Saturday, July 31, 2010

I am not a bum.

I'm on Social Security Disability. The odd thing is that when I went on SSD I didn't know what it was, hadn't asked for or suggested it, & didn't even think I was eligible. My therapist at the time, Dr. K, had prepared all the forms, a case management panel of psychiatrists & other mental health pros had approved &  signed it.  All I had to do was agree  & sign my name.  It wasn't an easy sell for Dr. K. She had to convince me of the severity of my struggles with depression, the need for stability, & the probability for maintaining  the kind of modest  lifestyle that in fact I liked. I did accept it.Over the next few years it was a constant source of exasperation to her that I didn't take full advantage of SSD.  One very early mistake I made was not bringing some of my financial problems to the  ace social workers at Bridgeway House who, as it turned out, had solutions.

Dr. K & I together made another mistake. We didn't bring two of my siblings in on the details of the decision. They should have been given the opportunity to review the case file & have it explained.  We made assumptions. Dr. K's goal was to strengthen relationships, not weaken them, & she had  what she assumed was a sound, practical strategy based on what I had told her & what she had observed.  It was embarrassing to me that my sister had felt obliged to bail me out financially, at considerable expense, although I was very grateful. Dr. K reasoned that that if I could have basic economic independence via SSD, my sister & I would have a deeper friendship  & she'd be free to help me in other  ways  she might want to help out, without needing to get out the checkbook. & my brother, with whom I  had little contact, would at least understand & accept the situation.

All the time I've been on SSD, a part of me has resisted it.  My eligibility has been reviewed twice, never questioned on the evidence. Part of my eligibility - eyesight - isn't even used. I could be more comfortable, in a better apt building, in better health. I'm having a scary weekend. I'm alone. I'm broken down. But I am not a bum.

Friday, July 30, 2010

"The Broad"

Walking on eggshells today for fear my catheter will be expelled again. Yesterday I had a new one installed by an ER nurse. The urologist office thought it very unusual, but the ER treated it as a simple procedure & the doctor there, a nice woman, sent me home.   I was unable to get a medical opinion from the urologist yesterday or today, who was out of office, & the suggestion that I come to Newark for an assistant to look at it I suspected would be pointless, since she was the one who inserted the catheter that came out, & it never felt seated correctly, & whatever doctor was there probably wouldn't feel empowered to do much of anything. But I had to run some errands today with Gina, who is sisterly & the soul of kindness as I minced steps through Shoprite.  Sisterly seems to be her nature toward many people.

Gina is the "The Broad"  Glen Jones occasionally mentions - with affection - on his Sunday WFMU radio show. They've been together for a number of years. While they share a lot of interests, they have distinctly different personalities.  Though she's plenty sociable, Gina isn't nearly as extroverted as Glen.  Often handles his wardrobe for live appearances.   She has a first rate art school education, one of the finer photographers I've met, pinhole is a specialty.   A sucker for stray cats. Every year they head to south Florida for a few days on a budget vacation,  stay in a Fifties era motel,  see some jai alai. Now they're hooked on the Silverball pinball museum arcade in Asbury Park where you can BYOB, pay a flat admission, & play as many classic pinball machines as you can fit into the time you paid for.  Silverball is now one of the great Jersey boardwalk attractions.

One of Gina's proudest acheivements  - she likes mentioning it -  was introducing the True Love to a guy who doubted he would ever find it. I believed  he would eventually find it, & I'd seen him in some of his most despairing moments.  His problem was that he was selecting his own women, & I guess his criteria weren't quite right. Gina knew  someone who  was not only good-looking, but single, lonely, & talented, & perfect for him.  Me, I've had about five True Loves, & I think I had all chances I was gonna get.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

I had to go to Trinitas ER

A couple of unpleasant days. Today was alarming, problem with foley catheter, I had to go to Trinitas ER. I'm not feeling comfortable & laying down again. At least yesterday I had a semi-clearing of the air with urologist (who even offered to refer me elsewhere) but also gave an option I decided to take, with some additional risk, to move forward with surgery later in September, & we'd get the exams, tests & clearance from my from primary,  & I felt "good" about that. I wasn't expecting other complications within 24 hours.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A good decision for cops

