Thursday, June 28, 2007

LONESOME DAY BLUES - theme song for a hot n heavy week

Well, today has been a sad ol' lonesome day
Yeah, today has been a sad ol' lonesome day
I'm just sittin' here thinking
With my mind a million miles away
Well, they're doing the double shuffle, throwin' sand on the floor
They're doing the double shuffle, they're throwin' sand on the floor
When I left my long-time darlin'
She was standing in the door
Well, my pa he died and left me, my brother got killed in the war
Well, my pa he died and left me, my brother got killed in the war
My sister, she ran off and got married
Never was heard of any more
Samantha Brown lived in my house for about four or five months
Samantha Brown lived in my house for about four or five months
Don't know how it looked to other peopleI never slept with her even onceWell, the road's washed out - weather not fit for man or beast
Yeah the road's washed out - weather not fit for man or beast
Funny, how the things you have the hardest time parting withAre the things you need the least
I'm forty miles from the mill - I'm droppin' it into overdrive
I'm forty miles from the mill - I'm droppin' it into overdrive
Settin' my dial on the radio
I wish my mother was still alive
I see your lover-man comin' - comin' 'cross the barren field
I see your lover-man comin' - comin' 'cross the barren field
He's not a gentleman at all - he's rotten to the core
He's a coward and he steals
Well my captain he's decorated - he's well schooled and he's skilled
My captain, he's decorated - he's well schooled and he's skilled
He's not sentimental - don't bother him at all
How many of his pals have been killed
Last night the wind was whisperin', I was trying to make out what it was
Last night the wind was whisperin' somethin' - I was trying to make out what it was
I tell myself something's comin'But it never does
I'm gonna spare the defeated - I'm gonna speak to the crowd
I'm gonna spare the defeated, boys, I'm going to speak to the crowd
I am goin' to teach peace to the conquered
I'm gonna tame the proud
Well the leaves are rustlin' in the wood - things are fallin' off of the shelf
Leaves are rustlin' in the wood - things are fallin' off the shelf
You gonna need my help, sweetheart
You can't make love all by yourself
BOB DYLAN from "Love and Theft"
Copyright © 2001 Special Rider Music

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

From Thespian Heaven... to the Lowest Rung of Celebrity Hell

CELEBRITY HEAVEN......Weekend vacation plans having gone awry, we ended up at Frost Nixon on Broadway, which was a fascinating performance by Tony award winner Frank Langella and Michael Sheen. It is closing this weekend and will be turned into a film by Ron Howard. Alternatively gripping and comic, Langella totally inhabits the persona of the shamed and scorned ex-President. While ultimately not presenting a redemptive Nixon , the play by Peter Morgan manages to find some room for compassion and a fleeting glimpse of the humanity behind the cartoonish mask that history continues to associate with TrickyDick. Michael Sheen explores the character of talk show host David Frost who early on struggled to balance his penchant for lightweight celebrity with the demands for uncovering some semblance of the truth somewhere in the opportunity to interview the former President that that he had engineered.

We lingered after the show and were thrilled to say hello and get autographs from Langella and Sheen, the co-stars, who were very gracious to the gathered fans. Also by the stage door, I said hey to actor Austin Pendeleton who has a long list of film and theatre credits. He mentioned that he had seen the play but was here after the performance "To see Frank" which was cool. Michael Sheen also lingered long and patiently, chatting with the crowd, before disappearing into the night.

AND CELEBRITY HELL: Recently, my son and I visited the National Comic Show at Penn Plaza over the weekend. He is a comic fan, I am more of the occasional graphic novel snob. My favorite comics growing up were Classics Illustrated, and Superman from time to time.

We scouted through the boxes of comics, toys, junk and ephemera for a few hours. We made it to the celebrity area which was a total awakening. Lines of folks ready and willing to plunk down cold, hard, mazuma for an autograph by comic book artists I'd never heard of or one of the other assorted celebs on hand. First to catch my eye was Larry Storch, Corporal Agarn of F Troop fame. He was sitting there in his F trooper hat, looking a bit long in the tooth, reading the NY Post with a publicist nearby. Autographed poster: twenty bucks. If I had a decent camera I would have taken of photo of him and tried to sell it to the Post. But even Larry boy might be not a prime marketing image for them.

