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Coney Island II

Me, I had & have zero interest in going on any roller coaster. When I was 19, I decided I needed all my luck for some of my other dangerous pursuits & didn't want to waste it on surviving a ride. I've never been on a roller coaster but I also have little desire for manufactured endorphins. And the older I get, the less I want to be in any sort of stressful situation, even a controlled one. I'm sure there's a basic difference between people who like rides & those who don't. I wonder if it's the same as the difference between people who want weddings & people who want to be married. A ride seems like a wedding ~ a big deal that's over in a flash, while a marriage holds constant, unpredictable thrills. 

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Coney Island

I with I could have managed to take a picture that included the heat & the noise & the thousands of bodies & the gulls & the screams & the frying food.... 


When I first knew Johnny he convinced me that a button he owned of the man from the Steeplechase ride had been made by his publisher to promote his book. I did think it looked a little like the maniacal Johnny of Mangled Hands.

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What I'm watching

Those dots in the lower left are Jens & Isak on dog sleds. 

I watch a lot of Norwegian television, in order to listen to the language. My current show is called Jens & Isak på tynn is (Jens & Isak on Thin Ice), which follows two guys who go to Greenland partly for adventure, partly to see whether there's much of a traditional lifestyle anymore. There's butchering of walrus & seals & (yikes!) a narwhal...  but there's also all that glorious snow. 


When I asked WillisWeather how soon I can I start complaining that it hasn't snowed yet, he said:

Optimism - Hanukkah
Realism - January 15
Pessimism - Your birthday
Despair - March 15
Hopelessness - April 8


All signs point to a happy winter for snow lovers even if we don't go to Greenland.

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From the vault

And speaking of Willis(Weather)(aka Steve), he sent me this photo a day or 2 ago. I am pretty sure it's from a trip we took in 2011 to Charleston, Savannah, the Okefenokee, & Waycross, the latter only so I could bellow "Miller's Cave" a million times: "I had me a girl in Waycross, Georgia...." The Thunderbird is in Savannah & we had been there together in the 70s, with Forrister. There's not much more to the story than that we have been friends for more than 50 years & there are many little wedges & niches of things we remember together, meaningful mostly because we share them. Like, for example, the other day he posted about crepe myrtle & we both remembered me seeing it for the first time & asking him what it was. I have loved crepe myrtle ever since, & I've loved Steve much longer. 

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In the neighborhood: Mushrooms!

5th Street between 1st & A.

Giant ones in a long arc. They weren't there a couple of days earlier. I guess that's their thing, right? To appear suddenly & settle in. I used to say Johnny was a fungus ~ he grew on me. And settled in.

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The Short Story Book Club

A great invention: a few of us wanted to talk about literature but everyone has plenty of books to read & didn't want to commit to someone else's choice or schedule. And so was born the Short Story Book Club. It's so undemanding that we can meet every other week or so, & everyone's choices are welcome. No one is attached to any particular suggestion because we'll need another one right away. We meet by zoom for an hour or so & chitchat about the story & what to read next, & both are fun. We've read Tennessee, William Carlos, & Joy Williams, Chekhov, "The Lottery" of Shirley Jackson, Sam Shepard, Lucia Berlin, Rachel Kushner, Ottessa Moshfegh, Henry James, Grace Paley ... I'm sure I'm leaving out a few. We all love our little group & we're all learning about writing from figuring out how others do it. 

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Corn & Rivers

Fresh corn! I didn't cook it or put anything on it. Totally delicious gnawed off the cob. 


And the Larry Rivers work, signed to Johnny by "the creator himself" is also a treasure. Johnny was his personal trainer when he was going after the young'uns. 

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In the neighborhood

East 2nd Street, August 13, 2023.

There were boxes of books & these two meticulously mounted & labeled photo displays. I guess someone died. I so badly wanted someone to keep them. The family none of us had. The aunt who had time to assemble these. The stories no one is left to tell or hear. Eddie kept a copy of The Human Comedy & the rest of us looked & left. 

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Monday Quote

The desire of knowledge, like the thirst of riches, increases ever with the acquisition of it. 

~ Laurence Sterne


This struck me because I just sent away for my transcript from my time at City College. I didn't even remember what years I was there, & didn't remember or didn't know I was on the Dean's List. I earned a total of 46 credits! I did go to college! 

