Monday, February 18, 2019

DOCUMENTARY PARTY

Great crowd of dear old friends, and new ones, and all my kids and grandkids, showed up last night to celebrate the completion of the main filming for the documentary Rachel E. Diken is making about me and my poetry and life.

The new "sizzle reel" (or trailer, as we also call them, or "coming attraction" when I was a kid) is only two minutes and twenty-nine seconds long, but it packed so much into it, it seemed like five or ten minutes or longer. A great and long-lasting roar went up from the crowd after it screened, confirming Rachel's success at whetting the appetite for seeing such a film.

The post-operation part of my brain was overwhelmed by it all, causing me some confusion and anxiety, but the rest of my brain and me knew it was great and were gratified and humbled and honored and self-conscious and deeply grateful and pleased.

Thanks to everyone who came or sent a contribution or volunteered their time and energy and food (from the one catering service and one restaurant) and music (the great Jim Coleman dj'd) and danced etc.

Many photos were taken and will be shared when I figure out (or actually have someone else figure out for me) how to do that, but meanwhile here's one of my youngest child Flynn and youngest grandchild Deak at the party.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

BRUNO GANZ R.I.P.

I never met Bruno Ganz, but in 1978 when I first tried acting in movies to make money to pay the bills, since poetry wasn't doing that, I saw the film THE AMERICAN FRIEND, and Bruno Ganz instantly became my favorite film actor, his artistry what I aspired to achieve some day. And he and it have been ever since.

His acting in the film KNIFE IN THE HEAD is for me the greatest film performance I've ever seen, or among the top few. He has never disappointed me, even in minor roles or bad movies. The third film of his top three performances is probably his most famous in the USA: WINGS OF DESIRE. All three are worth watching anytime.

My condolences to his family, friends, and fans. May he rest in his film performances forever.

Friday, February 15, 2019

LAST REMINDER

Dancing to Jim Coleman's dj-ing, eating great food from Arturo's and others, and seeing, with me, for the first time, the new "sizzle reel" for the documentary about my poetry and life, this Sunday (details below). And for NYC friends, it's a block from the NJ Transit station in a very quaint little village. If you can't make it, you can still buy a ticket as a contribution toward raising the funds to finish the film:
 https://ofcoursewrapparty.eventbrite.com

Thursday, February 14, 2019

A VALENTINE'S DAY POEM FROM 1974

VALENTINE
for Karen A.

It was a gorgeous day to wander around Georgetown.
I didn’t. I got up early, “wrote” a “book,”
listened to some “classical” music like Liszt and Couperin

Buchanan and Dylan, read about a marriage that
by not being a real marriage at all turned out to be
a beautiful true marriage—what has “true”
got to do with “real” anyway—like today,
what has today got to do with me and you

besides the way it makes me feel full
the way you can do, brings the good things
people say the country offers right here to the city
for a countryphobe like me, so I leave my music and words

and catch the street. Everyone’s out today!
Claudia! Ed! Terry! Henry! Ralph! I wish I was
as bright as the day, so after a while of being dazzled
I go home and take a shower with all the windows open

and I shave and jump around to the good sounds—
I remember to take the huge heart shaped box of candy,
I bought it for the kids, out of the bag and put it

somewhere where it won’t melt. I drink some milk
and eat some cheese, think about all the people
I should write a poem to for “Valentine’s Day,”
for “Washington’s Birthday,” for this wonderful weather
the world gives us despite our arrogance and
belligerence toward it, but I notice the time and
there is no time! Got to run, so I do,

in some new shoes that hurt my toes, but the rest of
my clothes feel fine, and I know I am, on the street again

paying homage to the sun with my grin. I feel like
Ted Berrigan walking with my head held high, jaunty
like Hollywood English types, and a little mischievous too,

