Wednesday, July 30, 2014


"Tenderness is the repose of passion."  —Joseph Joubert (from The Notebooks of Joseph Joubert, translated by Paul Auster)

Monday, July 28, 2014


This link is for all my friends who, on Facebook and elsewhere, are citing extremist Islamist views to justify Israel's actions (and I do not justify anyone's actions on any side of any issue if they end in the murder of innocent people, especially children, so that includes the old IRA, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the USA in Afghanistan, Russia in the Ukraine, Hamas in Israel, etc.) because this shows the rightwing religious pressure in, and on, the Israeli government for justifying eliminating all Palestinians from what was once, and in much smaller acreage still is, their homeland.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


THIS IS THE END is a disaster movie that came out last year and I caught on cable. It's a seductive set up, a bunch of Hollywood types, including celebrities, are at a party at James Franco's house when the Apocalypse occurs. A disaster/comedy, great. Franco does a good job of tweaking his image, as does Jonah Hill and a few others, including Emma Watson in one of the better cameos and Michael Cera who turns his public and movie persona on its head as a coked up sex object.

One of the main roles is played by Seth Rogen who just plays the same guy we see in every Seth Rogen film which isn't that interesting or funny when everyone else is either playing extreme versions of who the public thinks they are or the exact opposite.  There are some very funny bits, especially early on, but there is also a lot of the usual bodily fluids and functions adolescent humor that I didn't even like when I was an adolescent, back when that humor was confined to schoolyards and locker rooms and team buses, not in movies or in comics' routines.

Of course the adolescent boys it seems to be aimed at all know this film, like my sixteen-year-old youngest or my about to turn sixteen grandson. But for this adult, it ultimately failed to live up to expectations. All that talent and money seemed almost to deliberately be frivolously thrown away on not very original comic set pieces in what promised to be a very original premise.

Whereas, IT'S A DISASTER, another end of the world disaster/comedy that came out the year before, no one I know seems to have even heard of let alone seen, and yet, it's a masterfully original movie with a small cast that should have been nominated for a SAG ensemble award. Some are known, though none as big as Franco and Rogen etc., like America Ferrera and Julia Stiles, and most audiences would recognize David Cross even if they didn't know his name, but the rest of the cast were pretty unfamiliar to me (they may be on network TV shows I don't watch but I didn't remember them from any movies) like Rachel Boston, Kevin M. Brennan et. al.

But man, what a simple set up and satisfying pay off. It's four couples, one of which is on a more or less blind date (Cross and Stiles) having a get together in one of the couples homes when some sort of disaster hits the world and they are stuck together for what may be their last hours. Unlike THIS IS THE END, there are no adolescent potty jokes etc, but in fact pretty grown up wry comments on what it means to be a grown up in a relationship. Lots of tension and release, feints and jabs, pretense and brutal honesty.

If you haven't seen IT'S A DISASTER, do. If you haven't seen THIS IS THE END, well, you might want to watch it for some of the funniest bits and set ups, but except for a handful of scenes, don't expect anything too great or original. Anyway, that's my opinion.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Peter Coyote & me on the Deadwood set
me & Michael Harris on the set of The Technical Writer
James Remar, me & Bill Mosley on the White Fang set
me, Patricia Hammond and director Dominic Paris on the set of Dracula's Last Rites
just me on the set of the short film The Milkman

Friday, July 25, 2014


Just a short late night judgment. I haven't watched Charlie Rose in a while until tonight when I caught an interview with Jeff Koons. I never really liked Rose's interview style. He somehow got this reputation as a great interviewer because his show is set up in a way that makes it seem almost pure in its approach (around a table with iconic cultural figures and supposed intellectuals etc.) and quiet minimalism.

Despite the  fact he uses notes like everyone else, he seems to either quickly become redundant, like he forgot he already posed that question or one almost exactly like it, or fails to follow up (or through) on an interviewee's statement that raises interesting questions never asked...etc. Also, I met him once at a TV awards show in L.A. and he was sloshed and I can't help when I see him on TV wondering if he's a little bombed and that's why he's repeating himself or just stating the obvious.

Whereas with John Hockenberry, I listen to his public radio show, called "The Take Away," on WNYC in New York pretty much every day and consider him the best interviewer in contemporary media. He always seems to immediately grasp what the person he's interviewing means and restates it in a way that any listener can understand—in case they didn't get it—and then asks a follow up question that either challenges that or takes it to the next level, and keeps doing that until the segment's over where he draws it to a conclusion that either summarizes the main point or draws his own insightful conclusion that's "the take away."