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In the neighborhood: what lies behind

The Double Dragon Chinese restaurant in the next block from me closed abruptly a couple of weeks ago. Apparently the two small buildings next to it are going to be torn down & something (hideous) built in their place. The sign went too & I'm trying to remember what was BET(ter?) before Double Dragon. I know it opened since I've lived here. Was that where the bakery was? It was so great to go up to their door, which was open but gated, late at night & get a fresh hot roll or two, often for free. They've been gone for decades. The vegetable stand was in the next block, I think, & the Army-Navy surplus store was on the corner ~ two corners, in fact, 3rd & 4th. Amazing that we supported two identical stores. I wish I had documented the street more thoroughly. 

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Friday is Caturday

Meet Alaska & Niko, my neighbor's 9-month-olds. Still men. She's been camping in Vermont so I've been hanging out with them this week. Cats are so easy to love. 

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I thought I was her daddy

When we moved into a new house in Sioux Falls (across the street from our old one), the girls who lived there before us left a pile of .45s. The girls were Corky & Cindy Winter, who were a couple years older than me. Corky was the homecoming queen of my high school. One of the records was "Cocaine Blues," I think by someone other than Johnny Cash.


OK, I knew what a shot of whiskey was & so "I took a shot of cocaine" didn't faze me. But this line stumped me: "I thought I was her daddy but she had five more." I spent a lot of time pondering it. 


Why did I never ask anyone when I had questions like that? 

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The voice of the turtle

Thinking yesterday about "sun on the beach" made me remember how enthralled I was with the line from Song of Songs (Shir haShirim): The voice of the turtle is heard in the land. I puzzled over that line a lot. Isn't the turtle silent? (Mine have always been.) So nothing is heard? Was it a more gloomy line than it seemed? The explanation was simple ~ it's turtledove, the bird not a reptile ~ but the line remains beautiful & evocative. 


I can remember other confusions....

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Sand on the beach

One more photo from Sunday beach training. This reminds me of a movie my family saw when I was little. 


A man staying in a guesthouse says something about "sun on the beach" & almost gets kicked out by his prim hostess. I remember not understanding what was wrong with saying sun on the beach.


The movie was called, I believe, Mr Hobbs Takes a Vacation. ... Checking... Yes! I'm sure that was it. Stars James Stewart & the gorgeous Maureen O'Hara. 

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Monday Quote

To love is to admire with the heart; to admire is to love with the mind.
~ Théophile Gautier (1811-72), French poet & critic


Nothing to say. it's nice & possibly meaningless or poorly translated. But I like this kind of tidy mobius strip of a comparison. 

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Beach training

One of my favorite Seido events. We leave at 4 & meditate till sunrise. Traditionally, the Japanese honor loved ones who are no longer with us, something I do plenty of. Then we work out. This year was fantastic ~ great weather & as always, the morning (which ends by 8) is capped off with watermelon. 

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Poem of the Week

Zack Berger & I each translated half a dozen poems by each of us into Yiddish & Norwegian, respectively. So there also a Yiddish version but I have to get his permission to post it. 



Tiny Instructive Poem


Between the cat & the fat

the claws & the jaws

all my clothes

are full of holes



Lite lærerikt dikt

Mellom katten og fettet

klørne og kjevene

alle klærne mine

er fulle av hull

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with complaining about my health


which is fine. 


From here on in I rag nobody


is the great last line from the great novel Bang the Drum Slowly


I used to reread every winter when there was no baseball news


but I haven't read it for a while.


Pretty sure I can lay my hands on my copy. 



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Tom Waits for no man

2/3 of Vicki Kristina Barcelona, Rachelle on the left

How great to hear my old friend Rachelle & her terrific three-woman band Vicki Kristina Barcelona in a neighborhood park last night. Perfect weather & they are great. They sing Tom Waits songs in three-part harmony, with accordion, washboard, & many more instruments. All three have fantastic & distinctive voices; together they are way more than the sum of their parts. 

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Time is on my side?

Turned in articles, sent in invoices, & had a few hours without obligations. Spent most of that time deleting open emails. I don't know how many there were, & still are. I don't know how to keep up with them. It's been months since I had zero unopened in my inbox. I delete as fast as I can but there's always more. No wonder I don't know where I am in time. I mean, I know it's 2023 but it is also 1985 & 1967 & for all I know, 1885 as well. The weird simultaneity that only becomes apparent when you've been an adult for a few decades. It seems so random what I remember to the day (August 2, 1987) & what I can only guess "the 90s?" about. This is often triggered when I see an unfamiliar photo of myself from ages ago, when it's obvious that I'm no longer her, except that I absolutely am. 

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Monday Quote

One belongs to New York instantly. 

One belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.

