Friday, December 31, 2010


Heartfelt thanks to Gina for being there for me so much this past year. May your every kindness be rewarded ten-fold.

Thanks also to Joe from Cranford & X-Ray from Kearny for sending their "call anytime if you have a problem" phone numbers. Didn't need to use 'em, thank heavens, but felt better just having them. They do mean anytime.

Thanks to online friends who checked in on me from time to time, made sure I was posting regularly on the blog or at Facebook. Carrie was alarmed once just because I missed a blog day. & others who e mailed to remind me I was in their thoughts & prayers.

Thanks to those at Street Prophets who discerned I was having a rough year  as my oft-verbose comments posts became briefer (especially Sara,  who gets my sense-of-humor &  promoted my rare sidebar diaries to "front page.").

Thanks to WFMU DJs & listeners for treating me like I still do radio programs.

Thanks to the poets  who consider me a worthy peer.  More of them understand  that I'm a poet no matter what I happen to be doing.

Thanks to fellow writers Rob O'Connor & Dave Cope for exchanging messages the "old-fashioned" way, at length & with complete thoughts & sentences.

Thanks to Edie for remembering, although she doesn't use the internet & won't read this.

Thanks to Jamie for connecting via FB (her mom, my former boss at Pearl Arts, found me), then having a baby on Dec 27 & naming her Noella (I also was rooting for the 25th).

& thanks to God for granting my one sincere, spontaneous, self-serving prayer this year.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

music favs

Mulling over a 2010 music favs list for a few weeks. It''s been a great year for hearing unfamiliar music. But the few albums I'd recommend in their entirety aren't of general interest.  I don't feel like uploading an entire movement of an obscure classical work  - a  "Sinfonia Concertante for Wind Quintet and Orchestra" by an obscure composer, Peter Von Lindtpaintner, just to make an unnecessary case for for it. Heard a really interesting album of short orchestra works by Gustav Holst, a few of which illustrated an early love for Wagner  he fortunately outgrew. The best all-around classical album I heard was Rossini's Wind Quartets,  composed at age 12 for strings & which I described as sounding like music from a puppet show opera.

I recommend exploring the recordings of Gary McFarland, his own & those he arranged & produced for others. Also, Cal Tjader, the versatile vibes player with a massive discography ranging from Latin hard bop to classy cocktail jazz. You can browse my You Tube Video uploads. These lean heavily on "novelties" that nobody else has bothered to upload. Some good jazz & easy listening Bobby Hackett mixed in there.

Last January I enthused over  "Music 'til Dawn," a compilation of two LPs Hackett recorded for Columbia in the early Sixties  with Wurlitzer pipe organist Johnny Seng. Hackett's restrictive contract with Capitol prevented him from recording with strings, & the result was ethereal,"like watching star-crossed lovers dancing at 3 am in a large, empty ballroom. Cheesy in its way, yet almost unbearably sad..."


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In Jersey,. how you feel about our recent blizzard depends upon where you live, where you park your car, how you get to work, & maybe how long you can hold out until you have to get to the supermarket.

The biggest complaints are from  Jersey City with its  traditionally unresponsive city government,  a wide variety of neighborhoods & economic levels, narrow streets,  steep hills, & heavy reliance on public transit.

One Hoboken resident noted that Starbuck's  was closed Monday but Dunkin' Donuts remained open. There's the difference between a "barista" & a "counter girl." My guess is that the D.D.s in Elizabeth were open & did good business from cops, EMTs, firefighters, DPW plow drivers, county jail guards, & hospital employees.



@#$^&* bank. At  this point you have the options of  backtracking, wading, or stepping into busy street narrowed by plow piles to barely one lane.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our sacrosanct military budget

The U.S. military now has more people in its marching bands than the State Department has in its foreign service....
Nicholas D. Kristof, The Big (Military) Taboo
I'm surprised they haven't yet privatized & subcontracted military bands to KBR or Dyncorp, which would pay musicians three times  as much as military personnel, tax free, no union,  if they'll do a year in the Iraq Green Zone or at Bagram Airbase outside Kabul.

Our sacrosanct military budget: "The United States spends nearly as much on military power as every other country in the world combined.."

Two wars, troops & fleets & bases spread around the world, & we don't  have a "Truman Commission"  a WWII Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program that brought the future president into the national spotlight. They investigated waste in the military budget. There's no waste like war waste.

Does it save money to privatize & subcontract so many crucial military support services?  Is it good for morale? 

Some jerk off right wing senator recently tried to stall the START treaty vote  by complaining that Russia took two of our humvees during the Georgia conflict.

