Thursday, May 31, 2007
was having a drawn out nervous breakdown
that would last the rest of her life,
I packed my portable organ & amplifier,
some clothes & records into a Volkswagon beetle
& moved out.
For a few nights I slept on a friend's porch,
then took a furnished room in an old lady's house.
My dad, about to remarry, visited me there,
pleaded with me to go home. I refused.
I had to give the Beetle back.
I got a job at a large record store
& bought a Rambler for two hundred bucks.
Then my beautiful, sensual ballet dancer girlfriend
who gave great oral sex & had just graduated from high school,
concluded I was no longer cool,
broke up with me while I was stoned at a party.
dumpimg me for a guy nicknamed "Tripping Jimmy."
Found in a file on the desktop. Her thing with the freak didn't last long. Much later she apologized for the lousy way she broke up, not the only time an ex-lover has done it, but a remarkable admission for her.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
a few crow caws,
waiting at window for ride to work
my overlapping worlds, two energies, both running
Typewriter poems. The clacking & thunking carriage, keys that pushed back even on electric machines. Using tabs if you were neat & consistent about it. A physical thing. Made poets want to travel all over the paper, what Charles Olson called an "open field." Fun journal writing, a strong visual presence. This is one of my simpler examples. I phased the style out around this time. I'd write them, put them aside, return later & the forms made no sense, I'd forgotten how to read them. They were difficult to revise, a hassle when typing copies. They were a major annoyance for poetry magazine editors. especially friends who felt obliged to publish something I sent. & if the editor had to close up the spacings or do a reduction on the copy machine to make it fit inside margins on a 5 1/2" 'zine page, what I thought was a big beautiful word flower just wilted away.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Now "Cindy Sheehan is resigning." I wish she had remained "nonpartisan" The left was already in her corner; she was a galvanizing person who could touch the rest of the country. She needed to surround herself with other Gold Star Mothers, widows, & war veterans. She was not a very good writer, & she had an undeniable emotional frailty. She did what she believed was the right thing by adopting forums such as Move On & Kos. It was not the right thing. The left encouraged her to be The Inconsolable Wailing Irish Woman, & Casey Sheehan made into an iconic "every mother's son," which of course he was not. No one is. One only has to peruse the hundreds of sycophantic comments that attached themselves to every one of her diaries, & look at the shit thrown at her from the right, to realize how trapped & exposed she must have felt. So I'm glad she's going to the sidelines as a "leader," & doing so with angry words for those Democrats who recently betrayed our troops. Including Democrats Kos heartily supported, & two I've voted for. Because the only way to really "help the troops" now is by rescuing them, bringing them home, & thanking them as generously as we can by providing for their needs. & taking control of our armed forces back from the ruinous corporate profiteers & evangelical zealots. & thanking Cindy for going to Texas in 2005 & doing so much to expose the fool & fraud we have for a president.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Charlies Nelson Reilly
You can call this beautiful weather if you want, but when the temperature goes to 80+ degrees in Jersey for two weeks from late May into early June, that's an unusual heat wave, & it makes me wonder about July. Where were those cool breezy May days?
At least I got some laundry done. Watched a little bit of "Patton" on a big screen TV, movie I've seen too many times & now seems more George C. Scott than General George. About 15 minutes of "The Wedding Singer" convinced me it was awful despite Drew Barrymore, who wasn't required to act anyway.
the honor of a white Cadillac
at the front of the parade.
Your slow steps
escorting the wreath
up the gray slate path
to the war monument
by the public library.
Each clang of the fire engine bell
is the face of someone's son.
Four old soldiers aim
rifles at the blue sky,
a nervous boy plays "Taps."
They rest there for weeks,
your ribbons & fading flowers.
A poem I've tinkered with over the years, snipping mostly, originally published as "Gold Star Mother." The Gold Star Mother I had in mind was "Aunt" Emma, a kindly, white-haired woman. Don't know how my parents became friends with her & her husband. They lived in house my dad helped build in the late Forties on a hill behind where Blue Star Mall is now on Route 22, when the area had a country feel. The Memorial Day of my childhood was mainly a World War II ceremony, the "good" war. Aunt Emma was surrounded & escorted by veterans the age of her son, had he lived, perhaps even his boyhood friends. This made the public remembrance before hundreds of townspeople especially poignant, & no doubt quite painful for her. His name was on the monument with an asterisk next to it for "*Supreme Sacrifice." He was one clang of the fire bell. But it was her duty also to serve as a living memory, a reminder that behind the words about duty, honor & valor, behind the flags & rituals of the day, war is always tragic.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Point Pleasant Beach NJ
Point Pleasant Beach NJ
Train stopped running a few years ago. This part of the boardwalk up to the end at Manasquan Inlet is a very nice evening stroll. The old guy who piped Sinatra songs through speakers on the front of his cottage died, but his kids said they'll carry on the tradition.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Black Bear In The Alley
down from the mountains.
