Monday, December 31, 2012

Good Riddance

I'm going to extend the lyric, "So this is Christmas, and what have you done?" and point it at New Year's Eve and myself. What have I done this year? I've been lost.Upheaved. Uncertain of where I should be going, at my fine, ripe age.

I had this experience once before. Such is the penalty for living longer than one should, probably. In the arc that was my twenties, I found myself lost, almost unable to speak, every circumstance an opportunity for awkwardness. I was independent, labouring under the illusion of absent obligation. Somehow, I couldn't manage to form the right words, to be the right person, to make any difference. So, I quit. I started again. Now, I'm in the same exact spot. Perhaps this is cathartic evolution, how it's done. The difference is that today, I don't care. I won't be writing a song about it or waxing philosophical. It's enough that I understand even when no one else does, or knows or cares.
It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to simply say f*ck it. Not enough to insult, but enough to not allow anyone or anything to stop the force of survival from defining one's direction. I just don't have enough time left to thoroughly analyze whatever "it" is - such analyses serves no real purpose except mental masturbation, in the end.

I spent the last month sorting through what turned out to be 27,000 images spanning seven years. I've been taking pictures since I was ten years old, but those are all lost, except for one picture on my daughter eating a giant cotton candy when she was about two. It's a very good picture. It's all I have of her from that time, having lost all my other work to her mother's uselessly vindictive nature. That's fine, I guess, since it would have been another 30,000 pictures to go through. I also have a few snapshots that had been tucked into a book of me and the band in Berlin, thirty-some-odd years ago. It was a shock to seem them so young compared to how they look now: grey, greying, a creased reminder of the road I did not choose, out of fear, mostly, though I coated that over with bravado and the faux maturity twenty-somethings are sometimes wont to project. Those images remind me that the accumulation of experience is ongoing as long as one has the cognizance to do so and that the past, though lamented, should not be lost to memory alone.

Tonight, I spend New Year's alone, quietly sorting through the last of my most recent shooting expeditions, drinking an inexpensive California Zinfandel in conservative quantities, and I realize that I have found a path and that is that I don't have a soul but that I am one. All the things that I am and all that I have done haunt me but are me and will no longer be denied. It's not so bad being alone tonight. I have my thoughts, for now, and I have my dreams and my memories. I remember you and you and you, too. It's quiet here, very quiet, except for the dog occasionally rousing himself, huffing at the door despite my reassurance that there is no one there. I open the door to show him, but he seems unsure. I understand. He sees what I see - ghosts and hopes and time trodding steadily past, one sullen footfall following another, whether there's anyone to hear. I pat him and calm him and he goes to his bed. I wait and work, no longer expecting the phone to ring, no champagne to pour, nor drunken drivers to avoid. It's okay. It's meant to be. It's better this way. I'm fine. Really.

2012 can go to hell and all the rest of it, too. Re-do, just like 1965. Happy New Year, bitches.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Theo stepped through the doors of the Warsaw Hotel and onto a wet sidewalk. He didn't think it had rained and looking up the street, he realised it hadn't. They must have hosed down the sidewalk. He was supposed to meet Alexander Vadimovich at seven. Theo's internal clock insisted it was time for a late lunch, not breakfast in this strangely familiar place. It could easily have been New York or Boston. Still, it was different, he knew, and he suddenly felt very alone even though he knew he was only a cell call away from any one of a dozen people who could make him again feel at ease.

Theo felt stupid for not arranging to meet Alexander in the hotel lobby. He had thought it would have been easier than forcing Alexander to park his car and then come and get him, though he could have called when he pulled up. Are they even allowed to have cell phones in their cars? he wondered. He also felt foolish in his green Land's End parka. Somehow, he expected hills of snow and ice to greet him and instead found the cold threat of a Moscovian winter yet to be fulfilled. He took off one of his brown leather gloves to check his watch - only five after. A Maybach pulled up, but it wasn't Alexander, at least, he didn't think so. This was made clear when the valet starting loading luggage onto a cart from the trunk of the car. The valet then opened the passenger door and out stepped a tall woman wearing a knee-length sable coat and sunglasses. Her hair was a perfect platinum, cascading in lazy waves over the brown fur of her coat, her eyes invisible behind large Chanel sunglasses. She said something to the valet who then leaned into the car. Theo could see he was saying something to the suited driver. She walked toward the lobby door and Theo stepped aside to let her pass. She smiled at Theo and he reflexively smiled back, awkwardly reaching for the door when the valet injected himself between them to do the same. Theo realised he was getting in the way and stepped backwards. "Hey!" Theo spun around, surprised at the sound. "You are Theodore Ruhm?" A man, a few inches taller than he, dressed in a peacoat and scarf, was smiling at him. "Um, yes." Theo answered haltingly, in Russian, burst suddenly from his reverie. "Good. I am Alexsander. Let's go." Alexsander turned and started to walk toward the metro entrance down the street. Theo seemed stuck. Alexsander turned and said, "Well?" He waved Theo toward him."Come!" Theo followed and glanced over his shoulder to see the hotel door closing and the woman gone.

