Restored to health

January 30, 2015

I have been intensely boring for the last 2 days, with a head so light it barely stayed attached to my neck. All I did was read a spy novel in the terrific Julia Probyn series by Ann Bridge. Written in the 1950s & '60s, & set in very well-described places—Switzerland, Scotland, Portugal & elsewhere—the characters are British, well-educated & smart. They really hate (more…)


January 28, 2015

Went to hear my friend Mark play the trumpet. He invited me because I was so ignorant about music & he thought I might enjoy it. I did, a lot. It was Big Band–type music, accessible & fun. Mark had the best chops, Johnny said.

I have a headache & can't seem to see to say more.

Snow snow snow

January 27, 2015

Tags: snow

Winter Landscapes and Flowers, Qian Weicheng (Chinese, 1720–72), Metropolitan Museum of Art
As everyone knows by now, the storm of the century, Bombogenesis, Snowpocalypse, whatever you want to call it, was a bit of a dud. We in Manhattan got between 6 & 9 inches, although not far to the east they got 20" or more, & Boston is having a real blizzard. Sure it's disappointing for those of us who feel the more the better. I feel like my date with Derek Jeter turned into a date with a Derek Jeter impersonator.

What's been interesting has been tracking the mayor & governor's moves (& how they've been second-guessed (more…)

It's begun

January 26, 2015

First flakes
They've rolled back the predictions—no "historic" storm: the record is 26.9" & at first they were thinking we might get 10" more than that: 3 feet of snow! The latest is that we'll "only" get 18"-24".

I like that there's a few of us who love snow, one of those clubs you get to belong to simply by virtue of enthusiasm: the Preston Sturges club, the baseball club, the snow club. I like being inside, toasty & cozy, with the big weather going on outside. I like squeaking through the snow. I like being cold. I like the idea that I could walk to the North Pole, almost literally, not that I ever would, not that you really can. I like remembering the snows of yesteryear: a rare snow day on my 10th birthday ... sitting at Balthazar's, again on my birthday, the day pitchers & catchers reported, good hot chocolate, big flakes coming down outside... sitting on the porch of the Franklin Hotel in Deadwood, not sure how it could be warm enough to sit outdoors with snow pouring down on the Black Hills ... Janet getting snowed in & having to stay an extra day or 2, I think in 1978 ... building an igloo ... sledding ...

Beside myself

January 25, 2015

Tags: snow

It is, perhaps, the storm I've been waiting for. The latest prediction is for 20–30" tomorrow & Tuesday, & very high winds: a genuine blizzard. All my weather friends, like Steve Willis & Evie, are excited. It's the talk of the weather blogs. Not sure, however, what would make it historic, a word that's shown up in a lot of the articles I'm looking at.

I'm not a driver, shoveler, commuter so it's all joy for me.

Girl groups

January 23, 2015

The 1960s were full of girl singers: The Dixie Cups ("Chapel of Love"), the Crystals ("And Then He Kissed Me"), Shangri Las (Leader of the Pack), Vandellas, Chiffons, Shirelles. Most of them black & oh-so-stylish. The smoothest harmonies this side of Jeter & Cano.

Were they political? Not overtly, for the most part, at least not in their songs. When it was picked up in 1968 as a civil rights anthem, Martha Reeves explicitly said "Dancing in the Streets" wasn't a plug for revolution: "My Lord, it was a party song!" (Berry Gordy Jr. was well-known for being careful not to connect Motown Records to anything that might interfere with business.) (more…)

The Imitation Game

January 22, 2015

Tags: The Imitation Game, Keira Knightly, Benedict Cumberbatch

Cumberbatch & Knightley in The Imitation Game
Is it even possible to make a movie set in the past that doesn't point out how much harder it was for women then? It is, however, eminently possible to entirely ignore non-whites, especially in a British movie, I suspect. Here, they would give a few minor supporting roles to people of color, even if it were historically inaccurate.

Which is not to say (more…)

Hair, glorious hair

January 21, 2015

Hippie punk (punk hippie?)
I am getting sick of my long hair.
It grew when I wasn't paying attention.
Some people pick a do & stay with it.
Two to three years is about as long as I can stick with a cut.
I've gone from long to short to long to medium to long to short to black to red to blond to calico to creamsicle to lavender-gray.
What's left?


January 20, 2015

Tags: funerals

It's not my hobby or anything, but I like going to funerals of people I don't know—synagogue people, say, or the parents of friends. You learn a life story, you get some cathartic crying, & when it's over, you haven't been broken.

So I was thinking I might like to be a professional mourner, (more…)

Thinking about poverty on MLK Day

January 19, 2015

Tags: Charles Blow

Charles Blow in today's Times talks about "how expensive it is to be poor," in James Baldwin's phrase. One point (of many excellent ones) is that if you don't have enough money to maintain a bank account, then you pay to have your checks cashed & for money orders (& stamps) to pay your bills. Poorer people may spend $1,200 a year in financial services; (more…)


January 18, 2015

Before I go to sleep, I remind myself to remember my dreams, which I hadn't for a long time. After a few days of doing this, I woke up with my dreams in hand. It inspiring to discover that bedtime intentions can work. Every day the dreams are getting more colorful & exciting (but boring if you're not me so I'll leave 'em in my notebook).

