Saturday, May 31, 2014


I'm an old friend and an old fan of Jerome Sala and his poetry. Ever since his first books, SPAZ ATTACK and I'M NOT A JUVENILE DELINQUENT. Because he's a very smart and a very smart ass poet. But I have to say his newest collection, THE CHEAPSKATES may be his smartest and most smart ass book yet.

CHEAPSKATES just may be my favorite book of Sala's. To my mind it's the one where all his intelligence and insight and brilliant cultural assessments (you can check them out on his blog ESPRESSO BONGO) combine to make an incredibly intellectually satisfying collection of poems.

Here's three of the shorter poems in CHEAPSKATES as examples:


when I looked at
the Chuck Close retrospective
the giant black and white photographic heads
I noticed that the swirls
in the hair and face
of the Philip Glass portrait
resembled his circular music
and I wondered if the painter
had reinvented the medieval notion
that the eyes and the face
mirror the soul —
or that the body
like Schopenhauer said
was a mere embodiment
of the Will — a Will you never
had the pleasure of meeting
or that every square inch of the Real
was an allegory
when you looked at it
up close —
or that the truth
looks like a painting
a photo
a put-on
when it first turns its eyes
on you
so much bigger
and blinder
than your own sight


It's good phone booths are disappearing.
People I grew up with
would catch the unsuspecting caller there
and beat the shit out of him just for fun.
A pair of them charging through the single door
like cocks doing double duty in a porno
bashing the dude's head into the glass
banging his temples with the club like receiver
using the chrome chord as a silver noose
and finishing him off
with the old steel-tipped combat boot to the nuts.

Now people like that
probably only steal your iPhone on the subway platform.
That is, unless they push you on the tracks.


It's true they got to do more
of what we wanted to do
and with who, and when

but for all that, we didn't feel
they were better than us
more beautiful, sure, but

wasn't that bionic anyhow?
So the perennial question was
why them? Followed by why us?

Who did we think they were
when they were most like us
in their everyday lives

and who were we, stars
in our own tiny dramas,
living fully without them,

but needing them, at the same time,
as a reminder that even the great
weren't all that special?

There are longer poems and more dense poems that contain  much more surprising juxtapositions of philosophical inquiry and pop culture symbolism, or metaphoric economic commentary and real politik etc. but the above three seemed like quick and easy synopses of Sala's attitude and perspective, crisply clear statements of poetic intent. Pick up the book to see more poetic slight of hand than you may have expected.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


I may have posted this previously, can't remember. But it's a favorite. I have no idea who took the shot, my copy is a slide from which I had this photo made and then scanned it. It's the great film actress Mary Beth Hurt caught reading my book HOLLYWOOD MAGIC. Not sure when, but the book came out in 1982, just after I moved to L.A. and Mary Beth still lived in New York, as I remember it.

I visited her apartment there once when she was dating Kevin Kline, I think, or just afterwards, before she married the director and screenwriter Paul Shrader, and while I was sitting in perhaps that chair, I noticed a big flower pot with a plant in it had words painted on the side and they seemed familiar, so I asked where they were from. She thought I was messing with her but finally realized I wasn't and said they were from a poem of mine.

I no longer remember what they were or which poem, but I remember how happy it made me. I was just at the beginning of the change that would later come from which I would grow into the understanding that it isn't how many people read your work or see your work, or experience your work in whatever way they do, but simply that someone who does, actually gets it. Which Mary Beth did, and for which I am eternally grateful.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Maya Angelou has passed. What a powerful person she was and will continue to be in so many ways. Starting out as a dancer/singer, she never lost her ability to entertain an audience, whether of readers or rooms and arenas full of listeners. This woman learned to sing her own song and make it all of ours as much as Whitman did. An "American" classic. Rest In Poetry and Power Maya.
[PS: Here's the NY Times obit.]
[PPS: Here's a video of her in her Calypso queen days, which is how I first encountered her:]

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


"...the second half of life is a long process of getting rid of things..."   —F. Scott Fitzgerald (from "Three Hours Between Planes")

