Some movies

April 30, 2014

Tags: Steve McQueen, 1939 movies

Steve McQueen & the iconic Mustang
I’m not a film expert by any means, but it bothers me how many people haven’t seen or even say they “don’t like” old movies. Here’s a lightly annotated list, in chronological order, of a few I can’t imagine not enjoying. They’re movies I love and have seen several times (or more). All are a great pleasure to watch, and if they have redeeming social value, well, that’s extra.

* Sullivan’s Travels (1941). Joel McCrea plays a Hollywood director who’s successful with comedies but is dying to make a serious movie called O Brother Where Art Thou. As with all Sturges movies, there are switchbacks and guffaws galore. (more…)

O say I can't see

April 29, 2014

In the last 4 weeks I've broken or lost 5 pairs of sunglasses. The latest was a pair I bought on Thursday that fell off on Sunday. They were $7 on St Marks so not tragic, but I also lost my all-time favorite white-framed 60s Elizabeth Taylor ones.

I also lost a photo from maybe the 1980s where I was wearing 3 pairs of sunglasses, up & down my face.

Decluttering whether I want to or not.

Mysterious photo

April 28, 2014

I think this was Key West.
I think it was 1982.
I think I was on my way to go snorkeling.
It was a trip with Janet.
I got so sunburned I threw up that night.
My hair didn't stand up like that on its own.
My dad was still alive.

Happy birthday, Stanton

April 27, 2014

Tags: Ted Berrigan

We found so many things while clearing out Johnny's storage space.

We threw out a lot too.

Not this!

It's full-length, down to the ballet slippers he is wearing, & signed: Ted Berrigan, 1981

I hope you appreciate how much blood & sweat not to mention magical eliadic mind-power over matter bulk it took to compress 425 lbs of beautifully-aged crispy-sweet jelly-pork major-poet self-taught American mortal-coil flesh (meat!) into this dingbat-suit Oscar De La Renta whipped up personally for me to wish you HAPPY BIRTHDAY in, Stanton!

Breslau II

April 25, 2014

Tags: Breslau

The Neue Synagogue was destroyed in 1938, during Kristallnacht
I know my dad's family was Reform, & I know they were moderately well-to-do, so I think it's a pretty good guess that this was his synagogue.

I wonder why his family left Breslau? Was it like leaving Boston for New York? It's about the same distance & with much more opportunity in the bigger city. His parents had little Hans & Charlotte (I can't remember if she was older or younger). Was it in-law trouble? Or maybe the relatives were in Berlin & Breslau was just a waystop?

My father's been gone almost 30 years, my oldest sister more than 10—who would know the answers to any of this? Frustrating but thrilling to have new questions. And why didn't I ever wonder about this before?

Update: My mother says Dad's father had gone to Breslau to work in a department store; they weren't from there. Also, his sister was older.

"A true Berliner comes from Breslau"

April 25, 2014

Tags: Breslau

Breslau, in 1900, where my dad was born in 1906
I'm reading a noir mystery called Death in Breslau, by a Polish novelist named Marek Krajewski, which I bought because it's where my father was born.

The 1900 census listed 5,363 people (just over 1% of the population) as Polish speakers, and another 3,103 (0.7% of the population) as speaking both German and Polish. The population was 58% Protestant, 37% Catholic (including at least 2% Polish) and 5% Jewish (totaling 20,536 in the 1905 census). The Jewish community of Breslau was among the most important in Germany, producing several distinguished artists and scientists.

My father was born halfway between (more…)


April 24, 2014

Tags: The House

I can't find my little cache of photos from The House. This was taken in 1979: Forrister, ?, me, ?, Billy McF
On this date, 43 years ago, my life changed. I hitchhiked to D.C. with my friend Beth to go to a large demonstration (500,000 of us!) against the Vietnam War. We slept overnight on the Mall & she woke up next to a guy who became her boyfriend for the next 3 years. I was stuck with his friends for the day, but they soon became of lifelong importance. We all lived in a hovel in Maryland known as The House. I learned to have fun & deep conversations, I discovered I had allies in this long strange trip, I still love Steve, Forrister, Phil, Theresa, Sam, Max, Paul E, Frenchy, Billy, Bill, George, the Man of Good Humor, Wayne, even Duane.

Breathing is also hard to put into words.

Henry Thomas

April 23, 2014

Tags: Henry Thomas

If I had been around when old blues guys like Henry Thomas were in their heyday, I suppose I wouldn’t have gone to hear them play. Surely that world would have been—was—closed to a not-wealthy white lady such as myself. And I most likely wouldn’t have made the effort. I don’t go, never did, to a lot of live music. Never seen (more…)

Yay for Julie Smith

April 22, 2014

Tags: Julie Smith, New Orleans

I read a lot of mysteries, & I suppose like everyone who does, I am happy when I find a series I can live with for a nice long run. I like books set in places I've spent time, nothing too dark (no Mafia, please, except in Donna Leon), & good writing. And then there's something (more…)


April 21, 2014

So beautiful & so vicious.




On 5th Street

April 20, 2014

Gradually being won over to the charms of photography. So quick & descriptive. Do I want to write a poem about this woman & her window boxes, and how long she was in taking them in & bringing them back, and wondering who that bust represents, & how much rent does she pay, & assuming she's in an unrenovated apartment where she raised at least a couple of kids, & how tight-quartered it was then & how roomy it is now, & she even has a cellphone & facebook account, & sometimes it seems so much easier & sometimes it was so much better then, & how soon I'll be her except with a cat not plants.


