Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dating Sites And My Friend Susan

I am on a couple of "Dating" sites. I "joined" them thinking "What the hell!" and "Who knows?"  An old friend of mine, Susan, who lives 3000 miles from here (we've known one another for about 40 years, perhaps a bit longer), after reading my "Profile," which is below, said, "You're really not taking any chances...anyone who responds to that is going to know and perceive just about everything they need to know about you."

She added that "It's about time. You've had such bloody poor judgment with regard to women in all the time I've known you. Any woman who goes for that is going to know exactly what she's getting into, though you took a little time to get there. Who knows, maybe you'll finally find an ex-Beat or dyed-in-the-wool hippie...remember, you and I never entirely left that era."

When we talked about it, we both thought the same thing: "Why didn't we ever get together?" We had spent a helluvalot of time together when we both lived in New York, we went out to dinner and just about the City regularly. We both think we probably even slept together.

We both concluded that it was probably fortunate that we didn't and just remained close friends over all these years, perhaps the closest of friends. And neither of us had any idea what would have occurred had we lived together for any length of time, or even married. She's not now, nor ever has been though she lives, somewhat uncomfortably, with a fellow.

There is no way, is there, to ever tell. Following is the profile about which she spoke.

It's always challenging to write about oneself, but it occurred to me that I'd face it as the ex-reporter I once was and try the answer the questions I would ask.

That noted, my Mother, from Greenwich Village where I was born and raised, was a psychiatrist, my Dad, a reporter, from Indiana. The combination, I suppose accounts for what I think is my rather wide range tastes and interests.

Notwithstanding an in advanced degree in 19th Century Literature, I worked as a reporter for a very long time, mostly in Washington, DC, covering Congress for a major national paper. For the past 2+ decades I've run a Crisis Management and Communications firm.

I raised two boys from the ages of 6 and 3, as a single parent and sole custodian. That, simply put, was my greatest accomplishment and they remain my best and closest friends.

My interests, well, are modestly eclectic: I'm a great fan of old movies, 19th and early 20th century art, music and the New York Yankees, among others. I'm not a fan of the gym. The only places I travel any longer are to France, and then only to the south, St. Didier to be precise, though I do enjoy Paris, but it's been several years and New York. When I was a reporter, I spent a great of time traveling, almost everywhere; after that I did for my business. It no longer excites me.

I'm not at all a fan of cell phones (when did we ever need to be this well connected), or those who constantly check these devices in movie theatres (why I rarely attend movies these days, as well as because of Woody Allen's quote in "Annie Hall," "My feet stick to the floor." I abhor the so-called "experts" on MSNBC, CNN, etc. While interested in politics, I'm no longer the political junkie I once was as the process has become so tawdry and mercenary that it now falls into my "life's too short" bucket. That noted, I am a liberal left-wing Democrat from NYC.

While this may sound a bit odd, we could well be a match if you've read "Herzog" more than once and liked it and seen both "A Thousand Clowns" and "Nobody's Fool" multiple times and could again. Arguably, that's a bit obscure perhaps, but it would be a remarkable beginning in a relationship for me.

My dog, Rex, a Cocker Spaniel who just turned 11, is my "second" best friend, after my kids. I live in a "clean well-lighted place," to quote Hemingway, that's filled with art and I think well appointed. I'm a helluva cook and baker. I play a bit of guitar and a dulcimer, and love jazz, blues and folk.

I'm happy to answer virtually any question you may have about my life as I consider it "penance" for asking so many as a reporter. However, perhaps I can answer a few of them in advance. It seems many here, if not most, seem to like "fine dining, long walks on the beach, dressing up, men who are 'athletically toned,' over 5'6" or the like" and so forth.

Here's how I feel about those things: I'd rather cook for you than attend a restaurant. I've done enough of that in my life, many of the greats around the world and I find them now rather boring, if not distracting. I've had enough "long walks on the beach," and to paraphrase Captain Renault to Rick in "Casablanca," "There are no waters in Las Vegas." "Dressing up" is something I can certainly do, however, it's a rare day when I'm not wearing jeans and sandals. While I'm not obese, I'm clearly not "athletically-toned."

That might sound a bit arrogant. However, I don't want any misperceptions about who I am. And I don't want to sound arrogant when I say that if you're seeking a long term relations, a partner, a lover and a friend who's witty, engaging, empathic (perhaps to a fault), well-informed, politically astute, quite artistic (published poet) and who listens, I might be your guy.


15,545,000 radios sold last year,
But that doesn't keep the rain
From falling
On our windshield
To and fro go the wipers
& we are nowhere near
Where we wish to go.
Listen. The radio waves are scribbling
A thousand names
Across the dial
If we had a child,
What would we name it?
Ph.D. I say.
You have to have a Ph.D. to survive.
Give it a number.
Make it ahead of the times.
Whatever happened to Station KDKA?
In the middle of nowhere
We pick up Pittsburgh,
Detroit, Nashville
(AM 14 on your dial)
As far away as Cleveland (AM 13),
Stations that no longer exist,
XTO, San Francisco.
This is the magic radio.
War of the Worlds comes beeping thru.
104,000,000 car radios in use,
& we have the magic one.
Here's to the world!
Ears to the world.
You want a baby you say.
How in the hell can we afford it?
Damn these dark roads.
Listen, there's no sense
Crying about it,
Sit back & listen to the music, baby.
Someone is singing to us
From a long way away.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My All Time Favorite Blues Tune

I damned near wore out this LP, but fortunately it was re-released on CD a year or so ago.