"Hello, Alexsander. Hello!" Theo skipped a bit to catch up to his host. "Where do you have your car?"
"My car? I do not have a car."
"Doesn't the firm give you a car?"
"I do not need a car in Moscow. We have the metro."
Theo was surprised at this. After all, their agenda involved travelling to several places today alone.
"Excuse, Alexsander. Wait - could you walk more slowly please?"
Alexsander stopped abruptly and faced Theo. "Okay. What is bothering you?"
Theo tried to form the idea and translate it into Russian. "I want to ask if we are following the plan for today?"
Alexsander smiled and nodded that they were. "Okay? We can go?"
Theo had found his footing since of the Alexander's sudden appearance. "Let us go to somewhere to discuss the plan so that we are thinking on the same way. Good?"
"Of course. Let's walk, okay?" Only "okay" was in English, but Alexsander sounded as if this was something he said all the time, at the end of every sentence. "We go this way. Come." They turned right and crossed the cobbled street toward an alley.

"Your Russian, it is very poor."
"I studied Russian language in college. It is very difficult language."
"You have accent. This will not help you. Why do you come here? To Moscow?"
"My friends, my bosses, I want to explain, think I will be good help for the company here."
"They are your friends or your bosses?"
"My bosses, I spoke wrongly."
The young Russian switched to English.
"You won't help them so much with your Russian. I can't imagine that your Russian is more bad than my English, so we talk English, okay? Good for me, better for you."
He gave a brotherly smile and Theo smiled back. "Okay. That would be easier for me. Thank you."
"Okay!" He clapped Theo on his back. "Come. We get coffee. Starbucks?"
"Starbucks? Okay. Sure." Theo was surprised and then reminded himself that this was the Moscow of McDonald's, Pearl Jam and billion-dollar oligarchs that no longer resembled the ten-year-old history his professors had taught. They talked about a contemporary Russia that was closer to Stalin than to Putin, based on their own sabbatical travels even further back in the near but dim times of a country whose evolution continued to be explosive. They walked down the alley, passing inscrutable storefronts with a couple of floors of apartments above. The sky visible through the slit formed by the opposing buildings on both sides of the narrow street was grey and bright against the dirty stone facades. Mercedes, BMWs, Mazdas and Toyotas were parked at jagged intervals on both sides of the street, straddling the curb and blocking the sidewalk, so that the narrow road could barely accommodate a single passing vehicle should the driver be either brave enough to attempt it or callous and powerful enough to simply not care. The alley opened onto another boulevard, busy with cars, delivery vans and an electric bus tracing slowly down the middle of the street with its catenary sparking the wires above and it lumbered silently along. "It's not far.", Alexsander said. Alexsander was a fast walker and Theo needed the encouragement.

"I don't like because it is American. I like because it is good. Yes? Make sense?" Theo nodded. He truly thought Russians only drank tea. There wasn't a samovar anywhere in sight, though. In fact, this Starbucks was indistinguishable from the Shepard Street Starbucks in Boston, right down to the wooden stirrers and ubiquitous branding except that the music was Russian new-age soft-pop and the girlish barristas were athletically tall, blonde and apparently none-too-friendly. The coffee was hot, certainly, but far too strong and far too sweet. It coaxed a memory of Cuban coffee he'd had in Miami one morning when he traveled there with a bunch of his frat brothers on Spring Break. They had spent the night drinking on the beach, talking up likely females from BU and Yale, finance majors and pre-med all, without much luck. It felt like that had been just a year or so ago, but it had been three years, almost four since he finished school and passed the Bar. And now, here he was, in Russia and it seemed almost more American than America. "So . . ." Alexsander broke into Theo's wide-eyed distraction. "I'll explain the plan, okay?"

Alexsander tapped out a cigarette from his pack of Winstons and lit it with a wooden match. Theo looked at him inhale and asked, "Are you sure you can do that in here?" Alexsander looked at him through the curl of smoke and said, "What? Smoke? Who will stop me? Everybody smokes in Russia. You never heard this? Okay, look: down to business." Alexsander reached into his coat and pulled out a folded sheet of paper. "Okay, Theo. Good to call you Theo?" He looked up and Theo nodded. "Okay. In one hour, you have to go to meet Alexi Alexisovich at Sberbank. I am not in this meeting and I will wait, okay? Then, there is lunch. You do not have lunch with him. I explain why later. Okay?" Theo nodded. He had given himself over to Alexsander again. "Okay. Then, we go to see planning people at Lukoil by fourteen hundred, then to meet counsel at Gazprom. So, we have full day, Got it?" Theo nodded, "Yes, that's the plan I have." Theo took out his iPhone to verify. "Hey, Theo . . ." Alexsander gestured vaguely at the phone. "Put it away. C'mon. The jacket is bad enough." He motioned to the paper. "This is alright, okay?" Theo looked around nervously and put the phone back in the pocket of his parka. "Don't worry. They don't need the phone. They want the information, see? My phone is shut off." Alexsander pulled his Blackberry half way out of his shirt pocket. "Identity theft, okay? Big problem. Don't worry, it will be okay." Theo sipped his coffee. "So, uh, we are the same?" He tried again in Russian. Alexsander shook his head, bemused. "Yes, we are the same, but more same in English." He emphasized the last word and they both chuckled. "Like you, I went to University, study five years, finished, I am hired by Bowson, like you. Then I went to King's College on a fellowship for two more years and worked in London. This was very good. And now, no more school, but no more life, only Bowson. This is correct?" Alexsander smiled his camaraderie and patted Theo on the arm. "All work, no play? Okay?" "Yes," said Theo, 'That's it."

