Thursday, July 23, 2015

Below Me

I’m impressed with the cropping decision; cropping is editing and editing is essential and sacred.  If only foresight were 20/20 and I could have avoided bouncing around the underworld (it’s beneath the fetid, flaccid underbelly cloaked by the hideous Hawaiian shirt, unseen by the 10 dead eyes) for the last eight months or so.  Can’t undo anything, though, and on balance the right things happened.  I haven’t been the person who wrote “O Lost” in book margins for a long, long time.

Saturday, July 4, 2015


29th.—The preparations for the marriage have begun. The dressmaker has come to receive her orders. Laura is perfectly impassive, perfectly careless about the question of all others in which a woman's personal interests are most closely bound up. She has left it all to the dressmaker and to me. If poor Hartright had been the baronet, and the husband of her father's choice, how differently she would have behaved! How anxious and capricious she would have been, and what a hard task the best of dressmakers would have found it to please her! 

John Cale: Leaving It Up To You (Link)

Text:  Willkie Collins, The Woman In White (1859-60)

Sunday, March 22, 2015


I've got something on my mind
It's no lie, I'm telling you why
I will say what's on my mind
And this time there'll be no lie

I was terribly sad to learn that Michael Brown had died.  All week at work I had been focusing on the dark side of human nature, becoming more and more convinced that the HBR article Davia circulated last year saying that 25% of humanity were sociopaths was actually correct.  Every day for relief I would summon up Michael Brown songs in my mind (“Walk Away Renee,” “Pretty Ballerina,” “She May Call You Up Tonight”) and feel better.
Caroline had the good fortune to do publicity work on his last commercial release with The Beckies at ABC Records early in her career.  It was a terrific record , which I recall getting  good reviews, but unfortunately when it didn’t succeed there wasn’t a follow-up.  She also, weirdly (and we thought so at the time), somehow managed to be the person who arranged The Beckies’ only live performance, which took place in the Hotel Pennsylvania’s Grand Ballroom during a  NARM music industry convention.   

Michael was there handling sound and recording the show (he had already decided to do a Brian Wilson-like retreat from group live performances), and I remember him being pleasant, intense and involved, and quietly charismatic.  Word had clearly gotten out in New York that Michael Brown’s new band was performing and there was enough of a dedicated crowd in attendance to make the event very special.  After the show, Michael looked very pleased and packed up quickly. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


There was only one answer; and it filled me with profound discouragement. Seven possible rendezvous!—eight, counting Norden. Which to make for? Out came the time-table and map, and with them hope. The case was not so bad after all; it demanded no immediate change of plan, though it imported grave uncertainties and risks. Norden was still the objective, but mainly as a railway junction, only remotely as a seaport. Though the possible rendezvous were eight, the possible stations were reduced to five—Norden, Hage, Dornum, Esens, Wittmund—all on one single line. Trains from east to west along this line were negligible, because there were none that could be called night trains, the latest being the one I had this morning fixed on to bring me to Norden, where it arrived at 7.15. Of trains from west to east there was only one that need be considered, the same one that I had travelled by last night, leaving Norden at 7.43 and reaching Esens at 8.50, and Wittmund at 9.13. This train, as the reader who was with me in it knows, was in correspondence with another from Emden and the south, and also, I now found, with services from Hanover, Bremen, and Berlin. He will also remember that I had to wait three-quarters of an hour at Norden, from 7 to 7.43.

Note:  A tragedy has befallen our community, one which makes me ashamed of my own past behavior.

Text:  Erskine Childers, The Riddle of the Sands (1903)
Art: Vija Celmins