23 December 2023

a first kiss & other memories

 one of my few public school classmates with whom I still communicate sent me a photo I'd never seen. it was of a 7th grade class at Eastern Heights. I probably have never seen it because it's not my homeroom. but I knew so many in that photo.

this is a section I editd. the boy with glasses is my best friend from that period -- the artist T. R. Queen. & the blonde on the right in front is Denise Gainer. I was struck by their proximity because there is a photobooth shot of Tom & I on a double date with Denise & her younger sister on the cover of Alex in Movieland.

I've written abt Tom over the years because he was a major figure in my early life. but I don't think I've written abt Denise.

as you can see she was a beauty. even in junior high she stood out with her movie star looks. Denise was a neighbor. we only went out together a few times. but I remember once we kissd. I don't recall the details of the date but I have a vivid memory of that kiss. the first time I ever kissd a girl. & strangely I have zero memory of my first boy kiss.

Denise began singing when she was 9 & while in high school she appeard semi-regularly on Gene Carroll's tv show in Cleveland. it was Carroll who introduced her to band leader Blue Barron. after high school Denise hit the road as Barron's singer. she ended up in Chicago where 2 years later she got a leading role in the musical review "Put It in Writing." we all thot she was on her way to stardom. but then we didn't hear anything.

she died in Kentucky in 2009. her obituary noted her 34-year marriage. 2 children & 9 grandchildren. & a life long love of music.

20 December 2023


 that's what my parents calld me. I suspect it was because they gave me Dad's first name. altho generally he was Al & I was Alex. I have no way of knowing when this began. the earliest documentation I have is this note Mom made in one of my baby books:

yesterday a new restaurant opend in town. because it's calld Sonny's I went this morning for breakfast. the lobster benedict with potatoes & peppers was spot on. I wish I was able to call Mom now & tell her all abt it.

Sheila Smith (1933-2023)


here's a little song Sheila wrote for my 50th birthday:

28 November 2023

on the air

 just taped an interview for the popular radio show "Coach Lynn." ostensibly abt both of my current releases ("Flowers & the Dead" & "The Poet's Bench: A Palm Springs Coloring Book." I think it airs next week.

because poetry isn't high on most people's love list it's always good for me to try to spread the word. 

07 November 2023


 to have this little collection of recent poems come out this month from Bone Machine

09 October 2023

Famous Widows I've Seen

 Edith Bolling Galt Wilson

Eleanor Roosevelt

Dorothy Davenport Reid

Frances Howard Goldwyn 

Valerie Eliot

Miriam Patchen

25 September 2023

Cinema Diverse

 actor Mat Hayes wrote a script for a short movie. his friends Emerson Collins & Del Shores filmd it with Mat in the lead. "Shafted" involves 2 men in an elevator which stops. I saw it yesterday at our gay film festival. & when it was over I askd Mat if he'd pose with me -- in an elevator. he sweetly agreed.

20 August 2023

I'm safe

 exhaustd but still alive.

we're in a lull right now. but it is still active here thru morning.

13 July 2023

"10 Pages"

on my milestone birthday I performd "Gildzen at 80" on the beach in Monterey. at the end of the piece I dug up some sand from the middle of the zero & put it in a Ziplock bag.

photo by Gary Sielaff

I wantd the sand for another piece I was doing -- "The Earth Jar."  I used what I needed but still had sand left in the bag. at one point I gave Christine Anthony & Owen Masterson one of the pages from Gildzen at 50 I used in the Monterey piece along with a little bag of the sand. but there was still enuf sand to call me to do more.

then last nite after hitting the pillow my wandering mind came up with a new piece. I decided to take 10 pages from Gildzen at 50 which I'd used in the Monterey piece & affix the sand onto them with glue. I have no idea how long these pieces will last but I'm pleased with them. & now my multiple decades can be celebratd in numerous places.

22 June 2023

as far as I know

 these are the only photographs of me writing.

Michael Chikiris shot this when we were roommates in a garret apartment on Willow St in Kent probably in 1964.

Dimitri shot this during our travels in Greece in 1987.

19 June 2023


it happens offer. I conduct a search for something & in the process discover something else. tonite I learnd that late last year Poet's Press brought out the second edition of a book of poems they first releasd in 1972. yes..... that's a half century.

the book is Freedom and Other Times. it's a collection of poems by a classmate of mine in grad school. his name is Bob Carothers. when we were teaching fellows in Kent's English Department in 1967 we began a magazine calld "Toucan." how strange but sweet that after all this time his book is back & I still publish using the imprint of Toucan Press.