What Theo knew about Alexsander was that he graduated at the top of his class from Moscow State University and was in Bowson Legal's sights since his third year. Apparently, Alexsander didn't want to work for Bowson or anyone else in business law, for that matter, only study and then teach, perhaps help in public sector pro bono work. But the economic reality of the changing face of Russia must have tipped the scale somehow and as the fourth year started, Alexsander suddenly switched to business and international law from criminal and civil law studies. It seemed odd to Theo that a student would make such a radical shift since, at Harvard, anyway, this would have meant a murderous double-time switch, studying to make up for lost ground as a 2L, not at all an easy feat for even the best students. Something motivated Alexsander away from public service. Probably money, thought Theo. Bowson was well known for competitive compensation when the hiring committee had a special need. In that way, law firms tended to behave like sports teams, nabbing the potential out from under their competition so that they could continue to win, win, win.

Theo could feel his phone vibrating. He pulled it out. It was Rose. Alexsander sat back as Theo took the call. "Hey, kid. How's it going?" Rose sounded as if he'd decided to have another. "It's fine, Paul. I'm here with Alexsander, starting the day." There was a delay as the signal made its way across twelve thousand miles of network. "Ah, good. He's a good guy, Alex is. Smart, too. Try to listen to him, okay?" Theo was non-plussed by Rose's fatherly tone, "Sure, I'm counting on him," Theo said. Rose continued, "Look, I just wanted to make sure we're on the same page." He waited for Theo, who said okay. "All we need for you to do is to get a feel for the intangibles here. They're doing the same thing, you know." "Who? Who's doing the same thing?" said Theo, not understanding what Rose was getting at. "The Russians. The oil people and the bank people. They're not stupid, you know," Rose said. "No, of course not. I'll . . .," he paused, "I'll keep my eyes peeled. Okay?" Silence on the connection had Theo believe Rose had gone, but he then added, "And trust no one, right? Stranger in a strange land and all that, right? Call me in the morning - my morning. Good luck, Theodore. Take it easy, kid. Oh, and don't forget to put everything up on Clio so Frank can see it. I don't want him breathing down my neck this week." The call ended.

"Rose, yes?" Theo nodded. "Ahh, well. Okay, we better go. It will take a while to get to the Sberbank meeting. No, no, don't leave a tip. I know her." The barista stared down Alexsander as he got up. She shouted out the next order up, but more loudly than the last. The place had filled up a bit since they had come in. "Girlfriend? Ex-girlfriend?," Theo whispered conspiratorially. "No, not quite. C'mon," he tapped Theo on the chest with his folded gloves, "Let's go, okay?"

Rose had been good to Theo. On the other hand, Theo was a catch for Bowson's. He graduated third in a class of fairly brilliant people, half of whom went on to Wall Street firms, the other half, more or less, into government spots. They felt, to each other, like scholars, like winners, like they had raised the bar for the next graduating class and consequently, for the entire discipline of The Law. And he had made many great friends at school, both at BU and at Harvard. His father would have been proud. Rose somehow seemed to feel that his role should come to be that of a mentor, a father-figure, to Theo, but Theo found that approach more than mildly creepy. Nevertheless, he was respectful, as a smarter, more worldly child might be to a doting and relatively clueless parent, just to keep the peace.

They walked through the patio area of the Starbucks on the way to the street. The tables had been left out but the chairs and umbrellas seemed to have been put away in honor of the coming six months or so of winter. Just outside the fenced-in area of the patio stood a man of substantial build, probably in his early fifties, dressed in a leather jacket and slacks, who seemed to be waiting for someone in particular. He followed Alexsander and Theo with his gaze. Alexsander looked straight ahead and kept walking after noticing the man and momentarily losing the rhythm of his step. As they passed, the man spoke to Alexsander in Russian, "What do you want me to tell him, huh?" "Tell him what you want." Alexsander said dismissively, over his shoulder. "Hey!" The man didn't mean for Alexsander to get away that easily. "You owe him. You owe a lot of people. You don't want me to make something up, something that will hurt his feelings, right?" Alexsander stopped and turned, hands out in an expression of exasperation. "Look, I don't know what to tell you. I'm working now. See? This is my colleague from America." He pointed to Theo and narrowed his eyes. "Understand? I'm doing the best I can. Tell him to call me tomorrow. Or I will call him. Okay?" The okay was in English. The leather-jacketed man seemed to relent, but said, as if in warning, "Alexsander - do not disappoint him. It will be bad. Understand?" "Okay, okay." Alexsander shook his head in frustration, then looked up at the man. "Okay?" The man shrugged, nodded and turned around and walked away. "What was that? Who was that?", Theo asked excitedly. "No one, nobody. Something I need to take care of. Forget it, okay? Let's go." They headed to the metro entrance and disappeared into the earth.