Judge blocks parts of Arizona immigration law

PHOENIX – A federal judge stepped into the fight over Arizona's immigration law at the last minute Wednesday, blocking the heart of the measure and defusing a confrontation between police and thousands of activists that had been building for months.
District Court Judge Bolton delayed provisions that required immigrants to carry their papers and banned illegal immigrants from soliciting employment in public places — a move aimed at day laborers. In addition, she blocked officers from making warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants for crimes that can lead to deportation.
Is there another nation in the world where a alien can go about freely without some kind of legal identification or authorization to be in that nation? Is there another nation where it's legal for  noncitizen to get a job without permission of the host nation? Can't do it Mexico. Those two provisions, sadly in a way, have to be part of any federal immigration reform that includes an amnesty. It's sad because sometimes  it bothers me that we all  have to carry several  forms of legal I.D.   now just to function smoothly. A cashier at Walgreen once casually asked for my Society Security number like she would for my little discount card, just to get it in their data base, & I refused, & was  so irritated  I called over the assistant manager & complained.

But many nations have federalized local police, or police with far more powers than American police, & fewer constitutional protections for everyone. Maybe   police in our smaller towns don't have enough to do, there's not much crime, it doesn't matter if aliens, legal or not, clam up or hide when they witness a crime or accident.  But not in Elizabeth NJ, or Los Angeles, or New York City, or Phoenix.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Your Sister

Each night we forced your sister
upstairs to her bedroom
before she was tired.
Then, on your living room rug,
my pants around my ankles,
your shorts & underwear
crumpled at your feet,
the television masking our sounds,
we got lost in our discoveries.

Years after we finished
I met your sister again,
her complexion gone bad,
her hair disheveled, she looked
& acted as if she’d become
crazy from lack of sleep.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto: Only Trust Your Heart

If Astrud Gilberto sounds like an amateur singing along with a Stan Getz record, well, that's pretty much what she was in 1964. This was only her second recording session, the first when she was  recruited  to warble "The Girl From Ipanema" because she happened to be in the studio with then husband João & could speak English.

I must admit that I'd never heard this Benny Carter song (lyrics by Sammy Cahn) or Getz Au Go Go LP. I've always been a scattershot jazz listener & only began taking a closer look at the Sixties bossa nova pop-jazz thing & Brazilian music in general over the past year.  Oh, I  had a warm spot for Sergio Mendes & Brazil '66, & lwas a fan of Brazilian organist Walter Wanderley.*  But I  appreciate art that seems artless;  stripped of ornament, pared down to what essentially makes it art.

Astrud, it turned out, was an intelligent musician. She quickly took what she had & worked with it, refined it, tried & discarded certain kinds of songs  - like American pop standards  associated with  & mastered by more versatile singers. Within her limitations she managed to tap a range of  expression.

* Because I hear music  more as  a variety of flavors, definitions of genre & matters of authenticity rarely concern me except where I'm looking for a stronger more unadulterated taste of the flavor. My conversations with music "experts" tend to peter out once I've gotten a few facts & suggestions from them.  Like, "thank you, but I'm not very interested in where you place your borders, walls,  fences." When I worked in a great record store as a teenager, Harmony House, one regular customer refused to listen to any classical music following early Beethoven. He was clearly nuts. But the guy found me some terrific  budget label records of music he did like. More recently, my west coast friend Carrie, who is also mostly a flavor type - she seems to like something of everything -  happened to know  really real Hawaiian music, not the tourist or exotica  stuff (which I also enjoy) with great virtuoso ukulele players, & gave me a few names I could hardly pronounce.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

railroad dream

I have railroad dreams from time to time. They're always in Jersey. Some are a bit sinister, involving abandoned rail yards or scary station platforms,which one does see & encounter in NJ Transit real life,  or delays.  But they never become nightmares.  Last night I was in the cab of a diesel engine. It had something to do with Pearl Arts Store, one of the two engineers - both women - was an assistant manager when I worked there,  a fair, sane, intelligent person.  We  were in a hurry to get somewhere, delivering art supplies for all I knew, racing down tracks mostly through woods.  For some stretches there were no tracks, just railroad bed,  but she was steering the train across those stretches. It  was scary & exhilarating like an amusement ride rather than an impending  catastrophe. The most amusing part was we passed a complete retail store, like a Walgreen, on a rail car parked on a side track, & all lit up like it was open for business & just needed to be moved somewhere & installed, which is how those those kinds of stores are designed. You see a property cleared for construction in Jersey, &  two weeks later you drive past & there's a   brand new 7-11.