thinking about how I can do something fun and funny for you
like the sun is doing for me as I strut. There’s
my car! I haven’t seen it in almost 
24 hours
so I throw it a kiss because I’m not a good owner
but I love it and that seems to keep something going.
I get in ready to cruise these canals to your veranda
or something Eddie Arnold and ’
30s Hollywood like that,
only the corner of my eye catches the bank clock and
surprise! (Spencer Tracy in 
A Man’s Castle with
Loretta Young I think, swimming nude!) It’s 
4:15 PM!
I can’t believe it! I go into Discount Books to look
for Terry to check. He’s not there but someone
I don’t know says “Hi Mike!” so I say “Hi. Do you know
what time it is?” and he looks at his watch and says
“Well, the government says it’s four twenty but
it’s really three twenty . . .” and some more words.
I don’t hear them thinking about you and ”true” and
“real” and wondering what he meant the “real” time
and what was “mine” . . . You should be there because
it’s almost 
5:30 in my life, but in the bank’s and
the guy who knows my name it’s only 4:30 and somewhere

out in abstract city it’s “really” only 3:30. Maybe
that’s why it’s so warm. I back up, back home, back
to back Dylan charms me to the typewriter where
I write to you to kill the time and to say
“Wontchu be my valentine?”


—(C) Michael Lally 1974, 2019

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

JOHN SHAW R.I.P.

The artist and filmmaker who I knew as John Shaw (AKA John Palmer Shaw) passed last month, but I just heard today through our mutual friend Bill Considine. John was one of a kind, who was in New York and DC at times when I was too and our paths crossed over the years, but unfortunately we didn't spend as much time together as I now wish we had.

He ended up living in Montreal from where he made the trip all the way to me in Jersey to include me in one of his films, this one called: 21 POETS (you can find it on Vimeo here). I wasn't happy with the results because I was having a particularly tough brain day (my post-op problems getting in the way of my reciting a poem I should be able to recite backwards it's so familiar to me) and hair day (I've been cutting my own hair for years by just looking in the mirror and snipping what sticks out, so views from the back or sides always surprise me!)  but...

...viewing his film today, I realize it's a precious piece of history that captures John's aesthetic, which means it doesn't conform to any preconceived ideas or parameters about what a film or poem recitation (or any of his art) should look like or be. John did his own thing, like me, and I am grateful I could be a part of it. My condolences to his family his many friends and fans. May he rest in paint and poetry.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

AN OLD FAVORITE QUOTE

"Don't get too complicated, Eddie. When a guy gets too complicated he's unhappy. And when he's unhappy—his luck runs out..."  —Raymond Chandler (a line of dialogue from The Blue Dahlia)

Monday, February 11, 2019

MY MINI GRAMMYS

Didn't watch but best album for me is Janelle Monae's DIRTY COMPUTER, though happy THE JOKE won  best song cause, well, just watch this:

Sunday, February 10, 2019

AN ANNIVERSARY

Yesterday was the fifty-fifth anniversary of The Beatles first appearance on The Ed Sullivan show. Many of my friends weren't born then, others reminisce about being little kids watching it with their families or having fathers who objected to the fab four's appearance and/or music. I was in the military at that time, stationed outside of Spokane, Washington. Here are a few unpublished sonnets about that night and era from a series called THE SPOKANE SONNETS:


4

The USO advertised TONIGHT THE BEATLES
ON THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW. Up a flight of
stairs was a large TV in a big open room full of
white teenage girls vibrating with anticipation.
Waiting for the show, I slow danced with one
to a 45. An old lady rushed over with a ruler to
ensure the space between our bodies was at least
six inches. About to split, a young cat with a
hound dog face walked up to me and said You’re
a musician. I nodded. Jazz. I nodded again. He
was Jimmy Dunaway, nineteen, a drummer air-
man from the base. With his tightly curled hair,
skin darker than my Irish parchment, and thicker
lips, I guessed he had some African ancestry.

5

If Jimmy had Negro blood he didn’t know it.
He talked like a typical Southern good ol’ boy
sentimental about the Civil War and the Old
South his daddy told him all about. After Ed
Sullivan, a triumph for The Beatles but to us
just pre-adolescent girl stuff, though secretly
impressed, we bar hopped till I found a spade
joint, by then so skunky drunk when we got
angry looks I climbed up on the bar and did
some rhymes, what older black folks called
toasting: I might be too thin to win but I ain’t
too light to fight or too lean to be mean. An
old ploy to distract people till it was too late
to battle and I was accepted as a crazy Paddy.


