Thursday, September 19, 2019

ONCE

me with two of my big brothers, Tommy (becoming Father Campion, Franciscan friar) and Buddy (known to most as Jimmy or James) around 1950. There was another brother (maybe taking the photo) and two sisters, and then a brother who passed as an infant. These two were musicians (reed men) and jokers, always had me laughing. Only one sister and me still alive.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

THIS

That's me, getting ready to take part in a march in my town during the Kavanaugh hearings.
I'm the tall one next to my friend Beth Boily on the march. People all over the country marched, but he still got confirmed. If everyone who believes in women's reproductive rights had voted for Hilary, we wouldn't have had Kavanaugh to worry about. Other things, but not as bad.

Monday, September 16, 2019

STEVE DLACHINSKY R.I.P.

Steve Dalachinsky was a New York poet I knew but unfortunately wasn't close friends with. I didn't know him well when I lived there in the sixties at times and later in the seventies. We mainly encountered each other in some meaningful ways after I moved back East at the turn of the century. He was cool, smart, charming, as well as sarcastic in ways that I appreciated.

But after my brain surgery (almost ten years ago) I had trouble with his name sometimes and I don't know if he accepted my explanations and apologies as sincerely the result of my brain crap or if he thought I was just too self-involved. It felt like in more recent years whenever I encountered him we connected more gracefully and it made me happy. I am sorry I didn't get to know him better.

Now he has suddenly been taken from his family and friends and there's no poetic way to assuage the sadness so many are experiencing. My heart goes out to his wife, the multi-talented Yuko Otomo, and to all his many friends and fans.

Here's the last two lines from his poem "As Collage" which seems like a pretty good epitaph to me:

"...& in the end as he so aptly put it
                the THINGS themselves are left to TESTIFY.

[photo by Don Yorty]

Sunday, September 15, 2019

BEE LOVE SLATER R.I.P.

another trans woman murdered
I so hate the insecure baby men who perpetuate these atrocities

Thursday, September 12, 2019

One of my many transformations. In early 1966 and about to turn twenty-four, I had recently finished four years in the military and was living with my first wife, Lee, in the Brooklyn Heights apartment of the backer of a new magazine. The woman editor had offered to be my patron while I wrote "the great American novel" as she put it. This situation lasted about four months until Lee became too jealous of the editor and then my mother died (I shaved the beard that night and vowed to never grow another because she hadn't recognized me as she passed) so we moved to Jersey to take care of my father. The novel was deemed too "experimental" by my patron and was never published.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

ONCE AGAIN WE REMEMBER

Berry Berenson was a friend to me in my early years in Hollywood. She was married to the movie star Tony Perkins at the time and until his death in 1992. They seemed really loving to each other and I admired their relationship. And I admired her.

Though she was often noted more as Perkin's wife or as model/actress Marisa Berenson's sister, Berry was a wonderful actor in her own right (see REMEMBER MY NAME). But despite her fame-for-whatever-reason, at least around me she was always the least pretentious or self-centered person I ever met anywhere.

She came to a play I was in early on in L.A, Landford Wilson's BALM IN GILEAD, and after the performance stuck around to talk to me. One of the things she said to me that night was that she had only seen one other person in her life who had the kind of glow, I think that was the word she used, that I had, and that was Marilyn Monroe!

She was wonderful on screen and off, either in front of the camera or behind it (she was a great photographer), and I only wish, as I too often do with many friends, that I had made more of an effort to see her more often. Especially after I heard the news that she had been on one of the two planes that crashed into The World Trade Center towers on 9/11.

I knew some others who went down with the towers on that tragic day, like Father Mike Judge, but Berry is the one I think of most often. As I later wrote in a poem ("March 18, 2003"), she was:

"a woman who was kind to me when
she didn't need to be[...]
How many people have died
before you got the chance to tell them what you meant to?"

R.I.P. to all those we lost on that horrific day (and those we continue to lose).

