Tuesday, April 16, 2024

TIME TRIPPING

 
This photo, shared recently by poet friend Greg Masters, I think is from a display of Dennis Cooper's Little Caesar Press archives at NYU, back in the 2000s. NYU also houses my archives, but fortunately I found a copy of this Little Caesar magazine #11 from 1980, on my bookshelves.

The cover photo is by early SNL photographer and friend, Edie Baskin, and inside part of the contents are two interviews Tim Dlugos did with me, one extended daytime session and a shorter one in his car at night riding back to Manhattan from a poetry reading we'd done (with Kevin Killian) on Long Island. 

We were stoned  for the latter and I probably was for the daytime one too. I hadn't read it since the mag came out over forty years ago and felt like a visitor from a distant planet, trying to decipher meanings and tone and intentions and pretensions and self awareness and self indulgence.

Made me miss Tim more than ever. Those were the days. As are these.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

ME AND MY SIBS

 
Another photo of me and my siblings during World War Two. Back row, left to right, Buddy, Tommy holding me, Robert; front row, Irene and Joan. They're all gone now, but what an impact they had on me as a boy.

Friday, April 5, 2024

JOHN SINCLAIR R.I.P.

I first encountered the poet John Sinclair in 1965 through the mail while I was still in the military stationed outside Spokane, Washington. I wrote in my latest book, SAY IT AGAIN (#76 in The Spokane Sonnets), "John Sinclair, editor of a Detroit little mag, rejects / some poems I submit but writes: Who are you? / I reply angrily I’m the writing you rejected."

I didn't know at the time he was my age, 23, but as we both became anti Vietnam war activists in the years that followed I admired his attempt to  bring the rock-n-roll world we grew up in into the anti-war movement. I organized some anti-war rock shows in DC, but he managed the MC5 and co-founded The White Panthers as allies to The Black Panthers, and fought for legalizing marijuana.

He got a ten year prison sentence for sharing two joints with an undercover cop in 1969, and the campaign to free him succeeded in '71. I finally met him in person shortly after when we did a poetry reading together and he was sweet and supportive. A 'sixties icon. Rest In Poetry brother.


 

Saturday, March 30, 2024

EASTER 1944

 
My siblings and me (another one, between me and my closest sister, died as an infant thus the bigger step down to me) on Easter 1944 during WWII. Me soon to be two, and my two oldest brothers joining the military before the war ended. All gone now, except for me.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

MARJORIE PERLOFF R.I.P.

 
Marjorie Perloff was an unparalleled scholar and interpreter of the avant-garde in the arts of the 20th century, especially poetry. I first encountered her in my DC days of the early 1970s. I take pride in her championing my early poetry book ROCKY DIES YELLOW and the poetry anthology I edited NONE OF THE ABOVE, praising my most notorious poem then, "My Life", in The Washington Post.

She was more critical of my later work and we had other differences of opinion, which I arrogantly gave her shit about when we both lived in L.A. in the '80s and "90s and I went to her home there. The thing I appreciated most about Marjorie was the twinkle in her eye when she gave me shit back.

She was an extraordinary person, someone to learn about for women's history month, which is every month for me, just like black history month and poetry month and pride month etc. 

[And if you're wondering, my blog obits are about my take on my personal connection to the subjects, the facts of their lives otherwise available online.]  

Sunday, March 17, 2024

HAPPY SAINT PADDY'S

Here's my top five favorite Irish films in chronological order based on the era they're set in:


BLACK 47

THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY

THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH

THE COMMITMENTS

ONCE

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

A T'OUSAND T'ANKS

 
Don't know if you noticed, but at the end of Cillian Murphy's Best Actor Oscar acceptance speech, he spoke in the Irish language to say: A thousand thank you's ("Go raibh mile maith agat"). My dear friend Terence Winch pointed out that's probably the first time the Irish language was spoken at an Oscar awards show.

The Irish were one of the first peoples colonized and occupied (still, partially) and subjected to genocide (including the misnamed "famine") and penalized (for close to a thousand years) by the English for just being who they are, which included almost totally eliminating their language. So whatever your thoughts on nationalism are, I felt in that moment like what Murphy described himself as a little earlier in his speech: "A proud Irishman" (even if just from growing up with Irish immigrant grandparents).

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

2024 MOVIE AWARDS

I haven't seen all the movies up for awards this season, but here's my reactions to what I've seen so far.

AMERICAN FICTION. Most original and satisfying movie of, and my pick for best flick of, 2023. (I've read critics saying it doesn't live up to the book. I haven't read the book but found this stinging satire seriously clever and witty, in the best historic sense of those words.)

PAST LIVES. Another unexpectedly unique story, subtly compelling and impactful. My choice for best director and original screenplay, both by Celine Song. 

THE HOLDOVERS. A story we've seen variations of before maybe, but so well done on every level it shines like the gem it is. Including the acting, especially Da'Vine Joy Randolph, my choice for best supporting actor of 2023.

