31 January 2006

The State of My Mind

the jackass in the White House is too scary so instead of listening to him pontificate tonite I watchd Bela Lugosi.


fascinating that "War of the Worlds" got both Oscar & Razzie noms. I confess I haven't seen it. it's just too painful to watch Tom Cruise.

30 January 2006

next up


what sillyass self-help guru came up with that concept? it's impossible to watch the evening news without hearing some "victim" whining thru an interview & demanding such & such to happen "to provide closure." fricking get over it.

Word Court

we are a litigious nation. o how we love to sue when things don't go our way. I think writers shd institute a court of their own. one in which a panel of peers cd put to death certain words.

my candidate for the first word in the docket is "awesome." my ancient college edition of Webster's defines it as "inspiring awe." you have only to listen in on a cellphone call by a young person at the grocery store or turn on a tv reality show to hear it utterd over & over. makes me cringe.

29 January 2006

good day & good luck

as I stumbld toward the coffeemaker I was thinking abt writing here. it was going to be abt Melina going rockclimbing this ayem. & I was the rock. but then I turnd on tv & learnd abt Bob Woodruff. so now I'm depressd.

28 January 2006


this restaurant in Manhattan's theater district is set for shutters this weekend.

so many famliar places on both coasts now exist only in my mind.

26 January 2006

"I've taken a liking to that gun of his"

"Brokeback Mountain" may be the first major openly gay cowboy movie but it isn't the first gay cowboy movie. some academic will one day write a dissertation abt all those hunky cowpokes & their "sidekicks." I remember abt a year ago seeing a Gene Autry film which astound'd me with the richness of its subtext revolving around a character playd by Sterling Holloway.

but perhaps the gayest classic western is Howard Hawks' "Red River." it's a great film with so many things going on in it & at so many levels that I can only hint abt its complexity here. but at the core is a love story between the characters playd by John Wayne & Montgomery Clift. major stuff. & then there's a lust story between Clift & John Ireland with some of the best double entendres since Mae West.

I hesitate to say more because if you haven't seen it you shd look it up.

25 January 2006

more soup

Richard Lopez informs me that not only is there a Campbell's plant out his way as well but that his father workd there. & the final 2 summers of his teens he did too.

& here's my constant reminder of Campbell's & its ramifications in contemporary art. it's a mug -- or more properly a soup cup -- which I purchasd on Thxgiving 2001 in Palm Springs. it carries the license of the Andy Warhol Foundation. that's a copy of the artist's signature beside the soup can image.

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24 January 2006

"skating with celebrities"

dilemma: I like John Zimmerman as skater & hottie but dislike this genre of competition tv. I missd the first show but finally turnd on last nite's. I witnessd some of the most appalling skating ever broadcast. Zimmerman emerges as the show's top star but I don't think his few minutes on screen are worth wasting an hour of one's life.

23 January 2006


I googld the Ohio hamlet & discoverd that it boasts "the world's largest Campbell Soup plant."

& a local headline today reads "State Fair adds Beef Performance and Carcass Quality Show."

22 January 2006

family history

after a busy day of writing I took a break. pickd up Henri Cole's The Visible Man. there I found the line "a shy farmboy from Napoleon,Ohio." it joltd me because I knew my parents were wed in that small town. but I got to thinking "why?" it's a distance from Lorain. so I calld my parents. they were surprisd since I'd already talkd with them at my regular time.

Mom sd that Dad was on furlough & had to get back. there was a 3-day wait to get married in Lorain. so they drove to Napoleon which had no waiting period. & Dad recalld paying "10 or 12 dollars" to spend the nite at someone's home. that amount includ'd breakfast. apparently this early type of bed & breakfast became a cottage industry in that town during the war.