Monday, September 9, 2019

LATEST FAVORITE FOUND ON THE INTERNET


YET ANOTHER LIST

Once again my post-op brain initiated and sustained a list. This time provoked by my picking up one of the many biographies of William Saroyan I own and starting to reread it. Got me thinking about all the writers whose work I've fallen for since I was a kid, in that obsessive way only some authors inspire, where I bought every book they wrote and every book written about them. I don't remember all of them, but a lot, like:

William Saroyan
Emily Dickinson
William Carlos Williams
Walt Whitman
James Joyce
Jean Rhys
Martha Gelhorn
Jack Kerouac
Frank O'Hara
James Schuyler
John Ashbery
Kenward Elmslie
Muriel Rukeyser
Dylan Thomas
Brendan Behan
Andrea Lee
Diane DiPrima
Barbara Guest
Gertrude Stein
Ranier Maria Rilke
Samuel Beckett
Christopher Isherwood
Fydor Dostoevsky
Henry Miller
Henry Roth
Gary Snyder
Francis Ponge
Charles Reznikoff
Louis Zukofsky
Ezra Pound
William Blake
Joe Brainard
Ted Berrigan
Michael McClure
Hubert Selby Jr.
Blaise Cendrars
Joanne Kyger
Bobbie Louis Hawkins
Dante
Theodore Dreiser
Lady Murasaki
Zora Neale Hurston
Henry James

Saturday, September 7, 2019

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS


Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, how could anyone not want to watch anything they might be in, let alone together. And as actors they don't disappoint. But the writer and director do. The inconsistency of Ronan's Mary doesn't always make dramatic or narrative sense, nor does Robbie's Elizabeth, played mostly as weaker than any other Elizabeth in film. I prefer Kate Blanchett's version in ELIZABETH. But MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS is still worth watching for Ronan and Robbie, despite the missed opportunity to create something worthy of these two stars.

Friday, September 6, 2019

ONCE IN PORTLAND

My dear friend the late great poet and publisher James Haining and me in Portland, Oregon, when he lived there in the 1990s before his MS became too debilitating and he returned to his native Texas. This was at an event at Artquake, as I remember it.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

SPARTACUS

Watched the beautifully restored SPARTACUS on TCM the other night and found it more relevant than ever, though I wonder if younger people would see that underneath all the old Hollywood habits (like casting Brits to play the upper class Romans etc.). There's so much terrific movie making and acting in it (except at times for poor Tony Curtis cast for his looks not his accent).

At the time it was made and producer/star Kirk Douglas decided to give blacklisted Dalton Trumbo the writing credit, it seemed daring the way the story highlights the similarities between McCarthyism and other antidemocratic authoritarian tactics. I remember drawing inspiration from my memory of this 1960 movie later in the 1960s when a Dean at the U. of Iowa warned a student rally that anyone who used the microphone to speak would be expelled. I wasn't a scheduled speaker, but I went to the mic and told the crowd of more than a hundred that he couldn't expel all of us, and suggested that everyone come to the mic and state their name, as I did mine and then stepped away to make room for others. After a moment of hesitation the first student stepped up, followed by another and another until everyone had done it and the Dean's threats were rendered meaningless.

Despite the Hollywood ending in SPARTACUS, the hope at the heart of it is still poignant, maybe more than ever.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

A MODEST PROPOSAL

Since science now says the human brain isn't fully developed until around age 26, I propose that no one be  allowed to volunteer for or be drafted into the military until they are at least 26. You know that would make it difficult to wage wars.

Monday, August 26, 2019

ANOTHER LIST

So my pre-brain operation lifelong constant compulsive list-making hasn't returned, but it has been popping up lately in the form of an alphabet list of favorite movies with one-word titles. I woke up one morning a week or two ago with the first three in my head and have woken up on a few mornings since with more added to the list, until today I finished it as far as I could (with a little help):

Amistad
Burn
Casablanca
Drumline
Elizabeth
Freaks
Gilda
Harvey
Insignificance
Juno
K
Lili
Moonlight
Niagara
Once
Platoon
Quills
Ray
Snatch
Topper
Up
Volver
Wilde
X-men
Y
Z

Thursday, August 22, 2019

ME, ONCE

This shot was taken by Susan Tenant as I sat on the steps outside the side door of a house I was renting in Santa Monica with my second wife and my kids from my first wife. It was 1982 and we'd just moved there from Manhattan, and I'd just turned forty.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

