Monday, October 31, 2005

New, Quick Read

The Bay Ridge Jewish Center has a new reading group, with our first meeting tomorrow night. We are starting off short with Michael Chabon's The Final Soultion; A Story of Detection. Melanie has finished it and I am just starting, but at 130 pages, should be good to finish it by tomorrow night.

So far, so good.

What else?

It is Halloween and I have not quite gotten into it here. Unfortunately, the nature of my job is such that an all-out costume could be problematic. You don't want to be addressing employee issues while in some sort of get-up.

I'm wearing my Nightmare Before Christmas shirt and have a clown mask and a wig if the spirit moves me.

One of my HR staff spoke of a woman on the train this morning who was not making any friends in her elaborate ostrich costume. Apparently, it is best to avoid crowded subway trains while sporting large feathers. Go figure.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

In a Foul Mood

I fell back.
I smelled a rat.
The costume party ended in disaster.
Where is the product placement in my life?
They still call themselves the Redskins.
Hurricane Beta trashes Nicaragua.
I smelled a rat.
I fell back.

The candy corn lay scattered
among the dead, brittle leaves.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Trapped in the iPod

Blah blah blah. Will I ever shut up about my iPod? Probably not. The iPod is the vessel from which I pour out all the meaningless drivel that I find interesting about music. I'm not one of those psychotic iPod geeks who has the iPod photo and the nano and the phone with iTunes etc etc. In fact, I don't sport the white headphones, or carry it about in my hand so everyone can see how cool I am. It's in the cheap slipcase it came in and the headphones were $4.99.

Ok, so what's the deal? Why keep on saying my iPod this, my iPod that? It's easier than saying MP3. I dunno. I am proud of the huge range of, for lack of a better word, crap that I have on it. I mean, if it holds 60 gig, why not try and fill it?

And why bring it up again, in this post? Oh, I'm-a going somewhere with this. My iPod is approaching a landmark, currently sitting at 7472 songs, twenty-eight short of the 7500 mark.
I would expect to hit 7500 some time this weekend, so y'all can go out and buy me the special cards Hallmark has created for those nuts who keep track of such things.

(By the way, that's only 30 gig worth of songs, or 21.7 days. I could conceivably go up to 15,000 songs).

In all fairness, they're not all songs, there is a lot of spoken word and poetry too. But mostly music, and I wide range, as I tend to have eclectic tastes. Really, those who knew me between 1983 and 1988, my formative years, may remember as exclusively heavy metal, with an occasional dash of the Beatles and a sprinkling of Harry Chapin.

In June, I was hanging in San Diego with my brother Seth at the Hilton where I was staying near our offices there. The rooms came with clock radios that had adaptors for mp3 players. We played a game, "Stump Bill's iPod". The object is to name an artist not on my iPod. Not impossible, but it takes some work. Seth got me after maybe ten guesses with a band whose name escapes me now, but it was a metal group I had heard of but did not have on the iPod.

The other day, as I was leaving work, I was chatting with Tina, a manager at work, and we played, and she got me after six or seven tries. I impressed her with having a track by Ani DeFranco, Sevendust, and Etta James. But she got me with R. Kelly. No R. Kelly on the pod, until today.

Now, I've got me some R. Kelly. And not his "I Believe I Can Fly," but his "Trapped in the Closet," parts 1-5. Oh, if you haven't seen the video and heard the songs, you haven't lived. "Trapped in the Closet" is a video soap opera that I believe is meant to be a serious artistic endeavor, but is so, well, over the top, that it is hysterical. Hey, I'll hand it to R., the tune is catchy, and it's interesting in the sense that it's interesting to watch nature films.

I'll spare you the plot. Oh no, I won't.

Rolling Stone calls "Trapped in the Closet," "a brilliant five-volume, sixteen-minute soap opera about a cheating husband." When asked by RS, "What line of yours makes you laugh every time you hear it?" Kelly's response is: "There's a whole lotta laughs. I'd say on the first chapter of "Trapped in the Closet" [sings]: "Shit/Think/Shit/Think/Shit/Quick, put me in the closet."

Now that's quality songwriting, and it actually works. If you have managed not to see this, and you want to see for yourself, check out part 1 of "Trapped in the Closet" here. You'll either like it and appreciate it, or you'll find it hilarious. I'm in the middle.

[Clarification: I don't have 7471 unique songs. According to my iTunes, I have 924 "duplicate" songs. Not quite. I have different versions of the same song. My admiration for Pearl Jam borders on obsessive, I have ten (10) concerts of theirs. Pearl Jam makes all their concerts available to fan club members after their shows, and I started with the show I attended at Madison Square Garden on July 9, 2003. Since the band never plays the same set, every concert is a variant of the others. That said, I have over 600 tracks (studio and live) from Pearl Jam alone (yes, 11 different versions of "Alive"). Cue: roll your eyes. I could spend another thirty sentences justifying it, but it's a losing battle, I know. But that may explain the high number of songs, although, technically speaking, there are over 1500 individual artists or combinations in the mix. This is why the shuffle feature is so appealing. There, I've beat the dead horse. Aloha.]


Ha. Tricked you! No nightmare here, but rather, one of my favorite films of all time, Tim Burton's A Nightmare before Christmas.

Strangely, my iPod shuffle has seemed to have been in the seasonal mood lately, playing a greater ratio of songs from the film soundtrack, most notably: "What's This?," "Making Christmas," and "This is Halloween." The songs are composed and written by Danny Elfman who has gone from Oingo Boingo frontman to one of the most recognized score and soundtrack producers in Hollywood. You can almost guarantee he has done the scores for all of Tim Burton's films, but he has also worked on Good Will Hunting, Dead Presidents, Spiderman, Mission: Impossible, and the Men In Black films.

If you enjoyed the film, watch it again this weekend. Buy the CD, the music is wonderful and is great from October 15 through December 31, and pretty much the rest of the year, too.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Top 20 Books, #15

Top 20 Books, #15

Those who know me know that I was a huge Bukowski fan in the late '80s and early '90s. I still like Bukowski, but am no longer avidly awaiting the next volume of his posthumous poems.

Poetry aside, as poetry is where Bukowski made his biggest mark, he also wrote some great fiction, as well.
In fact, many critics of Buk bemoan the fact that his poems aren't really poems, but prose pieces broken into poetic lines. But this is not about that argument.

