Monday, August 31, 2020


 For whatever reason, any image I put into my blog comes out oversized, so you have to click on it to see it correctly. Aggravatin'.

Sunday, August 30, 2020



I didn't know him, but the minute he appeared onscreen when 42 came out with him playing one of my icons, Jackie Robinson, I fell in love with his acting talent, his screen presence, and his beauty. And everything I saw him in after that, especially BLACK PANTHER, just confirmed that as he became another of the few people I consider icons (and like most of us I had no idea the movies he made in the last few years were all done while he was battling and dying of cancer!). Rest In Power and peace my hero.

Friday, August 28, 2020


On hot humid days instead of going outside I try to walk/trot/dance around my apartment for a half hour at a brisk pace for some aerobic exercise, but pretty soon I'm bored and tired and look at my watch to see if it's been the twenty-five minutes it feels like only to discover it's been five. So then I feel totally bored with the back and forth in such a small space so try to come up with distractions. Yesterday it was making lists in my head of favorite artists (painters etc.) who worked in the 20th century, grouping them by the first initial of their last names. Here's as much as I did plus some more I thought of today, but I know I'm leaving a lot out:

Charles Burchfield
Louise Bourgeois
Don Bachardy
Joe Brainard
Glen Baxter
Jennifer Bartlett
Jean-Michel Basquiat
Susan Bee
Jennifer Baxandale
Alix Bailey

Joseph Cornell
Susan Campbell
John Clarke 

Willem De Kooning
Jim Dine
Donna Dennis
Ray DiPalma
Elizabeth DiPalma

Max Ernst

Jane Freilicher

Phillip Guston 

Edward Hopper
Grace Hartigan
David Hockney
Eva Hesse
Paul Harryn
Caitlin Hotaling
Duncan Hannah
Bob Heman
Eric Holzman
Walter Hoyt

Frida Kahlo
Lee Krasner
Alex Katz
BJ Kitaj
Jack Kerouac (yes, he painted too) 

Annabel Lee
Alix Lambert

Rene Magritte
Reginald Marsh
Rita Stern Milch
Don McLaughlin

Louise Nevelson
Paula North

Francis Picabia
Darragh Park
Rick Parker

Mark Rothko
Robert Rauschenberg
Ed Ruscha
Susan Rothenberg

Egon Schiele
Kurt Schwitters
Charles Sheeler
David Smith
Sylvia Schuster
George Schneeman
Peter Spence

Trevor Winkfield
Ai Wei Wei


More lies about Democrats especially Biden and Harris, more false claims about all the good 45 has done and how good he is personally, more poignant personal stories from individuals who received the beneficence of their ruler, more co-pesidenting from Ivanka, more dictator pomp and circumstances like using the people's house that our taxpayer dollars pay for to stage a single party's convention event at which that party's dictator droned on for over an hour, a la Fidel Castro and Duarte et al., making it the second longest nomination acceptance speech in history, the longest having been his acceptance speech in 2016. Toward the end even he seemed to be falling asleep from it. Talk about sleepy joe.

Thursday, August 27, 2020


Another night of mostly prerecorded messages from "regular" folks telling poignant personal stories in praise of 45 (with again several "black and brown" folks) and speeches full of distortions and lies to make the reality of 45 and his policies palatable to the swing voters and "white suburban women" so they'll feel little enough guilt to vote for him. But the lies, especially in V.P. Pence's speech, added to the sense that The Dear Leader is the supreme and superior human and Biden/Harris are the devil's minions. If you buy the lies as truth, it reassured and I'm sure inspired you, if you see through the lies, it fell flat. Obvious, but nonetheless the dilemma.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020


My friend, the uniquely talented poet and actor Harry E. Northup has a new book of poems just published, LOVE POEM TO MPTF, that I highly recommend, as the blurb I wrote for it on the back of the book expresses. It was an excerpt from this longer one I sent, saying they could use whatever part of it they wanted to (I have a tendency to send more than required and to break the lines in my emails turning them into poems):

