Wednesday, December 30, 2020

FOR EARLYBIRDS

The Saint Mark's Poetry Project New Year's Day Marathon (a twenty-five hour event) will be virtual this year. A video of me reading a new poem is scheduled to appear in the 7 to 8AM(!) hour (which will also include videos from old friends Elinor Nauen, Bruce Andrews & Sally Silvers, and Charles Bernstein, whoops looks like Charles's reading has been moved).

Here's the link to the schedule.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

THIS

Biggest disappointment on my screens in 2020: GOOD LORD BIRD. Was looking forward to the great acting but the script (and some of its direction) sucked. Who decided it would be a good idea to portray Frederick Douglas as a hypocritical, shallow buffoon, and to use Harriet Tubman as a prop for a fictional character's storyline? ...ack.

Most pleasant surprise on my screens in 2020: THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT. It was the most perfectly executed movie/series of the year for me, though not all my friends experienced it that way. I did.

And some runner-up favorites of 2020:

MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM

GIVING VOICE

TRANSHOOD

LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

MAE WEST: DIRTY BLONDE

THE GENTLEMEN

WE'RE HERE

MY BRILLIANT FRIEND

KNIVES OUT


And one other disappointment:

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

Monday, December 28, 2020

ONE OF MY OLD FAVORITE QUOTES

"Swami said that enlightenment is not loss of individuality but enlargement of individuality, because you realize that you're everything."  —Christopher Isherwood (from My Guru and His Disciple)

Thursday, December 24, 2020

HAPPY XMAS

 
Xmas 1983 in Santa Monica with three of my favorite friends and music makers: Sandy Bull (in glasses holding one of his kids), my son Miles who I've been a single parent to since he was five (in chair with hand on my shoulder), and Buddy Arnold (in black).

I'm wearing a 1930s sweater hand-me-down from my oldest brother, that I still have, and "Beatle boots" I bought in 1961 before they were called that, and still have. Despite the weird distortion of Buddy's and my bodies, I love this shot because I miss Sandy and Buddy who are long gone. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

GIVING VOICE

 
The Netflix documentary GIVING VOICE is a perfect companion piece for the Netflix movie MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM, as it's about a nationwide competition for the high school actor who can give the best performance of a monologue from an August Wilson play. The finalists get to compete on a Broadway stage at the August Wilson theater. It's a moving and inspiring film, well worth watching.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

MY HERO (ONE OF THEM)

 
My niece, Patrice Lally Pniewski, getting the Covid vaccine. Head nurse in the neurosurgery department of a hospital in the Atlanta area, she's the one who saw something physically off in me (we were at another niece's funeral in Maryland) in 2009 and told me to get to a neurologist that led to my brain operation. She has sacrificed much to help others in her years as a nurse.

She's always been one of my personal heroes, along with other nurses and teachers and farmworkers and all those "essential workers" who make it possible for the rest of us to live. They deserve the salaries of the corporate greedheads who mostly make it harder for the ret of us to live.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM

 
This film adaptation of August Wilson's play, MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM, from Netflix is a must see. Some say Wilson is "the Shakespeare of Black America" but I say he's the Shakespeare of the USA period. Like the many versions of The Bard's plays, different people prefer different directors' and actors' interpretations (who's your favorite Hamlet is a perennial taste-in-acting-techniques game).

And there are those who may quibble with aspects of this production (see Hilton Als's review in last week's New Yorker), but...BUT, from my perspective (despite my own quibbles with some of the direction), the language and the acting are so compelling—and in most instances perfection—nothing else matters. And watching the masterful Chadwick Boseman in his final film role while he and we, but not the other actors, know he is dying in real life is the final UNintended heartbreak of this wrenching work of art.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DECADE MAKES

1968: photo of Jersey me at 26 and running for sheriff of Johnson County, Iowa, on The Peace & Freedom ticket, used in an Iowa newspaper article calling me "an apostle of The New Left"
(taken by my old friend Tom Wilson I think)
1972: me at 30 in the yard of my DC commune wearing my Madame Binh tee shirt at the height of my Gay Liberation Front activism
(Tom Wilson may have taken this one too)
1978: 36-year-old me in a loft on Church Street in NYC after a shower
(taken by one of the loves of my life, composer Rain Worthington)

Monday, December 14, 2020

UNCLE JOE

Another great speech by Biden tonight. Whoever's writing them for him: good message, good job. He's far from perfect, but better than expectations (so far) might have predicted. And here's another example of good messaging:


Sunday, December 13, 2020

MIGUEL ALGARIN R.I.P.