Friday, November 9, 2012

What Tha . . .

Been away.

Been thinking about life. And about pepperoni in particular.

Did you know that pepperoni is the Number One pizza topping in America? No? Where have you been?

Pepperoni. Hot, it's greasy and peppery, vaguely tasting of what is probably some unspeakable part of a cow, otherwise known as All Beef Cold, that is, refrigerator-cold, it's still peppery but with a consistency like edible leather. I just chewed some, and washed it down with some almost chewy Lindemann's Australian swill, distinguished only in the way that it, too was red and cold.

Sigh. What a life. Beats death, I guess. But, who's to say, until you've tried it. Which reminds me of a homosexual proposition I received when I was a scant twenty years of age. There was likely pepperoni involved there, too. And crappy red wine, probably. Fortunately for me, those were oddly more sober days, filled with work that wasn't, since all I had to do was exercise my immense, ahem, talent, and all fell into place. So, why settle for the moist discomfort of a hairy paramour when a dozen, nay, half-dozen suitably slutty, and far smoother females awaited their appointment with my destiny, For them. C'mon. It was the Eighties. Geez.

Anyhow. Pepperoni. Good going in. Not so good on the other end. But, who am I to argue? Rather more to the point, who am I?

Landed gentry? No. Landed. yes, but like most others, beholden to some WASPish shylock, so, only sorta. Creative? Yeah, kinda, but now frequently bound by the fear of impending dementia and death, ever always reminded that up-and-coming is reserved for the young and hungry. Wise, but appropriate for my years, so, not terribly impressive. Educated? More to my own interests and less so academically: a polymath, meant to be a peer more to Jefferson than to Zuckerberg. Literate? Offensively so, by today's standards, but that says little, by today's standards.

Roast beef, pepperoni, liverwurst, cappacola, haggis. I am, like those various sausage-modes, some expression of the need for society to consume me, as long as there is some variety in the way I am ground up and served.


Friday, August 24, 2012

I See Dead People

Lots of famous Hollywood folk have been kicking the bucket in the last few weeks. Ernest Borgnine, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Marty, bought the farm in the beginning of July. Phyllis Diller, the famously blue comedienne who rose to pop culture prominence in the '60s, went permanently horizontal on 20 August. Both of the foregoing stars were quite ancient. Tony Scott, however was not.

Scott, the famous brother of the equally famous Ridley Scott, was merely 68 when he forthrightly tossed himself off a bridge in San Jose, California. Mr. Scott wasn't a nut, however. He discovered he had inoperable cancer and decided that a long goodbye just wasn't his thing. So, he made a decision.

Running up to his swan dive, Mr. Scott directed some monumental movies. The Hunger, The Fan, The Last Boy Scout, Enemy of The State. Top Gun. Yes, that Top Gun. Plus, he produced tons of television that you have probably watched in syndication, like The Good Wife and Numb3rs. And he directed Quentin Tarantino's first script - True Romance.

True Romance is loaded to the gills with giant talent, including a monumental turn by Gary Oldman of Dracula and Tinker, Tailor fame as a white Detroit pimp and murdering drug dealer who thinks he's black. Also in this lesser-know flick is Samuel L. "Motherf*cking" Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper and, forget it, the list goes on and on. The movie stars Patricia Arquette and Christian Slater who are basically second fiddles to this immense stable of talent. Plus, the script drips Tarrantino, which is a major tribute to Scott's appreciation of that vision.

So, as a sign of respect for a major Hollywood talent who knew how to make a mind-boggling range of winning movies,  how to snag A-list friends and to stick to his singular conviction about his life and how it should end, watch True Romance. Do it now, please.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Six Words

Six words can say it all.

Fish for dinner: don't be late.

Half an hour, I'll be there.

Bring some wine, red or white.

Room, dark; sheets, cool; skin, taut.

Her hair flowed into his mind.

She wore silk only for him.

This last goodbye erased no memories.

Once, I knew an elf. Weird?

Jesus, what did you expect? Hemingway?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Too Much Information

Dynamic Remodeling of Dendritic Arbors in GABAergic Interneurons of Adult Visual Cortex Wei-Chung Allen Lee, Hayden Huang, Guoping Feng, Joshua R. Sanes, Emery N. Brown, Peter T. So, Elly Nedivi PLoS Biology Vol. 4, No. 2, e29 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0040029
I'm convinced it's all a ploy. A ploy to suck us into a vortex of lassitude through utter, all-encompassing distraction. We're talking about a conspiracy, alright. It's a grand plan to capture each and every one of us into a matrix-like web of unending visual, aural and tactile stimulation where interactivity is required lest we're voted off the island.

I'm writing this when it's fall in the northeast and snow is predicted in my area this weekend. It's iffy, but it may happen. The trees have more or less begun their big fall wrap-up, leaving mountains of detritus for me to clean up. But it's cold today and it rained heavily last night, so the leaves are cold and wet and I don't feel like being cold and wet which is what I would be if I had to blow, scrape and bag a thousand pounds of tree-skin. So, instead, I have committed myself to my toasty-warm office, with the fireplace blaring incandescence and every mode of media surrounding me in a cocoon of pseudo-connectedness.

