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My landlord

Who thinks it's a good idea to glue rubber to every step but one?

Who thinks it's a good idea for a novice bricklayer to build us a convex front stoop?

Who thinks it's a good idea to paint my festive door baby-poop brown?

Who thinks it's a good idea to hire an incompetent non-electrician non-plumber non-carpenter to do renovations & repairs?

Why do I still love my building so much? Read More 
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The photo caption says these men are painting the Brooklyn Bridge...
I have no memory of ever having gone to Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Maybe because someone else drove? Maybe because, as I wrote in "The Philadelphia Story" (1998), "how boring Veterans Stadium was, with a bunch of soon-to-be-cut rookies." There's the proof but it triggers nothing. No "right! how could I have forgotten?"

Near as I can tell, I've been to games at 22 Major League ballparks:  Read More 
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Hidden Figures

Not the least of it was playing hooky to see it during the middle of the day. So much I liked about this movie about black women at NASA in the 60s: their struggles as both women and African Americans, the heart-stopping space race, the historical footage (my god, Kennedy's HAIR), that it's a movie about people being smart, a movie about WOMEN being smart, Kevin Costner at his most likable as a white man in the early 1960s who learns to step outside his assumptions.

The astonishing fact that all the computing for sending a rocket into space was done by hand. No mechanical computers till well into the project.

That all of this really happened.

It's not great—none of the main characters have flaws, for example, & it's too tidily wrapped up—but inspiring & totally worth seeing for this unknown-to-me splash of history.  Read More 
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Private disappointment (now known only to my 3 readers)

Somehow I blew my 534-day streak of language learning on DuoLingo. I guess I spaced out & missed a day. Actually, I must have missed 2 days because I had a "streak freeze" option in place, but it's only good for 1 day. It makes me a little sad to have to start over with a 1-day streak. I'm sure there's a lesson in this. Ego or somesuch.  Read More 
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Found on 5th Street (back)

My Spanish is far from good enough to fill in this splotched handwriting. Can anyone help me out here?
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Found on 5th Street

Actually, I found this photo on the steps down to my office.

There's text on the back that I can't read. (See second scan.)

Why do I like this? The randomness of picking it up from my stairs is part of it. I like what's on the TV, which is likewise random. I like that he's (unconsciously?) mimicking the portrait. I like knowing enough but not enough.

I wish I could make out what's in the round frame.  Read More 
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Books books books

Many of Van Loon's illustrations are more geographical than this.
Someone put boxes and boxes of amazing books outside my door today. I rescued a volume of Virginia Woolf’s essays & a bound volume of Outing: The Gentlemen’s Magazine of Sport, Travel and Outdoor Life, Vol IX Oct 1886–March 1887, which covers archery, ballooning, pedestrianism, the wheel (bicycling). sparring, winter sports, & more. Since I have way too many books, I made myself walk away but was glad to see a mom trying to drag off her young son, who was engrossed in the books.

Later … Couldn’t stop myself: went back & got A Book of Anecdotes, a selected Robert Penn Warren, a 1926 book of essays about marriage, & most wonderfully, Van Loon’s Geography: The story of the world, 1932, with gorgeous drawings, many in color.

I bypassed a few thrillers, some college political textbooks, and a few books in German, and overlooked a nice paperback of Henry James's Italian Hours.  Read More 
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An experiment

Random photo with old car.
I'm going to bitch a little & see if it makes me feel better or worse to get it all down.

Actually, now that I'm not in the thick of last week's woes, they don't seem so terrible. I had a root canal, but it went fine & very quickly didn't hurt, & the tooth that hurt no longer bothers me. Johnny was in ER for the second time in 3 weeks, but got a stent in a blocked artery & is much much better. My home phone is  Read More 
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That was yesterday

I loved hearing from friends & acquaintances far & wide, both geographically and in time—from Europe, Asia, Australia, everywhere I've lived and beyond; from someone I've known since kindergarten to someone I met this year.

Now I pass The Birthday Hat to Lynn, Nyssa, cousin Markos, & Smokey Robinson.
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My Life

My Life

That wafting white dove

Was a plastic bag

Update: My friend Dan MacLeod in Montreal, writer & journalist, gave me the perfect next lines, to make this both sadder & more hopeful:

And if I'd turned my head sooner—

If I'd not looked—

It would still be a dove
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Me mum

Here's Joyce at the Phoenix airport, enroute to her new home in St. Paul. Ooops, she forgot her shoes!
At the age of 93, my mother is taking on a new adventure. At the long-time urging of her kids, she is leaving Arizona for warm, sunny Minnesota. She's so positive about the move, being near her kids, getting back on her feet. I hope I'm half as sharp if & when I hit her age. I wish I were half as sharp right now, for that matter.  Read More 
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When I took the bus in 1981, with my cousin, at the start of our two-month trip through Mexico & Central America, I loved the scrubby landscape from San Antonio to Laredo. I thought I would be happy driving a bus that route, back & forth, day after day, seeing nothing but rundown, non-majestic south Texas. These subway pillars make me happy in the same way. They're not glitzy or renovated or facelifted. They look like they've lived their years.  Read More 
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As Maureen Owen called it, "no travels journal"

The day after I marveled at seeing birch trees, quite a few of them, in New York City (well, Queens), I saw these on 5th Street, one block west of my office. I've probably walked past them a thousand times without them ever registering
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I go to Queens...

