Friday, July 10, 2020

Thursday, July 9, 2020

ONCE UPON A TIME


me in 2002, post cancer operation, at my 60th birthday party, between two of my best, longtime, dear friends, poets Simon Pettet and Annabel Lee (in another best, longtime, dearest friend Karen Allen's back yard)

Monday, July 6, 2020

LORA SOMOZA R.I.P.


I just learned that one of the loves of my life has passed. Lora Somoza was also one of the most intelligent, most beautiful, most hilarious, and most unique humans I've ever known. We weren't "boyfriend and girlfriend" for very long and it was many years ago, but we never ceased reaffirming our love for each other and how much we missed being together every time we saw each other or spoke on the phone or connected through comments on Facebook and other communications. I loved her from the moment we met and always will, and as devastated as I am by the news I can't imagine the pain her father and mother, who she adored, must be going through. My condolences to them and all her family and friends and loves. God do we all miss you already and always will.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

ONCE AGAIN


I've posted this photo before but I love it so much here it is again. Taken during WWII which ended The Great Depression so folks looking flush despite the wartime rationing. Me in my mother's arms with two aunts to my left who also lived on our street. My mother's mother next to her then my two oldest brothers, one in the Army Air Corps, the other soon to join The Navy, next to them a great aunt and my father's immigrant Irish mother. Down front another brother and my father in the fedora with one of my sister's on his knee, two cousins beside her and another sister. So me and my five living siblings (another died as an infant) and my parents lived in this house and my maternal grandmother and that great aunt would soon be living with us too! The joint was always jumping.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

CARL REINER R.I.P.


I didn't know him personally, but he's been a presence in my life since he was part of the ensemble of writer/performers on Sid Caesar's YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS on 1950s TV and on comedy records with Mel Brooks in the 1960s. He kept his sense and his sense of humor for his 98 years, who could ask for anything more. Condolences to his family, friends, and fans, especially his daughter, Annie, a friend to me in my L.A. years and a fine poet. Here's some lines from her poem "Weightless" that make a perfect epitaph, I think, for her father:

"Forget history
and all your past accomplishments.
Forget your failures.
The memory of the race will find you.
When you hear it you'll know
the whole thing is just a poem."

—Annie Reiner 

Monday, June 29, 2020

MORE PRIDE

"Don't forget the "B" in LGBTQ+, even though all the way back in 1972 I didn't like the term because it implied two kinds of romantic and sexual relationships when my experience is there are as many kinds of romantic and sexual relationships as there are humans, and even as many kinds of romantic and sexual relationships with one person as there are days and nights in that relationship. Like a lot of young people now, I prefer the term Queer and always have. But even so, let's not forget or neglect those who are categorized under the "B" along with the LGTQ+" —Michael Lally

Sunday, June 28, 2020

PRIDE


In March 1972, I "came out" to myself and the world, and as an ally and activist with the Gay Liberation Front in DC (just in time for the first Gay Pride march) where members of the collective known as Skyline Faggots were at the forefront and were an inspiration to me. This is a photo of them at that time, in the back row: Will, Tim, and Ted, and in front another Tim and Michael. I was closer to some than others, and Michael Sun Bear Ferri I'm still in touch with, but they all (along with a few others including Jimmy Fourrat, Bobby Miller, and the late Ed Cox) helped change my life forever. These were some of the brave pioneers of Gay Pride.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

RESPECT


Me at 23, with my mother (who I adored), and my father in April 1966 (two months after I got out of four years in the military, and only weeks before she passed) in front of their house where I grew up. It's on a hill so I wasn't as tall in relation to my father as it looks. But look at her smile, and she was in much more pain than even we knew! I miss her everyday, and have made my peace with him and come to respect him in the forty-three years since he passed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

PEAKY DAD


Been rewatching PEAKY BLINDERS and it's better than the first time. It always makes me think of my father, who was in his twenties in the 1920s. Here's a shot of him (in the white pants) and a pal from that decade.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

