Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

"Reconciliation, reunion, resurrection—this is the New Creation, the New Being, the New state of things. Do we participate in it? The message of Christianity is not Christianity, but a New Reality. A New state of things has appeared, it still appears; it is hidden and visible, it is there and it is here. Accept it, enter into it, let it grasp you." Paul Tillich, The New Being

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Atlantic City NJ

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Been rumored a  gay NFL player is coming out. Makes it a topic for sports talk radio.  Last night a guy calls Tony Paige's late night show on WFAN, says his brother is gay. He would defend his brother "to the death."  Yeah, yeah,  from the tone, which sounds like a preface to the real point of the call, I can almost predict what's coming next, the "but."    The caller  says he is against "gay marriage."  Says NFL  teams should provide separate shower & locker facilities for gay team members so the straight guys don't feel uncomfortable.  Then he goes off on a rant that gays shouldn't compare themselves to blacks, he "loves blacks" by the way,  gays never had to suffer the same kind of racial discrimination  & violence.

Paige, a  black man, WFAN's resident boxing authority,  friendly personality,  non-confrontational style, good listener,  talks about his family,  has coached youth sports team & very concerned about safety & fairness,  listens quietly through all this.  He lets the guy finish. I know Tony won't yell at the caller, who has revealed himself as a particular, & for Tony a very familiar,  type of bigot. There will be no back & forth discussion. The caller had his say & he is let go.  Tony mentions the real problems would not happen   in the locker room, but on the field, where a gay player would be subject to insults & taunts from opposing players & the crowd in the stands.  He  was referencing the  abuse Jackie Robinson had to endure for years. without mentioning Jackie's name.  I wished Tony had kept the caller on air & asked if he would attend his brother's wedding, if invited. That would drive right into the heart of the matter:  How much does the caller really love his brother?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday grump

Rainy day in the thirties. The rest of the week the temps may even hit 50. The signs of spring photos of crocus shoots aren't doing it for me. Those things can pop up through the snow in February. Most years we do get blooming azalias & magnolias in Jersey by the end of March, something for an early Easter. This hasn't been a terrible winter for snow & cold in my part of Jersey. Just relentless. Winter won't let go.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cape May NJ

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Juliet of the Spirits

by Nino Rota. Performed by Severino Gazzelloni, flute.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

I'm throwing out stuff I don't even have to think about. Beat up record turntable. Radio tuner without an amp. Several boxes of ancient computer manuals, CDs for long obsolete operating systems & programs, games, even floppy disks. The city doesn't  allow old PCs & monitors in the  trash, which is why they have sat in the other room so long; supposed to go to the recycling center. People do put them on the curb from time to time, & the collection guys probably just toss them in the truck. But I already put stuff in the trash bags that should not be in them, & the city doesn't enforce separation of recyclable cans, plastic & glass containers. & cardboard for apartment buildings. But the city should have an electronic collections day twice-a-year.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


A Buddhist saying (if I'm correctly remembering it):  Winter does not become spring. There is winter, & then there is spring. 

The calendar says spring. It's the equinox. Some years in Jersey, not many,  spring is here by this date. This year it is not. One day one goes outside & it is spring. Not almost spring, not a sign of spring or a little bit of spring that is gone tomorrow. Spring.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fair afternoon  mid-forties. Walked to Family Dollar for supply of various size ziploc bags. Also where I get cans of Margaret Holmes seasoned green limas,  not stocked at the supermarket with the other brands of generally over-priced "southern" style beans. Family Dollar, & its mirror competitor chain Dollar General are not "dollar" stores. They're "variety" stores, actually heirs to the last generation of  so-called Five & Ten stores, what downtown Woolworth's, Kresge & McCrory's were evolving into. But those chains made horrible corporate decisions. I was particularly sorry to see the last Woolworth's go; there was a classic in downtown Linden NJ up to the end, complete with the lunch counter section & the downstairs with the awful  smelly pet dept. selling hamsters & fish. But even for me it became more of a museum, except that it provided me with a supply of cheap black canvas sneakers that now sell for ridiculous  prices although they are  no longer "hip" fashion. I used to stop by the last McCrory's in downtown Rahway & Keyport NJ just to admire  the   layouts, with the second floor offices overlooking the main retail floors. It' was like being transported back to the 1920's & 30's.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Yesterday I was thinking about how I have very limited tolerance for Riverdance, don't like the Three Irish Tenors, don't like the Three Irish Sopranos, have no interest in old  I.R.A. songs, become bored after ten minutes with the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade on TV.  Taverns are awful on St. Patrick's Day. There's no such thing as being "Irish for a day." I knew Irish-American families where the drinking was not a subject for humor. I wish I could pronounce the Gaelic words I read.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day

