21 September 2021

Denville my Denville

 I have a new chapbook coming out. "The Dead Keep Inviting Themselves for Dinner."  limited ed. Between Shadows Press.

the editor/publisher is poet Tohm Bakelas. I just now learnd he lives in Denville NJ.

when I was growing up in Elyria we had neighbors named the Bosmenys. they had friends who lived in Denville. Clarence & Minna Steffens & their daughter Liz. the 3 of them came to visit & we got to know them. so the summer I was 13 we did a road trip to Denville.

the next summer -- actually Labor Day 1957 -- the Steffens came to Elyria. here I am with Liz & her dad in the backyard on Winckles.



in the album in which are the photos of that visit I note that they brought with them to show us movies they'd taken that summer before. so it appears as if I made my film debut in Denville. o how I wish that film somehow survives. I just did a search & found an obit for Liz Steffens James-Dunn (1942-2015).

but the Denville saga doesn't end there. in the summer of 1960 I was a "cherub" at Northwestern. my roommate was John Kennedy & he was from Denville.

& now Denville will appear in my bibliography. I love these circles that keep rolling thru our lives.

16 September 2021

"Winter on Lake Erie"

 Palm Springs has a large statue of Marilyn Monroe in her famous skirt pose.

I propose that Lorain erect one of Mom like this:




11 September 2021

Jean-Claude van Itallie (1936-2021)


 when I began to put things in "Billy's Chest" one of the first was an envelope containing a small carved dog that Jean-Claude had as a boy. in the many years since he gave it to me I enjoyd it on a shelf. but some time ago I put it in a marked envelope to protect its provenance. & it was a perfect candidate for my new piece because it brought a dear friend into this collection which represents my life.

I met Jean-Claude in early 1968 when he came to Kent to participate in the Creative Arts Festival. 2 months later I visitd him in New York where I saw the Open Theater try out his new play "The Serpent" before leaving for Europe & its public premiere. he was the most exciting young playwright of the day.

it's difficult to pick memories from a friendship of over a half century because there are so many. I remember that on the other side of one wall of his apartment was the wall of Marianne Moore's apartment. twice while visiting him I went next door to chat with her. & when an adorable cat was born at his place & was to come to share my life I named him Moore.

on my visits we went to see productions of Robert Wilson & Divine as well as so many of his own plays at the legendary LaMama & other venues. when he moved to Westbeth I stayd there. & of course there were all the visits to the family farm in the Berkshires. I always calld it Charlemont because that was the nearest town. & there's a mention of it in one of the early one-acts -- I think "The Hunter and the Bird." later of course it became known as Shantigar.

& he wd come visit me in Kent & Santa Fe. sometimes it was because of "official" commitments such as the Open Theater conference I put together & the exhibition "Van Itallie Hurrah" which I curated. but other times he was simply on the road. also we connectd in LA & Boulder & Cleveland.

over the years I publishd his short play "Take a Deep Breath" in my magazine "Toucan." he contributed to my piece "My First Movie" & performd an action in the Century Dimes.I remember how humbled I felt when he read me work in progress & askd my opinion. but our greatest collaboration was the deposit of his papers at Kent State. upon my retirement from the library he wrote "Alex saw how meaningful the preserved traces of the work and lives of chosen contemporary artists in related fields would become to those artists and for the future."

he was a man who cd feel & transmit joy. he was able to detect the worst in mankind but also value the best. he liked to surround himself with beauty -- whether handsome men or dazzling flowers.

& so dear Jean-Claude..... I remember us dancing at Stonewall before the historic riot. & for as long as my mind works we will go on dancing.





07 September 2021

the lure of history

 yesterday was Labor Day so my mind was dusting the attic of memory. I was thinking of Dad & unions & sharing a picket line with him when I was but wee. & of course his longtime employer General Industries. I have a brick I took from its rubble in an art piece I made in my atrium.

I did a search for GI & discoverd that for a 4-year period early in its existence the main building was ownd by Arthur Lovett Garford (1858-1933) -- inventor of the padded bicycle seat & manufacturer of car parts who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate under the Bull Moose banner.

Elyria is a small town. so its history intertwines. a couple of blocks from GI was Garford Elementary School where I began my formal education. I presume it was named for Arthur. & these days his mansion -- The Hickories -- is home to the local historical society. I once gave a reading there from Sherwood Anderson who lived in town.

the closest I got to Arthur was when I was 15. I took this picture of his nephew Homer Arthur Garford (1893-1974) who is buried in the same cemetery as my parents. he's putting air in the tires of his historic Lincoln L which had first been ownd by the chief of staff of Elyria Memorial Hospital.



06 September 2021

happy Labor Day

soooooooo..... I was researching some Elyria history & was startled to discover this claim:

"The term "hamburger" was coined at the 1892 Lorain County Fair in Elyria. "

I'd never heard this before & am having trouble finding corroboration.