I wonder if he hasn't been asked to have his own show on TV only because he's in a wheelchair (and has been as far as I know his whole life) or has deliberately chosen NPR for the latitude it gives him to shape his show the way he wants and to do the kinds of swift, informative and smart interviews that always leave me informationally and intellectually satisfied.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I'm always reading poetry and haven't caught up on this blog with much of it lately, so here's three slim volumes (what folks call "chapbooks"—those stapled in the middle, thin collections more like little magazines or brochures—but I call all of them "books" cause they are).

WALK ZONE (AlookWritenowBook) is the title of a unique short book of poetry and photography by Phil Johnson. The poems and the photographs depend upon the use of familiar imagery (seemingly "found"—in the sense of stumbled upon, though in many cases obviously "selected") juxtaposed in unfamiliar ways. Dreamlike in their evocativeness, they demand attention while at the same time eluding it.

Here's some lines from "If You Don't Know Spanish/And You're Age 50."

"She's fascinated by the power strips at Staples.
Are they really surge protectors?

Who can fail to remember the healthy vitality
of the Doublemint Twins: soft, sweet, and chewable.

He fucked his brains out and now he's living on fumes."

AN EVENING IN EUROPE (Toad Press) is Mark Terril's (a poet I have written about often on this blog and elsewhere because I love his work and his BREAD & FISH is on my alltime favorite list) translation of some poems by Jorg Fauser (the "o" should have an umlaut but I don't know how to make one, and as you can guess if you don't know, Fauser was a German poet who was born at the end of WWII and died in 1987).

I love most of these poems, their fierce honesty and casual throw away quality, similar to a lot of "American" poetry since the 1950s, but uniquely his own in the end. My most favorite are too long to quote here but here's a not too long one:

""Apartment House

The televisions spit out purple dentures
And goals in the last minute
And violence in every form
And every machine-language
But in the hallway it smells like the Yugoslav's
Goulash and the wet underwear
Of the girls and mortar and mud
And the rock'n'roll hammers on the third floor
And Schubert's unfinished starts up
On the eighth, and the dachshund barks, the
Canary chirps, in the rear courtyard
The pigeons coo, even they no longer
Feel the winter, Nature,
That's the suicide who first
Waters his geraniums,
The porpoise in the sewage pipe, the rat in
The toothbrush glass, and
Beer is the blood of the poet.

Even the writer on the second floor
Has a woman in his bed.
Let him in, girl, and
Hold him tight.
We only live once, or as CW always says:
You never know what it might be
Good for."

Seems like I'm always reading someone's translations of Rimbaud. I used to get in arguments over them, as if I knew (because despite his rep Rimabud often translates poorly in my experience). A poet I've known for many decades, Bill Zavatsky, is the translator of a recent (chap)book: RIMBAUD 1O POEMS (Omertà Publications), that includes "The Drunken Boat," and a mixed bag of others, which, when they're good, they're terrific, as these lines from the second section of "Novel" may illustrate:

"—That's where we can pick out a tiny patch
Of dark azure, framed by a little branch,
Pinned with a naughty star that melts
In gentle shudders, small and all white...

June night! Seventeen!—It knocks us out.
The sap is champagne and rushes to our heads...
We talk a lot; on our lips we feel a kiss
Pulsing like the heart of some tiny beast..."

Seems to me most of the books I've loved the most in my life were hardly known by most people and that will only become more true as books with any literary quotient seem to be going the way of theater, a kind of almost elite art form for a small portion of a mostly educated audience (whether self-taught or formally schooled) that got hooked on the magic of the intellectual and emotional satisfaction of lit that touches their sense of what it's all about, or should be. I'm happy to be among them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


"All you do is head straight for the grave, a face just covers a skull awhile. Stretch that skull-cover and smile."  —Jack Kerouac (from Visions of Cody)

Monday, July 21, 2014


People are always raving and bragging and expounding on how the Internet and World Wide Web and other names for the interconnectivity so many seem to have through their computers and smart phones and I'm always the curmudgeon who points out that most of the information I have in my head and on my bookshelves isn't anywhere on the web and if it is it is usually at least partially incorrect (including a lot of stuff about me). Tom Weatherly's passing is just one example.

