Monday, April 23, 2018

RADIO RADIO

In all the hectic activity around the publication of my new book—ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY: Poems 1960-2017—and the readings I'll be doing for it, I forgot to mention two radio interviews. The first was supposed to be live last night but ended up being recorded to air next week. I will post when
I know the exact date and time.

The second is this Thursday morning at 9AM, April 26th, live (via phone) on WPFW in Washington DC, the mostly jazz and blues station. I am honored that E. Ethelbert Miller, renowned poet and teacher (an iconic figure at Howard University) will be doing the interviewing.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

EVERY MONTH IS POETRY MONTH TO ME (A NEW LIST!)

As you're probably sick of me sharing, before my brain op I constantly, compulsively, made lists in my head and my poems and my blog posts and my conversation etc...and then poof, after the operation I had no inclination to make them at all....but occasionally I push myself to do one just for old time's sake, so in honor of April being, among other things, poetry month, here's a list of some favorite books of poems that have come out recently (and by recently I mean within the last couple of years but which I am still savoring), some of which I've already posted about (you can look them up) and some of which I hadn't yet, and in no particular order, from poets whose work I love:

Terence Winch's THE KNOWN UNIVERSE
John Godfrey's THE CITY KEEPS
Patricia Spears Jones' A LUCENT FIRE
Phoebe MacAdams' THE LARGE ECONOMY OF THE BEAUTIFUL
Franco Beltrametti's FROM ALMOST EVERYWHERE
Mark Pawlak's RECONNAISSANCE
John Reed's FREE BOAT
Douglas Crase's THE ASTROPASTORALS
Michael Gizzi's COLLECTED POEMS
China Choi's THE YELLOW HOUSE
Theresa Burns' TWO TRAIN TOWN
Geoffrey Young's FREE
Geoffrey Young's DEAR HOLLYWOOD WRITERS
Geoffrey Young's THIRTY-THREE
Ken McCullough's DARK STARS
Mark Terrill's DIAMONDS & SAPIENCE
Mark Terrill's COMPETITIVE DECADENCE
Don Yorty's SONNETS
Elinor Nauen's SNOWBOUND

and my favorite "recent" poetry anthology—
READINGS IN CONTEMPORARY POETRY
—mainly because of the insightful and
knowledgeable introductions to each poet's
work by the editor Vincent Katz, all poems
selected from the reading series he oversees
for the DIA Art Foundation (two of mine are
included, but I'd love it as much even if they weren't)...


I know there's some I'm forgetting but these
were closest to hand and like I've explained,
since the operation I rarely can make a list
without help from google or what catches
my eye on my many many many bookshelves...

Friday, April 20, 2018

ISLE OF DOGS

It's a Wes Anderson movie, made with stop-action figures that on the big screen are gorgeously iconic and detailed, and yet still true to a kind of parody of a certain genre (mostly Japanese, but other nation's too, sci-fi movie conventions from the 1950s and '60s etc.) that give the film a lot of its style.

Add in the voices of iconic movie stars, and other kinds of stars—e.g. Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Bryan Cranston, Greta Gerwig, Yoko Ono, et. al.—for the dogs as well as humans, and you get a very pleasurable and satisfying movie experience.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

MORE FYI

Hate self-promotion but as a friend said it's a lifetime of work I'm promoting, not me, so if you can please join me for the book party for ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY one week from tonight, 7-9pm @ Howl! Happening, 6 East 1st Street NYC.
And if you haven't already, please consider donating to the documentary film about the book and me. Rachel is doing a tremendous amount of work and could really use the support!
Donate here: www.gofundme.com/lallydocumentary.
PS: This terrific excerpt from Eileen Myles' intro to Another Way To Play just came out in the Paris Review today.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

FACES PLACES

Finally caught up with this Academy Award nominated documentary from last year, FACES PLACES (VISAGES VILLAGES in the original French). A delightful film directed by an iconic figure from my early years, Agnes Varda, now 88, and the much younger contemporary artist/photographer JR.

