29 April 2007

my week away

most of my time was spent with Mom & Dad. but I did get here where I bought them produce & meat & pastries. also returnd to Oberlin College to see this photography exhibition at the Allen:

28 April 2007


this is a difficult stage of my life. while I adjust to the infelicities of my own aging I must deal with the decline of my parents. each visit with them is more painful but at the same time we laugh when we can & exhibit love with abandon.

22 April 2007

poet laureate of the blogosphere?

according to Blogpulse there are more than 4 million blogs. in fact there are some 60000 new blogs every day. so it's humbling that anyone finds a path here.

I encourage everyone to seek out this contest not because it honors me but because it honors all poets who blog. there are many worthies not on this list but this is a start. it's an exciting & supportive community.

21 April 2007

one final fading image

I "saved" this 1966 snapshot as well. I don't think it was a quality photo to begin with but time had diminishd it even more.

I no longer recall the ocassion or the photographer but this family picture of me with my father & his father has a sort of Grant Wood quality that I like.

20 April 2007

our fading past

just as memories become less our photographic heritage fades.

as I was scanning the photo with Rufus' arm I noticd that it's already begun to dim. that sent me to my photograph box. b & w tends to be more stable over the decades. but I found a set of color pictures taken in 1979 that were so discolord they seem unreal. I put a few on the scanner. happily some restoration can be done to bring back original colors.

from that batch is the only photo of me with Ken Irby. the focus is fuzzy & even with some tinkering it isn't perfect but at least a small moment of history has been preservd.

19 April 2007


I took this photo of Wainwright in 1999. I was producing the first pop music concert in the history of Santa Fe Opera as a benefit for the AIDS organization on whose board I servd. I was delightd that RW was performing.

unfortunately I didn't have anyone take a picture of me with the singer. I think that was because the event's "official" photographer had taken one of us. he was sitting in a chair with me sort of squatting beside him. he brushd my face with his hand as the photog focusd.

after the event we saw what happend to all the pictures she took. she was using someone else's camera which somehow malfunctiond in such a way that every photo was only half of the image of intent. so all you see of Rufus is his arm.

18 April 2007

photo booths

many readers of this blog will be too young to know what photo booths were. when I was a boy they were everywhere & I adore the instant documents taken in these booths.

this one was probably taken at Woolworth's in downtown Elyria abt 1954 with my friend Bob Poling. I'll resist comment.

16 April 2007


the shootings at Virginia Tech took me right back to that terrible day at Kent State.

the circumstances were different but the press coverage eerily similar.

15 April 2007

meeting a documentarian

I met Craig Highberger in the shadow of the Kerouac scroll. he was in town for a couple of days working on a film commission. we exchangd a few e's after I'd seen & admird his Jackie Curtis doc "Superstar in a Housedress" but this was our initial face-to-face.

after the presentation we did an art tour of the city -- running into such locals as Victoria Price & Gary Farmer. at one point in our getting-to-know-each-other conversations I mentiond having seen Holly Woodlawn at the Warhol Museum in Craig's hometown. he pulld out his cell phone & placd a call     handing the phone over to me for a naughty little chat with the underground star.

we lunchd at Cowgirl Hall of Fame & purchasd Haywood's fabulous chocolates at Todos Santos before saying good-bye. then last nite I watchd his newest film "Jack Mitchell: My Life is Black and White." what a joy. anyone who's been involvd in the arts in the past half century will know Mitchell's work. 2 of my favorites are his portrait of Louis Falco in "Timewright" -- abt which I wrote a poem many years ago -- & a photo of the Alvin Ailey company which was on a poster I've had for at least 4 decades.

one hopes Craig will continue making films for years & years. I think he's the perfect candidate to document the history & influence of After Dark magazine whose editor Bill Como used hundreds of Mitchell photographs.

there are some clips from Craig's Mitchell film on You Tube which shd enchant you enuf to want to purchase the DVD.

