Friday, November 15, 2019

Thursday, November 14, 2019


Two photos taken during the few years after my cataract operation when I didn't have to wear glasses all the time. The first is me with my longtime buddy Karen Allen, and the second, shooting into a mirror at the gym, is the only selfie I ever took.


If I was in DC today (Wednesday) I would have been outside the White House protesting the visit of the Turkish Trump, Erdogan, who the resident of the people's house was entertaining while Erdogan's death squads were murdering Kurds who beat back ISIS for us. Made my blood pressure explode just thinking about those two murderous power-mad men meeting while Kurds die. Why aren't people in the street protesting any visit of Erdogan's?

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


A four-hour distillation of the last decades of Russia's 18th Century ruler, Catherine The Great, this HBO mini-series depends for its appeal on Helen Mirren who is up to the task. Her ability to transcend any limitations of casting or script (including being too old for the early years of Catherine's rule) is once again on display. As a period costume drama it's sometimes campy fun, but the story is episodic and not very gripping. Mirren's performance, however, makes it all worthwhile, as always.

Monday, November 11, 2019


me and my buddy Murph during basic training in February or March of 1962 when I was 19 and at the beginning of my four years in the military...Veterans Day celebrates all veterans including those like me who didn't see combat (it's Memorial Day that commemorates those who died in wars)...

Saturday, November 9, 2019


"To oversimplify for a moment, it may be said that life stinks, the human experience stinks, every individual stinks, and having said that, from having known the truth of it, the validity of it, you begin to come out from under when you reply to this truth by saying, So what? By saying, Even so."—William Saroyan (from Here Comes, There Goes, You Know Who)

Friday, November 8, 2019


Thanks to my youngest, Flynn, for reintroducing me to this version of a classic:

Thursday, November 7, 2019


Nadia Osuwu (a new friend and favorite writer that everybody should read) and me after our reading at Pace Monday evening. Thanks to our host, old friend and poet Charles North, for pairing us for the event and giving me the opportunity to hear such a brilliant new-to-me voice.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019


So I did this reading at Pace in Manhattan Monday, a day when my body and brain weren't working so well (some days are like that). It felt like a struggle for me. Though a lot of people said they liked it including dear friends there to give their support, and several students bought my book.

But the revelation that put the evening over the top for me was the brilliant prose of the other person on the bill, Nadia Owuso. When she began reading from the beginning of her slim book—so devilish a fire—it made up for any problems I was having as I was totally swept away by the imagery and lyrical originality of her sentences, more like a poem's lines (as poet John Godfrey pointed out later), each paragraph the poem.

I bought the book, and when I got back to Jersey stayed up half the night reading it through and being more and more impressed with each page turned. It joins the company of my all-time favorites, this  unique blend of memoir, history, journalism, and literary essay, that gives a deep glimpse into an equally unique life and intelligence. Get ahold of a copy and see for yourself.

Sunday, November 3, 2019


Tomorrow, Monday, November 4th, at 6PM, I'll be reading my poetry and Nadia Owusu reading her work at Pace University, Schimmel Theater entrance, 3 Spruce Street (a block East of City Hall), up one curving flight of stairs, then bear left to Bianco Room on right, introduced by Charles North (includes a Q&A). Free and open to the public. And for Old-Timers who can't do stairs, there’s an entrance on Spruce St. halfway down the block, before you get to the Schimmel entrance. The Security guard will know—by 5:00 p.m. probably—that some outsiders may be entering there for the reading. Once past the turnstyle on the right (which the guard will have to open), walk straight to the Bianco Rm., first along a courtyard, then through a door and down an indoor corridor (maybe 100 ft. all told?); the Bianco Rm. will be on the left.

