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Chrysler Building and Grand Central, 2016, James Maher.

James Maher, as you can see, is a pretty terrific photographer. He sent a link to download this picture along with this: "The potential uses for the technology for art are fascinating and promising but right now my belief is that it's currently abusing art, putting an overly monetary focus on it, and turning into a scammy pyramid scheme."


So he offered this download-to-print giveaway, then continued: "I also want to use this print giveaway as a way to get everyone to print more ... And there you have it, a .jpeg is a wonderful thing. Now if only I could sell one for $30,000."


How art is commodified is so interesting. Luckily it's nigh-impossible to commodify poetry, although Lew Welch famously (& questionably?) came up with Raid Kills Bugs Dead.


When I used to go caroling, always on the Saturday night before Christmas Eve, always the same route around Columbia, & the same people, & the same flask, & always Chris's flashlight in his nose during Rudolph, & Sheila's beautiful voice, & Ethiopian food at the halfway point, I had a little problem that so many of the Christmas songs referred to Christ. I don't know why it is, but Jews have far less issue with saying "Jesus" than with "Christ." When I came up with the idea to substitute "Chrysler" for "Christ" I could sing loud 'n' lusty. 


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Monday Quote

Even now, at this late day, a blank sheet of paper holds the greatest excitement there is for me — more promising than a silver cloud, prettier than a little red wagon.

~ E. B. White


I feel so exactly the same. The one place I want to be, am happiest to be, is with a pen in my hand & a notebook on my lap. I could forget to bathe, do my work, clean the cat litter, but I never forget to write. 


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Mike Mike Mike!

Over a year since I'd seen Mike, formerly the most popular cook at B&H. He's now managing a cute place called Matto downtown. Everything, including specialty coffees, is $2.50, $2 if you order in the app. I finally managed to jump on my bike & go down there. Why does everything seem far away that you don't go to every day? Even crossing Houston Street seems impossible a lot of the time, & I live 1/2 a block away. Anyway, we had a beautiful reunion. So great to see him thriving, & already the most popular man on John Street. That man has the gift of friendship. 



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Fine dining

Divya's Kitchen, my next-door neighbor.

Here's another example of how the long lockdown has addled my brain. I went out to eat last night with a friend, to Divya's Kitchen. We had a nice outdoor table in a roofed but windowless shed. Food & conversation were just what I needed. Then came the bill. I totally forgot how to tip. Double the tax & round up? A third of the bill for tax & tip? Those pretty much come out the same. Or do they? Then my math skills deserted me. I couldn't add or multiple even the simplest numbers. I still don't know if I undertipped (no such think as overtipping). And it was only 2 people. I am so out of practice! Imagine if I had to recover my flirting skills! 

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Jacket Weather

It's not jacket weather in the least, being in the 70s, but it is indeed Jacket Weather if we're talking about Mike DeCapite's terrific book, out at last from Soft Skull. Has any other novelist been able to break your heart at the exact same moment he's making you laugh till you almost throw up?


Read it! 

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Make your own Brainard

I made this but I didn't really figure out how to do it. Give it a shot yourself! 

This "Make Your Own Brainard" is totally great & makes me realize (1) how really good at this Joe was & (2) how impatient & unimaginative I am when confronted by directions, let alone images rather than words. 

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My wise & kind friend Liza just said (slightly edited): 


The death of a loved one, especially one's mom or someone terminally ill, is the ultimate example of that thing about which one thinks "That will be HARD" [& they] are HARD, despite and regardless of how much you "knew" it would be. Like the criteria for "hard" is that you cannot be inoculated from the pain sadness rawness simply by anticipating or knowing people or whatever.


This feeling of heaviness stays despite knowing why or that it will eventually disperse or whatever. 


I feel like one of those teens who has to carry an egg in a pretend pregnancy. You know it isn't real but it's bothersome & distracting nonetheless. 


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Monday Quote

Thoughts, like fleas, jump from man to man, but they don't bite everybody.