Nowhere on Google or other sites I tried could I find a photograph of any of Tom's books I used to have but have disappeared over the years like too many (loaned to people who never brought them back, or in some cases stolen by people while at a party at my many apartments over the years) nor could I find any photos of Tom himself back when I knew him in the 1970s. We weren't close friends, merely acquaintances (we read our poetry together a few times, and in fact I think he was the other reader the first time I read at the St. Mark's Poetry Project in NYC) but I liked him and admired his unique contributions to "American" poetry and poetry in general and his commitment to that.

Here's a sweet remembrance and obit of Tom by his close friend (and now mine) poet Burt Kimmelman. My heart goes out to the family, friends and fans he left behind.

[PS: And here's a photo of what he looked like after he moved back down South and I lost touch with him:]

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I never met or worked with James Garner, unfortunately, but I've had a deep connection with him through the film THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY since I was a young man. That film came out when I was in the military. It was written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Arthur Hiller and starred Garner and Julie Andrews, who would later that year become a household name after MARY POPPINS came out. Also in a small role in THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY was James Coburn, which first made me notice him and began his trajectory toward stardom.

I knew and loved Garner from his days as MAVERICK on that TV Western, but the character he played in THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY is the one that not only impressed and engaged me but enlightened me because he was the first lead in an "American" war movie, especially a WWII movie, who wasn't a gung ho hero, or a stalwart hero, or a flawed but deeply and righteously courageous hero etc. etc. but in fact was a man who wanted to avoid being in combat and getting killed more than anything else, like pretty much everyone I ever encountered in real life.

Twenty-five years after that movie had a profound impact on me and the way I saw the world and war and bravery and so much more, I was recovering from a brain operation and unable to watch TV without feeling like my head was going to explode. It was too stimulating in my early recovery and made me so anxious it felt like I might die from it. But slowly, over the course of weeks and eventually months, I was able to slowly expose myself to watching movies only in black-and-white with a small cast, set in confined spaces (i.e. small sets mostly, like a room or a garden etc. so limited amount of detail and usually with only two or three characters in each scene), and with a simple easy-to-follow storyline.

So most of the time I'd turn on TV and go right to TCM, but if the movie was in color or too busy I'd have to turn it off. I was afraid it might always be like that and one of my greatest pleasure in life, movies, would be gone from me. And then one day I turned TCM on and there was THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY and it didn't make me anxious or feel like I wanted to explode or die or etc. and I watched it all the way through and was reminded of that first time I'd seen it back in 1964 and how much it had impacted me then and still did, in fact it still seems like a boldly unique, or uniquely bold movie.

The thing that always struck me about James Garner was his seeming lack of ego, so rare for a movie star, let alone a big, handsome leading man movie star. I suspect it kept him from getting or doing a wider range of roles more traditionally heroic, a la John Wayne. But that didn't seem to bother him either. He seemed as comfortable on TV as he did on the big screen, and never behaved like he had anything to prove or had to prove anything. I am grateful he's been a presence in my life for so much of it, and will continue to be as I rewatch old movies and TV shows where his easy charm and amazing (for a leading man) comic timing are always entertaining, and often a lot more.



Friday, July 18, 2014


Just before I left L.A. for Jersey, back in 1999, I played a second character on NYPD BLUE. I had  played an artist, Walter Hoyt, in previous years on the show, the most memorable character in my acting career (I still have people stop me and comment on that role), a career that I never really owned as I always saw myself as a poet who happened to act for his day job, despite the fact I was in my first school play at 13, my first professional play at 22, my first short film at 22 and my first feature at 26, and I made my living at it for over thirty years from my late thirties to my mid-sixties, enough so that I now live on a SAG pension, and yet, up until writing this post actually, I never thought of myself as an "actor" the way I think of friends who also have made their living at acting, sometimes sporadically, and are better known for it.

At any rate, the artist I played on NYPD BLUE was a unique creation and collaboration between me and the writers, and I am grateful for having the opportunity to have done that. But the character above came later on NYPD BLUE and was created as Dennis Franz's character's AA sponsor, just before I made the decision to move back East. The shots above were posted by Louis Perez, a good L.A. buddy originally from NYC and in the hat in the first photo above (his latest role was as the fight announcer on the most recent episode of RAY DONOVAN). They are of a scene in NYPD BLUE of an AA meeting. (I don't know the identity of the actress in the second shot.)

