Thursday, June 14, 2007

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I'm thinking The Doors aren't working here. Leonard! Rescue me here. Save me with one of your ( not too ) sad songs.

( Fade to black )

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See. He's saying, " Ya gotta turn the lights DOWN. Not out. Here's a much more upbeat version of the song.

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Well, that last drop of paint wasn't exactly what I had in mind. The scene was written by Michael Herr who wrote the best book ever written about Nam: Dispatches.

But that's way too dark an ending for me.

Take 2!

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I'm taking a break, or as they say in Hollywood, a hiatus from writing the Off The Fence Post. I may start it up again. Maybe not. Yesterday I bid farewell to a writing class I've piloted for more than four years. I always encouraged them to try different things. Move on. Take risks.

This isn't the end, really. It is, I hope, a beginning.

And by the way, don't read too much into the video clip. I'm not Martin Sheen. But I may be, like the character he plays...

Waiting for a mission...

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NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was on MSNBC's " Morning Joe " this morning. From what I've heard from Williams in these situations - his appearances on Imus come to mind - he has a sense of humor. And a Jack Benny, Johnny Carson knack for timing.

I never watched one episode of The Sporanos. But I'm getting interested in that final episode, about which so many writers are writing this week. Joe Scarborough asked Williams what he thought of the way David Chase chose to end it.

Williams' answer was thoughtful. He started talking about how the painter Jackson Pollack worked. How did Pollack know, Williams asked, what drop of paint should be the last drop? When did a Jackson Pollack work in progress, at which precise point, did the canvas say, " That's it. Done. "

When does a work of art become a work of art. How and where does the process end?

What drop of paint is the last drop, and how does the painter know?

The comments Williams shared with Joe were, I thought, so much more thoughtful than were those of, say, Maureen Dowd. Dowd, in her column in The Times yesterday, likened Chase to a film school amateur.

What does she know about film school? A lot less, it appears, than Williams does of art school.
The pages of the New York Times this week have been thick with wrist watch ads. Cartier. Rolex. Movado. Tourneau. Omega. Asprey. Tag Heuer. Swiss Army. It's Father's Day Sunday. The message this week: Buy dad a wrist watch.

I have a lot of watches, including the Witenauer my father wore. I also have the pocket watch that belonged to my grandfather, my mother's father, Charles.

The first watch I ever owned was an Omega Seamaster DeVille. It was given to me by my Aunt Del and Uncle Ed on the day I graduated from high school. On May 29, 1970 ( I don't remember what time it was ) I purchased another Omega, a Chronostop. I bought it in a shop in Cambridge, England.

I still have those two Omegas, and I wear them often.

In June, 1984, I celebrated being promoted to creative director of the ad agency I was working for by buying a Rolex, a stainless steel Datejust with one of those classic Rolex oyster cases.

After leaving the ad business, I started working as a counselor on a psych unit. I never wore the Rolex there. A couple of years ago I decided I didn't want the Rolex anymore. Donna advertised it on E-Bay and sold it.

Soon after that happened I bought a Tag Heuer watch. A Formula 1.

I've had a lot of Casio watches, the ones that tell you the time, the date, how fast you're running, what your blood pressure is, how much you weigh and how much longer you have to live.

I made that last one up. Casio doesn't have a watch with that count down feature. Yet.
It's one of those weeks. Had to rush our dog, Grace, to the vet this morning. She started trembling, couldn't walk and her eyes were darting back and forth like crazy. We have a great vet, Dr. Crook ( This is Rhode Island, where nobody can honestly say, " I am not a crook - even pet care angels like our vet ) ...

Where was I?

I had to carry Gracie into the car, but by the time we got there, she was walking, albeit like a drunk slips out the back door of a tavern. Dr. Crook asked me what had happened, took a look at how Grace was presenting. Gracie has a history of seizures. She's on meds and hasn't had one in about two years. To me, this looked like one. The vet said we could get the million dollar workup, CAT scan ( Or, in our case DOG scan, or PET scan - I'm trying to keep my sense of humor here ) MRI, X-Rays, neurological testing, etc. A " mass " in the brain would be one of the things they'd be trying to rule out. Oh great, I thought. Gracie might have a brain tumor.

This workup stuff, if we chose to have it done, wouldn't be done today, or in her office. She mentioned Grafton, Massachusetts. Grafton?

How much would a million dollar workup cost?

" Around four, five thousand dollars, " Dr. Crook said.

Oh great. Just what I need to hear on the day I'm calling the state to see if they're going to give me the money I've been trying to get for the past three months.

Then the vet looked into Gracie's ears. Said it looked like what she was experiencing was Vestibulitis, which is an ear problem. Fluid build up. The eye thing is symptomatic of this, she said. The trouble walking is related to dizziness. By the end of this emergency visit, it was feeling like less of an emergency. Gracie was given a shot. They gave me some pills. ( For Gracie, not me ) . I thanked Dr. Crook and her assistant. Gracie and I stumbled out the door.

Having had dogs for a long time, Donna and I know that eating's the key thing. If the dog's not eating, it's time to worry. I got home and gave Gracie her new pills. With some food, which she ate.

She's eating, I said to myself. Thank God she's eating. The dizziness can last up to two weeks, Dr. Crook said. So Gracie'll be like I've been all week. In somewhat of a daze. Stumbling, trying to find my way.

But hey! I'm eating. Thank God, I'm eating.

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Art imitates life and vice ( yeah, vice ) versa. Gee Toto, I don't think we're in New Jersey no more

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State police to look into DOT spending | Rhode Island news | Rhode Island news | | The Providence Journal

Check out the bylines on this DOT story. Mike Stanton's the Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who wrote the book on Buddy Cianci. Stanton was the guy who covered the " Plunder Dome " scandal that landed Cianci in a New Jersey prison for five years. You open the paper in the morning and see that Stanton's got the lead story on page 1 - and it's about your administration. It's not going to be a real good day.

Meanwhile, the latest on Buddy is that he probably is going to be on the radio in Providence come July. He'll be doing a talk show. One gets the feeling he's been doing a lot of talking the past five years.

State police to look into DOT spending Rhode Island news Rhode Island news The Providence Journal

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There are times when I think John Lennon's come back, in the form of a cowboy writer's son. James, son of Larry.

This song gets to me. Gets the hairs on my back up and my face turns red. I'm calling the state again today. Will try once again to get the money that's owed me. My friend Michael Kelly and I used to take these walks past Union Station in Hartford. Walk past the homeless guys wearing their tattered coats and dirty jeans and the shoes they probably picked out of a dumpster. Mike said to me one day, " You and I are one or two paychecks away from that, ya know. "

We were writers for an ad agency on Allyn Street at the time. I haven't heard from Mike lately. Me? I'm doing fine. Just fine. Just one more Vietnam era veteran. Living one day at a time...

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The annual Quonset Point Air Show is scheduled for next weekend. The following is something I wrote about that last year, when I was working across the Post Road from what was once a large naval base. The place where I was working was LaBelle House, a psychiatric group home.

The Air Show starts tomorrow. Weather permitting. A low ceiling queers the deal; you can't pull off an air show on a day when the air is nowhere to be found. Jets flying above the clouds. You could hear them. A radio crew could record the show. It would be an on the air show in lieu of the in the air show that was supposed to be.

I work 20 hours a week at a psychiatric group home located near Quonset Point. I took a drive out to there today as the Air Force Thunderbirds were practicing for the big show tomorrow. I took a nervous resident with me. That was a mistake. I thought he'd get a kick out of seeing the Top Gun guys strut their stuff in the skies above Narragansett Bay.

" Look! " I exclaimed as the jets flew over.

" It hurts when I look up, my neck hurts. Can we go back to the house now? "

" Relax, Ray. "

" It's cold out here. "

" It's 80 degrees. "

" I'm cold. Can we go back to the house now? "

Five fighter jets fly over us. I look up, amazed. The guy I'm with doesn't look up. I take this resident for rides every shift I work. Remember those scenes in " Rain Man? " where Tom Cruise and his brother, played by DustinHoffman, are cruising along in that big convertible, heading for Las Vegas? That's what it's like when I take Ray for these afternoon rides.

Be careful what you wish for. You might wish you were just like Tom Cruise. Have his looks and his money. Be in life's driver's seat...

It ain't easy these rides. Ray asks me the same questions every time we take the ride through the old navy base.

" What's that building over there? "

" That's a barracks, where the navy guys lived during the war. "

" What's that over there? "

" I don't know. "

" What's that? "

" I don't know. "

" Can we go back now? "

" Relax and try to enjoy the ride. "

" What's that building, what do they do there? "

" I don't know. "" Are we going back now? "

" Yeah, we're heading back. "

On our way back I imagine me and the resident hitching a ride on one of those jets. There he is and there I am, zooming, dodging black clouds at mach 1 speed over Narragansett Bay. I'm scared shitless. He's scared shitless. I grow quiet when I'm nervous. I say nothing. My companion says, " Can we go back to Earth now? I'm cold. It hurts when I look down. "

The air show's tomorrow, another day on which I'm scheduled to work. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with Ray. But I know one thing we're not going to do.
Two years ago it was a robins nest in a bush next to our front deck. Recently the nest that grabbed our attention was thick with cardinals. That one was in the larger of two bushes next to the same deck.

This afternoon, Donna and I were sitting on the back deck having a serious talk. The talk was going well ( Productive and cordial, as the diplomats say ). Suddenly I looked up. No particular reason. No sudden movement. No crash of thunder. No lightning. I just looked up.

" Look at that nest! " Donna said.

She had just looked up, too. For no reason. Or, maybe because I had just looked up.

" You took the words right out of my mouth, " I said.

The nest was huge. Big as a suitcase. Stuck in a crotch near the top of a tall oak tree, just to the left of the evergreen we call " My father's tree. " That's the tree we planted the year he died. It was a tiny then. More like a bush than a tree. Three feet tall. Now it rises twenty feet above the backyard.