We arm & train the national security forces  of South Korea & Saudi Arabia - & they are very well-trained & armed -  & then are expected to fight their battles, too. Which we're currently doing for the Saudi Royal Family in both Afghanistan & Iraq.  You know there's about 20,000 filthy rich Saudi princes & they run everything important in their country, & not one of them  to my knowledge is driving a Humvee in Afghanistan.

Our military-corporate-media establishment manipulates sincere "Support the Troops" sentiment to undermine very broad & real dissatisfaction with  our war policies & aims.

Although we maintain huge, unnecessary bases all over the globe, the Army brass decided it was too expensive to use, reassign, or mothball a small, versatile, irreplaceable piece of prime real estate in Jersey called "Fort Monmouth." So, to be "cost-effective,"  they gave it away.

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Monday, December 27, 2010


of snow, according to National Weather Service.

 This amount is the second  highest "official" total in Jersey. Mildly surprised. Late last night / early this A.M., on radar, clearly the most intense snow was in a long, narrow north to south band  with edge stopping ten miles west of here,  & at the Jersey shore around Asbury Park. But the shore got more wind, & some huge drifts.  All-in-all an exceptional storm.

Unless you lose power or reside on an unfortunate side street your town forgets to plow, Jersey recovers quickly from snowstorms. It's a big hassle if you have to park on the street.  You dig the car out, if you must go somewhere you  stick a garbage can in the spot, hope nobody grabs it or the town doesn't totally plow it under. People generally respect the unwritten rules, & streets are mostly cleared to the curbs on the alternate side parking street sweeper mornings.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010


Snow. A well-formed nor-eastern spins counterclockwise  like a hurricane. The center is  off the coast of Jersey now. If I'm reading the radar snow bands correctly, there's more snow - a lot more snow - falling about ten miles west of here, & it's been happening for some time. In storms like this, local snow amounts can vary six plus  inches over matter of a few miles.  It's blizzard conditions or close to them on my street, but they come & go with wind gusts.  There's some traffic, & I hear kids outside up the block. Well over a foot. Wouldn't be surprised if  there's two feet by the time it stops.

   ELIZABETH             26.5  1205 AM 12/27  TRAINED SPOTTER
   FANWOOD               26.0   100 AM 12/27  PUBLIC
   ROSELLE PARK          21.0  1230 AM 12/27  PUBLIC
   ROSELLE               19.4  1226 AM 12/27  TRAINED SPOTTER

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Ocean City NJ

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

What Child is This? - A contemplation

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Mele Kalikimaka

 I've done nice Christmas writing, click on the links if you want to read some of it.  It's not authentic autobiography. I like playing with the silly & sentimental aspects of the season. I'm a fringe entertainer.

 On Christmas Eve I remember friends & acquaintances with problems. One has post-polio syndrome but has to look after her aging father & cope with her grown kids' problems. Another in the midwest is totally alone. A friend in L.A. was in the Labrea tar pits of the soul  because she believed she couldn't spend Christmas with her grandson, although that seems to have to been worked out, thank heavens.

Christmas happened in a  stinkin' stable. If one travels to third world countries & is shocked by the dirt, odor, & that the people are resentful because  one has everything & represents a wealthy empire,  one is in Bethlehem 2000 years ago as a Roman tourist.   If one drives through Newark's Central Ward tonight, or past a trailer trash park in the boondocks, one is passing  Bethlehem.  Mary & Joseph didn't even have a homeless shelter, much less an economy  motel,  on their journey. They received the off-handed, minimal kindness of an inn keeper. & you can almost bet the inn itself had bedbugs & no  clean sheets & towels. Probably  a few bags stuffed with straw scattered around. Continental breakfast of warm goat milk & stale bread.

Get over the Norman Rockwell crap.  It's sweet, & it's good domestic theater, & certainly worth using as stage setting, if one doesn't have a raucous extended family. Rockwell didn't do kielbasa, lasagna,  red beans & rice, or tamales dulces.  But the more desperately one clings to  those sentimental pictures, the more one feels  under assault, like others are trying to take away something one knows isn't real to begin with.   The resentment one then has is an ironic flip on the resentment of the have-nots & undesirables one tries to avoid in order to hold the picture together. Besides, there's a backstage to every theater production, where the illusion is controlled & manipulated, & where the actors have at each other with their jealousies & absurd ambitions before they go on stage & pretend they are other people.