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON. Epic filmmaking at it's best, and redemption for Scorcese with me after the catastrophe of THE IRISHMAN (so-called). Though I would have preferred spending all that time with the Osage characters (especially Lily Gladstonee who I hope gets the Oscar) and following the story completely from their perspective, rather than focusing so much time and energy on the perspective of the white men and their evil. But at least Scorcese was able to keep DiNiro mostly in character with only a few inappropriate DiNiroisms. 

OPPENHEIMER. Another epic film expertly done (by Christopher Nolan). My pick for best cinematography (Hoyte van Hoytema). And so many great performances (Robert Downey Jr. my pick for the still binary Oscar for presents-as-male best supporting actor). Cillian Murphy impressive as always.

BARBIE. Greta Gerwig should have been Oscar nominated for pulling this product promotion satire off at all, let alone so stylishly. And Margot Robbie is, as always, the main reason to watch any film she's in. Some laughs and poignancy. Best costumes and production design.

NYAD. In almost any other year this would win multiple Oscars. Especially for best actor and supporting actor for Annette Bening and Jody Foster. Watching them play off each other is a master (air quotes) class in film acting. Unexpectedly engaging despite it being a lot of watching someone swim.

MAESTRO. Bradley Cooper should win a special award for best multi-tasker (directing starring co-writing co-producing). I thought he did a pretty great job, considering all the possible (and real) pitfalls. Again in almost any other year this would win a bunch of Oscars.

POOR THING. Starts out unappealingly, for me, trying too hard at calling attention to its artistic credentials, but Emma Stone is so spectacular in her performance I stuck it out to experience a lot of satisfying scenes. There are so many amazing performances in the best "actress" category this year, they all should win.

RUSTIN. Bio-pics are always full of challenges (as part of the story, and of the film making), and this one doesn't surmount them all. But Coleman Domingo is so good as the title historic character, he transcends the genre liabilities. In the binary Oscar world he's my choice for "best actor". 

THE COLOR PURPLE. Some amazing scenes and performances, but didn't have the impact my friends who saw it on Broadway said that rendition did. Coleman Domingo displays his incredible range, as do many others, but for me the lyrics were sometimes too thin for the otherwise energetic production  numbers, and the movement of the story seemed off at times. Still an intense experience.  

INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY. Surprisingly not bad for this late in the game.  And worth watching to see my longtime friend Karen Allen, as Marion Ravenwood, elevate the climactic scene to a level that complements while even surpassing Marion's first appearance on screen in RAIDERS. A very satisfying full circle.

AMERICAN SYMPHONY. I haven't seen the nominated documentaries, but my fave doc of '23 that I have seen is this one. Highly recommend.

Friday, March 1, 2024

REUBEN JACKSON R.I.P.

I left DC in 1975, before I could get to know Reuben, but I knew of him in later years, and we've been Facebook friends for awhile. He was a beloved figure in the DC and wider poetry community, and will be sorely missed. To understand a little why, please read this terrific tribute to him. Rest In Poetry Reuben.
When the Music Stopped: Remembering Reuben Jackson
WASHINGTONCITYPAPER.COM
When the Music Stopped: Remembering Reuben Jackson
“He was jazz,” says author Kwame Alexander of poet and jazz scholar Reuben Jackson, who died on Feb. 16. He leaves behind a legacy.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

HAPPY DAYS

My firstborn child, Caitlin, arrived on this date in 1968. Here I am with her days later, still astounded by the miracle. 
 

Sunday, February 18, 2024

HIT MAN COOL

 

I played a lot of bad guys on TV in the 1980s and '90s. Here's one, a mob hit man on the witness stand in an episode of LA LAW. [Thanx to Sue Brennan for the photos.]

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY

 VALENTINE

for Karen A. 


It was a gorgeous day to wander around Georgetown.

I didn’t. I got up early, “wrote” a “book,”

listened to some “classical” music like Liszt and Couperin,

Buchanan and Dylan, read about a marriage that 

by not being a real marriage at all turned out to be

a beautiful true marriage—what has “true”

got to do with “real” anyway—like today,

what has today got to do with me and you 

besides the way it makes me feel full

the way you can do, brings the good things

people say the country offers right here to the city

for a countryphobe like me, so I leave my music and words

and catch the street. Everyone’s out today!

Claudia! Ed! Terry! Henry! Ralph! I wish I was

as bright as the day, so after a while of being dazzled

I go home and take a shower with all the windows open

and I shave and jump around to the good sounds—

I remember to take the huge heart shaped box of candy,

I bought it for the kids, out of the bag and put it

somewhere where it won’t melt. I drink some milk

and eat some cheese, think about all the people

I should write a poem to for “Valentine’s Day,”

for “Washington’s Birthday,” for this wonderful weather

the world gives us despite our arrogance and

belligerence toward it, but I notice the time and

there is no time! Got to run, so I do, 

in some new shoes that hurt my toes, but the rest of

my clothes feel fine, and I know I am, on the street again

paying homage to the sun with my grin. I feel like

Ted Berrigan walking with my head held high, jaunty

like Hollywood English types, and a little mischievous too,

thinking about how I can do something fun and funny for you

like the sun is doing for me as I strut. There’s

my car! I haven’t seen it in almost 24 hours

so I throw it a kiss because I’m not a good owner

but I love it and that seems to keep something going.

