Sunday, October 29, 2017


Not a great movie but a unique and informative one, as well as an impressive achievement. Reproducing several of Van Gogh's most famous portraits, and other paintings of his, LOVING VINCENT brings them to life with a kind of painted animation (that used a hundred painters, according to the intro) in a story based mostly on factual biographical incidents.

The voice part of the acting is good, though to me it was odd to hear English and Irish accents coming out of French and Dutch characters. And the writing pretty good, considering the challenge of creating a compelling story out of paintings (the story centers around the mystery of Van Gogh's death).

As for the directing, when the film is not visually riffing on Van Gogh's original paintings, but instead illustrating speculative scenes not painted by the artist, it turns to blacks and grays in the style of enhanced film that I always find less engaging than actual film (or its digital equivalent).

I'm glad I saw it, and on the big screen, if just for the technique of bringing the paintings—and the characters and settings in them—to life.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


There's been plenty of tributes to Fats Domino, the New Orleans piano player/singer/songwriter, who passed today [actually technically it just turned midnight, so yesterday]. So mine will be about his impact on me. I entered adolescence as a piano player in 1955, at the same time rock'n'roll became a thing, with the biggest influences on my musicianship being the piano on Johnny Ace's posthumous hit "Forever My Darling" and everything Fats Domino recorded. In those years I played all his hits whenever I could in bars and at parties, etc. Here's two poems from my last book THE VILLAGE SONNETS that mention Domino.


The first place I played piano professionally
in Manhattan was on the city’s skid row in a
joint with a tourist show called SAMMY’S
BOWERY FOLLIES where ancient weathered
overweight ladies sang like Sophie Tucker,
all brass and sass and volume, and dressed like
19th-century dancehall gals in the Hollywood
Westerns of my boyhood. There were old
men too, vaudeville comics in raggy striped
suits and derbies, and white-haired musicians
playing piano and banjo. My cousin Rosemary
took me and another Irish Catholic girl with
Mary in her name, and her date, certain I’d
pass for eighteen with them in their twenties.


Midway through the show this big bosomed
old lady looked down at our table and asked
who I was, maybe cause I was the youngest
in the club. My cousin said Ricky Nelson.
Invited to the stage I blushed like crazy as the
others insisted I go. Luckily there were no
guitars since I didn’t play one. I knew the Fats
Domino song Nelson covered, so I sat down
at the piano to play and sing I’M WALKIN’
more like Fats than Ricky I hoped, and felt
gratified by the applause. The manager aware
I wasn’t Nelson said he’d pay me to be the
warm-up act for the main show. I did it for a
few months till I discovered progressive jazz.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Why is the Republican controlled Congress's opening two separate investigations (or re-investigations) into Hilary (emails, etc.) now? Some say to distract people from the Russian investigations (Trump election interference and collusion etc.). But to me it indicates that they know the outcome already, that Trump stole the election with the help of Putin and his minions, and Clinton is therefore our legally elected president.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Tal Wilkenfeld! (gotta wait for her licks, but listening to Jeff Beck while you wait ain't bad)

Sunday, October 22, 2017


Fantastic little movie, with brilliant camera work, writing, editing, directing, and acting. Willem Defoe, as the motel manager, is as likable and un-theatrical and fun to watch as he's ever been. And the two main leads—Bria Vinaite and Brooklyn Prince—as mother and daughter, create uniquely original characters, with Prince giving maybe the best performance in a movie this year. One of the main reasons to see the movie is her delightful, engaging, and at times poignant screen presence.

The film deals with some harsh realities so realistically, at times it felt like the actors weren't professionals and the dialogue and action was improvised. Perhaps it was, and some of them were (a lot of the actors, all sensational, don't have any other credits, or just one other).

The ending makes the movie's indictment of the contrast between Florida's Disney World promise and the struggling impoverished world that exists in that fantasy's shadow (a stand-in for the extreme inequality more and more prevalent in our social and economic systems) devastating yet transcendent. I resisted it at the screening last night, but it's still resonating for me, and I suspect it will continue to in the days and weeks to come. A true work of art.