FATHERS


top: my father with his six children (a seventh died as an infant) c. 1944, me in my mother's arms
bottom: me and my three children, Flynn (arm around me), Caitlin (in front) Miles (bearded) and two grandchildren, Deak (behind their mom) and Donovan (between me and his father) c. 2018

Thursday, June 18, 2020

HOPE IT'S TRUE (remembering similar expressions back in 1966-73)


MAE WEST: DIRTY BLONDE


Saw the documentary MAE WEST: DIRTY BLONDE on PBS American Masters tonight. Well worth watching. I'd already read a lot about her pioneering stage and film careers, and knew a lot about her life but there are still a few new gems and lots of footage I hadn't seen before. She was one strong, independent woman in ways that were unique for her time, and even ours. Some people still don't get what an amazing force she was.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

OLD POST/STILL TRUE

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.

Monday, June 15, 2020

ANOTHER FAVORITE QUOTE FROM A LALLY

"Among the many changes needed in policing in this country is that police forces become non-profit entities. All municipalities in the USA raise revenues through the fines paid by people the police ticket or arrest and from the auctioning off of possessions and property the police supposedly legally confiscate. Many rural communities rely entirely on that revenue, and most rely disproportionately on it. It would require higher taxes on the wealthy and well off, but they can take it and survive, unlike most victims of overpolicing." —Michael Lally

Sunday, June 14, 2020

my new favorite quote [a post from my daughter]

"On top of it all there is a sudden bizarre infestation of little flies, slow little flies. I've swatted loads and let loads out the door and window and yet they keep coming. I swear this Jumanji shit has got to stop!
Meanwhile, skipped church to have a leisurely morning. Feels weird to skip even if it's virtual. Next on the list is attacking the over loaded sink of dishes and hang laundry on the line. I'm holding the worlds' vigil, rally, protest, and gathering attendees in my heart. I'm thinking of all the mental health issues being triggered by this unrest and feeling the burden of it myself a bit.
So, Sunday, a day of rest, or in this houses case a day of getting done what didn't this week. Trying my best to meditate while doing dishes. Pray while hanging laundry. Seeing hope in the beautiful smile of a loved one whether in person or on this screen. Watching shows that restore faith in humanity or ones that call out the injustice so that I learn more. Recalling that there is a powerful change afoot and once again I'm living in history. I was born in historical days and raised in historical moments that clearly have made an impact on me. Because I can not look away and will not stop unlearning the societal version of these moments that were ignored or unknown for fear of rocking some boat that is now capsized. I will take care of myself today so I can reach out for you tomorrow when you need a hand to stay afloat in this sea of change. I'm here if you need me, call, text, connect for a listening ear, always. Peace." —Caitlin Lally Hotaling

Thursday, June 11, 2020

AN ARTICLE BY ME PUBLISHED IN THE FALL OF 1969 IN THE RADICAL NEWSPAPER OUT OF CHICAGO RISING UP ANGRY


[I pulled this article out and read it after arguing with a young person who believes "all cops are bad (or bastards)" because they take part in an inherently racist/corrupt system/organization, I was defending my godson and other cops I know who I don't believe would ever deliberately harm a peaceful protestor or unarmed suspect, and saw I had once made a similar argument (as my young friend), and I did a few years after this article was published openly (with my byline) denounce my (and my Black Panther friends I got the term from) use of the word "pigs" and attacks on random police]






Caitlin Hotaling, Michael Harrs and 15 others



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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

THIS TOO

Honored to be in LIVE! magazine 17 (thanks Jeff Wright) with a bunch of great poets and writers:

https://livemag.org/issue_17/michael-lally/

BONNIE POINTER R.I.P.