Grace Cunard is not a ship

90 years ago she was one of the biggest stars in film. what makes the Ohio-born actress important today is that Cunard was a pioneer among women directors   having helmd 11 movies between 1914 & 1921. she also had a hand in writing nearly 100 films.

yesterday I took advantage of a tour of prints restored by Women's Film Preservation Fund. one of the 4 on the program was the 1917 short "Unmasked" which Cunard co-directd   co-wrote & co-starrd with Francis Ford. it isn't long nor particularly brilliant but fun to watch. it's a great example of filmmaking before the advent of soundstages. studios then were al fresco   no roof & only make-believe walls. so we see indoor scenes in which everything not naild down is being whippd by wind.

less than a decade after directing her final film Cunard was playing maids. later she'd have bits in "Bride of Frankenstein" & "The Mummy's Tomb" before retiring in 1946. she died 21 years later. but via the glory that is cinema there she was yesterday bigger than ever on a movie screen.

21 January 2006

mail from Mom

I've mentiond before that at least once a week my mother sends me an envelope full of clippings. she's done this forever.

the current mailing has the usual obits (deaths I already know abt: Phyllis Gates & Shelley Winters). there was also an article abt the naming of Jack Hirschman poet laureate of San Francisco. if John Macker hadn't sent me a notice of that a few days ago I wdn't have known. what makes it sweet is that Hirschman is a critic of Gavin Newsom but the sexiest mayor in America named him anyway.

but there were 2 articles which were fresh news & both were abt donations in the arts. the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts made a significant gift to support the Katrina Artists Fund which in turn grants cash to artists in Alabama & Louisiana & Mississippi & Texas who sufferd from the hurricane.

& Paul Newman -- one of the great actors in the history of film -- sent a check to Cleveland's Ensemble Theatre. the company uses the old Brooks Theater which has been part of the Cleveland Playhouse for years. in fact Newman made his stage debut on those very boards when he was 11. Ensemble is run by the Colombi twins (Lucia & Licia) who I remember from their student days at Kent State.

19 January 2006

Janis Joplin

today is her birthday. she was born 3 months before me.

the only time I heard her was in aug 1969 at Blossom Center in Ohio. one of the great musical moments of my life. we were both 26. she died abt 13 months later.

how often in that in-between time have I heard her sing "Me & Bobby McGee." I don't need to slap the vinyl on a turntable. it's burnd in my head.

18 January 2006

snail mail

not much comes that way anymore -- except bills. & Mother's weekly envelope of clippings. however today I got 2 packages. my Fort Worth penpal -- responding to my post here abt wearing the clothes of other people -- sent me 2 Hawaiian shirts & Cherokee cargo shorts of such a lovely cotton/nylon mix that I had to put them on immediately.

& Ira Joel often sends me packets of goodies. today is was a batch of vintage Playbills -- including 4 of Tennessee Williams productions. also he sent examples of his work -- color copies of some 1971 drawaings & a suite of versions of the photo P. Craig Russell took of us on that long-ago Oscar nite. here's one in which I think we look like a couple of Marx Brothers:

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thx gentlemen. major hugs to you both.

lettuce & pickles of Iraq

Noam Chomsky at 77 displays the functioning of his gray cells.

17 January 2006

Golden Globes

I was pissd at the Hollywood Foreign Press for not nominating Jake Gyllenhaal. then the show came on a few hours after I had to fork over an unexpectd $500 plus to a plumber. so I wasn't in the best mood for the frivolity that is this second-tier awards show.

altho I have issues with "Brokeback Mountain" I want it to win everything just to tick off those religious bigots who enjoy preaching against it. but I must say I was disgustd when Dennis Quaid sneeringly calld it a "dick flick." & I wasn't pleasd when the folks from the movie who did win faild to mention its theme.

in fact the only clever acceptance speeches came from tv folk whose work I don't know (Hugh Laurie & Steve Carrell). at least we got to see a minute & a half of Catherine Deneuve.

15 January 2006

images linger/ideas spin

so I mow thru this new Black Dahlia book. & I can't shake it.