Stone Harbor NJ

Stonemen's Bungalow Colony

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Steambath weather

Friday was Sonogram Day at the primary doctor's office in Roselle, about two miles away.  She brings in a guy with  a portable ultrasound unit & schedules a bunch of her patients.   Small suitcase size, in the darkened room with the keyboard lit up it looks like a laptop computer as imagined by Popular Science magazine in the 1950's. I arrived there 1/2 hour early, good because someone had canceled. The assistant said she had just tried to reach me, got my voice mail, then tried the other contact number, also no answer. "You mean the nearest relative contact?"  Yes. "That's my sister's  home number. She's  probably at work. I'll give you her cellphone number, & mine.  But don't call her about a routine matter like rescheduling an appointment,  she might misunderstand you.  She's a calm person, but she shifts gears real fast."

I was finished about 1,  went down the block to a CVS, filled a prescription & got  a few things. Choice then of buses, one to downtown Elmora where I could do some other errands & walk home or call a taxi from there,  or another to a corner about three blocks from my apt. But the air was muggy hot, the overcast sky dropping a few blobs of rain, it wasn't a promising time to be out & about. So I walked a long block, crossed a bridge over an abandoned railroad line, & into Roselle Park to catch the #58 on Westfield Ave., due about ten minutes after I planted myself at the bus stop. Had my umbrella, but it just plopped big raindrops, no downpour. Steambath afternoon in Jersey.

There I was, at the edge of my hometown. I could see downtown a block away. I grew up about three  blocks from where I was standing.  If you stay in your hometown - & many from Roselle Park do, it's a rather insular place - it may change so slowly that you hardly notice. Park is that kind of town. But I've rarely had reason to go back there. So just the fact that the stores I could see were different, & a few buildings replaced, & houses renovated, gave me a weird, not very pleasant feeling, & I was glad the bus came on time.

I've resided in the vicinity of Roselle Park for decades,  but none of the other towns in Union County give me that feeling.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Living In the Trees

For twelve years I lived in a tree,
in winter I shared breadcrumbs
with birds on bare branches,

then bloomed with the magnolia,
matched wits with wasps,
sensed the blurry bats
sweeping mosquitoes.

Beneath my nest
a tangle of thorny roses
formed a wild jungle
with the raspberry bushes
& unmowed grass.
Raccoons, rats, cats
fought for territory
in murky tunnels,
I heard their shrieks
& congratulated myself
on my perfect perch.

Through the summer I loved
beetles & cicadas
singing near me
without my knowing their shapes
or certain how & why
they made their music.

Often late at night
I looked for the lights
of others like me living in trees,
I felt safer when my darkness
was patterned with shadows.

A season came when the leaves fell
& I fell along with them,
fell from my tree
like an ordinary apple
that had clung to its branch
too stubbornly
& had been left to ripen
beyond beauty & taste.

Perhaps I belong on the ground
dragging my knuckles as I walk,
but I believe I might have climbed higher
& become a chattering monkey prince
or at least a mockingbird.

Whenever I look back
I find myself looking up
for a home someplace above me.

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Neil Young: Walk On

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Two weeks ago, I scheduled a urine culture for myself at a local lab. I did it because I was due for one, & my urologist's staff  rarely  tells me what to do next,  or when. Most doctors send you home with your next appointment in hand, some kind of instructions.  I had to call the doctor's office & have them fax an authorization, which they did.

As a little experiment, I filled out a request to have a second copy of the test results sent to my primary doctor. Four working days later, I received a call from my primary doctor's office suggesting I come in for consultation on the results (I have a resistant bladder infection). I called back &, to my  astonishment, the doctor herself answered the phone, rendering me momentarily speechless. Although she sounded like she would have wanted to handle it herself, it was the specialist's concern. I waited a day & called the specialist. They claimed not to have received the test result. I'll add here they the specialist has TWO fax numbers, on two different cards, & one of them they admit only checking once or twice a week. So I had to ask my primary doctor to fax her cc copy of the test  to the specialist.