... Where I see birch trees and chocolate sculptures I'm asked not to lick, & find out about something called the "W" train. Birch trees seem only like Maine to me, not New York, but I couldn't summon that forest feeling. I was reminded of my two favorite trees on Flying Moose Mountain in East Holden, where I lived for a few months. They were two double birches, & probably my favorites because I could always recognize them & they meant I wasn't lost. I was afraid of everything in the outdoors.  Read More 
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The Dark Years III

This tyranny is too absurd, and its absurdity is too obvious to too many people for it to last.

Literature. Nothing is nobler than its play when it is the flower of freedom, but nothing is baser than when it is the means of doing without freedom, of avoiding the risks of freedom—when it is entertainment and a cover for the servitude one has accepted.

I don't know if I've already noted my deepest reason for hope. It's just that all this is too absurd. Something as absurd as this cannot possibly last.

Never have so many people in Europe known how to read and yet never ave there been so many herd animals, so many sheep. In times gone by, a man who didn't know how to read would save himself through  Read More 
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My birthday

is a week from tomorrow. Is an impeachment too much to ask for?
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The joy of snow

Easy to know what to say today because it's all I can ever say when it's snowing. Yay!!!

What a nice relief from all the rest of what's going on.

Which I shan't enumerate.

But will return to momentarily.
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Homage to Grandma Alice

The 5 magnificent Woodland sisters: Nellie, Jessie, Eva, May & Alice (my grandma).
My cousin Peta—the most accurate holder of family data—just told me that it was on this date in 1982 that Grandma Alice died.

Alice was the second-oldest of the Woodlands, who were the strongest, smartest, most powerful women you could ever hope to meet.

Being a Woodland in our family means having a dramatic streak. When one of the  Read More 
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From the Vault: XIII

The Fort Report (Contributor Notes)

Marvin Cohen, a young novelist

The father of Ubu Roi
dead not dead dead

Puerto Rico, the Southwest, a husband in Maine

Racers to the sun

The difference between invincible & obsolete:
A speeding motorcycle

In 1964 Elisabeth Mann Borgese of Florence, Italy, taught a dog to write 6  Read More 
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Even busier day!

Sometimes when I tell my beloved something, he'll say "Ya braggin' or complainin'?"

When people talk about how busy they are, I do often ask them (to myself!) the same thing.

Me? Right now, I'm dragging & I'm busy only because it takes me so long to do everything. So I'm not bragging OR complaining, just explaining this lame-o post.

I'll do better tomorrow!  Read More 
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Busy day

A Hard Day's Night projected onto the brick of a 2nd Street wall.
Got up, went to B&H to pick up breakfast—egg sandwich on challah bread for Johnny, challah French toast for me (& Johnny). Whole Foods for a dozen things they didn't have. Ludlow 99c store for toilet paper, shampoo, coffee filters & a skull bandanna. She calls me "my friend" and always rounds off in my favor. Chelsea for a meeting with a bunch of smart young women. Pilates with Jeremy, who has mostly given up trying to get me to be "self-efficacious," that is, to take off or add springs on the machines. I did roll up my mat, however. Then the Double Yews rehearsed for our gig next week. We possibly have become a real band. I'm excited that someone asked us to play AFTER he heard us.  Read More 
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Where ya from again?

I can't tell you how many times people who can't remember where I'm from, beyond (with a sweep of their arm) "out there," say Ohio... Idaho... Iowa... wherever... Obviously this happens to many other people. You can't see, but the cities on the outline map of Iowa include Cincinnati, Des Moines, & Boise.

(Taking a little break from the dire.) Read More 
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Sometimes we need a cute cat break, right?
It seems the weather pleases Buster, because he's happy every day.

And sleepy.

And hungry.

And amazingly, he went out of the apartment willingly this morning, something he's never done before. I opened the door to say hi to my neighbor passing by, and he strolled into the hall as though he does it every day.  Read More 
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The Dark Years II

More quotes from Diary of the Dark Years, 1940-1944: Collaboration, Resistance, and Daily Life in Occupied Paris:

... the most dangerous of invasions... the invasion of the inner life, infinitely more dangerous than a territorial invasion or occupation. (quoting poet Charles Péguy)

I will never believe that men are made for war. But I know they are not made for servitude, either.

We all know very well that democracy in this country was not sufficiently real for the conscience of all our citizens to be moved by the scheming, cheating, and intrigues that teams of politicians have indulged in for the past twenty years.

The greatest misfortune that could befall this country would be  Read More 
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