"When I was recovering from a cancer operation in 2001,
Harry E. Northup’s book Reunions arrived in the mail.
I was in deep despair and could not read or find any en-
joyment in music or all the creative work of others that
had sustained me throughout my life. But I opened the
book and read the first poem, like a diary entry from a
highly perceptive, honest, and humble observer of his
own life in all its ordinary and extraordinary elements.
I kept reading, and in the process was returned to my
own life and all the creative forces that enriched it. I
saw this as a unique experience, but with this new book,
Love Poems To MPTF, I see poetry that any and every-
one can find life sustaining. There is more wisdom in
the lines of the poems in this book than in any book of
poems I can think of, unless you consider Lao Tzu’s
The Tao Te Ching poetry. It will sit on a shelf beside
the volumes of holy insight and wisdom I find essential."

Here's a poem from the book

"Holiness That Never Exists"

To be in a holiness that never exists

Except in prayer, asking for help,

Giving thanks, feeling broken

To be in a holiness that never exists

Except in touching my wife's body,

Greeting my neighbors, loving my son

To be in a holiness that never exists

Except in smelling a freshly cut rose,

Seeing a rabbit sit still, a squirrel, lizard

To be in a holiness that never exists

Except in speaking an epic's words out

Loud, seeing a circle, a square, a door

To be in a holiness that never exists

Except in being rescued by a friend,

Given a home in the Motion Picture &

Television Fund

To be in a holiness that never exists

Except in admitting betrayal, vulnerability,

Grace, desire, hurt, hands, grief, home

4  28  18


Another mix of false claims, misuse of government property and protocol, some effective TV moments (the sequence of interactions between Pence and various 45 supporters was surprisingly well done to impact those who don't know the facts, and parts of Melania's speech (if you could ignore her dictator's military style influenced outfit and lies about her husband), And once again a mix of "black and brown" folks among those praising him. A lot of work to do rebutting and reframing with factual evidence their arguments for "12 more years" wink wink.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2020


Had to cut away a few times, especially from speeches by screaming Kimberly Guilfoyle and crazy-eyed (what was in them?) Donald Jr., both of which and whom are easy to mock and satirize. But sorry to report that for those who get their perspective from Faux News and other rightwing outlets (a very large number) a lot of what went on at this event was effective. Full of lies, yes, for a discerning viewer, but how many of those are there? Listening to call-ins to my local New York NPR station I heard articulate, educated, progressive young people categorize Biden as "not much better than" you-know-who on race!

And though the shout out from the states and territories was unshockingly almost solidly white, there were enough black and brown (I hate those generalizations but it's the current vocabulary) faces in other segments to appeal to anyone not identified as "white" to see an opening. My progressive friends in previous generations made the mistake of thinking that labeling Nixon a crook and faulting him for not keeping his promise to end the war in Viet Nam plus other obvious failings of his administration would cost him his second term but it didn't. Nor did branding W as dumb and getting us into an unwanted war etc. cost him a second term. It's going to take all of us not just voting but convincing others to, to avoid the same happening again.

Monday, August 24, 2020



Let me add my voice to those who have praised LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, the new HBO series. It's fantastic, literally. Set in the 1950s, it weaves the realities of racism in he USA, the actual terrorism of white supremacy, and the everyday heroism of the terrorized with elements of fantasy that rise to the level of poetic and visual metaphors for those terrors and that survival, The cast is excellent, the production values matchless. I'm not a fan of fantasy fiction or sci-fi or horror movies, all of which LOVECRAFT COUNTRY could be categorized as, but I am a fan of James Baldwin and Gil Scott-Heron, both of whose words are heard as part of the soundtrack in the first two episodes of the series. I can't wait to see whose words show up in coming episodes. 

Friday, August 21, 2020


Wow. This whole convention really worked. Some beautiful moments tonight (Biden's granddaughters), some awkward moments (ex-candidates zoom "conversation), some poignant moments (the kid Biden helped with his stutter and self-confidence), some inspiring moments (Joe's speech, his best), and some moments that touched me deeply (the video of Biden addressing a question about his faith) and made me laugh out loud (all from Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Great show. Here's hoping it had an impact and gets people to vote. 

