NauenThen

Bina

June 30, 2015

Bina in her 20s, at her first meeting with the man she would marry. Her smile only got more radiant as she got older. Photo by Al Mozell, © Paul Mozell.
So sad to say goodbye today to Bina Mozell, a founding member of my synagogue, who passed away on Saturday at age 93. The people who spoke at her funeral, including her 2 sons, told the same stories I would have: her beaming love, her interest in people, her joy—in her husband, Al, in nature, music, dance, & anything that crossed her path.

Bina was an inveterate bicyclist, although an inattentive one, who often fell off because she was looking around at all the world. She saw me at Al's funeral 6 years ago with my bike helmet, & said, with the enthusiasm that pervaded her every utterance, "Oh darling! (more…)

My little home

June 29, 2015

I fell in love with this picture in Annapolis, years before I'd ever been in a city. I bought it after I moved into the Ezra Pound, the building it predicted.
I’ve lived in my apartment in the Ezra Pound since January 1977. For that entire time, I’ve frequently told people that the reason the tub is in the kitchen is that the building was put up before indoor plumbing, so when it was added, there was no place for the tub except the middle of the kitchen, in my case between the stove & the (only) sink. The toilet is separate, & when I moved in, some of the toilets still had the entrance in the hall.

I was wrong, I’ve recently learned.

I live in what was once a cold-water flat (a rare American use of "flat" for apartment, I think). The tub was in the kitchen, next to the source of water & a place to heat it. The toilet was in the hall so as to disturb the fewest number of people during the night, since my small two-room apartment may have housed half a dozen or more people. Also, (more…)

I can't keep up!

June 28, 2015

I went with my friend Alison to Johnny's old church, Xavier, on 16th St. Beautiful building & a brilliant talk by the Jesuit priest, who acknowledged that the church didn't support marriage equality, paused for an unspoken but eloquent "but," & concluded with: "The trending hashtag on Twitter this week was #lovewins#. Hopefully we can all agree with that."

The gay pride parade (more…)

Love wins

June 26, 2015

I spent the day at the Bronx Botanical Gardens so am late to write, late to say how proud & happy (& amazed) that the Supremes have been doing the right thing this week. I spent an hour "liking" post after jubilant post on Facebook. And then hearing our president's eulogy, including "Amazing Grace." What a day.

Blaze Starr

June 24, 2015

Yet another fabulous 1950s dame has died. Blaze Starr, 83, "the Queen of Burlesque"—originally Fannie Belle Fleming from Wilsondale, West Virginia—was best known for her affair with Louisiana governor Earl K. Long in the late '50s.

“Society thought that to be a stripper was to be a prostitute,” she told (more…)

The value of public conversations

June 24, 2015

According to economists at Michigan State University, freedom of speech may be able to prevent the economy from going downhill. Their study measured the influence on economic performance of public deliberation—from open discussions with all stakeholders to protests to public hearings—in 112 countries. They concluded that lawmaking improves when policymakers receive information from a diverse array of citizens. Making an important decision based on only 1 or 2 opinions can (more…)

Hitting for the cycle

June 23, 2015

In the next couple of days I'm going to a:
* Bris, done on the 8th day after a baby is born, as he joins the Jewish people. Welcome, Gabriel Asher!
* High school graduation of my oldest granddaughter, Celeste.
* Birthday party for a couple both turning 60.
* Wedding after-party
* Memorial for the late journalist Danny Schechter.

Happy to be alive in 2015 & I like that it's 2015 for everybody. We're all here now (except Danny).

June 22, 2015

Everything about this is inexplicable to me. What is the product, for one thing? I can make out that it's the "Continental" (their quotation marks) Pulverizer but not what it is. Some sort of harvester or harrow, I should think, but why Washington? Is there a pun that I don't see in "They cheered the Chief"? Should there be a second part to that phrase? What did George Washington mean (more…)

Donna Leon II

June 21, 2015

I'm halfway through her newest mystery, Falling in Love,which takes place at La Fenice, the Venetian opera house. It's very smart about fans & stalkers, and as always, about food & marriage.

How can you not love a book with a sentence like this:
Brunetti gave thanks that lived in a country where a woman who had just spoken of being in fear of her life would put on eyeliner and lipstick for a ten-minute walk across a deserted city after midnight.