 The next day, I called the specialist office, & was told only that it had been put on the doctor's desk. Three days later, they called late afternoon, I wasn't home. I thought, He's gonna ask me to pack a bag & check into his hospital, which he said some time ago was a possibility, because in rare cases only an antibiotic drip will clear it up. Clearing up this infection is preliminary to the serious surgery I must undergo, & had expected to be done during the winter.

This possibility sent me into panic. I have a routine sonogram scheduled for Friday through my primary, that's her concern, & her attentiveness should be respected.  I resolved to to say to the doctor's people I wouldn't check in until Monday, because if he could be so lax in reading test results, it could wait a few days. & I knew I'd be in a lower priority floor in a huge Newark hospital, over the weekend,  where they stick the rookie nurses & students, & come Monday he'd probably have forgotten I was even there.

Fortunately, for now, he just wanted to schedule a routine procedure for next week, & that time he'll probably lay out the options, if there are any. When I do have the surgery, I have to prepare for the emotional & practical consequences, including a visiting nurse service, since I reside alone.

This urologist lost my confidence in February, on the evidence of how he managed his office & paperwork. But by then, it was too late to switch specialists. No one else would take me. When I got a new primary, she asked on my  first visit, "Why are you going all the way to Newark?" I said, "The one in Roselle wouldn't accept my insurance & I couldn't figure out how to get to Millburn."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Crosstown Taxi

Went crosstown yesterday for appt.  Wasn't too hot out.  Overcast. Came right home afterward, the sky looked like it could go to a severe thunderstorm or sunny & heat up to mid-nineties. Elizabeth gets asphalt hot. But it stayed cloudy. Had a woman cab driver coming back, thirties, probably an urban Jersey Girl. she could not settle on a radio station. So many FM stations play a kind of slick, semi-funky music that, for me, has very little personality. I suppose the artists are all very famous . But the stuff on the Disney radio station sounds about the same as the songs on the mainstream Black music stations, like it's designed for mixtapes. The production aims at hooky & ear-catchy, maybe with some sexy hip hop in the middle, but it has to keep the flow going on the radio, dance floor, & in concert.  There's a lack of the kind of song that just stops you. I've had many radio experiences of that type going all the way back to when I was a tyke & heard The Diamonds cover of "Little Darlin'" with the castenets & eye yi yi yi opening, a record even a little kid could dig.  Now, a country song or a retro soul thing from England grabs me once in awhile.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

"U" is for Uninteresting

Lost in interest in  several  novels & abandoned them. Not pickin' em well.  But a couple were bestsellers by authors I like,  including Sue Grafton's new one, "U" is for Undertow.   In "T"Is For Trespass, Sue began playing around with her structures, alternating the first person narrative of her P.I. Kinsey Millhone with the voice  of her psycho nemesis. Didn't care for it, but one  could hardly fault Sue for stretching.   I got far into her newest book before I was willing to admit that for first time Sue had lost me. It was expertly written & plotted, but neither the characters nor the plot (which had flashbacks) were engaging me. & Kinsey's  grumpiness  didn't have it's usual humor.   I prefer the  classic P.I.  style Grafton had been using.   Maybe Janet Evanovich's funny, lightweight  Stephanie Plum novels have spoiled me. Easy reads,  slapstick action, Jersey locales by an author who grew up here.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Long Branch NJ

The Piano Bar, Long Branch NJ

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Little Anthony & the Imperials: Better Use Your Head

This great single from 1966 was the end of the line for Little Anthony as a hitmaker. He had a series of classic singles in 1964 & 65 produced by Teddy Randazzo, all charted in the Top Twenty:
"I'm On The Outside (Looking In)" (August 1964) - POP #15, R&B #8
"Goin' Out Of My Head" (October 1964) - POP #6, R&B #
"Hurt So Bad"(January 1965) - POP #10, R&B #3
"Take Me Back" (June 1965) - POP #16, R&B #15

All in busted heart ballad style. Here, Anthony is assertive & uptempo regarding his failing relationship, the record only made to #64. But it was just the beginning of Anthony Gourdine's performing career. He's still working.