The nest in the oak was huge. How could we have missed it? How could we have spotted it at exactly the same time? Those are rhetorical questions to which there are no answers.

What kind of birds live in that nest?

Now there's a question with which we can do business. We'll be aiming the binoculars skyward in the next few days, trying to catch a glimpse of whatever's up there. And the birds?

I'm sure they'll be looking down at us, too. Wondering who we are. What we do.

Here's a clue. We're human. And, among the things we do is talk...

And every now and then, we look up...
" Albanian media - and international web sites - are buzzing over a video showing President Bush's wristwatch apparently disappearing while he shakes hands with a jostling crowd of people in Fushe Kruje, Albania. "

From Associated Press story, June 13

Hey sailor, got a minute? C'mere. Take a look at what I got here ( Opens trench coat to reveal an array of wristwatches )

I'm not really in the market for a...

Just take a look, that's all I'm askin.


See anything ya like? How about this knockoff Rolex Submariner? Perfect watch for a sailor like you.

I don't...

Look at this Omega Seamaster DeVille. Perfect for watch for a Swabby like you.

I don't think... Wait a minute. What's that one, the one with the Mickey Mouse face...

Ah! The perfect watch. I just got my hands on this one today. From my source in Fushe Kruje.

Fushe Kruje?

It's Albanian for " Is that a watch in your pocket, or are you just happy to be here in this God forsaken place? " Ha ha!! It's a joke. I kid the Fushe Krujens. But seriously. This is a wristwatch to die for. It's part of what we call our " Presidential Line. " Here. Try it on.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

YouTube - Waterboys This is the Sea

Holyoke. Agawam. Suffield. That was the river. This is the sea.

YouTube - Waterboys This is the Sea
Remember that scene in Spinal Tap? Christopher Guest is trying to explain how the volume knobs work. It's a joke based on a 1-10 scale. How would I rate today?

It wasn't an 11.

More grief from the state. That's how my day started. A phone call made at 9 a.m. More yadda yadda, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. I won't bore you Fence Post readers with the details. Donna's wrapping up her term and getting all kinds of grief from idiots. As we were watching The History Boys the other night, as we were listening to the clever, witty, articulate albeit very,very human dialog - the voices of the students, I said:

" Just like the kids you teach, huh? "

Not quite.

Teachers. They're not paid enough. It's worse than working on a locked unit. I witnessed bad behavior. But they were crazy and sick and...


Raise a glass to the teachers. And repeat this Irish toast:

May the face of every good news and the back of every bad news be towards ya.
Well, the time has come. Tomorrow's the last episode of The Workshop.

How's it gonna end? I'd been thinking about that for weeks. A four and a half year run. You can't just end it. Ya gotta end it with a bang. Or with someone yelling, " Cut! "

I thought of getting there early. Putting a pistol on the table around which the writers sit. I think it was Chekov who said, " If there's a gun on the table in the first act, it will have been used by the middle of the last act. "

Something like that. It might have lost a little in translation.

Or a knife. Maybe I'd put a knife on the table. See how that would have played out on the last day of...

The Workshop.

But, thanks to The Sopranos creator, David Chase, I won't have to stay up late thinking about a clever ending. Tomorrow, I'm gonna wait until the last writer reads his/her essay, story or poem. Then I'm gonna get up from my chair, throw my leather bag over my shoulder, walk towards the door, turn off the light. And just leave.

A Van Morrison ending if there ever was one. ( Those Italians ain't got nothin' on US! )

( Fade to black )

YouTube - The Doors-When The Music's Over

A few posts ago I wrote about the lure of San Francisco in that Summer of Love, 1967. Interesting op-ed piece in Saturday's Times by Michael Walker. Walker's premise is that it was not San Francico, but Los Angeles where the music lived that summer. To be precise: Laurel Canyon.

As a matter of fact, Scott McKenzie's San Fransico was recorded in L.A. And the flowers he was wearing in his hair were picked in Laurel Canyon.

Among the rock stars who lived in Laurel Canyon were The Mamas and the Papas, Steven Stills, Carol King and Frank Zappa.

And the Doors lived there...

Listen to this!

YouTube - The Doors-When The Music's Over

Monday, June 11, 2007

Donna and I visited Highland Light in Truro Saturday. The lighthouse was built around 1800. Back then the house was 500 feet from the edge, the point at which the ocean met the land. By 1996, the lighthouse was 100 feet from the edge of the cliff.

Four hundred feet lost in 196 years. Forty feet alone was lost in 1990. A bad year for storms.

Donna and I hadn't been out to Highland Light in years. Decades. How much land has been lost since the last time we were out there? We know that. It's been recorded. As Casey Stengle said, " Ya could look it up. "

How much land land had we lost? How had our territory changed? There were some tourists there. A nice family, they spoke with an accent. Russian? Serbs?

One of them asked me if I'd take their picture. I inquired as to how the camera she handed me worked. Which button should I push?

I took their picture. I took a picture of this Russian family, these Serbs. As I was snapping the shot, I asked:

" Where ya from? "

The oldest person in the group, a man, said, " We're from New Hampshire. "

This is an American story.
A few more words on Philip Dick. Among his influences: Flaubert, Dostoyesvski, Beckett and Kant. He was one of those writers who hold a pen in one hand, and stroke a crystal ball with the other. Don DeLillo does this, too.

Philip K. Dick - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

When I talk to my friend Terrance Collins, we often talk about what I did for a living, and he still does. I'm gone. I bolted from The Unit. The Genius from Jacksonville still puts in about twenty hours a week working with the kind of folks you read about when you visit the Statue of Liberty. The folks we said we'd accept to this country club called America. Despite the fact that their handicaps were, to put it mildly, a tad high.

Mr. Collins comments on this blog on a regular basis. Those of you who read these comments might get the wrong impression. Terrance is direct and he is honest, and that might be interpreted in various ways.

Keep this in mind. The man has worked as a psych nurse. On Thanksgiving Day, we spends several hours serving meals to the homeless.

Terrance is a man with whom I disagree often. But the things about which we disagree are trivial things. I try to think not of the things that divide Terrance and me ( Like the " a " in his name and the " e ' in mine ) I choose to consider the news about which we are on the same page.

Terrance isn't perfect ( Even on Jeopardy, he didn't get ALL the answers right )

Getting back to Ariel. He and I talked about a lot of things. We had ample time to talk. Working on a locked psych unit is like the writing life in some ways. Lots of down time. Lots of Pinter-like pauses. At 9 a.m. we could be wrestling with an out of control patient, dragging him into the holding room. The marks of his rubber soled boots leaving a trial on the cheap linoleum floor.

By 10 am we could be talking about movies. Ariel's favorite was Blade Runner. That one starred Harrison Ford. It was base on a Philip Dick novel.

Philip Dick. He's one of my heros actually. He's the guy who warned us:

Technology. Ya start depending on it, it's gonna make ya less human than your parents were. Less human. Less human. Less human.

Press six if this bothers you.

Philip K. Dick - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sunday, June 10, 2007

YouTube - Cape Cod

Jerry Vale? Maybe T. Collins is right. Maybe I've gone completely around the bend. The bend being, The Cape. Tween Eastham and Provincetown.

YouTube - Cape Cod
Just because I'm dropping the curtain on the writing workshop gig doesn't mean I'm not going to use Fence Post as a writer's notebook/workbook...

That said...

" He came there in the off-season. So much was off. All bets were off. The last deal was off. His timing was off, or he wouldn't have come here at this moment... "

From Resuscitation of a Hanged Man, a novel set in Provincetown,
Massachusetts by Denis Johnson

There was a period, in the early 1990s, when I had this fantasy. It wasn't just a fantasy, actually. It was a cocktail. Two parts fantasy, one part paranoia. With a dash of vermouth. I'll leave it up to you to give the drink a name.

For instance. Someone died. Lana and I met with the late Ronnie's significant other. Had dinner with Mark at a restaurant in Northampton, Massachusetts. Ronnie had been gone for about a month. This grieving thing, the mourning, was all new to our friend. He was 42.

We ordered our meals. Another round of drinks, that circle having begun in the lounge of this restaurant on Main Street in this college town where Sylvia Plath and Gloria Steinem had attended classes.

Mark talked. We listened. Mark talked about how much he had loved Ronnie and how he was missing him. Mark, who was normally glib and witty and distanced, was confessing his sin to us - that sin being love.

Another round of drinks and Mark was still talking. About ow he'd hired a private detective to determine whether or not Ronnie had been, in fact, murdered...

The meals came. We ate the meals and drank the drinks. I had a steak. A rib-eye, medium rare. Mashed potatatos. Lana had scallops. Fried.

Mark? He had a vegetable lasagne. That surprised me at first. Every time we'd been out to eat with him in the past, he'd had steak. Thick. Rare. Oozing blood all over his plate.

His lover'd been murdered. Stabbed. Veggie lasagne? Who could blame Mark?

The next day, as I was driving to work - I was an advertising copywriter at the time - I thought:

What a great story! That story our friend had told us, over dinner and drinks. That day was a slow one. I worked on the bank campaign. The bank needed a new slogan. I could come up with ten winners in five minutes and my boss would bill the client for twenty hours worth of " creative work. "

This left me with plenty of time to work on other things. I wrote poetry. I wrote comedy bits for somnething called The American Comedy Network.

And I worked on my novels.

I was up to chapter 3 of the novel about the mystery of how a friend's lover had died under mysterious circumstances when I opened the New York Times Book Review section. I checked out the table of contents. There was a new book out. By an author I'd never heard of. I read the review. It was the book I was writing. Same plot. Similar characters with different names. It was all there. It was if this author had been sitting in the booth behind us as Mark sat there that night, drinking Manhattans, telling is his story. Listening. Taking notes.