In the episode that followed, Franz's character Sipowitz (if I'm remembering the names correctly) calls his sponsor and says something like "Whattaya mean you moved to New Jersey?" and that was the end of that plot line. It was a nice note to leave L.A. on, and as frustrating and disappointing as it was to leave that role as well as my L.A. friends, it seemed like the right move for me and my family at the time. And anyway, it's all history now, as it all always is as soon as it happens.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


"Ayman just came back from his family
Home in the West Bank. How's the spirit there?
I asked. "Good. Nobody's giving up."
Ayman paused, wiping down the spotless glass top
Of the pastry case one more careful time
Without looking up. Thinking to himself.
"After all, all they want's a little justice."
On the map of the West Bank, that blank space
Just to the left of the town of Bhiddu
Is the village where Ayman's father, one
Of twenty children, was born and raised.
The name of the village means House of Stones
"Because there's a quarry there," but still
It's too small to rate a spot on the map in
The Economist, alongside this story
On the fresh welling up of blood and anger
In my friend's home land, that blank space
Filled with blood and stones. Ayman loves
His trade; in six years he's built from nothing
The coolest little coffee shop on the street;
People like him, he likes them; he makes
Great coffee, his sandwiches are famed, justly;
It's the old American Horatio
Alger Dream, and America's his country.
Every day he gets hundreds of calls
On his cell phone. "But know how many
Calls from people here I take when I'm back
Home?" he smiles. "None. I talk to people
There." And when he goes back home to Beit
Duqqu, America feels far away.
That's the way it feels to me too, but I have
No other home. The photo of the olive tree,
Its roots exposed from the bulldozer cut,
That was up on Ayman's wall last autumn --
Is that a photo of a broken home
Or is it that one's home's always intact
In one's mind as long as one's heart is
Full? I wouldn't begin to know. Tacked
On a phone pole out front of Fertile Grounds
In drifting night mist, a tattered poster
With a picture of a cat's face on it, lost
Near Delaware and Shattuck. It's Momo.
And what's become of poor Momo, now a week
Gone? Tonight, caning into the fog,
I hallucinated a Momo
Sighting downtown. No, just another feral.
Over ferals few sentimental
Tears are shed. A shelter's not a home.
A sanctuary's what everybody needs
These days -- the ferals, the street and doorway
People, the drifters in the mist, the bums.
On my way back, as I passed, I saw that
A young Arab girl in headscarf sat weeping
At a table outside Fertile Grounds. Ayman
In his counterman's apron, spick and span,
And Mohamed stood huddled in conference,
Mo holding a cell phone. "She's just lost
Her family, everything," Mo said softly.
"She doesn't have people here. I am
Going to help her." Ayman was talking
To the girl in Arabic, serious, hushed.
Then too Mo, in Arabic, reassuring.
"Don't worry, it will be okay," said Mo --
Switching back to Shattuck Avenue English
For me, the infidel. God is great. May
God bring Momo home if it is His will,
And everybody else along with him,
Whomever that may include -- we, living --
And we'll abide in that, and till then hope
That Momo too, pilfering out of the trash
Bins behind the Shattuck eateries,
Will abide likewise. He'll not lack competition."

—Tom Clark (his poem "A Meditation Outside the Fertile Grounds Cafe" from The New World, and posted on his blog BEYOND THE PALE Monday)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


This article comes too late (thanks to my old friend Wright Harris for hipping me to it) to save Brando's (acting) reputation while he was still alive, but it confirms my own suspicions and arguments when this topic was actually important to many of us who hold Brando up as the greatest screen actor ever (including his failures, which were based on choices always braver than most film actors' successes). (And at the end it includes a responsible summary of Brando's faults in his personal life, so it's not a hype job, it's a scholarly correction to the historical record.)

(I remember making my brother the ex-cop and brother-in-law the ex-cop watch the interview Larry King did with Brando with them scratching their heads but me being overwhelmed by seeing this icon treat that interview like no one ever had before on TV, talking to the cameraman and actually asking him his opinion, kissing King on the lips (!), etc.  Brando was a genius, flawed, inconsistent, but nonetheless at his art he was a genius.)

Monday, July 14, 2014


I suck at camera photos but this is Norah Jones and her new group, Puss'n'Boots. They were the closing act in the weekend music festival that happens every summer in my little Jersey town. People came from far away to see Norah Jones and some were disappointed at what they got. She and two other women played covers and some original tunes (their "record" comes out tomorrow I believe) and did a lot of it very nicely, but all in a country style.