~ Stanislaw Jerzy Lecs


Hmm. I think I would just as soon not get bitten by a lot of the ideas that are hopping around. 

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Poetry, after

Yesterday's reading marked the launch of the Network for New York School Studies, a "meeting place for poets, scholars & enthusiasts" of the so-called New York School of poetry. I say so-called because many poets balk at being included (labeled/limited). I dig it, but I'm a communal kind of gal & I don't have anywhere to call an alma mater. The reading was wonderful & it was wonderful to be together with my old friends & colleagues Anne Waldman, Alice Notley, Maureen Owen, Eileen Myles, & Patricia Spears Jones, with whom I've shared so much history & poetry. People were listening, as Alice said. 


Update: If you missed the reading & have any desire to catch it now, here's the link. Worth looking at the transcript, which is rather hilariously inaccurate. 

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Zoom in on poetry (tomorrow)

Poets live from Paris, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Colorado & maybe elsewhere. The launch of a new endeavor to study the (so-called) New York School, which no one but me claims to be part of. 

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Poem of the Week

(possibly still in progress) 


For the Union Dad


shiny as a frog that swallowed a firefly

a tiny car with a large pride flag

an overcoat day makes green greener—


coffee is the most beautiful color


I love gravity

even left-handed gravity

so democratic, except—




I await my husband

hoping to get sparkly together

the "d" is silent, the husband is not 


the clouds another ridge

of mountains

behind the mountains


1985? What year was that?

I don't know about that look

           unless you're going for Amish war bride.


while she just goes around being pretty


your face

must be

in a different



than where

I was looking


what disappears when I do?

moons & Junes & sleepiness & rainbells

the sun is in Barbados for the winter


lamplight in the moonlight

and short dogs growing from aloe plants

rosy-fingered Dante & you were crying

where the winter has gone


everyone felt sorry for him

for having a girlfriend

who would put up with behavior like his


I grew up on a cotton candy plantation

we rock back but we'll roll forward

I lived the life I wanted to.


before the 16th century, it was considered vulgar

to know anything

as intimate as the date of your own birth


don't be getting all big boy on me

not on a day as short as a dollar

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The nerve-wracking nature of tech

First Johnny got a new phone, & it was left to me to assemble the case, which involved a video that I watched more than once, & dozens of parts. But it worked & his nice new phone should be safe from his careless ways. Then I upgraded my iPad so I could take advantage of Fitness+'s new offerings, Pilates & Meditation. But that meant I had to upgrade my apple watch, which meant I had to upgrade my phone, which didn't cooperate at first, possibly because I have used up too much storage, even though I got as much as they had when I bought it. Or maybe because everyone was doing the same thing at once. Anyway, it makes me nervous but eventually it all worked & hopefully I can ignore all these machines again for a while. Imagine if your car had to be upgraded over & over. Cars & computers—the things we don't want to have to think about. 

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Nature green in leg & eye

This little hitchhiker begged to come home with me. He/she/it was enjoying a fall day just as we were. I bet he had great kicks if he was participating in our karate class from the sidelines.

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Monday Quote

The Years like great black oxen tread the world,

And God the herdsman goads them on behind,

And I am broken by their passing feet. 


~ W.B. Yeats, "The Countess Cathleen"


He wrote this when he was in his mid-twenties. How much more he would be feeling it 4 decades later. Or maybe not? Maybe age is most oppressive when we are young & don't know how much we'll get. 

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The Great Aria Throwdown

Sponsored by Dell'Arte Opera, it was an hour of music at the Campos Garden on 12th Street, one of the many building-size community gardens in our neighborhood. Four singers each performed two or 3 songs. By "throwdown" I'd gotten the idea we were going to gong 3 of them off the stage & declare a winner. I quite enjoyed the competitive listening but turned out it was a performance not a contest. Which was fine! 


I love my neighborhood. People DO things. We saw a play in a courtyard on Avenue B ~ we would have watched longer but couldn't quite hear. There's always something to startle & thrill. 