Friday, October 20, 2017


John Godfrey has been a dear friend since the 1970s when he first became known on the downtown New York poetry scene as "a poet's poet," highly admired and loved by all who encountered him or his work. His book THE CITY KEEPS, Selected and New Poems 1966-2014, should be required reading for anyone who appreciates uniquely evocative poetry.

He will be reading, with Barbara Henning and Cliff Hyman, at the Zinc Bar on West Third Street in Manhattan this Sunday at 4:30PM. As they used to say back in the day, Be there or be square.


Compared to
my life
my life
is long

a tenuous

can, will, or fails
to intimate

It is older
I knew it
long ago
Her downy skin


Two quick strides! There!
Bus smokes past my heels, a
slingshot to the Battery, which
is down. I catch my breath
and Sing Wu a song, past those
lights, and their miniature bar
in the window. Ahead of me
in the sky stars are scrambling
from constellation to constellation
shaped as numbers 31 and 9:15
I always believe what's in
the sky at night, O Spanish moon!
And my heart always follows
that brave and unrefined intelligence

Thursday, October 19, 2017


me doing my notorious finger pointing dance move at a niece's wedding, with another niece, Jennifer, dancing with her husband, David, behind me, New Jersey c. 2007
from viewer's left to right Paul Schneeman, my oldest son Miles Lally, me holding Emil's baby, George Schneeman (r.i.p.), and Emil Schneeman, with my youngest son Flynn Lally and my grandson Donovan Lally, at George's apartment/studio on Saint Mark's Place, NYC c. 2008
me clapping, my oldest son Miles in fedora and flannel almost out of frame to my left, and my youngest son Flynn in front of me, at the Maplewood NJ o.g. skate park, long since replaced, c. 2008
the Lally clan reunion in Belmar NJ 2011
my 70th birthday party in Great Barrington MA 2012 (I can spy Bill Lannigan in window, that's Jim Keefe with his back to camera far right, and me face lit behind him, and Karen Allen dancing to my right, with my son Miles behind me playing base in the late Bell Engine band et. al.
my back to camera in the gray suit I'd just bought for Alec Baldwin's wedding and didn't know I was supposed to cut the threads in back at the bottom connecting the vents or whatever they're called, and Robert Kennedy Jr. looking at me but actually ignoring my attempt to make small talk which I suck at, NYC 2012
at the ceremony for poet/songwriter/musician Terence Winch's honorary doctorate in Madison Square Garden (if I'm remembering correctly), me in long hair at the viewer's right, and in red sweater Terry's wife the artist Susan Campbell, next to Terence, and their talented musician son Michael, etc. NYC c. 2014?
a Poetry In Motion night with poets and comics and musicians etc. including on the viewer's far left me, with a hand on poet Elinor Nauen's shoulder, and co-founder and now sole organizer of Poetry In Motion Eve Brandstein with long black hair bending down behind the late great comic/actor/writer Taylor Negron, in light blue shirt, and in front of him, and foremost in the photo, the great composer/performer/musician Sylvana Joyce, et. al. at The Cutting Room NYC c. 2015 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Pedophiles are protected because a priest is more valuable to the Church than a 10-year-old boy. Predators like #HarveyWeinstein are protected because a successful producer is more valuable to the Hollywood establishment than a wannabe actress. Homicidal cops are protected because a trained officer is more valuable to the Force than a black teenager. Trump is protected because a warm body in the Oval Office is more valuable to the Party than ALL Of US PUT TOGETHER.
We don’t just have a misogyny crisis. We have a crisis of greed and self-interest.
Ethlie Ann Vare

Sunday, October 15, 2017


What a pleasant surprise. I didn't know what to expect when I entered the theater to see PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMEN, but I did know that it was written and directed by a woman, Angela Robinson, and among the stars was one of my all-time favorite movie actors: Rebecca Hall. Neither disappointed. Hall gives an Oscar-worthy performance, and Robinson counterbalances all the films I've seen recently that were about women but were written and directed by men.

