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From the vault III

Everyone felt sorry for him for having a girlfriend who would put up with behavior like his.

Is this the smartest thing I ever said?
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From the vault II


I read all
the way
page 1

[this is repurposed from a much longer & spectacularly bad work called "Sluts Like Us," by me & Alex Neil, with input from Lina Todd, dated 3/23/86]
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Stayin' up

Stay positive, El.
Take a deep breath & let it out.
I believe people are good.
I believe they will come to their senses.
I believe most people want the best for others as well as themselves.
I believe they can see through a con man, liar, trigger-happy sociopath.
Stay positive.

Even if  Read More 
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Look! My bro!

Charlie in upper right, clapping.
Here's Charlie at the Democratic National Convention, listening to Minnesota Senator Al Franken, along with the Minnesota delegation. He got me credentials but I woke up sickly & puling & I don't think I can get to Phillie today. Will try.
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325 Walton Lane, Liverpool, England

This is my mother's childhood home. Very moving to go there with her cousins Hazel and Pat, all of whom grew up nearby & remembered random things about their grandad & grandmum—which room Joyce slept in, breakfasts, the knickknack store. It is and it isn't part of me, but then I no longer know if my own childhood home is or isn't me. Her father and grandparents are buried across the street in the huge Anfield Cemetery.  Read More 
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From the vault

Inspired! Probably taken around the time I wrote this.
Before and After

I used to walk around
    but now I sit around
I used to lie around
    but now I lie a lot
I used to tie my shoes
    but now I wear star socks
I used to drive a car
    but now I park my car
I used to have a cat
    now I have a canary
I used to be a book
    but now I am an exit
I used to be Boston
    but now I’m Elizabeth
                    New Jersey
I used to be a shortstop
    but now I’m underhanded
I used to be a Patsy
    but now I’m Ruby

3/85 Read More 
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"You mean J— is a crackhead and she still didn't lose any weight?"

"Yeah, all she lost were her teeth."
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Sad story

The bag wasn't there at first.
It was on an empty seat.

I saw it & exchanged a look with a lady. So tragic!

There was one shoe under the bench.
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Steve Carey

I've been scanning & typing a bunch of old works. This is one out of a handful of everything I've ever written that I still wouldn't change (except Woodlawn to Westwood Village). I still miss him.

A Wonderful Day

“loving them both so in a northern town”

Here is what happened on August 12: Read More 
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Bearded lady

Today is the feast day of Saint Wilgefortis, also known as Uncumber, Kummernis, Komina, Comera, Cumerana, Hulfe, Ontcommene, Ontcommer, Oncommer, Dignefortis, Eutropia, Reginfledis, Livrade, Liberata, and so on.

Her legend arose because people no longer recognized a crucified long-haired man as Jesus and thought the pictures were of a martyred woman. The story  Read More 
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I Heart NY VI

I'll stop this series soon, I suppose, but I'm having such a good time writing about all the encounters that make a hot summer in New York City a pleasure.

I assumed that if I sat on a bench on Second Avenue & St Mark's Place, someone I knew would come by.

First, Stu, who lives in  Read More 
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I love that he looks intelligent. And slim.
Every once in a while I just have to show you my little tureen. He is so patient & ignores us yelling at him when he indulges his foibles, such as knocking a cup of coffee over the kitchen table, or biting our toes when he's hungry during the night. Sweet little Buster!  Read More 
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I Heart NY V

Hey, beautiful hair! someone called. You know how you know when a street remark is directed at you. I looked around. She continued to compliment it & asked how I got the lavender color in.

It's not all that unusual for people around town to stop me & admire my long silver-purple hair. Generally, though, it's an older man "I love when women don't dye their hair!") or women my age who lament their own too-short too-thin too-whatever hair.

This time it was a girl in her 20s. Not only that, a Crusty girl in her 20s. The Crusties  Read More 
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I Heart NY IV

Alisa & I had a great long breakfast catch-up at B&H and were beginning our goodbyes on the sidewalk outside our favorite diner. An older lady stopped, possibly purposely, near us. I waited but Alisa plunged right in (her best quality). That's a great umbrella! she said.

It was: purple & beflowered.

The lady said,  Read More 
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I Heart NY III

Johnny's number came up on my phone. Hey, Boo! I answered.

A different man's voice greeted me.

Panic: I simultaneously tried to make that voice be Johnny's & freaked out that he'd been once again hit by a car.

The man said he was at the bus stop on 2nd Avenue & 9th St, had found Johnny's iPhone,  Read More 
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I Heart NY II

Also, I ate this peach.
Today's encounter: I was walking my bike up 5th St to my office. The sidewalk is narrow there, & a young woman walking toward me & I both edged aside.