I haven't seen or even been in touch with Bob in a very long time. but reading his poems tonite -- especially in the Kent section -- brought back so many memories. I cd see him in class & our heavy conversations after. I cd even hear him recite particular lines I recalld from one of those poems at poetry readings we did in The Cellar & other spots.  it was a time of promise. the promise of youth. & we're both still here to remember it while basking in the successes of lives well led.


15 June 2023

a poetry coloring book

David Wallace Crotty is best known as a photographer. but he also has creatd a series of coloring books. Palm Springs. Historic Hollywood.  San Simeon. Johnson Glass House. I got the idea of collaborating on a book. so I wrote poems based on his Palm Springs drawings.

today we proofd the book. he's sending it on to the printer. we hope to have a local book launch soon.

I don't know if anyone has done a coloring book with poems. I hope not. but even if there is one out there I'm thrilld to be part of this venture. as I say in a series of art pieces "poems are everywhere." & I keep putting them wherever I can.

31 May 2023

"Band of Bags"

the tote that holds them:

I've never been to Dinkel's. however I ordered from them for my parents. one of the gifts included this tote bag. my parents told me they had no use for it & gave it to me. it immediately became a favorite. I carried it around town. & since its dark green matchd my roll-on it joind me on years of travels to countless cities. when I got to Palm Springs I felt it no longer fit & put it in a drawer -- until I decided its forever home was as container in this piece.

the bags:

Silver Threads was a store next to Captain Brady's & across the street from the original Kent State University Library (now the fashion museum). I think this small bag dates from early to mid 1970s.

I was in Venice at the very end of 1983 with David Meredith & others. an admirer bought me a black silk Iparalleli scarf at La Couple. it remaind in this bag for 40 years.

while in Budapest (again with Meredith) in may of 1985 I bought several bags of paprika. the spice was in plastic bags which were then placed in these attractive cloth ones.

for Valentines Day 1989 my partner gave me a gift in this bag showing Judy Garland wearing the ruby red slippers.

legendary Santa Fe artist Bernique Longley made drawings on both sides of this bag. if memory serves it containd a Valentine gift in 1996.

in may of 2002 I took a bus trip to Marfa sponsored by Site Santa Fe. my travel buddies included philanthropist Hope Aldrich Rockefeller & textile artist James Koehler. we stayd at Hotel Limpia. while there I bought a jar of peach spread which was in this bag. that vessel is now half of my piece "2 Jars." 

in june of 2002 I attended Kennedy Center's Sondheim Celebration. this bag held my souvenirs -- a mug & several pens (all with the same illustration).

on a flight to Maui in may of 2004 I was given this little bag. I have no memory of what was in it but have kept it waiting to put it in an art piece.

I bought gala apples from Mrs. Grobe herself in sept of 2011. Grobe Fruit Farm is an Elyria tradition.

the first piece of art I bought after moving to Palm Springs in may of 2016 was a small drawing by Tod Bailey at Ted Casablanca. gallery owner Bruce Bibby put the work in this bag.

on visits to Palm Springs I usually stoppd at See's Candies on La Plaza. so it was a natural place to go after moving. this bag is circa 2017.

in sept of 2021 I lunchd at Norma's with Sheryl Berk (aka Wendy Wonder). following our meal she drew me in The Parker's lobby on a bag from the restaurant. 

in mar of 2022 I purchasd a small work by Nikki Verbitsky from Artize Gallery in Backstreet Art District & it was nestled in this bag.

for my 80th birthday Gary Sielaff & I did a road trip. the first nite we stayd at Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo where we got birthday cake from the bakery. it came with this bag which containd a pair of pink napkins which I later put in my art books.

17 May 2023

a sad morning

on this day for decades I'd call Mary Ann Begland for her birthday. we'd talk for at least an hour. it was a tradition we both cherishd. 

this is the first birthday since she died. 

29 April 2023

"Gildzen at 80"

 I woke on my 80th birthday (25 apr 23) in the city of my birth -- Monterey CA. my friend Gary Sielaff (who drove on my Big Birthday Road Trip) & I walkd from our rooms at Monterey Bay Inn to the nearby public beach at Monterey Bay Park. I was wearing an Elyria High School t-shirt & carrying a large envelope containing the makings of a piece.