Miguel (sitting in the photo) passed over a week ago but I didn't post anything because we weren't close friends and I had no story that came to mind, but we did read together a few times and I respected and admired him and his work, including his founding of New York's Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

Then friend Silvia Sanza posted the flyer below (art by Alice Notley) that Included one of those times we read together in the 1970s at The Saint Mark's Poetry Project and it connected me directly to Miguel and those days. Rest In Poetry and Power, Miguel (and others on this flyer who are gone).


Thursday, December 10, 2020

HAPPY B'DAY EMILY

On this year's Emily Dickinson's birthday I commemorate her with photos of me with two poets whose poems share many qualities with hers (and from my perspective their personalities share aspects as well). See for yourself by finding these books: James Haining's A QUINCY HISTORY (his journals from the early 1970s which includes early poems and how he wrote them as well as observations about being a small press publisher and witness to my and my then wife Lee's early gay activism) and Elaine Equi's RIPPLE EFFECT or THE INTANGIBLES.

Jim Haining (long gone unfortunately) and me at ARTQUAKE in Portland OR in the '90s
Elaine Equi and me at The Cornelia Street Cafe NYC a year or two ago

Monday, December 7, 2020

PRETTY CLEVER MEME GOING AROUND

 

TODAY

The zoom poetry and art event today by LIVE! magazine was a total delight, but I apologize that there were technical problems with the links so some folks trying to log on, couldn't...but there were over fifty people at one point so it worked for some other people (I ended up waiting as well but eventually got in).

I was honored and humbled by the magazine's "Life Achievement Award" and by Annabel Lee surprising me with a terrific reading of my poem "Just Let Me Do It" from 1974 in the collection of love poems of mine she published (through her Vehicle Editions): JUST LET ME DO IT. And lovely words for my work from Greg Masters and some of his own poems.

Great to see old friends and new in the Zoom Brady Bunch boxes, and to see the art of the other award recipient Willie Birch and hear the acceptance speech read by his daughter Ama and be introduced to the art of Lida Griggs.  All in all a delightful and fulfilling event. 

Saturday, December 5, 2020

CHECK IT OUT: ZOOM IT TOMORROW 2PM EASTERN

 

LiVE MAG! #17 LAUNCH & AWARDS


  Lifetime    Achievement  
 

Willie Birch

Michael Lally


with Ama Birch
Linda Griggs
Greg Masters


artwork by Willie Birch, ca 1984
 


 

 Sunday, December 6, 2pm 

Please join your hosts Jeff, Lori, and Sanjay for the launch of Live Mag! #17 as we present our latest issue and also recognize lifetime achievement in the arts. For our third year of annual presentations, we are proud to award artist WILLIE BIRCH and poet MICHAEL LALLY with LiVE MAG! Lifetime Achievement Awards.
Zoom link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5218539132?pwd=M0VQak1JZ0lBOEE3Rzk2U1BBSUd4UT09

Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10158192575392991&set=gm.164386908719284

Thursday, December 3, 2020

ROOTS

Got to enlarge to read this 1956 local newspaper notice about my Irish-born paternal grandparents celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. The family laugh is that it says they met in the 1880s or '90s at "The Essex County Country Club" but doesn't add: where she was a scullery maid and he was a footman. He died not long after this and she "took to her bed" to follow him, almost willing it, as it seemed to me. Her last words to me were: "I can hear your grandfather complaining' to the angels for not cookin' the scrapple the way he likes it, so I've got to go take care of him."
 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

WORLD AIDS AWARENESS DAY

 
Today is AIDS awareness day so I'm remembering even more than usual the friends and lovers lost to that earlier pandemic. The photo above is of my dear friend poet Tim Dlugos (in glasses holding the can of beer) around 1974 the year before we each left DC for NYC.

Tim and I were so close, many thought we were lovers, but we were just best friends (the opposite was true for other casualties of HIV AIDS that people thought were only friends but were my lovers, some of whom died while still trying to hide the cause of their demise in those days of shaming and affliction by association).

It's almost impossible for those who didn't live through it to understand the impact so much illness and death caused in the gay communities around this country. It's like each city with a concentration of gay men, particularly New York and San Francisco, were the equivalent of giant nursing homes afflicted by the latest pandemic. Only worse.