My home, a three bedroom apartment, is spacious for my minimalist tastes; it is furnished sparely, though I think well, with appropriate furniture and artwork.

The "third" bedroom, could easily be designate a "guest" room. As you can see from the below photo, it would be defining of the word "spare" were it not for the two chairs and poster.

I have purposely not placed a bed in it, so it clearly cannot be called a "guest" room. "What about your kids?" I've been asked. My family has always been of the notion that we don't stay with relatives unless someone has died. Obviously there have been exceptions, though that's pretty much the way it was and is now.

My kids, of course, are always welcome. However, whenever they come they prefer a hotel. I love that idea. After all, I'm not going to serve them breakfast in their room(s).

I use that room sometime to simply sit in what you might consider an uncomfortable chair, I don't, and simple, "ponder." It is a room with no noise, really no distractions.

What prompted me to sit there for about 20 minutes today was a question last night by my oldest son: "Dad, aren't you getting a bit lonely?" My response was, "I absolutely don't think so. If I am, it's quite sublimated by the removal of my former wife and the fears of violence attendant to her cohabitation, as well as defining void of love and even friendship that existed.

There should be a disclaimer here that this is not written in bitterness, of which I feel virtually none; but more as a consideration of a question that is quite old on a psychological and philosophical topic that as always interested me.

However, in the reflection, a quote from Clark Moustakas, the great psychologist, came to mind (no doubt as a result of having a Mother who was a psychiatrist). Dr. Moustakas wrote that, "A basic feature of human life is the desire to understand ourselves and to construct meaningful accounts of our experiences. Self-evaluation-the process of learning about and judging ourselves-is an important element of loneliness."

One of my views of life is that, on some level or another, we are all in a process of "self-evaluation," and probably all of the time. It then occurred to me that given this important man's view, have I "blocked" something central to that self-evaluation, to that exploration?

I thought not, at least for those moments to feel "lonely," I would have to, perhaps, force the emotion upon myself, an action that would prompt even more questions, not the least of which is that of "reality."

My immediate conclusion was quite simple: If it doesn't exist, I probably don't need it. While many toss about the term "existentialism," my experience that is, much more frequently than not, utterly misused.

My leaning, my severe leaning are toward that philosophy, center to which is that Sartrean statement that  "existence precedes essence."

It agrees with me and I with it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Cheese Sandwich

A simple cheese sandwich, American cheese. I find it so simple as to border on elegant. And, for me, it is transportive...to a simpler time, an easier world.

Just a thought for the day

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I looked about my home (a three bedroom apartment for those of you new to this venue)this morning and once again thought how pleasant and peace it is living just with my best friend, Rex (a Cocker Spaniel who just turned 11), and without my drunk ex-wife. There is far more often than not, little tidying up to be done, as I do keep a, well, tidy abode.

Living single suits me well. This morning I made curried chicken salad; a single chicken breast (I bought about a half dozen and froze them individually)and that will provide chicken salad sandwiches for me for two or three days. It brought to mind the Jack Nicholson quote from "Five Easy Pieces:"

[Bobby (Jack Nicholson) wants plain toast, which isn't on the menu]

Bobby: I'd like an omelet, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of coffee.
Waitress: A #2, chicken salad sand. Hold the butter, the lettuce, the mayonnaise, and a cup of coffee. Anything else?
Bobby: Yeah, now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven't broken any rules.
Waitress: You want me to hold the chicken, huh?
Bobby: I want you to hold it between your knees.

I will, however, have it on homemade whole wheat bread.

While, like most I assume, have a bit of anxiety, e.g. certainly money in this economy, occassionally health and that omnipresent underlying current of at least minor stress about the way of the world.

What I no longer have, however, is a continual, relatively high level of anxiety and stress directly related to living with a drunk. Presumably, today will be the last day I see her for quite a while as she is removing the remainder of her belongings from the apartment; one carload of "stuff" at the most this afternoon. It resides on the guest room floor.

Once gone, that room will be a repository for my DVD collection and some office material. Mostly, it will be empty, save those things and a couple of director's chairs. I like space, as you will see when I post fresh photographs of where I live.

Clearly, I'm older than most, if not all who visit this venue. However, I do wonder how many maintain a fully stocked refrigerator and pantry. I cook for myself virtually always. Granted there's nothing "fancy" during the summer as the oven tends to heat the entire living area. Imagine how that would be today, when there's an "excessive" heat warning with the temperature approaching 115. Most often I'll cook something on a "portable" Weber gas grill on my balcony; a burger not infrequently, but also grilled vegetables and other things. As I've written in the past, I do make my own bread.

