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O Western Wind

My favorite poem:

O western wind, when wilt thou blow
The small rain down can rain.
Christ that my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again.
—Anon, 16th century

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More on Maine

Writing about the Wing estate (yesterday) made me think about my three years in Maine. I also lived in the woods in Prospect, near Fort Knox, in a house known as Idiot's Point, with an outhouse, a wood stove, cold running water, & one giant window that let in all the winter cold. I lived in a big old white clapboard house on the Castine Road in West Penobscot. I lived in a rooming house in  Read More 
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Paris on the Park

I marvel at how much I've never seen (noticed?) in New York. It's probable that I had never walked on East 70th Street before.

New York real estate is inseparable from New York money, which I don't have. And it's not like I want to live there, I like my little hovel. I've lived in a mansion, although not in Manhattan—in Bangor, Maine.  Read More 
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Monday Quote

One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion. —Simone de Beauvoir

Isn't this quote better without the last few words? "One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others." It's a more absolute relationship—I can't claim to be more important than you, I can't claim what I don't deliver. Friendship, compassion et al are just explanations of how to go about offering value. They're important but they only qualify the essential truth.  Read More 
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At the Explorers Club

We went for the Polar Film Festival. Good thing adventurous Robyn is up for anything, because it was basically $25 of so-so films with great shots of polar bears & plenty of ice and snow. I realized I find the monochromatic desert landscape monotonous, & the equally monochromatic arctic landscape thrilling.

The Explorers Club is one of those old New York places that has its own sensibility, with outsiders not part of the gang. "Our People," Beckota & I used to call the denizens of Film Forum, with their wadded newspapers & giant magnifying glasses. At the Explorers Club we overheard someone talking about cooking with camel dung & someone else whispering about extraterrestrial technology under the arctic ice. I loved it, & will probably never go back.  Read More 
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Farewell, Sunshine

Even though it was only there for a shade over 16 years, the Sunshine seemed so much a part of the neighborhood, even though I suppose when it opened we felt "there goes the neighborhood"—we had the poverty mentality of not deserving or expecting amenities. In any event, it was exciting to see that long-abandoned building in use.

A little history, via EV Grieve:
Built in 1898, the Sunshine Cinema building was formerly the Houston Hippodrome motion picture theatre and a Yiddish vaudeville house. After sitting abandoned for many years, the building was renovated ... with the Sunshine opening on Dec. 21, 2001. Read More 
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Who knew that Macy's has a wonderful Italian restaurant? Stella's has really delicious & elegant food, with a pretty good view out the tall windows. My lunch was enhanced by sharing it with the dynamo Meshell Baker. I profiled her for Ladies Home Journal a couple of years ago & we've become friends. She is a force, my friends!

I don't think I've been in Macy's for 10 years, maybe 20. The last time I was there it was a dirty & dispiriting mess. I had gone to buy sheets & they were all dumped everywhere, dragging on the floor, & no salespeople to ask a question. Now it's clean & upscale. I checked out the swimsuits & they were way out of my price range (although Land's End turns out to be not that much cheaper).  Read More 
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As good a time as any

Hi, Bill! Happy birthday, Teresa!
I've been thinking a lot about a friend whose birthday is today, a wonderful woman who I've seen in person only a couple of times in 30 or 35 years, who I was out of touch with for a long stretch of those years.

Who is, nonetheless, a central person in my life.

That's because we met at The House. I've written about The House a lot, but I'm not sure I've explicitly said that those relationships are so formative that the people who were there & who felt the same will always be in my heart's inner circle. It doesn't matter if we aren't current. I maybe feel it a smidgen more for the 2 or 3 women who were there that summer, who also believed that people could live together in harmony & optimism, who also smoked a lot of pot & took a lot of acid (bonding in its own way), who love me as purely & directly as I love them.

Grateful always.  Read More 
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Carlina Rivera at Middle Collegiate Church on Sunday.
Middle Collegiate Church, seeing Carlina Rivera being sworn in as our District 2 City Council representative. How great to be celebrating among neighbors & activists. So much hope for her.

I met Carlina at an event for Eleanor's Legacy, a group that trains & supports pro-choice Democratic women to run for office in New York State & NYC. It was so obvious that she was a star. I came home knowing I was going to work for her. She has been in politics her whole life, knows everybody, is charismatic, smart, focused. Who knows how far she can go....  Read More 
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Monday Quote

It is in virtue of his own desires and curiosities that any man continues to exist with even patience, that he is charmed by the look of things and people, and that he wakens every morning with a renewed appetite for work and pleasure. Desire and curiosity are the two eyes through which he sees the world in the most enchanted colours…and the man may squander his estate and come to beggary, but if he keeps these two amulets he is still rich in the possibilities of pleasure.” —Robert Louis Stevenson Read More 
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It amazed me that this little being loves me so much & is able to let me know it, mostly by how he likes to sleep.

Taken before he woke up & gnawed on him, using his claws to pin me down.
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I Heart New York

Twice this week a similar incident: A young woman is sure I'm someone else, in one case "Liza," in the other an artist from Skowhegan, Maine.

Nope & nope.

The first time it was at White Columns for Richard Hell's opening, & Elizabeth & I ended up chatting for quite a while as she nervously waited to  Read More 
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Mad Full of Dreams

Kevin, in front, with a couple of the actors, at Anthology Film Archives.
Always a treat to see a new Kevin Baggott film, as usual full of interesting (& well-acted) characters, strange situations, & small mysteries. Oh, and Ireland. Somehow someone (usually Kevin) always ends up sleeping in a ditch on an Irish back road.

