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NauenThen

Musing on corruption

The plaid suit only enhances Brian Donlevy's thuggish charm. With Akim Tamiroff & someone else. 

Two movies have come into my mind lately as I watch our president's last con—claiming fraud, he commits fraud in fund-raising post-presidency bucks. 

 

One of the movies is Preston Sturges's terrific The Great McGinty, my first favorite Sturges film, which I saw so many times that I finally had enough. I'm not surprised that someone else got there first with an analysis. And here's a piece from 2010, long before anyone was linking the movie with you-know-who. 

 

The other is The Producers, which also got the tRump treatment, with Jimmy Kimmel's Trumped

 

Feeling the first steps away from despair... maybe....

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Snow!

More snow than we got all of last year. 

I lay in bed last night looking out the window, watching the snow, remembering my first winter in Maine. I was 20 or 21, living at "Idiot's Point" in the little town of Prospect with 4 others. The first big New England snowstorm, one of the guys & I went for a long tramp in the pine woods, lost/not-lost, exhilarated, breathless.We came home to fresh bread & soup. I still remember tearing into that hot bread with complete satisfaction. Still one of the most vivid & happy memories of my entire life. There was probably butter.

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The best store in the universe

Raygun! They union-make witty, snarky, political t-shirts, postcards, magnets & more. I get all my Midwest gear from them, & you should too! Sioux York—yeah, that's from Raygun. London: the Sioux Falls of Europe—yup, also Raygun. Practically every day they have a new item, it seems, commenting on the news or just being funny. 

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Middle Collegiate

I can't even bear to take a photo of the almost nothing that's left after last week's fire. i know a church is not its home, anymore than the book is its words, but it's hard to see it open to the sky. That's a hard-luck block. I happened to be out very early the day of the fire, which we could smell from our apartment. Fire trucks everywhere. A guy in a cherrypicker (is that what it's called?) aiming a gigantic hose right into the church. I remember when St Mark's steeple burned in the late 70s. The only thing that might make me feel OK about 2020 is if it really does snow—I mean a LOT—this week....

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Monday Quote

Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much; wisdom is humble that he knows no more. 

~ William Cowper

 

Isn't it both? Part of being proud of how far you've come is learning how far you have to go. When I had learned a little—of karate, of Norwegian, you nane it—the moment where I could see that I had gone from zero to 30 (say) was quickly followed by the realization that 30 was at best a very, very small portion of what there was to learn. I can be proud: I did learn something, I was no longer at dead zero. And humble: the vast unexplored world! 

 

One of the things they say when you earn your black belt in karate is that now you know enough to begin to learn. That was astonishingly, literally accurate. Everything I had absorbed mechanically now began to make sense. Proud & humble. 

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Poem of the Week

On Joe's Birthday, a Collaboration with Steve Carey

 

or stunned with numerous local papers

where the buttered world has carried us

the ash fallen off the cigarette

in days so careless we had millions of health in the bank

just as I dreamt it

the dream of restoration

upstairs the man has come back

& all I can do is step over

a fluttering of clues

a calendar of conditions

for reappearance —

it is green all around

there is love all around

in a northern town

 

 

Elinor Nauen

August 13, 2020

published December 13, 2020, on what would have been Steve's 75th birthday.

Steve Carey, Poet (1945-1989)

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In the neighborhood: Clouds

As a member in good standing of the Cloud Appreciation Society, I should be able to tell you what these are. I have books that ID clouds, but I don't feel like getting up to look for them. Nice, yeah? 

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"Ha det" to Norsk class

Last night was the last class of my Norwegian course. We sang holiday songs in norsk, drank gløgg (mulled wine) (some of us), & many people displayed their Norsk holiday treasures, like nisser (gnomes) & those beautiful sweaters. 

 

I definitely have learned a lot & am eager to start Norwegian IV in early February + talk & listen more.

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Snow!

I know it doesn't look like a lot, but it's more snow than we got all of last winter. I was happy to go for a walk, & didn't even mind losing my St. Paul Saints baseball cap—jamming it down over a knit cap didn't work & no luck retracing my steps. I cheered up so much being out with flakes coming down, & nice to run into Shelley on her bike. Not sure she realized it was snowing. 

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In the neighborhood

Oh look, here's another one of Annie Silverman's posters. (See my November 24 post.)

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Monday Quote

Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die. 

~ Herbert Hoover

 

Today is just one of many days that should live in infamy. 

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Cats & blood

 

I'm exhausted from 2020, which started with the death of our cat Buster & today (not quite the end) included a battle royale with our cat Lefty. Buster let me cut his nails but Lefty used his to spill blood when I tried. I'm afraid to go home. Is he still mad? I don't think I gave my mother such a hateful look even when I was a teenager as Lefty threw at me after we gave up. Had to—Johnny looked like a homicide victim. 