Thursday, October 31, 2019


First movie I was in as a member of The Screen Actors Guild, so had to add my middle name David because there was already another Michael Lally in SAG. It was also the last movie Gloria Grahame was in before she died, and one of John Carradine's last. 1981. Originally called THE NESTING but I found this poster with this different name online. It's in a few cult classics books.


me as Sykes the pit bull owner on the set in Alaska of the movie WHITE FANG in a costume I helped pick out, with James Remar on my right and Bill Mosley behind my left shoulder 1990


Maybe posting about the movie THE RIDER recently sparked my unexpectedly making an alphabetical list of movies in my mind with titles that begin with "THE" as I fell asleep last night, here's as much as I got (and yes, I realize a few of these films have scenes or themes that are politically incorrect, and characters that are at times far from being "woke"—but they were old (mostly) favorites of the art of movie making that came to mind):

The Americanization of Emily
The Big Sleep
The Commitments
The Devil And Daniel Webster
The Equalizer
The Full Monty
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009 Swedish original)
The Hustler
The Informer (1935)
The Jerk
The Killers
The Last Of The Mohicans
The Maltese Falcon
The Naked Civil Servant
The Ox-Bow Incident
The Princess Bride
The Quiet Man
The Rider
The Searchers
The Thin Man
The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg
The Verdict
The Wind That Shakes The Barley
The X?
The Young Savages
The Z?

Monday, October 28, 2019


Just a reminder that a week from today on Monday, November 4th, at 6PM, I'll be reading my poetry and Nadia Owusu reading her work at Pace University, Schimmel Theater entrance, 3 Spruce Street (a block East of City Hall), up one curving flight of stairs, then bear left to Bianco Room on right, introduced by Charles North (includes a Q&A). Free and open to the public.

Sunday, October 27, 2019


Another movie I missed last year that was recommended by friends but only just caught tonight on cable, NONA is an incredibly powerful film that will open and then break your heart, and is meant too. But still totally worth watching, partly for the cinematography and writing and direction. But mostly for Sulem Calderon's performance in the title role. Exquisite work. Deserving of an Oscar.

Friday, October 25, 2019


I finally got to watch THE RIDER straight through and now understand why my friends kept recommending it. It deserves every award it was nominated for and more. It's as perfect a film as there can be. Director/writer/producer Chloe Zhao uses "real people" (as opposed to previously professional actors) so well, anyone in the film could have been nominated for their performance.
And the breathtaking cinematography by Joshua James Richards only enhances the performances. But it's Brady Jandreau in the lead who carries the entire film on his shoulders, and wow is he good. A must-see film I'm sorry I waited so long to see, but know I'll be watching it again and again over the coming years,

Thursday, October 24, 2019


Two photos from my reading in LA (Venice, actually) last December, hugging old friend Eric Avery who I hadn't seen in years, and with old friend Eve Brandstein who helped organize the reading, and old friends Blaine Lourd, Emil Schneeman, and Flo Lawrence behind us. Yay poetry.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


That's me in the last row with my hand to my head (astonished by a word or line I'm guessing) (and to my left poet Jeff Wright and to my right, my youngest Flynn and next to him his friend Luke) at a poetry reading last night in Manhattan, where everyone of the five poets (Keisha-Gaye Anderson, Gillian Cummings, Heather Treseler, George Guida (who took the photo), and Mark Statman), and one prose writer (Katherine Koch reading from a memoir) had their moments of word magic. I had gone to see Mark and Katherine and was pleasantly surprised to discover some of the others, and totally delighted by the work Mark and Kathrine read.

I've been attending poetry readings since the late 1950s and running weekly reading series for a lot of that time, so at this point and age I not only have some challenges getting to readings but my initial impulse is to feel the cumulative weight of sixty years of going to them at least once and often several times a week and decide to skip them. But when I do feel up to it, I am always engaged and even entertained and often inspired. And despite the occasional disappointment, and even then, I find it always worthwhile and almost always fulfilling. Happy to see so many others still do too.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


Almost ten years after the brain operation that knocked out my lifelong list-making compulsion, or even capacity, the latter occasionally returns, as in my waking up this morning and starting to compose in my head a list of favorite movie musicals or movies with music in them (probably prompted by my ROCKET MAN post yesterday) and for some reason they came in couplets (I'm sure there are more, because I have always loved musicals, but these are what came to me):


AMELIE (I don't remember if this is an actual musical
but somehow I remember it as such, the music of her whimsy?)



















