Tuesday, July 30, 2002


Up at my family's lakefront cottage for 2-1/2 blissful days, with four sisters (two of them pregnant), three brothers-in-law, three nephews, one niece, one godfather, one mother, and too many cousins to count. I counted three computers, one printer, one DVD player, one VCR. Miraculously, my niece and nephews spent most of their indoor time drawing, playing cards (okay, on the Mac), or challenging each other to a Simpsons-themed game of CLUE. The Tiny Nephew spent most of his time blowing bubbles and eating blueberries, though not at the same time. Who says the youth of today are lost?

Much discussion of bears: two spotted around the camp. Mice: omnipresent. Snakes: in hiding. One baby shower. One dessert-athon. One massive dinner at a lovely Italian joint, run by exiles from Brooklyn. Ecstatic eating of calamari, light, fresh, slightly gingered. Lots of catching up, as my family lives on both coasts now. It does amaze me how I do love them, my smart, funny, Irish/Anglo/Teutonic clan, who, as one cousin said, if they threw a triathlon, the three events would be running, swimming, and talking.

Friday, July 26, 2002


My adopted homeland of Hoboken, NJ boasts a lovely waterfront park, called, natch, Frank Sinatra Park. (Natch because he was born here, though rumor has it that other than the coal-fired oven-baked bread he had flown from Dom's in Hoboken to his swinging pad in Las Vegas--he didn't like the Mile Square City much.) In the summer, the park hosts a series of concerts right on the river.

Last night was a splendid one--a vibrant folk/rocker, Amy Fairchild, who boasted a great voice, Sheryl Crow-ish biceps, and an utter unflappability as little kids zipped through the middle of "her" stage. Over her shoulder, you could see the Hudson River, and all of lower Manhattan. The featured act, Freedy Johnston, was late, so Amy kept singing and singing, and finally ended on a September 11 song--a modest one, a kind one, a smart one.

Freedy was...well, grumpy. Didn't like the kids zooming around, though they danced like bastards to his mopiest songs. Quipped that he should have learned a couple of Raffi songs, but "they cut off my cable." Um, "they?" The Cable Conspiracy? He's a hell of a songwriter/performer, but the man was not in a good mood. Claimed that "they" made him wear an eyepatch as a kid to strengthen a lazy eye. Made fun of the fact that he was selling t-shirts along with his CDs, something that "they" never told him was part of his job as a traveling musician. He was wearing sunglasses, he said, because of a gross thing going on with his eyes. Okay, I'd be grumpy too.

But hey, he still rocks. And the water glittered and both cities--the tiny one and the big one---just shone.

Thursday, July 25, 2002


Sometimes the smallest thing makes me happy. In this case, it is pre-packaged shredded feta, which I flung with abandon on a baby spinach salad last night, and I flung with bigger abandon into a bunch of scrambled eggs this afternoon. Fast, delicious, and I didn't have to slave over a grater to do it.

Speaking of flinging with abandon, I must praise again the Upright Citizens Brigade improv class; if your brain is rusty and your creativity is all jammed up, there is really nothing like playing wild, wonderful, yet cooperative games with fellow improv-ers. Monday, I got to play a sadistic Disney employee AND the Ugliest Feral Baby in the World. Life is good.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002


Listening to Vigil, a compendium of songs written by a Greenwich Village songwriter's workshop led by Jack Hardy, a folk singer/songwriter, who lost a brother in the WTC. Suzanne Vega, Christine Lavin. Broken-hearted and lovely.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002


...and Syntax. That's "Sin and Syntax," by Constance Hale, a carnal celebration of good writing that also manages to be, urk, a book about grammar. Read any three pages, I promise you, and it makes you want to whack out a beautiful sentence...

Stuff like this:


"Sentences should be as varied as the objects of our desire--sometimes we want them brawny, sometimes we want them brainy, sometimes silken, sometimes brutal. We don't want them to stay the same, day after day."

Oh, yum.

