no trouble understanding. But this guy could not make much clear, except that if I wanted help I'd have to pay for it. But it seemed counterproductive to pay for help from someone I was having trouble even understanding (and vice versa) so I gave up. My older son can help me maybe go through some steps on the phone that might lead to a solution.

But if anyone wants to know why the jobs reports keep coming out "disappointing" according to the media (though they remain better under Obama than his predecessors, and a good portion of the problem is the loss of government jobs, both federal, state and local, the very unions the right is trying to dismantle, could that have anything to do with the fact that many who hold down government jobs are minorities?) one reason is that corporations aren't hiring, at least not in the USA (just like Romney's money, most corporations like whichever one owns Adobe would rather put their profits in their pockets than in the pockets of U.A. workers, or U.S. banks for that matter.

Monday, July 9, 2012


...it's still worth watching, the first video that's gone viral I've seen that made me think, yeah, this is about as original and engaging (and humorous) a use of the internet's capacity to connect personally with another's reality as I've seen.

I mean, it's almost impossible to not be taken by this short vid despite it's basic banality. It's clever, at times maybe too much so, but it's also engaging and funny and mind boggling in its extension of what modern media technology has made possible.

Anyway, in case you've yet to see it:

Saturday, July 7, 2012


...I drove up to The Berkshires with my youngest on Monday and immediately came down with what I decided is a summer cold, felt feverish for a few days, laid around and slept and listened to some podcasts, until yesterday when I felt a little better and ended up having a late dinner with my youngest's closest friend up here, a charming and articulate teenager who he considers his "sister," and her mother and other extended family and "family" members making me feel like I didn't entirely waste the week, though to be honest I never feel like I'm wasting time, since the brain operation, because in the recovery from that I discovered how rich each moment of awareness is, awareness of anything really, even just the passing of that moment.

Well, that wasn't as quick a thought as I intended. But hopefully here's a couple that are.

For those I hear despairing about the world situation here's some consolation:

The world has never been as violent, destructive and murderous as it was during World War Two, which dwarfs all war and mayhem that has come in the almost seventy years since.

The world economy has never been as desperate and weak and collapsed and stunted as it was during The Great Depression, so no matter how bad things feel economically, it's been worse and most people not only survived it but many grew stronger as a result of it.

 Unfortunately the same can't be said about climate change. Core ice samples from the world's ice caps (including mountaintop snow in Peru that has been there for thousands of years) show that despite rightwing propaganda (i.e. lies) there has never been the kind of rapid spike in world temperatures we are seeing now (latest data shows that whereas the ratio between record-breaking high and low temperatures was one to one for most of the history of record taking, it spiked to two to one in favor of high temperature records being broken at the turn of this century but now has reached ten to one, meaning for every time a low temperature record is broken ten records are broken for highest temperature ever for that day etc.

Not great news, unfortunately, and another sign of how our world is controlled by a handful of corporate interests (in this case energy corporations, mostly oil companies) who in turn control rightwing media and think tanks and politicians etc. The ramifications are already being felt, obviously, and more to come, battles over water rights, crop failures etc. But nonetheless, as the great calamities of the 20th century proved, civilization, humanity, we—at least some of "we"—can survive. And as in WWII and The Depression, learn lessons that create fertile ground for the kinds of "liberal" policies and planning that led to avoidance of another world war and another Great Depression, though rightwing Republican policies have brought us closer to those possibilities in recent years as rightwing revisionist history has tried to erase the lessons learned and prevent new ones from being learned vis a vis the environment.

Not so quick either, but what's on my mind this hot and humid day in The Berkshires, though a lot less hot and humid than it is back in Jersey and most of the rest of the country where more records are being broken and that ratio mentioned above is probably spiking even higher.

Friday, July 6, 2012


One of my favorite performance artists and writers since back in the 1970s when I first caught him at one of the New Year's marathons at the St. Mark's Poetry Project, Johnny Stanton is also now known as the husband of Elinor Nauen whose recent books I've posted about here.

