Sunday, February 28, 2021

MORE "BLACK HISTORY MONTH"

Another favorite photo of one of my favorite people and historic figures...

Friday, February 26, 2021

I CARE A LOT

I decided to watch this Netflix movie because Rosamund Pike, Dianne Wiest, Peter Dinklage, and Eiza Gonzalez are in it. All actors I love to watch work. They mostly don't disappoint, even though the early part of the film almost made me want to stop watching because the subject is so depressing.

I don't remember it saying so, but the premise of I CARE A LOT is based on a New Yorker magazine article exposing manipulation of the legal system by for-profit companies that get themselves appointed legal guardians for old folks and then sell those folks' property and assets for the guardians' own profit.

The film, written and directed by J Blakeson, turns the premise into a thriller that is mostly thrilling, and at times, for this old folk, anxiety inducing. But it's worth watching for Pike's kick-ass performance alone.  

Thursday, February 25, 2021

ME & HART

 
Randomly stumbled on this photo of graying me, and actor/director the famously handsome Hart Bochner, at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market in I'd guess the 1980s or 1990 when we'd meet there once a week for breakfast and to catch up. Normally I don't like photos of my profile, but I like this one, especially our smiles and wonder who's taking the picture. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI R.I.P.

 
When I was a young poet in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Lawrence Ferlinghetti's A CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND was said to be the best selling book of poems in the history of the USA. Which made me envious despite my then liking a lot of his poems. So I was both in awe of his accomplishment and mad about it when I went AWOL from the military in the summer of 1962 and ended up homeless in San Francisco for a few weeks where I spent a lot of my daytimes in Ferlinghetti's City Lights Book Store.

When I got out of the service in 1966 and ended up at the U. of Iowa on The GI Bill, he came to do a reading and I went to see him cause my then wife Lee loved his poetry, but I brought along the log on my shoulder. He read a poem called "Gone World" (as I remember it) to which I wrote a sarcastic challenge called "G'on World" (as I remember it, it's in my archives at NYU so this is off the top of my head remembering) that was immediately published in a proto-hippie magazine called GROCK, and I think I even addressed Ferlinghetti with my critique of his poem.

Then in the 1970s when I was living in downtown Manhattan, poet Barbara Guest invited me to a party at her apartment for Ferlinghetti, and he and I had a long talk including about a manuscript I had sent to City Lights (I'd sent a few by then but this was after Tim Dlugos had called my poem "My Life" the "Howl" of my generation and suggested Ferlinghetti should publish it, but he didn't). He was very sweet to me then and ever after, but never published me.

A few years ago someone pointed out that in the collection of Ginsberg's and Ferlinghetti's letters to each other, in one Allen suggests Ferlinghetti publish a book of my poems (I think by then it was the 1980s) and obviously Larry did not. When I read that, I first of all felt comforted knowing Allen wasn't just blowing smoke when he praised my work to me in personal conversations, but I also wondered why Ferlinghetti was always so sweet to me when I encountered him and yet so resistant to publishing me. And then I remembered that nasty poem I'd written and was published back in '66 and wondered if it had anything to do with it, or if it was just a matter of personal taste.

So that's my personal connection to this icon of 20th Century poetry and publishing. And despite my youthful arrogance toward him, it was an honor to have known him, and I'm happy he got to stick around so long. 

STILL SADLY RELEVANT

 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Friday, February 19, 2021

ME REPRESENTING FOR TWO DISTINCT MOODS

 
Great friend and great poet Simon Pettet and me in front of the long gone Saint Mark's Bookstore in NYC sometime in the 21st Century.

Oldest (meaning for the longest time) friend and wonderful poet/writer and Irish musician and songwriter Terence Winch and me on I think Seventh Avenue in NYC sometime in the 21st Century.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

FINDING YOUR ROOTS

 
My favorite TV show, FINDING YOUR ROOTS. Talk about "Black History"—and every other kind of history, filtered through explorations of individual ancestry, always deeply moving when the descendants of enslaved ancestors are involved. Couldn't be more enlightening, revelatory, or poignant. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY

 
My 75th birthday cake almost four years ago seems an appropriate Valentine greeting.