Speaking of sexy sentences, for a glorious hit of poetry by the late Frank O'Hara, do visit Herself, listed in the links at the side, who did me the honor of quoting the Kenneth Koch poem, and then added one of my faves by the cutest gay librarian ever to collaborate on paintings with the brawny action guys of the 50s, Frank O'Hara. Thanks, Herself.

Monday, July 22, 2002


Okay, half of me is moody Celt, quick to spot the thing that's wrong. Suspicious. Disaster proofing even when there's no disaster.

Then there's the other part of me. The happy sprite. The self that wants to embrace and thank.

Here goes: I love the QuickChek in Hoboken. They have two nice, helpful pharmacists. They have these funky novena candles, with two bodacious versions of the Virgin Mary. They always have good music playing (selected, I think, by the employees). And now, I discover, they have great coffee. In a can. Cafe Ultima. It is to die for.

QuickChek likes to brag--in their window, on a billboard as you depart the wonders of Hoboken for Jersey City--that they brew fresh coffee every 20 minutes. So what, I used to think. Well, now I know.

Sunday, July 21, 2002


All one can say with certainty about anything that has you is "It moves!
Hey, wait a minute! look, it's moving! Look
At it, it's moving! It must have life!"
No, that's only an electric charge it's attached to a battery!
"No, that s life!" The wind blew it halfway across the street
Or from one edge of the table to another. It's not alive.
"Yes, it is! It moved by itself!
It has life! It's starting on a journey! Or is in the middle of one! Or near the end!"

-Kenneth Koch

God, I loved Kenneth Koch, poet/teacher extraordinaire. I fell in love with him when I was 11 or 12, when my sister's godmother Alice, a book editor, gave us one of the books she'd edited, an anthology of "New York Poets." Lots of the poems were hard, strange, weird. But Koch's work was just so accessible, so funny. He made a poem out of the refrain, "Asleep, and sleeping with women." Then, I read his books on kids as poets, and it blew my head off. How did I manage to forget about him? How did I manage to live in New York and never meet him, never babble to his face about how great he was?

I once had a large, sweet, amazing intern when I was a t.v. movie hussy, who admitted that one of the reasons he'd angled to get an internship in New York was so he could meet Allen Ginsberg. And he managed to do it--three times!--in one semester. I should have followed his example. Koch was a New York poet, a contemporary of all those cool guys in the 50s, Rivers, O'Hara, Ashbery, and he was also the author of several incredible books about teaching poetry to kids. His poems were light, lyrical, repetitive, conversational, his confidence that there was a poet inside of every kid just inspirational. Leukemia took him away, but we will always have his books, most especially the title of this one: "Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?"

Go out and write a poem in his honor.

Saturday, July 20, 2002


Jeff is in Boston today, because he has to attend his aunt's funeral. So I am temporarily single. These were my Manhattan plans:

Get a Temptu at Pier 17.

Go see Stuart Little 2 (Nathan Lane IS the Lord!) at the big old Battery Park City Cinema, which was closed for months because of the troubles.

Check out the Potato Famine Memorial, and think about my great grandmother.

Then, I heard about the big power outage in Lower Manhattan. News people taking pains to say, eight different ways, it's JUST a power outage. Still, not a good day to be rambling around the lower part of my beloved homeland.

These are my revised New Jersey plans.

Buy novena candles with bitchin' pictures of the Virgin Mary on the side.

Watch Six Feet Under because Jeff can't deal with the bodies. (Which never bothered him re: The Sopranos.)

That is all.

Well, not completely. I have a whole rant on Malcolm Gladwell's article in the New Yorker re: Enron corporate culture and how, though I regret the chaos and fear Enron's demise has caused, I sincerely hope hope hope this means that I will never meet another "Technology Evangelist" again. But I will rant tomorrow.

Also, I have a crush on the hosts of "On The Media."