Monday, May 26, 2014


My extended clan is very fortunate, because despite the large number of us who served in the military, very few have paid the ultimate price (which is what Memorial Day is supposed to be about). The photo above is of Karina S. Lau, my great niece Mary Lau's sister-in-law. Karina was either the first or very near the first woman who died in the Iraq War. She served honorably and died doing her duty, but I still hold those who sent her in harm's way based on deceptions and ulterior motives accountable. Sorry for the politics, but the reality cannot be denied. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Let there be no more wars cooked up by those in power for their own motives and not the welfare of us all.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


I had the good fortune to hear my friend the great poet/writer/songwriter and Irish musician Terence Winch give the commencement speech for the graduate school of his alma mater, Iona College, last Saturday. He also received an honorary doctorate, and all this in Madison Square Garden. Lovely occasion, lovely day, and not surprisingly an incredibly witty and wise speech.

Fortunately, he shared it on THE BEST AMERICAN POETRY blog, so you can read it there for yourselves and see I ain't lyin'.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


I was gonna add an R.I.P. to the title of this post, but Richard Jaeckel passed in 1997. However, I was watching THE DIRTY DOZEN for the umpteenth time tonight and I kept thinking how much weaker this entertaining action flick would have been without Jaeckel, who played the tough sergeant who holds his own with Lee Marvin in the movie that made Marvin a box office star for a while. Something Jaeckel never was though he worked with too many who were to even list here.
I was lucky enough to get to know him late in his life when we worked out in the same gym in Venice Beach. It was a small gym without steam rooms or saunas or whirlpools or even a locker room. It only used natural light from a huge skylight and there was no pumped in music. It was kind of a Zen like place to work out, and almost an elite gym, only in that despite its small size and low fees (and it was walkable from an apartment I had at the time just a few blocks away over the border with Santa Monica) it was never crowded and often felt like an almost meditative spot.
It was owned by Joe Gold, the guy who started Gold Gyms and then sold them and opened up this little space for the people he liked without all the frills. Arnold worked out there sometimes and even brought his kids, who were little at the time so it would distract me worrying about them being around all the heavy weights and workout machines. I saw Magic Johnson and other Lakers of the time there too. But they obviously worked out mainly somewhere else and just came by to be a part of what seemed like an exclusive atmosphere that really wasn't. (Though I did see another character actor, younger than me, who played villains in several hit movies of the time, get thrown out and told to never return for making a bad joke that Gold felt insulted the place.)
I rarely talked to anyone there except for the artist Don Bachardy, at the time best known for being Christopher Isherwood's lover, both of whom were friends. Don was the one who talked me into saving my "archives"—I was culling them, trying to reduce all the paperwork I had collected by then, the late '80s and early '90s, and he convinced me not to throw anything away saying it would all be valuable one day (he and Chris were great supporters of my work and seemed to genuinely think it was important) and I'm grateful to him for that because I managed to sell my archives to NYU two years ago and I needed the money, so Don was correct, though I think they bought them mainly for the famous people I've known and had correspondence with etc.
One day I spied Richard Jaeckel at the gym. If I remember correctly he was working out in a wheelchair because he had either injured himself or was perhaps confined to it for an illness. At any rate, I recognized him right away because his face never changed in all the many decades he worked in movies and on TV. I couldn't stop from introducing myself and telling him what a fan I was, and he seemed humble but pleased.
Over the several times we chatted at that gym, he told me his story, though when I looked it up on IMDb and Wikipedia, there were different versions, they both say he was discovered on a movie lot in Hollywood where he was working as a messenger boy. So I might have heard him wrong. The way I remembered him telling me, he was too young for the service, it was just at the beginning of the war, when I was just being born, and at the time he lived on Long Island and went to work as a messenger boy riding his bicycle around the studios in Long island, which had converted to making propaganda and military instructive films.
He told me, the way I remember it, that he was discovered there by the studio that made GUADACANAL DIARY, his first film (1943) and a seminal war film. So he started right out being part of what would become a classic. He went on to act in many great movies, but also some terrible ones, and did a lot of TV, the last thing being a regular role on BAYWATCH, a show I also appeared on (and one of the reasons you can't trust the net and sites like IMDb, since it doesn't mention that in my credits at all, but mentions things I wasn't in).
He gave me great, simple advice, I didn't write down, like an idiot, so can't remember except the gist of it being do whatever the job requires and take whatever jobs you're offered. I sensed we probably didn't agree on a lot of stuff if we probed deeply enough, but he was so pleasant to be around and seemed to enjoy my attention to the point of it becoming almost a routine whenever we ran into each other to stop what we were doing and chat awhile, especially about movies, acting and some of the roles he had had.
He was a short, cute, natural actor with great screen presence and always added an element of reality to any movie he was in, even the bad ones. I'm glad I watched THE DIRTY DOZEN tonight, not just because it's an entertaining flick despite it's low aim, and there are a lot of great performances in it, but mainly because it brought up fond memories of Richard Jeackel, an actor who should never be forgotten. And because he was in so many great flicks with so many great stars, he won't be.