Let me take an inventory: smart-phone, excellent for checking personal e-mail and texting my kid, since I just about never use it as a phone; iPod Touch, okay, for Netflix, eBay updates, Huffington Post and Stitcher; two desktop computers, right, a PC and a Mac I'm working on with my laptop also nearby, since that's my "real" working machine and naturally, anything I can do in terms of information retreival or entertainment is accessible through those tools, including streaming radio from  my favourite station, WNYC (yes, I support NPR and so should you). My Internet service is via cable at the maximum available speed and bandwidth, so I can stream music, view a movie via Netflix, Google until my brain falls out and never run out of capacity. And, yes, I often do all three at the same time. I watch a lot of French movies, okay? To my left, just at the edge of my visual periphery is my HD cable connection  with, it seems, a quarter of a thousand channels that I never watch since it's usually tuned, when I have it on, to Bloomberg with the sound off and captioning on. To my right is a bunch of recording gear, my guitars and amp and miscellaneous vintage effects. I also have a fax machine, police scanner, some video gear, my photo gear, two vintage cameras I'm about to restore, the original Sony Discman with FM receiver, just because it's irrelevant, a bunch of books, a bunch of DVDs, about a thousand CDs, a half dozen reel-to-reel master tapes, a passel of video tapes and DAT masters that I've been meaning to convert before the oxide falls off the plastic backing of the tape and a hammer. I also have satellite radio for the car but don't have it activated currently because, well, that would be too much.

When I am mobile, I carry in my jacket pocket, or in my man-bag, my iPod Touch and my smart phone, a video-capable Nikon D90 with two lenses, a variety of cables to power stuff and transfer stuff, extra battery for the camera, just in case I see something interesting, a fold-able multi-tool, my wallet, keys and a nail file. And plastic bags. I have a thing for plastic bags.

So, I'm an uber-connected, ultra-mediafied creative geek, right? Wrong. I am a content consumer, just like you. It's why seven TV channels aren't enough anymore and why I can DVR the 2,216 episodes of Law and Order:SVU that I apparently missed while watching the super-marathon of The Dog Whisperer, getting the news ticker via Bloomberg as I Stumble and then Tweet those Stumbles as I re-order both my streaming and DVD Netflix queues while texting my daughter, just trying to get her interest, during my composition of what seems to be the world's most convoluted pleading as Diane Rehm masterfully interviews yet another news-worthy guest. Isn't that what you're doing?

Oh, then there's the mail. I get a lot of mail. I hate mail. It's not searchable. I have to handle it over and over - opening, sorting, digesting, filing, scanning, copying, marking, filing again. I have another connected device, a Neato scanner that's the size of a box of Saran wrap, that does scanning duty and for legal documents of more than a few pages, I fight with my auto-document-feeding scanner, which is old and fussy. Except for legal business, the crap piles high by the end of the week. I'm not lazy, just overwhelmed.

So, there's lots of input to keep me and all the rest of you highly stimulated and more importantly, distracted. Look up - your economy is gone, off to India and China. Crap - there goes your job. Holy cow, there goes your wife. But, really, who cares when there's 3D HD on BluRay in your mailbox. Am I right?

Ya Know, The Also Rises

There's a point at which a review is in order. The cascade of cause and effect as related to decision and outcome at some point should be evaluated and possibly discarded.

This seems impossible, considering the intricate associations of people, money and things. The only thing that truly stands in the way is fear.

Life Lessons From The Dalai Lama

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three Rs:
  • Respect for self
  • Respect for others
  • Responsibility for all your actions.
4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I Hope

I hope you remember me. Did you laugh? That was the plan. Did you feel safe? But you're fine. See? There was nothing to fear. I wish you had liked what you saw, liked it enough to grow past the realization that i was nothing more or less than another of billions. Just like you.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

 I realize that this is looking a little like a MySpace page at the moment, but I'll take that rap in order to say a thing or two about mothers on this sunny Northeastern Dias de Madres.

Being a mother is almost as easy as fatherhood, with the exception of the whole eight-pound-or-so-bowling-ball-shaped human that claws its way into the light through the only available orifice at the end of nine months of vomiting, aching back and swollen leg and stretch mark thing. Moms have the rep for being the be all and end of child-raisin', with the dude counterpart relegated to role of sperm donor and, if he hangs around long enough, convenient erstwhile playmate and intinerant fishing instructor before being banished to his man-cave for the balance of his existence as a pseudo-bachelor, all the while writing checks and hardening the arteries.

Part of why these roles developed is evolutionary, of course, being that men aren't biologically predisposed to providing three squares to their progeny via fat bags loaded with yummy boob-goodness. Lacking in inventory of this crucial equipment, men instead must hunt, gather, forage or knock over the 7-11 in order to keep those baby-manna dispensers loaded and bare. Naturally, woman take advantage of this weakness and claim the offspring as their own, solely. My dog is much the same way - for a biscuit or the potential for same, based on prior results, he will follow me off the edge of a cliff. Children, interestingly, are about the same.

