30 November 2005


since beginning this blog I've neglectd my website. dealing with HTML has always been a big enough task that I rarely update. so I'm a bit surprisd to see that I just registerd my 40000th hit. now I realize there are porn sites that get that in an hour while it's taken me 6 years. but that seems admirable for a poet's site.

29 November 2005


in the fall of 1978 I went to the faculty show at Kent State University's school of art. I don't recall a single piece in the gallery. but I do remember going down the hall to a space the size of a large closet for the first show of Lilian Tyrrell. there were no more than 4 or 5 weavings on display. having grown up in tornado territory I was immediately attractd to a piece depicting one. I bought it for $300. it was Lil's first sale.

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some thot it was peculiar to do a weaving of a tornado. did they have a surprise waiting. Lil's work got larger & bolder & eventually her disaster blanket series brought her fame.

midafternoon yesterday I got a call from Lil on her farm in northern Ohio. she's having a retrospective at Spaces in Cleveland early next year & wantd to know if I'd loan the tornado piece. I sd yes at once. & her call gave me the chance to tell her how much it's meant to me to live with the weaving for more than a quarter century.

28 November 2005

in the news

sweet streets
in the midwest

a man in Iowa
makes a de-icer
from molasses
(less corrosive
than road salt)

26 November 2005

I woke

to a nest of "what if"s in which nipples cried. I turnd over in my flannel sheets & dove into blogs where men are touching themselves with words. my cat was touching me with her paws so I fed her & jumpd back into bed. it was still dark out. soon my mind driftd to that calendar in which poets expose their chests. I returnd to "what if"s. imagine Robert Frost in a thong. Mr. July. that sent me straight to the kitchen to grind beans.

25 November 2005

what was

"Rag and Bone" is the first film shot in New Orleans I've seen since Katrina. it's sad to see landscape forever changd. altho made in 1998   the movie is reappearing on Mystery Channel.

it stars Dean Cain. few actors fit their jeans so well. which I'm sure partially explains his huge gay following. but the most memorable performance is by Carroll Baker. Tennessee Williams' "Baby Doll" of the 50s & James Dean's last leading lady has a scene without make-up in which every year shows but in which she's still radiant.

black friday

if that were the name of a film noir I'd probably watch it. but stand in line. push. shove. spend money on piles of gadgets. I'm glad I'm an outsider. I don't understand the craziness of consumerism in this country. I read that the average American is $9000 in credit card debt.

don't get me startd...

24 November 2005

pas de turkey today

dinner: pierogies from Trader Joe's   a piece of pumpkin pie pulld from the freezer   green tea in the Warhol mug I bought in Palm Springs on a Thxgiving with Billy Berger. hardly my most memorable Thxgiving meal. but not the worst. that was in 1979. David Meredith & I went to Pittsburgh to see "The Life of Brian." we neglectd to make a reservation at a proper restaurant & wound up in a neighborhood Chinese dive. the MSG-infectd dinner was awful as we ate it but has grown worse in retrospect.

23 November 2005


Brian DePalma's screen version of James Elllroy's The Black Dahlia is currently in postproduction with release in 2006. over at his site
Chad Darnell gives us a sneak peak at the production via a slideshow of extras being preppd for a scene in front of the Pantages.

the Elizabeth Short case has hauntd me for decades.

22 November 2005

opening soon

Emperor Butch is a dyslexic who starts a war in Arockandahardplace. that's the premise of "Fear Itself"   the new play by Jean-Claude van Itallie opening 10 dec at NYC's Theater for the New City.

for those who were around during the Vietnam era   van Itallie is a hero for having written "America Hurrah." so it seems fitting that his voice will be heard at this moment in our history.

with Jean-Claude in 1986

on Hollywood Blvd

G. D. Hamann has a blog which reprints articles abt Hollywood's golden age.

yesterday there was a 1930 piece from Hollywood Daily Citizen which began: "Roses and carnations banked the tables at the dinner dance given last Saturday night by Lila Lee, who entertained at the Embassy Club in honor of her sister, Mrs. Leonard Tufford of Elyria, Ohio." then a list. you know this old listologist is equally smitten by lists & oldtime Hollywood. so I was fascinatd to learn that Peg Tufford -- whose office was right on the town square when I was a boy -- sippd Satan's Whiskers with the likes of Bessie Love   Howard Hughes   Billie Dove   Eric von Stroheim   Laura LaPlante   Paul Bern. & it goes on & on.