Every year one black bear,
yet we compose no dream songs,
no verses of welcome,
although many of us
claim we are singers.
It is a sad thing to be
a singer to the world & not
able to carry a tune
for a black bear to hear.
If we stay inside our houses,
the bear will eat raspberries
& go home.
Black bears were an uncommon sight in populated areas of Jersey in the '70s. But the poem is more about poets than bears.
(Note to myself: Today is John Wayne's 100th birthday.)
Friday, May 25, 2007
A Friend In Vermont
worn rocks scattered in the creek,
the same old glaciers choke
a familiar gurgling from them,
the claustrophobic hills
with pastures & slack jaw cows.
Everything where you are
shifts familiar accents
on a parallel history,
larger, sharper, colder.
I recall a Milky Way night,
the first absolute sky I had seen
in years, it is still out there
with you beneath it.
When asked my occupation, I usually answer, "failed poet."
I flunked geometry in my sophomore year in high school, then aced it in summer school to prove I wasn't stupid.
The single most unfair thing my mom did to me personally was to make me eat cooked yellow squash, which I detested. I was not a picky eater & deserved a "bye" on that vegetable.
The most memorable, accurate observation I heard my eldest brother make was in regard to our maternal grandparents: "Grandpa's treated Grandma like an idiot for so long that now she's become one." This was years before Grandma was really old.
As an adult, I've never lived anywhere I thought of as "home," although I resided 12 years in one apt & 11 in another. Altogether, I've lived in 12 towns.
Last year, I aired a 45 minute set on WFMU using a computer-generated random number sequence to select the songs, mostly R&B, most of which I'd never heard & did not listen to ahead of time.
I don't expect to have another love relationship. As a result, even the best days suck a little bit. I've met people who also don't expect anything, but are content. That's what 25 years of marriage & raising kids & no privacy, & then a divorce will do. Extended families are especially discouraging. Please elaborate, Bob. Ok. One can tell if one's position on the potentially-significant other's list of important relationships follows children, grandchildren, parents, children's spouses, pets, ex-spouses, siblings, nieces & nephews, uncles & aunts, cousins, & old drinking buddies. It's selfish & useless to resist by offering & asking for more time & attention. The best recourse one has is holding up like a mirror a similar tangle of beings on one's own side. If one doesn't have a tribe, one can always adopt the other's in its entirety & humbly integrate into pre-existing order of things - every major holiday, birthday party, wedding, baptism, graduation, & anniversary dinner.
tagged by Sharon, but I'm a cul-de-sac.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
What I Did Today
read newspaper in Dunkin' Donuts
changed airfilter on car
Anne came outside
we sat in hot sunlight on grass
pink undies beneath her shorts
I stared at her legs
we complimented each other's green tomatoes
her little pumpkins
watched Mount St. Helen tv show
explosion with nuclear neck & hat
dust & gases blown into stratosphere
great sunsets in Montana
later, ants digging themselves out
microrganisms growing stagnant soup
"That sure smells," said an entomologist
to a microbiologist. He coptered up
for the bugs, not the stinking fumeroles
a banzai in my bathroom
tiny pinecones my desire
for dessert, a mouse running through a diner
the waitress didn't see it
even when I stood up & pointed
two customers walked out
I ordered cheesecake & coffee
Editors of little magazines liked my poems about nothing, publishing them alongside important poems about something.
Summer is here. But unless a woman with a reliable car shows up who adores me & wants to drive to the shore, the only difference from any other season is that I put an air-conditioner in the window & feel disappointed because another summer is coming when I probably won't visit Wildwood & Cape May or wander the Seaside Heights boardwalk late on a balmy evening. Here I am, the greatest boardwalk benny poet in New Jersey, & I can't ride the classic Dentzel/Looff Carousel on Casino Pier, the one with a band organ that plays "Obla Di Obla Da." Sure, I can get to Point Pleasant Beach directly by train. But I can do the main section of that boardwalk in under 30 minutes & it's about as interesting as an indoor mall.
