Thursday, September 29, 2016


My father Jimmy (James A. Lally, the balder one) and my uncle Lydie (given name Michael Lydon Lally, and yes I did discuss his name with Johnny Rotten aka John Lydon at a party back in my Hollywood days and it turned out his Irish grandparents came from near mine) in the late 1930s, at some event that seems to have required tags and a Uncle Lydie was a charming rascal, as you can probably tell from this shot, who won a singing contest on the radio in the '30s, during The Great Depression, and even though he and most everyone was broke and needed money for living, he took the prize money and threw a giant party in a tavern in Union, New Jersey, with hams and barrels of beer etc. and invited all the clan and neighborhood (my family was living in Union at the time)...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


From Stephen Colbert:

"Trump sounded like he was fighting a cold...with cocaine..."..."like Scarface...but with more face."

and his new nickname for Hilary:

"Preparation H"

Monday, September 26, 2016


First of all I like the way the debate was structured, limiting the questions and thus giving them the chance to answer more doubt she was the better debater and scored more points, hopefully changing some minds among those who had or have their doubts about her...but I don't see anyone who's bought him all the way up to this event changing their minds...especially if their support is based on wanting to vote for him as a protest against Washington and politicians and the status quo...though I'm glad that she demonstrated her smarts, stamina, and grasp of the facts and the challenges, even if she was a little weak for me in her response to the racism questions, sounding like a pol rather than personally empathetic etc...but all in all I felt relieved after it was over, after having been nervous before it began...

Sunday, September 25, 2016


And from a man I liked enormously and knew personally back in the 20th doesn't say where it's from and I didn't verify it but it sounds like him and is a great quote either way:

Saturday, September 24, 2016


The original MAGNIFICENT SEVEN was a remake of Kurosawa's SEVEN SAMURAI, which itself was based on earlier Hollywood Western tropes, so I suppose you can't fault someone doing a remake of the remake etc. Both earlier movies, the Japanese one and the Western, were dominated by great actors having fun with archetypal gunslinger (and sword wielding and knife throwing) characters.

Especially memorable were Yul Brynner as the lead, Steve McQueen as his second and Eli Wallach as the bad guy, leader of a troop of Mexican bandits. James Coburn and Charles Bronson were also standouts as was Horst Buchholz playing a young Mexican (which required no more suspension of belief, a young German playing a Mexican, than a New York Jewish method actor, Wallach, playing a Mexican bandido!).

In this latest remake, Denzel Washington plays Yul's part and Chris Pratt plays the McQueen role. Ethan Hawke, aging beautifully, and Vincent D'Onofrio are standouts as two of the seven. But the plot is altered to create some sort of metaphor for rapacious capitalism and the lead bad guy becomes a symbolic figure with, unlike Wallach's portrayal, no humor or variety to the role at all.

And while the addition of a more prominent role for a woman, and the inclusion of an Asian-American, a Comanche, and a Mexican creates a more rainbow ensemble, they're mostly written and directed like comic book stereotype heroes rather than actual individuals like in the origin flicks. And that's not the only contemporary touch that reduces the film to almost a Marvel stand in. The over-the-top violence seems like a contemporary tic as well.

Nonetheless, though not a necessary remake and not as great as either SEVEN SAMARAI or the original MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, this latest entry in folkloric myth making does somewhat satisfy the need for some cathartic boyish gunslinger (knife thrower, bow and arrow marksman) coolness that had me cheering for the not so bad guys (and woman) to the end.

Friday, September 23, 2016


Not a great photo, but this is the woman I was living with in Santa Monica in the late 1980s, Joan Baribeault, with me, my second oldest brother Buddy, and his wife Catherine, the one time they visited me in California (there to attend a function of some old friend of theirs)...Buddy was suffering from a weak heart and passed not too long after this was taken, as did Joan, way too young (we had separated by then and she'd just had a child with a great guy, they discovered a fatal cancer during her pregnancy), Catherine gone in more recent years, so I'm the only one left from this of the marks of old(er) age, if you make it that far, having more x's in address books and ghosts in photographs, than not...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Like a lot of people I rarely watch network TV these days. But I decided to tune in to ABC's premiere of DESIGNATED SURVIVOR because I misread the creator's name and thought it was someone I knew. In fact it's mostly produced by people in the action and super hero movie lane. And the show has a lot of that lack-of-nuance feel those genres are known for.