6

I formed a jazz trio with Jimmy and another cat
from the base, a short black dude people called
Rabbi cause he always wore a long dark raincoat
when not in uniform, even on the bandstand.
Sometimes Rabbi didn’t show so Jimmy and me
played as a duo. One early AM after a gig while
eating breakfast at DENNY’S we were ambushed
by a voluptuous blonde with sparkling blue eyes.
I flirted till she invited me back to her place. As
we undressed in the dark I realized there was
someone else in her bed. When I hesitated she
said Haven’t you ever made love to a woman in
front of her husband before? I lied and said Sure
all the time. Her name was Sandy, his was Billy.

Copyright 2019 Michael Lally

Friday, February 8, 2019

JUST A REMINDER

On Sunday, February 17th, from 6-9PM, there will be a wrap/dancing/eating/fundraiser party to celebrate entering post-production on the documentary Rachel E. Diken is making about me and my poetry, at The Woodland (upstairs) 60 Woodland Road, Maplewood NJ, only a block from the NJ Transit train station, tickets are whatever you wish to donate, please get them now so the caterers (including Arturo's!) will know how many they'll be feeding & come dance with me:

Thursday, February 7, 2019

KATHLEEN FRASER R.I.P.

I was not a close friend of the poet Kathleen Fraser, but we were friendly in the 1970s and as I remember it corresponded a bit, and we had poems appear in some of the same magazines and anthologies. She had many friends and admirers and fans, and her work had an impact on many poets and poetry lovers. Go to this link for some samples.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

IZZY YOUNG R.I.P.


In the late 1950s and early 1960s the only music I was into was jazz, playing it myself and going to clubs to hear it. So I rejected the burgeoning "folk" scene and never went to The Folklore Center on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village, run by Izzy Young. But I certainly knew who he was.

Then, in 1966, after four years in the military I ended up in Brooklyn Heights thanks to a literary patron who ran a new magazine, KALEIDOSCOPE, and had me run errands for the mag in return for her paying me and letting me and my wife Lee live in her co-publisher's fancy apartment. On my runs I'd have time to kill and by then, through my wife, I had opened up to folk music so used to stop by the new spot Izzy had found for his folklore center on Sixth Ave across the street from West Third.

I don't know how long he lasted there, but we became friendly and he took an interest in my poetry, suggesting I get in touch with some young poets he'd hosted at his shop and do a reading there. But circumstances led me and my wife to leave New York so I never did. I saw him again in the 1970s before he moved to Sweden (look him up). Many years later I wrote these poems in a series about that earlier time and place, in one of which I mention him.

1

The editor of KALEIDOSCOPE, Rita, a tall
shapely redhead, waited before an elegant
old townhouse on Remson Street with the
publisher, a dark-haired goateed man half
her size who made lots of money consulting
for corporations and the government on the
then still room-size computers. It kept him
out of town often, which is why he let us use
his pad full of priceless antiques, including
a collection of frog art: statuettes, toys, and
exotic carvings from around the world that,
as he showed me, if you turned over had e-
normous penises underneath. I hadn’t shaved
since Spokane so had the start of a beard too.

3

For about ten weeks almost daily I carried manuscripts
and galleys by foot from midtown Manhattan to the
printer on Canal Street and back. The magazine, on
loose narrow pages, came curled in a kaleidoscope
tube with tiny sample items from Village artisans
and stores. I ran into Curtis Powell, just back from
Europe, in the post office near Cooper Union, visited
DeWitt, Mel, and Cliff, while Cal and Cissie, and
Teddy and Lynn, visited us in our plush pad. I got to
know Izzy Young at his new FOLKLORE CENTER
located above OBIES, where I heard him ask a young
kid what Andy Warhol’s appeal was, after a monotone
Warhol radio interview. The kid said He’s cool. Izzy
pointed at me and said No he’s cool, Warhol’s COLD.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

SOME QUOTES FOR A DIFFERENT TAKE ON THIS DESIGNATED "BLACK HISTORY" MONTH

"It's always night or we wouldn't need light." —Thelonious Monk (from something I heard back in the day so might be a little off)

"If you be still and never move, you're gonna dig yourself a well-intentioned rut and think you've found a groove." —Jon Hendricks (from his lyrics to Now's The Time)

"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 Quotable Karenga)

"The light made her beautiful/To behold. It was illusion./But that is a function of light./As some who are lucky can see." —Lorenzo Thomas (from Sea Of Chance)