Christmas is The Incarnation of God in a man. God, being God, could have chosen anyone. Why not  be born in line to become emperor, or at least a vassal king? Then maybe God-man could have the Earthly power to effect some practical improvements around the place. Like the indoor plumbing of wealthy Romans. Or more modestly, be a  shopkeeper's baby or some ancient Palestinian version of the white collar class with reserved seats at the local House of Worship.   God chose a nobody, with nobodies for parents - though respectable enough among their own kind,  &  despite his 15 minutes of  celebrity riding a donkey into the big city, Jesus was still a nobody three decades later when he was the last-minute extra added attraction at the public execution of a pair of common thieves.

The month-long Advent approach to Christmas isn't comprised of tender tales & the wonderment of deodorized shepherds entertained by choirs of angels (Another good question: Why shepherds, who were lower on the employment ladder than the kid working on Christmas at Wendy's take-out window?). Advent shows us a corrupt, deadly world in need of complete redemption from the inside-out.  It was, if we believe in it, the sub-atomic redemption of the whole cosmos, when everything changed even as it paradoxically stayed the same (an idea I steal from theologian Paul Tillich).  Not the temporary redemption of floating an ark,  parting the sea to escape Pharaoh's army, or being liberated from Babylonian exile only to return to Israel & screw it up all over again.

If it happened the way it happened, it was the right way at the right time. 

The tour begins here. So hold your noses, ladies & gentleman,if the odor of a stable offends you.

Christmas Cigar (Catholic girlfriends & family divorces).
My Parents' Christmas Shamanism (Bobby sneaks a peek).
The Battle of Christmas Part One (Washington crosses the Delaware) .
The Battle of Christmas Part Two (at the mall).


Friday, December 24, 2010

Nothing says "Merry Christmas..."

Every Christmas, Gina gives me a small Asbury Park memento for my Boardwalk Shrine.  This year, she said, "Nothing says Merry Christmas like a tragic cruise ship fire."

Alright, let's make this clear: I can't stand Bruce Springsteen's version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" & am not crazy about the original Phil Spector version with The Crystals. I love Darlene Love's annual appearance on Letterman, performing "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)." Every year they figure out a new way to get the sax player on stage for the mid-song break.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

I believe in wind chill. It's 35 degrees out & the gust that hit me at the corner was a reminder.

I don't do "Repost this if you care" on Facebook.  Of course, I care. I just don't care that you posted it.

I've received very few snail mail cards this year. None even from the online stores I patronize.  For a couple of years I participated in a card exchange at Street Prophets website, that was fun,  but it took so much effort to organize it that nobody volunteered to do it last year or this.  I still have all those cards.  Sent out a couple.   Every Christmas I say I'm gonna order some cool Christmas art cards during the after-holiday sales, every year I forget. The only good cards for sale around here are pop-up cards in a spinner rack over at Elmora Drug, & they're $5 a pop.

Advent Calendars

Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church online Advent Calendar.

Liverpool Museums Advent Calendar.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Jo Stafford: Winter Wonderland

Listening to this winter-theme LP from the Fifties, I wondered why I had never explored Jo Stafford's music. She had a natural, girl-next-door voice, a mix of cool & warm,  versatile enough that she could parody other styles & singers; a relaxed sense of swing, albeit vanilla-flavored.  Like Sinatra, she had her big break with Tommy Dorsey & became a major solo star during WWII.  So I made a fast survey of her recordings into the Sixties, when Jo retired from show biz.  A very small portion of them attempt to connect with jazz or put her in that framework, which singers of her era usually did in a small group setting. It isn't enough to record classic popular songs associated with jazz. The answer really is in this album. Jo was comfortable with schlock, dancing at the edge of the cornfield, with lots of strings, with choral backgrounds, with recording country & folk songs as pop, anything that might sell. It was quality for what it was. Collaborating with her husband, Paul Weston, not the most swinging arranger in Hollywood,   Jo pretty much stuck with the style she had in the Forties.  She  sounds emotionally contented, maybe a bit lonely waiting for some guy to come home or settle down - the promise of the girl-next-door.   World-weary numbers like "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)" didn't suit her. But Jo was a lovely singer.

Jo with jazz accordionist Art Van Damme

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The other day, I offered the opinion on an internet thread/link that personal stories of journeys toward & away from religious belief rarely have any original insights, & the tales - & the arguments for & against -  could be categorized, usually according to where they began the journey.  On the topic of religion, Bill Maher is as tedious to me as any protestant Born Again, & his attitude is the flip side of angry right wing Irish-American Catholics. I wonder if he realizes how much his tone of voice, his sarcasm,  can sound like Bill O'Reilly?   Ideologues tend to sound similar, & Maher is also a religious ideologue.

But atheists / humanists have a tough time in America just admitting unbelief. The vast majority of Americans believe in some form of "God," although exactly what this means is difficult to pin down.  There seems to be some common misconception that good morality & ethics depend upon belief in a deity, &^ that we cannot as a society  arrive at them without the aid of  Biblical scripture.