~ Thomas Wolfe


I can't believe I never say this quote before. It's exactly what happened to me, although I think it might have been 10 minutes. I had never been to New York (or any city, really) & then, snap, I was a New Yorker. That first trip I asked someone who lived in Brooklyn for their area code (which at the time was the same as Manhattan's) & he said, You've been here 1 day & you already know that Brooklyn isn't New York. I loved that. I was a New Yorker. Instantly. I never once wanted to live anywhere else once New York found me. 

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From the vault

Why didn't I make notations on photos? Why didn't I date my poems? I guess I expected to remember everything. Here, Janet & I are goofing around. Why all the sunglasses? Where were we? I think I loved that sweater but whatever became of it? If I had to say, I'm thinking mid-80s, Maine or maybe Nova Scotia. My hair is tucked away ~ that was a good clue for many years: it was calico, creamsicle, magenta, blond. 

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Righteous indignation

I don't usually go to Houston Village Farms on 1st Ave & 4th Street because they were overcharging ("profiteering") during the pandemic but last night Johnny wanted ice cream & it was too hot to walk over to Ave A or 2nd Ave. I was with June & not paying close attention & when the ice cream ($7.99 for a pint + $3.50 for an individual for June) came out to $12.93 I put it on my credit card rather than pay cash. 


When HVF emailed my receipt I discovered that they had charged $1.44 ~ 12.5%! ~ for "tax & fees." I went back this morning & politely told them that "only government agencies, educational institutions, utility companies and rental establishments can charge credit card convenience fees" on AMEX and that New York prohibits credit card surcharges and convenience fees, except for a purchase under $10. I didn't even get to the fact that even if a fee is legit, it's capped at around 3%. 


Nope, they said they could charge whatever they want, it was my fault for not noticing the fee, that I could return my purchase (fat chance! long gone!). Absolutely refused to refund my piddling $1.44. Or give their names for that matter. 


I feel a little sorry for them now. Not only did Amex kick it back right away, but I filed a complaint with the NYC Dept of Consumer Affairs. Turns out their license expired in 2019.... For a really small amount of money, they are likely about to be in big trouble. 


Although truth be told, I would probably still have filed a complaint if they had fallen all over themselves apologizing & refunded the whole $12.93, let alone the $1.44. 

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In the neighborhood: tar beach

Our beautiful new reclining lounge chairs, on the roof of the Pound. But the other day someone took? stole? trashed? the table, TV & other chairs. They're not out back & don't seem to be in the dumpster so I don't know what happened to them. 


It is brutally hot today & I may never get up from in front of my fan. 

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O this universe!

As the Sun said to Frank O'Hara, "you ought to look up more often." I ought to widen my gaze, and here's something the James Webb telescope brought back: worlds in formation. 


This photo shows "sun-like stars being born in Rho Ophiuchi, the closest-star-forming region to Earth. Webb spotted around 50 young stars, many close in mass to our star, giving us a glimpse into the early life of the Sun and allowing us to better understand our own origins."

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In the neighborhood

I too sometimes believe I live in a concrete jungle, but really, plants, trees, flowering bushes, flowers are everywhere.


This is across the street from me. 

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What I'm reading

Fatherland: A memoir of war, conscience, and family secrets is this New Yorker writer's well-written & moving account of coming to grips with the life of his grandfather, a Nazi functionary. Like all too many, both in that war & at any given time, he was part-hero, part-dupe, & part all the other things that make any of us normal human beings. Better than we could be, worse than we wish we were. Recommended: I was forced to think of Nazis as (somewhat) sympathetic, or at least think through their actions with a more open mind than I usually have on this topic.

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Memphis Seoul

A new restaurant is opening up the block, Memphis Seoul, "Southern cookin' with a Korean kick." Yeah, hmm, maybe when Willis is here. Much as I love a traditional "meat & 3" restaurant, not sure I'm ready for this. It's not open yet so I have time to get my stomach & mouth lined up...

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TGI Catday

Meet Alaska & Niko, the newest cats on the 4th floor of the Ezra Pound. That makes 5 on our floor, all male, although these two are more male, at least at the moment, than Lefty, Harry & Jojo, if you know what I mean. They are 9 months old & it sure is fun to play with kittens & watch them learn things. I took care of them for a few days last weekend. Should I make every Friday Catday? What's a blog without cute kitties, after all.

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Computer half-woes

A screenshot of this entry....

My practically brand-new computer is wonky. I spent an hour on the phone this morning with the tech people & it didn't really help & in fact there's new issues, like weird jabs of color when I type in Chrome (like now). Broken letters that filll themselves back in. Damn! I don't have time for the rest of the week to address this.

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