Monday, December 30, 2013

Large Lofty Mid-Town West Rent Stabilized Apt. No Fee. Under Market Rent ASSUME now for a FEB 1 Move In

Hello Friends,

We are breaking our lease here in midtown because we bought a place up near the Cloisters. But we LOVE this midtown Apartment and the management company is kind enough to let us either drop the lease or pass it onto someone else. So we figured---why shouldn't someone take advantage of this good deal in a great building? The details are below. Please pass this along to friends who are looking for a Feb 1 move-in.
The apartment is about $300 cheaper than market value.


888 8th Avenue. Apartment 5M (on the sixth Floor) between 52nd and 53rd
Elevator building
24 hour doorman
Brand new kitchen with full sized appliances. Marble black floor.
New bathroom in white marble.
Everything works perfectly.

The apartment is an L-Shaped alcove studio with the bathroom and kitchen making up the part that turns this large lofty box into this very L shape.  So it is really a large rectangle with a kitchen and bath bite out of it.
It is 30 feet from the front door to the windows. It is 19 feet wide at its widest. When you walk in, it feels large. You never feel cramped. We had the choice to rent a one bedroom originally, but this place was simply larger.
It has a row of five windows. When you lie in bed, you look up at the sky. We call it, "Pudding in a cloud."
There are a ton of closets. A coat closet and a bank of closets (three doors worth) at the front. And then a bank of closets in the dressing area near the bathroom (another three doors worth).

Faces West. Full sun from noon until sundown. Great sunsets.

View of buildings and lots of sky across the street.

Blinds come with the apartment.

You control your heat and A/C like in a hotel with a knob.

24 Hour Laundry Room with two long banks of washers and dryers.

Completely renovated hotel-style lobby.

The staff never turns over and everyone is super nice. The management company is superb, reasonable and really care about the building in a great way.

No dogs allowed unless you beg the management. There are dogs in the building. I've never heard one bark.

The construction of the building is a BUNKER from 1967. Girders and Poured Concrete. You never hear a thing from another neighbor. You do hear sirens as they go by. If there is jack hammering in the neighborhood, you hear it...but we haven't heard any in two years.

There are no bugs. No exterminators in the building because there is nothing to exterminate.

There is a great exhaust vent in the kitchen so all your kitchen steam/smoke goes up there.

The building is friendly but also large enough that you can ignore everyone if you like.

Super close to Columbus Circle, so the park becomes a part of things.
24 hour Gristedes, Duane Reade, right across the street. And about 900 restaurants, as you know, because this is the edge of Hell's Kitchen. Plus, you can leave the apt. at 7:50 for an 8PM Curtain.
The convenience is great. This is a busy neighborhood with lots going on.

Trains: A,C,E, 1, N, R, Q, B, D

Again---super convenient.

No Fee
$2470 per month plus one month security.
Current lease expires end of December, 2014.
You assume the rest of our lease, beginning February 1, 2014 and then you can renew at the end of 2014. This is Confirmed.
Salary requirement: Using the 40XRent rule, you or you and your partner/spouse/roomie need to have a combined income of about 99K.  And your credit should be good. You will have to get through these hoops with management to assume this lease.

The assumption of the lease, as mentioned, begins February 1, 2014.
However, whoever wants this apartment has to decide by about January 3, because of how this all works with management.
So jump if you want it.
Contact Don at  to see it.

Pics below are how it looks now.
It will be completely empty and will look more like the STOCK PHOTOS below of the building.
It is in good shape, but it will not be repainted, only touched up, if you assume the lease.

STOCK PHOTOS (These are NOT pics of the apartment...but how the apartment looks/feels as if it were empty. And some lobby pics.)


Monday, December 23, 2013


Merry Christmas.

Be surrounded by the wise.

Be newborn.

Smell like fresh animals.

Enjoy the night.

Grab your virgin mother in bewilderment.

Make big plans.

Save the world.

Maybe this time it will work.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Aggression and Bags of Things

If you dare to the streets, the Saturday before Christmas in New York City is a day of survival.

After dehydration and populace attack, we were on the elevator in our building, returning to our refuge. And like everywhere else, it was packed.

Sometimes, you are emboldened in an elevator, when you are fresh out of audience in your regular life and you have the sense of a sympathetic crowd.

The elevator was filled with only men, straight it seemed, in their thirties and forties. I had to test their agreement to a joke to my husband, medium-loud for all to hear, in a measured tone that was admitting, “I’m trying this out.” And here I went:

“If there is any doubt that women are as aggressive as men, try to walk on the sidewalks of New York with them and their shopping bags. They put Kublai Kahn to shame.”

Full titters. No one thought I was the crazy guy with the mouth. Complete agreement all around the elevator. We exited on the fifth floor. A risk. And a success.

Ladies: Send me all the you-misogynist-fuck comments that you want. But when you XX’s are on an adrenalin infused shopping jaunt, you are simply a bunch of violent monsters. And all the guys think so.

And they are tired of it.

But they are also sort of sweet about it and laugh in agreement and not with hatred  because, “Hey, these are the things we want to fuck.”

The truth is in elevators. Some stuff never changes. Sorry.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Just Want to Be Kind: Philomena

I know it's hard to make a movie. And I think it is mean to be mean. So let's be kind.

First of all...Steve Coogan--groovy! You showed us you can act, seriously. You are handsome and expressive and you can play someone hard boiled and real. Fab.