Monday, February 8, 2021

ONCE UPON A TIME

 
My dear longtime friend Ty Granderson Jones just posted this photo to my FB timeline. It's me and my youngest child Flynn and his mother Jaina taken just after his birth 23 years and four months ago by, I think, another dear old friend, Emil Alexander Schneeman.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

"BLACK HISTORY" 3

Here's five more "Black writers" that are favorites of mine I missed in my last list:

Jean Toomer's CANE is actually one of my all-time favorite books and I have no idea why that wasn't at the top of my mind when I made the last list.

James Baldwin, of course, his first novel, GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN, and his first essay collection, NOTES OF A NATIVE SON, are what first impacted me as a teenager when they first came out.

August Wilson's plays, all of them, but especially MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM.

Andrea Lee has been a favorite author since I first read her; I love everything she has written, but if you don't know her work, INTERESTING WOMEN, a collection of her stories is a good introduction.

Mindy Thompson Fullilove is a psychiatrist who studies the psychology of communities and may be best known for her book URBAN ALCHEMY, but every one of her books is worth reading, including her latest, MAIN STREET in which (full disclosure) she quotes some of my poetry. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

"BLACK HISTORY" 2

Here's just ten (off the top of my head) of my many favorite books by "Black" writers:

THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD by Zora Neale Hurston

KNOCK ON ANY DOOR by Willard Motley

TALES by LeRoi Jones (on my first edition, later Amiri Baraka)

SOLITUDES CROWDED WITH LONELINESS by BOB KAUFMAN

BORN OF A WOMAN: New nd Selected Poems by Etheridge Knight

THE COLLECTED POEMS OF LORENZO THOMAS

THE COLLECTED POEMS OF AUDRE LORDE

WILLOW WEEP FOR ME: A Black Woman's Journey Through Depression by Nana-Ama Danquah

A LUCENT FIRE: New and Selected Poems by Patricia Spears Jones

AFTERSHOCKS: A Memoir by Nadia Owusu


Thursday, February 4, 2021

"BLACK HISTORY"

 
My dear departed friend Lynn Manning and me at the LA club Largo in the 1990s. Every month is "Black History Month" to me, but in reference to this officially designated one I suggest you look into poet/playwright/performer, world heavyweight blind judo champion Lynn Manning and his work. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

SOLILOGUY

one of my favorite musical theater songs and a challenge for any singer, but Joshua Henry moved me to tears (despite some of the lyrics being mid-20th century unwoke, having been a single parent for much of my adult life I identify with a lot of the lyrics, thus the tears

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QUEEN MICHELLE

 
One of my favorite photos of one of my favorite people.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

AN OLD FAVORITE QUOTE AND STILL

"The whole struggle is to squeeze into [the] public record some tiny essence of the perpetual inner melody."  —Henry Miller (from PLEXUS) [and see my book-length poem OF]

Friday, January 29, 2021

ANOTHER LIST!

This came out of a conversation the other day, some favorite movies with people's names as the titles:

ANNIE, ANNIE HALL

BECKET,  BILLY ELLIOT,  BONNIE AND CLYDE,   BULLITT,  BULWORTH

CAMILLE (1936),  CAMILLE CLAUDEL,  CARRINGTON,  CAROL,  CYRANO DE BERGERAC (the 1950 one and the1990 one, both favorites)

DODSWORTH

ELIZABETH,  ELMER GANTRY

FRANCES

GIGI,  GLORIA

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSON,  HUD

JACKIE BROWN,  JULES AND JIM,  JUNO

KITTY FOYLE

LAURA,  LENNY,  LILI,  LINCOLN

MARTY,  MICHAEL CLAYTON,  MICHAEL COLLINS (though Julia Roberts was miscast)

NINOTCHKA

ORLANDO

PAPILLON

RAY,  ROBIN AND MARIAN,  ROBIN HOOD (2010),  ROB ROY,  ROMEO AND JULIET (1968),  ROXANNE,  RUDY

SABRINA (1954, though Bogie's too old for the role it's still a great performance by Audre Hepburn),  SHAFT (1971),  SERPICO

THELMA AND LOUISE

WYATT EARP 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

CLORIS LEACHMAN R.I.P.