Their interaction is enough to make this movie a treat, but then there are the French folk they choose to focus their attention on, each one more than worthy with their unique charms and personalities. If you have delayed catching up with this flick, you've got a wonderful experience coming when you do.

THIS

well, obviously you can, but it's totally hypocritical...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

HEY

Just a reminder that two weeks from today, Wednesday April 25th, from 7 to 9PM, there will be a publication party for ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY: Poems 1960-2017 (Seven Stories Press) at Howl, 6 East 1st St. NYC. The book's intro is by Eileen Myles, who will say a few words, and I will read a poem or two, but mostly it'll just be seeing old and new friends, hope one of them will be you.... [here's a link to the Howl event page]

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

ME AND MY SIBS

My oldest brother Tommy (later Father Campion) in uniform holding me in his arms, my second oldest brother Buddy (AKA Jimmy) the tallest, my third oldest brother Robert (AKA William), my oldest sister Joan in dark coat, and youngest sister Irene beside her, during World War Two (Buddy would soon join the Navy), all gone except for Irene and me...

ALOMA ICHINOSE R.I.P.

I first saw Aloma Ichinose in 1982, [unfortunately I couldn't find a photo of her from back then] shortly after I moved from New York City to Santa Monica CA. She was so elegantly stylish that my first reaction was a chip-on-the-shoulder-lifetime-of-anger-toward-rich-people disdain.

I saw her around for a few years, and then in 1984 when I was struggling to pay the bills, raising my two children by myself and out of money and work as an actor and screenwriter, I took a job driving a limo. One night as I finished angrily spouting my resentment about all that to a room full of Hollywood folks, all of whom I had that same belligerent reaction to, I heard a voice in my ear whisper how no one who hasn't raised kids on their own in poverty would understand, but she did because she had...

...and I turned around to see that it was Aloma, this person I had misjudged totally with my hurt and fear. From that moment on we were friends.

Aloma not only knew poverty, and the struggles and challenges of being a single parent, but had transcended her past by using her stunning beauty and style in modeling and acting, to eventually became a professional photographer, who I worked with many times, as in this contact sheet below of portraits of me and Eve Brandstein, my co-founder in the then weekly L.A. poetry reading series, Poetry In Motion.

Aloma was a gift to my life and my world, as she was for so many others, and though I know her physical presence will be deeply missed by so many—and my condolences to her family and friends—her spirit lives on...

Monday, April 9, 2018

READY PLAYER ONE

When SUGARLAND EXPRESS came out in 1974, I was so knocked out I swore I'd watch anything the director/writer ever made. And I pretty much have, which is why I went to see READY PLAYER ONE. But Speilberg let me down this time.

Usually when his movies don't work for me, it's because they're too perfectly controlled. But this one is just a mashup of moments of great filmmaking and moments of weak-as-shite filmmaking, starting with the young leads—Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke—who seemed totally miscast to me. As did many of the adult actors—including Simon Pegg—with the exception of Mark Rylance, who rocks as always, and T. J. Miller, who kills it as I-Roc....

Nothing to see here folks. Or at least not very much (though the pre-teens and early teens in the audience seemed to love it).

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A GREAT NIGHT IN JERSEY CITY

So Friday night I took part in my cousin Nicholas Ciavatta's "50th Birthday Bash" by reading a few poems on stage, with my youngest son, Flynn, playing drums and my oldest, Miles, bass (other people's instruments from other bands). It was a night to remember.
[photo by Beth Bentley—I told them I needed a bright light to read but obviously I'm too pale for light that bright to work in photos, in this case making me actually "white" (instead of the pink I mostly am)]

Lots of great musicians and singers, starting with Keith Kenny's solo opening exactly at 8PM filling the vast venue, with ceilings two stories high, so sonically full, it was like his guitar and cymbal set up were manned by ten musicians instead of one, and his singing overrode those sounds with passion and power.
I'm not gonna review each act, I'll just say I arrived around 7PM and left at 1AM and didn't even feel tired, just energized and happy. Everyone was good (see names above).