As you probably know it's about a low level cabinet member being the only survivor after the Capitol building is blown up during a State of the Union address, and so he ends up president. Kiefer Sutherland plays the main character and doesn't exactly fit the guy's back story (more or less wonky professor) but as usual works best when taking charge, which as viewers and citizens is what we want to see.

I'll probably watch it again just to see what the writers do with the plot and to watch Sutherland grow into presidential authority and take rogue generals in hand etc. But maybe not.

[PS: it would have been so much more interesting, and challenging, if the fictional cabinet member chosen to be designated survivor were a woman, or an Asian-American, or Latina-American, or disabled etc....though a lot of those categories are present in the subplot involving the FBI, which is eye opening since the FBI was the last government agency to not be exclusively white male etc.]

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


My old friend, the late Hubert Selby Jr., used to say: "You can't have right without left or up without down, Michael"...meaning, implying, sometimes pointing out, that if I held the judgement or concept of "success" it had to include the judgement or concept of "failure" or it would be meaningless, and the same goes for "good" and "bad" etc.....

I've been thinking about that lately because a lot of the news has been "bad" and life's challenges have been "hard" and etc. but in the midst of it all there have been all kinds of "good" happenings and "easy" two poetry readings I attended in downtown Manhattan, one in the West Village at the Cornelia Street Cafe, an old and venerated, at least by some of us, venue for music and spoken word etc. that I've had the good fortune to have read (and played) at...

That event featured three poets who all proved their poetry cred, but the main reason I went was to see my friend Burt Kimmelman read from his latest collection, ABANDONED ANGEL, and was glad I did. The other was further downtown on the Lower East Side on Delancey Street in a bar called Delancey, if I remember correctly, and featured several poets, all of whom were younger than the poets at the other reading but equally capable...

Again, I was there to hear a friend I've known since childhood, his that is, John Reed, read from his newest book FREEBOAT, and prove his reputation for a unique brilliance. More later on both books. On another evening I attended an opening of an exhibit of my friend Robert Zuckerman's photographs, in an office complex high above the city, where a short documentary on Robert was screened. And then on Friday evening I had the honor of taking part in a memorial for the late great poet and my beloved friend Ted Greenwald at Saint Mark's, the Poetry Project venue.

Each event was special in its own way, and each was a celebration of individual creativity, and served to confirm my belief that individual and group creativity can not only counter the negative forces in the world (well, some creativity can contribute to the negativity) but it can also transcend it in a way that makes me grateful and proud to have known all those who made those events more than worth the time and effort it took to attend them.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Did I miss something? Aren't Tina Fey and Amy Poehler still alive? Then why have anyone else host the Emmys, or the Oscars, or anything else forever?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


I don't know who took this famous shot of Jean Seberg but it looks like it happened during the shooting of BREATHLESS, the French film she starred in, with the haircut that made her an iconic figure of the early 1960s. If you don't know who she is, find out.

Among other things besides being a movie star, she was a political activist who became one of J. Edgar Hoover's many fixations. He wanted to destroy her not just for the causes she championed, but for daring to have a Black Panther for a lover.

And using all the power of the FBI (that he was allowed to rule for many decades because of the dossiers he had on politicians' private lives they didn't want exposed) he did. She was a martyr in the cause of freedom and justice. I still miss her.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Not the best meme for this issue but still makes sense, and not to mention how difficult it is to get into a halfway decent rehab in the USA without the right insurance or being wealthy or

Friday, September 9, 2016


One of my all-time favorite books, and an overlooked one I think, is THE FARMERS' DAUGHTERS: The Collected Stories of William Carlos Williams. These stories for my taste rank Williams, mostly known as a poet, among the great story writers of history, and with each passing decade they seem to me to stand out even more.

I'm rereading them for the first time in years, out loud to a friend in fact, and not only are we smiling and laughing and expressing surprise and delight in the stories' unfolding but equally in his choice of words and details, dialogue and story structure. In fact pure delight is the best description of our reactions.

Most of these stories were written in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s and they capture their times and places so perfectly you feel like you're back there with the characters, not only getting a taste of history but discovering how despite the differences in style and manners and speech, nothing about humanity is really new.

If you are a reader who likes a good short story, and admire the greats of that form, like Chechov or Sherwood Anderson, and you don't know this book, boy are you in for a treat.

Thursday, September 8, 2016


That's me in the black shirt, Terence Winch with can in hand, and the mustachioed Doug Lang at a reading (or was it that auction of poets' self-portraits?) at Folio Books in DC in the mid-1970s...