I finished reading the review. Read about the author. He taught English at Smith College, which is located just up the hill from the restaurant where we all ate that night...

This was years ago. In 1991 I picked up a book by novelist Denis Johnson. Resuscitation of a Hanged Man is about Leonard English, a " sad and intense young man " recovering from a suicide attempt. He moves to Provincetown to work as a disc jockey - cum private detective. On his first day there he encounters a beautiful young woman and falls desparately in love with her - only to discover....

Lana and I were in this restaurant in the early 1990s. We were talking about this guy we knew. He'd moved to P-Town. Had been a cop on Nantucket and had some connections in the music business. His best friend was a sound man who knew someone who knew the lead singer of that Australian band, Men At Work.

This was during a time when I was making some changes. I'd been a newspaper reporter, then an advertising copywriter/creative director in Hartford. Now I was picking up some per diem time as a counselor on a locked psych unit in Springfield. I was still writing. But focusing on fiction...

To be continued...

The History Boys - Movies - Review - New York Times

When Donna and I announced that we were getting married, the announcement ran in the paper for which I was interning. The blurb identified us as:

Donna Kanner: Teacher
Terrence McCarthy: Student

Donna's still teaching. I'm the perennial student. So as we watched The History Boys last night, more than a few responsive chords were struck. If you haven't seen this one, I recommend it. It's set in England in 1983, but it's relevant. A hot topic in education these days is testing, and how some think that what we're doing is teaching kids to take tests. There are two schools of thought presented in The History Boys. Each represented by a teacher.

I think it's a great film. I've been a sucker for movies set in English public schools for a long time. My all time favorite flick is Lindsey Andersen's If. That one starred a very young Malcolm McDowell.

The History Boys - Movies - Review - New York Times

Friday, June 8, 2007

MSNBC is really starting to get on my nerves. And Dan Abrams! Ya hear me? An ambulance just whizzed by my house. Ya might wanna do what you were doing a few years ago. Go out and chase it already.

Abrams was all over the Paris Hilton story last night. Using all the gimmicks to get our attention. Breaking News! This just in! Developing story! Late breaking news!

It was like Putin just ordered missiles launched towards Prague. Speaking of which...

If you find yourself anywhere in the vicinity of Paris Hilton ( Or Dan Abrams for that matter ) and you happen to have a rocket launcher in your Prada bag...

Do me a favor.

And oh by the way, I'm off to one of the most beautiful places on Earth today: Truro, Massachusetts. Donna, Gracie and I are going camping on The National Seashore. We call it camping, but we have all kinds of hook-ups. Electricity. Water. Cable TV. There's even an IV you can attach yourself to. What's in the bags? Johnny Walker Black.

This is one hell of a campground we're heading for. It even has WiFi, so I'm expecting to be able to post. But I might not. We'll be otherwise engaged. Remember, we're camping. It's a lot of work out there in the woods. Just hooking myself up to the IV alone'll take hours.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Here's a sidebar to the Piersall story...

Jimmy Piersall is the godfather of Mark Foley, the congressman who was involved in a scandal re: congressional pages.

The 29 year old Piersall, singling out the 12 year old boy that I was...

You look back on your life, at that highlight reel. Ya can't help but groan " wow. "
You know you're in trouble when they pick Anthony Perkins to play you in the movie version of your life story.

Perkins played the role of Boston Red Sox outfielder Jimmy Piersall. The movie was Fear Strikes Out, based on the book with the same title. Piersall was my hero. Most kids my age idolized Ted Williams. Piersall hit a responsive chord with me.

Jimmy Piersall was no Norman Bates. The Waterbury, Connecticut native was an oddball. Did some weird things on the field. Ran the bases backwards, climbed the screen behind home plate. It was later revealed that Piersall had what was then called manic-depression. Today it's referred to as Bipolar Disorder.

I have a story that involves me and Jimmy Piersall. When I was 12 years old Piersall paid a visit to Ed's Foodland, a market just down the street from where I lived with my parents. Piersall was, at that time ( 1959 ) doing promotional work for the Caines Mayonaisse Company.
I was in the sixth grade, in class when Piersall arrived at Ed's Foodland. My plan was to go see him after school.

My mother and my Aunt Ella went to see him in the morning.

I arrived at Ed's with some friends. We walked through the front door. An Ed's worker was standing there. I said, " We're looking for Jimmy Piersall. "

" He's in aisle six, near the mayonaisse, " the guy said.

Like I'd asked where the ketchup was.

We ran through the market, found aisle 6. There he was, Jimmy Piersall. My hero. Surrounded by kids who'd managed to get there before we did. The crowd of young fans was about eight deep. I started jumping up and down, trying to catch a glimpse of my hero. I think I was up in the air when I heard Jimmy Piersall say, " Hey Terry! Terry McCarthy! Come here. Let him through, guys. Make way. Let him through! "

Now, I'm going to stop right here for a second. I've told this story myriad times. I tend to get these looks right about now, at this point in the story. Folks roll their eyes. They don't say it out loud, but I can read lips. What they're " saying " is:

Yeah, right.

Make no mistake. This is a true story. Jimmy Piersall singled me out.

I felt like I'd been annointed. The crowd let me through. Thinking back on it all, it was like Charlton Heston parting the Kid Sea.

This was some kind of miracle!

I inched my way up to Jimmy Piersall. He reached out and shook my hand. Said a few words. I can't remember what he said; I was in shock. We shook hands again.

" Great meeting you, Terry, " Jimmy Piersall said.

I must have said something back. I have no idea what it was that I said.

I have discussed what happened at Ed's Foodland many times with my mother. Her take on the story is this. She and my Aunt Ella had gone to see Jimmy Piersall in the morning, while I was still in school. The market wasn't crowded when my mother and my aunt were there. They got to talk to Jimmy Piersall. My mother told him that she had a son, Terry.

" You're his hero, " she said. " He'll be here to see you after school. "

My mother tells me that Jimmy Piersall asked her, " What's he look like? And what's he wearing today. "

Mom said, " People say he looks just like me. " And she described what I was wearing when I left the house that morning.

" He knew who you were when he saw you, " my mother says.

There's a term among the many terms in the language of baseball. Set-up men. It refers to relief pitchers. They lay the foundation.

When I think back to that day in 1959 I think of the role my mother played. And this comes to mind:

Set-up Mom.

That was 48 years ago. Jimmy Piersall is 77 years old now. He's had a long and interesting life. He's battled pitchers who threw balls past his ear at 90 miles per hour. He's battled bi-polar disorder. Me? I've played some games in my life. Basketball. Soccer. Golf. Tennis. Baseball? I never made the varsity team. Played softball. But that's a far cry from hardball, the game Jimmy Piersall played so well and so courageously.

The hardest game I ever played was working on a psych unit for eleven years. Worked closely with people with bi-polar disorder. And you know what? Every one of those patients with whom I worked, I told them:

You are going to get through this stay in the hospital. It's not going to be easy. But if you're willing to do the work that needs to be done - you're gonna be OK.

I didn't promise a cure. Short term goals were the aim. One inning at a time was what I was thinking. One crazy inning at a time.
News from the ever amazing world of rock and roll. Deep Purple is still out there, touring. The group, which is perhaps most famous for Smoke on the Water ( Which I recall listening to when I was living in England, which was sometime around the time of The Battle of Agincourt ), will be appearing at the Hampton Beach ( NH ) Casino this summer.

Deep Purple has a song on its latest CD called " Forget About Tomorrow. " Maybe it should have been called " Forget About Yesterday. " Isn't it time to hang up the guitars, guys?

Deep Purple? Pretty soon they're gonna have to change their name to Dee-Pends Purple.

There was this folk rock group back in western Massachusetts. They were popular right after I got out of the service. One of the members of the group was a guy I went to high school with. The name of the group?

Clean Living.

If they're still around, they're probably calling themselves Assisted Living now.

" Long live rock and roll! " never had more meaning than it does these days.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

I pulled the dart board out of the basement the other day. Hammered some nails into a tree in the yard. Hung the board. Started flinging darts at the board.

This is something I'm good at. I'm good at throwing darts at a board, and have been for years. I used to do it in pubs, in England. I wasn't much of a talker, and talking is, after all, what ya do in a pub.

Ya talk it over. Talk over the guy sitting next to you. You talk it out. Talk someone into doing something they might otherwise might not do, if they hadn't just finished their fourth or fifth Guinness. You talk the talk in a pub because walking the walk can get to be a lot more difficult than talking. Sure, the words ya speak might come out a bit slurred, like your sight might be blurred...

From the drinking.

I wasn't much of a talker, but I wanted to impress the ladies. What was I to do? I looked at the board, the dart board, and picked up those small arrows and threw 'em. The darts went where I wanted them to go.

When I was 9 years old I won some awards. I was an archer. I was good at scoring bullseyes. When I entered high school I went out for the basketball team. I was good at scoring baskets and made that team.

Life, at various times in mine, has been like a dartboard at which I make the toss. More often than not I've hit what I've aimed for. Lucky me.

The night Donna and I met, there was an ice storm. A singer by the name of Jeff Lyman was covering Neil Young songs at the bar where we both had landed that late December night. This pretty girl struck up a conversation with my friend Jimmy. I was staring off. Listening to Jeff Lyman sing " Cinnamon Girl. " Then I heard, above the din, Jimmy ask the girl something about Europe. He'd just returned from a trip over there. And so had she.

I turned away from the music. Leaned into the girl and asked her, " Did ya get to London? Were you there? "

She said she was and that was that. The connection. I'd thrown and hit the board dead center.

Later that night she said she had to be going. She was a teacher and had to go to work the next day. I asked her for her phone number. She said no. Then asked me for mine. We said goodnight.

A few minutes later, she came back into the bar. The ice storm that had just started as we'd walked through the door of the bar earlier in the evening had gotten worse.

