Friday, October 30, 2020


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 VAN (1996)

THE WOMEN (1939)



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, 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 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


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

Thursday, October 22, 2020


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


 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


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


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:


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 



Kali, Keats, Kanye

Lincoln, Lenin, LaBron

Moses, Muhammed, Michaelangelo, Milton, Marx, Mahler

Nostradamus, Nietzsche  


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


Rumi, Romeo, Robespierre, Rachmaninoff, Ringo

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

Titian, Tesla, Truffaut, Tupac 



Whistler, Wagner



Zeus, Zorro, Zeffirelli 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020


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.

Monday, October 12, 2020



They say it's National Coming Out Day, so here's another short version of my story. I "came out" when I was 29 in February of 1972 in DC as "gay" though I preferred the term "queer" or "pansexual" (though I was the only one I ever encountered using that term then) and others labeled me "bisexual" because I continued to have relationships with people who identified as "women" (cis, as they now say, and trans et al.).

I also called myself "a sissy" and still do,  and "a thug" though I don't say that anymore. And a "punk" (before that was a thing) "and an intellectual" (rarely say that anymore). I could go on. I like the term "fluid" because I got in touch back then with my feminine side in a big way (wore dresses and clip on earrings etc. out in public (to make a statement, but I also enjoyed the way it felt and looked). I embrace all the categories that keep being named, both in me and in others, and am grateful for how full it has made life. 

Saturday, October 10, 2020


Took a break from current events to watch TERMINATOR: DARK FATE and was glad. The usual preposterous plot, but the acting was a treat. Linda Hamilton back as Sarah Connor and why she hasn't been seen in more movies besides this franchise is one of those Hollywood mysteries; she's not just a great action star, she's a really good actor. Arnold makes an appearance too, but the movie belongs to the three women (Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes are the other two) who all should be starring in action flicks from now on. It came out last year but seems much more relevant post-covid, unfortunately. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020


 My youngest, Flynn, turns 23 today. Here's some photos of us over those years:

c. 2002
c. 2003

two shots on a movie location taken by the great movie stills photographer and friend Robert Zuckerman c. 2005
2005 photo by Jamie Rose I believe
c. 2006 at a skateboard competition
c. 2007 at a poetry reading at NYC's KGB club, taken I think by his Aunt Luloo
c. 2010
Occupy Wall Street 2011
c. 2016
2018 election

Tuesday, October 6, 2020


today is my sister Irene's birthday (83 I think), the brother between us died as an infant so she was the one of my five then living siblings I grew up with who was closest in age to me (we two are the only ones still living) we are in front of our father's home repair shop (1954?) and a more recent photo of her (and her handiwork..

Partial shot of the 1979 KOFF magazine naked poets calendar showing partial 37-year-old me posing among other poets. To learn more about this and the fabulous writer folks Johnny Stanton and Elinor Nauen who wrote some of my favorite books, check out this interview with them: here.

Friday, October 2, 2020



A favorite old photo of my father in his fedora, his Irish immigrant mother, the oldest of my six siblings, Tommy, in his Army Air Corps uniform, my mother's mother, my mother, and little me with the same expression as my father, toward the end of WWII, c.1944-45. A few years later, the back porch we're standing on would be my maternal grandmother's bedroom after she came to live with us. My paternal grandmother lived down the street. 

Thursday, October 1, 2020


Caught the 1965 Stanley Kramer film production of Katherine Anne Porter's SHIP OF FOOLS the other night and was reminded of the crush I've had on the French actress Simone Signoret since I first caught a glimpse of her on TV at some mid-1950s Oscar event. The most womanly woman to ever perform in movies, her unique blend of strength, independence, and sensuality made her screen presence provocative, inspiring, and comforting all at once. Talk about comfortable in your own skin (at least as it came across to me).

There's other reasons to watch this movie about a ship full of people sailing from Mexico to a stop in Cuba and then on to Germany in 1933 during the rise of Hitler and nazism, including an unexpected (ironic?) performance for Puetro Rican born Jose Ferrer as the emblematic "German" Nazi supporter and Lee Marvin as a predatory "American" racist, misogynist, clueless rube.

There are other lesser known actors who keep it real, (and the better known George Sagal who doesn't), but the two main reasons to watch this film are Vivien Leigh in her last movie role, magnificent as always despite being in the final stages of her mental illness (including shock treatments during filming) and Simone Signoret. Her realistic portrayal of a once powerful and wealthy "woman of certain age" who suffers from drug addiction on her way to prison for helping the less fortunate in rebellion against their exploiters is one of the greatest film performances ever. At least to me.