In honor of Bonnie Pointer's passing I'm posting this song by her and her Pointer sisters (Anita is the lead vocal) recorded in 1974 (their gospel influence becomes clear from 3:40 on, the best part). I saw them perform this and other tunes live the year before in a DC venue and fell in love with everything about them. Like The Beatles, my favorite changed over the years, but I would have been their groupie at the time if they'd have let me.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

VIGIL

The old man with the umbrella behind his back is me keeping more than the recommended social distance at a vigil for Breonna Taylor organized by young people of color. It was poignant and inspiring as many people stepped to the mic to share their thoughts and experiences.

Breonna Taylor's death is emblematic of all that's wrong with policing. The law the cops were supposedly enforcing shouldn't exist: all drugs should be decriminalized (see Portugal). The cops came in the middle of the night, not in uniform, did not identify themselves. How is that in any way civil or even legal? And used lethal force, over a drug charge! Who, besides big pharma, benefits from making drugs more important than human lives? And when Breonna's boyfriend used his legal gun to defend her from what he thought were home invaders, the cops shooting as well, Breonna, the only one unarmed is the only one killed! Because as anyone who has been around real guns when people are shooting knows, bullets mostly don't hit what the shooter is aiming at (due to adrenaline, fear, excitement, confusion, and people moving). I was a marksman on the rifle range in the military despite despising guns of any kind, but doubt if I had ever seen combat that my marksman status would have helped. And when I've been shot at, luckily no one was hit. And as we all know the cops had the wrong apartment anyway and the guy they were after was already in jail! The kids who organized the vigil could have done better police work than that.

Breonna Taylor was a precious, accomplished, decent person killed in her own home terribly unfairly and absolutely unnecessarily, for what?

Saturday, June 6, 2020

A POEM FROM MY FRIEND, MELLO-RE HOUSTON

Blk Man Made Blues in Jail;
"working...the chain-gang"
back when American
Plantation songs were being
Created enslaved blacks
We're greatly suffering.
Cotton was King.
Tobacco, indigo, sugar cane
Farms were places
Where owners (white)
Got rich. 'Slaves" got beat,
Tortured. Chained
Hog tied and put in check.
Those big guys especially
They would be broken
To put fear into the chattel
The (non-human) workers
Free labor that got abused
So much it looked "normal"
To whip "nigg*rs" let em know
"Whose the boss"
Since a small child
Just seeing
Someone's father, brother,
Sister, mother thrown down
"Restrained" by white officers
Looks like slavery days. Oh lordy.
Behind the jail bars
Behind the slave shacks
Soul music was born...
Working those "prison farms."
Making the slave holders rich.
Money. Money. Money.
"Where that jigga boo
Get that "stolen money"
He's a "typical one
With a long jail record."
He's No Good Guy.....
Where are the rich,
Mainstream, rich guys?
Why are they above the law?
They Fight too.
They abuse wives too.
They skip payments too.
They sometimes play cowboy
Bad boy. Hell's angels?
But don't be black ex con.
Your human rights are done.
Any "authority" can "check you"
If they color is mainstream...
The blues is jail house music.
The Ghetto is where
Tragedy often strikes...
Our country's sins
Can pile up. Shut down
The blues..I mean
The tough, drinking,
Cigarettes smoking,
Partying too
Just wanna do
His own man thing
And then he's
Down, on the
Filthy ground....
The gutter...
Where many want to
Put a whole bunch"threatening"
Group... they...you know who
The blues got shut down
The other day. .
Just regular thang...
Just doing the world
A good deed ..
Stopping "them"
Right where them
Lawbreaking darkies be
Get him. Say what?
Zigga. Shut up...
The blues is
You and He....

—Mello-Re Houston

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

GOOD QUOTE

FROM MY FRIEND KAREN FOWLER:

Photojournalist Linda Tirado was shot in the eye by a rubber bullet from the police while covering an anti-police brutality protest in Minneapolis says something I need to hear as a white person and internalize and take action on. "Denouncing something is not the same as dismantling it. Saying you aren’t the problem kind of infers that you haven’t listened enough to understand that the problem is structural and not down to good and bad people."