Monday, October 21, 2019


Finally caught ROCKETMAN on cable and sad to say I was disappointed. I like Taron Egerton but he was either miscast or misdirected or both. And not served by the script, so reductive the story could've been a fifteen or twenty minute movie. There were a few scenes that worked but the framing device of the group therapy sessions where it's all about Elton and no one else didn't help (except when he finally embraced his boyhood self). The rest was music videos that did not bring me, at least, anywhere near as much emotion and engagement and sheer joy and exhilaration than just listening to the original Elton John/Bernie Taupin songs still does. Oh well.

Sunday, October 20, 2019


I didn't know Kate well, and in my memory of our few encounters they were contentious, which I certainly could be and so could she. But I was happy to have my work in a poetry anthology along with hers. It was called "POETRY LOVES POETRY" An Anthology of Los Angeles Poets edited by Bill Mohr and came out in the mid-1980s when we were both still living in L.A. She had lived there since she was nine and was famous for her darkly lyrical prose about the city. You can find many quotes online from her novels and interviews that are exceptional, here are two:

"They will say I smoked cigarettes and marijuana, cursed hoarse as a crow in all my languages, and loved morphine and Demerol and tequila and pulque, women and men. I will shrug my illusion of shoulders and answer that I am a water woman, not a vessel, not something you can sail or charter. I am instead the tributary, the river, the fluid source, and the sea itself. I am all her rainy implications. And what do you, with your rusted compass, know of love?"

"Women have waited millions of years, growing separate as another species, with visions and priorities no man-words, no man-measurements can comprehend."

They sum up nicely her intentions and impact I think. And here's a lovely stanza from "Fortunate Season" one of two poems of hers in the anthology:

In a silk-lined drawer
I keep a gold bracelet
wide as a fat man's thumb.
And a ruby ring bright as Mars
that one night in August
when she hangs low and close,
almost touching the gate
like a great rare moth.

If you don't know her work, check it out, that's where writers rest when they're gone.

Friday, October 18, 2019



Michael Lally & Nadia Owusu

Monday Nov. 4, 6:00 pm

Free and open to the public

Pace University Bianco Room

Schimmel Theater entrance: 3 Spruce St (a block east of City Hall)

Up one curving flight of stairs, then bear left; Bianco Room on right

Introduced by Charles North

Thursday, October 17, 2019


Photo booth shots of me in an amazing coat someone gave me in the early 1970s when I was still in DC (taken on a trip to New York) and in the mid-1970s when I was living in New York with my second child, Miles (making what he thought was a funny face), who stopped needing glasses a few years later and hasn't needed them since. He turns 50 next month.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


I watched all three hours and can say that everyone on the stage had at least one moment I could applaud or even cheer. But also most of them had moments that bugged me. I'll vote for whoever wins the nomination anyway. But here's my short take on this debate.

Sanders gave us classic Bernie lines and passion and energy. Looked good.

Biden showed why a lot of older African-Americans and white blue-collar men like him. He still has what I call political charisma at times. But his language glitches and fumbles are growing more frequent.

Warren fielded the most incoming and for my taste handled it all with her usual schoolmarm/professorial charm and poise. (The moderators and a few candidates kept trying to get her to say the phrase "I will raise taxes," but she knows any candidate who says that will be hearing that soundbite for the rest of the campaign and will lose, so she made her point repeatedly that her plan will lower overall costs for working folks etc.)

Klobuchar did her best yet, I'd say. Clever at times, tough at times, but also shaky at times.

Booker may have done his best yet as well, and won the not-demeaning-other-candidates medal.

Castro seems to have less and less political charisma the more debates he takes part in, unfortunately.

O'Rourke's moment has come and gone, too often he looks like an ambitious child among adults, despite his good positions on some policies.

Harris still has impressive moments, where her intellect and experience make her seem the toughest and smartest debater on stage, but she also always has a moment of too obviously thinking she's clever when she actually seems mean.

Gabbard is still the most mysterious, which adds to her attractiveness but at times comes across as on the wrong drug or in the wrong cult. Not meaning to sound so snide, but at times she just seems like she's almost unaware of what's actually going on.

