Out of the blue, I got a message from someone named Ma Yongbo, who is a Chinese translator & poet. He has translated 3 anthologies, Moby-Dick, & lots more. He sent me images of some of my poems. One is about baseball. Is that familiar in China? Yes, there is a small but genuine interest, it seems. China had a professional league from 2002-2018. Still, does it translate? Another baseball poem of mine (or possibly the same one) was translated into French for an anthology there & my fluent friend made many corrections of nuance & fact. Anyway, it's pretty cool that people in China have access to a little of my work!
A tough & protective & guileless man, a designer & artists, a good friend & karateka. Died in Maine, not clear exactly what happened. Drowned? We'd been talking about Maine a few days earlier. Go to the Farnsworth, I insisted. He loved the lake, & wasn't sure he would leave it, even to see great art. We started our outdoor karate review when he was going for a promotion a couple of years ago & we've kept it up ever since. It's become such a tight family-within-the-Seido-family & he was still very much a part of it. A good guy.
As Member 16,394 of the Cloud Appreciation Society (there are at least 3x as many now), I almost can identify this cloud. Cloud watching is the least demanding hobby I can imagine. All you have to do is look up once in a while. I'm fine not knowing the names of the clouds. Like them, I drift along mild & aimless.
At last a breezy day when we could sit on the roof. The nice thing about my new reclining chair is seeing so much sky while I'm comfortably stretched out. Today it's back to intense heat & humidity. Oh well, one glorious day was worth a whole summer of gasping.
In 2009, Kalaallisut became [Greenland's] one and only official administrative language. With this move, Greenland achieved a unique position: the only country of the Americas, from Canada all the way down to Chile, where the indigenous language doesn't play second fiddle to that of its colonial master.
~ Gaston Dorren
Lingo: Around Europe in Sixty Languages
I love this kind of breezy, quirky survey. So many languages I've never heard of, right there in Europe.
The summer that Ted died (1983), Alice (widow), Anselm & Edmund (sons), & I (driver) somehow became the family Tubb. We stayed one night at a motel in Bridgehampton, what we thought was the cheaper Hampton, but after we paid for one room for the 4 of us, we only had enough money to sit by the pool & get a single order of fries. I guess we were Tubbs because being ourselves was too painful that year. Or did we go out there to see his grave in nearby Riverhead? Was that the time we went bowling? We would get in my big Ford LTD late summer nights & drive over the bridge & across Brooklyn, counting up the fried chicken stands: Kennedy fried chicken, Place fried chicken, King Royal fried chicken. We never stopped at any of them.
Two days ago, I read, was the hottest day EVER in the history of the world. I forget how they know that. Not doubting it. Ever summer gets less bearable & I live in a moderate zone. Or so they say. Will there soon be none of those left? People really don't "believe in" climate change? Well, you don't have to believe in something for it to ravage you.
I've always been somewhat out of step with my friends on the left, who seem to think patriotism is the same as nationalism. That flag-wavers are by definition conservative. (Why should they coopt all the symbols, damnit?)
When I say I am grateful to live here, they call the U.S. a shit country. When I encourage people to see the USA, they buy tickets to Europe. My father would almost certainly have been murdered if he hadn't managed to get here ~ how can I feel anything but gratitude? The U.S. takes in far & away the largest number of immigrants of any country. Why do so many people from so many places make such an effort to be here? Despite our problems (yes, of course I see them: a patriot isn't a fool), I believe in our democracy, in our human bonds, in our natural beauty, in our willingness to change, in our efforts to right things (too slowly, too timidly, too little but we try).
The reason they speak with such disdain, I think, is because their familial and individual education & wealth, provides them with the kind of privilege that always seems to blind people to their advantages, in this case making it possible for them to imagine emigrating to places most refugees & migrants can only dream of. That's the only reason they think they can do better, because they don't need America the way most of the world does.
This is the start of a discussion, I would say. Putting it out there so I can keep thinking.
