Sunday, December 8, 2019



One warm night, when I was a kid,
we were all playing ringalario in
the high school field at the bottom
of my street when Mrs. Murphy, known
mostly for the time her hair turned
purple when she tried to dye it, stuck
her head out the door and yelled across
the street to us, “Go on home now and be
quiet, Babe Ruth just died.” And we all
did go home where everything was somber
and serious and adult and strange,
worse than when one of the family died,
because then there were outbursts of
emotion as well as jokes and stories
and good drunken parties, but
the night Babe Ruth died, everyone
felt as sad as if it was a close close
friend or a sister or a brother,
but no one was really related so
there was no call for an actual Irish
wake or funeral party. I couldn’t help
remembering that night again, the
night John Lennon died. Nobody
threw a wake or a party where we
could all get drunk and high and
have a good cry together. We all
went home and wandered around our
rooms and heads looking for answers,
unable to sleep or forget or accept
or understand what had happened.
It had to be a mistake and it was,
a fucking senseless, horrible,
deadening mistake.
                               It’s hard to
recognize even the most familiar
things. I don’t know where I am
half the time, the other half I’m
flashing on some song or line or look
or attitude so close to my own
personal history I thought it was
mine. But it ain’t, cause it’s gone
with John and I feel like I got to
go do something now to spread a
little joy and loving and honest
fucking answers and questions about
the world I live in and the only times
we ever have, our own. I hope I’m
not alone.

(C) 1982, 2018 Michael Lally
(from Hollywood Magic and Another Way To Play)

Saturday, December 7, 2019


I've taken some flack for my criticisms of THE IRSHMAN. But if you want to see a real masterpiece about mob life and some of the history covered in that film, though a lot less distorted, check out GODFATHER OF HARLEM, the TV series starring Forest Whittaker and a mostly impeccable and in some cases revelatory cast, including Vincent D'Onofrio and Paul Sorvino as historic mob bosses, and incredibly realistic performances of Nigel Thatch as Malcom X and Clifton Davis as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Giancarlo Esposito is a little over the top as Reverend Clayton Powell, though Powell himself could be over the top, but never as much as a buffoon as Esposito plays him. Otherwise GODFATHER OF HARLEM is a refreshingly new take on the history of mid-20th Century organized crime.

Thursday, December 5, 2019


This sonnet is part of an unpublished memoir-in-sonnets that I've been working on for too many years. and I meant to repost yesterday, the 50th anniversary of Chicago Black Panther Fred Hampton's assassination on December 4th 1969.  I met Fred at various radical activist gatherings in Chicago in the late '60s, mostly thanks to Mike James, a radical organizer of RISING UP ANGRY and its newspaper, for which I wrote many articles under my own name or anonymously or using a pseudonym. Fred was a seriously intelligent young man, an inspiring leader who could connect with every kind of person, which obviously made him a threat to the powers that be. 

In early December Fred Hampton, a young
Chicago Black Panther leader I knew and
admired, was brutally slaughtered with
Panther Mark Clark, when police raided
Hampton’s crib, after firing hundreds of
bullets into it, and into him, asleep in his
bed. It was the last straw. I’d objected to
Panthers calling police pigs, thinking of
cops in my clan who were decent, but this
time it seemed insulting to the actual pigs.
I wrote a poem called DON’T LOOK NOW
with the end couplet: like this short ugly
knife you are mine/Black Panther Fred
Hampton murdered in bed by pigs 1969.

—(C) Michael Lally 2017

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


Sorry Kamala Harris dropped out of the race, she brought an unpredictable energy and perspective to the debates, the last of which I watched all the way through and the best thing about it was the four women moderators and the Tyler Perry venue making it the smoothest running debate yet, in which all the candidates had high and low moments except for this guy, who was totally steady in making his points and should have been given more time.

Monday, December 2, 2019


A unique story—well directed, well shot, well acted, well told—and yet totally representative of the universal story of our times: the divide between most of us and those wealthiest others whom we all seem to serve in one way or another, like it or not. THE PARASITE is a grand cinematic metaphor for the new Gilded Age, or worse The New Dark Ages. And an artistic representation of the universal predicament despite the movie being Korean (with subtitles) and the cultural and social differences. Perhaps not the "the best picture" ever, or even of the year, as some are claiming, but definitely worth seeing.

Sunday, December 1, 2019


In honor of AIDS recognition day, I honor lovers lost to the disease—like Greg Millard, Joe Brainard, and several more—and dear friends—like Tim Dlugos, Cookie Mueller, Brad Davis, and many more—and those I knew, but less well—like Anthony Perkins and Keith Haring et. al.  They all still live in my heart.