Embassy Club was a second-floor private dining room next door to Montmartre Cafe (both run by Eddie Brandstatter).

Elmer Fryer portrait of Lila & Peg that hangs in my guest bathroom Posted by Picasa

21 November 2005

some call it progress

among the clippings in Mother's envelope today was a letter to the editor of the Elyria paper bemoaning the passing of a local tradition.

I've written elsewhere abt Thomasson's Potato Chips. I remember as a boy going to the original store on Clark & eating the chips while they were still hot. when I left for Kent State my folks wd always bring bags of Thomasson's when they visitd. I seem to remember photos of a party I had for Robert Peters featuring a huge tin can with the company's trademark red   white & blue design.

altho the company was doing $3 million a year business   that didn't seem to be enough. so a few years ago they sold out to another chip company in Mansfield. it didn't take long for me to taste the difference. originally Thomasson's chips were fried in soybean oil & were the best I've ever had. the woman who wrote the letter to the editor explaind that the new company uses cottonseed oil. so the chips sold in the red   white & blue bags with that proud Elyria name are no longer the same product. I can still go home again. I just can't eat the potato chips.

20 November 2005

when women wore hats

Cukor's "The Model and the Marriage Broker" opens with a breathtaking shot of the Flatiron Building. I remember when I was a lad & lookd out the window of a cab & saw that landmark for the first time. there were tingles all over my body. soon we see Thelma Ritter & Nancy Kulp in hats. yes this was 1951 & there are hats everywhere. at one point Ritter has a monolog which includes commentary abt seagulls & damn if there isn't a gull on her hat.

one of the many aspects of cinema that I love is that of the time capsule. in this film there are priceless shots of everyday Manhattan of that time. all the way down to a garbage truck. then there is the encapsulization of mores. we learn so much abt attitudes thru popular movies.

& finally film preserves people. here the magnificent Ritter in a rare starring role is at the top of her craft. there are also some brief appearances worth noting: Broadway's Joan Roberts (the original Laurey in "Oklahoma")in the first of only 2 movie roles & silent screen great Mae Marsh in one of her frequent bit parts. but also there is Scott Brady in his prime. he was 27 when he filmd this comedy & I'm sure had both sexes swooning. the only time I went to the Academy Awards I walkd the red carpet just before Brady. he was past his prime then but I cdn't have been more thrilld to see him.

Brady at the baths with Tony Curtis (1950)

19 November 2005

what if

apples bled?

some songs

the big joy in last nite's Deborah Voigt concert: 5 songs of Charles Ives. they remind me that I haven't heard Ives performd live in too long   that Ives is thrilling   that Ives wrote witty & wonderful songs.

18 November 2005

in the mail

for 30 years David Meredith has been one of my best friends. he's just sent me a box full of correspondence I sent him in those years before e-mail. the letters illuminate some dark moments in my life but some shimmering ones as well. they are already a valuable source for Alex in Movieland.

over those decades I sent him poems I was working on as well. one from 1979 is different from the only other copy I had. those differences seen all these years later provide an insight into process for me.

hello cello

talk abt starting the day with a gutsy poem. go over to Pelican Dreaming & feast on "The Schwarzvogel Ficcione."

16 November 2005

in the news

mornings begin for my sweet mother with 2 newspapers & breakfast. she doesn't simply devour the papers she cuts them up & disperses the clippings around town & in the mail to family & friends. she even sent Martha Stewart clippings in jail.

in the envelope of clippings I got from her yesterday was an intriguing one abt Marlene Dietrich. apparently she spent those last years alone in her apartment writing poems. & her daughter is publishing a selection. many are addressd to lovers both male (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) & female (Mercedes de Acosta).

also in yestyerday's mail was a clipping sent from Culver City by Billy. it was Christopher Knight's review of the Orange County Musuem of Art exhibition "John Waters: Change of Life." in it Knight writes "The 79 works emerge as Conceptual Pop -- the illegitimate love child of John Baldessari and Andy Warhol." I adore that category because it seems to come close to some of my infrequent art projects.