Dame Dench, who the hell doesn't want to look at you? Always a pleasure.

But I have to say...this was a thin script. And if there was a point, I didn't get it. Now look---I like when things have all sorts of points or a loose point, or maybe even no-real-point-but-it's-a-good-ride. But I didn't see any evidence of any of that.

Philomena goes looking for her lost-to-adoption son. I can't reveal anything else because it would spoil the plot, entirely.

Evil nuns, of course, are the problem.

So far, for my time this year, I'm sticking with Gravity. Imax. 3D.

But if you are a Dench or Coogan fan, go for it. It got lots of audience awards at festivals.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Proud to Be Irish? Or at Least 3/8? Taking Cultural Stock this Christmas Season

Good article here from 2007 about The Departed and how the Irish like to deflect serious emotions off themselves.

Being 3/8 Irish, I get it. When things get slightly rough, I am happy to blow. When things get medium rough, I am more measured. When things get really rough, I want to do anything on earth to deflect the pain and misery of it all.

Of course, the other 5/8 of me plays into it, too...and can get the job done of expressing--

But the Irish thing is pretty strong. It is ultimately a romantic/lyrical culture and insists upon transcendence. I know I insist upon it. In fact, I am furious that the earth isn't a more musical, wordy, funny place. I crave these things like seals crave mackerel.

The 1/8 German side of me is sort of swallowed up.
The 1/2 Italian (with some French thrown in, way back) is so strangely pragmatic, it controls my list-driven life. Also, some of my Italian ancestors were Huguenots, refugees from France. So they have that sane, Protestant thing going on, making their earthbound practicality as non-other-worldly as possible.

This combination makes---a certain fatalism. And that fatalism is not joyous and optimistic. It is sort of sad and very aware of mortality. But thank goodness, the strong Irish blood says, "Stop it now. No more need to be maudlin. Forget all that. Go on up to the ring of cottages near the peat bog where they are having a good dance and a good laugh and sing yourself a song."

I think when you are built a certain way, that's what you have to do.

12 Years a Slave

You know, you can go on and on about it, but I did not love this movie.

It is ham fisted in its shooting and the acting is inconsistent among the slaves.

There is no question that slavery is bad. But then there's this problem:

There was a great differentiation made between a free man enslaved and a slave enslaved. And certainly, it would be awful to have lived a life of freedom and then have to be a slave. But wasn't it equally awful for all the all-life slaves? Or even worse, because they didn't even have a minute's freedom?

Also, as far as telling a story goes...there was no guess work here. Twelve years a slave. So, like, I guess it was twelve years, right? And then you sort of figure on year 13, it's over?

I don't want to feel guilty for not thinking this was such a great movie. My feeling is, I am terrified, horrified and made wretched at the thought of slavery. I am, like most everyone, in the anti-slavery camp. But this story was just about this poor enslaved non-slave just waiting for his chance to find someone who would help him get back to the non-slave that he was, while being surrounded by all these slaves. And he did. And that is great. And it's a true story. But shit, what else?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Out of the Furnace

Let it be known, I grew up right next to those mountains that were loaded up with the descendants of Lenape Indians/Dutch settlers/Escaped slaves. It was called Stag Hill. Right on the NJ/NY border. We did call the people up in the mountains Jackson Whites. Sorry to offend. We didn't know there was even another name for them. We also did go to school with these lovelies, though I do think most of them went to Mahwah High. Lucky for me, I was a short order cook at the base of the mountain on Route 17, and the guys would come in all the time to talk, buy cigarettes, all that. They were not on a college track. They were unencumbered. Similar to all sorts of working, earthy people in the area.

It was pretty amazing, and still is pretty amazing, that they have this whole life going on up in those mountains right on the edge of a very dense suburban area just 28 miles from New York City.

My favorite image, and I tell it often: we used to hike up in the Ramapo Mounatins all the time, just north of Stag Hill, and you could get high enough that in the distance you would see the tip of the Empire State Building and then one day, I turned to my left, and there was a man in a mush-mouse hat, with a rifle, hunting for grub.

It's good to grow up on the edge. It's where certain things can happen that can't really happen anywhere else.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Let Me Eat Butter: Thursday at 8

Hello Friends.  I am reading this Thursday evening, December 12 at 8, in Brooklyn, my original essay about moving to France for the butter, called LET ME EAT BUTTER!

All details below. If you are free, come on over. If you are in the  mood to read something---come even earlier (7:45) to sign up.

Brooklyn Reading Works Presents:
FEAST: share a poem or story about food, eat some soup, and raise $ for a local food pantry, all in one fell swoop
at The Old Stone House

December 12, 2013
Your $10 donation will help support a local food pantry and includes soup, snacks and wine.

Here's your chance to share a favorite poem, or to read something you've written about food and feasting. Bring a story, memoir, or a poem with food or feasting as subject matter, as metaphor, as inspiration. There will be an 8-minute time limit per reader, strictly enforced!!! Shorter is better!!! All it takes is one small poem shared!!!

Soup will be served, plus wine, and in the spirit of the holidays-- Please bring COOKIES to share!

Ken Carlton, author of The Hunger: A Story of Food, Desire and Ambition with the Chef of the Waverly Inn, will open the event with an excerpt from his novel Food for Marriage.

Molly Gallentine whose work has been published in The Rumpus, CutBank, The New Delta Review, etc. will treat us to an excerpt of her meditation on Jello.