I go to Crag Hill's blog. he begins a "give my stamp a name" competition. the first image is a piece of sidewalk with some grass (which will become "course would course"). I immediately see the lot on Norton where the bisectd parts of Elizabeth Short were found.

then this morning I begin reading Mark Young's Betabet & encounter the line "Sacred / sites are fairground / businesses." I remember Wolfe discussing Harry Hensen bending over Beth's pieces at that Norton lot. the author quotes something Hansen wrote in a police handbook: "Homicide is a union that never dies. Like marriage, murder is an irreversible act. It can never be changed, or the circumstances altered. The murderer and the victim are tied together in a bond that goes on into infinity. That's why I say it's sacred, and every murder scene has its sacred ground which should not be touched." but of course the Norton lot quickly became what Mark mite call a fairground.

I no longer remember when I first saw those grisly photos taken on Norton but they are as indelible as images from the JFK assassination & the Kent State massacre. & they obviously color my vision.

14 January 2006

Out of a Poem of Words Perfectly Inexact

Out of a poem of words perfectly inexact
You will discover my meaning, who now
Wince in so many ways under my love
As if it were a distant relative
Come unexpectedly
To spend the week-end, or a kangaroo
Delivered without instructions as to diet.
Not a kiss interrupted by your timidities
Nor a long loving look from which you turn your eyes
Will give you this direction;
Neither will your rational conclusions.
You will bend over me
As a pianist who discovers his mistake
And walks, surprised, into a city of curious customs
Which was not there last time he came this road.

    Jake Falstaff

my neglectorino

somewhere in my papers is a review I wrote in the early 1970s of a book Putnam publishd in 1937: The Bulls of Spring: The Selected Poems of Jake Falstaff. Falstaff was the psuedonym of Herman Fetzer   a burly newspaperman whose friends included Hart Crane & William Sommer. altho he spent some time in NYC   most of his 36 years unwound in Ohio.

I remember trying to make the case that in the poem "Interludium in Modo Antico" that Fetzer/Falstaff was the literary grandfather of Frank O'Hara. that poem begins:
At Luchow's in Fourteenth Street
On the evening of Saturday, July 27, 1929,
Having eaten a dinner of sauerbraten, weinkraut and kaskuchen,
Having smoked two cigarettes and the half of a cigar,
Having made a mental note to have my shoes shined
And buy the Everyman edition of the Paston Letters . . .

I showd the piece to John Ashbery who paid as much attention to it as he did to my poems. but I recall Paul Metcalf taking it seriously.

it's been some years since I've read Fetzer but with the recent blog interest in forgotten poets he came to mind.

13 January 2006

an absorbing read

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each new book abt the Elizabeth Short case "reveals" a different murderer. the recent Daddy Dearest volumes (Knowlton & Hodel) seemd wildly far-fetchd. but my fascination with this haunting crime makes me want to read more.

on tues I bought The Black Dahlia Files but had time to read only a few pages. on wed I was involvd with out-of-town visitors. but yesterday I read straight thru the more than 350 pages -- quite the achievement for a slow reader. I don't want to give away Wolfe's conclusions but I will say that anyone interestd in Hollywood of the '40s or in the history of true crime will want to purchase this.

11 January 2006

ride the white horses to yr sacred place

Don Cauble informs me that Rachel & Douglas Blazek exchangd vows between Xmas & New Year's.

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10 January 2006

"knowledge = paralysis"

Tom Beckett quotes Nietzsche this morning as I feel the accumulation of little deaths surround me. I search for air in bedroom corners. cat follows me. she thinks I'm daft. she's deft at that. she can know without shutting down. right now she's gone into her closet hideaway. she realizes she's invincible there. I can't tel her she's not so I'll take a walk. if I don't move I'll go mad. I know that.

09 January 2006

Tracey Twins

I first heard them live at a political rally at Euclid Beach Park in the fall of 1956 the year of their biggest hit record "Tonight You Belong to Me."