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Our house

Now that Johnny is doing better, I can say how worried & stressed I've been. What caused the many falls that sent him to the ER? No one is sure. The eyedrops he was allergic to? Something that didn't show up on all the X-rays, CT scans, MRIs & in blood & physical tests he was subjected to for 3 weeks in the hospital & rehab? My money at the moment is on his haste, because now that he is finally(!) being careful, things have gone OK. 

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How karate saves my life

My friends encourage me. 

They push me.

They don't let me bail. 

I move my body. 

It works the kinks out of my bad knee. 

It's something to talk about other than politics & disease. 

It distracts me from my flailing & worry. 

My friends don't judge my lame-o (& lame) kicks. 

We look bad-ass. 

They are serious so I am serious. 

I get freshh air.

I get out of the office. 

I get off my block. 

 

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Up on the roof

I love New York. I love my neighborhood. I love this sweet old world, even when it's a bit salty. 

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Operation Decoy

I can't tell if my brother-in-law is in this picture, but he was part of an early 1960s attempt by the NYC police department to trap rapists & muggers by having male cops dress up like women. I don't think that was when he shot his trigger finger off & had to retire. 

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Monday Quote

The limits of my language mean the limits of my world. 

~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

 

And as I learn more & better words, my world expands. As i learn more languages, my appreciation of the world improves. 

 

Is this article connected? It's about reading in your dreams & suggests that only poets do so. 

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Up on the roof

As the days get shorter, the entertainment options expand. Ya got your grill, ya got your high-class TV. Dang, we could live up here. 

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In the neighborhood

ATM on First Ave & 6th Street.

One more look at some of the color in the East Village. It never gets old to see what people are up to. I like how mysterious so much of what I see is. They're not trying to communicate, at least not with me. Maybe none of this would be mysterious if I were in the know. I thought that sticker top left "SNKR" was short for the Norwegian word that means speaks, "snakker." I also this week started to answer someone in norsk.

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My traditional Thanksgiving poem

I don't write many occasional poems, which I suppose is why I like to go with this one every year. 


Thanksgiving Almost Found Poem

 

Many years we go to my grandmother's in Virginia. 
My mother, father, aunts and at least two of my brothers are there. 
My son has a football game that morning. 
My daughter is home, but needs to get back to school this weekend. 
My wife doesn't want to ride for nine hours and turn right back. 
Sometimes I have gone alone, but not often. 
A couple of neighbors were vying for our company.
One of those my daughter's boyfriend's family, 
Which we did last year and had fun.
But this year it will be another family,
One we have visited on two or three other Thanksgivings. 
I have a turkey freezing in the garage.

Nothing to do with it.

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In the neighborhood: good enough

This boarded-up door on 10th Street is the plumber's crack of handywork. I kind of love seeing the indifference of the workman, who's fine with getting the job done unbeautifully. I myself am like that about a lot of things, & come from a long line of women who throw stuff into the bathtub when unexpected guests arrive. 

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In the neighborhood: Be mighty!

Arise. Awake. 

BEGIN AGAIN

 

I am once again enjoying walking around my neighborhood, seeing the creativity bursting out. All the anons pouring their passion into these posters & more. 

 

Update: That phoenix poster isn't anonymous at all but was made by my old friend, the brilliant artist & printmaker Annie Silverman, who lives in Massachusetts. 

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Monday Quote

The French language is a woman. And that woman is so beautiful, so proud, so modest, so bold, so touching, so voluptuous, so chaste, so noble, so familiar, so mad, so wise, that one loves her with all one's soul and is never tempted to be unfaithful to her. 

~ Anatole France (1844-1924), quoted by Ostler in Empires of the Word, who notes this as "characteristically self-conscious & self-regarding," I think of the French in general & not France in particular. 

 

I feel like I am more immersed in English when I study other languages, & see their influence & variants. It's really such a silly thing to say. Unless you're French.

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JFK

I remember I thought the girls on the playground were joking until they told the strict teacher. I remember we got out early. I remember running home, so scared for my country. I remember it was the day of the funeral of my mother's friend, Estelle Steinberg. I remember my mother almost crashing into another car when she threw up her hands when the news came on the car radio. I remember knowing that the other driver figured out later that day what had happened & how my mother was an anonymous part of her story forever after. I remember my mother gasping when Lee Harvey Oswald got shot on national TV. I remember how everyone in the Midwest imitated & enjoyed Kennedy's way of saying "vigah," which probably isn't the way anyone in Massachusetts really says it. I remember not believing places like New England or D.C. were real but not having doubts about Texas. 

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Poem of the Week

Tiny Instructive Poem

 

Between the cat & the fat

the claws & the jaws

all my clothes

are full of holes

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