TIME

My good friend, the great prose stylist Dale Herd (Ginsberg's fave), with the other Michael Lally (and  reason I had to add my middle name, David, to get into the Screen Actors Guild back in the late 1970s) smiling from the doorway behind us, at Beyond Baroque in Venice, California, sometime early in this century I believe, when I was a lad (early sixties, my sixties) visiting from NJ for a poetry reading. Oh how this century is whizzing by.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

POSE

I just started bingeing the first season of POSE on Netflix and despite some pretty bad acting by some in the cast, and some too-on-the-nose plot devices, the terrific performances by MJ Rodriguez as Blanca, Indya Moore as Angel, and especially Billy Porter as Pray Tell, have kept me watching.

And then tonight I watched episode six and now I'm totally hooked. The scene in the AIDS hospital ward where Porter and then Rodriguez and then the two of them sing for the dying AIDS patients just broke me down. Maybe you had to be there, but it evoked the tragic realities of that time too intensely for me not to fall apart.

I had a lot of friends die in the '80s and '90s from AIDS, some ex-lovers included, but I was a coward (and stuck in LA while most of them were in NYC) when it came to visiting people in hospitals ever since I watched my mother die in one in 1966.

I did fly back to visit one of my dearest friends, poet Tim Dlugos, in the AIDS ward of Roosevelt Hospital (see his poem "G9") but after a while he dismissed me knowing how anxious hospitals made me then (before I ended up spending so much time in them for my own maladies, none AIDS related). And that's what overwhelmed me watching that scene.

I noted that that episode also happened to be directed by Janet Mock and co-written by her as well. One of my heroes. I only wish Tim was still around so I could tell him how I got a crush on her and he could make fun of me in ways only he could. Damn that episode was some powerful storytelling.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

ANOTHER OLD FAVORITE QUOTE

"Failure is not bad in itself, only resignation is bad. For an African proverb says: 'to stumble is not to fall, but to go forward faster.'"  —Ron Karenga (from The Quotable Karenga)

Sunday, August 11, 2019

from THE SOUTH ORANGE SONNETS

2

My brother brought the moon back from
Okinawa. I mean, there they learned of
the surrender three days late and then
they danced all night. My brother played
the saxophone. Junkman Willy did a one
step that most girls didn’t want to do.
They called him that for all the old cars
he worked on til he was old enough to
drive. He was a paddy cat like me and we
lived on Cabbage Hill till we were old
enough to live anywhere. We believed
Italians and Jews ran *THE SYNDICATE*
maybe the world. In West Orange a man
hung himself higher than he could reach.

(C) 1969 Michael Lally

[I wrote that last line in the early 1960s about an incident in the 1950s, but still occurring here and there, like NY jails, today]

Friday, August 9, 2019

SUMMERTIME ONCE

I may have posted this photo before but it's a favorite summertime memory. My maternal grandmother, who lived with us when I was growing up, owned a small house only habitable in warm weather in Belmar NJ when I was a kid so I got to spend a lot of summertime there. That's her in the middle in back in this picture I'm guessing from 1951. We called her Grandma Dempsey. To her right is my oldest sister, Joan, and our mother Irene. To her left is my oldest brother Tommy, who by then was becoming a Franciscan friar and took the name Campion. To his left is our sister Irene. I don't remember my father being very physical with me so I'm always moved by his grouching down and touching my brother Robert to his left, who was the troublemaker in the family at the time before he became a cop, and me, around nine and on my way to becoming the biggest troublemaker. Our brother Buddy, between Tommy and Robert in age, is not in the photo, nor our brother John who passed as an infant and was born between Irene and me. Some serious sun tans among us. All long gone now except for my sister Irene and me.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

PATRICIA LOUISIANNA KNOP R.I.P.

Patricia Louisiana Knop was a true original in every way. Her style, her looks, her talents, her social interactions, all of it was unlike anyone else. 

I first met her and her late husband, Zalman King, and their two daughters, when I moved from Manhattan to Santa Monica in the early 1980s to try and make a living in movies and TV. Zalman was a Jersey boy who knew my poetry about growing up there so we became instant friends.