Listening to the Yankees/Boston game on the radio last night, they squeeze an actual baseball game in around the commercials, plugs, & weird sponsorships (That 3rd Inning pop up out was brought to you by Geico). Color commentator Suzyn Waldman is a much more overt management shill than play-by-play announcer John Sterling, who's been calling Yankees games since 1989. It's difficult for Suzyn to grasp that the Yanks drifting along about ten games behind Boston at this point in the season is not a freak aberration in the standings; the Red Sox are a better team in part because Coco Crisp can hit a home run to deep right off struggling John Farnsworth with the Yanks leading by 6 in the 8th, & yes, Boston could come back & win the game. This so upset Suzyn ("Farnsworth is in there to get guys like that out!") that John - who enjoys anything that makes a game more interesting if it doesn't make it a lot longer - had to reason her down to calmness.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Raritan Bay At Night
for their tide to come in,
but I'm waiting for the ancient race
to return to the Bay.
for the bonfires, & for
the dancers on Sandy Hook.
I'm not tempted
to light the fire myself,
as much as the weeds
might desire the flame.
If the dancers dance,
I won't have to tell them
the crabs aren't edible,
when Henry Hudson is arriving,
& the Spaniards are already here.
They'll remember in the morning.
Unlike western states, one must stretch to imagine the area known as New Jersey prior to the European invasion. Some places here are easier for it than others.
Maureen & Al
Al Gore: Iraq.
Mo: I only resemble a 55 year old journalist; actually I'm a young Irish princess, that's what mom always told me.
Al: Civil liberties.
Mo: I don't NEED men, you know.
Al: Global warming.
Mo: Rich, virile, powerful leaders desire me. Henry Kissinger just goosed me ...again.
Al: Katrina, New Orleans.
Mo: I won a Pulitzer for writing about how ugly Monicas were destroying America. Are you listening?
Al: Internet neutrality.
Mo: What makes you think you're such a hunk that you can ignore me?
Al: Disastrous Bush-Cheney foreign policy.
Mo: You're fat, Al, FAT FAT FAT. Fat guys can't be president. I won't let them. That's why I made Bubble Boy win in 2000. It was me, not the Votomatic punch card shenanigans.
Al: Rove, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Gonzales.
Mo: Hey, Barack, look at me!
Barack Obama: Can't talk now, Mo, gotta run. You have a ciggy I can borrow?
WASHINGTON - President Bush, trying to defend his war strategy, declassified intelligence Tuesday asserting that Osama bin Laden ordered a top lieutenant in early 2005 to form a terrorist cell that would conduct attacks outside Iraq — and that the United States should be the top target.The same bin Laden who had dozens of al-Qaida cells possessing public library cards in the United States on 9/12/01? The same bin Laden we were going to hunt down & bring to justice? The same bin Laden who was working hand-in-hand with Saddam? Yeah, that bin Laden. The Cheney/Bush Junta couldn't even take a little overdue verbal heat from former President Jimmy Carter (who unfortunately didn't stand solidly behind his words), & is gearing up for another slander job on the man who had it right all along, Al Gore. & screw you, Rudy Giuliani, for going on Letterman & justifying Bush's war by claiming Bill Clinton was for "regime change." Not to mention the passing reference to the Fort Dix "terrorist plot," which was "two years" in the making - with an FBI informant practically leading it. You're lucky Dave had his nose so far up your ass by then that he couldn't get it out to ask you what the hell you were talking about.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Mary O'Donnell In A College Bookstore
the very moment you stood
before me because I have
a bit of an ancient heart
by which I recognize a rose,
& not enough distances
to deny the knowledge.
Now I scribble book titles,
your textbooks for
whatever your desires,
probably too much of a future
you try not to doubt,
& this is my part, although
I look like hell & I'm
making a mess of it.
i got high at lunch,
more so than I wanted,
I'm feeling hassled
& not a little paranoid,
but doesn't a rose suffer also
with each prick of a thorn?
The day is very long, so
this I say to you,
Mary O'Donnell, with
a wink of my puffy eye:
Please save this receipt
because you never know
what tomorrow may bring.
A sweet little poem, good-hearted & basically honest. But it's an early example of Faux Irish-American in my writing. I excuse the use of this phony voice because Irish-American culture is mostly cowshit anyway, which is pretty much how my Irish-American gramma felt about it. She was a sober matriarch who bore only one child yet was a devout Catholic. As far as I'm concerned, she gave me the literary license.
Monday, May 21, 2007
A Friend In Crete
a twisted bush growing from a crack
at her feet. A twisted bush
growing from a crack in a large rock.
Last night I dreamed I was on a road
next to the ocean. The road passed
a series of small, ornate graveyards,
pieces of paper fluttering from the stones.
The ocean was blue. The ocean was blue.
The time of year was this time.
I am fully awake. Dozens of explosive sticks
18 inches long have washed up on beaches
from Asbury Park to Seaside heights.
"They look like small salamis," said Officer Hubbard.