14 April 2007

"On the Road" on the road

the Kerouac manuscript is on tour. this morning I saw it unscrolld at the Palace of the Governors.

I guess the biggest shock is to see how it was editd into its known state. but this fall -- the 50th anniversary of its original publication -- we'll see the scroll text in book form.

13 April 2007

the winter that won't quit

calendar says spring but freezing rain striking the house woke me while it was still dark. & right now it's snowing like mad.

12 April 2007

thinking abt Snub

when you give yr whole life to yr art you suffer ups & downs. last year's headliner in unemployment line. poet with dozens of books gets rejection from a kid. painter of the year disappears from the art mags.

disappearance can be tricky. is the lost poet still churning out some epic? does yesterday's painter have an attic of art waiting discovery? but what abt movie stars? hard for them to disappear. o sure..... there are the classic stories of Wanda Hawley becoming a prostitute & Veronica Lake being discoverd as a waitress. & then there are those who don't leave Hollywood & who keep working even if it means becoming an extra.

an entry or so ago I mentiond Snub Pollard. he was an important silent screen comic. second tier but nonetheless important.

he workd in films for half a century. there are silent films in which he had top billing. & then there are appearances in such classics as "All About Eve" & "Singin' in the Rain" in which you can't look down at yr popcorn box or you miss him.

last nite he was on TCM again. the film was Wellman's "Stingaree." I endured Irene Dunne's singing just for those few moments of Snub. he's always a joy to see. somewhere between silent stardom & mid-century bits Pollard did a batch of cheap westerns. in the late 30s he was Tex Ritter's sidekick PeeWee. he always brought presence to a role. I suspect Snub was a favorite of filmmakers. in the last decade of his life he appeard under direction of Chaplin   Fuller   Brando   Capra.

I love movies. but sometimes I'm heartbroken watching them. every time I see a forgotten star standing in a crowd scene I can come close to tears. & seeing Snub Pollard can do that to me. often I think I'm the last one alive to remember some of these names. but Snub recently got some justice. there was a film series in NYC calld "Forgotten Clowns Ride Again." & sure enuf there was an evening which had just a few of his more than 450 film credits. I wish I cd've been there. I know it wd've been laughs mixd with tears but I wd've been on my feet cheering for a movie star who was finally back on the marquee.

11 April 2007

nonautomobilists of the world unite

I accompany my morning coffee with television news. in these long years of the regime of President Worst Ever that has often startd my days with disgust. but this morning there was one of those "human interest" tales which brought a smile.

a NYC couple who don't drive hired a taxi to take them to their retirement home in Arizona.

10 April 2007

my new alarm

I miss Melina getting me up. her method was sweet. she'd jump on the bed & creep quietly toward me. then she'd extend her paw which she'd gently brush against my face till I woke.

now I have birds who've made a nest in the courtyard outside my bedroom. they begin to chirp at abt the time of morning Melina woke me. the chirping is loud & constant enuf to get me out of bed.

09 April 2007

a block on which to build a shrine to Virginia Grey

the last time I talkd with Virginia Grey I told her how much I'd like to see "Jeanne Eagels" again. she lookd wistful & sd she thot she did well in it.

I finally found the film on DVD & watchd it last nite. despite the fact that both Daniel Fuchs & John Fante workd on the screenplay -- it's bad. Kim Novak gives a nearly legendary lousy performance. one wants to forgive her because she had moments of blinding beauty. but she stinks. as does her leading man: all that's perky abt Jeff Chander are his nipples.

that sd -- I'm glad I saw it in this its 50th anniversary year. because Virginia Grey -- in her few moments on screen -- is as moving as I rememberd. Grey was one of those actresses who never achievd superstardom but never let down an audience. in one small part after another she was a joy.

it's also good to see silent screen comedian Snub Pollard in a bit in which he dances with Novak. & if you don't blink you'll spot a second of Richard Harrison in one of his first screen appearances.

but the one real reason to sit thru this turkey is to witness the art of Virginia Grey.