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Shabbat shalom

Shabbat shalom from Sholom, my favorite chabadnik, who has been visiting me for 10 years in a good-humored non-insistent futile attempt to get me to study Tanya, which is a Hasidic text. We read Bereshit this week, the beginning of the Torah, "in the beginning," & this Sabbath, he says, is when we make changes ~ rather like New Year's. Not resolutions as much as leaving ourselves open to transformation. Sounds good! A brand-new me! 

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Thursday in the Park with Sandy

Johnny was there too, lots of laughing, lots of relaxing, & a nice salad. Her jacket is based on work of Joe Brainard. 

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Poem of the Week

Grief Haiku 

An hour or less

stuck in endless service

just to say kaddish





I wrote it & Liza made it a poem. It's someone else's found poem, I guess. 

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If you were the tweezers I keep in my office, & you weren't in the one place I keep them, where would you be? If you were an extra hour of time in my day, where would you be hiding & how can i coax you out? If you were a pile of dry words, how could i set you on fire? ("It only served to w(h)et my appetite, which was already damp.") If you couldn't keep your eyes open, blueberry pie.

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Monday Quote: It takes a heap o' livin' to make a house a home

The scientist is a builder. Collecting scientific data can be compared to gathering stones for a house; a stack of data is no more "science" than a heap of stones is a house. Unstudied scientific results are just a dead heap of stones. 

~ Kristian Birkeland, 1903


Birkeland is a Norwegian scientist who studied and explained the Aurora Borealis. I'm reading The Northern Lights, by Lucy Jago, a fascinating account of science, biography, & Arctic exploration. 

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Up on the roof

Sheesh! Can you see that the left side of the cornice is barely attached? I sent this picture to the landlord, who said, "It's being taken care of." I've been telling him for months, maybe a year. I will feel way worse than he will if it crashes down & hurts anyone. Well, it'll cost him money so maybe he'd feel worse, at that. 

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Longing to be on the go

Will I keep my vow to leave the country every year? Not looking promising for 2021. Will I see the beautiful skyline of Barcelona anytime soon? Eat tapas with my Catalonian sister? Happy birthday, my Mercè, on La Mercè, Barcelona's annual festival, & yes, that's why she was named Mercè. Born any other day, she would have been named ... I forget. 

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Now that it's fall, I can start anticipating winter. To kick off the runup to my favorite season, I watched Ice Ball, a terrific short documentary about harvesting ice in northern Minnesota, featuring explorer Will Steger, & then I joined the American Polar Society. 

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Poems of the Week

I wish I could go do readings in Australia but having poems in this very terrific magazine, The Rochford Street Review, will have to do for now. Tonight starts my next class, Norwegian V (aka Norwegian: Language and Culture), so I'll probably be fixing the heck out of these poems soon enough. I sort of feel like I've gotten up on stage at Carnegie Hall after 6 tuba lessons, before I understand how impossible it is. 

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Weather ball

Minneapolis, 1949.

Not infrequently, I catch myself singing the weather ball jingle. The weather balls were scattered around Sioux Falls, on top of the several National Bank buildings. When we were driving downtown, we would twist our heads out the car window & up to see what was coming. One decoded the colors based on the jingle (which could be heard incessantly on the radio & never wore out its welcome — we sang along every time; call me if you need to hear it!): 

Weather ball, white as snow, down the temperature will go [the melody sank]

Weather ball, red as fire, temperature is going higher [the melody soared]

Weather ball, emerald green, forecast says no change foreseen. 

When colors blink in agitation... there's going to be ... precipitation! 



Those are the utterly correct lyrics, but some people must have grown up in one of the other cities, largely in the Midwest I think, that had weather balls. Sioux City's jingle is pretty much the same as ours — what I remember as "blink" could easily be "flash." Eric Renshaw (Forgotten Sioux Falls) has a lot of info, including stodgy lyrics but also photos; the weather ball was, of course, way more impressive when it was doing its thing.

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