Sunday, September 30, 2018


Saw this a few weeks ago and loved it. A small romantic comedy with some serious themes—including my favorite: redemption. And well-acted, with a great cast led by Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd, and Ethan Hawke. Well-directed by Jesse Peretz, and well-written (despite it being by a group of writers) based on a novel by Nick Hornby. And very clever, not meant ironically or in quotes but in the original meaning of clever. A treat. Catch it if you can.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


My dear longtime friend Karen Allen turned me on to this video of Mary Chapin Carpenter singing and playing her beautiful song "Sometimes Just The Sky" and I wanted to share it because it touched me deeply.

Monday, September 24, 2018


For all my Jersey friends, on Saturday evening, October 20th, at 7:30PM, I'll be doing a solo reading and signing copies of ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY at Words bookstore in Maplewood NJ. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, September 23, 2018


I know two poets named Joel Lipman. One of them has just died. That Joel Lipman was a dearest friend in my L.A. years. He's pictured above in the mostly white shirt in the upper left corner just behind Michael Harris who is head to head with Hubert Selby Jr. whose shoulder I'm leaning on in the background behind Eve Brandstein.

The photo makes Joel look young and easy going and was taken at one of our weekly poetry readings in the series Poetry In Motion that Eve and I ran for several years in the 1980s and '90s. Everyone in the photo was a regular at those weekly readings, to which Joel always brought a hard-edged realism, usually with narrative poems about his experiences growing up in a rough neighborhood in Chicago (check out this video of him reading a piece about those years) or his carrying the attitude those years left him with into the Hollywood encounters he later faced in the film business.

I knew Joel as a tough but honorable person, with integrity and clarity in all encounters. I cherish the books he gave me for my birthdays, always rare and exactly what I wanted though I hadn't known I did until I got them (like Brendan Behan's New York, in which his inscription begins "this book reminds me of you and it belongs on your shelf..."). I loved this man and am sorry I hadn't been in touch so much in recent years so I could have told him that.

My condolences to his family first of all, and then to his many friends and fans, among whom I was and am proud to be counted.

Saturday, September 22, 2018


Another great event on my book "tour"—for ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY: Poems 1960-2017—this time at The Bookstore in Lenox Massachusetts with an attentive audience of friends and strangers, who made me feel welcomed and appreciated. I am blessed.

Thursday, September 20, 2018


My son Miles Lally plays bass (and Michael Lesko drums) in a trio that makes music that moves and engages me, maybe it'll do the same for you, this is their stripped down modified "acoustic" take on one of their songs that they performed while in Nashville recently, the singer/songwriter whose band this is, Greg Farley, is the real deal, and if you can't dig that, keep it to yourself, cause I do (and listen to the mini-intro interview with Greg, it explains his music totally:

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


This letter was sent out on the 18th to The Bookstore list, and I was so touched by it I wanted to share it, so here it is:

Michael Lally  Another Way to Play: Poems 1960-2017 
Friday September 21st at 5:30 p.m.

When I wrote in last week’s letter that I don’t read a lot of poetry, well, that wasn’t quite true.  I can remember riding in a car with a bunch of strangers to a poetry reading down in Washington, D.C., this was maybe 1973, and the poet was some guy around my age, skinny like me, too, but way more street smart, just a lot more ‘aware’ of things around him, which is how I have always believed all poets are, well, most of ‘em. 

Anyhow it was Michael Lally reading that night, and I’ve been a big fan ever since.  The guy seemed to inhabit a world just beyond my own experience, yet I found I could follow along just fine.  That was a first-time revelation to me, the literal key to the door to the world of poetry and literature. 

Last time he read here at The Bookstore maybe twenty years ago, it was around one of our birthdays, his or mine I can’t quite remember, but I do remember a poem he wrote about meeting someone and forgetting later on he had met her, meeting her again and reading her the poem he’d written about the meeting, not realizing it was the same she he was reading it to.

(He writes it much better than I can tell it. Maybe he’ll read it this time too.)  For a good sample of some of his work, here’s a link to his blogspot: 

I still have my original copy of one of his early chapbooks Rocky Dies Yellow. I don’t think I realized he’d published over twenty-five books of poetry.  Or that he’d read at the Gotham Book Mart sometime after I’d worked there, hosted by my old friend Janey (no relation) Tannenbaum.  I think I was up here in Lenox by that time.

All this to say Michael Lally will be reading from his newest collection Another Way to Play: Poems 1960-2017, just published by Seven Stories Press, this coming Friday September 21st at 5:30 p.m. and it is a collection well worth an honored place on your own bookshelf at home.  Open it anywhere and you’ll fall right in with his cadence, his storytelling, his ease in sharing with you what he wants you to know:

I did what I did for poetry I thought
           and I never sold out, and even when I did
nobody bought

And here’s an extra bonus! Independent filmmaker Rachel Diken, is following the poet on his book tour (Washington, D.C., New York City, the Berkshires) and will be on hand that night with a small crew to record the reading.  