All I know is he was hit by a car, I assume in Manhattan where they live, and was banged up pretty badly and is being operated on today. So let's keep him in our thoughts and send him and Elinor our prayers and love.

[PS: The operation was to reconstruct a shattered knee. Here's to a full recovery that sees Johnny up and dancing before too long.]


Thursday, July 5, 2012


Found this photo the other day and scanned it. It's Jim Haining and me in Portland, Oregon, when I was visiting him there during their Artquake festival in 1994, I'd been thinking about Jim a lot lately. He passed several years ago and never got the recognition I believe he deserved.  Originally from Texas, I met him when he was a college student in Quincey, Illinois, on the Mississippi River. He was starting a magazine called Salt Lick, which turned out to be one of the most original "little magazines" during their heyday in the last half of the 20th century.

His poetry was finally getting out a bit before he died, but it was never recognized widely. And his A QUINCY HISTORY, one of my favorite books [and yes, full disclosure, I'm mentioned quite a bit in it, but it's not the real me, it's Jim's version of what he was observing and deducing during a period that was confusing for a lot of us]. It tells the story of what it was like to be a small press poet and publisher (mostly in the early 1970s) in a way that no documentary film or outsider take, if there even were any, could ever come close to.

Jim got MS when he was still pretty young (note the cane in the photo and the fact he's sitting in a wheel chair) and it slowly took its toll. One of the most compelling things about his passing, according to Texas poet and old friend Robert Trammel, who himself has passed on, was that Jim was lying in his hospital bed at the end in a kind of coma state when suddenly he sat straight up in bed and said: "I have known happiness," and then laid back down and seemed out of it again but then just as suddenly he sat up in bed again and said: "I have known happiness."  And then he died. Kind of gives me comfort.

[I'm up in The Berkshires and don't have his books here so can't quote from anything, but maybe when I return to Jersey in a few days I'll add a few lines from one of his poems or from A QUINCY HISTORY.]

[PPS: JenW informs me that when I wrote about this in one of my books I recorded that Jim's final words were "I have seen happiness" not "known happiness" and now I don't remember which is correct (I assume "seen" since it was written closer to when Trammel told me). I'll look into it when I return to Jersey.]

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


That's the short record version. I couldn't find any of the longer version he wrote, but here's Pete Seeger and friends singing that longer version:

Monday, July 2, 2012


Thanks to JenW for hipping me to Glen Hansard's version of Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks" which led me to a live extended sort of mashup version from a few years ago at the Hollywood Bowl (nice to see the older guys jamming in that one) which led me to want to compare both with the original.  So here they all are. And if you have the time, I found it not just enlightening to hear these master musicians and songwriters interpret this classic, but totally inspiring. Life is good. And so are some of my people, like these two.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


So I went to the wedding. Like most weddings, or at least most I've attended, it was beautiful. But beautiful in its own unique way, from Gregorian chant sung by a choir with angelic harmony to the reading of the often used "Letter from Saint Paul to The Corinthians" about "love is not rude" etc. "love is kind" etc. in both English and Spanish to the officiating priest mentioning the heat and instead of apologizing for it (it was a beautiful old church with just some fans) said "flow with it."

And as fate or Providence or the universe or whatever you want to call it would have it, I even ended up with new frames for my new prescription for my glasses, despite the fact I picked some out here in my town and when I went to get them the place was closed. Because the place that was shaping them for the frames I was bringing actually had even cheaper but still kind of cool ones. And the new shirt I bought that was all creased and wrinkled when I took it out of its packaging the nice lady at the dry cleaners behind the house my apartment is in pressed it for a few bucks.

So I felt I represented myself at the wedding respectfully and I had a good time (a lot of Latin music, which made it clear who at the reception were family or friends of the bride, because as soon as it started certain women, no matter how young or old (including gray haired grandmas) started moving their hips to the rhythm. Why is it that the Spanish are so comfortable with their sensuality and so many so-called "white" "Americans" aren't?).

Anyway, I didn't get home until past 2AM (like the old days) and felt very happy for the happy couple. May all of us feel as full of love as they did last night.