15 November 2005

"this constant fingering"

I've spent the morning with Richard Siken. not the person. he's in Tucson. but the poet. the one who left a parcel of poems dripping blood on my bed. the book is calld Crush. I don't think I've ever read a book of poems straight thru before. I feel like I'm sticky & heading to the shower after hours of sex.

I just finishd the book & took off my clothes. I slippd on the boxers I'd slippd off Jimmy at the Sunburst Inn in Phoenix. I know Phoenix isn't Tucson but Arizona is Arizona. & sun bursting on boys works for me.

so I'm sitting here in Jimmy's boxers. I feel I need to examine my flesh for bruises. Crush is a punch. the poems are dangerous. I want to go back immediately & study them but I'm too much enjoying the afterglow. I guess this is the moment in film noir where the couple props up on pillows with cigarets. but I'm alone & don't smoke. so I'll slip off Jimmy's boxers & jump into the shower.

14 November 2005

the small world of Hollywood

I just watchd a cheap western made nearly a half century ago. my reason for seeing "Two-Gun Lady" was that the cast includes one of my faves -- Marie Windsor.

I was taken by a young actress playing a tomboy. so I lookd up Barbara Turner. this was her film debut. the following year she married Vic Morrow. one of their children is Jennifer Jason Leigh. Turner's acting career didn't last long. she became a screenwriter with credits ranging from "Petulia" to "Pollock." I get so excitd when I make all these connections.

what if

monkeys spankd themselves?

13 November 2005

culture in the desert

long before I knew of Palm Springs as a major gay resort I was fascinatd with it as a playground of the stars.

silent star Charlie Farrell startd the Racquet Club. generations of blonde bombshells (Jean Harlow   Betty Grable   Marilyn Monroe) playd there. James Dean drove too fast in its streets. hunks like George Montgomery & Guy Madison & Richard Harrison had homes there. that vibe still retains its power for me. but it's not just a playground. the art museum there is a must stop every time I visit. the film noir festival is important for cinemaddicts.

& now the vivacious Kimberly Nichols has a blog which covers arts activities in the area. her current entry discusses the work of Cole Morgan.

last nite

Charles Lloyd
              old beat daddy
flauting & saxing
trunk asway     legs akick

drum battle
        Zakir Hussain & Eric Harland
worlds collide & meld

11 November 2005

Gerard Malanga

is a month older than I am. we met during that tumultuous summer of 1963 when I was in Kenneth Koch's poetry class at Wagner College. I've only seen him a few times in the intervening years. he's in Santa Fe this weekend for a series of events.

I know how unkind time can be. & I wasn't expecting the beauty who did the whip dance & appeard naked in the pages of After Dark. but I hadn't seen a recent photo of him so when Malanga enterd the theater for a Q & A following a pair of Warhol films I nearly gaspd. he's overweight & uses a cane. it was most unsettling. we spoke briefly at the reception.

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in the news

a man in Ohio
struck his wife
then bit the head off
her cockatoo

10 November 2005

what if

earrings ate ears?

break out the caviar

I startd this adventure a year ago.

recently a friend sent me an article on blogs which includes a list of rules for a successful one. it's not surprising to me that I break most of them. that's probably why my audience is small. but then my audience has always been small. I remember reading an online description that calld me "semi-legendary." I laughd for days.

so what do I think of this adventure? if I weren't enjoying it I'd have stoppd. o sure there are frustrating times. if I work hard on something I think important (like "2 jars")& it elicits silence I become vexd. esp when something I toss off strikes a nerve & gets comments. but anyone who's been at this writing business for as long as I have learns to just keep going. & the blogosphere has introducd me to new friends. for that I'm grateful.

so if you've read this far down   thx for stopping by. & pass the crackers.

08 November 2005

he finds Dennis Morgan divine

I'm not a regular traveler to the country of Amazon.com. so until Shanna Compton tippd me off in her blog I had no idea Kevin Killian has producd nearly a thousand reviews there. I suspect some day they'll be a book. but until then you can dip into them anytime.