Frank, half-drunk, sitting morosely in 90+ degree heat on front steps: "Robert, do you have fifty cents?"

Me, wearing sweatpants with no pockets, outside to get the mail: "Frank, you aren't the most miserable guy in the world. You aren't even the most miserable guy in this building!"

Frank doesn't know what it takes to get 50 cents from me. It's not difficult. But I resent being pan-handled   by my own neighbors at my own doorstep.


Friday, July 16, 2010

A Midsummer Night's Carnival

A Midsummer Night's Carnival

It is more strange than true, driving home from work on a muggy evening, past what is usually a vacant lot and finding a carnival there, crammed into a square block of space and going full tilt. Like a midsummer night's dream, says Willie the Shake, when the imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown and....and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name.

 The carnival arrives bearing the name of a saint or a fire department, but these are phantom handles, as one might call a recurring mist by the things it shrouds. They never stay very long in one place. A few rides, a few games of chance, lots of food, drink, and children; designed to try a poor soul's patience, all to make us sport.
So the transformation of an ordinary piece of ground with tents, flashing lights, the steamy odors of open air cooking, and noise.

The rides are pee wee versions of a large amusement park's greater torments, prototype designs of the Grand Inquisitor. Tilt-a-Whirl has been a devilish fixture of these fairs for centuries. Its cars resemble snail shells twisting through shallow water, each with the capacity to fetch thee a case of mild whiplash from the deep.
The Gravitron, or whatever name it is given in the modern era, retains all the nausea-inducing charm of a spinning playground roundabout, providing the means to enrich one's pain, inflicting a parted eye, when everything becomes doubled.
Which leaves for the faint of heart the safer thrills of a small merry-go-round running before us, yet going no place. And a Ferris Wheel, from whose view all things shall be at peace.
The wheels of chance advertise "One Win - Your Choice" of a cheap baseball cap or a tiny stuffed animal. From a distance, the odds of playing only four numbers looks so easy that one assumes they are almost giving away the prizes. But upon drawing closer, the wheel's notches break into an extended family of relatives: Mom, Pop, Sis, Bro, and in tiny print are Titania, Theseus, Helena, Puck, and Hermia, to cite a few. The wheel spins, a cartoon clock clicking until the spring snaps. Of course, someone else grabs the booty. What fools we mortals be to test dollars against such odds for a trivial reward. If this be true magic, the prizes would include purple grapes, green figs, glowworm's eyes and butterflies. Aside from love, this is the only game in town and, like love, not fixed in one's favor.
On to the food tables, to the clams, cheesesteaks and fried shrimp and fried pizza, where billows of aromatic smoke doth impair the seeing sense. Out, tawny tartar sauce, out loathsome medicine, O hated portions, hence. Bring me a bottle of A-1 or a bit of ketchup for my burger.
How now,  Mad Spirit? What night rules this haunted grove called the Beer Tent? Here is where every Jack shall have a Jill and naught shall go ill, although plastic cups of brew do spill and pheromones fly where they will. Like moths circling a flame they mistake for the moon, teenagers circumnavigate the beer tent fences, over-dressed and sweaty in the muggy evening air, hoping Cupid's arrow will strike. They have yet to learn that love looks not with bloodshot eyes, but with the mind. Perhaps, in the garish light of the carnival, these callow homeboys and awkward girls who ignore each other at the 7-Eleven will somehow beguile themselves with the fantasies of the purest doo wop.
So quick bright things come to a confusion. One hundred young divorcees rolling baby strollers over the toes of strangers. Hairy men reving up chrome Harleys behind the Port-O-Sans. Melted ice cream oozing from the clothing of fat children. Rows of imperturbable crones and geezers nodding off in lawn chairs. The hour of the climactic 50/50 drawing draws nigh. Cops with bright orange vests blow whistles, dodging wayward drivers blinded by migraines.  Ladies and gentlemen, my amplified voice calls your attention to this corner of an eternal now. And the winning number is, and the winning number was. Oh weary night, abate thy hours!
It is all gone the next day but for a few paper cups tumbling across the worn and trodden grass, and torn posters waving from telephone polls, and overflowing trash cans; the place quickly released from the spell of a peculiar magick. A wandering midsummer night's carnival briefly lightens the heavy gait of night, then carried to the next town, the next empty parking lot, the next field of fireflies, to awaken there by balmy starlight the nimble, if fleeting, spirit of mirth.

