Sunday, August 20, 2017

DICK GREGORY R.I.P.

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

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

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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

LAST OF THE DUOS (2010-2017)

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

YOU'VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT

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

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

Saturday, August 12, 2017

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER

There was a good crowd in the theater I saw this in, which made me happy. But I thought of all the people who need to see this film and won't, either out of lack of interest or actual prejudice against anything that questions their beliefs.

I actually held back sobs a few times, overwhelmed by the fragility of our planet and the abuse it has taken and is now responding to in ways that may be irreversible. Thinking of my grandchildren and yours, and of their children and their children, the future can seem very bleak.

The film ad campaign online and elsewhere tries to project the hope that Al Gore keeps rising back to despite his own "despair" (his word) at times of defeat for a cause that should be drawing more strength than it seems to. After all, it's the only world we have, as Gore points out.

I found his dedication and capacity for rebirthing hope in himself and then in others, over and over again despite the odds, quite poignant. His stoic and sometimes stiff personality (which cost him votes that might have made the right's ability to steal the 2000 election from him despite his win, more difficult) adds to the poignancy, because it's so clear what a righteously committed human he is to a cause we all should be as committed to.

Worth seeing just to feel energized in a new way about this cause, despite the setbacks that are occurring now (though they are energizing action too, like all the states and cities committing to The Paris Agreement despite the administration's withdrawal from it).

Thursday, August 10, 2017

AND EVEN MORE DUOS (BACK TO JERSEY/1999-2009)

me & neighbor/writer Elaine Durbach shortly after I moved back to Jersey 1999
my oldest sone Miles & me in his then backyard in The Berkshies c. 2000
me (playing a priest obviously) & Ed O'Neil on the set of The Big Apple 2000-01
me (at the piano) & actor/writer/musician Kale Browne at my 60th birthday party in The Berkshires 2002
 actor/writer Peter Coyote & me on the set of Deadwood 2003
me & writer/producer David Milch on the set of Deadwood 2003
me & the sweet horse whose name I forget but I was on his back sometimes galloping (unfortunately cut) for a couple of weeks and grew to totally love him/her (don't remember which) Deadwood set 2003
me & actor/writer Michael Harris on the set of The Technical Writer 2003
my youngest child Flynn & me on my good friend Anthony DiNovi's boat in New York harbor c. 2004 (photo probably by artist Lucy Chamberlin)
writer and old dear friend Dale Herd & me at a reading I did at Beyond Baroque in Venice Beach CA not sure what year
"the other actor/writer Michael Lally" (and director) after a reading I did in Venice Beach CA around 2004?
me & my son Flynn on Father's Day 2005 (photo by Jamie Rose)
my grandchild Eli & me c. 2005?
 actor/writer Jamie Rose & me c. 2005?
my son Miles & me in Jersey c. 2005?
me & the great poet Maureen Owen at the St. Mark's Poetry Project 2005?
me & my son Flynn c. 2005
me & my friend writer/therapist Bill Lannigan c. 200?
me & Flynn at the location in Jersey where they were shooting the outdoor pool scene for the movie Little Children, invited by my dear old friend photographer Robert Zuckerman (who took the shot)
me & my son Flynn contemplating a climbing wall c. 2007?
me & my son Flynn at KGB Bar in NYC where I was doing a reading, c. 200?
poet and dear old friend Simon Pettet & me outside the Saint Mark's Book Store when it was on 3rd Ave & 9th Street c. 2007?
poet and old and dearest friend Terence Winch & me in January 2009
Jamie Rose & me after my brain operation in November of 2009 (it was in NYC and she flew out from LA to be there for me, that's friendship (others came distances as well, just didn't get a photo with them)
me & my dear friend Sue Brennan (lawyer/writer/veteran/etc.) after my brain op in 2009, which she got up in the middle of the night to take me to, and after my older kids had to return to their families Sue stayed on my couch until I could take care of myself again)