& what a dip. here's a sample line: "And what were all those handjobs under the sheets in Cleveland?" I know   I know: it's not fair to isolate one line from KK's zillions. & probably not the single best line. but it's one I adore & so it's here.

Killian covers everything from books on crafts to political biographies. he must read all the time. for me his film reviews are esp fun. in a few sentences he seems able to distill the essence of Barbara Stanwyck or Sylvia Sidney.

07 November 2005

black borders

over the weekend I went to the dedication of a city park which bears the names of 2 brothers. both gay. both murderd (in separate crimes). I was on a board with one of them   Herman Rodgriquez. on Dia de Los Muertos I'd been walking in Rosario Cemetery where the brothers are buried.

perhaps that was still with me last nite in my dreams. suddenly there was my best friend from boyhood. I embracd him & sd "Tom   it's so good to see you." he lookd deep into my eyes & sd "I'm dead... & you're next." that may be a bad movie line but it startld me awake in the middle of the nite. between tossing there were moments asleep but all with dark imagery.

when I finally got out of bed   exhaustd   I turnd on the computer. the 1st thing I do is check my mail & then the obits. I was shockd to find Sheree North   whose movies Tom & I both liked as boys. she grew from sexpot to accomplishd actress.

I dashd to the gym to try to exorcise my anxiety. when I returnd there was an e-mail from a friend telling me of the death of John Fowles. at one time Fowles was Tom's favorite author. he's give me his copies of the novels after he read them.

I'm almost afraid to go outside to the mailbox.

what I read

I may have been reading Dickinson at 12 but my taste in fiction then was centerd on authors who wrote for children. I was 10 when I wrote my first fan letter to an author to Lois Lenski. by 12 I had a regular correspondence with Jean Bothwell. at abt that time I was also writing to Pearl S. Buck & Robert Lawson.

altho we all read comics as well   I was never addictd to them. my favorite was Classic Illustrated. of the action heroes I was most fond of Wonder Woman. & there was a comic which featurd fashion designs that children sent in.

but my favorite reading material as a child was movie magazines. Photoplay   Modern Screen   Screen Stories. usually in the front were the gossip columns of Hedda & Louella   Mike Connolly & Sidney Skolsky. then came the stories   many by sister team Reba & Bonnie Churchill. & all those glorious photos. George Nader in the tightest jeans ever made. Denise Darcel & Tab Hunter on a date. Robert Francis playing golf in Palm Springs.

I clippd these magazines & preservd my favorite images & stories in a series of scrapbooks. I've already written abt this in a series of poems which appeard in the inaugural issue of Court Green.

& my first publication (not counting an early drawing which appeard in a booklet of the Elyria schools) was a brief letter to the editor in the june 1957 issue of Screen Stories.

I miss the old movie magazines. today we still have celebrity publications but they lack the look & feel of the magazines of my childhood with those beautiful movie ads & studio portraits of Ava Gardner & candids of Rock Hudson getting a massage at Finlandia Baths & stories abt the men in Mamie Van Doren's life.

06 November 2005

little Alex receives his 1st rejection slip

yesterday's entry brought back the memory of my submission to Weekly Reader. it was early 1954 & what I sent wasn't publishd.

first   some background. my Aunt Sophie   my godmother   was a woman of such complexity it'd take a book to capture her. but for the sake of this story   let me just say that she was fond of jokes   esp offcolor ones. here's the only one I remember her telling me:

Q: where did Joe DiMaggio spend his honeymoon?
A: in Maryland.

altho at 10 I didn't "get it"   I must've found it quite hilarious because I submittd it to Weekly Reader. the rejection slip that came in the mail was a generic one. when I grew up   I often wonderd abt the reaction of the editors of Weekly Reader.