Ame Gilbert, who runs PoetrySoup Salon, is organizing, cooking and hosting this event and will make it as smart, cozy and delicious as her monthly salons.

DATE: December 12 at 8PM

IF YOU PLAN TO READ: Please come at 7:45 so we can put you on the list.

LOCATION: The Old Stone House, 336 Third Street, between 4th and 5th Avenues, F train to Fourth Avenue, R train to Union Street

View Larger Map

Monday, December 09, 2013

Henry Miller in The Paris Review, 1961

During my senior year of college there was a slot available for anyone who wanted to present a workshop production of an original play. No one, not one other person, had any interest in taking the slot.

The second semester of my junior year, I studied in Paris, or more truthfully, had a great time taking Art History, Theater, German, Music Composition and Speech/Acting, a needed break from the other seven semesters of hard sciences with the occasional modern dance class thrown in. While in Paris, I made extra money busking in front of the Pomipdou and bravely played songs that I had written on the guitar. I sort of figured out I was a writer of some kind so when this slot opened up, I felt confident that I could write a play and I grabbed it.  One of those seize-the-opportunity if it feels right kind of things.

I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to take out a book on how to write a play. I had read most of the full length plays by Tennessee Williams, a ton of other plays, and had acted in a whole mess of them by that age, too. I looked in the card catalog for a book about writing. I looked up Arthur Miller and I went to the stacks and got the book by Miller, On Writing.

Lo' and behold, after reading about twenty pages, I thought, This doesn't seem like Arthur Miller. It's too out there or something. It's actually better than Arthur Miller. I felt more aligned with what I was reading than I ever had while boring down into Death of a Salesman.

Turns out, the book On Writing, was by Henry Miller. I mistook my Millers. I stole the book from Tufts and I still have it here on my book shelf. (I also stole some Williams and Pinter Collections---but long ago mailed them back.) I just couldn't give up my stolen Henry Miller and I feel like Henry would have liked that.

In the meantime, many years later, I am following The Paris Review on Twitter and here I run into the 1961 interview with Henry Miller. I find him very inspiring. Tropic of Cancer was one of the best things I've ever read.

I did write my first play for that slot. It was called Be Daring Now Miss Prism. It starred Corin Nelson, who became a television producer. And Beth Seriff, who became a television writer. Charlie Freeman made the papier mache oversized vegetables. He now does international work with China. The play was an absurd story about a disintegrating family. It was funny. The second act decayed into a dreamscape of circus types tormenting the remaining characters who did not die in a car crash in the first act. It was messy. But it was worth it.

I think the ballsy nature of Henry Miller was helpful, if not for structure, for verve.

Sometimes you make a mistake and it's a good one.


Thursday, December 05, 2013

Midnight of My Soul

We're all adults here who stay up past midnight, right?

Today's quote:

In the 3AM of my soul, I am very joyous. It's the 11AM that needs some work...

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

So Up in Arms

Why people are so freaked by change is beyond me.

Drones delivering my packages? Sure! Why not?

Or a 3D Printer making a sex surrogate for a distant relation who has severe garlic breath and a body of boils?  Print it!

Self Driving Cars:  Sign me up pronto.

High Speed Rail:  Yesterday, please.

Nanobots that fix up my Kidneys? Where do I sign?

THC type drugs without the nasty dissolution of personality? Come on, The Netherlands!

Traveling around the world in less than an hour?  I can't wait.

All this talk about going back in time for romantic reasons is just nuts. When? Before penicillin? Or when all women were basically slaves? Or how about during the Black Plague or the eve of The First Great War?

Stop it, please.

Give me the future. Let it be as technical as it wants. And if the kids all stop being able to recognize facial expressions, well...maybe what's really going on is--we no longer need those facial expressions to be recognized.

There is such a fear. Even when someone invents a new word, you hear a rumbling and a cawing of aggressive indignation.

I say--let math and science win. The rest of the time---spend on ethics. Whatever is left, make the most beautiful art, please.


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

I Do Believe It's Getting Better

Every day, more people sign up for insurance...and it's getting cheaper. They say.

You can shove your numbers at me or shove the numbers wherever you need to.

The thing is, this thing is happening. Instead of going ape with lawsuits, why not try something else, oh Indiana and Oklahoma? Why not let your people get their pap smears and appendixes out and basal cell carcinomas removed and hearts restarted and go fight for something else?

Like babies. You all love babies. Why not go invent an imitation uterus so you can raise unwanted fetuses in the privacy of your living rooms? Like sea horses in an aquarium? When they're ready, you can take them out and give them away.

Or really get Jesus into your schools by making sure every poor person is cared for.

Or create jobs by hiring anyone at all to do anything.

Or spend some time with an excel sheet and let the government know how they can spend less money on defense.

Go do something. Anything. Instead of throwing sand in the gears. In the end, do you really want to be known as the sandman?

Monday, December 02, 2013

Unsubscribe in 2014

I just spent an hour deleting crap-strewn emails in my inbox...because I hadn't been at my email, cleaning away, for the past six days...Thanksgiving and all.

We should not have to do that.

I hate to miss things. And all the garbage I get, I did at some point sign up for it. But now...slowly, I unsubscribe.

I think of all those years I lived before there were these interwebs coming at me. And I got so much more read. So much more written. So much more thought about. So much more time in my body and on the ground. Music. Etc.