Thursday, August 20, 2020


Another smart mix of regular folks and well-known folks, with many more moving moments. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS! Obama's speech was powerful and more explicitly dire than any he's ever given. Kamala's was her best, but the setting was dumb. One of the best things about this virtual convention is the intimacy the zoom format creates, people speaking directly to the camera in real locations, living rooms, offices, outside before landmarks etc. So putting Harris on a vast stage with no other human and an audience of a handful of people, like a still photographer at work, made every wide shot emphasize the emptiness. Bad television. But otherwise a great show, including the musical numbers. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020



A dear friend for almost forty years, and one of the most authentically caring and humbly generous spirits I've ever known. Passed while on a bike ride with his love, smiling til the end. I, and so many others, miss him already. Deep condolences to his family and many other friends.

[an older photo, but the way I will always remember him, and a shot taken two 
minutes before he passed]


 For my taste better and even more moving moments. ADY BARKEN! And that roll call vote!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020


 Pretty good, considering the challenges. Lots of moving moments, but ultimately one word: MICHELLE!

Friday, August 14, 2020



Thursday, August 13, 2020



The publisher of my new & selected (a 538-page sampling of 57 years of poetry), 7 Stories Press, is having a sale on all their titles (which includes books by Howard Zinn, Kurt Vonnegut, Noam Chomsky, and Nana Ama Danquah). Half price on all, including mine (Another Way To Play) for under ten bucks. What a bargain for a lifetime's worth of poems. Like poet and language preservation activist Bob Holman says about me and this book in a blurb on the back cover: "He is our Walt Whitman... And this is his Leaves Of Grass". If you already have a copy, buy one for a friend to comfort or distract them during this time of Covid isolation. Help a good press out. (



Watched three great documentaries about great music makers in the past week. First: BILL EVANS: TIME REMEMBERED, then a few days ago caught TEDDY PENDERGRASS: IF YOU DON'T KNOW ME, and tonight THE GO-GO'S. The Bill Evans story has a tragic ending but is told well and has so much revelatory material, including archival footage and photos, I found it fascinating, compelling, and poignant. And, of course, the music is so f*ckin gloriously good.

I was a jazz piano playing teenager when Bill Evans first became famous in the jazz world (saw him and his original trio with Paul Motian and Scott Lafarro play in Rochester in 1960) and idolized him so much I copped a lot of his style, from trying to emulate his amazingly soft touch to hunching over the key board til my face was almost hitting the keys. His music is always the antidote to whatever may be disturbing me.

I always loved Teddy Pendergrass and felt as dismayed as all who loved him and his music did when he had that terrible car crash and ended up a quadriplegic. But I didn't realize what a crush I' always had on him until I was watching this documentary. Damn was he sexy, that combination of boyish vulnerability and muscular power and charisma. And though his story contains a heap of tragedy, it also has a more redemptive and satisfying ending than Evans. Nonetheless I found myself sobbing at one point and not being sure why, though part of it was the harassment he faced by his hometown Philadelphia police even after his huge stardom, so persistent and evil his wife and others feared for him every time he went out. That and the reminder that he was on the way to being as big as Elvis or Michael Jackson when the accident happened, and we'll never know how big a legend he may have become in the world beyond those of us to whom his legend already is infinite.

THE GO-GO'S documents the rise and fall of the first all girl band to reach number one on the charts and has the usual elements of the rock band docs except this time with women who had to (and still have to) overcome much tougher challenges than men, which this film documents as well. I found it at times as delightful as the band's music and image initially were to me, even in their most raw early days. But it too has its tragic moments, though less tragic than what happened to Evans and Pendergrass. It's a very satisfying experience, watching this film. And yeah, why the f*ck aren't they in the rock'n'roll hall of fame?!