 
I met Cloris Leachman when I moved to LA a decade after I'd been knocked out (along with millions of others) by her performance in THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. She became and remains one of my favorite performers. I got to hang out with her a few times, including in her home, and she was just as you would imagine: smart, funny, generous, humble, and honest. To me she was also physically beautiful, and I think she knew I had a crush on her. It was a gift to have known her as marginally as I did, I'm only sorry her enormous talent wasn't used more by those who wield the power in the movie biz. One of a kind, who fortunately had at least one performance that will live on as long as movies do.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

AND THIS

I referenced the selection from "New York Notes (2004)"—a serial poem in the last section of my last book ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY: Poems 1960-2017, that was written over the course of a year chronicling my walks around Manhattan—on the phone today with a friend, and he immediately read these lines from it:

The backs of women's

Knees stil intrigue

Me, especially in

Winter when they seem

To wink at you from

Between the tops of

Boots and hems of

Skirts or dresses, I

Want to bless them

With gratitude and kisses—


(C) 2018 Michael Lally

Sunday, January 24, 2021

BOOKEND

Here's the last lines of a poem I wrote the day after the 2016 presidential election (and one of the last poems in my last book, ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY: Poems 1960-2017), seems to me now to bookend the final lines of Amanda Gorman's inauguration poem:

"'You / can't have up without down, / success without failure, / pleasure without pain,' and I / would add,  dark days without / ones filled with light. Let us / be that light for those who will / need it now."

(C) 2018 Michael Lally

Friday, January 22, 2021

A NEW LIST

Woke up this morning with an alphabetized list of some favorite movies (as works of the film arts and crafts, not necessarily woke political perspective) that begin with the word "THE" and here it is:

THE AFRICAN QUEEN

THE AMERICAN

THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY

THE APARTMENT

THE ASPHALT JUNGLE

THE BANDWAGON

THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES

THE BIG LEBOWSKI 

THE BIG SLEEP

THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE

THE BLUE DAHLIA 

THE BOXER

THE CAINE MUTINY

THE CLOCK

THE COMMITMENTS

THE COOL WORLD 

THE COOLER

THE DESCENDANTS

THE EQUALIZER

THE FIGHTER

THE GODFATHER

THE GODFATHER TWO

THE GUNFIGHTER

THE GREAT SANTINI

THE HATE U GIVE

THE HUSTLER

THE INFORMER

THE KILLERS

THE KILLING

THE LADY EVE

THE LADY VANISHES

THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS 

THE LAST PICTURE SHOW

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

THE MALTESE FALCON

THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE

THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING

THE PETRIFIED FOREST

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY

THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO

THE QUIET MAN

THE RED SHOES

THE REMAINS OF THE DAY

THE SEARCHERS

THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER

THE STRANGER

THE 39 STEPS

THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA NEVADA

THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG 

THE WANDERERS

THE WAY WE WERE

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD (ACTUALLY A HOUSE I WAS RENTING IN SANTA MONICA)

 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

DOUBLE YES

Well no one can say gaga, lopez, and garth can't sing, especially in such a challenging environment (the wind alone was causing problems with the mics) but what purity of tone and pitch...and so went the whole ceremony, everyone doing their bit pretty terrifically, including biden's speech, but the highlight(s) for me were gaga and gorman, the latter's poise and focus delivering such a well wrought poem opened the door to the future for all of us...