Bukowski's first novel Post Office, showed people that he could write longer fiction that his short stories which found their way into underground newspapers and dirty magazines in the late '60s and early '70s.

To me, however, his crowning achievement in fiction came in the form of Ham on Rye.

I realize that, when discussing books #20-16, I could have, should have included an excerpt to illustrate the text. So here's a memorable passage from this novel, based on the author's life growing up in Depression Los Angeles:

One day Mrs. Fretag gave us an assignment.

"Our distinguished President, President Herbert Hoover, is going to visit Los Angeles this Saturday to speak. I want all of you to go hear our President. And I want you to write an essay about the experience and about what you think of President Hoover's speech."

Saturday? There was no way I could go. I had to mow the lawn. I had to get the hairs. (I could never get all the hairs.) Almost every Saturday I got a beating with the razor strop because my father found a hair. (I also got stropped during the week, once or twice, for other things I failed to do or didn't do right.) There was no way I could tell my father that I had to go see President Hoover. So,I didn't go.

That Sunday I took some paper and sat down to write about how I had seen the President. His open car, trailing flowing streamers, had entered the football stadium. One car, full of secret service agents, went ahead and two cars followed close behind. The agents were brave men with guns to protect our President. The crowd rose as the President's car entered the arena. There had never been anything like it before. It was the President. It was him. He waved. We cheered. A band played. Seagulls circled overhead as if they too knew it was the President. And there were skywriting airplanes too. They wrote words in the sky like "Prosperity is just around the corner."

The President stood up in his car, and just as he did the clouds parted and the light from the sun fell across his face. It was almost as if God knew too. Then the cars stopped and our great President, surrounded by secret service agents, walked to the speaker's platform. As he stood behind the microphone a bird flew down from the sky and landed on the speaker's platform near him. The President waved to the bird and laughed and we all laughed with him. Then he began to speak and the people listened.

I couldn't quite hear the speech because I was sitting too near a popcorn machine which made a lot of noise popping the kernels, but I think I heard him say that the problems in Manchuria were not serious, and that at home everything was going to be all right, we shouldn't worry, all we had to do was to believe in America. There would be enough jobs for everybody. There would be enough dentists with enough teeth to pull, enough fires and enough firemen to put them out. Mills and factories would open again. Our friends in South America would pay their debts. Soon we would all sleep peacefully, our stomachs and our hearts full. God and our great country would surround us with love and protect us from evil, from the socialists, awaken us from our national nightmare, forever...

The President listened to the applause, waved, then went back to his car, got in, and was driven off followed by carloads of secret service agents as the sun began to sink, the afternoon turning into evening, red and gold and wonderful. We had seen and heard President Herbert Hoover.

I turned in my essay on Monday. On Tuesday Mrs. Fretag faced the class. "I've read all your essays about our distinguished President's visit to Los Angeles. I was there. Some of you, I noticed, could not attend for one reason or another. For those of you who could not attend, I would like to read this essay by Henry Chinaski."

The class was terribly silent. I was the most unpopular member of the class by far. It was like a knife slicing through all their hearts.

"This is very creative," said Mrs. Fretag, and she began to read my essay. The words sounded good to me. Everybody was listening. My words filled the room, from blackboard to blackboard, they hit the ceiling and bounced off, they covered Mrs. Fretag's shoes and piled up on the floor. Some of the prettiest girls in the class began to sneak glances at me. All the tough guys were pissed. Their essays hadn't been worth shit. I drank in my words like a thirsty man. I even began to believe them. I saw Juan sitting there like I'd punched him in the face. I stretched out my legs and leaned back.

All too soon it was over.

"Upon this grand note," said Mrs. Fretag, "I hereby dismiss the class..."

They got up and began packing out. "Not you, Henry," said Mrs. Fretag. I sat in my chair and Mrs. Fretag stood there looking at me. Then she said, "Henry, were you there?" I sat there trying to think of an answer. I couldn't. I said, "No, I wasn't there." She smiled. "That makes it all the more remarkable." "Yes, ma'am..." "You can leave, Henry."

I got up and walked out. I began my walk home. So, that's what they wanted: lies. Beautiful lies. That's what they needed. People were fools. It was going to be easy for me. I looked around. Juan and his buddy were not following me. Things were looking up.

Bukowski's prose flows naturally. It is not flowerly or academic. He does not take on airs and writes about our most base functions in a matter-of-fact way. He can be crude, but he can also be eloquent while speaking in the language of everyday life. Ham on Rye is pure Bukowski at his best, and his descriptions of Los Angeles, like John Fante's, are powerful and moving. Knowing this book is autobiographical also helps newcomers to Bukowski crawl into his head and get an idea of why he is who he is.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Random Snapshot of What's on the iPod

Here's a new meme: set the iPod on shuffle. Count to the number of days it is. Talk about what comes up, with authority.

Attempt #1

"Whole Lotta Love" from How the West Was Won by Led Zeppelin.

Oh, Zeppelin fans, unite! If you missed this release in 2003, you missed an event. How the West Was Won is a 3-disc concert CD from Zeppelin in their heyday, much earlier than the adequate-but-disappointing-in-retrospect The Song Remains the Same.

The discs actually combine the pre-Houses of the Holy tour dates in Los Angeles and Long Beach in 1972. Widely regarded by Zep-heads as the finest concert performances on bootleg, this set has been re-mastered and cleaned up for mass release. And oh, it is so worth the wait.

The crowning achievement starts off disc 3 with the classic "Whole Lotta Love." I just re-listened to this, no easy feat at a whopping 23 minutes and 7 seconds. How did Plant/Page/Bonham/Jones stretch it out so long? With fine guitar solos, drum flourishes and vocal acrobatics from Plant. And they also made it a medley. It starts and ends as "Whole Lotta Love," but it weaves its way through John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillun," Wanda Jackson's rockabilly classic "Let's Have a Party," and the classic "Hello Mary Lou (Goodbye Heart)" before finishing with a flourish. I was listening to this imagining what it must have been like, and it is truly spine-tingling. Check it out if you can.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Weddings, by Fellini

The bride is a Valley Girl turned Orthodox Jew.
The groom, born in Israel, aspiring director.
The temple, off Sunset, in West Hollywood.
Add an open bar, and sweet, loving, bedlam.