Steyer was a pleasant surprise to me. I liked pretty much everything he said, but he definitely doesn't have the kind of political charisma necessary to win.

Yang said some great things but seemed disconnected from the wider world of experience and reality and more like an ambassador from techville.

Buttigieg scored in the eyes of the TV pundits, but not mine. For the first time I saw his manipulative and even cold side and didn't find it reassuring.

That said, any of them will still make a better president than the present one.

Monday, October 14, 2019


John and I were friends during a few years in the 1970s. He introduced me to William Burroughs and took me to Burroughs' pad—"the bunker"—in a converted men's locker room in an old "Y" on the Bowery (at least as I remember it). John was a star in the downtown scene and poetry world, with his reverb style of reading poems where the words echoed, each word or phrase or line repeated. He admired the confrontational sexual honesty in my sometimes controversial poetry of the time, not unlike some of his. But then he included part of a reading I did at The Saint Mark's Poetry Project on one of his "Dial-A-Poem" record albums—this one a two lp set called BIG EGO—that caused him some flack from some other stars of the downtown scene for including my piece they misinterpreted in ways that made it seem I was what I was writing against. After that I didn't see him much, but he went on to have an even bigger impact on the world, and rightfully so. Here's the group photo of some of those on that recording:
As far as I can tell from the viewer's left to right, that's the late great poet Ted Greenwald, Laurie Anderson, me, John Giorno, Jackie Curtis, Harris Schiff, Eileen Myles, Robert (I can't think of his last name), and Steve Hamilton.

Sunday, October 13, 2019


I didn't see anyone filming it, but I hope it was at least audio recorded, as today's Mass-Transit-reading-series-from-the-early-1970s-in-DC reunion was a deeply moving and satisfying event. I so love to be among my poetry clan and share the creative spirit that moves through all of us. Happy to have seen old friends even if I didn't get a chance to talk to all of them. May the spirit of that time and place continue to live on.

Friday, October 11, 2019


Photo of me taken by the late Len Randolph, around the time I came out as gay in 1972, because calling yourself "bi-sexual" in the radical circles I traveled in was considered a liberal cop out. I never liked the idea of "bi-" anyway, since it implies only two kinds of sexuality and love interest, when I feel I've experienced as many kinds as I possibly could in one lifetime, and every experience with every love and lover was different, thank the gods and goddesses.

Thursday, October 10, 2019


My recently turned 22-year-old son Flynn, between his friends Chloe and Dante, in the set up spot for photos (with a choice of various words for backdrop) at the venue I read my poetry at in Manhattan a couple of Wednesdays ago. New generation.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019


On October 13th, at 3PM, I'll be reading at Rhizome, 6950 Maple Street NW, in Washington DC, with other poets (Terence Winch, Tina Darragh, P. Inman, Bernard Welt, et. al.) commemorating the early 1970s weekly poetry reading series Mass Transit. Here's a link.

Monday, October 7, 2019


I've always romanticized The Kurdish people. Probably because they're an ethnic group without a country that has never given up fighting for their land since white Westerners created the arbitrary boundaries of The Middle East and left The Kurdish territory divided among several nations. And because they are more democratic, including socially, respecting women in ways most other Middle Eastern countries do not. Some of their most famous warriors and leaders, even now, are women.

Yet in recent times the democracies of Europe and the USA have sided most often with the repressive authoritarian misogynist Islamic countries against the Kurds in their struggle for a homeland, with the few exceptions being when we need them to fight for us, like against Saddam Hussein or more recently ISIS. And now that they've helped, even led, in the defeat of ISIS, once again we're abandoning them. This time to the Turks, who have been waging a war against The Kurds for decades, including trying to wipe out their language and customs in the Kurdish parts of Turkey.


Sunday, October 6, 2019


I never met him, but admired his musicianship. Here's the isolated drum track for "White Room" where you can hear his solid yet subtle rhythmic genius. What drum machines attempt to emulate but never can.

Friday, October 4, 2019


I never knew her personally, but admired her "from in front"—as we used to say. She was a political activist, but her acting career as an "African-American" leading lady on TV and on Broadway and in films was its own kind of political activism, breaking barriers that should never have existed in the first place.