"I don't get into analyzing what I do too much. I think there is a danger of not allowing for spontaneity. If you're not careful, you can step so far outside that emotionally you can't get back in."  —Tracy Chapman (in an interview)

"A GENIUS IS THE ONE MOST LIKE HIMSELF" —Thelonious Monk (a note he wrote)

Sunday, February 3, 2019

COME DANCE WITH ME

A message from the director of the documentary about me and my poetry, Rachel E. Diken, about the wrap party she's organized from 6-9PM on February 17th at The Woodland (upstairs parlor) only a block from the Maplwood NJ train station. Please get your tickets (you can purchase them for as little or as much as you want, and children are welcome) as soon as possible so she can notify the caterers donating food, how many will be attending. And by the way I have not seen the new "sizzle reel" nor any of the footage nor had any input other than sending long lists of people I suggested she interview (dependent on scheduling, insurance, etc.).
"That's a wrap!
After an incredible year of filming, the Lally Documentary is heading into post-production. This success was made possible by your heartwarming encouragement, generous donations, attendance at book tour events across the country, and sharing the excitement with friends, family, and colleagues. I hope you'll join the Wrap Party to celebrate this awesome milestone with dancing, food, and the premiere screening of the film's new Sizzle Reel.
Ticket sales function as a fundraiser for post-production, but most important is having you there: so choose your own ticket price and get ready to party!
https://ofcoursewrapparty.eventbrite.com
Earlier this month, The Poetry Foundation released an outstanding essay on Michael Lally, written by scholar and poet Burt Kimmelman. Read it here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/…/i-might-die-of-love-for-…
In other celebratory news, the film was awarded its first grant! We're proud to count The Cynipid Fund as one of our supporters.
Thank you for ALL your support of this journey, and hope to see you on Feb. 17th!" —Rachel E. Diken

Saturday, February 2, 2019

SEX EDUCATION and GLOW

After returning from my California trip in mid December I binged on a few TV shows while I was recovering, and then again in the past days of arctic temperatures. Out of all the shows I binged on my two favorites so far are SEX EDUCATION and GLOW.

It may not be a coincidence that these two shows were created by women (Laurie Nunn in the case of SEX ED and Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch in the case of GLOW—though after typing them they all sound like they could be made up names). Maybe because both shows deal with sex and gender issues that maybe it takes a female perspective to get right.

SEX EDUCATION is set in a lushly green part of Britain I've never encountered in person or seen in films: tree-smothered rolling hills in a picture perfect small town/suburban/rural sunny landscape populated by a diverse but mostly tolerantly integrated populace so civilized in their treatment of each other, for the most part, it would be impossible to do a USA version without losing everything there is to delight in. And that's a lot.

The big revelation is the star Asa Butterfield playing the adolescent son of sex therapists, one, his dad, living in the USA and the other, his divorced mom he lives with in Britain, played by Gillian Anderson. I didn't recognize her (I didn't follow THE X FILES) and with her Brit accent I assumed she was an English actor and kept meaning to look her up because she is so perfect in this role. But then all the actors in this show are knockouts, especially Ncuti Gatwa playing an emerging trans teen and Kedar Williams-Stirling his surprisingly loving father.

SEX EDUCATION is what they're calling these days a dramady, and has as many emotionally poignant moments as it does laugh out loud ones. Yes there are a lot of the typical tropes of films about high school teens and their cliques and stereotypes and sexual confusion, but with enough original twists and natural, less prurient (then the usual USA versions) takes on sexual discoveries, that I cannot wait for the third season.

GLOW is set in LA in the 1980s, the fictional story of the first women's professional wrestling show, and is also a dramady that hits all the right notes. And though it's about what would seemingly be a world where women are exploited for their physical attributes, it scores more feminist points than any of the other shows I've binged on. And the star, Allison Brie, deserves to have won most of the TV acting awards. She plays every note an actor can from the broadest slapstick comedy to the subtlest romantic despair leading to tragic mistakes etc.

Again, this show is also full of extraordinary acting, including the standout performance of Marc Maron, a comic who knocks the serious moments out of the park and nails the comic ones with seeming knee jerk macho sexist reactions undercut by understated unexpected vulnerability (and Britt Baron playing his daughter is a discovery). Too many great performances to list them all. Watch and you'll see.