From the first scene, there's a realistic, blunt honesty about the many dimensions of the three main characters (the other two played by Bella Heathcote and Luke Evans). The real people their characters are based on, as shown in the usual old photos during the end credits, were much more ordinary looking then these movie actors, but instead of that diminishing the truth of the movie, it enhanced it, for me, because it allowed me to surrender more easily to depictions and declarations that I might otherwise have too easily dismissed.

Those three historic characters—a one-time professor who ends up creating the comic book hero Wonder Woman, and the two women she is based on, i.e. his wife and their lover—not only personally explored some of the infinite possibilities of human behavior and relationships, but withstood the censure, and worse, of a time as repressed as most. But their beliefs and discoveries, as depicted in this film, should be more understandable and relatable to audiences these days than at any other time in our history.

For my taste, this was a  nicely directed, acted, and written, film, about life choices that can seem challenging, or even distasteful, to some, including me at times, but in the end are deeply and fully human. Worth seeing.

Friday, October 13, 2017


Tell me this isn't the sweetest, and purest, little demonstration of humble vocal skill you've heard in a while:

Thursday, October 12, 2017


me as "counterman John"—in the first L.A. production of Landford Wilson's BALM IN GILEAD—in white shirt dark hair at the top right, standing next to the late Jesse Aragon, and the rest of the cast who keep in touch to this day, L.A. 1983
another shot of THE BALM IN GILEAD cast with me, this time, at lower right, I can't name everyone (blame it on the brain op) but among the cast are Dennis Christopher, Eddie Velez (we were later in a TV series called BERRENGERS together), Vida Vierra, Jesse Aragon (r.i.p.), Rhonda Aldrich, Ty Granderson Jones, Cyril O'Reilly, Lorrie Marlow, Peter Frechette, et. al. L.A. 1983
a Lally clan reunion with me obscured behind someone and impossible to make out anyway among those who were able to show up for this one down the Jersey shore at cousin Kathi Lally Gross's. in I believe 1984
 a bunch of us who took part in POETRY IN MOTION (called that because we moved locations so often), the poetry series I founded with Eve Brandstein (dark hair in top row) around 1986 or so, top row left to right Anne Beatts, Hubert Selby Jr., me, Jack Grapes, Eve, the late Lotus Winestock, Joel Lipmam, bottom row, Tommy Swerdlow, Katy Sagal, Yvonne de la Vega, Michael O'Keefe, Robert Downey  Jr., Michael Harris, Michael des Barres, long-haired woman behind him a French actress whose name I can't remember, Miriam?, and the shorter haired woman next to him, also French, the director Caroline Ducroq?, Cafe Largo, L.A. c. 1990?
same as previous but in living color!
me dancing with my then love Crystal, and Hubert Sleby Jr. (with pony tai!) dancing with my niece Lisa Koch at a wedding in Malibu in 1995

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


(unfortunately not sure who to credit, but what follow is not mine)

1967 - Jayne Mansfield is killed when her car runs under the rear end of a tractor trailer. Since then, all trailers have a DOT bar at the rear to keep cars from going under them.
1982 - Seven people die when Tylenol packaging was tampered with. Since then, it takes a PhD, channel locks, and a sharp object to get into a bottle of pills.
2001 - One person attempts to blow up a plane with a shoe bomb. Since then, all air travelers have to take off their shoes for scanning before being allowed to board.
Since 1968 - 1,516,863 people die from guns on American soil. Since then, the problem apparently can't be solved except with thoughts and prayers.
Why do you think this is?
We need to stop letting the NRA hold us hostage ... at gunpoint!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Thelonious Sphere Monk was the Einstein of Jazz, the pinnacle of genius as both a composer and performer, the most sui generis of all music creators (my perspective but many others, whose opinion I respect, concur)...Here he is in 1969 performing his best known "tune" (written back in the '40s) and in some ways least challenging to the listener of all his compositions, "'Round Midnight"...I figure few folks will have, or take, the time to listen to over six minutes of a solo musical performance that doesn't have anything other than one man at a piano (and some static-y old European TV footage which lasts less than a minute), but if you watch to the end, it will become more and more apparent why Monk is held up as unique and unprecedented...Just imagine what the reaction was from most of the musical performance world to his deliberate dissonance and stop-step rhythms when this is the most accessibly simple of his compositions, in many ways (leading to its popularity)...also go back and listen to any recordings made before Monk to appreciate what a revolutionary he was...