Michael Lally: I Want to Call it Poems: A Documentary. Read about that here:

And come to the reading. Friday, September 21st at 5:30 p.m.  See you then.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


I'll be reading from and signing ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY: Poems 1960-2017 this Friday, September 21st, at 5:30PM, at The Bookstore in Lenox Massachusetts.The word doesn't seem to have gotten out so if you know anyone who might be interested please let them know...thanks.

Saturday, September 15, 2018


My niece, who we called "Reenie" passed away suddenly from complications of her diabetes, at age 49. An unexpected and tragic death. My heart goes out to her boyfriend and her sister especially. My late sister Joan and brother-in-law Joe adopted Reenie when she was a baby. And I knew her for her entire life.

I'm grateful that I moved back to Jersey after forty years elsewhere, so that I could reconnect in a deeper way and spend more time with relatives and old friends. Reenie and I spoke regularly on the phone and I am so happy that in recent years she seemed happier than ever, especially with her relationship and life.

Her adopted mother, my sister, died at around the same age, 50, from complications of a lifetime battle with her childhood diabetes, diagnosed when she was seven at a time when that still meant a death sentence (the doctor told our parents they shouldn't expect her to live beyond her teenage years).

What a mystery that this beloved mother and daughter passed around the same age from the ramifications of the same disease despite their not sharing any DNA. There are ties stronger than "blood."

Friday, September 14, 2018


Today is my godson Nick Browne's 28th birthday. Here's a photo of us together last spring at my book party in NYC. He's a master chef who won the cooking show competition CHOPPED and now works at a unique little spot on Railroad Street in Great Barrington Massachusetts called Botanica, where I ate dinner tonight and was as surprised as the competing chefs on CHOPPED were when he won, or the judges were by the original combinations he comes up with for every dish, especially when limited by what he can use. If you're ever up there on a Thursday or Friday or Saturday night, make sure you check it out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


I Am From… By Eli “Deak” Hotaling I am from sun-damaged skin Freckles and straw hats From tractors and dirt And fresh tomatoes I am from music and Ridges of chosen family From barefoot and dancing I am from small streams Trees and overgrown lawns From concrete and brick And the pretty cityscapes of Jersey I am from rainbows and cheers From black and plaid Parades of people and glitter That takes forever to wash off I am from darkness And false words From tomboys and girlie-girls I am from music Loud, fast, and angry I am from brush strokes And pencil sketches From iron-on patches And D.I.Y videos I am from candles, incense And crystals charging under the full moon I am from black cats And “fight back” From “stand up” And “never back down” I am from marches and protests From outcasts and artists I am from speaking your mind And taking no crap.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


Berry Berenson was a friend to me in my early years in Hollywood. She was married to the movie star Tony Perkins at the time and until his death in 1992. They seemed really loving to each other and I admired their relationship. And I admired her.

Though she was often noted more as Perkin's wife or as model/actress Marisa Berenson's sister, Berry was a wonderful actor in her own right (see REMEMBER MY NAME). But despite her fame-for-whatever-reason, at least around me she was always the least pretentious or self-centered person I ever met anywhere.

She came to a play I was in early on in L.A., the first L.A. run of Landford Wilson's BALM IN GILEAD, and after the performance stuck around to talk to me. One of the things she said to me that night was that she had only seen one other person in her life who had the kind of glow, I think that was the word she used, that I had, and that was Marilyn Monroe!

She was wonderful on screen and off, either in front of the camera or behind it (she was a great photographer), and I only wish, as I too often do with many friends, that I had made more of an effort to see her more often. Especially after I heard the news that she had been on one of the two planes that crashed into The World Trade Center towers on 9/11.

I knew some others who went down with the towers on that tragic day, like Father Mike Judge, but Berry is the one I think of most often. As I later wrote in a poem ("March 18, 2003"), she was:

"a woman who was kind to me when
she didn't need to be[...]
How many people have died
before you got the chance to tell them what you meant to?"

R.I.P. to all those we lost on that horrific day.

Monday, September 10, 2018


"We want to create a world in which love is more possible."  —Carl Ogelsby (1960s SDS leader)

Sunday, September 9, 2018


There is a lot to appreciate about THE WIFE. Starting with three Oscar-worthy performances by the always challenging Glenn Close as the title character; Annie Starke—a revelation for me and, I would guess, you—as that character's younger self; and the underrated but always brilliant Elizabeth McGovern, who has one scene and almost steals it as an aging 1950s bitter, cynical author reminiscent of Mary McCarthy at her most acerbic.

There is also the screenplay by Jane Anderson, adapted from a novel by Meg Wolitzer, which kept me intellectually engaged while at the same time, as an ex-screenwriter, impressed. And after a thoughtful discussion with friends, I continued to think about the themes and scenes of the film until I went to bed, and picked up thinking about it when I got up in the morning, seeing more resonance and meaning in what at times initially appeared to be superficial plot points.

The soundtrack is another award-worthy aspect of this movie. As is the cinematography and editing. My only quibble is with the casting of the male actors. Christian Slater is competent as an intrusive biographer looking for dirt, but Max Irons is merely adequate as the contentious son, and the same for Harry Lloyd as the younger husband and father. And though Jonathan Pryce is excellent as the older version of that character, I had a difficult time accepting that his character began life as a tough, impoverished, deeply ethnic, urban, Jewish scrapper.