Madness: Be gone.

I have to stand up to myself and be okay with missing stuff. Unsubscribing is the only way. My closets are next.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Blog of Ages Pray for Me

A dry winter freeze has taken over New York City.

Organic Heritage Turkeys are being swiped off the shelves.

Two nights ago, there was snow on some car roofs in New Jersey.

And now this, five somewhat connected thoughts that are barely important:

  1. I am going to Jury Duty this week. I signed up for this truncated weirdo time figuring it would be short, everyone on their way to their dinners. So far it has proven to be easy. Today, we were released after three hours. I imagine tomorrow will be similar. Wednesday, maybe not even a need to show. I have never done jury duty before. True. Never. I got around it by being a moving target. Plus a few other tricks. But I finally succumbed, feeling like a civic heel for not doing my duty. I hate it. I hate it entirely. I don’t see an upside. Being in a gray government building at dawn feels like punishment. I tried to gussy it up by pretending I was traveling. Back Issues of New Yorkers, the Kindle, going through security, sit back, relax, and read. As soon as orientation was over (and the woman up front putting on the show was quite funny and good at it) I fell asleep in a chair and read nothing.

  1. I have a handful of Republican friends and I say, Hi Friends! But now hear this…and this only goes to the real way Drown-the-Government-in-the-bathtub types on the fringes. Question: Why do the people who demand the MOST freedom from tyranny have the most tyrannizing personalities? Seems to me, the ones who fear being controlled are the most controlling.

  1. Magical thinking doesn’t work. All those decades of visualizing and chanting are for Santeria chicken sacrificing types. I was adamant and verbally insisted to many that something I was doing was simply not going to work out—and railed about it nonstop as in, “This is never going to happen. Never. Never. Never. It’s dead. It’s toast. It’s over. Forget it.”— and it worked out. So if my words create my reality, then it didn’t do it this time. And if your words DO create your reality, then that truth would have to be true all the time. Books giving you secrets to the universe and keys to the kingdom are slippery with snake oil. Dogma blows. Life is full of unknowns. Do your best. Worry about it or not. Really, wasting time on trying to control the outcome by yacking your way in a certain direction is just a weird positive spin on worry. Stop counting and cajoling your outcomes. And don’t agree with any of this garbage in this paragraph. Go slam into trees with your head yourself. Figure it out. Who cares?

  1. People keep buying things for each other at Christmas. I am way more of a Dah who doraze type. I have ten year old shirts that look like they’ve never been worn. How much more do you need?

  1. And on a completely contradictory note: Why is all the wooden furniture at Crate and Barrel on the edge of completely disgusting?  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Winner

I have a play published in POST ROAD MAGAZINE.

The Winner was originally cast with the wonderful Angela DeCicco, Don White and Randi Pareira, directed by Pablo Marz.

Dealing with oil greed, the play becomes a fight for the last canister of oxygen on earth.

It had its premiere at West Coast Ensemble, back in the day, and was a finalist for an award at Actors Theater of Louisville.

Then, it was published in this magazine, very recently. And it was shot as a small film on the campus of USC.

Sometimes, you dash off this little thing, and it has its own ride. I wrote it for a contest called, "It's later than you think." It was rejected there and then had these other nice things happen. I do hope for all of us that we just keep making things, we cast them into the wind and wait to see what plants. It was nice to see it published. In paper. And bound.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Unbearable Lightness of Narrative

I don't believe in narrative, exactly.

Things happen. And you can build a story.

There is cause and effect, for sure.

But some shit---well, it's just random. Like, if someone finds you unseasonably attractive or a safe falls on your head.

I do believe the spine of narrative is the ol' simple reality of Born-Live-Die. That's how we perceive the world and so our stories reflect that. And maybe that's fine. With lots of little borns-lives-deaths along the way. You mess with it, to make it more interesting. But there it is. Baby, toil, corpse.

But wouldn't it be so much more fun if it wasn't just that? That the superseding engine was the non-narrative?

That exact empirical truths are in charge and we don't even know what they are? And it is okay not to know. Narrative can be nothing more than the slight reveal of what is behind the curtain of unknowing--but it's all folly since we really can never really know. You can feel and believe anything. But you never really know.

And that's enough of a story for me.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's Time Again: Sleep

Put on your Headphones.
It says 9 minutes, but it's more like 5.

It pleases.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Swiss Always Get it Right, Right?

Frankly, I am all for a minimum load of cash for everyone. I know, there is ire out there for free cash. But what if you were born wealthy with a generous parent who has no qualms about giving you a trust fund that is large enough to live on, either meagerly or grandly? Isn't that free cash? What did you do for it?

Note: I love my trust fund friends and have enjoyed watching them soar and stagnate along with the rest of us. The money didn't really do much more than free them up to pursue their lives without financial stress. But the rest of life intrudes, and their stress is not much different than yours. In fact, in some ways it is worse. You, most readers, know you have to go to work. They don't know what the heck to do half the time. Plus, if you are failing as a writer/dancer/singer/snake charmer/entrepreneur with a big bag of cash and all the time in the world, you don't even get to have the excuse, "Well, if I wasn't so exhausted from my day job..."

I continue to have a hard time with the double standard: a wild work ethic for the middle class and the poor. Then: Any philosophy for anyone who is wealthy.