Chaos begets more chaos, passionate guests,
drunk with joy and religious fervor,
singing, dancing, shouting, crying,
and the wedding hasn't even started yet.

A beautiful woman offers a platter
with stuffed grape leaves and other hors d'oeuvres.
I stare at the chuppa, holding my drink,
rum and coke, thinking this can't possibly be right.

Before beginning, the grey-beard rabbi asks the sexes
not to sit together, please, men on the right -
women on the left
, a murmur of movement,
the shifting and resettling,

and the rabbi clears his throat, corrects us,
I meant my right. Watch now,
see the room, parted like the Red Sea,
coming together in an embrace,

then receding into separate halves.
After the ceremony, the crowd fills
the hallway, overloads the lobby,
packs in front of the entrance to the Judith Levine

Garden Room, I find myself trapped
in a doorway marked LADIES.
I am elbowed into oblivion by desperate women,
aching to empty their bladders.

Once inside, the dance floor dis-
plays its split personality - potted palms
divide the room into two realms:
men dance North, women South

and there are the typical
ceremonial delays, the anticipation,
then the arrival of bride and groom.
I could never have expected such a spectacle.

Ribbon-lined hoops sit like fancy wickets
and there is a roar reminiscent of
a football team storming the field,
Hebrews returning from routing the Philistines.

The photographer's flashes, two beacons
on tall, thin antennae-like poles, blind me,
daze me, trick me into seeing things that can't
possibly be there, but they are.

The newlyweds are rushed in,
obscured by buckets of confetti and
other debris, canned string sprayed
wantonly into the crowd, arms flailing.

There are party hats and backflips,
costumed jesters, bearded men who,
normally appear pious in conservative
black suits, thrashing wildly like men

drowning in air -wigged women wear masks
and hula skirts and artificial leis and,
I swear to God, there is a clown with a huge
flyswatter, smacking dancing people as if

they were squirming insects caught
in an energetic web. It is like
Mardi Gras without beads and breasts.
It is a festival, a celebration.

The clown re-emerges in a gorilla suit
and I'm in the corner, exhausted and jealous,
because I can barely muster up the energy
to watch, let alone dance.

The bride is beautiful and glowing, the groom
sweats with exhilarating joy as I watch
a group of men dance with their hats on fire.
It is the performance of a lifetime.

And I do not believe I am actually
witnessing this spectacle, live,
and it is a wedding,
and there is chaos, beautiful madness,

and at the center of it all: two lovers,
around whom the world revolves
in a dazzling display
of bright and penetrating light.

Monday, October 24, 2005

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, part 2

The first part of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn can be found here. First, from October 1, originally posted here.

The next stage as the season progresses. Photo 2 from a rainy October 13.

And yesterday, October 23, the patches of red peeking out.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


The latest issue of Honolulu Magazine has a familiar mouth-watering sight. It reminded me of ths picture I took when we were in Honolulu in August at Leonard's Bakery, home of their world-famous malasadas.

Those of you who have been to Hawai'i know. The malasada is the local donut, but they are scarce on the mainland. I once won some on eBay freeze-packed. Thus came my saying: "A bad malasada is still a good malasada." On August 15, 2005, we breakfasted on Leonard's malasadas on the way to the airport back to the Big Isle. Aside form the plain ones, we shared coconut and guava-filled varieties. I had previously been a malasada purist and, upon seeing malasadas with filling at Tex Drive-In in Honoka'a, near my Mom's place in Pa'auilo, spurned the thought of anything corrupting the unified purity of a freshly-fried malasada.
I tell people who are going to Hawai'i: make sure you get malasadas from Leonard's. They are like zeppole in New York, or beignets from Cafe du Monde in New Orleans (which just re-opened last week, hurrah!), but only better. They are paradise packed into light, fluffy, sugar-dusted dreams.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Early Morning Ramblings

Friday the 21st was a rare day when I couldn't even blog a wee bit. The demands of work were such that I couldn't sneak off and throw a few thoughts down just to scratch the blotch (I just coined that version, blog + itch = blotch). I guess it sounds dirty, but it's not. Anyway, the amazing vomiting wondercat Goblin was apparently so distraught over my lack of a post for Friday, he decided to regurgitate me awake. Hmm. Again, sounds icky, but don't take it literally.
So, faced with the prospect of cleaning up catspew, hear I am, blogged in.

First of all...hello loyal readers. Thanks for your e-mails and your posted comments. I encourage those of you who have not posted comments to do so, if anything, just to say hi. For example, later in this post, when I start talking about strippers, please feel free to post a comment about how that offends you. Or not.

Second of all, I have started a new book: House of Thieves. It is a book of short stories by Hawai'i-raised author Kaui Hart Hemmings. You can read the New York Times book review here. I have only read the first story, "The Minor Wars," and am in the middle of the second. So far, I like very much. First of all, they are stories set in Hawai'i. Secondly, they're dark, containing what the Times' reviewer calls "a New England winter's worth of dysfunction and gloom." I had just read the review last month in the paper when I heard from my rabbi that he had just read the book and was extremely impressed by its depth. For me, there is an extra bonus, as the subjects originate in Hawai'i. A little online research reveals that Ms. Hemmings attended Punahou School (bitter rival to my Iolani). That gives Punahou a 2-0 edge in the established literary writer race, with co-alumna Allegra Goodman in the Buff-N-Blue's corner. Am I the Red Raiders only hope? Hardly, I would guess, but two fiction writers trump a poet, and I am not on pace to win a Nobel in Literature, at any rate.

I digress. Check out the book. Dem Punahou girls know fo write. As long as I'm plugging Hawai'i lit. Iolani's prestigious Keables chair was held this past year by journalist-fiction writer-playwright Lee Cataluna. Ms. Cataluna wrote a marvelous book of short story/anecdotes called Folks You Meet in Longs and other stories. It is written mostly in Pidgin and is published by Bamboo Ridge Press.

Ok, I realize I cannot put off the catspew much longer. SO high-brow, eh, this blog? Sheesh, too much talk about Hawaii books and da Pidgin wen start creeping in, eh?