08 April 2007

chocolate Jesus

so the Catholics managd to keep that art work from being seen.

my question is: who's gonna eat it?

07 April 2007

Calvin Lockhart (1934-2007)

I met Alger Hiss

some of the kind folks who stop by here from time to time are young. so they may not know the significance of that name.

back in the Cold War era spying was a major industry. a fat gay spy by the name of Whittaker Chambers accusd the State Department's Hiss of passing secrets to the Soviets. it gets complicatd: microfilm hidden in a hollowd-out pumpkin & given to Richard Nixon. plot twists worthy of Hollywood.

I bring all this old history up because Hiss is back in the news. at an NYU sympsoium this week an author offers new information suggesting Hiss wasn't the spy history labels him as being. & at the same event Hiss' stepson sd that Chambers made up the claims because he was in love with Alger but Alger didn't reciprocate. don't you just adore history?

Hiss came to Kent State in 1977 & visitd my department. our "coversation" was brief & centerd on the collections. but for me it was another instance of connecting to history. this theme that runs thru Alex in Movieland began when I was a boy. I was 13 when I saw Woodrow Wilson's widow & even then I realizd the power of occupying the same time & place with those who made history.

06 April 2007

my aviary

clockwise (sort of) from top:

toucan purchasd in Key West
toucan candle from Cynthia
toucan tile purchasd at Buffalo Springs Station on Catalina as a gift from Billy
toucan purchasd in Brazil
toucan letter opener also from Brazil
Fanizani Akuda sculpture
toucan purchasd in Aruba
Aunt Mary's gourd rattle
chicken from Aruba

05 April 2007

"the drag of the dead"

Being Frida Kahlo works on many levels.

I don't want to spoil the joy of a first reading of Jim McCrary's newest chapbook. so I won't "reveal" what it's abt. besides -- what it's abt for me may not be what's it's abt for you or even for McCrary.

it seems like a simple little set of poems but boy.... it's rich.

03 April 2007


I heard that word on "BBC World News" this morning.

can you imagine hearing one of our network dudes uttering it?

02 April 2007


been watching "Twin Peaks" again.

here I am with Ray Wise & his wife Kass when they came over for drinks in the summer of 1983. I began following Ray's acting career when he was still an undergrad appearing in such diverse productions as "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" & "She Loves Me."

01 April 2007

weighing in on Dorn

in 1973 Kitaj sent me this print of Dorn. currently it's in my kitchen. so in a small way Ed is part of my everyday life. that sd let me admit that till yesterday I hadn't read a poem of his in years.

I knew Dorn for abt 3 years in the early 70s when he taught at Kent State. I recall that in our first real conversation I told him I had problems with Gunslinger because of its homophobia. (I don't own a copy so can't give specific examples from the text.) I no longer recall the particulars of his denial. but he must've put me at ease because he & Jenny came to my house for dinner & I went to their's for dinner.

by the time Donald Allen brought out The Collected Poems I think Ed had left Kent. & I'm not sure how soon after its publication I bought the book. but that collection includes a particularly vile poem calld "When the Fairies."

here are just a few of its lines:

When the fairies fly back to Santa Fe
coming in on their smelly little wings
they gesticulate and Paris is meant
and they play games like guess what
book is meant,

and what color
and order drinks no one can mix.

this insensitive piece is from 1959. so perhaps it is to be dismissd as the macho posturing of a young straight poet of an era when shrinks thot we were mentally ill. I must say that Ed treatd me well. I recall when John Wieners visitd campus Ed brought him to Special Collections & made certain we had time together.

but if he "outgrew" such feelings why did he include such a poem in the 1975 collection? & is it in the new collection that's causing such comment in the blogosphere?

I have so many unread books spilling over on the livingroom table where I assign the waiting that I doubt I'll be running to the stores for Way More West. but someday I need to read thru the body of Dorn's work with an open mind.