The biggest highlights for me were rapper Just Putt, whose flow was like surfing an extended wave, and my cousin Nicholas Ciavatta on guitar singing and fronting his Sea Of Otters band, with another cousin, Pat Lally, also on guitar, and Malcolm Marsden on guitar as well, all of them shredding (I don't know the sax and trumpet player and drummer and others in the band's names, sorry)....

...and Sylvana Joyce, a favorite of mine since I first saw her perform and posted about her and what I saw as her Gypsy/punk/Broadway mashup originality, (at this event someone called her music "Broadway metal!"), I'm turning 76 soon and have seen many many music acts live since I was a boy, and Sylvana is one of the most enormously talented, from her singing to her keyboard work to her composing and lyrics, but also one of the most powerful performing presences I've ever seen on stage live (and as I said later, her band "The Moment" was as tight as James Brown's bands)...

...and the biggest surprise for me, the last band, Plastiq Passion, whose set was so energetically punk yet explosively upbeat, even giddy, it closed the night as though it were just starting...

One of the best parts of the night for me (after the thrill of my two sons backing me) was seeing so many members of my clan there. Unfortunately most were gone by the time Ellen Merkenstein took this photo at closing. That's my cousin Nicholas Ciavatta (son of my first cousin the late Rosemary Lally Ciavatta) my son Flynn, me in my poet outfit (the tie has either weeping or bleeding books on it), my daughter Caitlin, my cousin Pat (son of my late first cousin Jackie Lally), and Nick's bother, my cousin Chris Ciavatta...

Thanks to all who're there, especially the performers...

[PS: Hopefully more images and video will come soon]

Friday, April 6, 2018

SUSAN ANSPACH R.I.P.

I had a tremendous crush on Susan Anspach when I saw her in MONTENEGRO the year before I moved to Santa Monica, where it turned out she lived  And then not many years later, I met her, and we dated, briefly, very briefly, like one date.

She was to my mind one of the most underrated movie actors ever. Her talent was enormous. And in the years we were around each other at events, including that one date, I can verify that her personality could also be enormous, and I should know as I suffer from the same, which is maybe why we ended up only dating once.

But at the time it felt like an honor to know her, to be in the presence of someone I consider to be a great artist.

Here's a link to the NY Times obit, and my condolences to all her family and friends and fans, among which I included myself.

CECIL TAYLOR R.I.P.


from THE VILLAGE SONNETS

Sblibby came into OBIES one afternoon with
a short dark man wearing thick eyeglasses
on his intense angry face. It was Cecil Taylor,
the piano-playing composer innovator changing
jazz. When I extended my hand to slip him
some skin he curled his lip in distaste. Sblib
didn’t notice as he raved about me, suggesting
Taylor come to THE WHITE WHALE where
I could display my chops. Surprisingly he did.
There I started in on my version of Ahmad
Jamal’s take on SURREY WITH THE FRINGE
ON TOP, only even more up-tempo so even
more difficult. But after only a few bars Taylor
got up and walked out without saying a word.


(C) Michael Lally 2016 

How fortunate I was to even be around him back in the day (the above occurred in 1961), let alone have this unique musical giant give me his attention no mater how briefly...

[here's a link to his NY Times obit]

Thursday, April 5, 2018

BACK WHEN

one of my birthday celebrations with dear friends (top: me between Simon Pettet and Jim Keefe and below: me between Simon and Annabel Lee
I think it was my 60th in 2002 up in The Berkshires at another dear old friend's

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

ANOTHER SONNET FROM UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPT

APRIL 4TH, 1968

When Martin Luther King was shot I felt the
sudden shift in the atmosphere, like trying to
breathe underwater. It was three years since
Malcom X’s assassination and my new radical
friends and reading had opened my eyes to the
realities of class in the USA. Malcolm verbally
attacked white folks with impunity, but the
minute he decided it was not about race but
about the poor and the wealthy, BAM! King
spent years fighting racism and despite attempts
on his life and tons of threats seemed invulner-
able, but as soon as he organized a poor people’s
campaign talking about the haves and have-nots,
BAM! I wondered if the Marxists had it right.