We're so polite! she said, & then we both exaggerated it: After you! with sweeping bows.

Then came the pause where one decides whether to go on.

I lived in California for 8 years, she said. People smile big but it was "fuck you" behind your back.

I'm from the Midwest, I said: the origin of politeness.

New York is straightforward: we do it or we don't, but there's no honeyed tones & last-minute "my grandma died, can't follow through."

And that was that. We were pleased & then we were finished. Read More 
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I was listening to McTell's "Razor Ball." Usually I wait for him to say that the Yale girls say Hahr, hahr, in a snooty East Coast imitation, but today I noticed him repeating "play it low & lonesome," & I thought of Bill Monroe's "high lonesome" & wondered if there's any connection. I suppose not, not that McTell & Monroe don't both play their blues.  Read More 
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Albert Bennett of Morton Street

Albert on the roof of Village Care in the West Village
Johnny's roommate at rehab was 90-year-old Albert Bennett, who had all his hair & hearing, so it was hard to believe he was 90. He also had wonderful, attentive friends—I could see why, given that I fell in love with him right away.

A fourth-generation Californian, he is originally from a well-to-do enclave in Oakland, where his writer-aunt Harriet Levy introduced Gertrude Stein to Alice B. Toklas. His mother's letters home from her year (1912) in Paris meeting Picasso, Matisse, among others, were  Read More 
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The High Line

Johnny's sister & niece in town for a few days, & we chose the hottest day of the week to stroll the High Line. I was struck again by how wonderful it is that someone thought of making an elevated park out of an abandoned railbed.

Maureen (& Johnny) grew up in Manhattan, on the Irish Upper East Side, and had almost never been to the West Side. This West Side, full of construction & tourists, is nothing like it was even 15 or 20 years ago, let alone more than 50 when she left, a young bride, getting started on having seven children in 10 years.

She & Mary are full of curiosity & appreciation—the best visitors you could hope for.

 Read More 
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What I'm reading II

Leap, by Terry Tempest Williams. Environmentalism, spiritualism, Mormonism, family—and Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights. One of the stranger books I've read, mostly riveting & brilliant, sometimes maddeningly tangential, although I trust her to wander back to something I can ground myself in. Seeing the Bosch in the Prado was a  Read More 
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And now what

The shooting, by cops, of a lovely young man, in St Paul, where my siblings live, hits close to home.

As my sister said, since when is a busted taillight a capital crime?

"When you're not white" seems to be the correct, & awful, answer.

Were the police always trigger-happy?

What do I do besides feel & express outrage, sorrow, fury?

Am I wanted as an ally? What does being an ally mean?

And then...?

Friday Update: And then: Five cops killed by snipers, in Dallas, at a peaceful rally. Has everyone gone mad?  Read More 
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Albert O. Hirschman

One day a month or two ago a box arrived, containing an 800-page biography of Albert O. Hirschman (1915–2012), someone I'd never heard of. My friend Bessie in Idaho had sent it. I read whatever she tells me to, so I plunged in. She is psychic—she always hits on exactly the book I need to be reading, exactly the  Read More 
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Uff Da

I'm walking down Second Avenue.

Excuse me, says a young woman who is seated at an outdoor café. Can I take your picture?

She gestures to my shirt, which reads:
What part of UFF DA don't you understand?

I see that shirt all the time in Slovenia, she goes on, but I never knew what it meant.

She doesn't have an accent.

My sister sends me a lot of gifts from the Scandinavian heritage shop in Fargo. I tell her uff da is Norwegian for oy vey, she snaps her photo, thanks me & I walk on, wondering about the Norwegians of Slovenia.  Read More 
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We drove down to D.C. to see the fireworks. It was a Sunday. I'd never been in the nation's capital for its biggest holiday. We got there & the loudspeakers were repeating that the 4th of July would be observed this year on the 5th of July. We were already disaffected hippies & this made us furious (as did everything we didn't like in those days). We turned around & went home (to Severn, Maryland).

New York has much better fireworks, I'm sure, although  Read More 
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Johnny update

Enough hardware to build a yacht—these anchors & scaffolding go deep.
He was in the hospital & then he was in rehab & then he came home. Now he's been to the surgeon, who's cleared him to use a cane (no more walker) & go out unaccompanied. He can do as much at the gym as he can manage, & since he's a gym rat, he knows his limits. I don't worry that he'll overdo it, & I'm getting over my worry that since he's not longer home or with me every minute, he'll get hit by a truck.

Let summer begin!  Read More 
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I'm baaaaaaaaack

These last few weeks have been the first time in my life that I barely wrote. My feeling is that I barely did anything but first sit with Johnny for hours on end, then help him (shop, feed, fetch), then walk with him slowly & slightly less slowly. In reality, I did some money work, did a  Read More 
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