[Here's just some of my favorite movie performances by him in: GUADACANAL DIARY (1943), THE SANDS OF IWO JIMA (1949), BATTLEGROUND (1949), THE GUNFIGHTER (1950), COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA (1952), 3:10 TO YUMA (1957), TOWN WITHOUT PITY (1971), 4 FOR TEXAS (1963), THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967), SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION (1970), PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID (1973), STARMAN (1984).

And just a handful of the many many stars that were in movies with him: John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Glen Ford, Van Johnson, Elvis Presley, Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Lee Marvin, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Chris Kristofferon, Bob Dylan, Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, etc.]

Friday, May 23, 2014


I attended RENAISSANCE CHILD: A Celebration of the Life and Art of Avery Ernest Ellington Thompson last night at SOPAC (the South Orange Performing Arts Center) with a packed house and once again was overwhelmed by the amazing attributes of the late Avery Thompson who passed at only seventeen.

It was a mix of music, eulogies, and video and audio recordings of Avery in action while he was still among us physically. As I wrote in a previous post, after witnessing his talents in person at the BIG DREAM concert, also at SOPAC, I was inspired. After last night, even more so.

This teenager, who suffered from the Leukemia that took his life, enduring chemotherapy, weakness, tiredness and disappointment, still never stopped writing and performing music, from rap to r&b, making and editing videos of his impersonations and comedy routines, as well as making and editing short movies and a potential TV series...

Before he became too ill he was also a top level student and athlete, able to dunk a basketball and play on championship teams. He was (and will always remain in videos and recordings and online) exactly what the foundation that has been created to help kids like him is named after, "a renaissance child."

Even in the last weeks of his life, physically exhausted from all the chemotherapy and the end stages of his disease, he had the determination to get himself to New York and to an audition for AMERICA'S GOT TALENT. At the event last night, one of the video presentations was Howie Mandel addressing the audience at the event, with the other judges from the show beside him, telling us all how impressed they were with Avery's talent and how they all felt he would have been a huge star.

Keenan Thompson, no relative, but one of the cast of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE who only met Avery once in the hallway at SNL was so impressed and impacted he too made a little video presentation for the event telling of how affected he was by this teenager's passing, someone he was instantly impressed by, not just for his courage and determination to make people laugh with his impressions and jokes, but by his spirit, something that lives on for many of us who have only been in Avery's physical presence once.

I want to see someone make a documentary about this amazing young man, a genius really, who could sing, rap, impersonate (and do all three, making one rap recording, REUNION, in which he does the voices of numerous rappers without editorial help, producing and recording it himself, etc.), and so much more.

Every moment was special, including the testimonies of one of his uncles, his little sister, one of his friends, his fifth grade teacher and one of his aunt's (Mindy Thompson Fullilove, whose book URBAN ALCHEMY I've posted about, and whose assessment of Avery and his impact was almost scientifically precise and measured and yet still deeply moving).

But one of the highlights, for me, of the event last night, other than the testimonies from Avery's family and friends, was when the comic and impersonator Dion Flynn (who I first encountered as a wonderful singer), who does Obama on Jimmy Fallon's TONIGHT SHOW, admitted that he'd only talked to Avery on the phone but how Avery's Obama was not only better than his, Flynn's, Obama impersonation, but better than any impersonator out there, as a teenager!.