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


I've seen a lot of good movies this year, some even great movies, but few if any were "perfect." HELL OR HIGH WATER is, for this viewer, a perfect movie. Even if it's more or less a caper movie (with enough mystery, along with the requisite tension, written into it by Taylor Sheridan to keep an audience interested) but it so transcends mere genre to become a work of art.

Chris Pine I knew was a competent actor, though more known for his pretty eyes than his acting skills. This movie puts that latter idea to rest. Maybe credit has to go to the director, David Mackenzie, because everyone in HELL OR HIGH WATER is at the top of their game, acting-wise. Pine deserves a nomination for my taste, as do Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges. Damn can Bridges bring another level of reality to all his characters.

I'd be giving something away if I even referred to the story line. But I can praise all the artistry of this flick from the cinematography to the soundtrack. I highly, sincerely, completely recommend you see it, and in a theater or on the largest screen you can find because every shot is a work of art, and the close ups of the acting are overwhelmingly rewarding.

If you're old enough to remember how you felt after you came out of seeing BONNIE AND CLYDE or BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID when they first came out in theaters, well, I felt the same way after seeing HELL OR HIGH WATER as I did after seeing them. Go see for yourself.

Monday, September 5, 2016


A Message to Working People on Labor Day from a former labor secretary:
Your typical wage is below what it was in the late 1970s, in terms of what it can buy. Two-thirds of you are living paycheck to paycheck. Almost 30 percent of you don’t have steady employment: You’re working part-time or on contract, with none of the labor protections created over the last 80 years – no unemployment insurance if you lose your job, no worker’s compensation if you’re injured, no time-and-a-half pay for working more than 40 hours a week, no minimum wage, and you have to pay your own Social Security. Over 37 percent of you have dropped out of the workforce altogether because you’ve become too discouraged even to look for work. That’s a near record. As if all this weren’t enough, the schools and infrastructure on which you rely have been neglected, and the ravages of climate change -- droughts, fires, and floods – are worsening.
Yet the American economy is twice as large as it was in the late 1970s. As a nation, we are richer than we’ve ever been. We could afford to do so much better. 
None of this has happened by accident. Those with great wealth have translated it into political power. And with that power they’ve busted labor unions (to which a third of private-sector workers belonged in the 1950s but now fewer than 7 percent do), halved the taxes they pay (from a top marginal rate of 91 percent in the 1950s to 39 percent today, and from an effective rate of 52 percent then to 18 percent now), cut safety nets, deregulated Wall Street, privatized much of the economy, expanded bankruptcy protection for themselves while narrowing it for you, forced you into mandatory arbitration of employment disputes, expanded their patents and intellectual property, got trade deals that benefited them but squeezed your pay, and concentrated their market power so you pay more for pharmaceuticals, health insurance, airfare, food, internet service, and much else. 
This is bad for everyone. Even those at the top would do better with a smaller share of an economy that was growing because the middle class was expanding. And they’d do better in a society that hadn’t become so angry and susceptible to demagogues blaming immigrants and imports for what has happened. 
But none of this will change unless we change it. No single person – not even Bernie Sanders, had he become president – can do what needs to be done, alone. You and I and others must continue to organize and mobilize. Do not find refuge in cynicism. Change is slow, and at times seems hopeless. But change must come. Do not wait for politicians to take the lead. We are the leaders.

Saturday, September 3, 2016


If you asked a child if the state of New Jersey is a person, they'd say no.
If you asked a child if The Washington Monument is a person, they'd say no.
If you asked a child if Mount Everest is a person, they'd say no.
If you asked a child if BP, or Haliburton, or any other corporation is a person, you might have to explain what BP or Hailburton or any other corporation was, but when you did, they'd say no.

If you told a child that Oklahoma used to have an average of three very minor earthquakes a year, so minor they did almost no damage ever in the history of the state.
But since they've allowed fracking they now have over a thousand earthquakes a year, and some, like the most recent one, cause major damage.
And then asked them if they thought there was any connection. They'd say yes.
And then if you asked them what they thought should be done about that. They would say, "Stop fracking."

If only.

Thursday, September 1, 2016


Me and my progeny several years ago. That's my oldest, my daughter Caitlin with her arms around my youngest, my son Flynn, and on my lap Caitlin's daughter, my granddaughter Elizabeth, and to my right my oldest son, Miles, with his son, my grandson Donovan, on his lap...Flynn is now almost 19 and taller than I am, Donovan 18 and my height, Elizabeth soon to be goes on...