"I value kindness to human beings first of all, and kindness to animals. I don't respect the law; I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer." Brendan Behan


Fort Dix NJ

Potatoes for St. Patrick's Day?

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Zip Code

I will go to that place where there
are mountains to look at but none
I must climb, & the ocean is there
also, the receding tide leaves
unbroken shells for the picking.

The boardwalk never closes
before midnight, every month
is August.  Each poem I write
will be published
in the morning newspaper.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

WFMU Marathon Fundraiser week two

X-Ray Burns & I, live WFMU  broadcast from Asbury  Park of the Glen Jones Progamme with X-Ray Burns, a few years ago. . They broadcast a series of annual shows from the space age Howard Johnson's next to Convention Hall. For most of their broadcasts, the crowd they drew were pretty much the only people on the boardwalk on a sunny Summer Sunday afternoon, unless some event was at Convention Hall. The beaches were nearly deserted. One year there was a wedding, the next Patti Scialfi was rehearsing at the Paramount for a tour, Springsteen was there with his Corvette, I chatted with him  briefly as he was standing outside the theater but had left my camera back at my HoJo table. During those last two summers, the Asbury boardwalk was finally  reawakening, completely transforming itself in few years.  The Hojos is now a restaurant & nightclub. But who can say if Glen & X-Ray helped prevent its demolition?

These were were family events  with children & dogs in attendance.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pope Francis

There were no "liberal" candidates for Pope. To elect the first American, first Latin American, first Jesuit & first Pope Francis is remarkable. I have no idea what he will do as Pope.

Been an interesting few weeks. Not for the speculation on the choice of a new Pope, but for seeing the amount of discomfort many people feel toward the Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholics, the process of choosing a Pope.  Except for the general tone a Pope sets, I don't see why most non-Catholics should care one way or another who the Pope is. I care mainly because the Catholics I know care. Only non-Catholics with fantastical, unrealistic  notions of change would think there could be a Pope  from the current collection of Cardinals with different views on abortion, marriage equality, & the ordination of women.

Argentinians still ask questions  regarding his dealings with the military junta during the "dirty war" of the 1970's.

What I hope for is a Pope more concerned with cleaning his house of the rancid Vatican Bank  dealings & sex abuse enablers than with disciplining nuns & college professors. A certain type of conservative Pope could want that, perhaps an Argentine  Jesuit who takes the name of Francis - Assisi or Xavier or both. Perhaps he can  help stem the flow of Latin Americans into charismatic Evangelical churches, which I see in my own city, & it makes me sad. Because the resources of the Roman Church when it attends to "least among us" are powerful, effective, global.. This must be  what many American Catholics want  their Church  to do. Stop trying to influence civil elections, or at least show some consistency with issues of life, which also include opposing war &  capital punishment, & the usual what would Jesus  do? stuff:  feeding the hungry, comforting the afflicted, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, healing the sick, visiting the imprisoned.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I earned it

Rainy all day. Crosstown to see shrink. I enjoy one-to-ones with his young MSW assistant,  but when other patient/clients are there  it turns into Group-Lite, I say very little to people I don't know, the level comes down to, "Bob likes to write. What do the rest of you do to stay active?" & "Bob is getting rid of lots things. Do any of you have problems with clutter?'   I was in several groups at the clinic I did not like for how they were conducted.  But when I was in a day program called "partial hospital,"  six weeks, M-F, 9 am -3 pm, I  went through the program with the same group of about 12 people (all younger, many had been to college  or were college age, generally an intelligent bunch with a variety of issues). The entire day was  groups focused on different topics, well-run, & locked  up tight.  Some very serious personal stuff was discussed.  Some people wept.  We  got to know each other.   Group confidentiality was the #1 Rule.