The first time I went to their house and met Pat, I knew I was in the presence of a magical human. Their home was a big wooden structure, as I remember it, more like houses in the Midwest or back East than the one-story stucco Southern California Mexican influenced houses that were more common. Entering it felt like entering a museum. It was full of Pat's often massive sculptures as well as found objects like an angel from the prow of a ship or the carved wooden animals from an antique carousel. 

Pat not only painted and sculpted and made smaller art objects, like individually unique pieces of jewelry, she also helped produce and write her director/writer husband's movies and TV shows, and a lot more. But as I commented when I found out that she had passed, for me her main achievement was making me, and I'm sure many others, feel  blessed every time I was in her presence, as well as totally accepted, with all my flaws.  I adored her, as I think almost everyone who knew her did.

My deepest condolences to her daughters Chloe and Gillian, and other family and friends.

[photo of Patricia Louisiana Knop's sculpture of herself taken by Lisa Borgnes Giramanti]

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

ONCE UPON A TIME IN...HOLLYWOOD

I heard someone refer to ONCE UPON A TIME IN...HOLLYWOOD as self-indulgent, and I thought, of course it's self-indulgent, it's a Tarantino movie. My own label for it, and all his films, is revenge porn (an "American" male fantasy too often acted out in reality). A lot of action movies are revenge porn, but Tarantino's often distinguish themselves by their divergences, tangents, asides, and full-stop digressions mid-movie.

His latest is no exception, and its length can be attributed to all the cinematic frills (he loves to romance a new camera angle or character quirk etc.). Some friends of mine hate all that, find it superficial or even amateurish. But the success of his better attempts kind of gives the lie to that.

The guy knows movies, or at least the genres he's enamored with, but he also knows the movie business. And this flick's main subject is the main business of Hollywood: movies and TV and the stars who emerge from them. Like the fictional ex-TV star DiCaprio plays. I often feel DiCaprio is miscast, and that was my first response here, but his performance grew on me and I ended up suspending judgment and even identifying to some extent (I was never a TV or movie star but I starred in a few movies and one short-circuited TV show).

As for his partner in this buddy movie (which is often another trope of revenge porn) it's Bard Pitt at his most Brad Pittness. As an audience member I was happy to experience the charm and seductiveness of his handsome face, especially that smile, and was impressed and delighted when he took his shirt off. As I was equally delighted and seduced by Margot Robbie's beauty and seductive physicality, charm, and screen charisma, despite, as critics have pointed out, the relatively few lines she had for a major role (as Sahron Tate).

The rest of the cast was, as often with Tarantino, really terrific, with lots of actors getting a chance, whether brief or extended, to show their stuff. Like the totally fun to watch work of Margaret Qualley in the role of a young hippie girl follower of Charles Manson, to the few but perfectly rendered lines of Damien Lewis (who usually doesn't appeal to me) as a surprisingly believable Steve McQueen,

The usual Tarantino gratuitous violence that I generally despise, is thankfully limited to basically one scene, a bit of which I had to tun my eyes away from. But otherwise he captures the self-indulgence of much of movie-making both through the characters and in his own writing and directing. I can see why some friends hated it and others loved it. I mostly was emotionally indifferent (par for a Tarantino movie for me) until the contrived ahistorical ending that left me unexpectedly touched.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

I didn't have access to Netflix when ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK debuted and friends were insisting I'd love it. I have access now, so in less than two weeks I binged all seven seasons (not too compulsive/addicitve), and I can see why they thought that. There are so many great performances and characters, and so many timely and necessary and kinds of women's (and some men's) stories being told.

I fell in love with some, especially Laura Prepon's Alex Vause (I still haven't seen THAT '70S SHOW so this was my introduction to Prepon) and Ian Paola's Yadriel (those eyes). Too much amazing acting to even catalogue or categorize. I started to list them (Taystee, Doggett, Crazy Eyes, Sophia, Flaca, Nicky, Caputo, Sophia, Gloria, et. al.) and quit after thirty, but...there were exceptions.