" Windshield of my car's all covered with thick ice, " she said. " Can someone come out and help me scrape it off? "

I volunteered. Walked out of the bar and over to her car and started scraping the ice off the windshield...

Of Donna's Dodge Dart.

YouTube - Bruce Springsteen-Brilliant Disguise

Lord have mercy on the man who doubts what he's sure of...

YouTube - Bruce Springsteen-Brilliant Disguise
Is it just me, or is this whole Arianna Huffington thing one gigantic cultural hoax? I mean c'mon. When was the last time you saw Arianna and Maureen Dowd in the same room together?

You heard it here first: Arianna Huffington IS Maureen Dowd.

As anyone who has seen Dowd on TV, or heard her on the radio knows. She's shy. What do shy people do when they're expected, obligated ( paid ) to appear in public? They put on an act. They adopt a persona.

The persona Maureen Dowd has put on like a mask at a ball?

Arianna Huffington.

Next time " Arianna" is on MSNBC's Countdown take a close look. Oh yeah! you might say. That looks exactly like Maureen Dowd. But she sounds like Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Don't be fooled. There is no Arianna Huffington. There is no Huffington Post. It's Maureen Dowd, come out of her shell.

Like a mask, Maureen has pulled this pose off. Or, should I say, we have. We the Fence Postistas. Our " I Team " strikes again!

Next on Fence Post Inside Edition:

Rosie O'Donnell. Which guy was she before she...

Stay tuned!
The Kidz n da nest have flown da crib.

We're empty nesters again. Donna was out on the deck, prying the bush's branches apart, checking on the young cardinals. She looked up and said, " They're gone! "

And that they are. Yesterday they were making a racket. In retrospect, I guess they were shouting, " We're outa here! " So tonight it's just Donna, Gracie and me. The bush is back to being just a bush; it's not a home. There's a nest stuck in there, but it's empty. So it goes.

So they go.

I can't help but think we expedited a process that probably, under normal ( natural ) circumstances, takes longer. I'm guessing that the parents, who watched us Sunday trying to get that deck umbrella over the bush - then seeing it explode - said to each other:

" We need maybe to go to plan B. "

" we talkin' exit strategy here? "

" Ya got that right. "

" Gittin' kind a violent in this hood. "

" Things explodin' n shit. "

" Yeah. "

" Gotta get the kidz outa that bush... "

" Give 'em a push... "

" A push. Yeah... "

" Let's go. "

( They fly into the bush )
Announced today that I will be leaving my post as facilitator of the creative writing workshop. Next week's my last class. It's been a wonderful run, which I started a little more than four years ago.

So it'll be so long to Guida, Jane, Gale, Doris, R.J., Norman, Barbara, Terry, Roy, Cherie, Karen, Jane, Monica, Helen. An incredible crew. I've learned a lot from them all.

I've been bidding farewell quite often in the past year. A year ago I was a member of the board of directors of a non-profit, had a part-time gig at a group home just north of here, and facilitated the workshop. Next Wednesday at this time the curtain will have come down on all of those shows.

What's next? That's a question I've been asking myself all my adult life. So far, what's next has always been even better than what was. If you want to tell me to break a leg, go ahead.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Let's push the envelope. I tell the writers in the writing workshop I pilot to do that. A leader's gotta do what he asks his charges to do.

Here's some more about connecting those dots.

More on this Tampa Burn book I've been reading. Sure, it's just the latest book. Any book will do if you wish to make the connections. That E.M. Forster novel, in which he wrote, " Only connect. " That one will do. Or Moby Dick. That one was thick with coincidences. I posted on that one. You could look it up.

But it's the Randy Wayne White book I'm reading today. More dots...

Doc Ford's girlfriend, the woman named Dewey. Tennis player, a damn good one. Reminds me of Donna, my wife. Whose nickname is Duney.

Duney and I, before we got married, shopped around western Massachusetts for a place at which to hold our reception. We ended up choosing a place called The Red Basket, which is located on Route 10 in Southampton. After we had picked that bar and grill, my mother informed us...

That was the place where she had met my father. Back in 1946.

The Red Basket ( Not The Red Coconut ) burned down about eight years ago. The Red Basket wasn't far from The Broadview, the bar in which Donna and I met in 1972. The Broadview was in Holyoke. It isn't there anymore.

It burned down.

Connecting the dots can go on and on and on. Donna's mother's name is Sarah. That was my father's mother's name. Donna's mother has a sister named Ray. Ray was my father's name. Donna's father's name was Daniel. That was my father's middle name.

Names. The one that comes to mind as I write this was the name of a woman who was married to the landlord of the apartment building where mom, dad and I lived in the 50s and 60s. When we moved into the apartment, a family named Russell lived there. I was 7. Bobby Russell was 5. A family named Duggan lived downstairs. There was a daughter, Mary Ann.

Years later, Mary Ann, Bobby and me would all end up working as newspaper reporters. What are the odds?

A few years ago, the current landlord, a guy name of Wally, was tearing down some walls in the house. Behind the walls were stuck pages and pages and pages of yellowed old newspapers. The newspapers were used, way back when, as insulation.

When I learned of the newspapers, I thought: " God! What a fire trap we all lived in. All those old newspaper pages...

Oh. And what was the name of that landlord's wife? The landlord who owned and maintained the building in which we future reporters then lived?

Her name was Dorothy. But everyone in town called her Dot.

YouTube - The Police - Synchronicity II

Ooo! What a coincidence. I just stumbled upon this song...

YouTube - The Police - Synchronicity II
There's this thing in psych called " Ideas of Reference. " Like when someone watches TV or a movie, or reads a book and thinks what he or she sees or reads is really referring back to them: the viewer, the reader.

There's two schools of thought concerning coincidences. Either you believe in them or you don't. I don't attach much significance to coincidences, but that's not to say I don't find them utterly fascinating.

Take this book I'm reading. Tampa Burn by Randy Wayne White. One of the reasons I like to read White's books is because he lives in the Fort Myer, Florida area. Donna and I are familiar with that area, having camped in Fort Myers Beach. So it's no coincidence when I read that White's character, Doc Ford, is driving down a street I've driven down.

But how about learning that Doc's girlfriend is a really good tennis player, as is my wife. Well, that's interesting, but hardly a mind boggling coincidence. It's Florida. There are a lot of really good tennis players living in Florida.

The first book I read in White's series set in the Sanibel/Captiva area near Fort Myers was Everglades. I was reading that in St. Augustine, when we struck up a conversation with a woman in a camper near ours. I asked her where she was from.

" Holyoke, " she said.

Holyoke is Donna's hometown. It's the city in which we lived when we got married. It's where the newspaper on which I was a reporter was published. As I said, I was reading the White book when we met this woman. This White book in which the hero, Doc Ford, is a microbiologist.

I asked the woman from Holyoke what she did for a living.

" I'm a microbiologist, " she said.

I asked her where she was headed.

" Tampa, " she said.

As I mentioned, the White book I'm reading now, as I'm thinking back to St. Augustine, is Tampa Burning.

Whenever I think of Holyoke, I think back to the big story we were covering for months when I was on the police and fire beat. There was an arson spree that was making national news.

Holyoke was burning.

The first time Donna and I stayed in Fort Myers Beach we stayed at an RV park called The Red Coconut. The Red Coconut was located right on the beach, which was great. What wasn't great was that there was this guy with a chain saw staying at the RV park. He was making wooden sculptures. The noise was driving me crazy and I complained to the RV park owner. My usual MO is that if someone is annoying me I talk directly to them. I don't go to the boss or the manager or the owner.

But as my daddy always used to tell me, " Don't go arguing with a man with a chain saw in his hands. "

There's a character in Tampa Burning who makes wooden sculptures with a chain saw.

His name? Terrence.

This morning, as I was reading the book, Doc Ford mentioned his girlfriend, the tennis player's phone number. The last four numbers were 7777.

I had just got off the phone. The number I had just dialed? The last four numbers were 7777.

The character, the tennis player, is named Dewey. This is because White is a big fan of that old rock group America. The lead singer's name was Dewey. Dewey was an Air Force brat. Among the air bases on which he was stationed was R.A.F. Chicksands in England.

That's the base where I was stationed for two years until I came back...

To America.

What do I make of all this? Not much. I am of the opinion that if you were to do what I just did, to try to connect the dots like I just did with this book that I'm reading - connecting this book to that book, where it's set with where I've been, etc., etc...

You'd be able to do what I just did. I don't know a lot about statistics. I'm terrible at math. But I'm pretty good at connecting the dots. Statistically, these things, these coincidences, aren't all that uncommon. Things are more connected than we imagine. Which is pretty good news when you think about it.
Apologies for the double posting. I seem to be having a problem with getting things onto the blog, then once they're on, I can't delete them. Maybe this is the cyberattack we've all been waiting for.
this is a test
It's my guess that the cable news guys will pay a lot more attention to Paris Hilton's three week's in jail than Scooter Libby's 30 months behind the bars sentence.

And I'll bet the jail in which the blonde celeb is incarcertated will further be known as the Paris Hilton Hilton.

And if you asked 100 Americans if they think Scooter Libby got a fair deal -

68 would say they never heard of him
20 would say they think Scooter Libby is Paris Hilton's real name
6 would say the sentence is too long
and 6 would say it's too short.
My guess is that Paris Hilton's three weeks behind bars will get far more cable news attention than Scooter Libby's thirty month sentence. It's also my guess that the jail in which the blonde celebrity is incarcerated will now be known as:

The Paris Hilton Hilton.

And I'll bet you a few bucks that if you asked 1oo Americans what they think of Scooter Libby going to jail -

68 wouldn't know who the hell he is
20 would think Scooter Libby is Paris Hilton's real name
6 would say it's too short a sentence
and 6 would say it's too long.
What follows is a post on today's Mike Daisey blog. I couldn't agree more. And this one hit a responsive chord as I just finished writing the introduction to a collection of stories, essays and poems written by the writers in the workshop I teach. The point I made in my introduction parallels Daisey's argument...