© Bob Rixon 2001
An earlier version of this essay was published by Worrall Community Newspapers.

Inspired by the St. Cecelia Fair, Iselin NJ..

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bobby Hackett & Billy Butterfield

Bobby Hackett (cornet) & Billy Butterfield (trumpet): Brasil. Brazilian flavored pop jazz lp from 1967, with mostly wordless vocals from Luiz Henrique & Mary Mayo. Very nice for what it is; classy cocktail music.  I especially like the version of "Baia."


Never Ever Leave Me

Love Comes Again


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


A strange weather pattern. Narrow stream  of storms flowing from upper right (NE) to lower left (SW) for the past two hours. Click on pic to see animation. Reminds me of when a lovely dinner on the ourdoor deck of a bayside restaurant in Wildwood got washed out by a drenching thunderstorm before we could order dessert & espresso. Two blocks away the roads were dry. Weather Channel radar showed   a single small storm  cross Delaware Bay & Cape May, aimed directly at our meal.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010


George Steinbrenner, owner of New York Yankees, has died in Tampa at age of 80 after heart attack
By Bill Madden

George Steinbrenner, a towering and intimidating figure who dominated the New York sports scene for 35 years, winning 11 American League pennants and seven world championships as owner of the Yankees, died Tuesday morning in Tampa after suffering a massive heart attack. He was 80.

"The Boss" - as he was so aptly named by his longtime antagonist, Daily News columnist Mike Lupica - died at around 6:30 a.m., barely a week after his Fourth of July birthday.
Bill Madden recently published a large biography of Steinbrenner, which I'll read at some point when it becomes available at the library.

I wasn't much of baseball fan growing up. We were a Yankee family insofar as we  had the religion. Went to some Yankees games. I became a fan in the Seventies after Steinbrenner bought the Yanks in one of the great business bargains of all time & began rebuilding the team to win. But by the end of the decade I was sick of him, Billy Martin, the firings, the feuds, the crazy clubhouse, turned my coat & switched to the Mets. I still listen to Yankees games on the radio.  No hard feelings.

The Yankees we see now, the billion dollar brand that makes the playoffs year after year, known for clubhouse stability & a fairly dignified image on the field, is the result of the time Steinbrenner was suspended from baseball in 1990. His management team rebuilt the Yankee farm system that  produced Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte. & Posada. He lucked out with Joe Torre, a manager of no great success up to then who turned out to  be great  at  getting between George & the players, running a sane clubhouse, & dealing with New York media.  Then there was the astute & far-farsighted decision to form The Yankees Entertainment and Sports (YES) Network in 2002. Although the Yankees are not majority owners, it is highly profitable.  Steinbrenner was hardly beloved by Yankee fans in 1990.  Essentially, the Yankees became the organization they are today when The Boss was forced to loosen the reins & let his competent baseball & entertainment industry employees do their jobs with a minimum of the capricious meddling that  nearly destroyed the team in the '80s. How far had   the Yanks fallen by 1990? New York was mainly a Mets  city back then, & Yogi Berra wouldn't go near Yankee Stadium.
Among major business /media / sports giants, Steinbrenner is the last person I would've figured to receive such effusively positive eulogizing, Except, of course, from some sports writers old enough to have covered the Yankees in the '70s & '80s. They might admit liking George, in large part because he was a guaranteed story. Now we hear about all of Steinbrenner's  generous  "private acts of charity." The excuse being that they were "private" because A. Steinbrenner had to maintain a tough business image.  B. He didn't want to use those acts for publicity.  But, like with  Sinatra, we heard about those personal acts of charity anyway.  They were just revealed by people other than the benefactor.  When Steinbrenner visited Yogi Berra Museum in 1999 to reconcile with the Yankee great after a 14 year estrangement that was entirely George's fault, sports announcer Susan Waldman hosted a radio show  of the event with George & Yogi featuring plenty of  references to Steinbrenner's charitable contributions, giving George a chance to "aw shucks, it was nothing."