A lot of folks were looking for the kind of sultry jazzy Sade style crooning and keyboard playing that made Norah Jones famous. But in this trio she just plays guitar and sings, sometimes lead, sometimes back up. One of the other women, Sasha Dobson, plays drums on some songs and guitar on others. The third woman, Cat Popper, plays bass and now and then guitar.

Their harmonies are worth the price of admission (though this festival is free, but you know what I mean). Beautiful, sometimes stunning. Jones' voice is as amazing as ever. As are the other women's. Their playing is good but none of them are instrumental virtuoso's. Jone's picks her guitar mostly in the single note stick-mostly-to-the-melody style of early country.

Most of the crowd loved it, though some wanted the old Norah Jones. But that's what makes her so interesting and unique, I think. What other music star can you think of who would change a style that made them famous and wealthy to one their fans might not like, and then not name her band after herself, and in fact seem to want to make it perfectly clear that she's just one of the gals on stage with the other gals (and they all seemed to really be having a lot of fun which is maybe why she decided to do it).

Hey, the weather held out, the crowd was the biggest yet, and they covered a song no one around me knew or maybe ever heard before, but was a standard at my clan's parties when I was growing up, that always brought tears to the grown ups eyes, even the ones who weren't drunk, and which I hadn't heard since then but remembered every word to and ended up teary eyed myself, despite the fact that they did it, as they did a lot of their set, in a very slow tempo and that early country style, when the way my clan sang it was with an Irish lilt (I always thought it was an Irish song because of the whole "shanty" angle, and though our homes weren't shacks we lived pretty near the railroad tracks and my Irish immigrant grandparents down the street were even closer to them) and then my third oldest brother (the one who became a cop)—and some cousins of his generation and maybe my big sisters—would follow with a swing version that as a kid made me very happy.

Though the ending still made me cry: "There's a queen waiting there with her silvery crown in a  shanty in old shanty town..." even when swung, which also meant the lyrics were "hepped" up. But the version Puss'n'Boots did was with the original lyrics as they do in this recording on YouTube that looks like maybe the first time they did the tune (it's Cat Popper singing and playing bass, though I can't hear the bass, with Jones on guitar and joining in singing harmony later—you can hear but not see Dobson on drums):

And here's the swing version my brother sang, Johnny Long's version. (As a kid I thought my two oldest brothers, who were in the military in WWII but played in swing bands before and after their service, I thought as a kid that they were actually in Johnny Long's band!)

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Years ago my old friend, the poet Robert Slater, turned me on to the music of slide guitarist Robert Randolph, saying Randolph came from my part of New Jersey and I should definitely catch him live when he played. But though he was known and headlined at festivals and other venues around the world, and appeared on Letterman and other live TV shows, he never seemed to play in Jersey.

Then last year he played in Morristown which is up in the hills about twenty-five minutes away but I couldn't make that and was disappointed. Until last night. Our little local summer music festival known as Maplewoodstock which has been running for a decade or so and started out with just local bands on a small riser open to the elements, is now a summer weekend party that showcases dozens of musical acts and culminates on Sunday night with the final and most famous act (that'll be Norah Jones tonight).

But Saturday night is often the most raucous party time and last night was no exception with Robert Randolph and The Family Band (his "little" sister sings and one or two cousins are among the instrumentalists though Robert introduces all his sidemen and women as "cousins" and the line up seems to vary from year to year and even month to month or day to day with the bassist and drummer the constants) ending the night in an orgy of swing your hips funk drive.

I was too busy boogieing to remember to use my phone to record anything, so all I have are a few mellower (by comparison) clips from other live performances with various line ups, but it might give you a taste of why Randolph has been called "the Jimmi Hendrix of the slide guitar" and was included in Rolling Stone's list of the top 100 guitar players of all time [make sure you listen to the second half of the second clip for a very rare taste of his talent, and though the third clip cuts off early catch that one for an introduction to his more usual funk, and sorry about the quality of the sound but it's good enough to get it].

Saturday, July 12, 2014


I just found out the great and uniquely talented bassist Charlie Haden passed today, well I guess it's officially yesterday, July 11th. This man's music inspired me, elated me, taught me, engaged me and in some instances enlightened me, and everything he did always moved me.