Monday, June 1, 2020

NEW FAVORITE QUOTE, OF MINE

This country was born in riots. Some of the first were white men disguising themselves as natives destroying property, and not just in Boston Harbor but up nd down the Eastern colonies. No one commemorates the tea merchants. Riots are as "American" as pumpkin pie.
—Michael Lally

Saturday, May 30, 2020

NEW FAVORITE QUOTE, FROM ME

when I was speaking at, or part of, or organizing, or joining civil rights and anti-war and women's rights and gay liberation and anti-police-brutality demonstrations and protest marches and rallies in the 1960s (and '70s, and beyond) we understood that the one who pushes the most violent action or initiates it is the undercover cop or agent provocateur...

—Michael Lally

In response to the horrific murder of George Floyd (and in revolt against institutionalized racism, exploitation, marginalization, and violence condoned and encouraged by the US Government and private sectors), we are releasing our “Riot” tee with 100% of profits to be donated to the Minnesota Freedom Fund. @mnfreedomfund , This fund pays criminal bail and immigration bond for those who cannot afford to as we seek to end discriminatory, coercive, and oppressive jailing. "A riot is the language of the unheard" -MLK


Friday, May 29, 2020

THE GENTLEMEN

Besides watching PEAKY BLINDERS again (even better the second time) and a ton of old movies on TCM as my sheltering-in-place, after-the-daily-news-update-and-responses regime (not much different than my pre-pandemic routine), I decided to catch this 2020 Guy Ritchie flick, THE GENTLMEN, and wasn't sorry.

If you like Ritchie's movies as I do, with their blend of sometimes unique violence, zippy editing, unexpected plot twists, and familiar actors playing unfamiliar roles (e.g. Hugh Grant and Michelle Dockery in this one) you'll probably thoroughly enjoy THE GENTLEMEN as much as I did. If not, probably not.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

LARRY KRAMER R.I.P.

My first experience with (the later heroic gay activist) Larry Kramer was at the University of Iowa at which I worked on a BA and MFA from 1966-69 on the G.I. Bill after four years in the military. He was there briefly as probably an assistant professor (I say "grad assistant" in this unpublished sonnet I wrote years later because I can't remember what his actual official title was):

In a class on modern poetry, I write a
paper for a tall, shy-with-me, older grad
assistant, Larry Kramer, who notes on it
You have one of the strangest prose styles
I’ve ever read. So, unasked, I do another
for extra credit, in which I analyze the
structure of Ezra Pound’s haiku-like IN
A STATION OF THE METRO, using
only rhymed, iambic-pentameter qua-
trains. Including two lines rhyming
poem with the tome in epitome, which
I pronounced epi-tome, till Kramer cor-
rects me. He seemed bewildered by it and
admitted he had no idea how to grade it. 

I can't find online any mention of his stint in Iowa, but he was so distinct looking with his height and those rich lips I never forgot him. And others who were there then remember him too. Our paths never crossed directly again, though we shared mutual acquaintances. He was a force of nature and had a real impact on history and the rights of gay men and will be sorely missed by many. May he never be forgotten.  