It would be fascinating to go out to dinner and to look around the entire restaurant and to know that anyone who is a citizen of your country shares something very similar, personal, essential and enlivening: a usable lump of cash that keeps all wolves away from all doors.

If Switzerland does this, and it works, I don't want to hear some racist monster say, "Well, it works because the Swiss have a good work ethic." I've been to Switzerland. Those people are about as lazy as I am.

Greedy, greedy, Americans, join me. Tax and spend: on yourself.

An idea whose time has come:
You know you love Swiss cheese. Something else for you to love about Schweiz.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Mutilated

In an act of expedience, I put the New York Times review here:

But on a more personal note...we saw THE MUTILATED tonight, one of Tennessee Williams' late expressionist plays down at the New Ohio on way west Christopher street, starring Mink Stole and Penny Arcade in a great production, directed by Cosmin Chivu with original music by Jesse Selengut. Mink is our friend (that's what makes this personal) and she is spectacular as a woman with almost nothing but one whorey old pal whom she lost for a while over a falling out over whether or not to eat at a Chinese place.

Well, it's more than that. They fall out because they are completely not meant for each other. But in the end, what else do they have?

Penny Arcade, as Celeste, is queen of the tits. And Mink as Trinket, has lost one of hers to cancer. But they are both horrendously mutilated and in great need of care. They are both quite different actresses and each is greatly suited to her role. You believe what they are going through. You feel it. Celeste is the fun. Trinket is the money. That's what they have. That's what they play. For realsies.

The seedy bar, the original music by Jesse Selengut with a large cast singing the weird upbeat hymns in between scenes, the never-dull direction by Cosmin Chivu on an admirable set, designed by Anka Lupes, made of strip lights, neon and steel, a game supporting cast, all of it, makes for an original night of brave and raucous, smart and lyrical entertainment.

See it. It runs until the 1st of December. It ran in Provincetown this summer. Hope that it runs again in 2014.

It's good to see a play that is brave in every facet. And raw. And needy. And true. And funny. And sad. And strong.

And a little campy. But only a touch.

Thumbs to heaven.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


We're getting into the autumn years of autumn here. And it's stark. And the stark, when you look up at it, makes you feel sharper. You think in a sharp way, in the sense that the cold mixed with the edges of these leaves is such a clear experience that the brain doesn't wander around trying to come up with some other stimulation.

So you see one subject and you stay with it and it's worth it.

Pleasure, really. Maybe all this chronic attention deficit is an attempt to find pleasure.

Get to something stark and bright. Natural.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sometimes, Ye Ol' Alma Mater Gets it Right: Why Some People are Gun Happy

And why I say, yet again, let the Union Fail. Let the ones who want to praise the heavens while gunning each other down have their own country. It would be wonderful to separate.

Let's Give Discredit where Discredit is Due

Obama, you rat, people are getting tossed off their healthcare plans and when they try to log on to the .gov site to get coverage, they get a frigging message of incompetence.

This is disgusting.

You had years.


To make sure this went smoothly.

I know people who don't like to get into the nitty gritty. And sure, you aren't the guy who has to do the bookkeeping entries, the HTML, the lawn watering or the laundry. Fine. But damn, baby, you better make sure the guy who is in charge of all those guys is talking to you and giving you reports.

You dropped a big ball, you big shiny loon.

This is one of those glaring examples that the Right likes to trot forward, "See! See! Let the government do it and you know what happens! It sucks. It doesn't work. Fuck the government. Drown it in the bathtub."
Usually, they are talking about the post office when they say this. (I have never experienced less than satisfactory work from the post office, and I have used it much over the years, so I don't get this post office attack. But maybe these complainers just don't like the whole feel of the place.)

But this health care...come on!

Let's hear if for Kentucky. They pulled it together well.

Now let's hope this gets resolved in the next two weeks---or I'm gonna hippo hurricane holler like that enormous governor from New Jersey.

Obama--you dropped the ball in this pickup game. Shame-bama. Shame.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

I Wonder About the Outdoors

When I was four, I was stung by a bee and no one knew I was allergic. I eventually went into a shut down, couldn’t breathe and was in a coma for a while. I never exactly got over the trauma. My father said I was never the same after that.

I was stung three more times as a child and three more times I went to the hospital, but more quickly and without any greater incident than a big needle of medicine. I had this thing (and so many kids have it now with nuts, etc.) that would stop my world clock and send me racing to safety.

It made me afraid of the outdoors.

As I got older, I outgrew this allergy.

I wonder, had I not been allergic like that, had not had that early allergic coma, if I would have become more of an outdoorsman.

I love being outside.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Election Night

It is a night to celebrate for some, for others to Boo with big white mouths.

But there is something cynical and sad now. I don't think anyone thinks that anything will ever change. We are entrenched.

The strange thing about being entrenched is how cementy that is.

Maybe the French are right. (Maybe?) Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

If human nature is such that there are the individualist warriors and the warm hearted sharers who don't see eye to eye, while the looser types are open to new experiences while the traditionalists are busy with their due diligence, while the money ravenous types get up every day to collect more acorns as the less-than-engaged types enjoy a sunny moment feeling sort of fused with nothingess, well, I mean, how can we change any of that at the voting booth, really?

If we are to invent a new political party, to infuse newness, I would say it should be a moderate party. Let's call it The Democratic Party and bring in all the moderate Republicans. And let's give their old moniker to the Far Right. Let them have the name, the G.O.P.