Religious ideologues (which includes some expressions of atheism) struggle with metaphor. They tend to be literalistic, & the worst of them are fundamentalists.  Science doesn't always work for me as literalism because I don't understand physics as mathematics.  So the only way I grasp time & space & speed of light, quantum physics, string theory,  & other bizarre, mind-boggling concepts are through pictures that physicists & math geeks  know are incredibly dumbed-down,  & lead to all sorts of misunderstandings.  Biblical literalism would require me to believe the universe is six to ten-thousand years old, & humans co-existed with dinosaurs.

It's the scientific process we trust, not necessarily the results & conclusions - because they do not stop the process, which continues & is, hopefully, self-correcting.  Biblical literalism requires that facts be forced to fit The Book, & some theories dismissed altogether. But "science" did not exist when The Bible was written, & it's also a poor source of historical fact just by making Israel look more powerful than it was. We say history is written by the winners. The Bible is wonderful because it was written by  the losers, inhabitants of petty kingdoms on a highway between empires. The Bible  as "book" was codified & promoted by winners. & therein lies  the source of much misunderstanding.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Moon eclipse

Moon eclipse overnight. Starts about 1:35 a.m., reaches totality  2:41, maximum at 3:17.  Winter Solstice is tomorrow 6:38 p.m.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A perverse form of Advent

A succinct statement I wrote as a comment to a Facebook post:
For me, the overall culture isn't doing Christmas. It's some other month-long, irrepressible Solstice festival, traditionally but erroneously called "Christmas" in our society. The solution for Christians isn't to beat this festival into a perverse form of Advent, but to accept the economic necessity for it & make a distinction between the two. "Happy Holidays" as a general greeting is fine with me.
Many conservative Christians have a  big problem mentally multi-tasking December, so their response is to demand it all one way. But they're terribly wrong-headed. They just don't get it.  Christian Advent needs to be celebrated differently. The "gifts" of Christian Advent are not purchased from retail stores.  Which is why every year I post & recommend links to two Advent calendars; one religious that quotes daily scripture,  & one from a British museum.

Another Facebook comment that sort-of ties in:
Even when one shares a sentiment, one may dislike & resist having that sentiment manipulated.

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Metuchen NJ

Wood Brook Farms Certified Milk

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Senate Repeals ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Great event for our armed forces & for America.

Other nations ended DADT before us, & if you want to insult the "battle effectiveness" of the Israeli Army or British Marines, go right ahead. Just don't do it to their faces.

An opposing senator said, “In the middle of a military conflict, is not the time to do it.” But that might be the best time to do it. In peacetime, the argument is that change isn't needed, & the less pressured pace of military life gives soldiers & sailors too much time to think about change & too many opportunities to resist it. The Civil, World Wars, Korea, & Vietnam all hastened change in the composition of the military & duty assignments of personnel. Back at the beginning, The Revolutionary War established the American military as less class-conscious & with much freer expression in the ranks than existed in the British or any other European army;  it's been an important quality of our military "personality" ever since. As recently as WWII, British officers believed Americans lacked military discipline, & our relations between officers & enlisted ranks were too flexible & informal. Change is what we're about.

There will be some initial difficulties, of course. But they won't last long. This will be a smoother process than the integration of African-Americans & women into the armed forces, who were long segregated by duty & unit. The result will be beneficial to the military & our nation.

There won't be thousands of gays & lesbians lining up at enlistment offices. But those who were altogether discouraged from serving will now do so, & those who are serving can come fully out of the closet if they choose.

Christmas Bells

Sy Mann with Jean-Jacques Perrey
From the 1969 album "Switched On Santa!"

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Friday, December 17, 2010


All my life I've had to deal with my anger, temper, resentment. I got the temper pretty much under control during my twenties. As a teen, I was so explosive that I once pulled knife on my brother Jim. My siblings, naturally, knew exactly what buttons to push. Occasionally, my parents weren't above pushing them. I was taken to a therapist in 8th grade because of my behavior at home & worsening stutter.  I wasn't a problem at school. Only my grandmother, Nana, who had an  terrible Irish temper, seemed   able to deal with it & calm me down. But she also knew why I was so troubled so young. My family had a rather large skeleton crammed in the closet - an event that occurred shortly before I was born, so I was born into a household coping with a complex & tragic emotional situation in what was still the Dark Ages of family therapy. My mom also was  a functioning  alcoholic. The more I've thought about it, the farther back in time I've pushed her illness. Her alcoholism was a response to depression - which ran in her family - & to the tragic event. Mom was emotionally unpredictable. She wasn't harsh or punitive. She was rarely visibly inebriated.  She was quite sweet at her best, like the  popular teenage girl I know she was. She just wasn't consistently accessible in a maternal sense.   Dad was also hot-headed. That, as it turned out, was partially due to a malfunctioning thyroid. But he was downright scary when pushed to the brink.  Still, there was little physical punishment in my family. I knew kids who were ritually whipped with belts by fathers who considered it completely normal.  The one impulsive big spanking by my mom I recall was well-deserved.  She came upon me in the upstairs hallway about to stick a bobby pin into an electrical outlet & it totally freaked her out.