05 November 2005


I'm fascinatd by Silliman's last 2 posts abt early work. to think that Rae Armantrout had a poem in Weekly Reader when she was 7!

a late bloomer   I was already 12 when I wrote this:

  Blossoms, Blossoms, oh lovely Blossoms,
  An Artist's Pure Delight;
  With Butterflies around.
  Lovely at night;
  In the Pale Moonlight,
  The Bee's gone away;
  A perfect setting,
  On a perfect day.

was this my first poem? I don't know. but it is the earliest to survive. was it the poem that I carvd into the branch of a willow tree in the front yard? I don't know that either.

if someone were to ask me my earliest influence I'd not hesitate in naming Ferlinghetti. but this "poem" suggests that Emily Dickinson came earlier. I have terribly few poems from the apprentice period (1955-60). I startd publishing poems in 1962.

is all the early work bad? it's easy for a quick yes. but as a survivor who's still at it I must say that even some of the worst of those are instructional to me. I see the me I was -- both person & writer. I detect the changes   progress made   but also I retain some awe that I was creating with words before becoming a teenager.

04 November 2005

hard to believe

that Marilyn Monroe's death in 1962 is still making news. but there she was on "Good Morning America" sharing headlines with Shrub's dive in the polls & Camilla's drag queen voice.

apparently there's "new evidence" in the form of second hand memories being publishd in a popular magazine. was it suicide or accident or murder? certain stories will live forever.

03 November 2005

"queerer things were yet to come"

Hitchcock is my favorite Hollywood director. battling for second place are Wilder & Altman. last week I saw Wilder's "Avanti"   a late film which may have been his worst. to gargle away its taste last nite I saw one of his best   "Sunset Blvd."

I don't know how many times I've seen this film but it never looses its allure. it's that perfect blend of script & art direction   of casting & score. Swanson's Norma Desmond is such an indelible performance that it deserves its legendary status. I get lost in her face. Holden is so sexy he's lickable. but he's more than a hot body. he was a subtle sensitive actor whose naturalness balances Swanson's grand guinol performance. throw in Von Stroheim for more ghoul & a minute & a half of Keaton for comedy. mix all that up with those zingy lines & Franz Waxman's magnificent score.

because the movie has been around for 55 years it's accumulatd layers of meaning. & I suppose as with all great art there are universal layers & then those personal ones. as a cinemaddict I find the Hollywood levels irresistable. mentions of silent stars Marie Prevost & Wallace Reid   & of star getaways Catalina & Palm Springs. Hedda Hopper playing herself. that mansion & pool being used again by Nick Ray for "Rebel Without a Cause." the car at the Paramount gate being referencd by David Lynch in "Mulholland Drive."

then there's a fascinating true crime connection. we first see Holden's character Joe Gillis in the Alto Nido Apartments. legend has it that Elizabeth Short once livd there. later in the film Gillis shows up at a party & is introducd as a "Black Dahlia suspect." the actor mouthing that line is Jack Webb who 8 years later wd write a book abt the LAPD calld "The Badge" which includes a discussion of the Short case. that book was a favorite of a young man by the name of James Ellroy who wd write a novel calld The Black Dahlia   the manuscript of which I purchasd for Kent State University Libraries during my tenure as curator of Special Collections.

all these layers make the movie more & more fascinating to me. so it's a work of which I never tire.

02 November 2005

watching the news

2 big stories on the ayem shows:

first it seems the Dems finally got their balls back. that Senate meltdown was sheer fun & portends some fireworks for Scalito. & bravo to anyone who wipes that perpetual smirk off the mug of Senator Frist.

then there's Camila Parker Bowles. everyone seems to think she's a triumph. to me she remains the Duchess of Frump. I mean   with a staff of 40 laboring over you even Marjorie Main wd look elegant.

I turnd off news & turnd on blogs. feeling o so curmedgeonly while downing my second cuppa   I checkd Richard Lopez. I must tell you that his shots of Nicholas as a lobster are so dear that I feel totally avuncular. & the one of our wee lobster smiling at the bookshelves is probably as prescient as it is precious.

01 November 2005

dia de los muertos

among those I remember today is Susan Kirby.

we were students together at Eastern Heights Junior High. & then in our freshman year at Elyria High School she died of the Asian flu. she was my first contemporary to die. I still recall going to the funeral home & seeing her in her coffin.

today I remember Susan.