"You can't stumble over one without seeing it."
I read a letter from a woman standing still
on a large rock in the middle of the sea,
a twisted bush growing from a crack
at her feet. I file the letter.
The woman has moved on. A twisted bush
grows from a crack in a large rock
The ocean is blue. The ocean is blue.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
native to New Jersey
sits on the window sill
in a plastic pot
glowing green in the dark
unmoved by the breeze
skin so tough
flies won't go near it
Saturday, May 19, 2007
A night owl show
Overnights are the best radio slots. I'm a night owl & have no trouble pushing myself to 6 am. If I think it'll be a task, I take a short nap early in the evening & grab a coffee on the way. The trip back home is the discombobulating part, especially when sunrise is early & the first train I can catch out of Newark is at 7:30 Saturday morning & I try to sleep for a few hours through the sound of lawn mowers & weed whackers. I can play lots of long cuts, an entire symphony if I'm in the mood, & I feel a kinship with small hours listeners, a few of whom are willing to ride along wherever I'm going & send me e mails afterward. Then there's the guy who heard me play Santana once 15 years ago & called many times for years afterward whenever I was on in the middle of the night requesting a long live jam. He finally gave up.
When I arrived at WFMU last night, I discovered I'd forgotten to pack my CD wallets. My talkover music, the entire first set, & some other lengthy tracks were at home, so much for a leisurely browse through the music library. Fortunately, the new bin held a number of good new jazz releases I might not have otherwise played.
This morning, PATH was running trains on one track on no apparent fixed schedule. The route from Jersey City to Newark included a slow side trip through the Harrison yards. NJ Transit was running a diesel on the Long Branch Local due to overhead wire problems outside of Newark. The train got halfway to Newark Airport, halted for 10 minutes, then began backing toward Penn Station. "This can't be good," I muttered to no one in particular. I was exhausted, & now had to consider taking a bus to Elizabeth. I felt myself becoming agitated. The train stopped again, moved forward switching to another track. It was only 15 minutes late but the entire trip home felt like hours. My apartment, windows closed all night, was stunk up with whatever awful seasoning the Jamaicans underneath meuse, or maybe they were boiling a goat's head. I had to turn on a window fan. A lawn mover sputtered to life. Thank heavens for Ambien.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Whores of Babylon
Thursday, May 17, 2007
She may be crazy
I only saw her once afterward, in Pier 1 a couple years later, where I was browsing Hawaiian shirts from Bangladesh with a new girlfriend. She drew me aside & asked if we would socialize with her & her "fiance" some time because all of his friends were gay couples. This amused me so much that I immediately took my girlfriend down the highway to Bennigan's & celebrated with Guinness, buffalo wings, & bacon & cheese potato skins. She was crazy & deliberately tore my heart up because I was vulnerable & she knew she could; she turned a weekend at the shore into a psycho-emotional nightmare, something everyone else who's walked the boards & beach with me understands is nearly impossible. But to her credit she inspired four or five really good poems I still like, danced with me at a wedding with champagne glasses balanced on our heads - astonishing a number of people who had never seen me happily liquored up, & finally handed me a reward every guy who's been treated badly by a woman wants but never expects by marrying the perfect man of her dreams (later confirmed through the grapevine).
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani reported a whopping $16.1 million in earned income over the past 16 months, most of it in speaking fees, according to financial documents filed Wednesday.9/11 was good, very good for Rudy. Meanwhile, New Gingrich is waiting for the Repug frontrunners to bore America into total indifference before he announces & becomes the instant favorite of the religious wingnuts. Run Newt, run. I'm no longer surprised that two documented sleazebags could be serious contenders for the presidential nomination. Dave Letterman said the Republican candidates look like an evil law firm from a John Grisham movie.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The Old Time Gospel Guy
Falwell's smartest move was realizing Liberty University was more useful than Moral Majority for promulgating his views & weaving them into the American fabric, so he concentrated on straightening out its finances & expanding it. His goal was for Liberty to "be to fundamentalist Christians what Notre Dame is to Roman Catholicism," supposing American fundamentalism equals two millennia of Catholic intellectual & cultural contributions, & Liberty basketball teams could actually beat the Fighting Irish in the NCAAs. A browse through the Liberty University website reveals more of Falwell's slickly frightful vision for America than his off-the-cuff remarks about Telebubbies & the Jewish antichrist. Every year his school produces thoroughly indoctrinated health professionals, teachers, media specialists, social workers, counselors, lawyers; plus political organizers & operatives from the Jesse Helms School of Government. My own nephew is down there studying Sports Management. There's a really strict student Code of Conduct & no coed dorms, but the technology is up-to-date.