South Carolina

June 19, 2015

I have been visiting South Carolina regularly since I was 19—more than 40 years. My friends, and their friends, are not hate-filled racists. They are parents, grandparents, sons, daughters, mothers, gardeners, artists. They are involved in their communities. They hate the Confederate flag that flies over their state capitol.

Remember these names: Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons Sr., Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson. They too were grandparents, sons, graduates, reverends, coach, mothers. They were all deeply involved in their community. They were murdered in their church.

Tra la la

June 18, 2015

I seem to be singing more & more in public—the Double Yews, at my synagogue—but I don't really sing. What does that mean? It means I have no training.

I do now! I went to my first-ever singing lesson this morning, in the parlor of a grand Washington Square building, now a senior center. We did warmup exercises, both physical & vocal, then sang folk songs ("Shenandoah," "Greensleeves"), popular songs (something by Irving Berlin) & rounds ("Freres Jacques"). The teacher, Richard, was encouraging & had specific directions, most of which I couldn't exactly follow, but some I could & it made an immediate difference.

So fun to learn something new! Aprenc tant existeixo! I learn therefore I am!

Update: Oh my! I just ran into Richard—he lives around the corner—& I thanked him & said I guess it was obvious I've never had a voice lesson, and he said, "Oh, you'll be able to do anything you want–I don't say this to everybody."

Am I biased? Are you?

June 17, 2015

It's well established that people have a “bias blind spot,” meaning that they are less likely to detect bias in themselves than in others. But how blind to our own bias are we Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have developed a tool to measure the bias blind spot, and found that those who believe they are less biased than their peers—which is almost everyone—are less likely to be a good judge of situations and actions.

For example, physicians assume that gifts (more…)

The chickens & the eggs

June 16, 2015

Why do chickens lay eggs every day? Other birds don't do that, right? Does someone sit around training—coaxing? whipping?—chickens to lay daily?

It turns out they lay an egg a day till they have a clutch of about a dozen eggs that they then sit on. If the eggs are taken away, they keep laying.

Some further facts & a question:
* Some hens are bred to have a (more…)

10 things I will never do (again)

June 15, 2015

Hitchhike
Study Sanskrit
Yiddish camp
Sleep with Derek Jeter
The heart attack
Marry Johnny Stanton
To the moon
Play third base for the New York Yankees
Change my name
Throw a couch out the window

El Bosco for the ages

June 14, 2015

Tags: Bosch

Robyn fell for Bosch at the Prado—I mean, who wouldn't?—and emailed me the other day: "An internet genius in the modern age blew up this bit and transcribed the notes into playable music and someone else on the internet decided to write lyrics to the butt-written tune and record said song in Gregorian chant style. This is why the internet is the greatest thing ever!!!"

While I love all the cute kitten and tear-jerking dog videos, the (more…)

One Misty-Moisty Morning II

June 12, 2015

I just read that "moist" is "the worst word ever" and a 2012 New Yorker poll that asked readers to choose a word to scrub from the English language in 2012 chose moist by overwhelming consensus (I would have nominated "knotty pine"). Why?

In three experiments, researchers from Oberlin University in Ohio and Trinity University in San Antonio found that more than 20 percent of participants where averse to the word.

Again, why? (more…)

Dance to the Music of Time

June 11, 2015

Tags: Anthony Powell

Dance to the Music of Time, by Anthony Powell (1905–2000) is 12 volumes of autobiographical fiction & even though I'm only halfway through I am already looking ahead to—well, starting it again, most likely.

It's fun to run across gems like the below but reading the whole thing is like floating in a warm pool on the first day of vacation: you can't imagine ever doing anything better.

Some Powell quotations:
The nearest some women get to being faithful to their husband is making it unpleasant for their lover. (more…)

Dinner with my girls

June 10, 2015

Oh my darlings Sylvie & June!

Sylvie, age 7, gives the most fervent hugs ever. We are planning a date, just the two of us., & we're both excited to think of something special to do. "When I was little."