Monday, August 10, 2020


HBO's first stand-alone season of the resurrected PERRY MASON is the famous character's origin story, and it's a pretty good one. The best things about the show are the music of Terence Blanchard and every woman actor in it. Just to mention two of the outstanding females in the cast: Juliet Rylance as Della Street and Veronica Falcon as Mason's lover. (Oh and a third best thing, a sex montage in an early episode that's the most realistic I've ever seen on TV.)

So it's worth watching PERRY MASON just to see the women actors work. Some of the men are good too. But for me the weakest element is the star of the show, Matthew Rhys. He has his moments, but I couldn't help thinking at times of what some other actors could have done with such a juicy role. And why cast a Welshman as such an iconic "American" character? But in the end watching this first season was satisfying, so I recommend it. 

Saturday, August 8, 2020


When I was a teenager I was hired by the local post office to carry what became known as "junk mail" to residences in our town during the weeks leading up to Christmas because the volume of Christmas cards overwhelmed the system. There even was more than one delivery a day so that no mail was ever late. The post office had been so important to the founders that they established it in The Constitution! You know, the document the rightwing republicans claim to care so much about.

Since Nixon the Republicans have been trying to privatize the post office, and pulled off a kind of partial privatization in fact, but in more recent years the republicans have been going more for crippling the postal service entirely to enhance the private carriers. And now with the upcoming presidential election the trumpers have been waging a direct attack on the P.O. to weaken support for voting-by-mail, making it difficult for the mail to get through without delays and losses.

For instance it's August 8th and I still haven't received my main pension check, which usually arrives on the first, or the day before or after, but has never arrived more than two days late. I hate this administration and the hypocrites who support and defend it with claims to be fans of the founding principles of this country but betray those principles every chance they get.

(C) 2020 Michael Lally 


Wednesday, August 5, 2020


Today would have been poet Tim Dlugos' 70th birthday (he passed at 40 from AIDS). He was 21 and I was 29 when we met at a poetry reading Ed Cox (also long gone) and I did in DC, at Catholic University as I remember it. Tim had quit the Christian Brothers (a Catholic order just below priests) after it was made clear that he was heading for dismissal because of what they then called "a special relationship" with another aspiring brother (as Tim told it to me).

He claimed Ed and I were the first poets he ever heard who read poems about being gay and our romantic and sexual experiences. He called us his heroes and we became instant friends (Ed and I and some others had a press called Some Of Us that published Tim's first book as well: High There). From that time on we were in constant communication until his death. We shared poems and gossip and theories and spiritual journeys (he became an Episcopalian priest and ministered to AIDS patients in a Jersey City hospital in the years before he passed).

We both moved to New York in the mid-1970s and even after I married a movie actress (with Tim's encouragement) and moved to LA, we spoke on the phone at least weekly. I saw him the last time not long before he passed in the AIDS ward at Roosevelt Hospital in New York when I flew back to visit him at the end, a ward he made famous in his great poem "G-9"—the designation the hospital used for the AIDS ward (he read it on one of the national morning news shows before his death).

I loved him from the moment we met and we became so close he would use (after asking my permission) experiences from my life in his poems, as if they were his experiences. He was my biggest champion and supporter and most honest observer, and a personal hero, who I miss constantly.

Click on this photo to see that's Tim in suit and tie at my second wedding (In a NYC bar/restaurant) smiling joyfully at me and my bride, actress Penelope Milford, and poet Ted Berrigan (in tee shirt, another close and dear friend gone too soon), and my daughter Caitlin and son Miles in the foreground (with a smiling actor/poet Michael O'Keefe at the right edge of the photo, Valentine's Day 1982)  

Monday, August 3, 2020


In times of trouble and stress, I often turn to a favorite work of art for solace and calm, including this masterwork of Bill Evans that's been offering me solace since I bought the first recording of it in the early 1960s: "Peace Piece":

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Saturday, August 1, 2020


You've probably already seen this or other videos of Sara Cooper channeling 45 but if you haven't:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>