Yesterday I wanted to post the front cover headline for Gotham's Daily News. I missed the opportunity so you'll all have to close your eyes and use your imagination. Well, don't close them yet. Read the headline and then close your eyes. It was: LAP DUNCE.
The story, which still leads today's edition of the paper, but under the less-inspiring headline "OH, WHAT A NIGHT!", has to deal with American Express suing a business man who ran up a $241,000 bill at Scores, a popular and exclusive "gentleman's club." That's two hundred and forty-one thousand dollars. At a strip club. Supposedly in one night. Here's a priceless quote:

Scores spokesman Lonnie Hanover said "We can't go to a customer and say, 'Are you sure you want to spend another $50,000?' He would be insulted. If they are millionaires and they are sober, they are free to spend."

There have been many disputes over this, at least three separate lawsuits against Scores for their priceyness, including this gem of a case:

"Insurance executive Mitchell Blaser filed suit against the club in May 2004 after being handed a bill for $28,000.

Scores said he charged five magnums of fancy champagne at $3,200 a pop and paid for 350 lap dances by as many as 12 strippers.

Blaser, the 53-year-old chief financial officer of Swiss Re's Americas division, claimed he was intimidated into signing a fraudulent bill."

Obviously, I think this hilarious. And worthy of being a front-page news item too. And the perfect anecdote to any literary highbrow-ness this post started off with.

Damn cat.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What the Years Do

I have been in a pensive mood for the last two days after googling old classmates and seeing: "Police turn to public to learn woman's whereabouts... In January 2002, a state district judge in Santa Fe issued an order granting Ava Sandrock, now 37, a legal name change to the one-word name...".

Further investigation turned up this webpage and the following story:

"TAOS, N.M. -- A body found in the Rio Grande just south of the gorge bridge is that of a missing Santa Fe woman.

State police say the state Office of the Medical Investigator today identified the body of a 37-year-old woman who went by the single name Naia.

Her body was spotted by rafters on Saturday and recovered from an area about two miles south of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge on Monday.

Naia had not been seen since her car was found at the rest area near the bridge February 23rd. She was officially reported missing on February 27th -- under her birth name of Ava Lauren Sandrock.

State police say the preliminary cause of death is blunt force trauma. However, they don't speculate how she sustained the fatal injury.

The bridge -- 650 feet above the Rio Grande -- has a reputation as site for accidental deaths, suicides and serious accidents."

If you hadn't guessed, I knew Ava at Occidental. We dated for about 2 weeks in our first month in school. When meeting me, and learning I was from Hawai'i, she told me that she had dated a boy in Hawai'i named Danny Ocean. Small world, Danny went to neighboring Punahou School and we saw each other regularly for a while at Sunday School at Temple Emanu-El. He had his bar mitzvah reception at Sea Life Park. He was older, and I wasn't invited. I went out once with his younger sister Karen. I think we saw the movie Chariots of Fire together at the Cinerama Theater on King Street. Funny, what we remember.

Anyway, Ava and I were only an item for a couple of weeks. But we still hung out in similar circles. She played the role of The Paramour in the freshman production of Everyman, starring Dawson Nichols. I had the minor role of The Debtor, who is sent off to prison by Everyman, while his Paramour watches. [Just added, June 7, 2007, Ava's picture from the Occidental Lookbook 1985, the pre-MySpace, pre-Facebook, print medium that gathered all the pictures of all the new students between two covers.]

Ava left Oxy either during or after our sophomore year. I cannot recall any real interaction with her after October 1985 (it was twenty years ago today...), but I'm sure we still crossed paths, exchanged pleasantries, etc. I remember sitting at a table in Clancy's (the Oxy dining hall) with her and five or six others, everyone talking about going to the Grateful Dead show the night before. I was the only one who had not gone, and felt out of place as each person at the table rattled through the cornucopia of mind-altering substances they each had ingested the night before.

So clearly, Ava was not someone who I had been close to, other than those first few weeks as a freshman. But those who know me, know that I connect with people, and hold on to their memories like scrapbooks. It is always interesting to see where we end up. I mean, 20 years ago I could never have imagined living in New York City, working in Human Resources for a Collection Agency, being happily married with kids. Most 18 year olds don't think in those terms.

Anyway, Ava Lauren Sandrock died late last winter in Taos, apparently commiting suicide by jumping off a bridge into the Rio Grande River. Why does this disturb me so? I guess that's a loaded question. The act itself is disturbing to anyone. The fact that I knew the person once makes it that much harder for me to fathom.

I have had the fortune (I won't say good or bad) of being distanced from death. I have only attended two funerals in my life, both in-laws, Melanie's grandmother Sadie and her Great Aunt Pauline. For a 38-year old to say that illustrates that I have not seen death up close, seen Death take soneone close from me. My paternal and maternal grandparents have all passed on, but I was not able to attend their funerals. Perhaps this is why, when someone I once knew has died, I am stirred.

I look at the digitized rendering of Naia Naia, the woman formerly known as Ava Lauren Sandrock. That photo is the only marker I have of a blip in my life. Two weeks is a very short time, but it still represents a fragment of my time on earth. I look at the photo. I can see the faint impression of the young woman I knew who, I just remembered, was the person who went with me to Eagle Rock Plaza to get my left ear pierced. It was her idea for me to do it. I figured, why not, I'm in college, I can do what I want.

I touch my ear and squeeze. I can feel the scar tissue from the piercing still under the skin. A faint hole remains. It is barely noticeable, but I know it's there. It will be with me always.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

My Famous Classmates, part 1

I don't remember this guy. He was in my class at Occidental College. I don't remember seeing him, but based on his interests, I'm assuming we didn't cross paths very often. He was an English minor, so I may have had a class with him. Who knows?

I asked classmate Tino about him and he says he remembers him, but not well. Tucker was a Poli Sci major, so maybe that was it. Incidentally, his photo does not appear in any of the four La Encina yearbooks. Guess he was too busy doing something else. Wonder what that could have been....

You can read about Joel Tucker (Oxy '89) in the Los Angeles City Beat here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Top 20 Books, #16

My #16 favorite book, Ask the Dust by John Fante, is a relatively obscure title. If you're thinking of getting me a signed first edition for Chanukah, you probably will think twice, once you see that one copy can be found online at Alibris for $3498.85. That's an amazing fact, since so few people have ever read Fante, and the number of Americans who would even recognize his name is microscopic.

I discovered Fante, like so many others, through the championing of Charles Bukowski. Don't groan if you are Bukowski-haters, for Fante is not Buk, just as Buk was not Fante. Fante was who Bukowski read in the '40s and '50s. Ask the Dust is considered his masterpiece, but other titles like Wait Until Spring, Bandini, Dago Red, The Brotherhood of the Grape, and The Road to Los Angeles are quite good as well.