I get in ready to cruise these canals to your veranda

or something Eddie Arnold and ’30s Hollywood like that,

only the corner of my eye catches the bank clock and

surprise! (Spencer Tracy in A Man’s Castle with

Loretta Young I think, swimming nude!) It’s 4:15 PM!

I can’t believe it! I go into Discount Books to look

for Terry to check. He’s not there but someone

I don’t know says “Hi Mike!” so I say “Hi. Do you know

what time it is?” and he looks at his watch and says

“Well, the government says it’s four twenty but

it’s really three twenty . . .” and some more words.

I don’t hear them thinking about you and ”true” and

“real” and wondering what he meant the “real” time

and what was “mine” . . . You should be there because

it’s almost 5:30 in my life, but in the bank’s and

the guy who knows my name it’s only 4:30 and somewhere

out in abstract city it’s “really” only 3:30. Maybe

that’s why it’s so warm. I back up, back home, back

to back Dylan charms me to the typewriter where

I write to you to kill the time and to say

“Wontchu be my valentine?” 


(C) 1974 Michael Lally

[written, under peak Frank O'Hara influence, to lifelong dearest friend Karen Allen (poet and novice actor I had fallen in love with in 1973) on Valentine's Day 1974 in Washington DC where you could then park overnight in our Dupont Circle neighborhood without fear of getting a ticket...] 

Saturday, February 10, 2024

ALMOST 20

 
Me at 19, with my buddy Murph during basic training in Texas in March 1962, two months before turning 20. [this photo is in my new book, SAY IT AGAIN (Beltway Editions)]

Sunday, February 4, 2024

SAY IT AGAIN

 
Now available, my latest book, SAY IT AGAIN: An Autobiography In Sonnets (Beltway Editions). Been working on this since 1960, one way or another. This contains all of my location sonnets covering my first thirty years ("Volume 1, The Road Goes Away") focusing mainly on the 1960s. Some published before, most not or revised, now chronologically correct and meant to be read like any autobiography or memoir, A personal cultural, social, and political history of my  times. 

[The book cover photo is me at 29 in early 1972, taken by Len Randolph.]

Friday, February 2, 2024

YEP

 

One of my favorite authors. I usually don't post quotes when the source publication is not cited, but this definitely sounds like her.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

FINDING YOUR ROOTS

 
FINDING YOUR ROOTS is one of my favorite TV shows. I love  to watch people discover ancestors they didn't know they had which changes their perspective on who they themselves are. The other night watching the host, Henry Louis Gates, reveal the past to guests Sammy Hagar (fascinating revelations) and Ed O'Neil (more subtly fascinating reveals), one of the latter's not that distant ancestor's maiden name turned out to be Lally. She came from a different part of Ireland than my grandfather Lally, but no doubt this makes me and O'Neil some kind of distant cousins. Why am I not surprised?

[The photo is me and O'Neil on a set for the short-lived TV series THE BIG APPLE, where I played a priest and O'Neil a detective. I had had dinner with him once, so we knew each other a little.] 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

SOME POEMS

 Four poems of mine just came online on the Relegation site. Check them out here.

Monday, January 15, 2024

PERSONAL HISTORY

MY MLK SONNET


When Martin Luther King is shot I feel the

sudden shift in the atmosphere, like trying to

breathe underwater. It's been three years since

Malcom X’s assassination and my new radical

friends and reading have opened my eyes to the

realities of class in the USA. Malcolm verbally

attacked white folks with impunity, but the

minute he decided it was not about race but

about the poor and the wealthy, BAM! King

spends years fighting racism and despite attempts

on his life and tons of threats seemed invulner-

able, but as soon as he organizes a poor people’s

campaign talking about the haves and have-nots,

BAM! I wonder if the Marxists have it right.


(C) 2023 from SAY IT AGAIN (Beltway Editions 2024)


Wednesday, January 10, 2024

XMAS '23

 


I raised my kids (as a single parent and shared-custody parent) to not stress over holidays and birthdays. If their in-laws or other parent or whoever wanted them to share the day with them we'd find another day to celebrate, which means our Xmases have often been celebrated in January. But this year it worked out to celebrate together the day before Xmas, so here we are in my living room, my three kids, Flynn (in tee shirt), Caitlin, and Miles, behind me, my grandkids Donovan and Deak (short sleeves) on the floor in front of me, and Monk looking over us from  the other room. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

2023 HIGHLIGHTS

 
Two singer/songwriter albums released in 2023 that I had some connection to: Peter Case's DOCTOR MOAN, and Billy Keane's OH, THESE DAYS. Peter, longtime dear friend, included an adaptation of a poem of mine ("Give Me Five Minutes More" the title from a very different popular song in my 1940s boyhood) on his lp. While Billy, friend of my oldest son and my housemate and caretaker Miles (with his partner Hannah Bracken) had Miles playing bass on every song on his record. Well worth checking out.