Thursday, October 3, 2019


I saw where there was some kind of designated and separate days recently for honoring "sons and daughters" but I celebrate all three of my children every day in my heart. These are my oldest children, Miles and Caitlin, when they were little and briefly blondes c. 1971. [Not sure who took the shot.]
 And this is my youngest child, Flynn when he was fairly little c. 2002. [Jamie Rose took the photo.]

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


In good company at Provincetown's East End Books, next to friend and renowned poet Patricia Spears Jones. Thank you book goddesses. [photo by friend and renowned poet Bernard Welt]

Monday, September 30, 2019


I watched the final episode of the Ken Burns documentary several days ago, but I'm still noticing the songs I Saw The Light or I'm So Lonely I Could Cry or May The Circle Be Unbroken etc. constantly repeating in my mind when I awake or I'm in the shower or doing some task without other music on.

The best things about the doc, for me, were the many great songs, the revealing details of life stories I hadn't known (Minny Pearl was actually a refined upper-class college-educated actress?), and the incredible musicianship displayed by so many.

What I missed was some expert analysis of that musicality and history (the one historian was used sparingly) and especially of the racial and political impact and connections to the music (mentioned sparsely and not in much detail).

The use of photos and footage showing Nixon and Reagan and Bush senior in connection with the music demanded a deeper analysis of why the music's association with wealthy and powerful politicians seemed confined to conservatives when the modern presidents with the deepest connections to the birthplaces of country music—Carter and Clinton—were ignored. Could it be because their party supported and promoted policies beneficial to minorities and civil rights?    

Still, it was worth watching for the music.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The first poem I read at the Boog City event in Brooklyn on Saturday Sept. 21st I wrote when I was 75 in 2017, the second one I read was filmed by Tom Devaney on his phone, I wrote that one in 1967 when I was 25. Here it is (scroll down to read the text of the poem):

Saturday, September 28, 2019


A photo (by Amy Sadao) taken after last Saturday's poetry event in Brooklynn (Sept. 21st) of three of the six participating poets: Thomas Devaney, me (can you tell I cut my own hair, even since developing occasional tremors?), and Joanna Furhman. Missing are two other participating poets Vincent Katz and Sparrow, also at the table (with others). The evening was so rewarding, including getting to know Sparrow and photographer Amy Sadao in person.

Friday, September 27, 2019


Not totally unexpected that I was wiped out after taking part in a poetry event last Saturday evening in Brooklyn and then a poetry/story telling/drama/song event Wednesday evening in Manhattan. So only now posting about the latter, which was another extraordinary display of creative originality. Totally satisfying and grateful to have been included in such a gathering. Here's two photos of some of the participants in the Wednesday gig.
poet and rapper and performer Nathan Pearson, me, and comic Eddie Brill
[photo by Dina Regine?]
comics Carol Montgomery and Eddie Brill, singer/songwriter Dina Regine, political humorist John Fugelsang, producer and poet Eve Brandstein, poet and punk icon Puma Perl (holding my book Another Way To Play), and poet/performer C Bain
[photo by Karen Fleisch]

Monday, September 23, 2019


So last Saturday evening's Boog City event at unnamable books in Brooklyn was one of those experiences that fills my heart and soul with gratitude for the creative spirit. Six people read their poetry or sang their songs, and all the work was original and delightfully so. I feel fortunate I got to hear everyone and equally fortunate I got to hang with most of them afterwards for stimulating conversation and connection. I can't imagine a life without readings and performances in intimate settings by artists whose work reaffirms the human capacity for turning language into unique constructions that elicit laughter and tears and wonder and deep satisfaction. Thanks everyone who was there in whatever capacity.

PS: a reminder that I'm taking part in another gathering of creative folks this Wednesday evening, here's the poster.

Thursday, September 19, 2019


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


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 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


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


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



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
Theodore Dreiser
Lady Murasaki
Zora Neale Hurston
Henry James

Saturday, September 7, 2019


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


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


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


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


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):


Thursday, August 22, 2019


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.