Fante's stories are autobiographical in nature, those of a child of immigrants from Italy, growing up in America during the Depression. Ask the Dust, published in 1939, is the story of a young novelist, full of piss and vinegar, trying to make it as a writer in Los Angeles.

I just checked out the Internet Movie Database to see if this novel ever made it to the screen, as I know that Fante, who wrote for Hollywood, also had two of his books made into movies. His novel Full of Life was released on film in 1956 and Joe Mantegna played the title role in Wait Until Spring, Bandini. I am pleased to see that Ask the Dust was completed this year (no release date yet), starring Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek, and Donald Sutherland, in a film written and directed by the great filmmaker Robert Towne. This is particularly exciting because Towne wrote the screenplay and won the Oscar for the classic Chinatown, in which Depression-era Los Angeles is also a major "character," in the same sense that Manhattan is a character in the films of Woody Allen.

But I digress. This is about the book, not about film. Fante's writing is beautiful in its simplicity. I remember reading this in the early 1990's, in Los Angeles, and being amazed at how Fante's writing was so powerful in its description of L.A. in its early days. The imagery of the growing City of Angels is so vivid, you can taste the grittiness of the dust floating up from the words as they bound across the pages.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Unusual Items on My Desk at Work

Ok, those who know me know that I am a packrat and can tend to be a little cluttered. I've changed my settings here so that you do not (or should not) have to be registered with Blogger to post comments. So I ask, nay, I insist that you participate in this bit of meme, and play along at home. (What's a meme? Click here for some background).

Aside from regular desk crap, list all the unusual items you have on your desk. For example, these are the unusual items on my desk at work:

Stuffed "Catbert: the Evil HR Director" doll.

Three shot glasses: one from Trinidad Tobago, one from the Dominican Republic, and one from Guatemala.

A St. Lucia key chain.

Two political buttons, both with pictures of George W. Bush, one reads, "The Emperor has no brains" and the other says "A VILLAGE IN TEXAS HAS LOST ITS IDIOT."

A bottle of "Bull Snort Butt Burner" Jalapeno Pepper Sauce.

Two coffee mugs, one of Jack Skellington from A Nightmare Before Christmas, the other from the TV show, "The Apprentice" that says in BIG RED LETTERS "YOU'RE FIRED."

A small circular tupperware container (3.25 inches wide, 3.25 inches tall) containing tea. This was a memento of an employee I liked very much who was laid off last October.

A small green glazed "pinch pot" made by Shayna in kindergarten, containing 62 cents.

The May/June and September/October issues of The American Poetry Review.

A CD case from the New York Public Library that holds the album Hawaiian Drum Dance Chants. (It's eclectica like that which explains how I have 7300 tracks on my iPod (also on my desk).

Ok, that was fun. Now you go.

Disclaimer: Those items that you may feel are "inappropriate" to be displayed visibly on the desk of a Human Resources Director are located strategically and positioned in such a way so that people sitting in front of my desk would not see them.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ayatollah's Challenge

Hurrah! The sky is blue! There are no clouds! The sun is shining! It's a beautiful day in the Big Apple!

Last week, amid the Noah-like deluges, I received an e-mail from friend Chris in Southern California:

"Bill -
More about this later, but I was on the phone with Tino yesterday, and he
accepted a challenge I put to him...for each of us to write a short
story of at least 10 pages by January 1, 2006, for submission (which will not be
accepted, of course), to at least one outlet. He suggested I let you know about
this, which I thought was a great idea. The timing of this is partially related
to the fact that I will be off-track in November-December, and he is likely to
be furloughed with the end of the summer fire season..."

Challenge accepted, of course. I love a good challenge, especially if it involves writing. Details to follow, but I'd like to consider publishing our submissions here on BillyBlog. Of course, Tino and Chris have not agreed to this, but hopefully they will agree.

I am referring to this as "The Ayatollah's Challenge." Why? Well, much to Chris' embarassment, his ATO pledge name was Ayatollah. Why? Because no one could come up with anything obscene for Chris, and in a moment of desperation, Mike Smotherman suggested the name of the late Iranian madman. Chris is neither Iranian, nor a religious fanatic, nor one to pronounce fatwah on Indian-born novellists living in England and/or New York.

So, game on, dudes. Perhaps this public declaration will further spurn us on in this creative endeavor.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

BillyBlog's New Look

Sorry all, if you got attached to the old blog. I have revamped and redone, with a couple of added features. Of course, it would have been easier had I been conversant in HTML. But, I improvised anyway. Hope you like it. If not, nothing is ever permanent. Change can come at any time.

Catching Up with The New Yorker

I have been catching up with some back issues of the New Yorker and thought I'd discuss a few things I've found well-written and fascinating. First is a short story by Jeffrey Eugenides called "Early Music." You can read it by clicking here. Perhaps it is my incessant guilt in keeping Eugenides' novel Middlesex off my top 20 list. But, Eugenides is a skilled writer who tells riveting tales. This one is no exception.

Second is a two-part series about the railroad by John McPhee. Alas, this is not available online, but it is in the October 3 & October 10 issues. If you don't have them and want copies, e-mail me or post a message and I'll see what I can do.

I first came across McPhee in The New Yorker when I first started reading the magazine in the 1980's. He did a multi-part series about the Merchant Marine, which eventually became the book Looking For a Ship. Despite its length over several issues, I was riveted. If you are interested in checking out McPhee, check out his website here.

In other news, I have been having some formatting issues, if you can't tell. All my sidebar stuff on the Blog is down at the bottom. I have added some nifty bells & whistles, but they seem to have stuck themselves to the back tire, so they can't be seen right away. You have to scroll down all the way to see them, which is sort of self-defeating. Oh well, I am confident they will all work out in the end.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Do Re Meme

Saw this on Bonnie's blog (Frogma). Bonnie is an old classmate from Iolani:

"Hey, and as long as I'm doing memes...I'm going to do one I saw on Rivertyde too. This is such a nice simple one that even I can't complicate it...only I'm going to, a little. Here are the rules: 1. Grab the nearest book. 2. Open the book to page 123. 3. Find the fifth sentence. 4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions. 5. Dont search around and look for the coolest book you can find. Do whats actually next to you."