Flynn had a speech prepared but after hearing the testimony of others and seeing some of the clips before he was called to the stage, he discarded that speech and instead gave heartfelt witness to Avery's genius, so heartfelt he was in tears before he was halfway through, especially when voicing his conviction that Avery, like him, had begun doing the voices of others because there were so many people inside him trying to express themselves.

I'm not doing Dion Flynn's actual testimony justice, but it sure had me crying, as well as thinking he nailed it. The essence of Avery's genius, his desire not just to make people laugh and entertain them, but to express all the kinds and levels of understanding and insight he had inside him about his fellow humans. An extraordinary boy, a teenage genius, a renaissance child.

[This YouTube tribute to Avery I found doesn't do his many talents justice, but it does display his singing chops (his father and a friend playing guitars behind him) and give voice to the poignancy he was also capable of, knowing full well what he was facing not long after this was made:]

Thursday, May 22, 2014


A poetry reading at Trinity College in DC c. 1969 with from the left, standing Simon Schuchat  (only 15 or so at the time), Eric Torgersen & me, seated on the bench, Steve Shrader, Ray DiPalma, Paula Novotnak and sitting on the ground Dick Patterson.
Cover of Mass Transit magazine and the name of the weekly open reading I started at The Community Book Store in DC in I think 1970 or '71, the photos here taken I'd guess in 1972 with me and the long haired older man, Ed Sullivan (really) sitting against the wall in the top left and P. Inman on the bench and I can't remember the other guy's name nor identify anyone in the top right corner, but underneath in the middle that's Tim Dlugos in glasses against the wall in back under the window with Ed Zahnizer in the glasses next to me and Sully and P., and in the right middle shot it's Terence Winch and the bottom left corner is Ed Z again, me, Sully & P. and then a shot of Bernard Welt with another of Ed Z.
A DC reading at Folio Books c. 1976 with me and Terence Winch leaning against the shelves and seated with mustache a smiling Doug Lang and Lynne Dryer.
Terence Winch reading at Folio in DC c. 1977 with Doug Lang and me looking on.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


FADING GIGOLO is the best Woody Allen movie he never made. It's like Woody Allen 2.0. The jazz that opens the flick and fills the soundtrack is more up to date, the schmaltz is maybe a little more contemporarily schmaltzy, the humor double tracked in a way Woody's often is but with lower bass notes, not all treble.

Okay, I'm getting carried away with that. And if you still feel queasy about Allen you probably won't like this flick. Because his acting in it is as Allen-y as ever, which means including making sexual innuendo, and not so innuendo, jokes. But John Torturro gets the same kind of outstanding performances from his cast that Allen usually gets. And the story, for my taste, never stopped engaging me, making me want to see what happens next, even when it made me squirm a little.

I know people who weren't crazy about it, but I'm still feeling totally satisfied, can't stop smiling or humming one of the tunes from it. Like Woody's best romantic comedies, there's a kind of fantasy version of New York City that features as one of the characters, only Torturro updates that to a degree as well. But also, rather than making me miss my youthful romantic adventures, FADING GIGOLO made me savor the memories and be oh so grateful for all of them.

Sharon Stone [full disclosure, a good friend for many decades though we haven't talked in years] deserves a best supporting actor for her performance, an incredible combination of intelligence, poignancy, irony, reality and humor. So does Vanessa Paradis. But her performance is sort of the flip side of Stone's. Though Paradis' character seems deeper on the surface, they both go way down in their portrayals of women with a more tender vulnerability than even they know.

Torturro makes up for those TRANSFORMER movies, or whatever they are, and other telegraphed performances with the best performance of his career I think. And he wrote and directed this sucker too! Total tour de force as far as I'm concerned. And worth every frame (I didn't even mention the always entertaining, funny and pleasure to watch Sofia Vergara, or Liev Shreiber in a two dimensional role that he fleshes out with flashes of depth).

And Woody himself is as funny as ever, making me wonder if he didn't write his own lines or at least improvise them. Anyway, for me, it was a delightful evening at the movies, and to my surprise there was a nice sized audience—of mostly women who looked to be in their forties, one of them saying as she left with her friend, "I need a plumber."  You'll have to see the movie to get the joke, or maybe she wasn't joking.