Jerry Falwell had the curious ability to disarm critics in person by playing the Virginia gentleman when it suited him & by having a fairly mild preaching style for an old time King James Gospel Baptist. But Virginians, who know the names of the families up on the hill, were not fooled. Nor was anyone who actually listened to what he was saying.
*McIntire was an important model for Falwell's generation.
Monday, May 14, 2007
prose going nowhere
In 1996, when a 3 year long relationship ended, I had a gut feeling that I was finished, had all the chances I was going to get unless I became, in a sense, "normal." But it was my pushing toward a settled, career kind of job that had left her with no reason at all to go on. I probably needed Zoloft & therapy more than a position as an "Income Maintenance Technician" with Union County Social Services. I hated the job - no thanks to poor training - & was laid off after six months in a wave of welfare reforms. She had fallen in love with poet & underground radio DJ working in an arts supply store for a pittance. I didn't have have to fake who I was or what I did or what was important to me. You knew the truth as soon as you saw the wreck of a car I was driving. When I got the county job, I bought a pair of good shoes, put on a tie, & took a sabbatical from radio. I became unrecognizable even to myself. Who was this guy? What did he want? Inside the beehive of a large county building, I met a lot of dedicated, competent social services workers, but they comprised the largest concentration of unimaginative minds I'd ever encountered. I felt totally out of my element. Worse, regulations (which were enforced) prohibited me from moving out of county, up to Jersey City or down toward the shore so I'd at least have an interesting place to go home to. I'd fantasized keeping my sanity by living in Keyport, taking a convenient train to Elizabeth, & ending every day with a stroll by Raritan Bay, with frequent suppers in the classic chrome Keyport Diner, sitting at a table in the corner with a newspaper or book, a familiar customer. That was a worthwhile, modest dream for a single man expecting to remain alone.
& I expected to be alone because those single Jersey women my own age I met assumed a man would own a late model car & enjoy going to Atlantic City, & definitely not be too "far out." I was hopelessly far out. Just one easy example, I was incapable of saying, "I hate rap music." I could only say, "It's not my thing, but if I were 17 I'm sure I'd be nuts about it." I didn't like most seafood, wasn't interested in cruise ships or vacationing in Orlando, considered gambling a waste of time & money, & was indifferent to the glitz of Las Vegas without Frank, Dean & Sammy on the marquees. Outdoorsy women found out I'd had enough of camping & strenuous hiking as a Boy Scout. Golf looked OK, although there's nothing in my experience to indicate I'd be any good at it, or love it enough to get up for a sunrise tee time at a public course. I was also a political liberal, hardly a wonk but definitely not open to justifying my views or hearing a lot of recycled right wing prattle, which I realized when I briefly dated a Rush Limbaugh dittohead. It's hard being around someone who always knows the truth & wants you to know it,too.
I have no idea where I'm trying to go with this post.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Martin & Lewis
In July 1946, when a featured singer was fired, Jerry Lewis got Dean Martin a gig at Paul "Skinny" D'Amato's large, sleazy 500 Club in Atlantic City on the pretext that they did some funny stuff together, which they had fooled around with a little bit back in New York when they were on the same bill. They were hardly a "team." They didn't even know each other that well. With his wife & son in Newark, Jerry was lonely & also saw a chance to split the rent on his cheap hotel room. When they didn't perform the promised act, Skinny - & his muscle partner, Irwin "Wolfie" Wolf, ordered them to do comedy. So, at a late show, before an audience of about 20, Martin & Lewis improvised a routine that must have seemed completely insane at the time, if Jerry smashed as many dishes & scissored as many ties as he says. They were instantly successful. They packed audiences into the nightclub to see a 20 year old playing an adenoidal, out-of-control 8 year old, & a handsome, bon vivant singer reacting to the crazy kid with near indifference & deadpan one liners. Skinny gave them a huge raise & extended their booking through August. Less then two years later they tore up the Copacabana in New York. In August 1948 they did the same before a celebrity audience at Slapsy Maxie's in Hollywood & were signed to a movie contract with Paramount. They handled their fast rise smartly & professionally, & were the most successful comedy act in America until they broke up in the summer of 1956, a decade at the top. Jerry Lewis tells this story in Dean & Me. It needs to be told. Martin & Lewis are a disappearing act.
The most interesting sections of the book are about the formative weeks in Atlantic City & their period as a hot, hip new nightclub act working up to the Copa engagement. This backstage story is told anecdotally, & we just have to take Jerry's word for it. Dean never had much to say about it; he never had much to say about anything. It's easy to accept that Jerry provided most of the team's energy & ambition. Dean was, as they say, a "natural" as a singer, straight man, comedian, & actor. Jerry's main purpose in Dean & Me is to spotlight & credit his partner's importance as a comedian in their comedy act. If Dean was ever concerned about flopping, he never showed it.