For instance I'll never get the appeal of Jason Biggs (he was most believable in the finale episode but otherwise wha?). And Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman? She's the character the show is inspired by and centers around, but did anyone else find both the actor and her character as aggravatingly contrived and arbitrary and unappealing as I did? And sometimes the other inmates stories were a little too on the nose or in a couple of cases miscast and in others way overcooked.

I'm glad I watched the entire series to get the full impact of the stories told and roles performed, and was happy to see some older actors kick ass in their roles (Michel Hearney as Healy for example or Michelle Hurst as Miss Claudette, Annie Golden as Norma, and Kate Mulgrew as Red). And grateful that so many "black" and "brown" actors and characters got all that exposure and opportunity.  

Thursday, August 1, 2019

MY BROTHERS AND ME

William (known in the family by his middle name: Robert)
Thomas (known by his priest name: Campion)
James (known in the family as: Buddy)
and me, late 1940s
same lineup, early 1960s

Monday, July 29, 2019

ANOTHER FAVORITE OLD QUOTE

"We want to create a world in which love is more possible." —Carl Ogelsby (wrote this down in the 1960s but don't remember where I read it)

Friday, July 26, 2019

I'm not so good anymore, if I ever was, at quick witted answers in situations with other folks, men in particular, but I still do pretty good on the keyboard of a typewriter or computer. So this quote puts the media reaction to the Mueller report in perspective in a way I understand...


Thursday, July 25, 2019

ONCE


My two oldest children—Caitlin and Miles—in the 1980s after we moved from Manhattan to Sant Monica.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

RUTGER HAUER R.I.P.

That Rutger half smile and those twinkling but at the same time piercing eyes, that's the way I remember Rutger. I have a million Rutger Hauer stories. We met through a friend in the 1980s and became instant cohorts. He introduced me to my dear friend the late great poet and playwright Lynn Manning, who also happened to be the blind heavyweight judo champion of the world when Rutger was playing a blind martial arts master and needed coaching.

He traveled around Europe in one of those huge "American" trailer trucks that he customized the inside of into a 1980s bachelor pad (lots of black light and leopard skin upholstery and barbells etc.). He got studios and production companies to hire me to co-write with him movie ideas he had, which was challenging since every time we got together he'd have seen or read something that inspired him to go in a totally different direction (including once where the ending reveals the whole movie was a fantasy in the mind of a prisoner in solitary).

We first met in New York, but after I moved to LA in 1982 we'd run into each other there or he'd come up with some project that would give us a reason to hang out. Once talking a studio into flying me to Paris where he was making a film and told them he needed me there to work on a screenplay with him for a future movie (that never got made as far as I know).

I was surprised to learn from the news of his demise that he was two years younger than me. He was such a commanding presence that he not only seemed much larger than me but older and wiser too, if at times uniquely eccentric. First time he visited me at a house I was renting in Santa Monica he showed up in nothing but farmer overalls. He claimed the monologue his dying character in BLADERUNNER speaks was totally improvised and spontaneous.

We had a little fallout when I barged in on a reading of a screenplay I'd adapted from a stage play he bought the rights to and put his name on as co-writer with me but didn't ask me to take part in the reading for execs at some studio and my ego got hurt and I did what I sometimes did to defend it that usually came across as angry and/or arrogant. But next time I saw him he was his usual sweet self.

He was a great actor and a total original. There was and will never be anyone like him. I wish I'd kept in touch better. Condolences to all who loved him, which includes me.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

BLACK 47

I finally got to see the recent Irish film BLACK 47 in its entirety, and was so happy I did. The title refers to 1847, what some say was the worst year of the so-called Irish "famine"—which was just the world's way of avoiding calling it the genocide it was, since there was plenty of grains and food available but a choice was made to let the Irish Catholic peasants emigrate or starve to death, which a third of the country did.

The movie calls it a famine, which bugged me, and doesn't make clear the English penal codes that kept the Irish Catholics—like my ancestors were, including two of my grandparents who emigrated late in the 19th century—from speaking their own language or practicing their own customs etc. But it realistically portrays the suffering and the oppression of my ancestors and those like them, and posits a fantastic revenge story that, though action-movie fantasy, feels very satisfying to this descendent of clans that went through this period.