Monday, May 19, 2014


Comparison are odious, but nonetheless last night's episode of GAME OF THRONES confirms Peter Dinklage is the best actor on TV right now. [Full disclosure,  my oldest boy knew Peter at college and I knew him through that and saw him in auditions in New York before he became famous and he was always a nice guy and his charisma just as obvious in person as it is on TV.]

If you haven't seen this episode, Dinklage is working in a confined space with only one actor at a time and in his most powerful scene the camera stays on him while the other character gives a little monologue that most directors would be cutting back and forth between characters for, but Dinklage's performance is so overwhelmingly intense and perfect the powers that be chose to ignore the other actor's face entirely and just stay close up on Peter's for the duration. Highly unusual but the wise choice, an award-winning moment of TV (or film or any medium for that matter). Bravo Peter Dinklage!

Sunday, May 18, 2014


So, I was surfing TV channels, as is my wont (still in love with randomness) and caught a snippet of a "news" item on Kim Kardashian being worth 40 million dollars and I stopped, stunned. Then I heard her speak for the first time, briefly, and she sounded like a not very intelligent child.

And I thought, what a weird country I live in where a woman who, as far as I can determine, is known for having a big butt and who speaks like a not very intelligent child could somehow be worth 40 millions dollars. Wow.

So many people I know are incredibly talented and have so much to offer the world, and do, mostly are terms of money. Or close to nothing. What a weird country, and weird times, I live in. Or am I missing something, other than times that weren't so weird in this particular way.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


[Hang in for this whole clip and you won't be sorry, and you'll probably get a little exercise as well...]

Friday, May 16, 2014


An old friend, and wonderful poet and actor (you've seen him in many Scorcese and Demme movies, among others), Harry Northup has a series of YouTube videos where he reads a poem in a public place with all the noise and distractions that would normally create completely accepted and incorporated as background.

I love Harry's unique voice and his unique approach to sharing his poetry. Here he is reading from one of my all-time favorite books, his REUNIONS:


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


My oldest son Miles and me with his son, my grandson Donovan, and my youngest Flynn, on location for the TRANSFORMERS movie in Princeton in 2006 or '07 by Robert Zuckerman's invitation as he was the photographer on set and took this shot of us.
Donovan, Miles, Flynn and me Saturday night in Egremont MA at a gig Miles was playing (footage of that later). (And yes, when Flynn stands up straight he has me by a few inches, and yes he did bleach his hair and yes the Lally men obviously have a thing about hair goin' on in this...)

Monday, May 12, 2014


Friday night I caught Highland, the band my grandson plays drums in, at a restaurant bar in Pittsfield Mass and once again was knocked out. The lead singer just turned 14, as did most of the band except for Donovan, my grandson, who is 15, and the bass player, Nico, who was sitting in for another 14-year-old who was sick that night (Nico is the college age older brother of the keyboardist). Tell me these kids don't get their groove on (and where did that girl's voice come from?).

[Obviously I don't know how to upload videos from my iPhone 'cause I just spent a long time doing it and all I ended up with was this symbol in the gray box! so, I'll see if my 16-year-old can help me figure it out in the morning.]

[Oh, now it's showing something but no sound and it's only GIF length even though I uploaded the entire song, ah, you gotta love this technology...]

[OK with the morning light came an idea to transfer the video directly from my phone to YouTube and that worked so here is the footage my 16-year-old captured on my phone:]

Sunday, May 11, 2014


My mother on the right, standing next to her mother (my grandma Dempsey), both behind my mother's grandmother. Happy mother's day to all.

Friday, May 9, 2014


I loved Frank Zappa and his music even at its most challenging, and when a friend just shared this video on Facebook I had to watch the entire thing and I can only say, you got to watch this all the way through.

He was a beautiful man. I'm sorry I never got to meet him but I did have the privilege of meeting his wife and kids and knew his daughter Moon Zappa back in my Hollywood years. They were all originals and in my encounters with them extremely open and honest and good hearted.