From Mike Daisey's blog, June 5, 2007

I don't often go off on a tear against a critic, especially one I'm fond of, but this piece by Alexis Soloski about the Solonova Arts Festival contains the following paragraph:However, with the notable exception of Sarah Jones, the '00s have produced few new talents. Perhaps that owes to the continued careers of many of the artists mentioned above—even in a town with as many stages as New York, theaters only want to give so many slots to one-person shows. A rosy reading might suggest we've made sufficient social progress that the marginalized have other forms of expression—popular music, the Internet. A more jaded interpretation: Despite the title of the current Spalding Gray tribute, we've run out of one-person stories left to tell.Let me break this down in a few parts:First: Few new talents? Didn't Alexis' own Obie committee just shower praise on Nilaja Sun two weeks ago? The same ceremony lauded Tim Crouch, who I'd argue has become known in NYC since 2000, and counts as a solo performer in my generous book. I really could go on, but it seems to me the same number of solo artists rise above the general din as they do every decade, which is not that many. That's mainly as it should be: it is hard to get attention for one's work, and often unfair, and it has always been that way. It's a crucible that tries our souls and work.What pisses me off is the demeaning head-patting given to the solo form, here and elsewhere--few would make such a sweeping dismissal of another theatrical form, like the straight play. What Alexis experienced was 3 shitty solo shows, followed by one not-quite-as-shitty solo show. I believe in the old adage that 90% of everything is crap, and that's certainly true in solo performance--as it is in theatre, dance, painting and every other art form that I've learned enough about to know anything. There's nothing unique or interesting about bad art--it's tremendously democratic, and happens everywhere.I'm sensitive because I'm biased--I'm a monologuist, so it rankles me when my form gets tossed on a scrap heap. It dismisses work before it's even heard, but I'm no fainting lilly--I work against this bias every day, and that's all one can do. That doesn't make it right, however--if we dismissed forms based on the negative examples, I believe traditionally theatre would have been cancelled long ago, at least based on what I've seen. Shakespeare? Sucks. Downtown? Pffffft--I've seen at least four that sucked ass. Chuck it in the trash.Luckily, of course, it doesn't work that way--it's the great works that ennoble us, and make slogging through all the mediocrity and bullshit worthwhile. It's the only reason we do any work, to look for greatness, and when we find that work it illuminates us, and fills us until we are larger than ourselves.Were the Solonova Festival shows bad? I wouldn't know, but I will say that the review from Alexis is not promising. And if I wasn't a solo performer, and I'd sat through four of those shows as they're described, I might be ready to dismiss the form, too. But that doesn't make it right.It's probably the last sentence that pushed me into writing, the snarky reference to the Spalding Gray show, used to make the point that perhaps we've run out of one-person stories left to tell. This is such a ludicrous sentiment that it goaded me into this entire post. Every human life is filled with stories, and in my work I hear fantastic stories from people every night--they tell them to me after performances, and the idea that the problem is that we have no stories left to tell is so profoundly wrong that it's almost dangerous. It's the kind of thinking that rejects the magic of human experience--how could we ever not need a single person speaking to an audience about their own experience, the most elemental form of storytelling, the most profoundly pluralist theatrical form because every single human being can tell a story.I'm being a little ranty and rhetorical; I apologize. It's clear from Alexis' opening graphs that she isn't a dyed-in-the-wool solo show despiser, or anything silly like that, but I simply couldn't let that one paragraph pass without comment.12:04 AM
Monday, June 04, 2007
7:16 PM

Monday, June 4, 2007

Forgot to mention this yesterday. The New York Times buried the JFK terror plot story on page A 30. JFK Airport, by the way, is IN New York City. If the alleged terrorists did " destroy " the airport, those working in the New York Times building would A./ Probably see it and B./ probably feel its shock wave.

It's not like the gendarmes had foiled a plot to blow up, say, O'Hare.

So why did they bury it? Maybe they thought it wasn't much of a story. That's what I thought when I posted on this a couple of days ago.

But what do I know?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

SteynOnline - ROCKIN' ROYAL

Leave it to the Genius from Jacksonville, the Jeopardy champion, the guy who used to serve Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson a few drinks at the bar of his ( Terrance's ) eatery in southern California, to submit the following to The Off The Fence Post. Good eye, Mr. Collins. This one's a keeper.

SteynOnline - ROCKIN' ROYAL
I'm watching Wolf Blitzer moderate the Democratic candidates debate on CNN. The last question was this: " How many of you are for designating English as the official language of the United States? "

Then Blitzer added:

" Those of you who do, raise your hands. "

Maybe Wolf thinks the official language of the United States should be sign language.

A question about language that doesn't allow the candidates to speak ANY language?

That's when Donna and I turned off the debate. Right after I asked her: How many in this room are for turning on the Red Sox Yankee game? Those who do, raise your hands. "

Our German Short Haired pointer was sleeping like she sometimes does. With one leg pointing towards the ceiling. I took that as a " Yes. " I raised my hand and so did Donna. It was unanimous.

YouTube - The Byrds-Going Back

She was out there on the branch, waiting to go back, to the deck on which those diamonds were sparkling...

YouTube - The Byrds-Going Back
The forecast is for heavy rain and winds down here on the coast of Rhode Island. " Ya think the nest'll be safe? " I asked Donna this morning. We were driving down to the sea wall to take Gracie for a walk. Wondered if the surf was building. The Weather Channel was reporting that Barry, which was downgraded to a low pressure system, could create 10 to 15 foot waves.

" I know what we can do, " I said.

" What? "

" We'll slide the deck table over and the table's umbrella will cover the bush. "

" That's a good idea, " Donna said.

We took Gracie for her walk. The sea was as calm as a pond. " Calm before the storm, " I said. Not realizing at the time which storm it would be.

( Cue eerie music designed to make readers wonder: Which storm it would be? What does he mean? There's another storm coming? A bad moon rising, trouble on the way? )

We drove home. Went out on the deck and pulled the table over towards the bush. The umbrella didn't quite reach over the part of the bush where the nest is.

" Let's try to bend it a little, lean it towards the bush, " Donna said.

" Bend it? "

" Yeah, the umbrella pole. Pull it up and lean it towards the bush. "

We pulled the pole up and leaned it towards the bush. Suddenly...

BANG! CRASH! Glass flying everywhere. Donna looked down at her leg. She was bleeding. I looked down at mine. I was bleeding. Nothing serious. But our shins were starting to turn the color of the Cardinals' father.

" Well, I guess that wasn't such a good idea, " I said ( helpfully? )

Donna went into the house and got us some band aids. I got the camera.

" Don't take pictures, " Donna said.

" Don't take pictures? This is history, " I said

I think it was writer Nora Ephron who said that, for writers, all catastrophes are material.

Donna's a teacher.

I snapped some shots of what was formerly the top of our deck table. The glass was still shattering, pop, pop, popping, reminding us, again and again and again what a dumb idea it had been to bend the umbrella pole.

The glass was in thousands of tiny pieces. They looked like diamonds sparkling in the sun out there on the deck. As we started to clean the mess up, I saw the female cardinal watching us from a branch on a tree in the yard. Probably thinking:

Of all the decks in all the world, we had to build a nest in a bush next to this one. Loonies on the deck with diamonds.

I know what you're thinking. She's not a Beatles fan. She likes The Byrds.


If only she knew. A storm is coming, and all we were doing was trying to help.
" Well, we're going to need a starter for Monday. We didn't know until today that he wasn't going to make a start. "

Yankee manager Joe Torre upon hearing that pitcher Roger Clemens
has a " fatigued groin " and will not work his scheduled shift June 4.

Roger Clemens, seven time Cy Young Award winner, was coaxed out of retirement last month and agreed to take a $28 million salary to work part-time for a New York company headquartered in The Bronx.

Clemens, who will turn 45 in August, was to start against the White Sox tomorrow. But as another southern diva once said, " Tomorrow is another day. "

Clemens claims he has a " fatigued groin. " I wouldn't touch that line with a ten foot Louisville Slugger. But the sports talk show guys are likely to have a field day with it.

This just might turn out to be the biggest workmans compensation fraud case in history. Clemens calling in sick two days before he's scheduled to start his first shift? C'mon.

Joe Torre: Hello?

Roger: Uh, hi, boss.

Joe: How ya doin'?

Roger: Uh, not so good. I'm not feeling real well and...

Joe: Not feeling well? What's the problem?

Roger: It's my groin

Joe: It's growing? What's growing!!

Roger: No, no. It's my GROIN!

Joe: These damn cell phones, I thought ya said...

Roger: I know. I'm in Texas. Lots of dead spots down here...

Joe: So, what's the story? Ya can't make it in Monday?

Roger: Roger that.

Joe: Roger what?

Roger: I won't be in Monday.

Joe: How about Friday?

Roger: Friday? What about Friday?

Joe: That's when y'er scheduled to work again.

Roger: Let me check my organizer here...

Joe: I gotta go. We're about to play Boston.

Roger: Goodbye.

Joe: What was that?

Roger: I said goodbye

People collecting workmans comp by faking injuries is, I think, an epidemic in this country. It's gonna get worse, just you wait and see. Role models? Yeah, right.

Something tells me it isn't TB isn't what we should be worrying about.

It's RC.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

I used to define myself by the games I played. I played basketball. I played soccer. I played golf. I played baseball and softball. And pool. These days? I play tennis.

I hadn't played tennis in more than a year. My partner, my wife, had shoulder surgery last October. Rotator Cuff surgery. Tennis is her passion. Running was. She used to run 10 K races. Then tennis took over. She got as good at that as she had been at running. She's coached a high school varsity team. She's good. Real good.

Then she had to give it up. Completely. She had to give up the thing that defined her. How hard was that? I can't imagine. Well, I'm a writer. So I guess I can imagine that. What would it be like?