Filled out a brief questionnaire on clinic services. Generally high grades except the last; Would you recommend the clinic?  Gave it three on a scale of five. It's a public clinic. If your insurance can put you elsewhere, go elsewhere.

I took cab to CVS, walked home from there in light rain, Puttered around a bit. took an Ambien & went to sleep for four hours. Conked right out with radio on.  Didn't sleep well last night.   I earned it.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Some rough weeks here. Thank heavens my Ambien prescription is renewed tomorrow.

On the positive side, I have begun what I have wanted to do for years, probably decades. Many bags of clothing out the door.  Using mainly  Ziplock bags, sorting out books I really want to keep. A small  number of  100 year old volumes of poems I bought cheap at book sales, beautiful books, probably  not worth much, some have damage .  My favorite has always been a Selected  Poems of Christina Rossetti.  Consolidating all the literary magazines & anthologies that have published my poems; there are "lost" poems in many of those.   Bagged up a box of the small notebooks, the "everything" books I used to carry around, they have WFMU setlists (often so poorly scrawled I can't read them), shopping lists, poems, lines, ideas. I could probably throw those out & not miss them, but they fill one small box.

A lot of junk that has to go. Old PC books & CDs.  Two old computers.
Bagged up the loose greeting cards  & postcards, the antique Smith Corona portable WP I've used to read their old Data Disks - it's small,  the Collected Shakespeare, box of beads & jewelry,  two boxes of unsorted photos, small box of stuff I used to keep in my desk drawer - it's like a little treasure chest - when I got bored or hit a writer's block I'd open the drawer & play with the stuff.  Cleaned & threw out contents of two kitchen drawers. Just getting started.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Manasquan NJ

World's Longest Bar at the Osprey Hotel

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Friday, March 08, 2013

Catholic friends

I have four trusted Roman Catholic friends, two I know personally, two I met online years ago through a KOS spin off site, Street Prophets:

A superb poet,  resides in my county,  a member of the Franciscan lay order.  Known her for 30 years, but became friends through Facebook.

A Notre Dame alumnus - with all the nuttiness that gives him, active in community, local politics, parish life. Married, one son. Listened to my WFMU show, found out we resided in the same town.

Office manager of an upstate New York parish, moved there when she married, leaving a  career in corporate Manhattan. Stepmother to her husband's daughter.

An employee of a silicon valley corporation on the West Coast. Active in a parish with  a large, poor Hispanic congregation. An out lesbian with a teenage son.

The latter two are in grad school studying theology.

All are in favor of marriage equality. I am not aware of their specific views on Catholic doctrine. All are taking a wait-&-see attitude toward the Papal election.

I also know ex-Catholics & lapsed Catholics. Some had their hearts broken, leaving the Church because they  were so unwelcome.

I listen to these four Catholics much more than I say anything to them about religion. Whenever I write about Catholicism, on my blog or at KOS, it is usually about Catholic practice, not doctrine, rarely the institutional Church of the Bishops. I would never  suggest a Catholic walk away from their Church, as some at KOS do. It is arrogance to presume an intelligent Catholic is not aware of the institutional failings, of their options, or to accuse them of somehow collaborating with child abuse cover-ups & Patriarchal oppression. We are all collaborating with evil. These Catholics do the best they can to steer their time, money & effort into missions of charity & compassion. Can't do that with tax payments. What keeps them in the Church, I believe, is the practice, the observance of Catholicism, its dailiness, the routines, their communities.  Their spiritual  calendar is not the one hanging on on the wall. Rather, it is a calendar of seasons & saints, of birth, death & resurrection,  of remembrance,  the celebration of things large & small. A day for blessing pets! Even protestants show up for that.  It is not onerous, as it was in many pre-Vatican II  Irish & Italian families I knew as a kid, attending churches with autocratic priests who knew all the secret sins of their  parishioners.  It can be a very sane way to order one's life. & it is difficult to duplicate outside of the Church. To my friends, it is their Church as much as it is the Church of Cardinals.