Here's what I got:

"However, the scales on the skin did not overlap as they do on some reptiles."

from A Guide to Dinosaurs, by Brochu, Long, McHenry, Scanlon, and Willis.

Don't ask why this was the nearest book in my office, but it was. The text refers to a Carnotaurus, only one specimen has ever been discovered, in Patagonia.

Interesting. That got me thinking. Then I got distracted. What the hell does she mean by meme? She's been blogging much longer than me, so I dug a little. Meme meme meme.

One of the definitions: "A meme is a cognitive or behavioral pattern that can be transmitted from one individual to another one."

OK, so meme (rhymes with dream) is/are simple, yet complicated. We use them often. Just in context, one can determine that meme are patterns that differ per individual. The meme above follows a pattern, and if someone else does it, will achieve the same result, but with a similar structure. Most common are the "surveys" that get e-mailed around to everyone where you answer your name, sign, favorite movie, first place you were hit with a mango, etc. The key to it being a meme, is that it "infects" others, it is transmitted to other people, i.e. the dreaded "send this to everyone you know."

For example, if you look at my post on October 8, "Billy Needs", that is also an example of a meme. I encourage any and all readers to do what you will with these when I come across them.
Hey, post them as messages if you so choose.

Just to illustrate my Meme-ness, I have unearthed the following treasure. Although not particularly interesting, it is more fascinating that I still have access to this and that I recalled doing this when talking about meme.

From my earliest journal, roughly covering my formative years (HA!), 1983-1986. The journal had the working title of Your Guess is as Good as Mine, Jr.

August 23, 1983: "Right now, I'm going to pick a book (I'm in a library at Univ. of Cal./Dominguez Hills) & I'll take the first word from each chapter (repeats: I'll take 2nd word etc.) & try & do something with it!

[At this point, at Cal State/DH, not Univ. of Cal., I randomly grab a book where I am sitting trying to while away the time as Dad works]

Book: Aspects of Educational Technology Volume III
Damn! No chapters! Try again
Damn! Volume IV! Try again
Damn! Software for Educational Computing by K. Ahmed, D. Ingram, & C.J. Dickinson has only three parts. Try again
Let's try Educational Research in Classrooms in Schools: A Manual of Materials & Methods by Louis Cohen

Sec 1: Individual Sec 5: Whereas Sec 9: Science
Sec 2: There Sec 6: What
Sec 3: Methodical Sec 7: To
Sec 4: As Sec 8: In

[And here is the result. I warn you. It's not pretty. It is juvenilia at its worst.]

"As to what Methodical individual?" he asked, pulse racing.

"Whereas," she gasped, "There! In SCIENCE."

"Goddamnit!" he screamed. He looked very angry. "Cecelia, what does methodical individuality have to do with science?"

A pause. She stared at him coldly. "Look, Dave," she whispered as she pointed to a nearby periodical on the nightstand.

"Forgive me Cecelia," he cried as he saw that she had pointed to the latest issue of "SCIENCE" magazine, "I'm so. . .".

"The article on methodical individuality is marked, Dave," she said. Then, putting on her clothes she left his bedroom. She told him that she never wanted to see him again. But,unfortunately for Dave, he did not hear her. He had become engulfed in the article.

When Dave woke up in the morning, the magazine still in his hands, he noticed her absence. She was the second most important thing to him, and he loved her. He never found her and died brokenheartedly.

Cecelia, on the other hand, had moved to Indianapolis, married an orthodontist, had three children, and lived happily ever after.

Creative efforts of a 16-year old. Interesting? I guess, but moreso in the latest context as the meme from Frogma reminded me of this self-imposed writing exercise from 22 years ago.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Found Found

My pal Jill and I were chatting the other day and she said that my recent post about what I found on the subway reminded her of the venture known as Found Magazine. It's all about interesting things people find. It's worth clicking the link to check out their "Find of the Day", which I plan to link on this site, once I get around to it. This was most likely what was in the back of my mind when I picked up my sample of "Stephanie Texture".

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Sign of the Apocalypse

Not in the habit of posting twice in one day, but must mention this. Fence magazine is an establshed literary mag. Well, a New York established one at least. They're in their eighth year. Anyway, whoever says poetry isn't sexy would be astounded by the cover of Fence's Summer issue seen here. Check it out now before the Feds shut down the site.

San Diego Zoo Coup

Ok, so we all know the California Los Angeles Anaheim Orange County Disneyland Angels in the Outfield defeated the Yanks of New York two nights ago. Please note the Yanks at least went down fighting, unlike those "idiots" in Boston. However, this post is not to lament the end of another disappointing season (silver lining: no more late nights watching the Bronx Bombers in a nail-biter). Rather, I'd like to give props to the marketing Genius at the San Diego Zoo who booked the outfield wall space in Angel Stadium of Anaheim. It is heartening to see that, despite selling its wall space, they don't play at "Disney Stadium" or some other corporate moniker. Nevertheless, one not following baseball might have thought that the Zoo folks paid a pretty penny for prime advert space on the front page of The New York Times. Every major paper seemed to focus on a key photo of two Yankees bungling a fly ball in front of the ad space. I mean, look again, that's a pretty big photo for the front page of The Times. Imagine if the home team had won?

Anyway, Yankee-haters nationwide subliminally have a greater hankering for the pleasures of the San Diego Zoo (91.78 miles from Angel Stadium, incidentally) whereas New Yorkers may be forever adverse to visiting. Still, publicity is publicity.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Top 20 Books, #17

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon is #17 on my list of favorite books. In so doing, I realize that the list is flawed in that, despite the ranking, the book is much better than its #17 place. Those books ahead of it are, in some cases, lesser. The problem is perspective. I read K&C within the last 5 years, whereas Toni Morrison's Beloved hit me when I was 20 and blew me away. The Chabon book, however, is a re-readable one, whereas others on the list are not.

This is a great American novel. I mentioned Chabon last month from meeting him at The New Yorker Festival. The book spans a century, from pre-WWII Eastern Europe through New York City during the War, to Post-War Long Island. The story of comics is integral to the plot, and fascinating. And there is a wonderful love story built in as well.

Few books depress me when they end. This one did. I was depressed because I wanted more, I wanted the narrative to continue. The characters were wonderful and the writing is sublime.