As I got older, the more I controlled my anger by internalizing it, the the greater & deeper my swings into depression. Understanding the anger didn't  seem to help much.

Only twice have I had to cope with extended rage. The first time was after the woman with whom I'd lived for 17 years left me. I wasn't enraged by the breakup - I'd felt that coming for five years, had been trying to plan for it, but she beat me to it. The rage came because she went directly from me to one of our co-workers. Even Dr. Joyce Brown on radio strongly advises against that. It  put me in a very difficult position, working in her business. I had a deep emotional investment in that business -  a music school - part of its personality - a good part, a playful part  - was mine, because I was a playful teacher & musician. I taught children & adults who wanted, in some instances needed,  a no-pressure kind of instruction, informal music therapy. In addition to a piano, my studio room had a Farfisa organ, an xylophone, a synthesizer, bells, rattles, wind chimes, & an old crank up phonograph. It was a play room of sounds, not a shrine to Clementi sonatinas & Hanon exercises.  But with my ex there was no possibility of detente & a gradual withdrawal.  She & the new guy had conspired against me. I'm a Scorpio, I'd been tracking it for months before the official break. I was compelled beyond rationality to hang on at the business. They literally had to move the business to get rid of me.

I gotta say, that lovely profitable business, though it moved to a better location, went downhill after I was gone. It became invisible & now doesn't exist, & I suspect some of the other teachers have unpleasant memories of its decline.

I was enraged for nearly two years. Fortunately, I had the sense to go back to college. It didn't give me a new career, but I threw myself into it & I'm proud of what I achieved, & proved to myself.

The other rage was against a guy living over me in an apartment building in Rahway. He was a miserable man, a sneak  &  creep  who scared two consecutive  female tenants out of an adjoining apt on his floor.  When I had a girlfriend with me,  I  imagined him with his ear to floor trying to hear us having sex. But I like music during sex, ha ha.   His crummy car was parked beneath my apt in an open garage, & when he warmed it up on cold mornings my apt filled with exhaust fumes.  He had a terrible snoring problem, almost definitely sleep apnea, judging from some of the long periods between snores when he'd suddenly snort as if catching his breath.  That was what finally drove me nuts. I had eye surgery, spent a restful week with my sister, enjoying her routines, regular suppers,  the quiet of her neighborhood. But I needed another week with lots of rest. I did not know about Ambien, & my eye doctor had no cause to believe I needed it.  Until then, somehow I'd been able to ignore the man's snoring, But that week at home recovering, it was all I heard. I tried to be nice about it. I got some information of snoring & sleep apnea off the web & gave it to it. I said it's a treatable problem, & would be a kindness to me & himself if he had it treated.  But he was stupid guy, an asshole, from some Mideastern nation, I never cared which. He was a gas station pump jockey. I declared war on him. It went on for three years.  I wanted  to kill him. Seriously. I thought about pushing his car out of the garage, across the small lot, & into the  narrow river next to the building - the river was the main reason I lived there. I loved that ditch, & miss it here.    When the  apt next to mine became vacant, I was so crazed I didn't go to the landlord & ask for it to get out from underneath him.

Thinking about anger because a friend is justifiably enraged about something. & the guy next door told me he's moving at end of month to another town, a wise move given that his kids are reaching the age when they could benefit from a somewhat better public school system.  He was here when I moved in. Took me awhile to get him trained about when it was & was not o.k. to play loud music with thumping bass. After that we got along fine. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Uploading & posting music on Facebook is like doing a late night show at WFMU. I'd air something I thought was pretty entertaining, & rare, & get zilch listener response. So I'd figure maybe it wasn't all that good. Then two months later someone would call, name the artist & song, & ask why I never played anything else off that album. Didn't know whether to be pleased or annoyed.
The market around the corner re-opened under new ownership, still orientals, but they play Latin music, It looks a bit cleaner . Not as chatty as the previous owner, a Chinese guy. We'll see how they adapt  when the new Hispanic supermarket opens two blocks away.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bora Bora

Wish the whole album were as good as this number. It's 21 degrees here & dropping. My nephew posted pix from Disneyworld, bright blue sky, Christmas decorations on Main Street, Magic Castle in the background. But on closer examination everyone was bundled up. It was nippy down there, in the forties.

