Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Launch Into A New Week

... by nook and by crook and by any way that gets you there...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Memories Of A Guest Artist: To Love To Be Loved

  Paula and Mr. Ishmael, a.k.a, the baby boy cat

Photo by Shelley Glick

[I know now the beloved]
by  Gregory Orr

I know now the beloved
Has no fixed abode,
That each body
She inhabits
Is only a temporary

That she
Casts off forms
As eagerly
As lovers shed clothes.

I accept that he's
Just passing through
That flower
Or that stone.

And yet, it makes
Me dizzy-
The way he hides
In the flow of it,
The way she shifts
In fluid motions,
Becoming other things.

I want to stop him-
If only briefly.
I want to lure her
To the surface
And catch her
In this net of words.

Paula, an old, dear friend is the twinkle in a witty observance and the soft of a breeze.  She has repeatedly dazzled and inspired me with emails filled with poems and photos from her life that sing the secret heart of soul, cat or others. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Madeline's Lawn

I thought Madeline lived in a neighborhood somewhere near me.  That's because the ubiquitous fields of ivy covered both our landscapes.   Took me a little while to figure out Paris was not in Brooklyn or above 14th Street.

In later years,  an explosion of potato plants and coleuses and lots of lawn-like patches appeared as the city transformed into a manicured and remodeled visiting destination and/or exclusive enclave.  Or whatever kind of locale needed constant landscaping. 

I didn't realize what I had missed all these years until yesterday, when I opened my eyes and saw a rolling stretch of ivy.  I was back in the soft, cool shade of wishing I could visit Madeline.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Signs Of Times No Longer Welcomed

Photo by Jacques
I saw the sign hanging on the Bellevue psych building iron fence from a moving bus.

I thought under "No Loitering" someone had scrawled "NO HOME". That made sense to me.  You're asking me not to "loiter" but I have no home so what do you want me to do?

This was the kind of picture Jacques (former guest artist) would take.  A Frenchman in New York reinterpreting and rediscovery this city's heart and soul for us all. 

So, I told him where to find the hanging sign, even drawing him a map since I couldn't remember the exact street.

After lunch, Jacques flew into the office on his way to some meeting and said, "I found the picture, but it was not home..."

There in his photo a different story appeared.  Instead of the heartbreak of having no home, it was the never-ending story that sought to crush love and soul and another human being. 

The question that popped into my head about the person who had scrawled that was a question Florence always asked me.

"Don't you have anything better to do?"


The work of Jacques is posted from April 24th, 2012 to May 6th, 2012.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Memories: The Truth And Nothing But...

On Delancey, right next door to Frank's hair salon, there was a little newspaper-candy-cigarette stand.  The  old man owner never really shaved or if he did it was a couple of days ago.

On the visits to Frank's a couple of times a year or returning from the weekly shop at the Essex Street Market, that candy shop beckoned like a mini-Ali Baba's cave, promising magical and spectacular candies.  But the firm rule of no sweets, rare gum and a once-a-week hostess cupcake/ cola at Grammas held.  That, however, didn't stop my six year-old heart from longingly dreaming of having my way with every delight in that shop.

And then one day...

Florence, fresh from a cut, nothing much else - she was one of the rare ladies in the neighborhood who didn't dye or tease - was buying a New York Times or maybe a pack of cigarettes and, in the brief second she looked the other way, my hand zipped up to the window counter and quickly slipped a penny stick of gum into my pocket.

Perhaps I took it out and started chewing it or was admiring it or transferring it to a safer pocket, but somehow Florence saw that stick of gum in my sweaty little palm and, and knowing SHE'D never allow an unauthorized piece of gum onto my daily menu and that I had no obvious means of income to buy anything, demanded to know where I had gotten that piece of gum.

She had taught me never to tell a lie.

I was marched right back to the candy store and there I apologized to the candy story owner and then, shamed but with great reluctance, returned that single stick of penny gum. 



Sunday Memories - The Bureau of the Bubble Gum

Sunday Memories - Over the Hills and Through the Woods to Grandmother's House We Go

Sunday Memories: "Candy, Candy, Candy For A Penny" - Another Installment

Sunday Memories - "Not Coney. Coney Island."

A New Year Encore: In Lieu of Flowers...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Encore: "Let the rain kiss you... Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops..." Langston Hughes

Originally post on Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Even the homeless man wheeled his hand truck under the awning. But I threw myself forward hoping the clouds growing dark were lying or at least not telling me the truth for a few more blocks.

...and then it rained and the two old ladies cared tenderly for one another as they prepared to step into the storm.

Their love.  

I cried later after the storm had finished.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Going Up The Country Got To Get Away

I had high school and college friends who lived there, but it was an island of incomprehensible circles that really didn't quite reach 360 degrees, so if I went there, it could have only been a couple of times and I think we needed someone to guide us in.