So when Mr. Man is off strangulating chipmunks with his bare mitts so that Junior's mama has that part of the food pyramid satisfied, he is also distancing himself from the direct upbringing of the little tyke - or tykes, plurality preferred by craftier moms - and mostly immediately becoming a memory of funny hats and farts. At the same time, the succor mom, tightens her emotional death-grip until the poor little children give up and forget that without Papa, there would be no tasty earthworms for din-din.

Children have no debt to pay for their childhood, but point to one mother who altruistically believes this. Really? How about your Mom? Thought so. I told you they are crafty.

This also makes some kind of evolutionary sense since the female, being presumably more vulnerable to being eaten by a pack of veloceraptors, needs to shore up her survival gambit with a little help of the clone kind. Absent, probably eaten by saber-tooth squirells or something, male impregnator is no where near as reliable a labour force as dedicated self-produced humans when it comes to putting mutton on the table. And so, moms are in that unique position of having their children wanting to help out their MILF overload - that is "Mother I'd Like to Feed". Dirty birds.

The poor kids have little choice in the matter. Even in modern Western society where men and women are encouraged to be equal caregivers to their cutesy-wutsey little bundles of joy, it's still the father that's relegated to career track and the downtrodden, long-suffering mother who is forced to give up the quest for the glass ceiling. But it doesn't have to be that way. It is that way because women rule the world.

So, I've finally gone off the deep edge into full-on misogyny, you say? Dash it, forfend all and allay that thought. Let's think this through.

Moms make babies. They are then revered by their offspring. Those onesie-wearing cutie-pies, if male, eventually grow up to rule their respective tribes, whether their groups specialize in business or in government. If female, well, we know what happens there: moms get busy training the next generation of baby-makers in the skills needed to capture a hapless human male through the leverage of their long training in the mysteries of being a woman. The boys' club goes on to honour their indoctrinators by the furtherance of a patrician society that tilts the balance of social order in favour of the ball-less while simultaneously masking that favouritism by shrouding same with perceived inequality. Women never needed the right to vote - they already controlled the world with their va-jay-jays.

Still, from another angle, moms are pretty cool. They know that you like the crust cut off your PBJ, they keep the bulb in your nightlight running and they know that the best cure for a summer knee-ouchie is a grape popsicle. They also know that your dad won't actually raise holy hell when he comes home to your D in maths, but that she can use that as a prybar to wrench out your childish heart into her manipulative hands just as long as you play ball, kid. Yer poor pa would help you, if he only knew . . . but silence, when it comes to mom, is survival. You know, I know it: let's not kid ourselves.

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Art Is Hard

Art is like evolution, full of fits and starts, missed pathways, dead ends, endless inscrutable details and mystifying outcomes. But to make art, the continuum must be unbroken, forever forging  new from old without consideration to the end result which, being ultimately temporary, will change to suit the circumstances of the moment.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Yeah, That's A Thing

I'm forever looking for the ultimate deal online. So far, I haven't found it. So, when I clicked on a link for an iPhone 4G for only $43.14 or whatever the "too-good-to-be-true" price was supposed to be, I wanted to see wazzup. My clickishness brought me to which, you will notice, does not even rate a hyperlink from me. Give you an example - ladies' cargo pants - $15!!! Wow!!! Like a lady never heard of Target. C'mon, puhleez.

But I stray.

What I did find was this:
Yes, good friends and kind guests, that's a toy ATM.

An ATM. For kids. To learn about money. An ATM. Made of plastic.

WTF happened to piggy banks? ATMs? Really?

And it's not the only style. Even Hammacher Schlemmer, purveyor of crap for insanely rich people, have (has?) a model.

Yeah, it's a thing. And, for once. I'm speechless.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Freaking Easter!

Yes, this crazed balloon bunny perfectly illustrates the true spirit of Easter. Except for the impromptu orange penis. I guess he was delivering the eggs for those yummy Omelette Favorites. Hollandaise, anyone?

Saturday, March 31, 2012


Miss McConnaught taught English at what used to be Franklin Delano Roosevelt Junior High before it became  Hollis Unified Middle School in a town that could only be considered small and appropriately quaint, such as New Hampshire towns tend to be. She had seen generations with familiar family names pass through her classrooms, the children of the children she had taught decades before and their children, too. Some family names simply disappeared, those offspring likely finding their way to a less rural life far away from the green hills surrounding their valley town.

She had been retired now for almost twenty years. She had never married and her dead sister's children rarely called or wrote, likely as they too were busy getting old or occupied with being elderly.. Most of her friends and colleagues had passed away very long or not too long ago. And so, she was mostly forgotten except for the vague notion that there was or might have been an Aunt or Great Aunt that lived or may still be alive far north at the fringe of recognition.

Ms. McConnaught was still able-bodied, vibrant, really, for a woman closer to ninety than eighty. She credited her longevity to routine and structure in her life and in her thinking. Each day in better weather she woke early, had herself a nice toast and strong black coffee. Afterward, she took a walk through the neighborhood just to see what there was to see, which was often nothing except for the occasional landscaper and empty driveways, at least during the week, the owners of the missing cars no doubt off to work in Nashua. There seemed to be few children about, even during the summer months and she had seen no very young children anywhere. Every third or fourth day, she would walk the mile to and back from the main street where she would buy a newspaper and a lottery ticket.