Here's another photo of Tim at my wedding at JS Vandam in NYC in February 1982, months before I moved to LA (with poet Ted Berrigan (bearded) as well). That smile of Tim's was even more radiant in person. I miss him and so many other casualties of the AIDS epidemic every day.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

 
Has this ever happened to you? For years I didn't get the fuss over Mark Rothko's paintings. In the 1970s I said that to an artist friend, Sylvia Schuster, and she told me to go to The Phillips Gallery (I was living in DC at the time) where there then was a small room with several Rothko paintings and nothing else. She told me to sit on the bench provided and pick one painting and look at it for forty minutes. I did it, because I loved and respected my friend. And sure enough, about a half hour into the exercise I had an epiphany that felt like an elevation of my spirit to new heights, and I never dismissed Rohtko's greatness again.

Well tonight I watched AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (on TCM) for the eighth or tenth time since it first came out when I was nine or ten, and had a similar experience. I always loved aspects of the film but felt it was composed of disparate elements that didn't hold together with some better or worse than others (like I never got the French supposed heart throb singer guy). But tonight (last night by the time I post this) watching the movie alone with no distractions and focusing on what felt like facets of each shot I had overlooked before, suddenly every frame of the film worked perfectly, even the obvious "mistakes" (like when Gene Kelly's hat gets accidentally knocked off or I could see pieces of the fake flowers stuck to his arm, etc.) and I felt I understood the vision that unified it all, even the French guy's presence as what before seemed only a plot device but now was an integral character whose singing delighted me. It now is not just enjoyable for Gene Kelly's hunky athleticism, or Leslie Caron's adorableness, or the final extended dance number like no other in movie history, but instead every word, every motion, every set and prop and costume etc. fit together perfectly in ways that created a delightfully satisfying experience that elevated my spirit to new heights. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

MOONLIT DUSK

 
My youngest, Flynn,  and me, socially distanced in a friend's back driveway where we shared a turkey feast. Grateful for it all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE

When Jane Campion's AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE came out in 1990 it knocked me out, and I raved about it to everyone as it instantly became one of my favorite films. I hadn't seen it since, until it aired tonight on TCM, and I'm happy to report it's still one of my favorites, as well as one of only a handful of great films about great writers.

The story of the New Zealand writer Janet Frame, it captures the poignancy of her life and the power in the most understated way, using the locations and fine acting to convey much of the emotional turmoil and trauma that shaped her life and writing. AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE is a work of art well worth watching.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

FROM THE ARCHIVES

 NOVEMBER SONNET


On a perfectly clear Fall day, heading back to
Fort Monmouth, I watched as other cars on
The Garden State Parkway veered onto the
shoulder and stopped, the drivers not getting
out, just sitting there. At the toll booth the man
said The president's been shot. As I drove on,
more cars pulled off the road. I could see their
drivers weeping. Back in the barracks we stayed
in the rec room watching the black and white
TV, tension in the room like static. When they
named Lee Harvey Oswald, I watched the
black guys hold their breath, hoping that meant
redneck, not spade, and every muscle in their
faces relax when he turned out to be white.


(C) 2018 Michael Lally [from Another Way To Play]

Saturday, November 21, 2020

ANOTHER LIST

Caught the last half of THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS last night and fell in love all over again with Madeline Stowe's and Daniel Day-Lewis's characters' romance (as well as Jodhi May's and Eric Schweig's implied romance characters). So woke up this morning thinking of some other movie character couples I fell in love with:

Teresa Wright and Dana Andrews in THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES

Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd in THE BLUE DAHLIA

Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte in BRIGHT ROAD

Robert Redford and Paul Newman in BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID

Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer in CALL ME BY YOUR NAME 

Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae in CAROUSEL

Patricia Charbonneau and Helen Shaver (one of the loves of my life) in DESERT HEARTS

Nicole Beharie and Chadwick Boseman in 42

Andie MacDowell and Hugh Grant in FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL

Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews in LAURA 

Martine McCutcheon and Hugh Grant in LOVE ACTUALLY

Emma Stone and Colin Firth in MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT

Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in NOTTING HILL

Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae in OKLAHOMA!

Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney in OUT OF SIGHT

Robin Wright and Cary Elwes in THE PRINCESS BRIDE

Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd in THIS GUN FOR HIRE

Cathy O'Donnell and Farley Granger in THEY LIVE BY NIGHT

Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in THE WAY WE WERE

Thursday, November 19, 2020

LEE

 
I've been thinking a lot lately of my first wife, Lee. She passed over 34 years ago after 6 years in a coma from a botched operation. So it's been 40 years since I last saw her in person. We were divorced by then. We married in August 1964 after seeing each other once in the Spring of 1961 and then only corresponding til we saw each other again three days before we got married. This is one of my favorite photos of us in the early years of our marriage, 1966, when we had settled in to a comfortable familiarity. We were 24 and 23, an old married couple.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

NEW LIST (for Terence Winch)

Irish accordion

Irish American

Irish blessing

Irish breakfast

Irish coffee

Irish cousin

Irish diaspora 

Irish dimples

Irish eagle 

Irish eyes

Irish "famine" (not)

Irish fiddle

Irish genocide (aka "famine")

Irish goodbye 

Irish harp

Irish immigrant 

Irish jig

Irish kiss

Irish language

Irish lilting

Irish mafia

IRISH MUSICIANS by Terence Winch

Irish New Year (Terence's birthday as well)

Irish oatmeal

Irish pub

Irish Rep

Irish Riviera

Irish sausage

Irish setter

Irish stew

Irish tea

Irish tenor

Irish terrier

Irish twins

Irish Volunteers 

Irish wake

Irish whiskey

Irish wolfhound  

Monday, November 16, 2020

LEWIS WARSH R.I.P.

 

I first had contact with the poet (and novelist, publisher etc.) Lewis Warsh in the 1960s, but we became friends in the early 1970s when I was going through a (revolutionary at the time) personal and political transition to being "out" as "gay" and "queer" (though I was still attracted to and in relationships with women, it's a complicated tale) and was attracted to him.

I don't know if I ever said anything but I think he got that. He was "straight" but was always sweet to me in a way few, if any, so-called "straight" men were to me at the time. I appreciated that throughout the years that followed when I often "presented" as "straight" myself and confused others with my attempts to clarify that with my writing.

Whenever I saw him through the five decades that followed, I felt that sweetness and it made me happy. That's what I'm remembering and feeling on learning that he's passed. The last time we read together was at KGB in NYC with Dale Herd in 2015 (I think), and the last time I saw him was a few years ago and still felt that tenderness from and toward him.

He will be sorely missed by many, and my heart goes out to his children and many friends and fans.

Here's a poem of his that was in BOMB in 2013 (the lines should be closer together but I can't get them there:


Dark Side of Time


Time is the solution in which the living

and the dead confer—there’s no other place for us

or them and there’s no other place to be

(except where we are), putting our feet up

on the balcony and staring out at the empty

plain—where everything is invisible and everyone

has a name (the only way back is the way

you came), and once I played Odysseus

to her Penelope, way back when, and we stepped

from the bath in someone else’s house,

and once all the lights went out in the middle

of the night and we built a fire until the storm

abated, and later—it’s getting late in the day—

we’ll have caviar and champagne—at the edge

of the crater on the Sea of Dreams,

and look down to earth as if it was all one

and the same, and leave our footprints

for those who follow.


Sunday, November 15, 2020

TRANSHOOD

 
TRANSHOOD  is an HBO documentary focused on four kids—ages 4, 7, 12, and 15—as they grow through five years of their lives as transgender or gender non-conforming children and adolescents. It's at times either heartwarming or heartbreaking, and sometimes both at once.

Ir's also poignant, frustrating, captivating, and challenging. My heart goes out to the children and their parents and the struggles they face in just living their truth as it unfolds in a world that (mostly, unfortunately, despite what progress has been made) fears that truth.

Friday, November 13, 2020

CHOICES

 
When asked what I wanted on the cake for my 75th birthday party in 2017, this is what I said. This is what I still say. [Not that I always do it, but it's my constant goal.]