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

ANOTHER BRILLIANT POST FROM OLD FRIEND NANA-AMA-DANQUAH


"How can a political leader just weaponize the decades-old death of a woman, as a result of a health-related fall and the injuries sustained, without any respect of her memory, her legacy; without any concern for her survivors, the people who loved her and lost her, who buried her and still mourn her? He only cares about using it as ammunition to sully the reputation of a perceived enemy. What kind of political leader goes through an entire Memorial Day weekend without tweeting about the 100,000 Americans who have died from COVID, more people than the number who died in all of our modern wars combined?Rather than praising our nation’s fallen soldiers, he picks on one—Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa, who served his country honorably) by calling him a fraud, for no apparent reason. He forwards texts by conspiracy theorists and hate mongers calling women skanks. This is a leader?A real leader would be so busy in meetings, trying to deal compassionately and responsibly with the pandemic, he’d barely have access to his phone and social media. A real leader would send regular uplifting messages to Americans as a way of boosting morale and keeping us hopeful. A leader would not resort to crass insults of people with whom he disagreed. This man is a fraud. He is a useless human being. Spare me the false equivalencies that insist Biden is X, Y, or Z or “just as...”. I am not voting FOR Biden. I am voting AGAINST Trump. We can sort things out once these snakes are out of office. When your house is on fire, you don’t look into the large bucket of water that’s right beside you and say, “well, there are a few bugs in there. There’s also a little soot. And it looks like it came out of a pipe that might have been a little rusty.”NO. You take the water, which is not pure, not pristine, and you put out the fire because for what you were doing, there is only one thing you needed for that water to be: wet."—Nana-Ama Danquah

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

MEMORIAL DAY (AFTER)

Just a reminder: today is the day we honor those who died in war, not all veterans...and to my mind we should also have a day to honor all the civilians that died in U.S. wars as well.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Thursday, May 21, 2020

ONCE UPON A TIME

Me in early 1964 after winning that little loving cup trophy on the piano in the Fairchild Air Force Base (outside Spokane, Washington) talent contest for comedy! I lost to another guy, a vibraphonist named Rick (I think) in the jazz category, but for comedy I played some commonly known song (either Jingle Bells or Happy Birthday) in different pianists styles (Liberace, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Floyd Cramer, Nina Simone, Thelonious Monk, et al.), exaggerating their styles for comic effect and then ended with singing and playing Jon Hendricks "Gimme That Wine" and as I was drunk at the time that too somehow worked as comedy. Wish we had smart phones back then and someone had recorded it. (I used the photo for the cover of THE VILLAGE SONNETS)

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

SUSAN ROTHENBERG R.I.P.

This is the only photo I could find online (don't know who took it) that comes close to how I remember the great painter in the years when we were close friends, the late 1970s-early '80s. We both were living in what was becoming known as Tribeca before John Belushi and Robert DiNiro started buying buildings there changing the real estate values and population of the neighborhood.

I paid 200 bucks a month to occupy (illegally then) 1800 square feet of an old industrial loft space (toilet in the hall) for me and my son Miles pre-1980 and then my daughter Caitlin as well post-'80. My girlfriend Rain lived with us for part of that period too. Susan and I first bonded over being two of the few single parents in a sparsely populated area back then. Her daughter Maggie was a familiar presence in our lives.

I have a lot of stories about that time, but here's two that came to mind first. Susan told me how she and her husband broke up after a female gallery owner came to their loft to see his work and ended up more interested in Susan's work, taking her on and in the process wounding her husband's ego (she didn't put it that way but the circumstances confirmed it for me).

Another time she came over to my place very upset because she had been invited to a dinner party uptown with wealthy art collectors and other VIPs and her gallery owner wanted her to go. She was angry about the pressure of having to be on display and what she would wear and how she'd have to behave, to the point she became determined to quit the gallery and leave New York.

I reassured her that my experience (having gone through some version of that a few years before as a downtown poet) helped me see that they didn't expect her to dress like them or behave like their upper class jive but instead to be the artist and be nothing like them. So she could go as she was, with her seemingly home-made pixie haircut in her usual jeans and sweatshirt smoking her unfiltered cigarettes and not say a word if she didn't want to. She calmed down and went to the dinner, but a decade later after marrying fellow artist Bruce Naumann, she moved with him to the dessert Southwest leaving New York for good.