Back to the novel. And the book proposal. And repotting begonias. There's a lot to be done before Nate and company appear. And God Bless You Franny Conroy in An Atheist Sort of Way, I have been rooting for you for years.

Friday, July 19, 2002


My left shoulder has been aching for about a week. I finally went to see my doctor, the energetic Dr. Ng. Took a ferry from Hoboken to the World Financial Center...where Jeff and I used to meet all the time when we were courting. It's still hard to go there, though you can feel the ferocious attempts to return to normalcy everywhere--the arts festival, the very very clear signage about what's open, even the new memorial to the Irish Potato Famine. I took a cab from the WFC to my dr. The cabbie, a chatty guy in shades, asked--after I told him that I was headed to the dr.---if I was pregnant. (One of those questions men are very infrequently asked.) Nope, I said. My dog is my baby. As we reached the intersection of Wall St. and the South Street Seaport, we both stared at one of lower Manhattan's arts institutions--a wall of flickering numbers, laid out like a calendar. But the numbers weren't flickering.

"The calendar's broken," the cabbie said. Then he looked again. "No, it isn't. It's just: only the 9 and the 11 lit up."

Thursday, July 18, 2002


My Dell has died, and been resurrected, once during this past week, and then decided to leave this earthly computer coil again. I write this on a borrowed computer--okay, Jeff's--while I wait to see if the fine guys at FlashTech try this ONE MORE THING that the Dell folks suggested.

Back later. Off to hector and nag.

But do do do rent "Waiting for Guffman" on DVD, if only to watch Eugene Levy bowl.

Sunday, July 14, 2002


For some reason I am thinking today about the remarkable Ron Vawter, who you might have seen, if you lived in New York City, in one of his many performances at the Wooster Group, an avant-garde theatre that is also the artistic home of Willem Dafoe. If you didn't, you might have seen him as the probing shrink in "sex lies and videotape" or in "Philadelphia" (he played a sympathetic straight lawyer) or in "Silence of the Lambs" (the unsympathetic agent who hijacks Hannibal Lecter from poor old Jodie and Scott Glenn. Vawter died of AIDS, suffering a heart attack in midair. He was fearless on stage, a fierce small coil of a man who carried with him a whiff of his former lives as a soldier and a chaplain. I am thinking of him and Charles Ludlam, a genuis performer/writer who also died of AIDS, and how much we need these sharp strange voices especially now---to make us question and make us laugh.

This is the ongoing pall of AIDS in the American arts. Nothing like the devastation in Africa, where one child in five has lost a parent to AIDS. Nothing like the poor communities in this country. But how do you "hear" the silence created by the absence of these and other artists? Ludlam, who did brilliant, lascivious, blenderized versions of classics, including CAMILLE, BLUEBEARD, and THERESE RAQUIN, would be an eminence grise right now, grandfather to a million and a half little theatre groups. Vawter, I am sure, would have turned more and more to writing and directing. The last thing I saw him perform was a genius double portrait of Jack Smith, a surreally genial performance artist, and Roy Cohn, closeted gay Commie hater. Mr. Very Out and Mr. In: a wonderful contrast and compare, self hate vs. self love, both colored with delusion. Younger queer and queer-identified artists have taken up the banner, but what seems lost, as always, is our sense of history. Without history, the things we make end up feeling shiny and thin.

Friday, July 12, 2002


Vanity Fair is verbal crack to me, irresistible, but ultimately brain blasting.

This month...or rather, August's...cover boy is Benjamin Bratt, whose biggest problem seems to be he broke up with Julia Roberts. He's now married to the equally high cheek-boned Talisa Soto, who is having his baby.

And on the subject of babies: a long long article about Elizabeth Hurley and her ex, Stephen Bing, who managed to conceive a child together when Hurley's birth control was hosed by taking antibiotics. Bing may also have fathered the daughter of Kirk Kerkorian's latest ex-wife. He is not HAPPY about the way his sperm keeps popping up in these ladies, without his CONSENT. Goofy play by play by player commentary by James Caan, who claims to have taught the Bingman his way around the ladies. But not, apparently, around a condom.