(C) 2018 Michael Lally

LAST REMINDER

I'm reading a couple of poems, possibly to live music from some of my descendants backing me, and some great bands are tearing up the joint, this Friday evening in Jersey City at the White Eagle Hall, come dance with me...

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

OLD FAVORITE QUOTE

"I feel the time is always right to do what is right."
—Martin Luther King Jr.

(from his Playboy interview included in A TESTAMENT OF
HOPE: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King Jr.)

Monday, April 2, 2018

STEVEN BOCHCO R.I.P.

My first reaction when I heard of Steven Bochco's death late yesterday was "No!" Though he'd been ill, in my mind he was such a solid presence, death seemed unimaginable. I was lucky enough to have known him just a bit. I worked for him several times, starting with the TV show L.A. Law and ending with NYPD Blue.

He was way at the top, and I was just a "Guest Star" on those shows (hit man John Dunham on the witness stand in a 1989 episode of L.A. Law, and a recurring role as artist and murder witness Walter Hoyt on NYPD Blue in '96 and '97, and in 1999 in a different recurring role as Dennis Franz's character's AA sponsor, but I ended up leaving L.A. and going back to my origins in New Jersey, so they had to write a scene where Franz calls my character and then says something like "Whaddaya mean he moved to New Jersey?").

I don't remember seeing him on set, though I may have, but I did spend a day at the races with him, as a guest of one of his proteges and co-creators of NYPD Blue, and my then good friend, David Milch, and ran into him at other "Hollywood" gatherings. From those interactions, I remember him as unpretentious, self contained, and just a nice, decent guy. He never seemed like he was even aware of his stature as a giant and genius in the history of TV. Though I'm sure he was, since he was obviously a very smart guy.

My condolences to his family, and many friends, and fans.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

AN OLD POEM [INCLUDED IN MY SOON TO BE RELEASED LIFETIME COLLECTION: ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY]

APRIL FOOL’S DAY 1975

The day came on bright and shiny;

I didn’t know what to say.
Spring finally here but
on April Fool’s Day?

Does that mean more winter tomorrow?
Does it matter? Inside I feel tiny
watching my friends separate again, everywhere,

or the tv letting me know it’s not over page124image1604480 page124image1635056 page124image1632560 page124image3672928 page124image3673136 page124image3673344
over there,
or my special ignorance,
the dumbness only I can confront,
but still don’t know how to:
not meditation,
not revolution,
not androgyny or drag in any of its forms,

not even poetry,
not even spring.
In my heart there are shelves
and on the shelves

there are too many books
and too many of the books are worn out
or boring or impossible to understand.
And in my hand?
Those little hearts
the poems that
even when dumb, are sacred.
I’m glad we all aren’t naked:
it’s not the sixties anymore.
I want to wear nice clothes
and carry on my life behind closed doors.
I want to sit with the rich
or hustling poor and still be myself.
I want to make my kids secure.
I want to share with them
what joy a good night’s sleep
with bright and shiny morning
can bring to the heart—
the chance to start
again. 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

QUOTE FROM A POST BY POET PATRICIA SPEARS JONES

"The police officers unions need to say that their members are afraid to do their jobs and thus are likely to shoot first and hide from it later. At least the public will have a clearer idea of just who is riding, walking or biking about in uniform with a badge and gun--fearful and dangerous. A man standing in a back yard, a man standing in a vestibule, a man selling CDs, a man with an expired license, a boy playing in a park. a teen one week from going to college all seemed to have scared the education, intelligence, training, professionalism, and empathy out of the police officers who gunned down these Black boys and men. #truth #blacklivesmatter #cowardswithgunsneedtogo #StephonClark"
—Patricia Spears Jones