Disneyworld is to my nephew what the boardwalk was to his father. But his mom is from Margate, near Atlantic City, the boardwalk is just a common hangout to him. I've never been to Disneyworld, never had a great desire to go there. I'd probably enjoy it.  Weeki Wachee Springs, yeah. Were the mermaids swimming today? Temp didn't crack fifty.

A shout out to Zaire in L.A. Kid, I see a day at  Disneyland  in your future.  Although gramma probably prefers Santa Monica Pier, & so would I.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Mystery List

The New York Public Library, MoMA The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Smithsonian Libraries, American Society of Bookplate Collectors & Designers, Film Forum, WNYC Radio, The New York Times, National Public Radio, Elizabeth, NJ, Union County Saint Patrick's Day Parade, GoElizabethNJ, West Orange, NJ, Verizon New Jersey, Lisa Ray, Deepa Mehta, Lisa Ray, BBC World Book Club, Granta, Mary Karr, Bernard Meltzer, Transcendentalism, Unity, Hinduism, Widener Library, Houghton Library, Scott Shannon's TRUE OLDIES CHANNEL, Natalie Wood, L. Frank Baum, John Lahr, Debbie Allen, Variety, National Theatre London, William Goldman, indieWIRE, Mary Martin, Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, Sir Elton John, Abe Vigoda, Donald J. Trump, TCM, TCM - Turner Classic Movies, Bertrand Russell, surrealism, Dadaism, Mel Brooks, Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Stanley Tucci, Diana Athill, Helene Hanff, Doris Grumbach, LennoNYC, Museum of Modern Art, Peter Bogdanovich, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Stanley Tucci, National Book Foundation, National Book Awards, The smell of old books, Neal-Schuman Publishers, PW Book Reviews, Jake Gyllenhaal, Book Talk Groups, Penguin Group (USA), Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, New Leaders Council - New Jersey, Paul Reiser, Solitude, Anne Fadiman, Robert Bly, Joe Namath, Joanne Rajoppi, E. M. Forster, Carolyn Heilbrun, Diana Trilling, Alfred Kazin, Anaïs Nin, Santa Cruz, CA, William Blake, G. K. Chesterton, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Nick Hornby, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, John Donne, John Milton, Edgar Allan Poe, C. S. Lewis, W.B.Yeats, Book Aid International, Greatest Hits Music & Books, William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, Gabriel Zaid, Ray Bradbury, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Friends of the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County, Friends of the Phoenix Public Library, Friends of The Seattle Public Library, Friends of the Library, Friends of the Free Library of Philadelphia, Capitol Hill, Keanu Reeves, Humphrey Bogart Estate, Chicago Sun-Times, Chasing the Good Humor Truck, V. S. Naipaul, Westwood, California, Morgan Freeman, Norman Mailer, The Morgan Library & Museum, Marlon Brando, Michael Curtiz, Hal B. Wallis, The Guardian Angels, Steve Doocy, Robert Osborne, WPIX, Verso Books USA, The New Press, André Schiffrin, Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, California, Judd Apatow, Jerry Weintraub,, Krishnamurti Center Ojai, California, Louise L. Hay, Vancouver International Film Festival, Vancouver, Jimmy Carter, CNBC, Nevada Museum of Art, Monterey County Free Libraries, Art Expo New York, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Philosophy Quotes, Quantum mechanics, Metaphysics, Swami Vivekananda, Paramhansa Yogananda, Deepak Chopra, Meditation, Marianne Williamson, A Course in Miracles - Foundation for Inner Peace, A Course in Miracles, A Course In Miracles - ACIM, Paramahansa Yogananda, CBS Evening News, Bob Schieffer's Official Page, Nancy Giles, YouTube, Kathy Griffin, Sandra Oh, WNYC Community & Events, George Bernard Shaw, Proud to be an American, Cheryl Hines, Art Bell, President George Washington, AOL News, Selma Hayek, Henry Brooks Adams, Richard Ellmann, Mitzi Gaynor, Vanity Fair, Calvin Trillin, Roselle Public Library, NBC, The London Library, Boston Athenaeum, Redwood Library and Athenaeum, Charleston Library Society, The Providence Athenaeum, METRO - Metropolitan New York Library Council, Museum of the City of New York, The Mercantile Library, NY's Libraries: Essential, Poets House, Washington Irving, Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, Marilyn Monroe, Kim Novak, John Adams, Joan Hamburg, Elizabeth Bishop, The Opportunity Network, Brown University, Yahoo! 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Toy Band

A small birthday party at WFMU ca 1997,  probably for DJ Fabio.  l-r: station manager & DJ Ken , DJ Donna, music director & DJ Brian, me, DJ Clay, DJ Bryce.