Then, there's Baron Thyssen, the late mega rich guy with loads of wives, who, apparently can only be sure of the paternity of one of his children, and is now, postmortem, being squabbled over by various, um, possible progeny.

Mike Ovitz is also featured, complaining about a gay cabal, but at least he didn't make anybody pregnant.

I just love this magazine!

Thursday, July 11, 2002


Look, don't get me wrong. I'm movie crazy. I always will be. I used to help make them. Maybe I'll write one again some day.

But let me get this straight: Tom Hanks plays a hired killer, right? In "Road to Perdition?" Who has to go on the lam with his very young son when things go very very wrong within his "organization?"

So far, I've heard it described as "a coming of age" story not once, but twice. 'Kay. Got it. I suppose Dad initiates son in some way.

It's Sam Mendes directing, so it will be beautiful. It's Paul Newman playing a complex bad guy, so it will be artful. It's Tom Hanks playing against type, so there will be an Oscar nomination. And Jude Law, the most gorgeous man in Christendom, made up like a circus sideshow freak, so it will be..um..classy.

Please, for a moment, imagine that all these roles are played by women. That, um, Michelle Pfeiffer is the hit lady, and, I don't know, the cute Coke girl is her daughter. Kathy Bates is the mob bossette. And Cameron Diaz is made up to look like...well, probably Lottie in "Being John Malkovich."

For fun, we'll make Jane Campion the director.

And just imagine that someone is trying to sell this to you as "a coming of age movie." A woman who kills lots of people and then goes on the lam with her daughter? Nope, don't think so. It sounds like a Roger Corman movie from the 60s. You know, like a Shelley Winters overacting thing. It's amazing how a shift in gender can make something classy.


Maybe it's just my inner Stephen King coming out--I've been listening to his wonderful book "On Writing," on tape. But yesterday, after me and the dog nearly got run over by Mr. Sportscar Man on Cell Phone making a hairpin turn...and then nearly got runover 10 seconds later by Mr. Guy Driving His Van While Eating With Two Hands, I began to wonder:

How long is it going to be before, say, a cell phone guy, say, in his 50s, making his big fucking important deal while driving his car smashes into a second cell phone guy in his 20s making HIS fucking important deal while driving his car....and we learn that they're father and son?

Really, honestly, I would love love love to be a detached and compassionate Buddhist for all you folks out there making your very important phone calls while driving, but here's the reality: if you hit me while talking on a cell phone, and you are not talking to a dying relative, then expect to meet your maker very soon. Because I will kill you.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002


Wondrous article about Lance Armstrong, one of my heroes, in the New Yorker this week. A science-drenched article written in old school (pre-Tina Brown) New Yorker style. The writer focuses almost entirely on the whys of Armstrong's incredible performance. Seems Lance is genetically gifted--as many bike racers are--but he also has prodigious gift for 1. pain and 2. practice.

One of the things I most respect about Armstrong is his, um, agnosticism. In "It's Not About the Bike," he is blunt on a number of subjects, including his utter disdain of his father, who he has never met, and his doubt that there is a Big Guy Up There looking out for us. Cancer will do that to you.

Thursday, July 04, 2002

Hey, if anyone's reading this--is anyone reading this? Sorry for the long silences. Going upstate meant no local Internet access, and I'm guessing I'm going to owe my Mom about a hundred bucks in long distance fees. We spent a glorious week at her cottage, and the dog became an Olympic quality swimmer. Lots of berries and muffins and sunning and cool weather. My only troubling experience was standing in line in front of someone in Chatham, NY, who informed the girl behind the ice cream counter that he wanted a hazelnut geLAto, and that he was going to compare it to his memories of gelato in IIIItaly.

Thanks for sharing, bub. Not.

Now, back in toasty New Jersey. I am glad to be here, but worried about that little dissolving ozone layer thing.