I look forward to this new New York City mayor. It's been a long time since we've had a softer guy. Though, Bloomberg wasn't so bad. But the CashSuckZombies that have devoured Manhattan, well, it is a horror movie and I do hope things get more fun around here. But maybe horror never goes away. I bet it doesn't.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Five Easy Pieces

I never saw it before tonight. Not kidding. And probably because anytime I ever asked anyone about it, they couldn't tell me what it was about. They would always mention the waitress scene.

Look, it was like 400 Blows, kind of. Sympathetic and harsh. The ability of this story to make you love a foolish cad.

Great any age.

They don't make movies, much, about people who are living out their demons. Not really. It's all done in shorthand these days.

Jack Nicholson, I believed his vulnerability. But even better--I enjoyed his cover up.

Silly to review a great film from 1970. It took me 43 years. Worth the wait. See it if you haven't. It surprises.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Glass Menagerie with Cherry Jones

We can make this review pretty simple: Go see it.

Sometimes, it all comes together. I've only seen a few plays do this.

Real desperation in real time. Check.
Cherry Jones going on the full ride. Check
Full realism and poetry coming through in equal measures. Check
A gentleman caller that was modern and attractive and good natured. Check
Laura and Tom were good, too. Check

There was some direction and movement and design that was overwrought. But it seems like everyone wants to visibly prove they've earned their paycheck these days. Clever. Fuck that.

This play proved that all you need is a great play and great actors, and you're set.
It's really no different than watching someone be really alive in your living room, plowing through the whole of the human condition.

This play is so good. The structure comes from the need of the people in the story. It is imperfect and clunky and completely truthful and sleek.

You get to see this sort of thing every now and again, like a comet.

Check it out. At the Booth. It's going to disappear so jump on it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

For My Cousins: We're Sort of French


From the book Cummings Genealogy, Isaac Cummings 1601-1677 of Ipswich 1638 and Some of his Descendants, compiled and published by Albert Oren Cummins, Montpelier, Vermont, 1904.


Isaac Comings, according to tradition, was of Scottish ancestry, claiming descent from the "Red Cumin", of Badenoch, in the southeastern district of Inverness-shire, a wild mountainous country, presenting wide stretches of bleak moorland.  Here the clan flourished from 1080 to 1330, and then began to decline.  Some deduce their origin from Normandy and others from

According to the Chronicle of Melrose, the first of the name  who figured prominently, was slain with Malcom III at Alnwick in 1093, leaving two sons, John and William.  From John, all the Cumins in Scotland are said to be descended.  Sir John, the Red Cumin or Comyn, was the first Lord of Badenoch, and in 1240 was an ambassador from Alexander II to Louis IX, of France.

His son John, called the Black Lord of Badenoch, was inferior to no subject in Scotland for wealth and power, and was one of those who vowed to support Queen Margaret, daughter of Alexander III in her title to the crown.  At her death he became a competitor for the crown of Scotland, "as the son and heir of John, who was son and heir of Donald, King of Scotland".  The son of the Lord, called, in turn, the Red Cumin, as the last Lord of Badenoch of the surname of Cumin.

In 1335 a number of the Cumin clan was slain in the feudal battle of Culbleau, in Glenwick, where a stone now marks the spot.

The badge of the clan, in Gaelic, was "Lus Mhic Cuiminn", in English, The Cummin Plant.

Another TRADITION runs:  Comines - Comynges - Comyns - Comings - Cumyn -Cumings - Cummings;  "a family which rose to great power and eminence in Scotland and England.  The name was taken from the town of Comines near Lille, on the frontier between France and Belguim.

In 1445 one branch of the family gave birth, in the old chateau, to the historian, Phillipe di Comines.  Another branch followed William of Normandy to the conquest of England.

In the year 1069, Robert of Comines, or Comyn, with 700 horse from William the Conqueror, seized Durham and held it 48 hours, but the people rose up against him and he perished in the flames at the burning of the Bishop's Palace.

His nephew, William, became Chancellor of Scotland in 1133.  The Chancellor's nephew, Richard, inherited the English possessions of the family and married the Countess of Athol, grand-daughter of Donald Bane, King of Scots, and his son, William, in 1210, became Earl of Buchan by marrying the Celtic heiress of North Eardom.

By this marriage he became the father of Elexander, Earl of Buchan, who married the daughter of Roger-de quenci, Earl of Winchester.

By other marriages the family obtained the Earldom of Angus and Athol, so that by the middle of the 13th century there were in Scotland on Lord, four Earls, and thirty-two belted Knights by the name of Comyns.

Within 70 years this great house was entirely overthrown, there were none left of them, save those who took refuge in the "Monks of Deer", a monastery founded in 1219 by William Cumyns, Earl of Buchan.

John Cumyns, son of the Earl of Badenoch, who was in 1291 an unsuccessful competitor for the crown, was a descendant of Donald Bane, king of the old Celtic dynasty.  John Cumyns, Earl of Buchan, was defeated by Bruce in a pitched battle in 1306.

Such of the Cumyns as escaped the sword found refuge with their wives and children in England, where, although they were so poor as to be dependent upon the bounty of the English Court, they married into the best families, so that their blood circulated through the nobles in other kingdoms and descendants of Henry IV.

The Earl of Shrewsbury was the representative of the Lord of Badenoch, who was at the head of the race."