Then one night in the 80's someone I really shouldn't have been kissing took me there to kiss.  It was the only place in the city where you could go to in the middle of the night and kiss and because nobody was there nobody saw you.  And the mugging risk was only medium-high

After that fiasco ended, I found myself returning during the day and then other nights and then more days and then soon, if I wanted to get away from the city but not suffer a long commute, I came here.  And soon I took friends and family and the people I got to love, not just kiss under cover of darkness.

These days, the fountain is fixed up, there are tons more plants and flowers and birds and dogs.  And sitting in cool night on an old bench, also fixed up or maybe a new bench that was made to just look old, there are tons of people kissing. 



Men In Trees

Hope Springs Eternal

Sunday Memories -The Call of Nature

A Car Ride to the Doctor

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Memories: The Stoop

Everyone sat outside during hot summer, air conditioning still only used for special times and fans not as strong as the occasional breeze.

Lining Broome on benches, beat-up lawn chairs facing Grand, covering stoops all over, everthing got watched, everyone got noticed, nothing got missed.

Coming back from someplace not often ventured to from the Lower East Side, maybe a concert or a walk to Chinatown or even 'uptown', we'd walked the normal gamut of sidewalks lined with neighbors and strangers alike.

Now, bars line nearby streets and nobody looks out.  They're looking at TVs or each other or their cell phone, seeing nothing, noticing no one, missing everything.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Constant Tearing Down

Rostropovich, with a full sweep of his bow, poured out Bach in front of this wall that, before the world's eyes, was being dissolved by hammers and picks and the words of thousands of angry people, fed up with borders that broke or crushed or killed.  Friends told me I stayed glued to the TV, insisting we should all be there to support this moment of history. 

Years later, that wall disappeared into tourist souvenirs pieces, sold at flea markets and fairs and I even bought some as gifts for a few dear friends.  

But it didn't die.  That wall reappeared in other lands and in many hearts.  And the endless efforts  to bring it down happens day after day and night after night, maybe not with hammers and picks, but always with words.



Brief Peace in Late Night


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

While Everyone Else Was Having A Good Time...

....we wandered empty streets and forgotten alleys, and remembered a city unadorned and unconditionally embracing.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Memories: What The Stork Brought

 It's hard to see them, but look as closely as you can into that little corner.

It is summer and the babies have hatched.  As they have for the last thirty-six years, maybe even before, like when Bernard Hermann was growing up here dreaming music that could fill a movie screen or even when Sidor Belarsky lived here, his arias soaring up to the high ceilings, like the young sax player who now lives on the 2nd Floor and practices to open windows.

In between the music that fills the building now, it's the cooing and chirping I listen for, especially in summer.



Pets of Our Lives: Part One - Pigeons

Sunday Memories: Part Nine: A View From A Kitchen

Sunday In The Park With Springtime

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Freedom Of Religion

What that light offered him, besides the little bugs flitting around it, was a chance to look up and believe in miracles.



God Of My Understanding

In The Still Of The Night The Sound of Silence...

In The Still Of The Night The Sound Of Silence Revisited

In The Still Of The Night

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Men In Trees

The street filled with all these happy men throwing up ropes that magically reappeared as a ladder.

I had never seen a tree get climbed.  Not in real life.  Maybe in picture books of kids who didn't look like anyone I knew.  Those picture book trees looked like they had steps and the trees I grew up with were tall and thin and had no steps and they lived behind barriers that said don't walk on the grass and don't touch anything if you accidentally do walk on the grass.

The trees on the block I had lived on for 36 years always reminded me of the socialite ladies in New Yorker cartoons. Tall and elegant and certainly not to be climbed. These big guys just scampered up.

"What are you doing?"

"Looking for Asian Beetles."


"We are checking all the trees in New York City."

"All of them?"

"Yeah. We're almost done.  It took five years."

The guys told me the trees I respectfully hadn't climbed for 36 years were called London Plane and the pretty ones that told me spring was here by their pink-white flowers were Ornamental Pear Trees. 

All I could think was what a great job.  What a great, great job.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday Memories: His New York His California His Home - Christmas in July

On one of the last summer nights there,  I took advantage of his distraction by a book of jokes he had read dozens of times.  Quickly opening drawers and closets, pulling out more dirty linens and clothes for yet another load of laundry, an unexpected box festooned with holiday cheer appeared.

There inside were all the bow ties he had worn to work, day in, day out, year after year, being a father, being a husband, being a provider, being an on-time employee, no matter what the heat or the cold or the rage or the loneliness brought.

When I got old enough to know my colors and tall enough to peer into his bureau's drawer, I got to pick out which one he'd wear that day.  I did that until I left home.  And he continued to wear them until that company, after twenty-five years, fired him.

He must of brought these bow ties to California, optimistic and hopeful there would be opportunities to wear them, maybe with joy, maybe in love, maybe toward happiness.

Related posts:

It Was His California

Sunday Memories: The First Home

Sunday Memories: A Winter Coat

Sunday Memories: A Tale Of Two Brothers

His New York His California His Home: Part One

His New York His California His Home: Part Two-"One Step At A Time Dammit"

Sunday Memories: His New York His California His Home-Part Three