I had ripped out all the pages of a copy of Gildzen at 50. my intention was to make a large 80 from these pages on the beach. but I hadn't taken one thing into consideration -- the weather. as I began to lay down pages to make the 8 the wind took the pages away. I was disconsolate. I knew I had to get the gears going. I cdn't find the many stones needed to weigh down the pages. so I decided to put batches of the pages into crevices on the rock slope beside the sand.

I found a stick & drew an 80 at the slope's base. then I posed for Gary in the middle of the 0 waving Dad's garrison cap (which I like to think he wore on the presidio where I was born) & one of Mom's envelopes from my 2006 piece "85 Envelopes." they were with me when I was born & I made sure they were here for my celebration. 

I scoopd up some sand from the middle of the 0 for my piece "earth jar" & gatherd up the batches of pages. then we were off to visit the presidio. later in the day I returnd to the spot & of course the 80 had washed away.

19 March 2023

a tale of red feathers

 one of my town's best annual social events is the Red Dress/Dress Red Party. it's a fundraiser for our gay community center & is held at the Air Museum. 3000 people attend.

I long hoped that my Fort Worth friend Bob Barnes wd come to the party one day.

after he died his estate sent me a number of his effects. among them was a carnival mask with red feathers. it still had the price tag on. in my heart I knew Bob bought it to wear to Red Dress.

so last nite I finally brought him to the party.

15 March 2023


I just got an e-mail from "The Blogger Team" claiming that a post of mine called "The Dissolve" from June of 2010 was reportd. it was reviewd & deemd to violate guidelines -- specifically "our Malware & Viruses policy." & thus was "unpublishd."

I have no idea what this entry was. nor how one's writing can violate a policy on malware & viruses. I do get an occasional suspicious comment but for the most part this blog has a low readership. & I doubt any of my readers are a Gladys Kravitz keen to report activity outside the norm.

it feels odd that in a writing career of some 65 years I'd have something of mine "unpublishd." perhaps I shd be happy that some snoop is going back to read my old posts. however it does raise questions abt the "mortality" of what we put online. I'd hate to see this blog which I began in 2004 dissolve. & it does make me happy that last year Crisis Chronicles Press publishd my "Arroyo Chamisa: poems rescued from a blog." I'd hate to have all those poems disappear.

12 March 2023

26 February 2023

those birds

 when I saw the birds yesterday I was thinking that the ravens were acting like vultures.

this morning I learnd that they were indeed vultures..... doing that sinister circling they do. apparently our ill weather brought them to town.

25 February 2023

rainy day

 on my way home from the store I saw a swirl of ravens menacing the gray sky. as I walkd I passd a couple of codgers. they too were looking upward. one sd to the other: "it's like a new Hitchcock film."  I was delightd that the master is still rememberd.

31 January 2023

"A" in cement

in 1946 my parents rentd a small house on Lexington Ave in Elyria. that summer Dad made a concrete stoop. my parents put my hand & foot prints in the cement. 

if I'd begun reading movie magazines at 3 I was more of a baby cinemaddict than even I imagined. perhaps Mom -- who also loved movies -- had read abt Grauman's Chinese Theater. anyway I was doing the Hollywood thing early on.

it was decades before I was in Santa Fe. again a concrete step was being made for my back door. & my partner at the time & I both put out first initial in the cement with an ampersand in between.

flash forward to now. last week I endured a costly & anxiety-producing underground water leak. part of the repair included jackhammering a hole in the middle of the driveway. this morning the workers returnd to fill in the hole. of course I used that opportunity to graumanize my property.

I suspect Palm Springs will never honor me with a star in the sidewalk downtown. my final hometown will live in my work but this may be my lasting physical imprint.

17 January 2023

Palm Springs International Film Festival 2023

 a dozen days of movies & panels & parties. my kind of thing. I've been going since I moved here & have always enjoyd it but this year's was the best yet.

among the memorable films were "Close" & "Chevalier" & "Driving Madeleine."

& a large thank you to my cousin Regina for the super passes she got which allowd us first entry into screenings as well as numerous extras.

with Regina at the awards gala

with Austin Butler at the Variety brunch

Jane Fonda / Lily Tomlin / Paul Weitz

with Lukas Dhont (director of "Close")

red carpet for closing nite film