Opposite him was Golden Globe winner Paul LeMat. I really wanted to say hello, and how much I enjoyed him in American Grafitti but especially Melvin and Howard, but I could not get over my discomfort with the economic exchange here. I didn't want to pay him for an autograph, but I felt that the point of him being there, besides his appearing on a panel, was to make a few extra bucks pocket change for his effort. Paul was there, chatting with a publicist or comic show aide, totally ignored. I wanted to tell him that he was the most interesting thing about the comic show. But how could I do it and not feel like I needed to fork over money for a poster. I would feel like a shnorrer if I tried to take a photo of him without paying. Paul looked good, but was showing his years (aren't we all) with that dyed reddish hair and leathery tanned skin showing the signs no doubt of a half century of sun-and-surf. My son scoffed at my reluctance. I thought of George Constanza's remark on Seinfeld about paying for sex or parking: why pay when, if you apply yourself a little, with a little effort, you might be able to get it for free?

Anyway, my son thinks like George Costanza and charged over to David Harris, an obsure thespian whose major claim to fame here was his appearance in Walter Hill's version of the Sol Yurik book "The Warriors".

My son charged over and started chatting to him, deftly changing the subject and using non-sequitars to avoid buying the DVDs and posters he was selling. After awhile, an aide came over to assist the actor who was clearly having a hard time closing the sale here with my son, but my son turned on his heel before they could do a used-car salesmen number on him. However, when he came back to me, he comented that the actor hadmade a partially audible but rude remark about his unwillingness to spend any money after the exchange. "That's why you didn't wanna talk to the other guy, right?" My son was hyped up and hopeful because at a prior convention he had gotten autographs from director John Landis, actor Gary Coleman, and Stuart Copeland of the Police for nothing. But here in the lowest rungs of celebrity hell, it was clearly pay to play.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Only the Dead Tired Know Brooklyn

On a beautiful Friday morning in June, walking up Joralemon Street to my office. Here in the late middle of life, kid in college, kid in high school, kids in middle school. The first of a neighbor's children getting married. My other neighbor going to Italy for two weeks. The other, heading for the summer home. We are still climbing out from the death of my wife's mom last summer, which sent us tearing back up the turnpike from our only vacation for the year after she suffered a massive stroke...8 years before the youngest are out of college and I am retirement eligible, but for now, no thought no freedom, no pleasure. .

Just "makin' shoes for everyone, even you, while I still go barefoot... I and I in creation's way man's nature neither honors nor forgives..."

The only brightness, for a moment, is in mixing with the downtown crowds, one of my favorite spots in Brooklyn, Joralemon between Boerum/Adams street and Court..the guys in front of the Brooklyn municipal building with their cameras and bouquets, waiting to snap pictures of happy brides and grooms coming for a marriage license and a civil ceremony...

...all of the messengers, attorneys, office workers, bureaucrats and power brokers, lining up at coffee wagons in the sunshine...the Yemenite fruit guys and Chasidic stationers, where else can you find four newstands within a few short blocks in Brooklyn..everyone with a little extra spring because it is Friday Friday Friday and we are all here and I think how I & I and we are all linked somehow back to that Brooklyn historicity...

...old Walt Whitman tromping these downtown Brooklyn streets in his day as we do in ours, the civil war raging then, as the Iraq trauma and maelstrom explode now....

I remember researching and learning that Walt Whitman lived around the corner from our former home in Clinton Hill when he wrote "Leaves of Grass"..We lived on Hall Street near Myrtle Avenue until 1999..I found the Whitman home, a little worknig man's townhouse like we had, three floors all wood..and what should be growing in front of the home, a lilac bush..."When lilac last in the dooryard bloom'd"

I don't know what the future will bring, just as I don't know what the past holds...the fog envelops, and through the haze I can only struggle to glimpse a few shadows of courtship, marriage, children, 1, 2, 3, 4...all laced with the travails of the workingman's life crammed in the strugle to keep my creativity and voice alive..meanwhile, parents die, friends and lovers disappear, and I am left with a few moments where I struggle to the surface in an effort to achieve clarity, and even if I fail, I am able to see, in the distance, despite the ultimate loneliness that is each of us our fate, some of the ties that bind...

Speak Memory...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I have been mesmerized lately by a new blog, Gotham City, which is the frighteningly edgy and comic product of my multi-talented nephew. His motto: "What the world needs is a stronger blog"--I say, say amen somebody.

From Martine Rothblatt to an analysis of Hitler's role in the development of the VW Beatle -- can you afford not to keep up?

Shameless thievery, an aggregate poached from sources far and wide, with a twist of lemon and a dash of bitters, this is the real thing. To quote from the film Holiday Inn, God Bless America and just go..

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


There, I said it. We went to visit the (as always) staggering Waterfront Artists show last Sunday in da Hook. For variety, volume, and vision, plus the opportunity to buy some very interesting and exciting art at manageable prices (and "Support Living Artists") the Waterfront Show on Van Brunt Street and the River is the place to go.