40 years ago, July 4, 1983, Dave Righetti pitched a 4-0 no-hitter for the Yankees against the Red Sox & Ted died.
The heart stops briefly when someone dies,
a quick pain as you hear the news, & someone passes
from your outside life to inside. Slowly the heart adjusts
to its new weight, & slowly everything continues, sanely.
—Ted Berrigan from "Things to do in Providence"
A week or 2 later I dreamed Ted called me & said it was boring being dead & he was done with it & what had he missed. I could only think to tell him about Righetti's no-hitter. And how desperately sad everyone was but I felt shy to say that now that it was over.
I have lived long enough: my way of life
Is fall'n into the sere, the yellow leaf;
And that which should accompany old age,
As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends,
I must not look to have.
It's too hot. The air is bad. I'm planning to find some reasons to keep going. Any minute.
This is so lovely. A quiet life. A life well lived & well written about. You'll be glad you took a look.
It was Austin Kleon who brought it to my attention & it's what made me subscribe to his media empire. He has a really good free newsletter too. He writes breezy, encouraging books about being an artist. I like him.
I've written many times about how much I love fireworks, for being beautiful & democratic (all you have to do is look up) & because I have so many associations throughout my life with good times & fireworks. So I am heartbroken that so many people are vigorously opposed to them, & for the very good reasons that they scare animals & are a fire danger. Don't take away birthdays! It's all I have left. Slinks to her hole.
Jeremy, the best physical therapist in the world (& also, formerly, the best pilates instructor) gave me a diagnosis yesterday: trochanteric bursitis/gluteal tendinitis, which basically means inflammation in my hip (don't make me look at it, Jeremy! don't make me think about it too closely!). He gave me dos, don'ts & exercises, along with the very cheering prognosis of 4-6 weeks till it's a sad memory. I hadn't seen Jeremy in ages, & the amputation was totally worth it to get to hang out. If you need PT in NYC, hit me up for his info.
Got a member's preview of the Whitney's new show, Inheritance, the other day. Lots of interesting art but the concept seemed limited to the effect (inheritance) of slavery & racism in the United States, with a bit about pregnancy. Very literal. Not sure exactly what I was hoping for but something more complex than this.
The doctor sent me the means to do a colon cancer screening without having to get a colonoscopy. I walked outside a day or 2 ago & the box was on my step. Not in my building ~ outside on the step. I'm amazed it was still there. I called Cologuard to let them know that the delivery service was whack. Maybe no one took it, I suggested, because of "Human Specimen." She laughed: "I get 4 to 5 calls a month from people who left their box out for pickup & porch pirates grabbed it." She added: "They deserve what they get." Maybe the thieves are hoping that someone is shipping valuables & using a box like that to throw them off the scent.
A book on the shelf is worth two in the hand.
(I said that.)
There are a lot of us who want to own & have books as much as we want to read them. We're not hoarders, we're optimists. The books we haven't read don't disappoint. The ones we buy are pure possibility.
Fun to start the holiday season ~ 2 1/2 months early! ~ by holding our annual shofar review. No new prospects so we ended up mostly talking about procedures & legal requirements. In person? (Yes!) Is there any reason you shouldn't eat before you blow shofar? (I don't know why this came up, as I've never heard anyone suggest you can't, but we will find out.) Jews can nitpick about anything. It seems like a simple thing, to blow the world's oldest musical instrument, the horn of a ram. The blowing itself isn't difficult but there are quite a lot of laws, intentions, & customs concerned with shofar blowing: it is the central event in our High Holidays.
I was going to follow up yesterday's medieval ship with today's horrifying "submersible" & the 5 rich men who died gawking at the Titanic vs. the hundreds of refugees who died in a sinking boat without anyone trying to resuce them. But that got driven out of my head by the Authors Guild deciding to "refresh" the look of my blog, which apparently means killing off my old look. I hate how it looks now but have had no luck changing it back or to something that looks better. Ugh.