Lunch with Eileen

January 16, 2015

We've been friends for such a long time that we're always in tune with each other no matter how often or seldom we hang out, and it seems that whatever topic comes up is exactly the one we need to talk about. It's always some version of how to live our lives. We're good at reminding one other of what's important. We need to live like we did in our 20s, she said, when time was timeless; we need to read & write timelessly. She had a burger & I had a portobello sandwich.

The Jews of South Dakota

January 15, 2015

Tags: South Dakota, Jews

Two recent articles pointed out that the Jews of South Dakota are hanging by a thread. One was on the fact that SoDak is the only state without a Chabad, and the other that there are only 390 Jews in the state, fewer than any other state, in fact statistically zero. Fifty years ago there (more…)

The Tompkins Square Poems VII

January 14, 2015

7. A Week Since I

sat on a bench
remembered my pre-World War I life
wanted a peach
destroyed the evidence
found money
ate at Tre
brushed my teeth
stuck out my tongue

A walk in Williamsburg

January 13, 2015

Tags: Williamsburg, Vito Abate grotto

Every once in a while last summer I would jump on the subway, get off at a random stop, & walk around to see what I saw. In Williamsburg it was the Manhattan Special factory, clanking quietly, a combined funeral home–bakery, and a lovely grotto on a quiet street commemorating someone named Vito Abate (1890–19 3 (there's a missing number on the sign)).

I found a lovely piece by Abate's grandson that explained (more…)

My doppelganger?

January 12, 2015

Tags: Douglas Messerli

This is from an entry on "Russian mystical anarchism" in Douglas Messerli's Project for Innovative Poetry blog. When he posted it a while back, Facebook "recognized" the picture as being me. As far as I know, our family isn't Russian at all, but every once in a while, I find a similar, striking correspondence. If this were from the Jewish side, I'd be less puzzled, but he looks like my English half; some of my cousins have researched our genealogy, & we're English all the way back. Is the resemblance an example of an archetype of facial expression? It makes me think of how in some old paintings, people occasionally have what seems to me like a modern air. Is that all this is, layered on a common facial structure?

100 years ago today

January 11, 2015

Tags: Yankees, Jacob Ruppert, Tillinghast Huston, Don Mossi

Today is also the birthday of Don Mossi, "the ugliest man in baseball."
On this date in 1915 Colonel (National Guard) Jacob Ruppert and Colonel Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston purchased the Yankees for $460,000. Huston sold his share to Ruppert 7 years later for $1.5 million (some sources say $1.25 million). Huston was a captain in the 16th Regiment of Railway Engineers in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, and commander (as Lt. Colonel) of the same regiment in France in WWI.

Sentimental me

January 9, 2015

Chris, Mom, Beau, Dad—mid-'60s?
In my ongoing New Year's Snow'n'Throw (for once more Throw than Snow!), I came upon a giant box of family photos—but not my family. Beau's is entirely gone—there might be a distant cousin but I have no one to give these to. He died in 1999. I can't bring myself to dump the box, but what do I do with all these pictures? His racecar-driving dad at Sebring & other classics.

More about The House

January 8, 2015

Tags: The House

I think it's that we all felt the same way about the House & knew that we did. Not every single person who passed through the doors, of course, but a lot of us. Most of us? That we are willing to say it. That we still & always felt & feel it.

Steve followed up with this reminiscence. All of it & more: (more…)

The House redux

January 7, 2015

Tags: The House

These Air Force (Farce) name badges of friends from long ago are of interest only to me (& a few others), I do know that, but that time in my life is still so alluring & resonant. Everything about it is in my cabinet of fascinations, and if I find (out) something new, I can live on it for days.

I remember so much yet knew so little about any of the guys. Maybe when we were 20 there wasn't that much to know. We had no pasts except (more…)

The library

January 6, 2015

Frustrated that I dropped a book in the slot at the library & they say it's still checked out. The other one I returned has stayed returned. How can they lose a book AT the library?

Also, it seems I ate a few too many veggie chips. My goodness. Can you become 9 months pregnant from veggie chips or does it just look like I am?

Update: The book finally showed up as returned. Should I quibble about the 75¢ they say I owe?

Hour of gold

January 5, 2015

It's being eager, excited to start. It's going to sleep reminding yourself to remember your dreams, & waking up with them intact. It's that same dream of the George Washington Bridge, the good one where you hitchhike & get a ride, not the (more…)

Edith Wharton

January 4, 2015

I just finished reading, for the first time, House of Mirth. I put off everything I had to do today to stay with it, so no time to do more than offer some snippets. I'll think about it here later on. I ran into a friend just after I got to the end, who said, Are you OK? A devastating novel. (more…)


January 2, 2015

Tags: snow

Snow in Arizona, snow in Alabama, snow in Las Vegas, snow in the Carolinas, snow everywhere except where it's needed (wanted) (OK, by me) most—right here in New York, New York. C'mon.... please! It'll probably snow in Hawaii before it snows here.


January 1, 2015

I love starting the year with all-day poetry: Just came from 6 straight hours of poems & performance at the annual Poetry Project Marathon. Annabel Lee & I sang a work made out of lines from Emily Dickinson to the tune of "Yellow Rose of Texas."