He does amazing work on zero budget. Not sure how it would be different if he could afford not to write, direct, star & be the cinematographer too. At least he does have a producer, his wife, Nina Kim, whose dad was featured in this latest, Mad Full of Dreams. Read More 
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On the bus

There are certain rainy evenings that reminds me of when I first moved to New York. Everything was new—even that it got dark early was thrilling. I loved that every street, every block had something I'd never seen before. It was the pleasurable loneliness of being a stranger-by-choice, the scary pleasure of not knowing what my life was going to be.  Read More 
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The beer refreshing

I grew up with Hamm's beer—after all, it's from the land of sky-blue waters, St. Paul. The tom-toms & bear of their ad are still beloved & widely remembered, even though Hamm's was long ago sold to a bigger brewer. Their jingle is in the front of my memory. If you want to watch a commercial from 1956:

Bonus. A bunch of non-PC commercials from around the same time:

Sorry, I still haven't figured out to embed links into the text itself but totally worth it to copy'n'paste. Read More 
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Monday Quote

There comes a time when you have to say, ‘Yes’. When life becomes a ‘Yes’, whatever the cost might be. When we have to take the word back from those who control what will and what will not happen. … We had to say ‘Yes’ to a future of our choosing, and to put words out there to wake the dead … to shatter the illusions that make oppression acceptable. —William Brodrick, The Day of the Lie (a Father Anselm thriller)

In honor of Martin Luther King

& happy 94th birthday to my mother  Read More 
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Lower East Side scene

Ludlow Street.
The art instinct's in all of us. Making even garbage pretty. Lawn flamingoes. Thank goodness Manhattan doesn't have—I'm not sure what they're called but—restrictions on what colors you can paint your house, what you can name your kid (they do in Italy & France & probably lots of places). Freewheeling lower Manhattan suits me.
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Old old old

I really have no problem calling myself old. I read an article that suggested "perennials" for people my age, given that we Boomers don't like being "seniors," "oldsters," "sages," or even "senior citizens." Me, I'm old & thrilled: I get to ride the subway & buses for half price, & yesterday I got a 100% free membership to the Chinatown Y, 2 blocks away, which has a sauna & pool, as well as classes & all the gym equipment I need.  Read More 
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I first took notice of the painter Biala, first name Janice I once heard, in connection with Ford Madox Ford, but she is terrific in her own right. What a pleasure to see the well-chosen show at Tibor de Nagy yesterday. Several small paintings of bouquets, a few large landscapes, this Bonnard-esque interior-exterior. Her work is self-confident in the way of someone with nothing to prove.

Tibor de Nagy's principal, Andy Arnot, said Biala was Ford's literary executor. I wonder what happened to his daughters. Did they have any connection to his estate later in life? I wonder how I can find out more than their birth & death dates.

But that's mostly idle curiosity,  Read More 
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Fight fight fight

Every once in a while, I am struck by the joy of kumite, the fighting part of karate. I'm not particularly good at it: I'm not quick, I can't really kick, I only have a couple of moves, I don't bother with defense. My only advantage is that I'm fearless—I'll fight anyone & figure  Read More 
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Art wars

Hundreds, thousands, of artworks were stolen during the Nazi era. Most have not been returned to their rightful owners. These are works by Matisse, Kirchner, Rodin, Cézanne, Dürer, Brueghel, and others, much of it what the Nazis called "degenerate" art, which didn't stop them from stealing & enjoying it. This makes me think  Read More 
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Monday Quote

"The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do." —Galileo

Which goes with the great Ray Charles song "Lucky Old Sun":
But that lucky old sun got nothin' to do
But roll around heaven all day.
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My mother the ...

With the death of Jerry Van Dyke I'm reminded that he starred in My Mother the Car, the show that TV Guide called the second-worst of all time, after The Jerry Springer Show. I guess my family (or maybe just my dad) had a corny sense of humor, because I remember us watching it with some amusement, although it's highly possible that my memory is suspect. (Not a general admission!)

Almost the first conversation I had with Johnny Stanton was about that show's title. I was outraged at his claim that it was My Mother-in-Law the Car (on the grounds that  Read More 
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The long slide

First a wild morning walk in Prospect Park. It made me think of how empty it can be where I come from, so unlike busy Manhattan. Later, frolicking in Tompkins Square Park with 10-year-old Sylvie, who somehow cajoled me into going down a snowy slide. That reminded me of my father—younger than I am now—going down a slide in a playground in Dell Rapids. He flew off the end, injuring his tailbone & losing his cufflinks Read More 
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Bomb Cyclone

"Bomb cyclone" storm.
When I was a kid in South Dakota, the local paper, the Argus-Leader, once per winter would run a picture on the front page of someplace south of us (I remember it as always being Enid, Oklahoma, but I suppose they changed it from year to year) that was paralyzed by what to us was an absurdly small amount of snow. This photo from Charleston, SC, reminded me of that. My South Carolina friend was a little indignant when I told him I'd practically gotten a hernia in my jaw laughing at the hysterical language ("wallop" "ventured out" & "dump" on a different pic). And I do know, as he pointed out, that it's unusual for them to get snow & they don't know how to handle it. I nonetheless find it funny, because a lot of snow seems like the natural way of things—one of those things so obvious in childhood that you never quite can believe elsewise. Our school superintendent in Sioux Falls would only authorize a snow day if  Read More 
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