The point I'm trying to make is that public acts of charity by wealthy people can be made with some modesty mixed with the self-promotion  in order to encourage a charitable public spirit. The singular, impulsive acts toward individuals  - & there have been many of these by George - are characterized by their impulsiveness & irregularity.  They were like Elvis handing out Cadillacs. These acts are simply forms of The Golden Rule, sometimes oddly expressed, & the great religions tell us to live our lives according to the rule, & they don't compartmentalize those acts or provide a business exemption. There are always a few wealthy celebrities around with deserved reputations for  being kind & generous, although these kinds of persons are more common among common folk. They aren't necessarily "great" people accomplishing "great" things, but rather are great souls, & we are always privileged to encounter them.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

The Beach Boys: All I Wanna Do

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Trenton NJ

Fritz's Diner
"Hungarian Beef Goulash 50¢"

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

King James

It's sad. Cleveland is in such bad economic condition, has such a poor image, that a single professional basketball player was a major economic force,  & focus of the city's pride above all others. LeBron James gave Cleveland 7 years of basketball worth watching, loved being called "King James," & is a fabulously wealthy celebrity. The Cavaliers failed to win an NBA championship & James certainly had the right to move elsewhere at the end of his contract. The NBA isn't about teams anymore; it's about superstar players & their "brands." The game itself has changed to spotlight those players.  The NBA has lost the casual fan who used to wander in from hockey & baseball at playoff time, fans who  enjoy college basketball but find the professional game  lacking interest. Hockey & baseball fans appreciate something called "defense" as part of their games & don't mind low scoring contests.

Under the circumstances, James should have expressed his regrets to the City of Cleveland & his strong personal desire to win a championship ring while he was in his prime, richly endowed some local youth-oriented charities, & simply announced that he was headed to Miami. Instead, he turned the process into a shameless, manipulative self-promotion worthy of a used car dealer.  But it was in keeping with the way the NBA operates now. The NBA has not only wrecked its own game, it's ruining the college & high school games, too.


Friday, July 09, 2010

Dashiell Grey Malone

The name my niece & her husband gave to their first baby.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Alternative Bob

There are moments - brief periods - when I feel as though I'm channeling Alternative Bob. I'm persuasive, assertive, a bit apologetic, generally likable, & I get someone to bend a little bit to my will without  that person feeling  ill-will, more like they're doing the right thing. Today, I moved  someone  to go ten minutes into her strictly scheduled lunch hour & finish paperwork rather than making me cool my heels for an hour, which she had right to do & I think had intended to do, & I would have accepted, when we realized some necessary paperwork hadn't been faxed to her.  But I got on  the cell, pushed another person on the phonr to do the fax immediately, while I was filling out a form - I was obviously prepared to take care of matters right there & then, & the woman in front  of me was just carried along. When we were done - I was very grateful - I promised next time I would not rush her or try to delay  her lunch, & I meant it.

Alternative Bob  is   different from Passive-Aggressive Bob.  P-A Bob either freaks out or pulls into a shell. P-A Bob was telling Alternative Bob that it was too close to lunch hour. But Alternative Bob said, "I ain't browsing   Radio Shack next door for an hour just to stay out of this awful humidity if I can help it."

I may have mentioned  Alternative Bob. He's  my alternative storyline.  I suspect most of us have one or more.  I'm pretty certain he married a nurse named Helen around 1980, & became either a high school history teacher or an employee of the New Jersey State Park system.  Alternative Bob may have had a WFMU radio show for about five years, & only dabbled in poetry, but  writes   a lot on  music & other subjects.   He's a natural interdisciplinary high school teacher,   &  very good  at explaining  historical sites. If he's a teacher, he's good but the type who avoids too much extracurricular stuff.   He is still married to Helen, They reside somewhere like Rahway or Keyport or Toms River,  a town with history,  in a small, old house, maybe a bungalow with dormers or an addition, & a piano.  Alternative Bob's Alternative Bob is a songwriter & plays  keyboards in a band.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Party Crashers

Joe Renna & me crashing a dinner-party at a Rahway restaurant about ten years ago. It was a semi-formal affair, but we were bored & the bar had Killian's Irish Red on tap,  so we wandered over there.  What were they gonna do, throw the bums out? At the time, I was the only "artist" residing in Rahway's "Arts District."

