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I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water

Well it’s a Tuesday and it’s been a rainy Tuesday at that. Not that I’m too upset about it. Like my brother Brian wrote to me, At least I’m not in that hellhole. And he’s right on that point. Not so bad.

Spent part of the day not wearing the knee brace and even walked around outside for a bit without. I should have worn it, but I managed nonetheless. I ran into Stine and Alexander for a few minutes. She came back from grocery shopping and then had to get Alexander ready for school.

He’s still so adorable and now calls me John instead of Don. We parted ways with Alexander screaming good bye with me responding in kind, halfway down the street. Some grocery shopping was in order for me too, as well as the first of two visits to the supermarket and a stop at the dry cleaners.

Back at home I had some breakfast, did some laundry and watched Eyes Wide Shut which I originally saw in a theater with Julio when it came out and it left be confounded and her it is years later and I’m still confounded.

I think that may have more to do with the casting of Tom Cruise as the male lead. Still a beautiful movie to watch though and the second DVD were worth watching if only for the interviews with Kubrick’s wife and daughters.

Then a trip to the bibliothèque to return the DVD where I took out Tropic Thunder, Citizen Kane and the CD of Squeeze, Argybargy. Bill hadn’t seen either Tropic Thunder or Citizen Kane and figured both would be good since he’s in a bad way today. It turns out a co-worker of his was murdered by a family member over the weekend and Bill was in a state of shock and grief. Now he’s home and just went to bed at around 8:45.

The television is out at the moment. Don’t know where it went. It left a note, saying it was going out for some cigarettes and the paper and hasn’t been back since. It was here last night, I swear it was, since I was watching Craig Ferguson until about 1:30.

Here’s something I’ve been meaning to write about for the past couple of weeks. The March blog statistics. I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with baited breath. I think you might want to reconsider a different kind of bait, since people are starting to talk.

In March, this here blog had 1,526 visits. Some were for a few minutes, some were just for a minute. Some read a few pages, others just sneezed, blew their noses and shut down the tab, or window.

Here are the Top Ten cities that visit from March 2001:
New York (166 visits)
Hoboken (102)
Eureka (36)
Atlanta (32)
Bala Cynwyd (!) (30)
Lakewood (29)
(not set) (25)
Chicago (24)
Bilbao (23)
Philadelphia (18)

And the Bottom Ten are:
Auburn Hills (1)
Vista (1)
Haifa (1)
South Bend (1)
Leonardtown (1)
Esslingen (1)
West Lafayette (1)
Mount Vernon (1)
Huntsville (1)
Omaha (1)

Congratulations to all the nominees.




Actually the last ten that I posted went up from 491 to 500 cities.
Here are the actual bottom 10 cities as follows:

West Lafayette (1)
Sheffield (1)
Banja Luka (1)
Marietta (1)
Sopron (1)
Framingham (1)
Fairview Heights (1)
Chengdu (1)
Columbiana (1)
Mollica Hill (1)

Once again, thanks to all the readers, Bala Cynwid included.

Touch Me

Watching Tales of the City on a blue gray Saturday afternoon. Endearing. I have the first series which was on PBS and the next series, More Tales of the City w3hich was on Showtime after PBS got cold feet.

It was odd because the first series was a big smash ratings wise but the timing was bad since it was around the time Newt Gingrich and company started attacking Public Television and the NEA. And from there it went to Showtime where it did well enough.

I didn’t have cable then and never saw the succeeding episodes. But I’m reviewing the first series and forgot that Syd Straw, Country Joe, Mimi Farina, Parker Posey all pass through. Olympia Dukakis is excellent as is Laura Linney and Chloe Webb et al.

Today is also Record Store Day. I usually visit the local store here in town every now and then. I was there the other day and picked up some good used CD’s a really cheap prices. Today being Record Store Day it was a bit more crowded with guys like me, they’re just wider, balder, sometimes hairier and more often than not, straighter in most every sense of the word.

But I do like the whole aspect of buying a CD, and I really like paying $1.99 for it, Pretenders- The Isle of You. But I think, and I could be wrong, but I think they jacked up the prices of items because it was Record Store Day.

That would be tacky, but having been there the other day I don’t recall things being what they were today. I lucked out and snagged a CD of Lene Lovich, Lucky Number, a best of compilation. I probably could have picked it up for $3.99 the other day.

I’ve always liked her, a special place in my heart for Lene Lovich. I did see her at the Meadowbrook in 1982 and she was electrifying. I was going to head into the Village to check out the Budos Band at Generation Records, but the weather is crappy.