Even when I was in my 20s, 30s and beyond, and "between wives" I did that. It just seemed easier than attending a restaurant...and I never went ot "fast food" places.

I do like my life and lifestyle. I like it very much.

The Most Important Meal Of The Day

Out Of Context, But Appropriate

I bought you a new Ford, you said I want a Cadillac. Bought you a ten dollar dinner, you said thanks for the snack. Let you live in my penthouse, Lord, you called it a shack. Thank you BB King.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Never Date A Drunk

She was an alcoholic, I suppose. But to characterize her “condition” as a “disease,” as the American Medical Association describes it is to give her far too much credit. She was a drunk, a bad one, though she concealed it well. In fact, I’d never known an “alcoholic” before I met her.

When one couples that condition with a definitive sense of entitlement and almost clinical narcissism, according to a shrink, it equals a person who is absolutely incapable of living among others.

She was a nice or funny drunk. She was a mean spirited one. The psychiatrist said that it was probable that one of her parents, probably her father, was an alcoholic and highly likely that she was sexually abused as a child.

I was with her for more than a dozen years, and knew the issues. I didn’t think I could “cure” her. However, I was a sucker for her “promises,” none of which were kept.

Here is my new universal rule and counsel: Never date a drunk, recovering or otherwise.

I found myself without bread in the house, so I baked this loaf of honey whole wheat...no bread machine involved.

Friday, July 6, 2012

“No typewriters – ha! ha! – no typewriters –
For I have much to open, I know immense
Troubles & wonders to their secret curse.”
&; so he wrote in Op. Posth. no. 6,
“Dream Songs” &; all that
Until he opened the secret curse
&; leapt from a bridge in Minneapolis,
His coat tails flying,
A pair of glasses
Bulging somewhere in his pockets,
He did not need to see
the Mississippi River.
On Xmas ’71, he wrote me:
                        “Thank you very much
                        for your booklet which
                        I’ve read with interest
                        and admiration esp. for
                        the tel. poem &; ‘Edges’.
                          May I wish you
                        the good luck we all
                        need and His blessing.
                              John Berryman
Yrs, mine, his nobody’s (Like Henry
He thought God was on the edge of things –
From Op. Posth. No. 5
“Jehovah. Period. Yahweh. Period. God.”



It was “Edges” that interested him,
A poem that ends
“My cells are in a boil for death.
Death, like a circle, is self-defined.”
But now his death
Is self-defined,
Another alcoholic
Who couldn’t make love work,
Wandering to the brink
(Bridges are such marvelous inventions)
Memories of his father’s suicide
Welling behind him
Until the flood-gates burst
&; the water shimmied
With coat-tails
Flaming behind him,
His beard like Jehovah’s
His Pulitzer-Prized body
In 100 feet of air,
No minstrel-face
No playing on tambourines,
No polite applause of the moruners,
(How he loved that phrase – End-men)
& now he was his own end-man.
Put on a little soft-shoe,
Do a little black-face, boys,
Harmonize the tributes,
The minstrel show’s begun:
Twang it on your banjos,
Bang it on your knees
(His own final instructions
Were quite clear:
“Bury me in a hole, and give a cheer”).


Bidding Mr. Bones Farewell:

A few seconds in the air,
Arms outstretched
In a panicked crucifix,
His face gone white,
The tie loosened,
Eyes hurting with the pressure
Of the fall.

We’ve all been on that bridge
Until the shyster water close,
History loomed
Upon the buckling of a bone,
He fell: Like that humpbacked king,
Touseled Richard,
Amid a battleground
Of unbridled horses
He cries, “My life, my life,
My Kingdom for my life.”

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Edith: 1915-2001

My Mother died on this day a decade ago. She was 87. There are many things I recall about my Mother. She was, indeed, a “Grand Broad,” as my Dad would say. She was in everything sense of the word.

There is, of course, much more I could write. Today, however, is not the day, save to say I loved her, and my Dad more than hearts can tell.

Here she is, with my kids in DC, more than three decades ago:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day

This day, this holiday was always the most memorable as I was growing. In Washington, DC, my Dad would celebrate in the backyard, with the traditional Bar-B-Que and his "secret" BBQ sauce. We always flew the flag and set off our own fireworks, devouring ice cream following the burgers and hotdogs. Then we'd watch Yankee Doodle Dandy. A few times we were in Maine, where we'd watch the fireworks from the dock in Naples, in front of one of oldest Howard Johnson's in the nation, on Long Lake. They were produced, so to speak, by the Fire Department. A Fireman would pass a boot around on shore to collect donations for the celebrations.

This year, I will grill a burger, drink a beer and watch Yankee Doodle Dandy at home, alone, then watch the fireworks on the Strip and around me at the local resorts from my balcony. That will be just fine with me.

I'll toast my Dad and Mom, thinking much more than just fondly of the "Good Old Days.