Sunday, October 8, 2017


Can't find a motive? The guy was obviously addicted to gambling, possibly to alcohol and hookers, and when he was a boy his father was an evil criminal on the FBI's most wanted list. Wonder how the other kids reacted to that? What he planned and carried out was obviously the result of a resentment toward his fellow humans so deep he felt compelled to take it out on the most possible victims.

And as for gun regulation? Don't get me started...

Saturday, October 7, 2017


BATTLE OF THE SEXES was the perfect antidote, for me, to all the bad news lately. A movie that tells the true story of the lead up to—and the personalities involved in—the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs that captivated the world of 1973 at the dawn of the era of "second wave feminism" as expressed in what we called then "The Women's Movement."

Emma Stone as King, and Steve Carell as Riggs, give Academy Award performances, playing every nuance of their characters' personalities and struggles with accuracy and depth. Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE) and co-directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE) plumb the talents of an extraordinary cast, of which Elizabeth Shue stands out in the role of Riggs' wife among stellar performances by Sara Silverman, Natalie Morales, Bill Pullman, Austin Stowell, and many others.

It's especially timely at this moment of reassessment of feminism and male privilege, and a great history lesson in how one woman's tenacity and courage—with the help of other women and a few men—took on an entrenched powerful corporate sports establishment and changed the course of not just her sport, but of her, and our, world.

Thursday, October 5, 2017


JV football team, St. Benedict's, Newark NJ (me, third row from bottom, viewer's far right, leaning my head to my left) 1956
coaches and players at my first function at St. Benedict's, Newark NJ (me in dark coat, slanted stripe tie in middle of guys standing, eleventh one in from right or left) 1956
St. Benedict's, Newark NJ, me in back row, first on the viewer's left, not sure what year but think it's 1958
composer Rain Worthington and me taking part in an art/performance happening at the World Trade Center Twin Towers plaza, a few blocks from the illegal loft we lived in, in what would become Tribeca, NYC c. 1978?
me in dark shirt standing, next to poets Terence Winch, also standing, and Doug Lang, with mustache sitting, and others, Folio books, DC c. 1977
the late poets Ted Berrigan (in beard) and Tim Dlugos (in glasses) at my second wedding, to actress Penelope Milford (in red dress) next to me, my daughter Caitlin to my left, next to my son Miles (back of his head), and I can tell it's actor/poet Michael O'Keefe's smile peeking out from the edge of the frame on viewer's right said, NYC, Valentine's Day 1982

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


First time I heard Tom Petty, I dismissed him as just a Dylan imitator. Then, on a visit to my friend Karen Allen's apartment in Manhattan, she insisted I listen to his newest album, DAMN THE TORPEDOES, and when I heard "Refugee" it spoke so clearly to where I was at then emotionally and mentally, it became my anthem from that moment on for the next few years. "You don't have to live like a refugee," I'd remind myself often. Thanks Tom for that and so much more in other songs and albums.

The only time I encountered Petty in person was during the time of his being a part of The Traveling Wilburys, when for one magical moment at a party at Carrie Fisher's, a friend from Jersey and I ended up in a room where Petty, Dylan, and George Harrison were passing a guitar around and singing songs, or riffing on the songs of others, with lots of messing with each other...just them in three easy chairs with a few young, beautiful women—unfortunately like the most obvious cliche—"sitting at their feet."

Still, a sweet memory musically.