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The Crooked Mirror

I suppose writing about a book before I read more than a few pages of it is dumb, but in this case, writing this is part of the anticipation. The book is (my old friend) Louise Steinman's The Crooked Mirror: A Memoir of Polish-Jewish Reconciliation. She says that 80% of American Jews are at least in part descended from Polish Jews. I'm not, so a lot of what she remembers or has found out didn't resonate personally—and yet, I share attitudes, such as thinking Poland was the worst, most antisemitic country. It wasn't. It seems a lot of our assumptions and beliefs are just wrong. For example, she says there are more Poles among the Righteous Gentiles honored at Yad Vashem.

From the short excerpt she read at her book party yesterday, I can tell you it's beautifully & thoughtfully written. "Do they miss us?" she asks, and we all caught our breath.  Read More 
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James Russell & Jim Lowell

Soulful poet
Our milkman when I was very little was named Jim Lowell. He would give us rides in his truck, one of those old milk trucks with no doors and no front seats. He would creep along at 1 mph for about 10 feet. Nothing I relished more than standing up in a moving vehicle.

So it was not at all surprising to me that my elementary school, James Russell Lowell School, was named after a hero like him.

What was surprising was finding out that James Russell Lowell was someone else entirely. I don’t recall spending any time on the poet at Lowell School, except to memorize his most famous line: “And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days”—lines that I still repeat automatically on every lovely late spring day.  Read More 
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Local chicks are better

My friends in Duluth sell LOcally LAid eggs (all their chickens are named Lola) and right now are one of the 4 small businesses in the running to win a SuperBowl ad.

Locally Laid is all about sustainable agriculture: They use solar power and non-GMO corn, they set up a carton return program, and they plant a tree with every delivery & t-shirt sale.

Duluth isn't exactly a suburb of New York City (or vice versa) but I sure do wish I could get Jason & Lucie's eggs here. I'll make do by voting for them.

Here's the lyrics to a terrific little song by Mississippi John Hurt  Read More 
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I look like an angel

Me 'n' my sister Varda
Or maybe like I'm already dead
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One of my all-time favorite books
I'm so excited that Tony Towle and Ron Padgett are reading at the St Mark's Poetry Project tonight. Two of my all-time favorite poets, whose work I turn to again & again, for pleasure, for enlightenment, for a good laugh. Ron has an 800-page Collected just out (haven't seen it yet), which kind of makes me feel like I may never buy another book of his.  Read More 
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Snow falling on spaghetti

Discovering that I can cook pasta in the microwave has changed my life. Well, everything changes one's life, right? It snowed in Brooklyn today. My friend Steve, who lives in Spartanburg, SC, loves snow as much as me. He lets me know what's coming. Snow & pasta. If I could only find the book I lost, life would be pretty darn perfect. Oh, and if I never had to get on a plane again.  Read More 
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I let Becca wear the birthday hat...

... because it's her birthday, & because she will wear it (unlike some or many of my less fun-loving friends), & because I'm the kind of person who likes other people's birthdays almost as much as my own, & because my favorite day is Monday, when Becca shares my office.

And now I want—what? a sandwich? a phone call? a vanilla bean?

I couldn't work out because I'm resting my ankle, so I'm a little antsy.

Happy birthday, Becca!  Read More 
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Doin' the Twist

Yeah, after you stumble, it's easy to see that the leaves were covering the lip between sidewalk and the square dug out for a sapling, and you wouldn't have tripped if you had, but it doesn't help when your ankle is throbbing and your heart is too over all the websites' dire warnings about ankle injuries. Twist, strain, sprain, break. I'm clapping (but not dancing) along with Hank Ballard & sure I'll be fine tomorrow. Round & around & around & around. Just like this. C'mon, baby.  Read More 
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Prose Pros

Bradley Spinelli, SideWalk café, November 7, 2013
Hosting a monthly reading series requires some amount of coordination & energy; all the more do I admire folks who put together more frequent readings. Prose Pros, my series with Martha King, is in its 7th season and still as fun to us as it was at the start.

Some combos seem implausible but work great: Last night a dynamic young fiction writer, Bradley Spinelli, read from his novel Killing Williamsburg and from a new novel set in Thailand (finish it already!), followed by Ruth Danon, who's writing a thoughtful memoir about her family, which comprised refugees, revolutionaries, scientists, artists and feuders. The two writers' themes of dislocation and exile echoed & enhanced each other—something I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't heard them together.

We have a nice crowd every month, with a few people that come no matter who the reader is (looking at you, Mike!). A group that listens, laughs, asks, cheers.  Read More 
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Instead of taking a karate class this morning, I retraced my bike route twice, hoping the keys that fell off my handlebar on the way to the dojo would still be lying wherever they fell.

But no, some concerned citizen thought they were doing me a solid by picking them up. Then what? If  Read More 
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