I'll only add that though Mike Douglas makes a few concessions to being a TV host at the time, he was a music maker himself starting out as a singer in the big band era (with a couple of hits) and unlike Cavett and other smarmy narcissists treated his guests, especially music originals like Zappa, with respect and intelligence.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Me looking at camera, poet/writer/songwriter Terence Winch on my left and poet/writer Doug Lang sitting smiling with mustache at Folio Books in DC c. 1976. [Thanks to Terence (see comments) now realize that's Bob Rosen kneeling with cigarette in mouth and Joe Stork standing at the mic, Joe wrote poetry too but was best known as an expert/scholar on the Mideast (and oil) if I remember correctly, and sitting almost right in front of Joe, turning his head to the left with long curly hair and beard is the great Baltimore poet and songwriter Chris Mason. I also realized on my own that sitting to Doug's left and half hidden behind him is the writer/poet and true original Lynne Dreyer. Wow, a lot of my favorite poet/writers in one shot]
The late great poet Scott Wannberg in a coffee house in "The Valley" (L.A.) c. 1995.
The late great writer and mentor Hubert Selby Jr. at the same reading as above.
Can't recall the man on the left but that's writer/raconteur Malachy McCourt to his left, then me, and the late writer/scholar Dan Cassidy (see his book on how Irish slang influenced the "English" we speak in "America").

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Okay, it seems like "it's all bad news" it often does these days...and has ever since 24 hour news realized crises get more eyes and ears etc. But, in fact, there's been a lot of good news.

Not just states getting rid of laws against carrying small amounts of marijuana or legalizing it, or legalizing gay marriages, or raising the minimum wage, etc...

...or the Obama administration achieving all sorts of things that previous administrations couldn't, or reversing their failures (in the case of almost, not all, but almost all Bush/Cheney policies).

But I had in mind the news that The New York Public Library at 42nd Street is reconsidering removing the stacks that go several stories down under the building full of books often impossible to find outside The Library of Congress. There had been a plan to remove those books to a storage facility in Jersey, and get rid of many, the trend in most libraries.

But someone has to keep these things for scholars and researches and just interested readers to have access to. There's been a big campaign going on ever since the plan to not just remove those underground stacks of books but to remodel the library to make it more like other libraries have become, i.e. computer centers rather than places where you could go and take a book off the shelves and sit and read it in their reading room, one of the coolest places on earth as far as I'm concerned.

One of the great moments in my life was my stopping by the 42nd Street Library after I moved back East in 1999, and looking through the card catalogue and finding almost all my books, some even in "the rare book room" made me feel all the work I'd done wasn't all destined to disappear forever.

I'm sure the powers that be will try to find a way to recycle their nefarious plans in the future, but for now, they're off the table, for which to all those writers and readers famous and unknown who have signed petitions and marched and demonstrated outside the library to stop the remodeling and removal of the stacks I say a big Thank You!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


"The light made her beautiful
To behold. It was illusion.
But that is a function of light.
As some who are lucky can see."

—Lorenzo Thomas
(from "Sea of Chance")

Monday, May 5, 2014


Not to mention all those Marines killed in one attack in Lebanon under Reagan and his response was to pull the rest out and act like it never happened...

And not to say people didn't feck up the security in Benghazi, including depending on "private contractors" (an idea the Republicans wanted and promoted) and not spending more of the budget on embassy and diplomat security (which the State Department under Hilary Clinton asked for but the Republican Congress refused to do)....etc....

Sunday, May 4, 2014


So I caught these two movies the other night when I needed a little light diversion and as flawed as they were, it worked. Mostly because they satisfied the conventions of their genres—romantic comedy and action—and had cast members that were fun to watch.

Watching Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington work out on screen was like catching a great jazz guitarist and a great rock guitarist jam competitively. Washington is at his best as the louche seen-it-all veteran of violence and deceit, who still gets deceived, while Wahlberg is an unstoppable force of energy and relentless riffing on his prowess who also gets tricked into leaving home without it.