(I recognize my tee. A friend had a contract to print them for Target & gave away all the flubs.)

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Frank's Birthday

According to his former valet George Jacobs, Sinatra expressed his true feelings about rock one day in the mid-1960s, when the Doors’ “Light My Fire” came on the car radio for the umpteenth time: He reared back and kicked the radio with the heel of his shoe.
Straight Outta Hoboken
By James Kaplan
NYT, 12/11/2010
The umpteeth time of the three minute edited version probably got to Frank more than song itself. & when Jimbo [allegedly] croaked in Paris, the band should have replaced him with Nancy Sinatra, who would've done swell renditions of "20th Century Fox," "People Are Strange," & "The End."


Irvington NJ

Cooky's Tavern

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Ferrante & Teicher: Sleigh Ride (1956)

Housebound most of the week, too much wind with the cold, couldn't take longer walks.

Before Ferrante & Teicher became rich & famous with "Exodus" & & albums of movie themes & pop hits for United Artists, they made a few strange & wonderful albums for a small label, Westminster. Even after they became stars, they had a sense of humor, these two former Julliard students with the horn rim glasses who remained lifelong friends.


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Balloon Man update

Ken buried among balloons, crew and onlookers.WFMU manager Ken Freedman failed to gain liftoff in yesterday's balloon & lawn chair fundraising stunt. Became evident midway through his program the goal wouldn't be met. It was still a good show on live video stream. The idea was so hare-brained, & Ken prepared to go through with it (did he need a permit?). The annual "emergency" Fall pledge campaign brochure I received weeks ago didn't mention the balloon stunt, so it was apparently an add-on event. Many WFMU fund-raising ideas have these experimental beginnings; I wouldn't be surprised if Ken tries it again. I think he really does want to fly in a lawn chair, but he's right to put a hefty price tag on it & stick to it.

It was the crazy stuff at WFMU that kept my interest during dry spells when I felt I wasn't finding enough cool music to justify having a weekly radio show. Glen Jones' "Last Man Standing" project in 2001 to break the Guinness record for continuous live radio DJing (not a fund-raiser) may have prevented me from handing in my treasured keys to the front door & music library & walking away. Spending two nights with Glen as an invisible gopher (go fer this, go fer that) under the supervision of DJs Donna & Terre T, with no on-air responsibilities, reintegrated me into the community, which had been struggling to settle into the new Jersey City studios while preserving what many of us loved about the station. One of those nights I spent some time with Vin "The Godfather" Scelsa, who made WFMU free form in the late-Sixties, & came away believing I was a  small brick in the edifice, but a permanent part of it nonetheless.


Free Zaire

Long story. I love the photo. Facebook page. I'm not clear on the full story, myself, except that the child was not abused at home & was unnecessarily swept up in the California DCFS system when he should have been immediately placed with his grandmother while the situation was sorted out.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


30 years since the assassination of John Lennon. A pointless, lunatic act  of violence.

Only a few years earlier, Lennon had been  a political radical & proto-punker. By 1980 he had been pretty much defanged, releasing ear candy like "(Just Like) Starting Over," which the murder of Lennon pushed to #1, becoming his biggest solo hit. 

Lennon had a lot of good music left  in him, & he would've been a  huge MTV star, right along with Paul McCartney.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards Dies of Cancer at 61

She wasn't Saint Elizabeth. She was supposedly hell on campaign staff. I never quite discerned her motives, aside from flacking a book, in making the talk show rounds & airing the marriage's dirty laundry even more than was already being done. But she was married to a cad - worse than a cad.  He fooled me. He fooled her for awhile. John did seem like the too-perfect candidate with the too-perfect marriage. But he had a heckova campaign website & platform, & much of that was Elizabeth's doing. She was the real deal on the issues that mattered to her; smart, informed, compelling, activist. Give her the forum & she turned people around. A great woman, a great American.

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dave Brubeck

Woman in front of me at CVS pharmacy counter, fiftyish, slim blonde, petite feet in fine heels, perfectly fitted jeans, short denim jacket, I was  thinking that she looked pretty darned good, then noticed the Gucci shoulder bag, which I appraised at $1000 minimum.  I went to Gucci website. it was in the  $1,500 bunch. Don't see too many like her around here.

