Archive for Personal/Family

Remembering Romeo & Juliet…

On June 17, 1961 a 23-year-old dancer broke free of his Russian security detail, dashed through the immigration barrier at a Paris airport and asked the French for political asylum. Rudolf Nureyev wasn’t yet famous outside the world of Russian ballet, but in that world he was known as a White Crow – belaya vorona– Russian idiom for a person who is different from his surroundings, who doesn’t ‘fit’ within cultural circles, and goes against the stream. 

In 2018, a film entitled The White Crow was released without much fanfare. Written by David Hare (The Reader and The Hours) and directed by Ralph Fiennes, it chronicles Nureyev’s life up to and including his 1961 defection in Paris. It’s a mystery that the film didn’t register with the critics. It’s dramatic, true to its facts, suspenseful, and audiences loved it. Even if you’re not a fan of ballet it’s worth seeing. This is first class drama – both the life and film story. read more

Rocketman and Me

“And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
‘Till touch down brings me round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home”

Elton John’s first hit was Your Song released in October of 1970. My wife, Abby, and I were living in St. Tropez then, and it was the only one of his songs we knew until a friend came to visit the following spring. Francois, a Pan Am friend from our San Francisco days, was on his way to Spain to open a summer bar on the Costa Blanca. He was traveling with a stereo system he bought in Tokyo, a pile of record albums from San Francisco that included Elton’s second album, Tumbleweed Connection, and plans to spin them in his new Spanish venture. I remember sitting on the quai at the exact location you see above as he was telling us his plan. read more

Nerdy Ol’ Me…

Donald Trump exhausts me. He’s the train wreck I saw coming but couldn’t look away from. His mind-numbing ignorance and faux-gravitas would be hilarious if he/we weren’t in a death spiral of his making. He may be time-limited, but four years is an eternity when Pudgy-Wudgy, the village idiot, has the keys to the nuclear launch codes.

Part of my exhaustion comes from my wife’s insatiable need to watch the scum circling the drain–all day every day on two television sets. She and I are different. She is able to work, read, and listen to the competing news sources without missing anything. I’m not good at tuning in and out. I’m too easily pulled into the breathless Breaking News on MSNBC. Ever watch your 8-year-old grandchild when the TV goes on. I’m like that. Or like Joseph Conrad, who used to have his wife, Jessie, lock him in his upstairs study in the morning and not let him out until lunch time. He didn’t have the will power to stay and write without restraint. Neither do I. I’m Conrad’s Mini-Me. read more

Words, Words, Words…and Jargon

Poets use them almost as a concentrate…a few here, a few there…liberally sprinkled down the page. Of course, I’m talking about words. We all use them, but they are the hammer and nails of a writers toolkit. Some use them masterfully, and I’m in awe of the great ones, particularly poets. They set a high bar by showing us how with economy and precision we can all become better communicators. Poets teach us to be miserly, to condense, and concentrate our thoughts in order to clarify and intensify our meaning. read more

Yellowcake and Other Ruses

Dick Cheney and John Bolton

What is it that makes men who never served in the military so eager to go to war? This week it’s Donald “Bone Spurs” Trump and John “Shoot First, Aim Later” Bolton rushing the aircraft carrier, Abraham Lincoln, to the Persian Gulf, while sending the imperious, condescending, Mike “Fat Man” Pompeo, off to Brussels and points east where he was rebuffed by the EU, and warmly received by Vladimir Putin. All these moves designed to prepare the world for our military intervention “just in case” Iran “does something to undermine our interests.” It looks eerily like Wag the Dog. Start a war to deflect attention from the political chaos at home. read more