Directed and co-written by Lace Daly, one of the signal accomplishments of this film is the use of the Irish language, or as my grandfather called it: Gaelic. The hero is played by an Australian actor, James Frecheville, who learned the language and is totally convincing as the brooding enforcer. He is surrounded by a terrific cast, including the Irish actors Stephen Rea and the underused but always great Sarah Greene.

It should have won a best foreign film Oscar, in my opinion, and I only wish I had seen it on the big screen. But even on a smaller one, it is an essential history lesson wrapped up in a really good action flick.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

FRANK DE LA ROSA R.I.P.


Frank de la Rosa is mostly known as a great jazz bassist, but I knew him as the coolest uncle of a dear friend in the 1990s in LA and the cool brother of triplet sisters who were equally cool in their varying ways. I only spent time with him at a few events, but I loved talking with him. He had a generosity of spirit, in my encounters with him, that unfortunately isn't as common as it should be. My condolences to all his family and friends and fans.

Hard to find videos (for my old brain anyway) of his bass work, but here's a gig he played on where you get to hear some of his exquisite musicianship, if you listen closely:



Friday, July 19, 2019

CAPTAIN MARVEL

I saw CAPTAIN MARVEL because it starred Brie Larson, and she certainly made it worth watching for me, along with some other members of the cast. And the big plot twist added an element of surprise that, well, surprised me. But for the first third, maybe even half, of the film my main reaction was: whaaaat? Guess you had to read the (comic) book.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

ONCE

Not sure who took this shot of me at 32 in 1974 in my studio apartment on Florida Avenue not far from DuPont Circle in DC. I'm grateful to my Irish ancestors who endowed me with genes that allowed me to eat whatever, whenever, and as much as I wanted, and not jog or workout or take any measures to stay so slim, except a lot of boogieing of all kinds.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

OUTSIDE MULLINGAR

While I was in The Berkshires this past weekend I saw the closing night of John Patrick Shanley's OUTSIDE MULLINGAR at The Unicorn Stage in Stockbridge. It had been done on Broadway in 2014 and ran less than two months (though it was nominated for some awards).

But seeing this production directed by Karen Allen (full disclosure: a longtime dear friend) I could imagine it running for years. The audience included people who were seeing it for the second and third time, and it was given a standing ovation and a couple of curtain calls. There was laughter and tears and that childlike quality that Shanley brings to so much of his work (MOONSTRUCK for instance).

Set in the Irish countryside on two adjacent farms, it involves four characters, a widow and her daughter on one farm and a widower and his son on the other. The soul of the story is familiar in Irish theater and history: who gets the farm. But the heart of the story is all about the reticence and reluctance and shyness and insecurity when it comes to romance, so common in Irish culture and stories.

They say casting is ninety percent of a director's job, though having done some stage directing myself I'd raise the percentage of work a director does after the cast is chosen. In this case, Allen elevated Shanley's story by her direction, beyond picking a solid cast. Like Jeffrey DeMunn as the father and James McMenamin as his son, who together make the tensions and vulnerabilities of their relationship(s) poignant.

But it's the women of the play—Deborah Headwell as the widow and Shannon Marie Sullivan as her daughter—who opened my heart wide to Shanley's whimsy and humor that makes their longings bearable. Sullivan especially is a revelation. She should be a Broadway star. From the moment she came on stage, the power of her presence and performance almost drew gasps, and certainly my awe. I hope there were some talent scouts among those who came to see it, because Shannon Marie Sullivan showed colossal talent in this production of OUTSIDE MULLINGAR.  

Monday, July 15, 2019

YIKES

So I'm up in the country on a little hiatus and I walk into the eating area of the home I'm staying in just as my hostess (one of my dearest and oldest friends) spies a bear standing up and holding onto a large bird feeder only inches away from us on the other side of the window flicking its tongue rapidly to get the seed out of the feeder (she says they can empty this almost two foot long feeder of all the seed in only minutes).