Dave is 90. A national treasure.

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A conflicted young man

Teen arrested in Oregon car bomb plot led 2 lives

I wonder about this guy Mohamed Osman Mohamud. He was a conflicted young man. Psychologically, his conflicts are  recognizably adolescent. Many young people his age find themselves pulled in contrary directions, attracted to radical ideas or outrageous behavior, but also tied to the safety of convention & conformity.  Most eventually choose the latter. But Mohamud's "rebellion" was Islamic radicalism. The F.B.I., before they could arrest him for anything, had to further radicalize him & present him with a criminal opportunity, going so far as to build & blow up a bomb for him. What if all the effort had gone into defusing him? Had gone into humanizing his friends? Perhaps that longer process couldn't be risked. Nonetheless, both persons were inside him. The college student who partied & played video games & drank gin wasn't a total hoax.  It had reality. He wasn't a trained al-Queda  operative, or  like those Americanized Russian spies who'd been living middle class lives here for years.  He's a "kid," too. He was five years-old when he came to America.  A big part of him is American, perhaps the largest part.  If convicted, he will have  betrayed his nation & his parents.

He was more dangerous than the buffoons in South Jersey who fantasized attacking Fort Dix as they played paintball war & drank beer, but who I imagined  fleeing through the brambles & swamps of the Pine Barrens,  chased by National Guard, F.B.I., State Troopers, dogs, local vigilantes riding ATVs, & TV news helicopters. Their plot wasn't credible. But they're in prison now all the same.



You know what annoys me? Daniel Ellsberg saying we should boycott Amazon. Of course, he'd say that. I'm not sure why it annoys me, but it does. Maybe it's because I suspect he doesn't own a Kindle.


Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Magi

 The Christmas story is constructed to make the birth/appearance of Jesus a fulfilment of Jewish prophecy & connected to ancient  Near East myths.  I'm not hung up on "believing" in the details. Truth doesn't require fact. Fact often obfuscates truth.

In the Advent season, I relate to the Magi. We know hardly anything about them, even their number (three gifts), so they became fanciful projections.  Presumably, they are astrologers, & presumably they are now already  on their journey, not certain of the destination or of what they will find there. But something in the stars so captured their attention & imagination that they undertook an arduous & expensive  trip, likely setting out in advance of Joseph & Mary's own journey.  It turns out that they are men of honor, & remarkably open-minded.

If they are astrologers, then their charts show something very strange & disturbing about what happens to this "king," something difficult to interpret concretely. He will not live a long life, & yet, the charts must be  ambiguous on the matter. They bring this knowledge with them, but they do not reveal it to anyone. What's more, they endanger themselves by concealing what they know from Herod. Their story is better left for Epiphany, but I think of them often during Advent, wondering where they are & what they are discussing along the way.

The Journey of the Magi (fragment), ca. 1435
Sassetta (Stefano di Giovanni)
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Atlantic City NJ

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

Passed on a walk to CVS today in favor of listening to Danish composer Carl Nielsen's 4th Symphony, "The Inextinguishable," & a nap. CVS pharmacy dept closes at 6 weekends, & Saturday is the one day they might have an hour wait rather than the usual 15 or 20 minutes.

I've looked after Gina's cats since Thankgiving, while she was in Florida. She came home today. The cats have their own relationships & interactions, some I don't comprehend at all, like why the old cat Meanie is intimidated by a young runt female named Ivy. Ivy is neurotic, I think she was weaned too young. But taken out of their routines, no human sleeping there, the cats get weirder & weirder throughout the week.

Hanukkah cupcakes


Friday, December 03, 2010

Happy Birthday, Nino Rota


Thursday, December 02, 2010

A nation in denial

Gates Warns Against Gambling on 'Don't Ask' Repeal

Delaying vote until after the lame-duck session could leave issue to be decided in the courts, Defense secretary says.
In opposing the repeal of DADT, Sen. McCain (who formerly supported repeal) cites polls of combat units.  If we're polling & listening to soldiers about who they personally prefer to serve with, let's also ask them if they personally prefer  to come home from Afghanistan & Iraq. We're arguing DADT, unemployment benefits &  taxes, but nobody wants to ask how we're paying for our wars.   Two-billion per week for Afghan, with zilch  evidence that it strengthens our national security, since  the Al-Qaeda terrorists long ago moved to Pakistan, Somalia & Yemen.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Happy Hanukkah


‎Stormy Wind

‎"... stormy wind fulfilling his command!" - Psalm 148

That was on the Advent calendar today. The wind & rain storm here woke me up early & I couldn't get back to sleep.


"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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