June is at the age (4) where she likes jokes but (more…)

My day, my life

June 9, 2015

= Eddie, my beloved mailman, is retiring August 1.
= Eileen is going away for most of the summer.
= My dermatologist said, No one from the office calls you back? No one here takes MY calls.
= Michelle emailed, "I tried to leave and she told me I have to stay because they paid for me to be here" so we (more…)

Pedal Acupoint Massage Equipment

June 8, 2015

Someone gave this to Johnny.
Some information & instruction (translated from Korean):

Application for Special Population
1) Sub-health people with weariness, ennui and unknown etiology.
2) Office worker of sitting and standing for a long time, and driver.
3) People of treasuring own body, pursuing the health, worried about aging and illness, and liking building stronger bones.

Function Characteristics
1) Promoting the blood circulation and smooth to eliminate the weariness.
2) Adjusting the rhythm of sport and relaxing to improve the sleeping.
3) Enhancing the metabolic functions to keep the bloom.
5) Adjusting the secretion of balance function to build stronger bones and keep beautiful face.

Application Method
1) The foot massager machine is made from natural wood.
2) The use time of foot massager machine is within 2–10 minutes.
3) When using the foot massager machine, body need to be kept the upright posture, left and right feet need to be alternately trampled (i.e. trample on the same place). (more…)

One Misty-Moisty Morning

June 7, 2015

Probably the first poem I learned by heart—I must have been 4 or 5—was "One Misty-Moisty Morning," which I always assumed my mother brought with her from England. South Dakota, being a prairie state, didn't get much fog, but I recited it any time we got a little, and I still do. I've only ever met one other person who knew it.

One misty-moisty morning
When cloudy was the weather
There I met an old man
Clothèd all in leather.
He began to compliment
And I began to grin.
How d'you do, and how d'you do
And how d'you do again.

There are variants on these words but this is the way it's in my head. (more…)

The Double Yews II

June 5, 2015

Fun! We had fun & I think the audience did too. Or so they have said.

Fun. Yes, a good thing in poetry indeed.

Our show had the right combination of amateur & professional—that is, enthusiastic in execution but not necessarily polished, and professional in knowing what we were doing in putting the works together.

Set list: (more…)

The Double Yews

June 4, 2015

Tags: Double Yews

Nervous & excited to play tonight. I was going to wait till tomorrow & report how it went but pretty distracted at the moment. Annabel Lee & I have been matching up the work of American poets with popular & familiar tunes. Then we play them with lots of different instruments—guitar, harmonica, fiddle, piano, noisemakers, & more. It's fun & I hope it illuminates both the poems & the songs. More on this tomorrow.

More Party than Arty

June 3, 2015

Tags: boxing

Me, my second Marty, & dimly, Eddie Berrigan
My face looks like that because we advertised ourselves as doing Mud Boxing. There used to be an exfoliating product called Mudd so our suggestive lure had a basis in reality. I fought Rose Lesniak, who kept saying "don't hit me in the face, I'm an actress!" Finally, I said, on the count of 3 let's both just fall down. We did, & everyone yelled Fixxxxxxxxxx! I guess she wasn't that good of an actress. This was part of a Jeff Wright extravaganza at Charas called More Party than Arty. Early '80s. (more…)

RIP, Lorca Dubris

June 2, 2015

Lorca got sick pretty suddenly but it turned out it was evidence of some terrible problems. Today Maggie took the difficult & responsible step of euthanizing her.

Lorca—a cat more full of curiosity than any I know, who took an interest even in the vet's room, sick as she was. A fat cat who got skinny. A 15-year-old who was almost put down 14 years ago—truly a rescue. A cat who saw Maggie through an awful lot. A tolerant cousin to my spitty Dante & hungry Buster. A lovely presence.

New art!

June 1, 2015

Tags: Shanee Epstein

"Sail" by Shanee Epstein
I love Shanee Epstein's work & have been to many of her shows at her gallery in Brooklyn. I never bought anything, partly because I liked almost everything so could never make up my mind, partly because I didn't trust my eye, partly because I wasn't sure it was OK to spend money on art.

Luckily, Johnny doesn't have a problem with any of these. We finally agreed on a colorful piece ("Skylight"), only to find out it had just been sold. So he ("we") bought the piece I liked best from the start. I love the 3D texture and subtle prairie-like colors, and it reminds me of a bookshelf—but Shanee calls it "Sail." Emily Dickinson, thank you: "there is no frigate like a book."