YES

What a perfectly focused and brilliantly simple ceremony at the reflecting pool at dusk to commemorate the 400,000 who were taken by Covid-19. Poignantly dignified and promising prologue to a new era. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

PPS TO LAST TWO POSTS

There's way too many poets whose work I like and love whose names didn't pop up in my post-op brain in my last two posts, the miracle for me is that for ten years after the 2009 brain operation, I lost the compulsion to make lists so I'm just happy it comes back now and then...there is no ranking to any of these lists in relation to each other, except alphabetically...if I ever said I liked or loved your poetry, your name should be on these lists, and even if I never did, if you're friends of mine, in the real world and/or the online one and you write poetry, you should probably be on here, but the mysteries of the brain offer me only so many names at a time and I want to stop somewhere so this is the last addendum...

DONALD BERGER

MERRILL GILFILLAN

BARBARA HENNING

BOB HOLMAN

P. INMAN

VINCENT KATZ

RON KOLM

DAVID LEHMAN

DAVID MARGOSHES

E. ETHELBERT MILLER

WANDA PHIPPS

WANG PING

JOHN REED

BOB ROSENTHAL

KYLE SCHLESINGER

NEIL SILVERBLATT

TONY TOWLE

DAVID TRINIDAD

QUINCY TROUPE

NATHAN WHITING

JOHN YAU

PS

Woke up this morning with another list of some favorite poets I forgot in yesterday's (Jan 16th) list:

LAURA BOSS

LEE ANN BROWN

EVE BRANDSTEIN

THERESA BURNS

NANA-AMA DANQUAH

TINA DARRAGH

LYNNE DRYER

LISA DUGGAN

MARIA  MAZZIOTTI GILLAN

MITCH HIGHFILL

TY GRANDERSON JONES

BETH JOSELOW

STELLA KAMAKARIS

BURT KIMMELMAN

DOUG LANG

JOAN LARKIN

KEVIN MCCOLLISTER

KEN MCCULLOUGH

GLENN MOTT

GERLAD NICOSIA

CHARLES NORTH

ALICE NOTLEY

MAUREEN OWEN

PUMA PERL

ARAM SAROYAN

SIMON SCHUCAT

MARIA SERRANO

DANNY SHOT

RON SILLIMAN

ROBERT SLATER

PATTI SMITH

GARY SNYDER

HEDY STRAUS

CHRIS TYSH

GEORGE TYSH

CECILIA VICUNA

DIANE WARD

BERNARD WELT

JEFFREY CYPHERS WRIGHT

DON YORTY

BILL ZAVATSKY

[I know there's tons more but this is who popped up in my head this morning]

Saturday, January 16, 2021

POETRY CONTINUES TO SAVE MY LIFE [especially in troubled times, which are pretty much any times]

Here's an off-the-top-of-my-head list of some favorite living poets [just went through the alphabet in my mind and typed the names that sprang up, sorry for the many more that didn't spring to mind in this one moment but will as soon as I post this]:

SHERMAN ALEXIE

BRUCE ANDREWS

ANGELA LOCKHART ARONOFF

CHARLES BERNSTEIN

GRACE CAVALIERI

LONELY CRHISTOPHER

DOUGLAS CRASE

THOMAS DEVANEY

SEAN THOMAS DOUGHERTY

MAGGIE DUBRIS

ELAIN EQUI

JOANNA FUHRMAN

JOHN GODFREY

SUSAN HAYDEN

ROBERT HERSHON

MELLO-RE HOUSTON

PATRICIA SPEARS JONES

ANNABEL LEE

PHOEBE MACADAMS

CHRIS MASON

GREG MASTERS

BERNADETTE MAYER

BOBBY MILLER

EILEEN MYLES 

ELINOR NAUEN

HARRY E. NORTHUP

HILTON OBENZINGER

NATHAN P.

TRACE PETERSON

SIMON PETTET

JEROME SALA

MARK TERRILL

PAM WARD

TERENCE WINCH

GEOFFREY YOUNG

[I'm missing so many others, can you help me remember?]

Friday, January 15, 2021

MLK QUOTE

In honor of his birthday, I took down from its shelf A TESTAMENT OF HOPE: The Essential Writings Of Martin Luther King, Jr. I decided to open it at random and point to a sentence and post it. The page was 226, the end of his Nobel acceptance speech, and this was the sentence:

"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits."