I've seen some of the Martin & Lewis movies- none of them especially good, although they have their moments, & clips from their TV appearances. One doesn't really get from any of them whatever it was that made Martin & Lewis so novel, so fabulously successful as a nightclub act immediately after World War II. Jerry acknowledges the team isn't served well on film, but blames it mostly on producer Hal B. Wallis (who later handled Elvis just as poorly). Jerry understands why the anarchic spirit of the team was so appealing to a nation settling down & heading into an era of middle class conformity & anti-communist paranoia, & the relationship of their style to jazz. But Martin & Lewis performed nightclub sets that ran well over two hours when they were cooking, & no one bothered to set up cameras & film them - certainly not in the Forties. I don't know what their act was in that context, how they made it flow, or how they made it reliably entertaining. I only know the bits & shticks that went into their movies & TV shows. They must have been improvising like crazy during those first two years. Jerry never mentions the team actually rehearsing. Dean, of course, was notorious for how much he hated rehearsing. He was a one-take guy on the movie set if he had any say. His later adoption of the Friar's Club "Roast" format for TV was intended to do away with rehearsals completely. No more dancers, no more duets. Just cue cards. Did Martin & Lewis informally work out on stage & remember the various routines that comprised their act? Because when they were doing two or three full shows a night, or seven short performances in the movie/vaudeville format, they had to be funny whether they were inspired or not. Jerry doesn't get into the creative nuts & bolts of the Martin & Lewis performing machine, & I wish he had.
The chronology also gets confusing, as Jerry jumps back & forth to various points in their years together. More photos would have been good. But Jerry's tremendous love & respect for Dean Martin is undeniable. We learn that Dean gave Jerry his trademark haircut, & Jerry insisted they perform in tuxes, which became Dean's trademark attire. Jerry claims that Dean's impassive facade did fall on occasion - difficult as it is to envision Dean hugging & crying, & says their relationship was strong for all but the final 10 months, & that they were never enemies after the breakup. Jerry gets into the unavoidable mob associations from working in nightclubs & Vegas; his dealings with the wiseguys were helped by the fact that early on he paid off a huge Vegas gambling debt to the penny. Dean & Me is an entertaining, quick read, particularly for the look at Atlantic City just before the resort's long slide down.
After Skinny demanded a comedy act, Jerry quickly jotted down a few ideas on a greasy paper bag that had held a pastrami sandwich. They never used those bits, but Jerry still has the bag, locked away in a safe deposit box.
By the way, Jerry's early solo movies - both his own & those directed by Frank Tashlin - are pretty funny. He's had an amazingly long career for a performer who was pushed out to the margins of popular entertainment 40 years ago. Jerry wants us to remember how important, how big Martin & Lewis were in their time.
Labels: what I'm reading
Friday, May 11, 2007
Rachel Ray's Dunkin' Donuts commercials bring to mind an old, derogatory word, ballbuster. I imagine being married to her (she is married), seeing her maybe twice a week as she's rushing off to do one of her five TV shows or have a business meeting, & complaining, "If you won't ever cook a damned 30 minute meal for me, can you at least bring home a doggie bag sometimes?"
Quickie Horoscope: Your heart is hungry for more romance -- so feed it however you can today. Hah!
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Labels: Elizabeth NJ
A dull paragraph
Labels: home furnishings
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Excuse me if I remain a bit skeptical about the level of threat to national security posed by our homegrown terrorist cell here in Jersey. The one comprised of six alleged jihadist wannabees in their twenties who grew beards, shouted slogans, played paintball, used public gun ranges, trashed rented houses, & are accused of planning a murderous attack on Fort Dix with weapons they didn't have & didn't know where to find, & were apparently giving themselves away at every step. They look like bomb-throwing anarchists from cartoons, & yet they were going to carry out this insane mission even as some of them resided in middle-class neighborhoods, their kids playing with other kids on the block, mowing their lawns, washing their cars in the driveway, & knocking down shots & beers with neighbors in local bars without drunkenly blurting out,"Death to America." Dead end jobs are what the co-conspirators all seem to have in common. I don't know if working in a convenience store during the day & delivering pizza for your dad's restaurant in the evening is enough to turn a young man into an anti-American fanatic, but I suppose it could. They definitely aren't the brightest of lightbulbs. I'm relieved they were caught & stopped, but everything I've read tells me that the plot had zilch chance of being carried through to completion. Take away the pumped up jihad talk & they were more like a Raccoon Lodge for lapsed Muslims. “This is a new brand of terrorism where a small cell of people can bring enormous devastation,” proclaimed Christopher J. Christie, the United States attorney for New Jersey. I would point out to the hyperbolating, ambitious Mr. Christie that the "new brand of terrorism" is already rooted here, evidenced by the brazenly lawless street gangs & sociopathic students who have little difficulty obtaining & using deadly weapons.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Chain link fence length of the driveway,I wonder how the 9-1-1 operator would have reacted?
this side where I am,
that side with the birds
attracted by a wood feeder.