As she bangs on the window, the bear turns to stare at us, mouth open, powerful jaw and many teeth impressing me, but then goes right back to flicking out the bird seed with its tongue. So she opens the window next to it and yells and claps her hands very loudly, and the bear drops and rumbles off a few feet, then turns around and looks at us and starts walking back to the feeder just as she opens the window to get the feeder off it's hook and into the house and the window closed.

She starts clapping again and I join in, and that, or the yelling or the feeder being gone, gets the bear to waddle off among some nearby trees, climb up one to about fifteen feet off the ground and then, not finding what it wants, climb back down and eventually wander off. I didn't have the instinct nor do I have the habit of recording all this on my phone, so you'll have to take my word for it. I found it a little scary, and fascinating, she seemed to find it fascinating too, though she's used to it, and the bear kind of adorable.

Friday, July 12, 2019

JIM BOUTON R.I.P.

I thought the worldwide web was supposed to make everything available, but a lot of things from my life I can't find including the time I was on TO TELL THE TRUTH, somewhere in the late 1970s or 1980 (?), and Jim Bouton was on the panel for that episode.

I remember standing around talking to him and how humorous and unpretentious he was for a guy who was famous at the time. It made me go out and get and read his book, BALL FOUR. Many years later (1990s?) I ran into him in an ice cream store in The Berkshires (Western Mass) and reminded him of the episode and was able to tell him how much I loved that book. And once again he was funny and unpretentious.

Those two experiences left me believing that he was a happy human, well adjusted to his life and the realities of it, good or not so good. I smile whenever I think of him. May he rest in all the smiles he generated, including mine, and his own.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

NOT SO LONG AGO

my friend, the drummer and writer John Straus,
holding a copy of my last book,
and me, at a local bakery, a few months ago

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

DREAM TEAM

I watched the celebration for the US Women's World Cup soccer team this morning live on local (NYC) TV and was knocked out by how feckin cool they all are. When I was a kid Babe Ruth was still alive, and Babe Didrikson. Jack Dempsey was still an Irish-American hero, especially for my family since my mother's father's family were Dempseys, and Joe Louis, "The Brown Bomber" was heavyweight champ and Jackie Robinson integrated major league baseball and was my personal hero, and Broadway Joe Namath was the coolest professional football hero ever and on and on I could go but no athlete or group of athletes in my lifetime have ever been as cool as the 2019 women's world cup soccer team, period. And Megan Rapinoe is the coolest person alive right now in my book.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

MUSIC YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS

A shot taken by my grandson Donovan of his father (my oldest son, Miles Lally) on bass (in hat), songwriter and singer Greg Farley on guitar, and Michael Lesko on drums, playing in Manhattan on Sunday at a gig I couldn't make but wish I had been able to. The family that plays together...

Friday, July 5, 2019

ANOTHER LIST!

Still don't have the compulsion to constantly make lists that I had pre-brain-op, but, every now and then I feel the urge to make one again, as I did the night I saw YESTERDAY. I had mentioned a favorite film, ABOUT TIME, in my post/review and while falling sleep suddenly found myself doing an alphabet list of one movie per letter, of films I like that have that same fantasy quality, not LORD OF THE RINGS or HARRY POTTER fantasy, but the what-if kind of fantasy. I cane up with more than usual before falling asleep, and the next day added a few that might stretch the definition (UMBRELLAS OF CHEROURG for instance isn't a fantasy per se but the fact it's all sung makes it feel like one) :

ABOUT TIME
BIG
CHANCES ARE
DROP DEAD FRED
ERASERHEAD
F
GROUNDHOG DAY
HEAVEN CAN WAIT
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
JUST LIKE HEAVEN
K
L.A. STORY
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
NATURAL, THE
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PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, THE
Q
R
SECRET OF ROAN INISH, THE
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UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG, THE
V
WHALERIDER, THE
X
YESTERDAY
Z

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

PROTEST

You know that image of the lone Chinese man standing in front of a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989 during the demonstrations for democracy? He wears a white shit and what look like black pants and he's carrying a shopping bag in one hand.

If I were young and still living in DC I'd get all my activist friends to dress exactly like him, and grab a paper shopping bag and go stand in front of the tanks that dump has planned for the July 4th festivities on the National Mall.