In her time, teachers where well taken care of by the taxpayers and she wanted for nothing. Her pension was more than enough for her to live in frugal comfort and her health needs were covered by the Teacher's Union's generous medical benefits. The lottery ticket represented a bit of spice, a chance, a gamble. She had played since New Hampshire started the lottery in 1964 and had never, not once, won a single penny. This reinforced her sense that the game was just that - a lark, a bit of fun. She had mused from time to time how she might spend a jackpot of a million dollars and could not come up with anything more than an indulgent trip to New York. She had been to Boston many times, but always wanted to visit the Big Apple, yet had somehow never made it. She imagined a stay at a fully-appointed Plaza suite, a visit to Tiffany's and to see the New York Public Library as Capote had painted it and how Hepburn had blazed against it.

The day was bright, a bit chill and not unusually breezy for the end of March. It felt right for a walk to town. Last she had heard at what used to be Fleckler's Convenience and what was now a 7-Eleven was that the lottery had risen to an unprecedented and truly ridiculous level, over a half a billion dollars. The clerk kept repeating his amazement to each serial customer that it was "a billion, with a B." Ms. Connaught thought that his figuratively open-mouthed awe of the scale of the prize was amusing and boyish. She bought what she also bought - a one dollar bet, dated for that night's drawing, fitting as it was the last day of March with many, she felt sure, ready to play the ultimate April Fool's over breakfast the next morning.

On the trip back, the sky had become fully clothed in white and grey and it felt much colder than it may have been. She turned up the collar of her thin spring jacket and sped her pace as best she could, her frame seemingly shrinking in the sudden spring turn. She said out loud, " What was I thinking? Can't rush spring."

She climbed the three steps to her front door and once inside, stood in the foyer, shivering. It wasn't that cold, surely? She thought. There was nothing for it but another hot coffee, the sooner the better. Ms. Connaught still clutched the ticket in her right pocket, hands like ice. She did not manage to make it to the stove.

All the media lead with the incredible story the following day of the single winner of the largest lottery  jackpot in history - over $640 million - anticipating who in the suburb of Nashua where the winning ticket was known to have been sold was the lucky winner. Anyone who had even been near the area busily checked their tickets only to find that they had not been graced by good fortune, most flooded with the dread of returning to the ordinary work-a-day from what could have been a house, no, a palace by the sea.

Time passed, as it is wont to do, and no one came forward to claim their wealth. As it turns out, some lottery winners are too afraid to come forward, denying in secret that their life and the lives of everyone who knew them had been utterly and irrevocably changed. Winning tickets are sometimes lost or destroyed. Some tickets are simply never checked, left to fade in a sock drawer or suit jacket. But there was still hope as a lottery ticket is still valid for redemption for one calendar year after the drawing.

It bothered Mrs. Bahindra that she no longer saw her neighbor's lights on at night. If she had died, why had the house not been sold? The family was probably fighting over the estate. Some things in this country were still not entirely clear, but money was universal. What was her name? Mrs. Connely? Connors? She truy could not remember having met Ms. Connaught only once when Mr. Bahindra had brought her to the new house after the closing. She chided herself for not being a good neighbor, but she and her husband were busy professionals and left before all the others on the block and came home after they have long since returned. Still, that house was oddly dark at night, but there was no car in the driveway, either. Had there ever been? She couldn't remember that, either.

Mrs. Bahindra resolved to pay her neighbor a visit the following morning, just to say hello, if her neighbor was, in fact, still in residence there. It couldn't hurt, she thought. So, since she had this rare Saturday off, she walked the hundred or so feet to Miss McConnaught's gate, up the concrete path to the three steps that elevated her to the front door and knocked. The door pivoted on the hinges with the third rap.

The police were called, relatives were sought but none could be found and there seemed to be no one to speak for Ms. McConnaught's pitifully mummified remains. Apparently she had collapsed on the kitchen floor some time ago. Possibly a year ago. It was hard for the police or for the coroner to say except for the rumpled ticket found in her coat pocket that had been purchased right on Main Street in Hollis a year ago. Or, to be precise, one year . . . and one day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love Stinks

Oh, okay. Here we go again. Another fabricated holiday that's been perverted into a gift-giving occasion. I'm just sorry I missed the MLK Day White Sale this year.

Look: I have nothing against romance. Lust is pretty good and a little infatuation never hurt anybody, except maybe Michael Douglas in that rabbit-boiling movie. But I don't get it, really, the hearts, the flowers, the candy, though I have nothing against it. I understand the obligation of delivering pre-fabbed cardboard boxes filled with the very nastiness that you're trying to get your 'loved' one to avoid. After all, if you really love somebody, do you want to make them fat? Worse for you, do you want them to think that you think that it's okay for them to get fat? Even just a little?

Oh, yes. Yes, you do.