The #17 rank rankles me. I wish I could rate it higher. But there is no justice, I guess. Another favorite of mine in the last several years, Jeffrey Eugenides Middlesex doesn't even make my list. Rolling Stone, in 2003, listed The 500 Albums of All Time. Number 17 on that list is Nirvana's Nevermind. I think that is an apt comparison. I love that album more than Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys (#2), but recognize that Pet Sounds is a remarkable accomplishment in rock history. I know we're comparing apples to kumquats here, but The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is Chabon's Nevermind. Brilliant, haunting, wonderful.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Commuting Hazards In the Big Apple

I arose early among the dissipating fumes of polyurethane. The landlords ripped out their carpets yesterday and sanded and treated their hardwood floors. The landlord didn't get Melanie's subtle hints of "when will we be next?" so it looks like we will continue to stare at our at-least-eight-year-old carpets that have been battered by Goblin, the Vomiting Wonder Cat, and two children raised into their mid-to-late single digits. I still remember Jolee, less than a year old, fighting some bug, sitting in our laps, exhibiting for us new parents the sheer force and volume with which an infant can regurgitate recently consumed breast-milk. How's that for an image this overcast Monday morning in Manhattan?

I digress. I took the R local all the way in. The train paused at City Hall; a uniformed officer stepped on and scanned the passengers extensively. All eight of us (it was 6:20 AM) seemed unthreatening. He stepped off and signaled the conductor that it was okay to proceed. A reminder we are under a constant orange alert.

The R proceeded, and a little bit later, as it left the 8th Street station, I saw a train running parallel on the express track. I was not reading, not crosswording, just sitting. I made the conscious decision to switch at the next stop (14th/Union Square) for that train, thus bypassing 2 stops (and saving maybe 2 minutes) before getting out at 34th Street. The express reached 14th first, by a few seconds, and when the R doors opened, I wended my way through departing Q passengers and approached the doors to the Q Express just as the doors began to close. Thankfully, I have picked up a good aggressive technique on the MTA system and employed the Breaststroke Door Interruption Maneuver, in which one places both arms perpendicular to one's body, palms facing outward, and pushes the doors back, very similar to hands pushing water away in a breaststroke.

Novices stick one hand in, or both hands in, but don't push. They just sit with their appendage stuck and wait for the door to open. It is entirely more satisfying and effective to apply force, as if you are affronted that the doors would dare close on you before allowing you proper and safe entry into the train. The momentum of the forceful entry also assists the passenger in getting in before the doors close again swiftly, like a pissed-off clam.

So, I am quite proud of myself, as I executed the BDIM flawlessly, and I plop myself down in a seat, beaming.

A moment passes. And another.

I begin to experience a strange sensation. Otherwise known as WAS, it is the Wet Ass Syndrome, and is experienced when a foolish subway-rider sits in a seat with water (or some other liquid) on it. "My butt feels wet," my brain processed. I reach back. Yup, pants are wet. I look down at the seat. There is a little bit of water in the seat. Presumably there was more, but it has transferred itself to the fabric protecting my left butt-cheek. I stare ahead in disbelief, I look to my right. A young woman sits staring ahead. It is hard to say for sure, but I thought I detected a faint smirk on her pasty lips. I decide to stand early and walk to the doors. I hope that this does not set the tone for my day.

It doesn't. Music saves me. There are some songs or genres of music that seem made to be heard in certain settings. Driving in the desert outside of Vegas is the perfect time to listen to U2's Joshua Tree. It is a religious experience. Listening to the Doors while driving in Los Angeles is also transcendent, especially "L.A. Woman" while on the freeway (traffic excluded). For New York, jazz does the trick. Today, however, my walk from the subway to work was soundtracked by 70's soul hit "Pusherman" by Curtis Mayfield, who died in 1999. Thanks Curtis, wherever you are, you saved my day.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

One full month of blogging....

Have surpassed one full month of blogging consistently. Hooray! If a blog falls on the internet, but no one reads it, did it exist?

A pleasant surprise today. Melanie and I were making a regular journey through our bookshelves, culling out items for donation when we came across a hardcover of John Irving's My Movie Business. This book, which I have not read, came out a few years back and dealt with, among other things, the filming of his novel The Cider House Rules. The book was obtained by me from Barnes & Noble from the remainder table, $4.98, with an additional 50% off sticker, $2.49. I said something like "We can probably get rid of that." Melanie opens it up and points, "Even though it's signed?"

[Split second of silence]

Um, this book was signed when I plopped it off the remainder table for a pittance. It's no Garp, prices range from $40 to $175 on Gotta love the net! Still, amusing to find a signed Irving when I didn't even know I had one.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Billy Needs....

Saw this and thought I'd try it....a poet whose blog I read on occasion (, Gina Myers, suggested this. Her results were better than mine, partly because her name is a name and my name, Bill, is a noun. So I used Billy instead.

Try it and have fun! Go to google and type the words "Billy needs". Obviously, you'd use your name instead. This is what I got:

Billy Needs Help

Billy needs to play

Ninja Billy needs you to share your talent and wisdom with everyone!

Uncle Billy needs to do some cleaning!

"Billy needs me," she cried. "Billy needs me. Oh, I know Billy needs me."

Billy needs his boots.

Billy needs Brittany in his life because he can't have her.

Billy needs cards in the hospital.

Billy needs a new home. Maybe payday loans can help Billy afford one.


Billy needs a disguise so that his boss, Whitney, will not recognize him and spoil things.

In order to defeat the crows, Billy needs to roll eggs into them.

All Billy needs is the raw courage to join the girls in their ramshackle, er,ballet lesson!

Billy needs training and from a qualified "behavior modification" expert.

When Billy needs an airplane to tell his story, he magically constructs one out of a round table and a couple of straight-backed chairs.

The very last thing Billy needs are chillingly anonymous threats.

Billy needs a rock band.

Billy needs your lobes.

Billy needs to step up and truly fill the role of Captain Marvel.

billy needs his butt spanked.

Billy needs to escape.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Things I Found on the Subway, Part 1

Here's a new feature on BillyBlog: the Things I Found on the Subway series. Yesterday, my eye was caught by the words "First Editions." As a collector of first editions, I was intrigued. Alas, it was merely a sample square of wallpaper on a subway seat. I was nonetheless intrigued, especially by its name, "Stephanie Texture." Thought I'd share it with you today.