The tanks are supposed to be stationary so it would only be symbolic, but if hundreds or even thousands of people did that, it would have the kind of impact that protests in the 1960s that radical art and theater groups came up with. Time to revive those tactics.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

YESTERDAY

YESTERDAY is a delightful fantasy/fable flick that is an antidote, no matter how temporary, to all that's bringing us down in the world right now. Just as the music of The Beatles did in another time of trouble, YESTERDAY reminds us of what's most important (even if in an obvious way).

I don't know how they got the rights to the music, but that alone makes this worth seeing. Then add the imagination of Jack Barth (ATTACK THE BLOCK among other favorites of mine) and the writing of Richard Curtis (ABOUT TIME, another movie fable favorite of mine) and the direction of Danny Boyle (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE among other faves), and add the updated pertinence of Himesh Patel and Lily James playing the leads, with a great supporting cast (including Ed Sheehan and Kate McKinnon) and you have lots of reasons to take the time out to go catch this wonderful little gem.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

“look behind the eyes
i said and i say
 worry about the plumbing later”

—dick higgins 

(don't know what poem of dick's this is from but it's been bringing me comfort since I first read it and wrote it down almost fifty years ago)

Saturday, June 29, 2019

MY NEW HERO

I don't watch men's soccer on TV because it has rarely engaged my interest for long: too little scoring and too much histrionics (the phony injury act). But watching the USA women's team play France today (well, technically yesterday) was one of the most delightful TV sports experiences of the last few decades. The woman of both teams were so athletically tough and talented it was pure pleasure to watch them compete. And Megan Rapinoe, who scored the US team's two goals, is such a charismatic star, I not only have a hero crush on her, if I had room on my walls I'd put a poster of her up on one.

Friday, June 28, 2019

MORE PRIDE

The top photo is the late DC poet Ed Cox and me around the time we did a poetry reading at Catholic U. in DC in Spring of 1972. Ed had just come out a few weeks before me. We both read poems about love and relationships between men, mine more sexually graphic, for what we were told was the first time at that institution and maybe in DC. The young poet Tim Dlugos afterward introduced himself and said we were his heroes. For a while Ed stayed at the commune I lived in with my first wife and our kids and where I would challenge him and myself to try poses neither of us ever had, like letting a wrist go limp (a la the second photo).  I went on to wear ribbons in my hair and mismatched clip-on earrings and sometimes dresses, but unfortunately have no photos of that.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

ORE LGBQT+ PRIDE

I took part in the first Gay Pride celebration in Washington DC in early May of 1972, and marched with the Gay and Lesbian contingent in anti-war marches in 1972 and '73. I remember being in a photo on the front page of The Washington Post for one of those events which garnered lots of attention at the Catholic women's college I was teaching at then. Eventually leading to my being fired, partly as a result of my being openly "gay"—though I was what others called "bi-sexual" but I always dismissed as implying there are two kinds of sexuality when my experience was there are as many kinds as there are humans.

Initially coming out as a gay man in my 29th year was a political act, to show solidarity with my gay cohorts who were at that time maligned and oppressed and jailed and called mentally ill for preferring  same gender partners. But in recent years I've been identifying more with the "bi-sexual" label, because as was true back then and unfortunately still is, people on both ends of the spectrum of sexual choice and identity are still too often at best suspicious of the possibility of anyone being truly attracted to both of the traditional dominant genders and at worst see "bi" as a cop out (as I was told in 1972 by a leading activist, it allows for the pleasure of same gender sex with the privilege of not being seen as strictly gay and therefore suffering the prejudice etc.).

When I arrived in L.A. in 1982 at forty, looking for an acting career in films and TV to support my life as a poet, my poetry collections Hollywood Magic and Attitude had just come out and contained many poems about my fluid sexuality and identity which I was told by some meant death to the predictions I was the next (fill in the blank for bad boy actor). Most of the gay and lesbian actors I met were in the closet and stayed there. I looked forward to being interviewed on The Tonight show and flaunting my varied sexual past. But those who had warned me to bury that past may have been right as the expectations of agents and managers et. al. were dashed, as they used to say.

But I have no regrets and am still here and still proud of my past and of the young people who are more accepting of all the possibilities.