Another TRADITION from an educated American who spent much time in Rome, "The Cummings family is a very old family; as far as can be gathered, the family lived in Lombardy, northern Italy during, and prior to the fourth century, it then came over the Alps, and settled in Provence, and then went to the Gironde country in the southern part of France, and thence to the north of France, on the borders of Belgium, where was founded the town of Commines, where lived Phillip of Commines, whom Hallan called the father of Ancient History, thence they went to Scotland and England and Ireland.

An educated native of Rome insists that the original family of Commines was a family once well known in Lombardy, that he had traced them to France, and it is a fact established by ancient history that they were a strong family during the great’ Hearth' war, which lasted for many years, and that Earl do Cumminges was perhaps the principal factor in bringing on and continuing the war.  History tells us they went to England about the time of the invasion by William the Conqueror," etc.

Although these traditions are given as such, it will be noticed that they carry many indications of having been compiled by fertile brains from the many historical books extant.

I too well recollect of my grandfather, who was born in 1768, caressing me, in my childhood and calling me "a little Scotchman," and a large majority of the traditions, and circumstantial evidence, strongly indicate that we are of Scotch descent.  From what I have learned in the six years of my researches of the Cummings records, I have formed the opinion that Isaac came to America from England, but that he was of Scotch origin, though all my efforts to make a connection with his ancestors have been futile.

In the second tradition given is a mention of the historian "Phillipe de Comins", and there was published in Paris in 1552 a French work on a man of that name, at the close, or end, of which are many genealogical Comines trees, and I have made considerable effort to obtain a coy of the book, but it being out of print, have not been able to secure one.  Also, some 150 or more years ago there was published in England a Commins genealogy, but that is also out of print.

From the book Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire,  by Ezra S. Stearns, assisted by William F. Whitcher and Edward E. Parker, published by the Lewis Publishing Company of New York & Chicago in 1908.

"The origin of the Cummings family is uncertain;  the name was taken from the town of Comines, near Lille, on the frontier between France and Belgium. Various traditions account for earlier origin of the family, but all of them are entitled to no more credit than mere traditions.  The name has been variously spelled Comines, Comynges, Comyns, Comings, Comyn, Cumings and Cummings.  Tradition states that the emigrant ancestor of this family descended from "Red Cumin" of Badenoch in the southeastern district of Iverness-shire, a wild mountainous country presenting wide stretches of bleak moorland.  Here the clan flourished from 1080 to 1330, and then began to decline.  According to the Chronicle of Melrose, the first of the name who immigrated permanently, was slain with Malcom III, at Alnwick, in 1093, leaving two sons, John and William.  From John, all the Cumins in Scotland are said to be descended.  Sir John, the Red Cumin of Comyn, was the first Lord of Badenoch, and in 1240 was an ambassador from Alexander II to Louis IX of France.  His son John, called the Black Lord of Badenoch, was not inferior to any subject in Scotland for wealth and power, and was one of those who vowed to support Queen Margaret, daughter of Alexander III in her title to the crown.  At her death he became a competitor for the crown of Scotland.  "As a son and heir of John who was son and heir of Donald, King of Scotland."  The son of this Lord, called, in turn, the Red Cumin, was the last Lord of Badenoch of the surname of Cumin.

In 1335 a number of the Cumin clan were slain in the feudal battle of Calbleau, in Glenwick, where a stone now marks the spot.  The badge of the clan, in Gaelic, was "Lus Nhic Cuiminn," in English, the Cummin plant.


Various spellings of Isaac Cumming's name in the records include: CUMMINGS, COMINGS, CUMMENS, CUMMINS or with a single 'm', with, or without the 's', and COMYNS.  Both of the above books talk about the spelling of the name having taken on various forms over time.  The Mooar book mentions that SOME OF THE FAMILIES HAVE RETAINED THE SPELLING OF COMINGS, as if this is the original spelling in this country.

For record keeping purposes, I have used the spelling of CUMMINGS, since it seems to correspond with published works, and most of the descendants have used this spelling.  There are several exceptions that I have made for the spelling - These are the same lines that have different spellings in the Mooar book or some other book:

1.  The first is for Samuel COMINGS (Samuel, John III, John II, John I, Isaac) and his descendants.  The Mooar book uses this spelling for his descendants.  The History of Cornish New Hampshire refers to him with the spelling of COMINGS, and his children are also listed with this spelling.  It seems to be at this point that this spelling was adapted by most of his descendants.  Since this is our own family line, I want to try to determine at which point in time this spelling became the accepted spelling.  -- NOTE that per the History of Cornish, NH, Daniel Morris Comings, his grandson the son of Warren, changed the spelling of his name to CUMMINGS.

2.  The second is for Daniel CUMMINS (Jacob, Joseph, John, Isaac, Isaac) and his descendants.  The Mooar book uses this spelling for his descendants.  --  It should be noted that this is the line of A. O. CUMMINS, who arbitrarily used the 'Cummings' spelling in his own book, even for his own line!  NOTE that A.O. Cummins used the 'Cummings' spelling so consistently throughout that even when a daughter would give a first or middle name of 'Comings' or 'Cummins' to a child, A.O. Cummins would print this first or middle name as 'Cummings', while Mooar would use the actual spelling!

3.  The third is for Free COMINGS (Jacob, Joseph, John, Isaac, Isaac) and his descendants.  The Mooar book also uses this spelling for all of his descendants.