It would be like not writing for as long as Donna has not played tennis.

I said to her last week, " Let's go out and hit some balls. " We did that. The next day we did it again. We did it again this morning. She's playing tennis again. And so am I. I hit one to her, she hits it back. She hits one to me and I do the same. Back and forth, forth and back. Thwock. Thwok. Thwock...


" Up in Vermont, this is how we do
We got an area code, and it's 802...

Green Mountain State
Where we roll on skis
Don't mess with our cows
Or we'll break your knees... "

One of the Vermont high school kids who made this video says, " We're small, we might be a little boring, but we can have fun. We have a sense of humor. "

The story was in the New York Times today. Ya gotta love these kids. Click below to view the video.

YouTube - dIRE sTRAITS private investigation

It's a mystery to me, the game commences...

YouTube - dIRE sTRAITS private investigation
One of the writers in the writing workshop I honcho likes to write mystery stories. A character she thought up is named Steve Shovel ( Show-Vell ) Why that name?

" Sam Spade was taken, " she says.

Guida is very good at writing the kind of thing Raymond Chandler, Daishell Hammett, Robert Parker, Michael Connelly, Val McDermott, John D. McDonald, Agatha Christie and a long list of usual suspects wrote and are still writing.

Guida is one of the regulars. She's been coming to the workshop since I started facilitating it four years ago. It was like clockwork. If it was Wednesday morning at 10, Guida'd be there. Lately? She hasn't been there a whole lot. She's been missing. I asked last week, " What's the story with Guida? "

It was a mystery and I was looking for someone, maybe Steve Shovel, to solve it.

Turns out it was no big deal. Guida in the process of moving and that's been taking up much of her time. That's why she hasn't been coming to class. It's not like she's going to be the next woman MSNBC is going to have us all focus on.


Mystery stories. I love 'em. My favorite mystery writers are James Lee Burke, Peter Robinson, Michael Connelly and Randy Wayne White. I'm reading one of White's books now. Tampa Burn. White's hero is a guy by the name of Marion Ford. Doc Ford. He's a microbiologist who has on his eclectic resume a stint doing some covert work for the U.S. government.

The books in this series are set in and around Fort Myers, Florida. That's the area in which Donna and I have been spending some time in the past few years. Sanibel. Captiva. Fort Myers Beach. Estero Boulevard and Lovers Key.

I like reading books set in places I know. That's why I like Peter Robinson's books. His hero is Detective Inspector Alan Banks. Banks spends a lot of time in London, a city with which I fell in love back in the 70s.

Mystery stories. Laconic loners whose women don't ask them a whole lot of questions. That's my taste when it comes to summer reading. What's the story behind it? Why do I like mystery stories in which guys like Ford and Banks are the heroes?

Don't ask.
Speaking of the police...

Be cautious. Be suspicious. Be skeptical whenever: The authorities - be they the local gendarmes, the FBI, Interpol, whatever - take a PR hit, like The Department of Homeland Security took a hit this week with that TB story, then you see:


I've said it before, I'll say it again. I used to see this kind of stuff all the time when I was a newspaper reporter. The police chief's name was Harold Skelton. I referred to the local force as Harold Skelton and the Blue Coats. I didn't do that when I was down at the station, mind you. I was unpopular enough with the cops.

Anyway. Every now and then my editors would get a call from the chief. He was alerting them ( Not me. That would have been a feather in my cap. Credit was not something the police wished to give me ) to the fact that there was going to be:


These big drug busts could have been perpetrated at any time. But they usually came in the wake of some bad news involving the department. Or no news lately about the department's success in dealing with an arson spree that left the city with more vacant lots than Beirut.

So pardon me if I'm a tad skeptical about this alleged plot to " Destroy JFK Airport. " The cable news guys ( Yes, you caught me watching again ) are telling America that the plot was " in the planning stages. " And that the terrorists were " home grown " and not a part of a large, organized outfit ( Like Al Qaeda ).

Lucky us.

Stay tuned if you want. I'll be watching the Sox beat the Yankees this afternoon.
It was The Police, not The Beatles who did Synchronicity. Still...

Just heard from an old friend who'd just read the Summer of Love post. Said his birthday was yesterday. On June 1, 1967, he'd just turned 20. Was working at another factory in town. Playing right field in the industrial league, " seeing " a girl whose name he threw at me. Karen W.

Karen W.!! That toss from right field conjured an image. Blonde, blue eyed, Karen W. An older woman, a year older than us. I lusted ( in a Jimmy Carter-like way - in my heart ) after her.

Happy birthday, Gary!

Friday, June 1, 2007

YouTube - Dropkick Murphys - Shipping Up To Boston - Video

First game a the series. Boston's behind 9-3. Yanks are winning. My fookin' Irish is up.... Maybe this'll calm me down..

YouTube - Dropkick Murphys - Shipping Up To Boston - Video

YouTube - Scott McKenzie - "San Francisco"

Thanks to Terrance Collins for this one...

YouTube - Scott McKenzie - "San Francisco"
It was forty years ago today...

That The Beatles released what some argue is the best rock and roll album of all time: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. June 1, 1967. Remember what you were doing on that day?
If you don't, you might not have been born yet.

If you don't you might have just been caught up in the spirit of things. It was, after all, the beginning of The Summer of Love.

That summer was the last one I'd spend in my hometown in western, Massachusetts. It was the summer of the Red Sox " Impossible Dream. " A summer of hatred in the middle east. Here, it was The Summer of Love, a virus of the heart that was first experienced out west, then spread east, where I and my friends caught it.

Young men and women my age were drawn like lemmings to the state of California. At least our thoughts were pulled there. The city we wished to be in? San Francisco. We wanted to grow our hair long and plant flowers behind our ears. We weren't the most ambitious of 20 year olds. The only position we sought was the lotus position.

I'd taken a doctor's advice ( Dr. Timothy Leary ) and dropped out ( of college ) in the spring of that year. I knew what I wanted to drop out from, but had no idea what I wanted to drop into. I had no plan. No road map. If I'd had a resume, its legs would have been shaking, its feet tap, tapping to the beat of an indifferent drummer. But I had no resume, because I had no experience, other than going to school.

All the sheets of paper in my pad were blank. I was reckless and feckless. Like a prisoner plotting his escape, I used to sit at the window of our apartment on Main Street and stare off at the blue/gray walls - those mountains that surrounded the town in which I'd grown up. And was now growing out of.

I wasn't alone in my desire to hit the road and head west. " Are you going to San Francisco? " was the lyric each of us was hearing over and over, echoing off the pale green lathes in the factory where we all worked that summer.

Tom, Freddy, Larry and I worked at Stanley Home Products, the largest of several mills in Easthampton. It was boring, mind numbing work, but it was honest work. The kind of work many of the parents of the kids our age had done all their lives. Much of the work we did was done away from the din of the machines and the production lines. As we toiled for the minimum wage, we talked. About jazz. Existentialism. The War. A new band called The Doors. Rock-solid, well known bands like The Jefferson Airplane.

The Doors. Jefferson Airplane. San Francisco bands. The music they played was like siren song, pulling us in a direction we knew, just knew was the right one.

Summer jobs don't last forever; there is an escape clause called September. We knew this, and the subject of many of our late summer conversations can be summed up in two words: What next?

All of us were college kids, but none of us planned to go back in the fall. As the days grew shorter and the shadows cast by the mountains grew longer, we planned our escape. How would we get there? That was easy, a no brainer. All summer Freddy had been driving around in a big, black hearse he'd got cheap back in the spring. The hearse. That's what we'd hit the road in. Maybe the radio would be playing some Grateful Dead tunes as we rolled out of New England. We'd open the windows and turn it up loud.

What could be more groovy than that?

But the best laid plans and all that. We never went to San Francisco. Our summer jobs ended and we went different ways. I joined the Air Force. I don't know what my friends did. That was 40 years ago. It was The summer of Love. And Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band had just been released.
The Red Sox are playing the Yankees tonight. It should be one heck of a show. Boston/New York games are always special, but tonight's game, and this three game series could be one to write home about.

Why? you ask. Aren't the Yankees about 75 1/2 games behind the Sox in the standings? Well, not quite, but they're lagging behind The Hose like I'd be lagging behind Bill Rogers in a marathon.

The standings aren't the point. This is only June 1. Anything can happen between now and September. In 1978 the Red Sox had a 14 game lead over the Bombers, and guess who won the pennant?

Bucky Dent.

Bucky Dent? For you readers who aren't baseball fans, that probably sounds like something an auto body shop might be asked to bang out. The words " bang out " are fitting. Because that's exactly what a 78 Yankee player name of Bucky Dent did - bang out a homer to win a one game playoff contest to decide which team got the World Series tickets.

In Red Sox Nation, the anniversary of that blast is a day of national mourning.

It's June 1. It's not about who's gonna end up winning it all at the end of the season. It's about A-Rod.

A-Rod? you ask. Is that another motor vehicle reference? Is that like, say, a Hot Rod?

Nope. A-Rod is Alex Rodriguez, the Yankee third baseman. He's the highest paid baseball player in history. Makes something like $123,987,843,345,876,123,921, 988,765,000 a year. Give or take a few billion.

Nobody likes A-Rod. His wife liked him. Until yesterday. Everybody, except his wife, loathes him because he makes all that money for playing a game. His wife loathes him because of that picture she - and everybody else on the planet - saw of him yesterday. Him and that " buxom blonde " walking out of a Toronto strip joint together.

I was listening to WEEI ( Or as I call it, W Aye Yi Yi ) in Boston this morning. It was a sports talk show on which two guys say provocative things designed to get other guys to call in and make fools of themselves. They're very good at it. Not the hosts - the guys who make fools of themselves. This morning the topic was, of course, A-Rod.

The talk show hosts wanted to hear ideas for tonight's game. What kind of chants can we come up with when A-Rod's at the plate?