& the start of the long slide to Christmas, as a long-ago friend used to say. His way of parking, which often worked, was to drive right up to the front rather than grab the safe one; he often got a very close spot. We called it the Jon-Eric Child theory of parking. Just a guy, a high school friend of someone I dated. As ever, I'm interested in what sticks in my memory & what doesn't, like the name of a boy I dated around that same time. I remember his big head, his very blond hair, & that he was from the Philadelphia Main Line. I had his name for decades & then one day a couple of years ago it was gone, unretrievable (so far). Who were all those people I have loving, intimate letters from & no memory of? I even found a letter I wrote that said "when I was living in XX," a town I would swear I'd never heard of. I know it's OK not to remember everything. I know it's OK not to know everything. But I also am sure it's sitting there in my head, shoved behind a stack of unimportant data. I don't know why it drives me crazy when I can't come up with facts. It drives me about as crazy what I do remember as don't.
Here in the present is the past: a 500-year-old ship found buried in mud in a Welsh shipyard, where a nautical archaeologist is reassembling its 2,500 pieces. It was beautifully constructed, of oak, with axes and mallets, rather than saws. "We think of the medieval age as a bunch of peasants. But the people who built this ship were master craftsmen." Exact nail patterns. Complete consistency, mirrored port to starboard. "We haven't found any mistakes," says Toby Jones, curator of the Newport Medieval Ship Project. Built in Spain almost 600 years ago, it carried wine to England.
Read more in The Washington Post or go all in with The World of the Newport Medieval Ship: Trade, Politics and Shipping in the Mid-Fifteenth Century.
Young people longed to change the world, regardless of the cost to themselves or others. Older people longed for the world not to change so there would be no cost to themselves.
~ Donna Leon, author of the Brunetti detective novels, set in Venice. From So Shall You Reap, 2023
I remember having nothing to lose & how once you do (or think you do) how you get more conserving of your money/privilege/memories/power/whatever it might be. Change does now seem like I would lose rather than gain. Not sure when that happened or happens in general but I certainly have to admit it happened to me.
How did I never hear such an obvious joke before? Corny but cute.
I saw this on my way to see a movie at 9:30 in the morning! And it was free! And it was great! And they gave everyone a t-shirt! It was the latest Wes Anderson, Asteroid City, very stylized & beautiful &, well, corny but compelling. Riveting. He's moving way up in my pantheon that mostly contains Preston Sturges, John Ford & a couple of Archers films. Reminds me of Tristram Shandy, in that way Sterne had of joy at his own powers of creation.
A sentence from Joyce's Uluysses, chosen randomly from the book always at hand:
And there rises a shining palace whose crystal glittering roof is seen by mariners who traverse the extensive sea in barks built expressly for that purpose and thither come all herds and fatlings and first fruits of that land for O'Connell Fitzsimon takes toll of them, a chieftain descnded from chieftans.
Fra bølle til bestevenn (From Bully to Best Friend) is a Norwegian dog training show. I only started watching it to listen to the language & improve my comprehension but I've come to really dig the trainer Maren, who's kind, no-nonsense & very pretty. Each season follows a handful of problematic dogs whose owners learn techniques to improve everyone's lives. They spend a few days at training camp, & part of the fun is see homes and nature around the country.
Previously I watched a couple of sitcoms and Ikke spør om det (Don't ask about that), where members of various groups (politicians, Muslims, Downs, clairvoyants) are asking embarrassing/probing questions. That was a fun one.
The Word-Hord: Daily Life in Old English, by Hana Videen, is one of my favorite books of the decade. The words she gives us, drawn from food and drink, learning, working, relationships, health, and more, "tell a story about the English language, how the language of Beowulf morphed into the words and phrases we use today. They also reveal piece by piece the history of the people who inhabited early medieval England, how they worked and played, imagined and prayed—the history of their thoughts."