4.  The fourth is for David COMINGS (David, Ephraim, Thomas, John, Isaac) and his descendants.  According the History of Cornish, NH, this line also spelled their name 'Comings'.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thievery Head Plonk

It has been remarkable to me that so many intelligent people use their brains for thievery, in business or even informally during soul snatching interactions...seems an odd and sad choice, this cool gift for a mostly selfish action. But yesterday, I thought perhaps it was the specie's impulse for thievery that gave rise to intelligence. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Go to Brooklyn, See Great Art, Maybe Buy Some

The amazing Megan K. is opening her studio at Screwball Spaces this Weekend. Saturday and Sunday.

Here is all the information you need.


(We live with her art and it is a great thing to experience.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Greed, Man, Bummer

The Tea Party pretends to care about freedom and strange thoughts small and mean. But really, they do not understand the simplest workings of government and have such a silly view of how math works, that they should and most likely will happily disappear during the next election cycle.

So few of these people understand math. If your tax dollars are paying for uninsured people, inefficiently, to visit emergency rooms for asthma attacks and the flu, doesn't it make more sense to trim the money back for that? Why does this simple change make these right wing people fume so? The old system surely did not work and uninsured people live miserable lives and die, on average, five years earlier than insured people. It is heartless lunacy to be against helping these people.

Whenever I have a meal with a turgid Right Wing person, be they a Constitutional Conservative or a Libertarian, I calmly hold my place and agree with certain aspects of their argument. I don't like victim status for anyone and I would like to believe, too, like my tighty Righties, that people are better off taking care of themselves--however, some people simply don't have the means, the personality or even, the luck. So, I sit there and say, "This is the math. Some people don't have the means or ability. And why is it so important to you, anyway, this withholding? Why so punitive?" Eventually, the Rightist, if I play it right, will say something, half sheepishly, like, "Maybe I'm just a selfish asshole. I don't know."  And they chuckle. And then if I ask, "Well, should we let these people die?"--A wave comes over their faces--and it looks like they would be okay with these people dying.

It's a war for these Rightist people. The disadvantaged, to them, should pretty much fuck off and die.

I don't like to be taxed. Who does? But it's the VIG you have to pay in order to live in civilization. Freedom is not freedom from this. Whoever thought, realistically, using real math, that a nation could survive if greed and selfishness were the true roads to freedom?

Tax me, build me a bullet train from here to eternity, help out a helpless soul (or 30,000,000) and let these Tea Party lunatics suffer greatly at any and all upcoming polls. Their understanding of fiscal operations is uninformed. Their reductionist thoughts, which convert into ransoming behavior, are moronic and dangerous. Silly tantrum people. I believe the tantrum existed before the political situation. Some people just want cookies cookies cookies. If people have to die so they can gorge themselves, well, so be it. Is this really their pleasure? It seems so.

Do not vote screaming, bottomless children into office. They are rapacious, unseemly, uncouth, repellent and pathetic. They can't enjoy their banana cream pie unless they have a thousand more stashed away somewhere for a rainy day. Terrified beasts. And they want to spread their terror. Be gone, monstrous vermin.

Have I made myself clear?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


My blog began eight years ago but it seems like just a few. I do not understand time, exactly. It has always been about "finishing" something for me. If I have to paint a room, then the time it takes to paint a room is the time it takes. And if a blog is a blog, then it just carries on and really has no end, so it feels always young to me.

In the meantime, of  course, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. have grown up all around the blog world rendering most blogs, especially ones of general interest (like Open Trench) into bloated twitter entries.

However, I think carrying on is not a bad idea.

Trying to squeeze bigger ideas into Twitter is impossible. And so many Twitter entries are linked up to large articles. Facebook has become about a cat meowing, "Hang in there Baby, Friday's Coming," and other things cat-like

So the blog--with its awful name and its old time format--is the only thing that really can do what it does. For now.

It was more fun when no one else was public. It felt like you were daring, to put yourself out there to be heard. It also felt more personal. Plus, the written word still was the written word then. Blogs felt like shortish articles/opinion pieces/personal essays.

I blog on. I usually do not like articles that focus on the state and ways of any sort of journalism. However, I have been feeling odd about  my blog and sometimes it is best to clear the air.

To blog is human. To forgive a blogger, divine.

Friday, October 04, 2013

At Ye Ol' Alma Mater Today...Go Jumbos

The reward for having judged the Literary Death Match last night was to take a walk through early autumn Cambridge and Somerville today. Things are looking better than ever in these parts. Fancier than when I went to school there, the neighborhood surrounding the campus and Tufts itself is quite sprucey.

I went to this school, in addition to having a solid rep, because it was in Boston and it was pretty.

Today confirmed my younger decent taste. It warms me, because so many other places I lived in my youth have turned to hell from over development or singular decay. It was enjoyable to be someplace that has actually improved.

It was a good four years. Someone asked me if I was in town for Parents' weekend. I explained that I had no children. The kind woman asked, "No little Jumbos?" And I had to say no. (P.T. Barnum gave Tufts the dead stuffed elephant, Jumbo...our mascot. The whole dead elephant burned in a fire in the old Barnum Hall. Literally obviating any need to talk about The Elephant in the Room. I spent much time in the new Barnum Hall where I majored in Biology. Jumbo was represented by a cast iron elephant the size of three bowling balls.)

Go Jumbos, anyway. Here's to a warm New England Autumn Day.