Among the bright ideas was:

A-Rod!! A-Limony! A-Rod! A-Limony!

I know. Pretty stupid. But what do you expect? This wasn't NPR's Talk of the Nation and tonight's event in Boston ain't gonna be held at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Will I be watching tonight? You betcha. I cannot wait. Gotta go.

I'm working on what I'm gonna be chanting when A-Rod walks up to the plate.
I try not to, but it's hard. It's an addiction. I've tried to cut down, but I fail every damn time. I am, of course, talking about watching Cable News.

Just watched a story about National Spelling Bee champion Evan O'Dorney. He's 13. I didn't catch the whole segment ( I said I'm trying to cut down, remember? ) So I don't know what he spelled to win the titul.

That's a joke.

All through the segment, I'm thinking, God wouldn't it be great if beneath the kid's image on the screen appeared a caption in which a word was misspelled. Something like:

13 Year Old Wins National Speling Title.

That didn't happen. But in the very next segment - there wasn't even a commercial between the spelling bee story and this one - they showed Hillary Clinton making a speech today. In back of her was a banner on which the word " Tomorrow " was spelled " Tommorrow. "

The anchorwoman did point out the misspelling, but she didn't connect it in any way to the previous story. Didn't segue into it, by saying something like:

" And speaking of spelling... "

And didn't refer back to what Evan had just accomplished. I know, I know. It's my own fault. I shouldn't be watching this crap.

YouTube - Cream-Politician

Cream in London, 1968... This one's for you, Buddy...

YouTube - Cream-Politician
They took a poll yesterday here in Rhode Island. Fifty-eight percent of those asked: would you vote for Buddy Cianci again?

Said " Yes. "

It's not the politicians I worry about. As Pogo, who is so often quoted, said, " We have met the enemy, and he is US.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

This TB story's getting interesting. The guy who has it turns out to be a personal injury lawyer whose father in law is a microbiologist for the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. His specialty at CDC? TB research.

Who Robin Cooked this story up?
Speaking of music, violence and guys sporting face lifts and toupees...

Consider the recent trials and tribulations of one Phil Spector. Spector has been around since I first started listening to music on the radio. His " Wall of Sound " sounds were the sounds I listened to on the first transister radio I ever had. The Ronettes, The Sherelles. Be My Baby.

Back then Spector was a hitmaker. Now he's on trial, accused of being a hitman.

Spector, not to be confused with U.S. Senator Arlen Spector ( Although they do have this separated at birth kind of thing going on ) is accused of shooting Lana Clarkson, a tall, blonde actress who had starred in two " Barbarian Queen " movies.

Live like a Barbarian queen, die like a barbarian queen. That's what I've always said.

There's a new book out about Spector and the bizarre life he has lived. It's called Tearing Down The Wall of Sound. It was written by Mick Brown. McCartney's probably hoping his next book's not about him.
Former Providence mayor Vincent " Buddy " Cianci made his first public appearance in five years yesterday, arriving at the half way house in which he'll be living like Brad Pitt slips into a restaurant.

Wearing a blue Polo baseball cap and dark glasses, Cianci walked past a few reporters who'd guessed which entrance into Coolidge House he'd be taking. It was the one in the back alley whose walls were thick with grafitti.

Whadja expect? Him to use the front door? That won't be happening anytime soon.

Cianci will stay at Coolidge house for a few weeks. He'll be doing a work-release tour of duty at a Boston Hotel ( Marketing and Public Relations ) then return to his East Greenwich RI home where he'll be under house arrest until July 28.

That's when he'll be totally free.

Rumors that Cianci might return to his old job as radio talk show host on Providence's WPRO resurfaced today. WRNI, the NPR station down here, reported that's what he would be doing come July.

That remains to be seen ( or, more accurately, heard. )

Buddy's return was greeted by the media here in Rhode Island like he was McCarthur going back to the Phillipines. His pictured was splashed all over the front page of the Providence Journal. Interstingly enough the grainy picture was attributed to WPRI-TV.

The Journal can't afford to send a photographer to Boston? No wonder I'm having a hard time getting my essays onto its op-ed page. But that's another ( news ) story.

The scoop du jour was WPR radio's Ron St. Pierre's. St. Pierre is a " friend " of Buddy's. I'm not sure if that's something I'd want on my resume if I were a newsman in Providence. St. Pierre had an " exclusive " interview with Cianci this morning.

How newsworthy was it? Not much. Didn't get much past:

How ya doin'?

OK, how YOU doin'?

Glad to be out?

Whaddyou tink?

So there you have it: Buddy's return. The story is breaking. There's gonna be more late breaking stuff. It's developing. There's gonna be lots of " This just ins. "

Stay tuned.

YouTube - Paul McCartney - Ever Present Past

One more off the new CD. I guess we can all relate to the lyrics on this one, eh mate?

YouTube - Paul McCartney - Ever Present Past

YouTube - Paul McCartney & Michel Gondry - New Video

This is recent. Song's off his new CD, which is due to be released Tuesday...

YouTube - Paul McCartney & Michel Gondry - New Video

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

There's a terrific profile of Paul McCartney in The New Yorker this week. It was written by John Colapinto. When asked who's your favorite Beatle, I've been pretty consistent in saying " It's Paul. "

Even though I know it would be cool to say, " John. "

John was the dark side of The Beatles phenomenon. Paul was the light. After founding Wings, he morphed into his Lite period.

But I've always been drawn to Paul. I've had dreams about him. About meeting him at parties and seeing him boarding a train. In the New Yorker profile, Colapinto writes of the role Paul played during the filming of Let It Be.

" McCartney is shown repeatedly trying, and failing, to inspire comaradarie and excitement in his bandmates. "

Joseph Campbell, who wrote about myths and gods, wrote that John Lennon was ( and probably still is ) a god. But for me? Paul is that, too. He has a new CD on the shelves next Tuesday. I'll be buying it.
A few posts back I wrote about driving over that bridge from which a woman had jumped to her death. This morning, in the writing workshop I facilitate, I steered one of the writers towards this blog. Said I'd like her to check it out ( Like a book from a library ) .

She emailed me a while ago. Said she'd perused Fence Post. She liked the Red Sox piece. Wasn't crazy about the rap stuff. My story about driving over the bridge, out of the blue and into the fog. That was hard to read, she said. It hit close to home.

Terry ( Yes, another Terry. They seem to be all over the place. Jacksonville, Lakeville, upstate New York and Narragansett ) said she knew the woman who jumped from the bridge. She was a friend and a neighbor.

That's what I call a Rhode Island story. One that has someone crossing a bridge. One making it over the bridge. One not making it. And the one making it over is the one who's nervous crossing bridges. That would be me.

One and a half degrees of separation. Someone knowing someone who knows someone. Or something. Yeah. That's a Rhode Island story.

Terry brought a book to class. The Beloit Fiction Journal. Spring 2007 edition. She wanted me to see it. Her son Ehren's short story was among those in the book. I asked Terry of I could borrow the book and return it to her next week.

She said yes and I did that. Brought the book home and opened it up this evening. Found, between two of its pages a letter from the literary journal's editor-in-chief.

Part of the letter reads: " Your story was one of thirteen selected from a pool of more than 600. Your story was read and re-read - often aloud - by our editorial group. We chose to publish it, because of the pleasure we had reading it. "

That's another Rhode Island story.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

YouTube - Baseball and Football

If I were the manager, I'd have Carlin batting cleanup...

YouTube - Baseball and Football
The Red Sox are 35-15. They have an 11 1/2 game lead over the second place team in the American League East. As I write this, Josh Beckett is on the mound. If the Hose win and he gets credit for the W, Josh'll be 8-0. And it's still May.

This is the best start in Red Sox history. There's some kind of magic being perpetrated on the manicured lawns on which these boys are playing. Reminds me of 1986, the year my father died. We buried him on opening day of the Red Sox season. Sox played Detroit. Bruce Hurst was the starting pitcher for the Sox, who lost that first game. But went on to win the pennant.

That was a magical year, and Dad just missed it. Or maybe he didn't. Maybe he was there, sitting in the skybox seats. The only one up there not fingering the strings of a harp.

The Sox are fun to watch this spring. Take last night for example. Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who has a hit streak going ( Not just any streak; he gets two or three hits a game! ) hit an inside the park homerun.

That's a magic trick rarely performed in big league parks like Fenway. Youkilis hit a line drive to straight center. It bounced off the fence. ( Off the fence? Yes, Off the Fence. Attach whatever meaning you will to that, dear reader ) )

The Cleveland outfielders looked like city slickers chasing a headless chicken in a barnyard. By the time they caught up with the ball, Kevin was rounding third, heading for home.

How can you not love a game in which the ultimate reward is going back to the place where you started - home.

Youkilis crossed the plate standing up. Didn't even need to slide. Youkilis of all players, notching an inside the park homerun on the bed post of his career. He has a busload of talent, speed not being among the skills on his resume. But he did it.

Most homeruns are hit by guys who stand at the plate and watch the ball's parabolic flight. Like golfers standing next to the broken tee. They watch as the ball leaves the park. Then they trot slowly around those bases, heading slowly for home.

Youkilis, the slow guy - he ran!

Giving the homerun the meaning it deserves.

It was magical. My father? The guy who brought me to my first Red Sox game back in the 1950s? The guy who introduced me to that green cathedral in which I have worshipped so many times.

A quiet man, a typical Irishman, he would have had a difficult time showing what he felt about what this Jewish guy ( Name of Kevin ) did with his turn at the plate.