Mourning Doves, only pigeons
with softer eyes, sad cooing,
mate for life, if those birds count,
how many Springs do they count
The flocking sparrows, their chattering,
chirps & whistles, gathering in
the winter bare vines tangled
through an old trellis,
good-natured toward each other,
fearful of everything else.
Plain starlings, bullying birds
that shriek sharply when they fight
over stale rolls in the street,
but in Spring they are cousins to mockingbirds
that perch high in trees, telephone poles,
rusting television antenna,
singing the greatest hits
of every bird they every heard,
insects, even car alarms.
& the birds I hear but never see,
March arrivals hiding in the evergreens.
For these songs & sights
I toss some leftover cornbread
over the fence into the yard
the birds seem to own.
"Hey you, stop that!" a woman yells.
"Or I'll call the police."
She flies from her hiding place
behind a broken down garage,
thin & fortyish, angry red face,
a bird of a different feather
condemning my innocent food.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Ludwig Beethoven (by far the winner, he really is my fav composer)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Would seem to indicate a fairly conservative taste. Except that I do have a large amount of "experimental" & "modern" music on CD & LP, some of it quite rare. I'm not a big baroque fan, & in that period I'm drawn more to Handel & Vivaldi than to Bach, although I have & love Karajan's mammoth Mass in B Minor. I have less Debussy & Ravel than I thought, not enough Faure & Satie. I have all the Stravinsky I want. Somehow I picked up a lot of Aaron Copland, & not even the music by him I'd like to have. Never really warmed up to nationalists like Grieg & Dvorak, though I love the Russians & the peculiar Moravian Leos Janacek, & am fond of Bartok. I have a surprising number of vocal music CDs, opera singers, masses, oratorios, even a live Wagner's Gotterdamerung (on 4 CDs) & a 2 CD collection of Leopold Stokowski's selections from The Ring mostly recorded in Camden NJ in the early 1930s, & an opera by Nino Rota, who composed the scores for The Godfather & La Dolce Vita. About 6 years ago I went through a phase with vocal music similar to one I went through in my early 20s when I force fed my ears string quartet & chamber music until I learned to appreciate it (& eventually prefer it to orchestral music). Now I think my attraction to small ensemble classical was driven in large part by a desire for lean, no frills music that wasn't being satisfied at the time by rock, jazz, or even country. I was delighted by the rise of punk, reggae, & "outlaw" country in the mid-70s.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Occupation: Stupid Socialite
In her first public comments since a prison sentence, celebrity heiress and reality TV star Paris Hilton has described her 45-day jail term for a driving related offense [alcohol-related reckless driving]as cruel and unwarranted.Paris Hilton is as useless as a dick on a Barbie Doll. Us peons know there doesn't exist a municipal judge who accepts ignorance as a defense. She's just learned it infuriates Superior Court judges, too. & she hasn't bothered to store up an ounce of good will with all her money & celebrity. It's like this, girl: You pay your fine, park your car, do your suspension time, pay your license restoration fee & the insurance surcharges. You open all mail from the state DMV. With your dough, you ride in a limo. We don't care. Screw you.
Visibly shocked and tearful, Hilton was sentenced on Friday to 45 days in jail after a judge ruled she knowingly violated her probation on a previous traffic offense by driving without a valid license.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Sauer rejected the 26-year-old socialite's defense that she didn't realize her license was suspended and ordered her to report to a county detention facility on June 5.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Pearl on Saturday Night
After 7 pm, we got what I called "dateless dandies." These were people in their middle to late twenties dressed for clubbing & bar hopping who got out of the house early & were starting their evening via retail stores. (In Macy's the female ones hit the fragrances for a free sample of something expensive.) At Pearl, we got the wishful thinking artist wannabees, & always women fascinated by the airbrushes they'd encountered in nail salons that afternoon. For a couple of years, the airbrush area at Pearl had a short, laid back kid who went to The Art Institute of Philadelphia during the week, he knew his stuff, they could have put him just about anywhere in the store. He was always buzzed on Saturday night, & he'd position himself on a stool behind the airbrush counter, assembling & disassembling the same airbrush without even looking at it, as he stared at the attractive women asking him questions about how difficult it was to learn nail stenciling. Very, but why discourage anyone? His goal was to keep them at the counter as long as he could.