Condolences to Maggie and all of Susan's family, friends, and fans of her art.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

SOME BOOKS

Books, movies, and music saved my life when I was a kid and young adult, over and over again. I still rely on them to comfort my spirit and soothe the turmoil of a restless mind and soul. Over the years I've gotten great solace from reordering my bookshelves by author, or by era, or by subject, or by taste, etc. but in recent years I've gotten less OCD about it and now can't locate books sometimes. Anyway, I decided to list some shelves and piles just for my own amusement and comfort. Here's the top shelf of a bookcase containing some poets and writers whose work had an impact on me once, or books with some special value, arranged more or less chronologically:

THE ANALECTS OF CONFUCIUS translated by Lionel Giles (a leather-bound Easton Press edition given to me for my 50th birthday with a loving inscription from Sharon Stone, so despite my critical take on Confucius after studying him in college, where my minor was in Asian Studies, this volume is a precious object connecting me to my longtime friend)

THE LETTERS OF WILLIAM BLAKE edited by Geoffrey Keynes (a wonderful hardcover from 1956 discovered in a used bookstore in Great Barrington earlier in this century)

THE POETRY AND PROSE OF WILLIAM BLAKE edited by David V. Erdman (a thick trade paperback (the large format) I bought in 1970 to replace earlier volumes of Blake's work)

LEAVES OF GRASS by Walt Whitman (a coverless bound test edition of the 1892 "deathbed" version from The Franklin Library in 1979 when I briefly worked there, with iconic 19th Century photographs)

SPECIMEN DAYS by Walt Whitman (the 1961 first printing of the 60-cent Signet Classics paperback edition I bought at 19 when it first came out)

THE WORKS OF WALT WHITMAN In Two Volumes As Prepared By Him For The Deathbed Edition Volume I The Collected Poetry (Minerva Press paperback 1969)

THE WORKS OF WALT WHITMAN In Two Volumes As Prepared By Him For The Deathbed Edition Volume II The Collected Prose (Minerva Press paperback 1969)

WALT WHITMAN: A LIFE by Justin Kaplan (the 1982 Bantam Books paperback trade edition) (I have many other books by or about Whitman scattered throughout my bookcases)

WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson ($1.45 trade paperback 1964 edition of the earlier Viking Press version)

U.S.A. by John Dos Passos (the 1963 beautifully designed trade paperback edition from Houghton Mifflin of the 1946 version of the novel trilogy with illustrations by Reginald Marsh)

DUST TRACKS ON A ROAD by Zora Neale Hurston ("the restored text established by The Library Of America" in 1995, Harper Perennial Edition trade paperback of this autobiography) (her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, one of my top favorite books, must be in another bookcase)

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald (the $1.25 1950s(?) trade paperback from Scribner's)

IN OUR TIME by Ernest Hemingway (the $1.25 1950s(?) trade paperback from Scribner's)

SAVAGE MESSIAH by H. S. Ede (gorgeous 1931 large format hardback edition (no dustcover unfortunately), with great photographs, that I bought in a used book store in the 1960s and have cherished ever since)

GAUDIER-BRZESKA A Memoir by Ezra Pound (1970 New Directions trade paperback, also with photos)

THE CANTOS OF EZRA POUND (New Directions hardcover version)

THE POUND ERA by Hugh Kenner (much annotated (by me) trade paperback edition from The University of California Press in early 1970s)

SPRING & ALL by William Carlos Williams (1970 Frontier Press paperback edition of the 1923 Contact Press edition)

IMAGINATIONS: Five Experimental Prose Pieces by William Carlos Williams (1970 MacGibbon & Kee hardcover edition)

WHITE MULE by William Carlos Williams (1937 New Directions hardcover edition, unfortunately dustcover long gone, but still a beautiful book in every way)

WHITE MULE by William Carlos Williams (a New Directions hardcover reprint (with dustcover) from the 1960s)

IN THE MONEY by William Carlos Williams (1967 New Directions trade paperback edition)

THE BUILD-UP by William Carlos Williams (1968 paperback edition of the third novel in his "Stecher Trilogy")

PATERSON by William Carlos Williams (trade paperback edition from 1963 an inscribed Christmas gift from my then wife Lee in 1966)