Afterwards, we decided to pay our maiden visit to Fairway right across the street. The thought was to have a cup of joe then pick up a few nice prepared items for dinner that evening. Well, Fairway on Sunday afternoon was one of the most crowded shops that I've ever encountered. I was in Fairway on the UWS on New Years Eve afternoon and it was not as crowded as the Red Hook store. You could not even navigate a shopping cart through the aisles, that is how crowded they were. Then, it was 10 minutes on line to get a cup of coffee, another 10 to pay for it. Forget the food lines, it was insane. We found a table and watched the crowd on the much hyped patio outside. Unfortunately, except for a few folks who seemed to be waiting for the New York Water Taxi to dock so they could hightail it back to Manhattan, Fairway seemed a regrettably familiar & crowded extension of 7th avenue.. Seemed like customers, in that Park Slope manner, are so reluctant to leave the safe haven between 5th and 7th aves and Flatbush and 9th streets , finding it so hard to believe that anything of value exists outside of its borders, that Fairway represents a jaunt far afield, almost glamorous..I guess .it is OK to go there as it is an adjunct of PS almost and after all is located in even hipper red hook...

Face it people, Fairway is too darn crowded and you can get an equivalent a variety of multi-ethnic foods by visiting the various nabes that make Brooklyn the king of boroughs....let's keep it real, not just packaged and branded, people..end of rant. Thank you

Saturday, June 9, 2007


It's time you walked away
set me free I must move away leave you be...
time's been good to us, my friend
wait and see how it will end
we come and go as we please...we come and go as we please...
that's how it must be
Here in crystal chandelier, I'm home
too many days, I've left unstoned
if you don't mind happiness
purple-pleasure fields in the Sun
ah, don't you know I'm runnin' home...don't you know I'm runnin' home...
to a place to you unknown?
I take great peace in your sitting there
searching for myself, I find a place there
I see the people of the world where they are and what they could be...
I can but dance behind your smile...
I can but dance behind your smile...
you were the world to me for a while
-- "D.C.B.A. " by Paul Kantner, Jefferson Airplane

Wow, besides "The Sopranos" finale (which my son is already tired of hearing my digressions and speculations on) suddenly the Summer of Love, 1967, is popping up in the media, as a culutral icon of the Summer 2007. 40 years ago this summer, I was a 12 year old, the age that my younger daughters are now, and I was an elementary school kid at Holy Name on (as we referred to it) 9th avenue. Music of the era made its way to my consciousness thanks to the radio and the lps that my older sister, then in high school at St Brendans, brought into the house.Although the music and the culture were exploding around me, it would still be a few years until I started writing and pursuing publication in earnest as a student at Bishop Ford HS and before I began to select and buy music much less dare to make critical assessments of it.. But then, back in 1967, I was still an elementary school brat at HNS (or, as our Windsor Terrace crowd later referred to it in our rebellious teen years, at "The Mission"). Music was everywhere, New York City, at least the mainstream and parts of the city locked into the media maelstrom, was undergoing waves of change, but Brooklyn, my Brooklyn, was still dormant.I grew up on 17th Street between 9th and 10th avenues. I remember a young couple moving into the basement apartment of home across the street from us. He had the hip look, long hair and beard, dressed for business during the week if I recall correctly, but most noticeably, on the weekend wore jeans and high leather boots, the first time such cool and radical fashion probably trod these Brooklyn streets.. We referred to him simply as "Cow Man" and I sincerely hope that we were not teasing or mean to him, although, children being who they are, we probably were and came off as dumb Brooklyn urchins..He lived next door to the "Stretzelmeyer" (pronounced by us as "Stretchemeyer") home, which was a remnant of old Brooklyn, a large Victorian house, like we live in now in Flatbush, but it was on a large piece of land, fenced in from 17th street to Prospect Avenue, behind a fairly high grey fence..two elderly ladies lived there, largely out of touch with the rest of us Irish, German and Italians working folks who had moved into the neighborhood in succeeding waves. We would see them occasionally when a ball went over the fence and they were patient enough to allow us into the yard to retrieve it..I imagined the house and the sisters were from "Arsenic and Old Lace" and I assume the house had been there from the 19th century when Windsor Terrace was more open land, farms, etc., and the brownstones and row houses of 17th street and beyond had simply grown up around them. That reminds me of another childrens' book, about a little cabin in the woods, that becomes a small home, and is eventually dwarfed by the City structures and skyscrapers built around it. Years later, when the homes was taken down and new construction was built on the site. The home and fenced in land were easily replaced by four or five attached homes on 17th street and an equal number around the block on Prospect Avenue...But the Summer of Love to me at twelve years of age in Brooklyn was a brand, a distant concept, almost a vision, something perhaps aspire to, as I got older, as though perhaps with time, and movement out of my parents' home and sphere of influence, I too could dare to step into this new world of music, excitement and Love...As always,

Speak memory...

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo