Thursday, August 31, 2017

LAST OF THE QUARTETS

me reading my poetry, with poets Doug Lang and Terence Winch looking on, and my then lady, Gloria, at Folio Books in DC c. 1976 
Terence Winch reading his poetry with poet Doug Lang and me & Gloria looking on at Folio Books in DC c. 1976 
novelist Jane DeLynn, my son Miles, me, & composer and my love Rain Worthington in my apartment in what was becoming "Soho" c. 1979
performance artist and poet Eric Trules, my son Miles, filmmaker Carol Dysinger, & me in Santa Monica c. 1987?
my then love and housemate the late Joan Baribeault & me with my visiting brother Buddy (AKA Jimmy) & my late sister-in-law Catherine, the last time I saw him alive (he was visiting a friend in L.A. and stopped to see me) c. 1990 
me, the multi-talented writer/poet/producer/director/etc. Eve Brandstein, with actors Stephen & Alec Baldwin L.A. c. 1990
me & a friend of my late oldest brother, Father Campion (AKA Tommy, who lived in Japan for most of his adult life, he's taking the photo) and her children, Japan c. 1993
me, on a  vist to DC, sitting with poets Beth Joselow & Lynne Dreyer, and the late novelist William McPherson c. 1994?
me, "MemoryMan", Bara Byrnes, and my then love Krystal, at a restaurant in Malibu c. 1995?
can't remember the man in the white tee shirt, but next to him are Malachy McCourt, me (those are our new books on the podium, the two of us were giving a reading) and the late writer/professor Dan Cassidy, in a San Francisco restaurant/bar I can no longer remember the name of 1997
actor Scott Johnson on big conga drum, me at piano, actors Karen Allen playing harmonica behind me and Kale Browne playing guitar next to me, at my 60th birthday party at Karen's place in The Berkshires 2002
two horse wranglers being extras on the set of Deadwood, with Peter Coyote as General Crock and me as Captain Bubb (both out of uniform for this scene) c. 2003 
my grandson Donovan, oldest son Miles, younger son Flynn, and me, in Jersey c. 2006?
my grandson Donovan, son Flynn, me & granddaughter Eli in Great Barrington MA c. 2007
my son Miles, grandson Donovan (in red shirt), me, & son Flynn on location for one of the Transformers movies as guests of the film's still photographer Robert Zuckerman (who took the photo) Princeton NJ 2008 
Claire Danes, two people I don't know, and me, reading at The Bowery Poetry Club NYC c. 2009?
old friends Doug Pell, Willy Farrell, Terence Winch, & me in NYC c. 2010?
My sons Miles and Flynn, & me, leaning over the photographer Robert Zuckerman at a show of his Kindsight photo/prose artwork in NYC c. 2012
my musician son Miles, me, and poets (and more) Ben Brandstein and Eve Brandstein at The Cutting Room NYC after a Poetry In Motion evening that we all performed at c. 2014
poet Susan Hayben, musician John Restivo, poet Bob Holman & me at The Cutting Room NYC before Susan and Bob and I read our poetry in a Poetry In Motion evening c. 2015 
poets Eve Brandstein, Susan Hayden, me, & Rachel E. Diken at The Gotham Comedy Club NYC where we read at a Poetry In Motion evening 2016

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

THE GLASS CASTLE

In times of trouble I turn to art. Usually poetry—either reading someone else's or writing my own—but also prose, paintings, live performance, movies, etc. During this tough week, I took a break last evening to go see THE GLASS CASTLE, which got mixed reviews but a friend had recommended. The friend was right. It is totally worth seeing.

Based on a book by Jeanette Walls, it's skillfully directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (and pretty well written by Andrew Lanham) who saves even the most seemingly contrived story turns with either unexpected grace and humor, or compelling emotional resonance. And the cast is terrific.

Woody Harrrelson gives an Oscar-worthy performance as the alcoholic dreamer/destroyer father, and Brie Larson as well, as the daughter who grows up to write the story of their relationship. There's several child actors who play Jeannette and her siblings at various stages, and they are all good, but Ella Anderson as the pre-teen Jeannette gives another of the award-deserving performances in this film.

Naomi Watts is great as the mother, though for my taste a bit miscast. And there are other minor characters played beautifully as well. The soundtrack is worth praising too. All in all, an emotionally satisfying movie that kept me engaged and entertained, despite it's tough subject, and subjects.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

NEW FAVORITE QUOTE COMMENTING ON A QUOTE

“'You could not draw this forecast up. You could not dream this forecast up,' William B. 'Brock' Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Monday."
Yeah, I guess if you weren't banning all mention of climate change and silencing actual scientists and suppressing research and keeping climate scientists off your disaster planning teams, yeah, I guess you could maybe [not] dream this up. Me, I read about 47 papers on how disaster planning needed to change just to prepare to teach a sophomore-level writing course.  —Bernard Welt

Monday, August 28, 2017

Friday, August 25, 2017

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"Wait, so Trump is going to 'shrink' America's beloved monuments like the Grand Canyon and Bear's Ears so they can be looted and pillaged for oil/gas/mining but confederate statues are 'beautiful' and should not be touched? Why does he hate America?"  —Teresa Stone

Thursday, August 24, 2017

SOME QUARTETS [from the 1940s, '50s & '60s]

 me (2 or 3-years-old) my sisters Irene (7 or 8) and Joan (9/10) and our brother Robert (real first name William, 14/15) in front of our Grandmother Dempsey's Belmar NJ "bungalow" c. 1944-45
me around seven with my big brothers Robert/William (in light suit, 19) Tommy (becoming Father Campion, Franciscan Friar) (23) and "Buddy" (real name James, 21) at a Monastery in NJ c. 1949
 same group as above only a year or so later
me on the beach in Belmar NJ at around seven with neighborhood older boys Joey, David, & Freddie c. 1950
me are around eight with my sisters Irene (12 or 13) and Joan (15) and our oldest sibling Tommy (by then Father Campion, 24) c. 1950
my next door cousins Marylynn (7 or 8) and David (4?) (and a girl behind them I can't identify) and me (in tie!) at around nine, in the lot on the other side of my home, South Orange NJ c. 1951
family friend (considered her another sister) Mary Phyllis Kernan and her date, and my cousin Rosemary (whose father died when she was young, so she spent most of her time at our house and thus felt like another sister) and me, embarrassed to be talked into the fake mustache and hat, at Sammy's Bowery Follies NYC c. 1958 when I was sixteen (fake i.d.) and they were all in their early twenties (I later was hired to play piano there for a while as an opening act)
my big brothers standing on an incline (they were all bigger than me) in the order they always appeared in photos, Robert AKA William (34), Tommy AKA Campion (38), Buddy AKA James (36) & me around 18, South Orange NJ c. 1960
my sister Joan, next door cousin Rod, (we had more cousins down the street and elsewhere), me in the only beard I ever had, & next door Aunt Mary, just after I got out of the service in early 1966
me (standing sideways) & poets Darrel Grey, Wayne Clifford & Steven Shrader in Iowa (publicity shot for a poetry reading we were doing at Bowling Green University in Ohio a few weeks later), where we were all students at The U. of Iowa Poetry Workshop (me there on the GI Bill and about to graduate) (Darrel and Steve since departed, I don't know about Wayne) Spring of 1969
three guys from Rising Up Angry, a Chicago radical street group (with a newspaper I wrote for under various names) & me (in tee shirt & flannel) at my Hyattsville Maryland apartment, they were in town for a big anti-Viet Nam war protest shortly after we moved there in Fall of 1969
me holding our son Miles, and Lee our daughter Caitlin in front of our Hyattsville apartment complex 1970
my wife Lee holding our son Miles and me holding our daughter Caitlin on the "balcony" (overlooking the crossroads of two highways without sidewalks) in Hyattsville MD 1970
Lee holding Caitlin & me holding Miles but not sure where, possibly Jersey winter of 1970-71 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

THE VILLAGE VOICE [PRINT VERSION] R.I.P.

In the 1950s when The Village Voice began publishing, I was a Jersey teenager spending any free night I had in Greenwich Village, listening to jazz or playing it, making friends with the Villagers who could tolerate a little jive jitterbug "White Negro" as Normal Mailer's famous essay by that name branded people like I was a junior version of at the time.

I felt like no matter where my actual home was in the following decades that my heart was back in the Greenwich Village of the 1950s. In 1962 when I joined the military I took out a subscription to The Village Voice so I could keep in touch with the scene, and I bought the brand new collection of Voice writing and cartoons (Jules Feiffer!)—THE VILLAGE VOICE READER—and still have it, with my name and serial number stamped on it as they had us do to all our property, as limited as it was.


When I got out of the service in 1966, my wife and I were given an apartment in Brooklyn which my patron (!) got for us while I was supposedly writing "The Great American Novel"—which was a thing in the mid-20th Century. Looking to get our own place I was part of the line, usually first, at the Sheridan Square newsstand when the new issue of The Voice arrived with the new rental listings for The Village. (We had to turn down a parquet wooden floor street level apartment off Sheridan Square because at a hundred and twenty-five dollars a month it was way above what we could afford!)

In 1975 when I returned to live in Manhattan after years in DC and elsewhere, I began writing for The Village Voice as a book reviewer, focused on small press books. In the early 1980s when they had an actual separate book review section I had the cover review a few times and was able to introduce folks to favorite poets and writers.

One of the highlights of my life as a poet was when I did a poetry reading with John Ashbery at the fairly new Ear Inn and for the announcement in the picks of the week centerfold feature after my name they just said: "who needs no introduction here." Man did that feel like I'd arrive.

Over the years the paper changed in ways that weren't all that appealing to me, but nonetheless, I will sorely miss the print editions of The Voice and am grateful that I got to be a part of its history, as it certainly has been part of mine.

Monday, August 21, 2017

DETROIT

Another well intentioned effort that turned out for me to be a disappointing movie experience. So much talent, especially among the actors (I've followed and loved John Boyega's work since I saw him in ATTACK THE BLOCK when he, or at least his character, was a teen). But the parts don't add up and the inconsistencies and dubious motivations (a seasoned street character, who happens to be "black," holed up in a motel in the middle of a riot in 1967, with tons of mostly if not exclusively "white" cops, state troopers, and National Guard troops nearby, in fact right out the window, decides it would be funny to stick his hand out the window with a starter pistol and shoot it, not just once but repeatedly...?!) of way too many characters for me to keep everyone's story clear, ruined the impact of an otherwise powerful story.

And that's on the director, Kathryn Bigelow, for hiring the writer, Mark Boal. I can see why she did, because he wrote THE HURT LOCKER and ZERO DARK THIRTY for her to direct and they were both big successes for her, though I had problems with them as well. But all the controversy over her being "white" and directing an essentially "black" story based on a real historic incident, is beside the point to me, except how it figures into her hiring a "white" writer who she's obviously comfortable working with. There are moving moments of high drama that are compelling at times, but in the end, I wished someone else had told this story, with better focus and coherence and understanding of the subject matter.

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