In other news, a 22-year old poet drowned yesterday in the Hudson River after jumping in to retrieve a backpack that contained some of his notebooks. His loss is being mourned as a huge tragedy and a waste but, if you're a poet, that certainly is an honorable way to go, and more memorable as well.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

New York Post Cover O' the Week

On occasion, the New York Post (and once in a while, the Daily News), runs a headline that is entertaining, amusing, and/or clever. Here's today's Sports/Back cover headline. Funny.

Am 4 issues of the New Yorker behind, have to decide what to read next: Michael Chabon's The Final Solution (for Bay Ridge Jewish Center book club), Louise Erdrich's The Painted Drum, or Kaui Hart Hemmings' short story collection House of Thieves. Choices, choices.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Inner Circle

Let's talk about sex.

When last year's film Kinsey was released, starring Liam Neeson, it semi-coincided with the release of T. C. Boyle's novel The Inner Circle, a fictionalized account of the historical figure Alfred Kinsey. So, unfortunately, the movie poster tagline, Let's talk about sex, and Neeson's face pervaded my experience of reading (and just recently, i.e. this morning) Boyle's book.

But in the category of distraction, I have discovered something interesting, at least to me, which is The Inner Circle, elsewhere.

Boyle's books tend to have smartly-designed covers. He's an interesting cat, as one might surmise from his photo in a previous post, which included a photo of me posing with him at a New Yorker festival signing (9/24/05). This book cover is a classic example. In fact, when I heard him read the opening section last year when the book was released, he beamed about the cover, saying it not only captured the spirit of the book, but of the sexual mores of 1940's America as well.

Anyway, thought I'd share some other covers from the same book, but published elsewhere.

So what's in a cover? Well everything and nothing. The cover sells the book, or kills it, ask any bookseller or fan.

Anyway, the book received mixed reviews, but Boyle is a master storyteller and is particularly adept at writing fiction based on the lives of famous people, most notably Kellogg in The Road to Wellville. That film, which was widely panned. is still worth a curiosity viewing, although the only scene I vividly recall is that featuring the actress Bridget Fonda in a milk bath.

Back to the subject at hand, however, is The Inner Circle. Not one of his best books, but still quite enjoyable. Actually, enjoyable is not the correct word. Boyle runs on the dark side, and once we get beyond the titillating experience of John Milk, the fictionalized narrator in the historical Kinsey's inner circle, the reader is accosted with the struggle that tormented so many of Kinsey's contemporaries: sex vs. love.

Milk is married to Iris, who one critic described as the most interesting character of the book. She is not taken in by the cult of Kinsey, the blind adoration that Kinsey's assistants heaped on him. Actually, she resents him and the work he drags her husband into, taking him away from home for weeks on end, all in the name of the research.

For despite the fact that this book appears to be about Kinsey and his groundbreaking studies on human sexuality, the core of the novel is the relationship between John and Iris. Is it considered adultery if John has sex with a prostitute while Kinsey and others observe, with a scientific (if not voyeuristic) perspective? While one may admire Milk's blind allegiance to Kinsey, I was torn between liking him as a character, yet failing to comprehend how he could justify marital infidelities that were written off as "part of the job." It was in this sense that I found the novel so disturbing.

Yet disturbing does not mean bad. I would still recommend this to anyone, although I might offer up another one of Boyle's books in its stead, like The Tortilla Curtain or World's End. In fact, I'd seriously recommend reading Tortilla Curtain before the film release next year. I am almost queasy saying who is starring in it, as it may ruin it for you. But try not to let it, as I can actually see these two in the lead roles. Kevin Costner and Meg Ryan. Read the book, fast.

Pearl Jam at the House of Blues in Chicago with Robert Plant

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Happy New Year

Sorry, late post today. Went to services for Rosh Hashanah at the Bay Ridge Jewish Center. We have a new rabbi, Micah Gelber, who is younger than your average Jewish holy man, and is helping turn our synagogue around. It has an aged congregation. I partipated in a cermeony called Birkat Kohanim for the first time in which I, as a Cohanim, had to have my hands washed by a Leviim (Levi). Alas, no Leviim were present (or came forward), so Rabbi Micah did the honors for me and three other Cohanim. We then re-entered the sanctuary after removing our shoes. We went up on the bimah, placed out talit over our heads, raised our hands, and joined in the leadingof prayers while the rest of the congregation averted their eyes. An interesting experience.

L'shanah tovah. May you all have a happy new year!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Top 20 Books, #18

OK, so this is a no-brainer. I don't know anyone...well maybe I do, but I can't think of anyone at the moment who has not read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is a seminal part of anyone's reading experience and, if you haven't read the three (throw in four, if you count The Hobbit) volumes of this essential part of the canon, then you must go out and do so immediately. Don't rent the movies. Not that they're bad. I saw the first one, but not the second two. Read the books. They're one of the few sets I can say I've read multiple times, at least thrice. I must have read them at least twice in high school and then again in college.

I can't say anything about them that hasn't been said already. Sure, The Two Towers drags a bit, but it is nonetheless essential. Personally, I think that any list without at least one of these books on it is deeply flawed. I've grouped them together as one for the purposes of....well, because it's my list, and I can do what I want.

Pearl Jam in Philadelphia

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Ragamuffin Parade

The first Saturday of every October is the Bay Ridge Ragamuffin Parade. It is an opportunity for the kids in the neighborhood to dress up and parade down the street. Jolee was a flapper, Shayna was a New York Giants football player, and Nanda, a friend of the girls from Cool School, their after-school program, was a princess.

We had gorgeous weather in Brooklyn this weekend and Shayna had two birthday parties. The Yankees clinched the division title by beating Boston in one of the three games they played. Today we worked at the Bay Ridge Jewish Center table at the Third Avenue Festival. The girls loved passing out balloons and giving apples and honey to passers-by in honor of the upcoming Jewish New Year.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

This post is dedicated to the tree. I can't even tell you what species it is, but this tree is one of our favorite things about where we live. In the Spring, it explodes in a violent neon green, in Fall, it blazes on fire with red and orange leaves. In Winter, it is a haunting skeleton.

So, as I sat here, early this morning, wondering what to say on October 1, I thought I'd share the transaformation of the tree as the season progresses. Right now, it is a green that is about to turn. I can see a spare yellow/red/orange leaf tucked into the expanse.

Have a super weekend.