Last night I did head out in a rainstorm and walked up to Maxwells where I saw Glass Trees, the band my friend Chris Repella is in. Rand was there and Roda was managing the place. Glass Trees were pretty good, though Rand and I both preferred the instrumentals to the songs with vocals.

The instrumentals were other worldly whereas the songs with vocals brought the back room back to Earth. They reminded me of My Bloody Valentine and Neu!. Chris was a regular Brian Eno on the synthesizer.

Rand had seen them before and they were accompanied by some visuals. Not last night though. I would have focused on the noisy instrumentals rather than the vocal songs which killed whatever momentum existed from the previous song.

For the past week, Monday through Friday I had 239 visits from 140 cities around the world. From New York City to Winchester, Arcata to Zagreb. Edinburgh to Xuzhou. I think that’s impressive. Some of the visits were just a glance, lasting less than a minute. Some were sent via Google word or name searches and some were return visits.

Still no one in Hoboken reads it. I have no problem with that. In fact I might prefer it that way.

Glass Trees

Glass Trees


Glass Trees

Glass Trees


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A Double Doodle

A Double Doodle


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Everywhere I'm Not

OK, Last night was the Fiction class. I met up with Bill beforehand to give him some psychological support when he was about to go deal with his cousin in law. He had a rough day, dealing with family things that shouldn’t have been said but were said nonetheless.

I suggested he go to the lion’s den, hat in hand and apologize. He was full of apprehension so I gave him a Xanax. Actually it was his suggestion and asked for a Zantac. I explained that that was for acid reflux.

It seemed to have taken some of the edge off. Bill has a short fuse and he was going to talk to someone with an even shorter fuse. And it went well for Bill, he came back happy and relaxed and thankful that I was able to support him the way that I did.

Here are my notes from last night. Day 2 with the Gotham Writers Workshop. Fiction time or maybe fictional time. The class is smaller than the class I attended yesterday. David Winner is the teacher. He just introduced himself.

Everyone is given a sheet describing 1st Person, 1st Person Peripheral, 3rd Person Single Vision or Close 3rd, 3rd Person Multiple Vision and Omniscient.

Samples from different writers are on the sheet.

1st person is Charles Dickens- David Copperfield and JD Salinger- The Catcher in the Rye.
1st person peripheral is F. Scott Fitzgerald- The Great Gatsby.
3rd person is Joyce Carol Oates- Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?.
3rd person multiple vision is Mary Gaitskill- A Romantic Weekend,
Omniscient is Gabriel Garcia Marquez- 100 Years of Solitude.

At first the head count in the class was 12 women and 4 men including David Winner. So many women interested in writing fiction. Who knew? Most look like they’ve just gotten out of work. I look shabby compared to them.

I did shave though and my legs look great.

2 empty seats are left. I sit in the back. The age range of the women seems to be mid 20’s to mid 60’s. The men would be 20 something to me at 47. I’m the elder. Outside sirens and horns blare.

It’s 7:00 and David Winner asks us all to say our first names aloud going down through the aisles, makes things friendlier. I’m last.

David Winner starts talking about Point of View (POV). How is POV used in life and in fiction? In life it’s an opinion whereas in fiction it’s about seeing through someone else’s eyes. David Winner goes on to tell us about his MFA and his writing short stories with different POV.

He wrote a novel years ago.

David Copperfield is read aloud. The Catcher in the Rye is next. The benefits of 1st person? Immediacy, tone, releasing the passion within you. Decisions, gained and lost. Constricted by one person’s eyes. Anonymity is lost. Careful and conscious of what is being said.

I think I generally write in the 1st person.

The Great Gatsby is read aloud. Joyce Carol Oates is read after Fitzgerald.

Now there are 18 women in the class, 2 were late and one hovers by the door, eventually raising the number to 19 women.

Now Mary Gaitskill is read. The oldest woman says that Gaitskill’s excerpt is contrived, pretentious and a screen treatment. David Winner agrees. A younger woman quotes Atlas Shrugged which makes me keep an eye on her. Another woman suggests The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks.

I didn’t know the author and neither did she. I almost said Atom Egoyan but he directed the movie adaptation.

Finally the excerpt of 100 Years of Solitude is read. The girl sitting in front of me cracks her neck loudly, her ponytail flails in the opposite direction of her neck. I’m having difficulty staying alert in this class. Doesn’t have the pizazz of the class the previous evening.