Thursday, March 07, 2013


I know four Pisces women with birthdays today. Know only one of them well, a woman I have  loved since we met 35 years ago, & she knows it.  She was with the man then she's still with now. They eventually got married, bought a fixer up house, now have a son around 20, a fine musician so I hear. They are a couple I described as deciding to "grow up for each other." It was certainly something they didn't have to do at the time, 25 years ago, but they saw their chance to have a home & jumped at it.   I've never written a poem about her. Written a couple for her. Got her card in the mail a day late, she'll think I've forgotten (which I haven't in years), but it will arrive tomorrow with today's postmark.

I pulled yesterday's poem, "A Common Egret,"  out of a 2005 blog post. It was probably written in the late 90's when I was spending a lot of time on the Raritan Bay shore & at Sandy Hook, & I tinkered with it for a few years. It is not to my mind a successful poem. It would read well in public from a podium, & has the kind of twisty "dismount" at the end I seem to be good at doing - getting out of poem. But it is a contrived poem & I labor to follow what I want from it more than what the poem might have wanted. Can hardly blame a poet for desiring  to celebrate a white egret, quite common in our marshes now, much more  than when I was a child. As development continued unabated along the Jersey shore - the Barnegat Bay "lagoon" communities so badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy -  industry was withdrawing from northern Jersey marshes & wildlife sanctuaries were established from the Meadowlands a short distance from NYC to Delaware Bay, so I suppose the egrets found safer, stable  breeding habitats. They fly in  from the marshes & islands of Arthur Kill - the waterway between Jersey & Staten Island -  & fish at ponds in local parks around here, but they are not comfortable being too close to humans. They can't keep an eye on us & concentrate on fishing at the same time.

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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

A Common Egret

If I could turn my knees around,
stand patiently in shallow water,
looping my long snake-thin neck
as I stare at the dim shapes of small fish
I stir up with my feet, I would be
a white egret meditating on a meal
in the solitude of salt marshes.

You might see my head raised above
a field of reeds like a strong flower,
then disappear as I strike lightning fast
at the substance of a shadow.

If you look upon me too long, I feel
the hollowness in my stomach,
unfold my ungainly wings, lift myself
a few yards above & distant, to a place
I imagine I am once again invisible.

You would do well to imitate me,
learn the art of fishing
& mind your own business.

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Monday, March 04, 2013

Armando Trovajoli

age 95, composed scores for over 300 movies, nearly all of them Italian. From the same generation that gave us Nino Rota. Very little of his music was available in the USA, but dozens of his soundtrack LPs were released in Italy. Trovajoli composed music for all kinds of films, including spaghetti westerns. But  Italian sex comedies & crime caper movies were his forte. His Sixties music for these movies is as identifiable with the era as Burt Bacharach's,  with organ, often a samba or bossa nova beat, & wordless chorus; or something approximating rock music.

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Sunday, March 03, 2013

Bridgeton NJ

Tomato Wagons

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Saturday, March 02, 2013

The problem cat

A couple of years ago my friend up the street was inveigled into adopting two kittens from a neighbor, soft-hearted cat lover that she is.  At the time, I knew these kittens, brother & sister,  had been prematurely weaned.  One grew up into a runt female that wanders around her house, upstairs & down,  day & night meowing for mama's teat, & goes into heat every six or eight weeks when the crying gets so awful I can't even sit & watch TV. The other, a male, grew into a huge tom. He's "fixed" but the hormones are still active. A clean cat, he would be an amicable pet with a home to himself.  But his size has turned him into a bully. He chases & terrifies the other three cats, sometimes tries to mount the runt, who is about 1/4th his size. Unlike a good  pet dog, where the dog acknowledges alpha humans &, treated well, becomes a loyal, protective friend & family member, a dominant cat will only accept human dominance for about half-an-hour. So if I yell at this big tom & clap my hands loudly, it will stop whatever it is doing to another cat & run off.  But a little while later all is forgotten & back it comes for more stalking & chasing.

My friend also has as a temporary guest - an older, mellow male cat from her business, which she just moved. This cat tries to fight off the big tom just to keep a little bit of peaceful territory upstairs.  The solution to all this dysfunction is one my friend will not do, in part because it's probably impossible:  Find another home for the  big tom, keep the other male,  & have the runt fixed.  The big tom cannot be trained or changed. He is the problem cat. 


"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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