Then again, maybe not. Maybe he would have done what he did back in 1967. I was 20 and a month or so from being shipped off to Lackland Air Force Base for basic training. The Tet Offensive ( An inside the park homerun hit by an AA farm team called the Viet Cong ) was coming soon. Dad and I were watching the Sox on TV. This was long before NESN. Televised Sox games were as rare as Red Sox wins in previous years. A Sox game on TV was an event ( A word that has lost all meaning, now that the weathermen are calling " drizzle " an event. )

The Sox won the game they had to. They were on their way to the World Series. Dad sprung from his perch on the couch and started waving his arms. Started yelling, " They did it. They DID it!!! "

It was the happiest, and most animated I'd ever seen him. A close second was the day I got married, ten years later.

Youkilis hitting that inside the park homer? Damn! He woulda loved that. And I have a feeling he'd be happy with the way this season is going. And might go.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. I'll be looking for you when I watch the next Sox game. Looking up I'll be, at those skybox seats where you'll be. Sitting next to the guys with the harps.
Not sure if regular commentista Jennifer's hubby is still experiencing flu like symptoms, but if he is...

And maybe I shouldn't apologize for writing this stuff. Who is it - 50 cent? That Rap star who bought that multi million dollar mansion in Farmington, Connecticut? The one the realtor said is unpretentious, " except maybe for the stripper pole in the living room. "

Maybe a lucrative career as a rap star looms on the horizon. That said, here's the encore everyone's been waiting for. Did I hear, " Yeah, right " out there in da crowd!?

It’s day 2 a da flu
And that got me thinkin’
I’m in da bathroom right now
And it be still stinkin’

24 hours they say
is the course a dis bug
But I’m still wid da mop
And where be da big lug?

He still in his crib
Says I’m not goin’ ta my job ‘n
He be not eatin’ too good
And what he chews he be lobbin’

Tried everything now
Alka Selzer to Bromo
Nothin’ seems to be workin’
Including my homme , Bro!

Forget Terrence. Just call me Run TMC.
The cardinal eggs have hatched!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Father's Day looms. Which explains what follows. Sort of.

A year and a half after I was discharged from the Air Force, I played left field for a slow pitch softball team sponsored by a company called Trico Vendors. Trico stood for the three counties the company served: Hampshire, Hampden and Franklin. All of which are located in western Massachusetts.

I played basketball and soccer in high school. The games I played used to define me. This was back in the 1960s, before "soccer moms " crawled under the flap of the vocabulary tent. I cannot recall my father or my mother ever attending a game in which I played. And that was OK. Playing those games was a " step " or two out of the nest, from which we'd soon be flying.

But after I got out of the service, after I survived those four years, the worst years of the Vietnam War...

My father couldn't get enough of watching me play.

I'd be out there in left field. Waiting for the ball to be hit my way. I'd look over my shoulder, and there he'd be. My dad. Watching me play left field. I was good. I was very good. I had an arm like a cannon. Threw guys out at second and third.

It didn't hurt that my father was out there. I played better when he was out there. Impressing your dad. It's something we sons did, and do. Still.

Happy Father's Day you fathers. Watch your sons every chance you get. And remember - They're watching you back.
The weather's been great this Memorial Day weekend. Warmer here on the coast than it's been inland. We've been eating like royalty. Soft shelled crabs and asparagus Saturday. Rib eye steak and asparagus Sunday. Shrimp scampe tonight.

This morning I threw a kielbasa on the grill. The plan was to head out to Jamestown. Jamestown is an island located between Narragansett and Newport, Rhode Island. Beavertail's a park at the west end of the island. There's a lighthouse there. An old military bunker, manned back in The Good War: WWII.

And a great view of Newport. With a pair of binoculars you can see Jackie Kennedy's place: Hammersmith Farm. Where she and JFK had their wedding reception.

Our plan was to picnic. When we left the mainland, it was sunny and hot. By the time we'd crossed the Jamestown Bridge , the weather had taken a turn. It was cloudy. The temperature was 20 degrees colder than it was when we left home. The sky was turning dark off to our north.

Donna had forgotten to bring a sweater. I scolded her. " Be prepared! "I said. Like some idiot boy scout bucking for a merit badge in I Told You So's.

We set things up. Planted our chairs. Started eating the keilbasa and drinking the lemonade. But we didn't last long. Packed it all in. Drove back over the Jamestown Bridge, from which a woman had just jumped to her death the day before...

She was an " activist. " Served on boards. Worked for the mentally ill. Victims of domestic violence. Did good. For others. But that's another story.

Donna and I were in Memorial Day picnic mode, and it had rained on our parade.

I'm not so sure I'd want to live on an island. You need to fly to get out there. Take a long bridge. And the weather's always bad. If it's not rain, it's fog.

" No man is an island. " John Donne wrote that. Long before the Jamestown Bridge was constructed. Long before she stopped her car, got out, and leaped into the fog.
Four spotted eggs were spotted in the nest in the bush next to our deck. Here we go again. Here they go again. The cardinals are expecting.
It's Memorial Day.

Easthampton, Massachusetts. 1959. The late May air is thick with the smell of flowers and new mown grass. The 12 year old kid that was me is standing at parade rest waiting for an unseen bigler to hit the last, sad note of taps. Taps ends and the silence is punctuated by the metallic sound of rifles of being cocked.

Three legionnaires take aim at the clouds. Pull triggers. Kids in the crowd cover their ears. I want to, but parade rest wouldn't look right with one of the troop's hands stuck to the sides of his head.

The shots are fired. The fat lady's sung. Another small town Memorial Day parade's history...

The uniformed men and boys break ranks, drift slowly away. Rejoin their families. As the crowd disperses, a veil of gunsmoke falls gently onto and around around the granite monument bearing the names of the troops who lost their lives in battles past.

As I walk away from the scene I see an old man. His hand is outstretched. He's touching the chisled letters of a name on the stone.

Back then I didn't grasp the meaning of this. The monument on the library lawn was just another monument. The names were just names.

When I'm up in Easthampton these days, I see that monument in a different light. When I see the names chisled in stone, I think of the names on the chevron shaped Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. That monument on which the names of more than 56,000 of my generation are carved.

At the far end of the walkway next to the wall there are directories that guide visitors to the section of the wall on which the name or names they are looking for are located. I visted the wall a few years ago. The name I was looking for was John Rabideau.

John Rabideau and I had gone to high school together. Played on the same varsity soccer team. After high school, he had joined the Army. I joined the Air Force.

Rabideau was killed in action. I didn't know John Rabideau well, but I knew him. He is the only person I knew who was killed in that war.

As I was walking to the area where the directories are located, a strange thing happened. I looked up at the wall and there it was. The name: John Rabideau. My eyes were drawn to the name. I was startled. The directories are there because it would take forever to find one name among the more than 56,000 names chisled into that wall.

Yet I had found it. Or had it found me?

I stopped and looked hard at my reflection in the mirrorlike surface of the wall. Then I reached out and I touched the name.
Regular commentatista, Jennifer, has requested that I write a rap song about her husband, who has the stomach flu this Memorial Day weekend. I know I said stop me, if I start doing this again. But she's a regular. So here goes...

It be Memorial Day Monday
And I ain't havin' no fun day
Got nothin' ta do
My man's got da flu

Boyz in the hood out paradin'
Maybe I'll trade in
My mop and my bucket
Stand up and shout " F--k it! "
Build a float and get on it
Get away from this vomit...

I think I'd better stop there. Hope he's feeling better real soon. Don't show him this. His stomach's already churning...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Well, now that I've lost the few readers and commentistas I've garnered since I started Fence Post in March...

Stick with me. It'll get better.

Which isn't a bad thing to remember. Whatever you're going through. No matter how high the waves or strong the turbulance. It'll get better. Trust me on that. It's one of the few things I know.

Where the hell was I?

This is from Colin McEnroe's memoir My Father's Footprints:

" Hughes is within walking distance from my parents' apartment, so I bundle up my dad, blanket, parka, hood and wheel him over. The whole thing feels like an afterthought following the Breaking of the Covenant. The people at Hughes greeet him as if his arrival was ordained at the hour of his birth. " Oh, there you are! " Big smiles.

They take off the hooded parka and lay him down on a bed.

" I'm Anna, " says a beaming nurse.

" I'm Santa, " says my father. " But they took away my suit. "

" Is he joking or disoriented? " she asks me.

" That's sort of the basic question I've been asking myself for thirty-five years, " I tell her.

McEnroe's memoir is about his relationship with his father. I read it a few years ago and I'm rereading it now. You don't have to be Irish to love this book. It helps. But you don't have to be a McEnroe, an O'Malley or a Ryan. You had a father? Have one now?

Read this book.
I am completely responsible for the lyrics in the previous post. They are my words. I wrote them. I wasn't, as one commentator suggested, " drunk " when I penned the words. Nor was I high. Don't give me no lippin' _ I wasn't trippin'...

How long did it take me to write that song? About a minute. Sixty seconds.

Funny thing. Once I wrote 'em. My attempt was to float 'em. Out dere on the web. Where folks they be surfin', and land on my turf and...

See what I got, watch my ass as I take a shot at the fame that eludes me, the spotlight that intrudes me, the nerves that unglued me...

I know, I know. You hate this shit. You'd rather be listening to Tony Bennett Unplugged. Or Harry Coniff Jr. Or whatever the hell his name is. But you - YOU - start writing this hip hop stuff. Once ya start, it's hard to stop. It's fun, and when you're on your run, diggin' the pun...

You know what I'm sayin'.

Here's a promise. That's my last Eminem riff. Honest.
I just responded to my old friend, Fred's opinion re: my liking Eminem. It's in the comments section of yesterday's blog post. Or, you could read it here:

I be down wid Eminem
Sittin' here in my crib
Cranking up da music
Readin' da Trib

Lots a news on da page
Some I'm not likin'
Maybe I'll drop this rag
And go out bikin'

Slap me around
You don't like my taste
Go listen to the late great Jimi
( What a f--kin' waste )

Or Nat King Cole
Cole Porter, one
Go crank up those tunes
Have ya some fun

I'm stickin with my man
His name sounds like a candy
At least I'm not listenin' to Barry
Singin' that Mandy!