David Winner says, ‘That little metaphor that you have in your writing, that you think is so great is really rather flat.”

Now we have a writing exercise. Start out by writing in 1st person, describe a dramatic but not traumatic incident. I dive in, 1st person style.

I was meeting Bill on the corner, across the street from his office. I was feeling pretty good having been able to get out of work earlier than usual. (See? Fiction!) I didn’t mind waiting. Bill on the other hand had to stay a bit later. I just walked around in a small circle, having a smoke amongst the crowds of office workers and the odd tourists.

I Looked up, trying to locate Bill’s office but the distance caused in me a sense of vertigo. So I focused on a different building, one with a lower height.

It was then that I saw Luanne, just looking out the window, onto the street below. Though it seemed impossible, I could swear our eyes had met. I say impossible since she was on the 10th floor and I was at street level.

After this, David Winner instructed us to then take the situation and write it in the 3rd person and I do.

Bill was upset that he had to stay late, keeping Laurence waiting which Bill hated to do. Laurence could be quite a stickler for time and Bill recalled an argument they had a while back when he was late. “No need to revisit that” Bill thought. His desk was a mess and he did his best to keep it clear of clutter since he hated coming in, in the morning to a messy workspace.

It had now been a long time, Bill felt and didn’t want to stay much longer in the office. But he did have a fire breathing dragon of a boss who wasn’t the type to let Bill out of work so easily.

Even on 3 day weekends, his boss made sure Bill stayed at his desk a bit longer than other people on his floor.

A song wafted through Bill’s consciousness, a song from the early 1980’s. Bill thought it was this group or that group, but ultimately all Bill knew was the chorus, ‘You’re Everywhere that I’m not’.

It made Bill smile to himself. It didn’t make the clock go faster but it did make the killing of time that much more bearable.

And scene.

Once again, I read my writing aloud. I followed the sixty something woman who wrote about being stabbed on Christmas Day and laying in the Bus Lane on the street. Very Lawn Hors d’œuvre. After that class was over and there was no time to critique my writing.

A walk to the Path train and soon I was home. Sometime after that I was asleep, waking up at 4:00 due to Bill’s apnea mask making sounds. Back to sleep at 4:30.

Cannabis free dreams? Sure. One involved me running for public office in Hudson County. Hiram Monster Rat was a power broker who lived by a gas station. He tried to get me to have sex with his girlfriend wearing a priest’s collar (not sure if this was the same girlfriend he stabbed in the face with a broken glass). I reject the offer due to my atheism.

The other dream involved me watching the sequel to Corky Romano starring Chris Kattan at 49th Street and Park Avenue. Oh how I miss my cannabis.

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The Green Manalishi

From last night as promised to both my anxious readers.

Been a while since I wrote in this notebook. Over a month actually. Presently sitting in 273 Bowery at the Gotham Writers Workshop. I received a free invitation to sit in on a class for non fiction writing so I thought I would check it out.

It’s quite cold on the street. I killed time by walking around, spending a few minutes in a bookstore on Carmine Street. As I walked towards Houston Street I got a phone call from Publishers Service. Apparently Publishers Service liked something that I did, so much so that that they are awarding me with a gift certificate for a $1000.00 online shopping spree.

The guy who called me as I walked around asked if I would be interested in a subscription to ESPN Magazine, Rolling Stone or Men’s Journal to name a few.

As I stood by the bus stop at Sixth Avenue and Houston Street, I played along waiting for ‘the catch’.

It seemed there was one forthcoming. I told the guy there were only 2 magazines I would be interested in subscribing to and they were from the UK. I don’t think the guy knew what UK stood for.

The class is slowly filling up.

The guy on the phone asked if whatever deal he was talking about sounded good. I said ‘yes it sounded good but sounding good doesn’t necessarily mean it actually IS good.’

The class is labeled Non Fiction Writing with Pauline Millard.

Back to the phone call, I could hear other telemarketers in the background. I told the guy that before I commit to anything I would like to see it in writing rather than make a decision standing out in the cold and talking to someone out of the blue on the phone.

I don’t think it was something he wanted to hear. I maybe getting ESPN Magazine in 3 to 5 days, a subscription that lasts either 16 months or 60 months.

I also signed up for a fiction class which may be tomorrow. I thought tonight was fiction but the organizers said otherwise. I still think I am right, but when I got home and checked, they were the ones who were right.

Pauline Millard sits at her table, reading a magazine (possibly from Publishers Service), waiting for 7:00 so the class could begin.

It’s funny, I haven’t been downtown in months. It seems a lot cleaner.