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010


degrees.  I am housebound.

Alec Wilder: Woodwind Quintet # 6

Alec Wilder: Woodwind Quintet # 6, Performed by the New York Woodwind Quintet. Rec. 1962.
Alec Wilder straddled the pop & "art" music worlds in a way Gershwin never did, because Wilder didn't pay much attention to the borders between them. Gershwin was obsessed with them.   A great songwriter, he also may be our best all-around composer of lighter chamber music. He composed for all kinds of combinations of instruments, as documented in this list.  Frank Sinatra conducted several sessions of Wilder's instrumental music. Like the first great composer of woodwind quintets, Anton Reicha - an adventurous Czech composer based in Paris, & a contemporary of Beethoven, Wilder composed for & in collaboration with a specific group of virtuoso instrumentalists, the members of the NYWQ.

Wilder composed 13 works for woodwind quintet. The three on this CD were recorded for Concert Disc, an independent label created by a member of the great Fine Arts String Quartet to showcase their performnces, then re-released on the now defunct Boston Skyline label.




Allegro Giacoso


Monday, July 05, 2010

Earlier today, National Weather Service forecast 100 degree temp for Tuesday. Now it's been moderated to 99.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The 4th of July

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Morristown NJ

The Armory at Washington's Headquarters, Morristown NJ.

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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Here comes the heat wave

Six days of temps in mid-to-high nineties starting tomorrow, & in the Land of Asphalt that is New Jersey  you might as well say one-hundred plus.  I think we were spared this kind of week last summer.  I do not like really hot weather & never did. Even the beach can be an uncomfortable place. & most Jerseyans who spend a week at the shore don't  do it the week of the 4th. Down around Wildwood this is Frenchy time, when the Quebeckers fill up the motels. It's why Wildwood has a Quebec-by-the-Sea & a Fleur de Lis among the motels.  The first few years I went to Wildwood I couldn't find a decent cup of coffee outside of the Wawa with a fresh pot on, much less an iced cappuccino. Which puzzled me because I couldn't find a bad cup of coffee in Montreal.  The French-speakers on vacation drank the bad, went without, brought their own coffeemakers or, as I observed, woke up to the first cocktail hour of  many they would enjoy during the day. Now you can get a drinkable latte at Dunkin' Donuts. The world has changed in the new millennium.


Friday, July 02, 2010

The NBA bores me.

The NBA bores me. But I read the sports pages & listen to sports talk radio.  If there's a  franchise capable of giving LaBron James a billion dollars & still not winning a championship, it's the New York Knicks. & what frustrated  Knicks fans don't get is that their "storied team" & "the Garden" don't mean squat to the average NBA fan, who doesn't care about anything that happened before Michael Jordan.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Under warranty

Ordered  an inexpensive external USB floppy disk reader.  I want to look at my floppy disks. I'm pretty sure I got all the writing off them.  But the floppy drive on my old PC broke long ago & I'd like to view & retrieve  the  low resolution photo files Kodak used to include with print orders.

My CD-DVD drive stopped working. I knew it was the weak part of the EMachine.  I went with it because I liked the tower & I'm not a heavy CD/DVD user. It's been acting up. It's also time to make updated boot disks & clear out mp3s. I e mailed customer service & they came back with the old reinstall drivers thing, I knew that wasn't the problem, it didn't  fix.  Now they say I never registered - although I am signed up with emachine website, guess I skipped the official registration - & want a proof of purchase scanned & sent, which I suppose is the J&R invoice. I hate the idea of sending it back.  Maybe they have a local authorized repair.  I have no backup PC.  My old one won't handle this DSL I'd have to go on dialup. I have been looking at cheaper netbooks, since I think one will be very useful to me.  You can plug a mouse, VGA monitor, & ethernet line into a netbook.

Since it'll be awhile before  the warranty/repair thing is   straightened out,  I ordered a plug in external DVD/CD burner. They're inexpensive & if  do get a netbook it'll come in handy anyway.


"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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