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at the time the Billy Rose song was 30 years old. it was first a hit for Gene Austin in 1927. but another sister team made it a new hit. Reserve Records did a cover with the Tracey Twins who were from Cleveland. so on northern Ohio radio stations we heard their version rather than the other. 8 years later actor George Maharis titld one of his albums after the song. & it had a new life when Steve Martin & Bernadette Peters performd it in "The Jerk."

born Eudice & Eunice Margolis   the twins startd singing & tapdancing before audiences at 4 & were Cleveland favorites. I cdn't find a download of "Tonight You Belong to Me" but there are snippets of other recordings online.

as a teenager I was smitten by the twins. I met them & kept in touch over the years. here I am with them in my backyard in the summer of 1984:

the last time I saw them perform was in Chagrin Falls in 1990. in the last few years Eudi has begun a new career as an actress in indie films.

Eudi & Euni celebrate their birthday today & I send them best wishes.

08 January 2006

07 January 2006


making hay from old notes

      for Mark Young

tombstones hides
rolling sand soon

curtain clouds
rubbing yr photograph

plunge discover
like bath fingers

dampening sentimentality
with old yogurt

repeat eyes
we wet ourselves

root of
scratchd nun monthly

mite blow
sky pie dresser

never never
teaches lovers distrust

some beauty
only deep dark

winter poems
heat eats Keats

bed tension
without discovering skin

scrapes with
apprehensive to down

triangles dead
some wastd chocolate

04 January 2006

son of summer stock

in one of those synchronicities which seem to happen more & more often: on the same day I wrote abt summer stock I encounterd a sweet description of working in a company in the summer of 1961 by pioneering gay playwright Robert Patrick.

it was a surprise to hear that hunky George Montgomery pinchd his bottom. & that he washd Penny Fuller's hair was fascinating to me because she was in the last show I saw in summer stock. Patrick workd with her in Kennebunkport. I saw her not that many miles away in Ogunquit 43 years later when she playd Vera Charles to the Mame Dennis of Charles Busch.

that summer of stock was the in-between time for Patrick the Santa Fe waiter & Patrick the playwright of Caffe Cino. I just love all these layers.

03 January 2006

summer stock

James Robert Parish sent me a fascinating link this morning. it's a list of the productions of the Kenley Players.

John Kenley (who turns 100 next year) was a onetime Broadway chorus boy who became a producer. he brought major stage & screen & TV stars to Ohio every summer to perform in stock. my first experience with that cavernous auditorium in Warren was in the summer of 1959 when I joind cousins Regina & Vivian to see real-life Hollywood couple Virginia Mayo & Michael O'Shea in a light comedy. my only memories of that long-ago production were that Mayo lookd gorgeous & her husband muggd mercilessly.

over the years I saw everyone from Gloria Swanson & Sylvia Sidney to Tommy Kirk & Vincent Price in Kenley productions. it was a way for current & past stars to appear before fans in the hinterlands. & it also was a training ground for such future stars as Elizabeth Hartman & John Spencer.

summer stock is pretty much dead now. in its heyday there were theaters all over the east coast & creeping into the midwest. it was a glorious time for theatergoers & just one more vanishing tradition which I miss.

02 January 2006

rain on Bill's parade

don't think I've ever seen a Tournament of Roses Parade broadcast before. abt all I know abt it is that my friend May McAvoy was parade queen back in the '20s. but New Mexico had a float this year so I turnd it on.

the network commentators were so inane that I switchd to HGTV. I felt so bad for all those band members having to play for hours in the rain.

my state hasn't had a float in years. I'm sure the only reason we have one today is because our governor wants to be president & there he was waving in the rain. I'd take the downpour as a bad omen but I'm sure Richardson will finese his way out of that & as politicians are wont to do turn it all into sunshine.

01 January 2006

questions for the new year

2006 opens with these images: Richard Florida asking a Chicago audience for questions   Judith Malina suggesting Ray Johnson provokd his audience into asking questions.

if questioning is the theme for the new year's first day   I'll present a couple favorites askd by poets:

"who do you think you are   Jo Van Fleet?"
-- Frank O'Hara

"Do I think I'm the beautiful pants?"
-- Joe Ceravolo