The plot points are mostly ridiculous, and outdo each other in implausibility, or barely plausible, but...despite way to big a demand on suspension of disbelief (would you believe Marky Mark gets to rev the engine, very loudly, of his muscle car as he pulls up to the curb in an upper-middle-class suburb and from across the street simply stare from that sore-thumb car in this neighborhood as a well guarded and cautious drug lord steps out on his porch in plain sight to hand a brief case full of money to an underling!? and then Whalberg slowly drives off, loudly revving his engine again!) from start to finish, it's still just exhilarating watching Wahlberg make Washington work to keep up.

Let alone watching Bill Paxton rip it as a heartless nasty, even if Edward James Olmos plays the drug lord as though he knows how bad the script is, and Paula Patton seems capable of only one expression no matter the situation her character finds herself in, and the always wonderful to watch Fred Ward is underused. Because between Wahlberg, Washington, Paxton and the always fun-to-hate James Marsden, again, it was worth the ride.

The stars of WE'RE THE MILLERS aren't quite as much fun to watch as Wahlberg and Washington, but Jennifer Aniston is almost always good at rom-coms (even if it's pretty impossible for me to buy her as a down-on-her-luck stripper) and Jason Sudekis does a pretty good job of playing a seemingly soulless pot dealer who gets caught in a squeeze between two much bigger drug dealers.

It seems like more than a coincidence that both these movies are driven by marijuana dealing plots. But that's the only thing they have in common. WE'RE THE MILLERS has more women. 2GUNS is a buddy action movie so there's only one main female, the Paula Patton character. MILLERS has Aniston and the very good Emma Roberts with sometimes very funny Kathryn Hahn almost as prominent.

The jokes aren't bad at times and the acting is credible and sometimes fun. But the conceit of four disparate characters coming together to create the illusion of family is actually appealing, enough to get me to see the film through and mostly enjoy it and feel satisfied at the end. Light entertainment lightly played and pulled off. There's a place for that, for which I'm usually grateful.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


This speech by Gabourey Sidibe is one of the most powerfully honest and funny and inspiring speeches I've ever heard from anyone in the entertainment business.

Here's the best quote from it:

"If they hadn't told me I was ugly, I never would have searched for my beauty. And if they hadn't tried to break me down, I wouldn't know that I'm unbreakable."

[Read the whole speech, it's worth every word.]


He should have been condemned and ostracized from the NBA a decade or more ago for his outright racist actions, not for a private conversation someone seemed to provoke and secretly record.

Ukraine's leaders have been corrupt and/or incompetent BUT the West, i.e. "us" (U.S.) talked them into giving up their nuclear bombs which, if they still had 'em, the Russians would have to think twice about doing what they're doing, which if it were just kids we'd call bullying.

The Repubs in Congress voted against the federal minimum wage increase because their corporate masters (Koch brothers & big oil, Walton family and their combined wealth greater than all the rest of us combined etc.) want more than mere billions to make them feel less frightened of the void where their hearts and souls should be...AND I DON'T WANNA HEAR ANYONE SAY IN THIS ELECTION YEAR THAT THERE ISN'T ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS, TRY SELLING THAT JIVE TO THOSE TRYING TO LIVE AND EVEN RAISE FAMILIES ON THE PRESENT MINIMUM WAGE!!!!!!...

Thursday, May 1, 2014


When I was a kid, May Day still had some of the pagan aspects about it, with maypoles and people leaving baskets of flowers on neighbors stoops etc. But thanks to our local Catholic church, Our Lady of Sorrows, built mostly by Irish immigrants like my father's parents, May Day was becoming a religious day (with processions from church to a local park, girls in white dresses scattering roses as men carried a statue of The Blessed Virgin, i.e. Saint Mary, Mother of Jesus to a nearby park where priests and politicians would rant about how Soviet Russia was on it's way to our shores etc.) to compete with the COMMUNISTS (!!!!!OH NO!!!!!) and their using it as a day to celebrate workers.

Little did I know back then that using May Day to celebrate working people was a USA invention during the struggle to limit the work day to eight hours, back when the work day was back breaking for most. The photo above was taken outside the Quonset hut I lived in with my first wife Lee and our daughter Caitlin, about the time (1968) I learned the true meaning of modern May Day.


That was the cry then, still sounds right to me...