April 18, 2014

The three of them were walking in front of me on 6th Street this morning, and I couldn't help but notice they had the exact same bodies. That's how I was sure it was a mother and daughters, not a nanny and charges. I was trying to take this photo surreptitiously as well as in the bright sun and with them walking away, so maybe it's not as striking here as it was to me.

Also, same coats.

Another picture of Johnny

April 17, 2014

Here he is being a good sport at a family (mine) event

Happy birthday

April 17, 2014

Johnny & Buster
to the love of my life (Johnny, although I'm pretty fond of the cat)

Art in the park

April 14, 2014

I had forgotten that I could go outside & sit on a bench—ah, Spring!

This is in Madison Square Park, & I could hear people delivering lectures but I didn't feel like finding out the point of these low-lying water towers. I guess I don't want to learn that yet another piece of New York has become history.

Happy Passover! (Back on Thursday.)


April 13, 2014

Tags: Graig Nettles, allergies

Diving catch
Not Graig, who I once described as seeing "more horizontal than vertical," in reference to his terrific ability at 3rd base, but which garnered some eyebrow action.

No, I've been drinking nettle tea all afternoon & feel miraculously much better. Allergies be gone!

Soporific is terrific

April 11, 2014

Is it spring making me so sleepy? Or was it editing, working out, shopping, writing a condolence card, looking up the fares to Spartanburg, talking to the accountant? I bought my Passover plate (2), bowl & spoon at Crate & Barrell, & lots of food at Holyland, where I got the first chag sameach of the season. Now I'm going to go talk art with my friend & neighbor.

Too clever by half*

April 10, 2014

I heard about the terrible computer virus Heartbleed & changed my passwords at work, including for email, credit card, Facebook. Then I emailed the new passwords to myself.

* A saying of my grandfather, Charles John Phillips, who died when my mother was a girl. Even though he was known as Jack, the descendants who are named for him are all Charlies: Uncle Charlie, my brother Charlie, cousin Charlie ("Cha"). We do have a Jack & a Jackson a couple of generations later.

On the bus

April 9, 2014

Tags: On the Bus

Pleasant on a spring day to take the bus & not the subway to my meeting in midtown. I'm dressed nicely & feeling professional, going in to talk about a project I already have agreed to do—don't have to sell myself, I've worked with these people before. When I wrote the poem below, it was long before you could take a photo with your phone. The poem was the photo. Better? Worse? Easier? Lamer?

On the Bus

As much sky tonight in NYC as buildings
along First Ave
on the bus
I’m overcome (more…)

Donna Leon

April 8, 2014

I wait & wait for a new one, & then it's gone in a day. By Its Cover is one of her best, with its look into the world of book thieves & book lovers, set in Venice.

The Neighbours # 142

April 7, 2014

Tags: Bob Hamilton, Maryland

In 1971 I was living in Severn, Maryland, with a bunch of Air Force friends who worked at NSA. We were only about 20 miles from Annapolis & used to visit a lot. One day I went in a frame shop & saw this print. I fell in love with it, and visited it regularly until I moved away in the fall. A few years later, I was passing through Annapolis & found the same store. The guy said hmmmm, went in the back, & pulled out the picture I had loved. I bought it—the first artwork I ever bought.

Finally, all these years later, I've replaced its cracked plexiglass & cheap poster frame with a good frame, falling in love with it all over again.

When I first saw "The Neighbours # 142" I had never been in a city. Once I moved to New York, I saw how this picture predicted my life. I also never thought to look up the artist, but now that I have—well, I haven't found him yet.

The second degree

April 6, 2014

Tags: Seido, karate

Even though there seemed to be more people taking photographs than fighting this morning, I've yet to see one of me. However, even without documentary evidence, I can say that I completed my month(s)-long promotion to nidan (second-degree black belt) this morning. Tired, wired, amazed, grateful, humbled. So much love, so much fun.

Yogi & me

April 4, 2014

Tags: Yogi Berra, Ray Robinson

I have been wondering for years where this picture got to. I moved a small pile this morning & it fell out. That's the writer Ray Robinson on the left. We were at the Montclair Book Fest in about 1994 or '95.

Sitting next to Berra was like leaning into a cliff. I told him I had a dream about coming to clean his house, & he mumbled that his wife wouldn't like that. Did girls have crushes on him in his heyday?

Working girl

April 3, 2014

An absorbing day of editing, creating, walking around the block, not making a doctor's appointment, buying toilet paper, reading Jude the Obscure, listening to the Staple Singers, talking on the phone for 20 minutes to a friendly woman from the insurance company who told me about her garden, sweeping & mopping my office floor, banging the dust out of the rugs, reminding people that Bonny Finberg & Murat Nemet-Nejat are reading tonight in Prose Pros, gossiping about (more…)

My sister Varda

April 2, 2014

Vee likes containers. She has a nice tasteful 60s house for her collections. It's funny to have known someone when they were too little to have tastes.

Casey Tibbs

April 1, 2014

Tags: Casey Tibbs

What I remember: Being little, 4 or 5, standing on the front porch of our stucco & brick house at 1503 S. Summit Ave in Sioux Falls, & watching a parade go by, featuring Casey Tibbs, my mother in her early 30s sighing in such a way that I understood she had a crush on him.

The truth: probably none of this, except that he was handsome. Why would there have been a parade on our street? And Tibbs was from South Dakota, so he likely passed through town regularly. Maybe we saw him once at the airport?

Here's the word on him: He was born in 1929, 50 miles northwest of Fort Pierre, South Dakota, in a log cabin on the family homestead on the Cheyenne River. He won six world saddle bronco riding championships in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, a record. He won the association's all-around cowboy title twice and also won one bareback bronco riding championship. For many years, Tibbs wrote a syndicated newspaper column, "Let'er Buck," (more…)