Minor quibbles considering the satisfaction the film continues to give me. So I highly recommend it.

Saturday, September 8, 2018


I only have one Burt Reynolds story. I was in Amsterdam in 2001 working on a film I had helped write for director Ate de Jong. My first time in that city, and I fell in love with its beauty and manageability. It's like a college campus with canals.

One day I was waiting in the hallway outside the sound stage where the film was being shot, when what appeared to me to be an older man came out of the door on the sound stage across the hall. The hallway was all white, as I remember it, and bright, and the entire length of it was empty except for the man and me.

We nodded to each other, acknowledging each other's presence, and as we did so I realized it was Burt Reynolds. I don't remember if we talked, though I feel like we did and he cracked a joke, maybe at the expense of the movie he was making, maybe asked about the one I was involved with. I just remember thinking how amazing it was to be in the presence of this icon.

I always liked him, from his early days on TV in RIVERBOAT, and later playing the "half-breed" blacksmith on GUNSMOKE, to his performance in DELIVERANCE, and AT LONG LAST LOVE (one of the only people I know who loved that film when it came out), and STARTING OVER. And I loved his self-deprecating, but also self-loving, attitude that made him seem like he fell out of bed and into one of the most successful movie and TV acting careers in the history of the entertainment business. He didn't.

He obviously worked very hard for it, but made that work seem easy. Not an easy thing to do, though those who can do it are often underrated. It's not surprising that the only other movie star in history who, like Burt, had a five-consecutive-year run as top box office star, was Bing Crosby, who perfected the same veneer of seeming to be not working at all as he conquered radio, TV, movies, and records.

May Burt rest in eternally well-deserved plaudits.

Thursday, September 6, 2018


me (in my hang-my-jacket-on-one-shoulder and unique-glasses-frames phase), with artist friend Paul Harryn and my oldest son, Miles (in his growing dreads phase), in Santa Monica c. late 1980s?

Wednesday, September 5, 2018


I usually turn to movies for relief from the mundane or at times burdensome demands of every day life. And usually it works. Every now and then it doesn't. BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB (a remake of a late 1980s film version of a mid-1980s true story) caught my interest because of Ansel Elgort, who was so promising in BABY DRIVER.

Though the story could be compelling and the script the basis of an engaging film, director James Cox and his editor seem to go out of their way to impede that outcome. Right from the start my reaction was huh? The scenes are shot and directed as though they are disconnected, and elongated so that the audience is so far ahead of the unfolding plot the only recourse the editor seemed to see was throwing in a dissonant scene fragment that made no logical or storyline sense.

The cast consists of mostly talented actors. Not surprisingly, Kevin Spacey plays a sleazy scumbag character as well as he always does (which some would say comes naturally), and a cameo turn by Judd Nelson (who was in the original BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB movie) is beautifully understated, but otherwise everyone else is so over the top you feel like you're being slammed around between pieces of the most melodramatic soap opera ever and long stretches of self indulgence from a beginner film student so enamored with his shots and scenes they draw them out to the point of creative paralysis.

Oh, and there seemed to be no attempt to reproduce the styles of the 1980s to add even an element of veracity.  So: not recommended.

Monday, September 3, 2018


"On this Labor Day remember that none of you are paid what we are worth. For as long as we allow the lowest of us to be paid wages in which they cant afford basic human necessities after working a standard workweek then we all subject ourselves to being ok with less. The power will always be in a unified working class." —Timmy Lally

Sunday, September 2, 2018


Two weeks ago a friend took me to see Jessica Sherr perform her one-woman show: BETTE DAVIS AIN'T FOR SISSIES (the title riffs on Davis's famous quote late in life: "Getting old ain't for sissies"). It was at "the church around the corner" on East 29th Street in Manhattan—otherwise known as "the actors' church"—in a small library converted into a small theater.

I give credit to anyone who does a one-person show live onstage, just for the courage and commitment it takes to stand up there all alone and try to retain an audience's attention and interest for usually at least an hour, and often more, even when it doesn't work. But this show and performance works. From her first words and movements on the small set meant to be Davis's Beverly Hills home the night of the 1939 Oscar ceremony (in February of1940), Sherr owned the stage and both entertained and enlightened the audience.

There were moments when Sherr evoked so perfectly Davis's voice and mannerisms, she became her. Though for most of the show, she was not so much mimicking Davis's physicality and unique accent, but rather channeling her personality and spirit and intelligence. I knew most of the details of Davis's career and personal life (Sherr brings both Davis's past and future to life in the course of this one Oscar night) but still felt pleasantly surprised and informed.

This is an evolving show Sherr has been working on and performing for years, and the night we saw it was the first time a new expanded version was performed for an audience. By their reaction (and mine) it was a hit. If you like live theater, especially in an intimate setting (those in the front row can almost touch the performer) and appreciate the hard work a one-person show demands, go see BETTE DAVIS AIN'T FOR SISSIES next time Sherr performs it.