From what some were calling at the time "one of a kind experimental jazz" and others just heard as  "cacophony" of his late 1960s early 1970s ventures with his Liberation Orchestra, to the simplicity  of the spirituals he recorded with the equally inimitable Hank Jones in the 1990s, and his later return to his folk and country roots, as well as other adventures in music, that made him a master bassist period, not just a master jazz bassist, Charlie Haden was always a gift to those of us who listened.

My heart goes out to his talented children and all his family and friends and fans. He will be missed, but his music will live on. Here's one example, a recording that when I first played it for my bassist oldest son, Miles, brought both of us to tears, moved not only by the spirit embodied in the music, but almost overwhelmed by the distilled musical genius in the purity of both Haden's and Jones's playing:

Thursday, July 10, 2014


This isn't a very good copy, but someone found it on YouTube and it brought back some nice memories. This ad actually won some awards, and though it only ran for about a month it was ubiquitous on TV. And for months after it stopped running wherever I would be—whether L.A., New England or New York—strangers wold invariably make the motion of throwing a curve ball at me.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Here's a thought. Little tiny Jordan and little tiny Lebanon have taken in hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of refugees fleeing violence in nearby countries costing them tons of money they don't have, and big bad USA USA WE'RE NUMBER ONE wealthiest country in the world is freaking out over tens of thousands of kids fleeing violence in nearby countries. I'm ashamed of ourselves.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


In every conflict, both sides tend to exaggerate, distort, misdirect, misinform and attempt to control information, at least to some extent...but...and it's another big BUT...when one side has a lopsided dominance in power over the other (as giant corporations do worldwide over most governments, media, small businesses and ordinary people, or brutal dictatorships do over their subjects, or "whites" have historically over "blacks" in the USA, or Brits over native Irish in Ireland's history, or Germans and most nationalities over Jews in their nations, etc.) cries of victimhood from the dominant power side come off as petty and does Israel when complaining that a people their government drove out of their homes and off their lands—and continue to do that in "occupied territory"—are throwing stones at them or sending rockets into usually unpopulated areas of Israel (because they fear a direct hit on an Israeli target with many casualties would mean an even more brutal response from the Israeli military than those in the past that have been so lopsided)...

And the kidnapping and murder of teenage boys on both sides (or any other criminal act) should be treated like a crime and the criminals found and brought to legal justice...And the Israeli government rightfully can brag about their usually more successful attempts to do that as in the present situation it would seem...but not turn it into a sideshow of revenge retaliations on the general populace of either side...obviously...though not obvious to many directly involved...

PS: It is totally hypocritical of Israel's government to demand no inclusion of Hamas in Palestinian governance because Hamas denies Israel's right to exist, when Israel's own government includes parties that deny Palestine's right to exist!

Saturday, July 5, 2014


Unlike most actors, I never appeared in live theater much. I started acting professionally when I was almost forty, having been in some student and underground—or what would be called low low budget independent—movies here and there since my first of those when I was twenty-two. And though I had a love of the art—or craft, depending who you're talking to—of acting, and wanted to express my creativity as much through that as I had been doing in my writing since I was a boy, I still took it on as a day job to pay for food and rent for me and my two kids I was raising on my own, with the help of women friends now and then, and for my poetry writing. And amazingly it often did.

So I didn't do much theater because I was concentrating on movies and TV to pay the bills. Of the few times I did a play, I had some great experiences, but the most amazing in some ways was my first real stage gig in my early years in L.A. when I replaced the actor who had opened only days before in the role of the counter man in Lanford Wilson's BALM IN GILEAD in its premier L.A. run. It not only was a terrific experience, but even more importantly, a lasting one in terms of relationships.

I am still in touch with a lot of folks from the play and more importantly FEEL close to everyone who was in it. There was a connection made over the couple of months we did the show that has lasted almost three decades and continues to. And the fellow cast members I'm in touch with all feel the same about that and they're mostly people who did a lot more theater than I did. Yet this experience shines as something as unique for them as for me.

Here's a shot of the cast. I can't remember all the names so I won't even bother, except to point out me crouched down in the lower righthand corner and the late Jesse Aragon in the center of the shot, being given the rabbit ears treatment by a man I still connsider my brother (as I did Jesse) Ty Granderson Jones. Whoops, I already named two. I'll leave the rest up to someone with a better memory than my post-brain-op one. But whether I can name everyone in the cast or not, I love 'em all.