The store closed at 9, everyone became restless around 8:30. We were supposed to straighten up our areas, nobody bothered much with that, & by 10 past we were all standing near the registers waiting to punch out, which we couldn;t do until the registers were emptied. Yet, once outside, if the evening was mild, we tended to hang out for a little while. Some of us would have enjoyed walking across the parking lot to Chi-Chi's or TGIF for a drink, but those places were always packed by that hour. I envied the younger folks- a long, interesting night might be ahead of them while I went home, had a sandwich, & watched Walker, Texas Ranger.
*Pot couldn't enhance the workplace experience for me, it would befuddle me, make me suspicious of everyone, & I dislike fluorescent overhead lighting. It was an enhancement when I worked in a small graphics studio with a lovely woman named Lori, & then we just got Chinese takeout & stayed late some evenings listening to music & talking, off the clock.
Labels: Pearl Arts
Friday, May 04, 2007
Conan O'Brien's show doesn't travel well as comedy. He's been in San Fran this week, & like when he went to Chicago, he stands on a stage in a huge old theater & yells out jokes that are only funny to the live audience, which screams at every lame reference to a local landmark. Robin Williams was on the show, of course, along with noted SF celebs Snoop Dog & Randy Jackson - the latter appears on Craig Ferguson only about once a month. The Max Weinberg band sounds better in a big venue, though. Wednesday night they played a really familiar song going in & out of break that had me stumped until I hummed it to myself a few times & identified it as "Spanish Bombs" by The Clash, strange pick. Glide Church Choir & Tom Waits were inspired, theatrical choices for musical performances.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
If we are in a long-term War of Civilizations (when isn't there such a war?) Hispanics are definitely on my side of the fight. The theory I've heard recently that the United States could be insidiously changed by an influx of fundamentalist Islamic immigrants is ridiculous. We're already under attack by our own homegrown fundies, who have enough in common with the Islamic variety to be really scary. Hispanics will never stand for those kinds of strictures on belief & action; it is utterly contrary to who they are & why they come here, an insult to their diversity & to the depth & breadth of their achievements. (Nobody can push the Colombian women I've met into a burka & cloistered existence.) The sheer weight of their numbers on the North & South American continents makes inevitable the gradual latinizing of the United States, & we ought to get used to it, get used to the idea that they are also us.
Labels: Elizabeth NJ
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
A Hard Chair
For years, WFMU had a squeaky, uncomfortable office chair in the studio - it was a tradition, nobody ever tried to oil out the squeak, we were fond of it. At some point, back in the 1980s, the station acquired a few bulky, conference room type chairs, on casters, with arm rests, quite comfortable. They weren't intended for the studio & were impractical for that purpose, taking up a lot of space while limiting movement. Occasionally, a DJ would push one behind the control board, which took some effort. I preceded Lou's late afternoon show, & one day a big soft chair happened to be in the studio. I didn't care for it, but didn't bother making the switch back to the regular squeaky chair for my program. Lou arrived for his show, took a look at me tilted back & relaxing in the spacious seat, & literally kicked the chair, bouncing me about a foot in the air. "Get out of that chair," he commanded. "Poets don't sit in soft chairs when they're working. They sit in hard chairs!" On the spot, while some record was playing, he made me wrestle the big soft chair out of the studio & replace it with the hard, squeaky one. This saved him the trouble of doing it, because he wasn't using a soft chair for his show. In the 10 years we were both at WFMU, it was the only time Lou ever became really annoyed at me. Lou was teacher, I never heard him say an unkind word about his students, who could be a difficult bunch. But I pissed him off. I considered him a mentor, & he mentored me that day.
Eventually, we did away with the squeaky chair, the station manager even apologized for replacing it, but our circumstances had improved to where the chair no longer symbolically expressed WFMU's technical & financial frailties. Yet, there was a squeaky, hard chair in the studio last week, which made me think of this poem.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Mission Accomplished Day
"The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more. (Applause.)I prefer recalling the woman I was with four years ago
"In these 19 months that changed the world, our actions have been focused and deliberate and proportionate to the offense. We have not forgotten the victims of September the 11th -- the last phone calls, the cold murder of children, the searches in the rubble. With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States. And war is what they got. (Applause.)"
who always went home at 5 a.m. so she could let her dogs out,
her old white Econoline cargo van sputtering to life
in the pre-dawn drizzle.