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

VETERANS DAY

 

Me and my buddy Murph in February 1962 during basic training at Lackland Air Force Base outside San Antonio Texas. I was 19 and had signed up for four years but they added two weeks, the extra time making up for the two weeks in July of that year when I went AWOL to San Francisco. Never got more than two stripes cause of my shenanigans. But was able to go to college on the G.I. Bill when I got out in '66.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

ANOTHER LIST

 MY LIFE IN CRUSHES


Veronica Lake

Margaret O’Brien

Jane Greer

Randolph Scott

Burt Lancaster

Billie Holiday 

Sidney Portier

Dorothy Dandridge

Marylin Monroe

Bridget Bardot

Simone Signoret

France Nuyen

Diane di Prima

Peggy Lee

Harry Belafonte

Nina Simone

Shirley McClaine

Nancy Wilson

Abbey Lincoln

Barbra Streisand

Miles Davis

John Coltrane

Eric Dolphy

The Shirelles

Mary Wells

The Beatles

The Supremes

Joan Baez

Laura Nyro

Ronnie Spector

Marvin Gaye

Candy Darling

Sylvester

The Pointer Sisters

Joe Brainard

Eva Hesse

Jane Freilicher

Patti Smith

Sara Rudner

Sharon Stone

Lydia Lunch

The Bush Tetras

Bernadette Peters

Alfre Woodard

Bjork

Sade

Beyonce

Lucious Jackson

George Clooney

Jennifer Lopez

Brad Pitt

Janet Mock

Lupita Nyong’o

Chadwick Boseman

Jurnee Smollett

Anya Taylor-Joy


[these are all people I saw first in movies or on TV or stage or in books or on nightclub stages and got a crush on…some I eventually met and a few I became close to…I know there’s more but this is what came to mind as I thought of the decades I’ve lived through starting in the 1940s]


(C) 2020 Michael Lally

Monday, November 9, 2020

ALEX TREBEK R.I.P.

 
I didn't know Alex Trebek or ever meet him, but I feel like I did. I know people who've been contestants on JEOPARDY, or whose names or work came up in the answers and questions. But if I was free and near a TV on any weeknight since Trebek has been hosting the show, I've tuned in to match my wits with the contestants and often fell in love with their unique and at times quirky personalities. It felt like some kind of nerd-love home for me in which I was welcome thanks to the usually (though not always, making him authentic) gracious hosting of Alex Trebek.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

YES

 Impressed by, proud of, and grateful for, the way uncle Joe handled these past few days.  

Thursday, November 5, 2020

ONCE WHEN

 
I've posted this before but it's another favorite. I was born when FDR was still president and was two when he got reelected for the third time. But the first presidential election I paid attention to was in 1948 when I was six and predicted Truman would win despite the premature headlines declaring Dewey the victor. 

This photo was taken I'd say in the late '40s or 1950, after my maternal grandmother came to live with us and began making my pants, which I never liked but didn't want to hurt her feelings. It's with my three older brothers, Robert, Tommy (who'd just become Father Campion), and Buddy. All gone and much missed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

AN ELECTION DAY REMINDER

LOVE NEVER DIES

Lots of shit dies
Love doesn’t

Parts of me are
Already dead

But love isn’t…
My appendix

Dead and buried
My prostate and

A disc from my back
Dead and gone too

And parts of my brain
Cut out with the

Dime size foreign body
That got in there somehow

To cause so much trouble…
The twin towers died

And all those lost with them
Like a woman who was

Kind to me when
She didn’t have to be

Gone on one of those
Two planes, but

My love for her isn’t…
Five of my siblings and

Our old man and ma
Passed on now for awhile

But not the love we shared
When we were honest…

The mother
Of my oldest kids, my

First wife, gone, but the love
She and I shared never

Died, though maybe the
Like did…my first true

Love, too, the love of my
Life, gone now for almost

A decade, but my love for
Her, and hers for me,

Never died even thru
All of our husbands and

Wives and lovers over
The years when we

Were out of touch with
Each other, none

Of that stopped the
Love we both felt

And affirmed whenever
We spoke again like

The week before she
Passed still working

To help troubled kids
Find families, those

Kids still grateful for
The love she showed them

That’s still alive even if
She’s with the ancestors now…

Or other women I’ve lived
With who have passed on

Or lovers long gone
Like Joan B or Joe B

Her face so sweet and tough
Voice still admonishing me to

Just be myself and not
Worry what others think

His voice so quiet and
Stuttering in my ear as I

Write this, his image on
My bookshelves with his books

His art on my walls, I only wish
He’d lived long enough

To see it didn’t matter
How famous he did or

Didn’t become, his work
Living on among us

Who love it, exhibited
Often since he passed

Or Tony gone so recently
A young man who went from

Ripping doors off their
Hinges when he was

Upset with his wife and
Kids to the gentlest giant

Of many I’ve known
His ex-skinhead rages

Transformed as he turned
The pages of his life from

Anger to compassion
His punk Buddhist

Practice enabling him
To live with the rare

Brain disease that
Took his physical

Presence from us
But not the love we

Who knew him shared…
I think of him every day

As I do a lot who live
Now only in our hearts

…oh
Lots of shit dies, like

Almost everything that was
New when I was a boy

Including the people…
If you live long enough

So much passes it feels
Like another world…

But it’s the same one
Where love never dies…

—© 20013 Michael Lally (from my books SWING THEORY and ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY) 

THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT

 

I spent the weekend binging on the seven episode Netflix series THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT, a satisfying feast of extraordinary talent. People can quibble about the mistakes in some of the chess talk and moves, or the anachronistic lapses in dialogue or style, but every element that goes into making any kind of movie or series compelling and entertaining was perfection. The direction, the acting, the cinematography, the art direction, the editing, the soundtrack, et al.—glorious perfection.

And as for the two main leads playing the protagonist at different stages of childhood and adolescence, Isla Johnston and Anya Taylor-Joy (the latter I recognized from PEAKY BLINDERS) should both win every acting award that exists.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

TERENCE WINCH'S SEEING-EYE BOY

 
The best way to celebrate the Celtic New Year, and the birthday of national treasure (and longtime dearest friend) Terence Winch's birthday, is to buy his latest book, SEEING-EYE BOY. As my blurb on the cover says, it's "not just the lyrically precise and definitive story of what it was like being a smart and sensitive Irish-American adolescent in the Bronx of the 1950s—it's the lyrically precise and definitive story of what it's like being a smart and sensitive adolescent anywhere, anytime."

[PS: and if, like me, you always felt insulted by Richard Price's THE WANDERERS grotesque distortion of the Irish gang in the Bronx of the 1950s, here's the antidote, a more honest and insightful perspective on that time and place.]

[PPS: plus you get a beautiful object with Susan Campbell's perfect cover design.]

Friday, October 30, 2020

ANOTHER LIST!

Fell asleep last night with the first three of an alphabet list of some favorite movies that begin with the word "THE" in my brain and woke up with more (not all totally woke) until I had this:

THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY

 THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES

THE COMMITMENTS

THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES

THE EQUALIZER

THE FIGHTER

THE GRAPES OF WRATH

THE HUSTLER

THE INFORMER (1935)

THE KILLERS (1946)

THE LADY EVE

THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)

THE NATURAL

THE OX-BOW INCIDENT

THE PUBLIC ENEMY (1931)

THE QUIET MAN

THE RAINMAKER (1956)

THE SEARCHERS

THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE

THE USUAL SUSPECTS

THE VAN (1996)

THE WOMEN (1939)

THE YAKUZA


THEN

 
I think I've posted this photo before, but I get a kick out of this image of clan parties back in the day where people sat on the floor because there were more people than chairs (there's a couch out of sight to the right with more people).

The bald guy in the back is the boarder who lived in our house, the woman in front of him my widowed Aunt Rose, the two women behind her my Aunts Peggy and Mary with my Irish immigrant grandmother Lally with the gray hair to their left who lived down the street with Aunt Peggy and not pictured but also on the floor her two young daughters and husband Lydie.

The mustached man my Uncle John who lived next door with Aunt Mary and their four kids also out of the photo, my mother in front of him with me up front, my sister Irene behind me and our grandmother Dempsey who lived with us behind her, and our cousin Rosemary who was an only child with a widowed mother who had to work so spent a lot of time at our place with my sister Joan (in black).

Talk about a full house (there's too many more to count).

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

 
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, has some moving and engaging moments, and a Hollywood movie ending that might bring audiences to their feet (like most of the people in the movie courtroom, which never really happened), but for me it was frustrating to watch.

I had encounters with all eight of the defendants and was in Chicago during the trial for a few days at a radical event that some of them were at, and found the portrayals of them mostly inaccurate. Borat as Abbie Hoffman was the most accurate (though Abbie wasn't that tall). And though Mark Rylance as the lawyer William Kuntsler is physically miscast, he made the performance work.

But Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden? (Were there no actors from the USA available?) I didn't like Hayden and argued with him publicly and privately over strategies and tactics, but watching this film I wanted to jump to his defense. Sorkin portrays him as some kind of wishy washy liberal reluctant to use any actions that would put protestors in physical jeopardy, but in fact Tom was hoping to ignite violence to get the media and the world to notice and more young people to join "The Movement."

I met Bobby Seale at The Peace And Freedom Party convention before the Democratic Party one where the "riots" occurred that the defendants were accused of conspiring to make happen. And met Fred Hampton in Chicago. The actors playing each of them—Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Kelvin Harrison Jr. —were terrific, but were given lines the real men wouldn't have said and misinterpreted their uniquely individual demeanor and charisma. And it was a disservice to the story and to Seale to imply he was cuffed and gagged and bound to a chair for a brief period when it went on for days.

I could go on, but won't. Suffice it to say that Sorkin mischaracterizes the politics, the personalities, and the spirit of defiant confrontation that most of the Chicago 8 embodied. And he makes up characters and scenarios to get a laugh or sympathy or let some of the bad guys look not so bad.

Monday, October 26, 2020

DIANE DI PRIMA R.I.P.

 
Diane di Prima was one of the first major influences on my poetry and other writing and life. I discovered her in the 1950s and not only had a crush on her and her writing but identified with and was inspired by her outer borough flight to Manhattan downtown and the bohemian lifestyle. She was a revolutionary, breaking all the molds and becoming a beacon of self discovery and expression. The only female who garnered attention and acclaim during the height of the Beat scene's first wave of fame, and the most independent woman I ever knew.

I was a dj (in the old radio show sense of the term) in 1960 when I was 18 and got fired for reciting a poem from her book DINNERS AND NIGHTMARES. Here's a sonnet I wrote about that:

I learn how to back scratch a record to cue it up

to the next song, then hold it steady while the

song on the other turntable winds down, and

with my free hand leaf through a binder for the

ad copy to read in between. The station higher

ups want me to talk more, but my model is

Symphony Sid, whose theme song was sung by

King Pleasure: Jumping with my boy Sid in the

city…make everything go real crazy over Jersey.

Now and then I whisper a poem on air mystifying

my bosses or pissing them off. Like one by ex-con

Ray Bremser about the Jersey turnpike: varoom.

The one that gets me fired was Diane di Prima’s

NIGHTMARE 6: Get your cut throat off my knife

We became friends in the early 1970s, and bonded over being activists for feminist and gay rights which she had been one of the pioneers in, but I suck at keeping connected so only saw her a few times. After one of my Black Sparrow books came out at the beginning of this century I got a postcard from her saying she'd picked up a copy and was so happy to hear my voice again (I'm paraphrasing from memory since the card is in my archives at NYU). It filled my heart.

I recommend her writing to young people all the time. DINNERS AND NIGHTMARES is the most authentic expression of the 1950s Beat scene (for my taste) and REVOLUTIONARY LETTERS captures the spirit of the 1960s better than anything, as LOBA does the same for the second wave of feminism that occurred in the 1970s. And her RECOLLECTIONS OF MY LIFE AS A WOMAN: The New York Years is in my top five of all-time favorite memoirs.

Despite not staying in touch good enough, I felt her presence in the world every day and already miss her. She was loved and admired and appreciated by a lot of us and I'm sure she knew that (there's tons of wonderful stuff on her on the Internet, including I think a documentary that shows that). We still love you, Diane.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

"IRON MIKE" 2

 
The other photo I have (which I've posted before) of my Irish immigrant grandfather the policeman, "Iron Mike" Lally.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

IRON MIKE


My Irish immigrant grandfather, who was, according to family lore, the first policeman in South Orange, New Jersey, known as "Iron Mike Lally"... 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

ANOTHER COMPULSIVE LIST-MAKING MORNING

 Woke up this morning with the name Allison Anders in my brain, immediately followed by Bill Berkson and realized I was being compelled to come up with a list of creative friends (or onetime friends) whose first and last names begin with the same letter and who are famous in my world. Here’s what I ended up with:


Allison Anders

Bill Berkson, Barbara Baracks, Berry Berenson

Catherine Carlen

Diane di Prima, Donna Dennis, David Drum

Eddie Eiken, Elaine Equi

Fionnula Flanagan

Gail Godwin

Howard Hesseman

Katherine Koch

Lee Lally

Merilene Murphy, Marilyn Mohr

Nikki Nash

Roy Robinson

Sharon Stone, Steve Shrader, Simon Schuchat, Stacy Szymaszek

Toby Thompson, Tony Towle

Vida Vierra, Vincent Virga


And of course my brain then followed with a list of famous creative people who weren’t personal friends:


Busby Berkeley, Bridget Bardot, Brendan Behan

Charlie Chaplin, Claudette Colbert, Cyd Charisse

Dorothy Day, Dorothy Dandridge, Dan Duryea, Diana Dors, Danny DeVito (met him once)

Frank Fontaine

Greta Garbo, Greer Garson, Gloria Grahame (I did act in a movie with her and hung out a bit)

Herman Hesse

Janis Joplin

Kay Kyser, Kris Kristofferson (met him once)

Loretta Lynn, Lyle Lovett

Mezz Mezzrow, Marilyn Monroe

Ozzy Osbourne

Pablo Picasso

Rosalind Russell, Robert Ryan, Roy Rogers, Robert Redford (did meet him and talked), Robbie Robertson (him too)

Simone Signoret, Sissy Spacek

Tommy Tune

Vince Vaughn

Walt Whitman

FEELS GOOD MAN

 
This PBS Frontline documentary about the origins and co-opting of the Pepe The Frog character that aired tonight (technically last night) was intense, compelling, and poignant, as well as disturbing. Great piece of docu filmmaking. Did a cartoon character meme influence the 2018 election? and more: FEELS GOOD MAN.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

ANOTHER LIST!

As some know, all my life I was an obsessive/compulsive list maker. Like constantly in my head, on paper, on my blog, while falling asleep, when waking, walking etc. my mind was making lists with themes and rules like favorite hundred books etc. And then after my brain operation in 2009 it stopped. I had no desire to make lists, and when I tried I couldn't. In the last few years I occasionally would find my mind making one, usually needing help from my bookshelves or computer, which I would post. But never the old compulsion until yesterday when I woke up with my mind creating a list of people and characters known to the world by just one name, and in between, or even while, reading and writing other stuff my mind kept coming up with names. I'm forcing myself to stop with this:

ONE NAME FAME

Atlas, Athena, Abraham, Auden

Buddha, Boccaccio, Beethoven, Bogart, Beckett, Bambi, Brando, Basquiat, Bjork, Biggie, Bono, Beyonce

Cleopatra, Confucius, Catullus, Charlemagne, Casanova, Columbus, Chopin, Collette, Caruso, Cher

Dante, Desdemona, Dostoevsky, Dracula, Dumbo, Donovan

Edison, Einstein, Elvis, Evita

Franco, Fellini 

Goliath, Galileo, Goethe, Goya, Geronimo, Garbo, Gershwin, Gatsby, Goddard 

Homer, Hamlet, Heathcliff, Hemingway, Hitler, Hitchcock 

Ishmael

Jesus,  

Kali, Keats, Kanye

Lincoln, Lenin, LaBron

Moses, Muhammed, Michaelangelo, Milton, Marx, Mahler

Nostradamus, Nietzsche  

Othello

Pocahontas, Picasso, Popeye, Porgy, Pavarotti, Pele, Prince, Putin

Quisling

Rumi, Romeo, Robespierre, Rachmaninoff, Ringo

Satan, Shakespeare, Sacajawea, Stalin, Satie, Sting, Sade

Titian, Tesla, Truffaut, Tupac 

Ulysses

Vivaldi 

Whistler, Wagner

Xerxes

Yeats

Zeus, Zorro, Zeffirelli 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

DOGFIGHT


Watched this movie tonight on TCM. Hadn't seen it since it came out in 1991, when it had a deep impact on me. It takes place over one night in San Francisco in 1963 with a coda in '66. It gets a few things wrong, but they're minor compared to what it gets right about the time and place and four newly minted marines on a one night leave before shipping out to Viet Nam, not yet the total morass it would become.

It stars River Phoenix in what must have been one of his last films, and Lili Taylor in one of her first films. I fell in love with her the first time I saw it and again tonight. I joined the military in 1962 and got out in '66 and spent time AWOL in Frisco in '62, so it resonates. I wasn't a marine and I didn't go to Viet Nam, but I did end up marrying a woman I'd only met in person once four years earlier, who had a sightly deformed face, which also resonates with the plot.

It's a powerful little movie with two powerful performances, at least, and well worth seeing.