Thursday, January 14, 2021

ONCE

 
That's me in the hallway of the Hyattsville MD apartment me and my wife Lee and our two toddlers were living in when several Iowa City SDS activists and Chicago Rising Up Angry activists (a white leftist greaser newspaper and group allied with The Young Lords and The Black Panthers (led by the brilliant Fred Hampton assassinated by the Chi cops a year earlier) were sleeping on the floor of our kitchen/living room during the May Day protests of 1970 where around 10,000 were arrested...

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

ANOTHER FAVORITE QUOTE

"Probably very few, if any, of us have led a life free of hypocrisy, especially politicians, but today's blockbuster illustration of the height of hypocrisy is the Republicans calling for "healing" the nation who still refuse to wear masks which have been proven to lower contagion from the pandemic." —Michael Lally 1/13/21

 

ANOTHER OLD FAVORITE QUOTE

"Don't cut what you can untie." —Joseph Joubert (from The Notebooks of Joseph Joubert, translated by Paul Auster)   

Monday, January 11, 2021

37 SECONDS

 
37 SECONDS is a Japanese Netflix movie well worth watching. Written and directed by first time feature director, Hikari, it stars a novice actress Mei Kayama who suffers from cerebral palsy. It is a hauntingly poignant story and Kayama gives an amazingly brave performance. All the performances are terrific. Check it out. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

ACK

There's a lot to bemoan about the rioting of TRAITORS AND TERRORISTS today inspired by THEIR TRAITOR-AND-TERRORIST MOB BOSS "leader"—especially the death that occurred—but what pissed off this radical activist who ascended the steps of The Capitol at an anti-Vietnam War protest where over ten thousand protestors were arrested (the charges later dropped) after serving four years in the military was the kid glove treatment from the cops of these mostly white TRAITORS AND TERRORISTS plus the presence of one of them in The Capitol carrying the "confederate" flag, symbol of TRAITORS AND TERRORISTS.

Monday, January 4, 2021

SOME OF THE BOOKS FROM 2020 THAT I LOVED

I know I'm missing some but here's a quick list of some books from friends that came out in 2020 and I loved:

SEEING-EYE BOY by Terence Winch (a totally entertaining and enlightening young adult novel set in a pre-expressway 1950s mostly Irish Bronx neighborhood that anybody can enjoy)

MAIN STREET: How A City's Heart Connects Us All by Mindy Thompson Fullilove M.D. (the subtitle says it all about this personal and professional take on reclaiming Main Streets by a brilliant psychiatrist and social historian—with some quotes from me)

AFTERSHOCKS: A Memoir by Nadia Owusu (A knockout must read multi-cultural story of and by one of our best living writers)

LOVE POEM TO MPTF by Harry E. Northup (a collection of poems chronicling a poet/actor's loss of his and his poet wife Holly Prado's LA apartment in a fire ending up at The Motion Picture Television Fund home where Harry then suffered the loss of Holly, a profound and moving poetic and spiritual document of endurance, resilience, and transcendence)

GREAT BALLS OF DOUBT: Poems And Prose Poems by Mark Terrill (terrific new collection by a favorite poet of mine who has written some of the greatest prose poems of my, or any, generation) 

IT WASN'T SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THIS by Greg Masters (lots of great poetic takes on a poet's life mostly in downtown East Village Manhattan in the last decades of the 20th century)

PIVOT and ASIDES by Geoffrey Young (two of the poet/artist's limited edition short books of poems that are marvels of construction and insight and humor)

and among the dozens of poetry books I was sent this year that I'm still reading and digging:

SOMETHING SOMETHING MORNING by Chris MASON

NONE OF US by Ted Greenwald and Kyle Schlesinger

THE COURSE by Ted Greenwald & Charles North

A THOUSAND WORDS AND OTHERS by George Tysh

DERRIDA'S IN/VOICE by Chris Tysh

[please forgive my leaving out any I'm forgetting, just an exercise in old guy's spontaneous list making]