*****************************************************************
The door closes and the class begins. Pauline says she has one contact lens in so half the class is blurry to her. My half.

There is money to be made in non fiction writing. She brings up Huffington Post as an example.

It’s a 6 week class, covering Memoir writing, Personal Essay and Op Ed features, as wells as Profiles, Travel, Reviews and Business. Pauline says she makes you read and write a lot, and you can’t write unless you read.

We’re going to start with a short memoir exercise on Why you came to New York, or Why are you still here.

THE 5 MINUTE ESSAY- WHY I CAME TO NEW YORK. Well I got as far as Hoboken actually. I am a music lover and would come into Manhattan to see bands playing at various venues. Manhattan was a bit too pricey so I opted for Hoboken, which is directly across the river.

I actually grew up in North Jersey and could see Manhattan or rather the Empire State Building and from the town I grew up in. I do like to maintain a distance, perhaps an arms length with the river between me and the city. I like the ability to relax, to let my guard down so to speak.

I do work, or rather, did work in a variety of Manhattan jobs. The music business, magazine publishing and the corporate world which are all situated in Manhattan. 5 MINUTES ARE UP.

Pauline says you don’t have to write everyday and on that count, she is no Lewis Lapham. Some tips for non fiction writing, go online and look up writing prompts. She says the prompts might be geared towards 7th graders.

Short sentences are good. Simple language. Pauline recommends reading Stephen King, On Writing.

A memoir is a portion of your life, a slice on her pie chart.
‘Write down every year you’ve been alive’ with different events becoming writing prompts.

Memoirs have a beginning, a middle and an end. Journals, not so much. Nothing is said about blogging.

ANOTHER 5 MINUTE EXERCISE this time, ‘Somebody you can’t stand’

Oh how I disliked Howard’s wife Leslie. Short, loud and obnoxious with a mouth on her. She tried to ingratiate herself into the rock and roll scene I was a part of. Out of kindness I tolerated her I suppose. Others went further but to me she was a gnat and I called her that.

Not to her face of course but behind her back. Somehow she got others to believe in her and actually became business partners with 2 friends of mine. Not me though, none of my business. Surprisingly my feelings about her became manifest.

She wound up suing the 2 friends to get out of the business agreement. It’s been years since I even thought about her.

Last I heard she and Howard divorced, Howard was a cipher but could easily have done better than having a gnat for a wife.

Do I wonder where she is now? No, not really. She popped into my mind a few weeks ago when I saw a business card from that ill fated venture, scanned onto a Facebook page

I actually that aloud to the class.

More non fiction advice from Pauline: Start with Action. Timeliness/Topical issues. Trendiness.

She also mentions that she worked for the Associated Press, now she writes for the Huffington Post and is in the Columbia Masters program.

3 people have gotten up and walked out of the class.

Pauline says writing is hard, but it depends on the circumstances or what you’re on. She has also brought up the TV show ‘Lost’ 2 times already.

“Sometimes it flows, sometimes it doesn’t.”

She quotes Dorothy Parker, ‘I hate writing but love having written’.
Pauline advises ‘Don’t expect too much of yourself’.

An exercise in coming up with ideas- What’s interesting about your hometown, your neighborhood. I write-
Friends.
The Fact that it is Hoboken,
Everything is within walking distance.
Sinatra.
Baseball.
Musicians.
Artists.
Old Italian Ladies dressed in black.
Maxwells.
Major transportation hub.
The view of Manhattan that you can’t see if you’re in Manhattan.
The Mile Square City.
Blogging battles.

I misunderstood and made a list instead of a short essay.

Pauline mentions how she sneaked into a book publishing party and got there early. Later on at the party she met a guy who she asked who he was, did he write fiction or non fiction?

It was Jonathan Letham but she didn’t know who he was much to Jonathan Letham’s annoyance.

A woman asks about ‘her piece’ but the way she says ‘her piece’ sounds like she’s talking about herpes.
***********************************************************************
And that was what I did last night. Walked from Bowery and Houston Street to 14th and Sixth, smoking a cigar.

Stopped by what was Farfetched. It was closed and instead of the lightness of the space, it’s dark with a gargoyle that confronts you right by the entrance.

Tonight I attend a class on fiction writing, so expect more of the same tomorrow. Maybe.

Last nights dreams involved fighting with Samuel Jackson. And also a reunion of the Replacements with Ann Boyles, Steve Fallon & Bill Ryan passing through.

Pity & sympathy for Haiti.

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