Because love, that is, the deepest kind of love, is about acceptance. Jesus taught me that. He was the Super in my building in Sheepshead Bay so many years ago. He would say, "You know, Mr. B, you look at my wife, she is fat and you say, 'Jesus, is she fat!' and I say 'Hell, yeah!', and I love her. I love her because she is my luck. She is my star.And she loves me. You know, that's good. You'll see!" He actually sparkled when he said this. In my younger, stoopider days, I thought Jesus had huffed one too many buckets of Mr. Kleen, but now, I kinda understand what he was talking about. Of course, they may have done each other in with hatchets since then, for all I know, but for the period of time he was talking about, his past to his present, he figgered he'd done well and been lucky with his fat wife. Trying to talk him out of it would have been like trying to get a fish to snort air.

And that's the second thing. If you've got true love, love the one you're with, as the song goes. It seems that love is an exceedingly fleeting thing, sort of like a house plant. Most house plants, if you didn't already know this, comes from tropical climes. They need water and light - not too much, not too little, or they're freakin' shrivel up and die. Love must be nurtured and treated with a level hand. This applies both to love of others as is does to love of one's self. Love in general, okay? M-A-I-N-T-E-N-A-N-C-E. And a little fertilizer at reasonable intervals since love must always grow. Sure, a leaf or two may fall off, but new ones can grow back in their place. Okay - enough with the plant analogy.

Point is, being loved should not be taken for granted. And we're not talking about the box-o-Stovers kind of love here, but instead are-you-a-match-for-my-blood-type-because-I-need-a-kidney-sure-no-problem kind of love. That's a parent's love for his child, a fiftieth-anniversary kind of love: it's Titanic. You feel me? It love without a doubt and without doubt. The kind of love that even when something goes awry and one is parted from another, not a moment goes by when the other doesn't think of the one, and vicey versey. It's a presence and a force whose absence is a great dark hollow filled with the smell of old wool and stale beer. Love is awesome, not in the current vernacular sense of it, but in the way the parting of the Red Sea was awesome. It takes your breath away, forever.
Which is why love stinks. It utterly sucks. It's transitory and there are no guarantees whatsoever. Put your all into it and what do you get? A note penned with grim and angry goodbyes. A phone number that you can dial until you're black in the face because there's no cell service on The Other Side. A shadow of Spot or Mittens passing ever in the periphery of your vision, having actually been long gone to that Dog Park or Cat Box in the sky. In the end, there's just that - the end. Heartache, if you manage to survive it, is just the start. The echo of love stays ripe and near rotting, seated next to you on the train to Hell.

A bit harsh, you say? I daresay not! This is no shell game. The stakes are known up front. Love is not to blame at all. Love is not pain. Hope is the culprit. Fall in love and believe it will be different, that it won't end. Go ahead. You hope that it will be different and your hope will betray you. That's your ego talkin', brother. Don't blame love.

Check, check. Onetwo, onetwo.

Oh, wait. Huh. It doesn't end. Not ever. How about that? Does that suck? Or, is that the best thing about love? Once you've had it, you cannot let it go and, better still, it won't let go of you.

Oh, okay, then. Happy Valentine's Day. Just don't bring me any chocolate. After all, I need to keep my girlish figure.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Whitney Houston Dead At 48

Whitney Houston died today in her Los Angeles Beverly Hilton hotel room of unknown causes. She was found by a member of her entourage, according to a announcement by the LAPD. Efforts at resuscitation were fruitless and Ms. Houston was declared dead at 3:55 PM. Foul play is not suspected. She was 48 years old.

Whitney Houston performing during the HBO-televised concert "Welcome Home Heroes with Whitney Houston" honoring the troops, who took part in Operation Desert Storm, their families, and military and government dignitaries.
Ms. Houston is well known for her successful music and movie career and is said to have sold 170 million albums and had starred in "The Bodyguard" and "Waiting To Exhale." She is survived by her mother, Cissy Houston, age 78, and her daughter, Bobbi Khristina Houston Brown, age 19.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Baby, It's (Just Not That) Cold Outside

Well, it's that time of year again. Puxtawaney Phil has decreed, through his rodent rotundity, that we are to have six more weeks of winter. Fact is, we haven't had much of a winter this year and that's fine with me.

In the meantime, the wind tonight howls gracelessly. It was a dark and stormless night . . .

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Your Dreams Were Your Ticket Out . . .

. . . and now that ticket has been punched.

Pictured left to right, kind of trapezoidally: Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, John Travolta, Gabe Kaplan, Marcia Strassman, Robert Hegyes, Ellen Travolta. Where's Arnold? photo:

Remember Juan Epstein from "Welcome Back, Kotter"? Robert Hegyes. Dead. Sixty. New Jersey. Heart attack.


Hegyes was living in Metuchen, NJ at the time of his untimely death. He was born in Perth Amboy, NJ, the eldest son of a Hungarian father and Italian mother, hence, he was not Hispanic, though he would play Hispanic characters during his sparse acting career. Not like there weren't plenty of actually Hispanic actors available. But that doesn't really matter now. Not to him, anyway.

So, if you're old enough to remember catching the show, you're old enough to remember the appropriately youthful visages of Vinnie, Freddy, Arnold, Mr, Koterrr and Juan. Now, check yourself in the mirror. Holy Crow's Feet, Batman: I'm Meltingggggg!!!!!

But, at least, I still breathe. Which is a very good thing, as Martha would say.