Friday, April 30, 2010

New Yawk pastiche gestalt collage

Moises Josiah playing "How Great Thou Art" on a musical saw at Grand Central Terminal, don't say Station unless you mean the post office

The woman sitting against a window on 44th near the Algonquin cursing, presumably, into her cellphone in Arabic or Syriac or Angerac

The square-jawed British woman at the Algonquin with a high-wattage smile choosing to forgo the shot of $90 single-malt scotch whiskey, overheard while I sipped my tea

The nighttime reflection across Bryant Park of the Chrysler Building in a Times Square glass and steel tower

Pedestrians strolling and tourists sitting in neon digitally bathed Broadway, not a haiku in sight

Endless pansies and infinite white tulips and purple tulips and white azaleas in the Central Park Conservatory Garden

Three or four people on a Fifth Avenue bench by the wall at Central Park intently huddling, hovering, praying

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

urban haiku redux

redbud lavender

April snow pellets sun drenched

melting on my coat

wind of change?

' This ink painting of wind

blowing through pines:

who hears it? '

-- Ikkyu

from my Zen Calendar today

a quotation about change

"In all that pertains to change in traditional patterns of thought or behavior, most human beings will demonstrate what may be called a left wing that welcomes it and a right wing that deplores it."

-- John Tracy Ellis


Except: Isn't it more accurate to say "most human beings will demonstrate what may be called a left wing that welcomes it or a right wing that deplores it"?



I typically, though not always, seek and welcome change, given proper constraints and consequences.

We need both of those wings to fly; perhaps that is why John Tracy Ellis used "and."

Unfortunately, with the megaphones of Fox News and the blatherings of talk radio, civil discourse is abandoned and this essential truth regarding change gets belittled, scorned, or ignored.

This quotation works well with the one from my post of April 26, 2010, below, from Markus Dohle of Random House, regarding fear.

What is it we fear about change?

If change brings dire consequences, and we can be certain of that, fear may make some sense. But does lack of change bring similar or worse results?

So, as Dohle says, "fear is not a very good consultant," and I submit this holds true in the arena of change.

What do I fear regarding change?

What do you fear regarding change?


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Say Yes to Education

I say yes to education.

I say it through supporting my child and her educational endeavors.

I say yes to education by demanding excellence of our children, teachers, parents, and administrators.

I say yes to education by supporting her school and the school district's programs and by participating in parent-teacher activities. (In fact, I just came home from a Superintendent Parent Council meeting.)

We say yes to education in Syracuse as homeowners and as taxpayers.

Therefore, we demand that our elected officials (members of the Syracuse Common Council and Mayor Stephanie Miner) also say yes to education by appropriating at least a portion of the anticipated 6% property tax increase for the Syracuse City School District.

Say Yes to Education.

It's not just a slogan.

It's an investment.

Do you say yes to education?

Monday, April 26, 2010

quotable quotation quote

It has been said that fear is the chief activator of our character defects.

I concur. That surely makes sense in terms of personal growth, or its lack.

"If you want to make the right decision for the future, fear is not a very good consultant."

-- Markus Dohle, chairman and CEO of Random House, as quoted by Ken Auletta in The New Yorker, April 26, 2010. (The discussion concerned pricing negotiations regarding e-books.)

True in the mercantile arena too.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

to be remembered for

Alan Sillitoe has died at 82.

Alan Sillitoe: An important British writer who is to be remembered for Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, both of which were made into acclaimed movies. The latter movie impressed me as a kid in high school. I did read both works, though long ago. Tough and gritty.

The titles alone are terrific.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

twenty urban questions

what is a city


how does it renew itself

who renews it

what is the attraction of cities

how do you reinvent a city

why not move main street

why not call it something else

are not suburbs based on fear

at least in part

what do those in the suburbs fear

how do we convince them their fears are tribal myths

how do we celebrate community

how do we fear less

how do we become fearless

what is the fabric of the city

what is the texture of the city

what is the palette of sight and smell

this city

that city and this city

Friday, April 23, 2010

penny less penny more, or less

He bent down to pick up a penny. He was tired, walking uphill, backpack slung over his left shoulder, his left, then his right when it got to be too heavy. A rivulet of sweat rolled down his back. Not having worn a hat, the sun beat down on his head. But he was not seating there. He was not much of a sweater, if that's what a sweating person can be called. Spices, and sometimes ketchup, made his forehead sweat. Still, he slid the bag down to the roadway, reached his left hand down to the tarry asphalt and pried loose the penny, the ancient coin so disfigured it appeared to be an artifact from another civilization, or from a civilization, because sometimes he wondered if this one qualified for that nomenclature. He did not bother to look to decipher the penny's date, just put it into his left jeans pocket, feeling the rough surface of the rescued penny. It was an act of faith and defiance, both. Faith in what, the future. Defiance against the taunts and taboos of youth: man, look at you, you go down for a penny.

He knew it would not add to his capital gains in any seismically detectable way, nor to the GDP of a nation, a nation claiming to be part of civilization, there's that word again.

Then, later in the same week, with much cooler April weather, in the most urban of Syracuse downtown streets, less litter-strewn fresh from Earth Day, or a little more litterless owing to Stephanie Miner's nascent mayoral administration, he bent down to grasp and hold onto another penny, this one shiny, 1998, it could be 1998, because it appeared to be the shiniest in his Dockers pants pocket, left, but now, with five pennies jangling, it was hard to tell which was which, what was what. So, maybe it was an economic trend, maybe pinching pennies (a plurality was needed) did indeed yield capital gains, not just urban epiphanies.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

beard sliver

fetishistically picking at his beard he suffered a sliver of silver whisker stuck in his forefinger, a minuscule bit of his own stubble that he had to extract by biting off (more than he could chew)

a metaphor in there somewhere

of solipsism and its hazards?

the SOL of the solipsist?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Danger: Magnolia Blossoms

moral hazard: magnolia blossoms

on the sidewalk

not only moral but exquisite in April

slippery though

I almost lost my footing

taken aback

talk about awe

what a way to go

The photo is by Hubert J. Steed, at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

sleeping, pulsing, dreaming, bit by bit, meditation

You close the white laptop. Fold it like a shiny plastic wallet, with an icon of an Apple, slightly bitten off. In the darkened room a tiny pinhole of light from the right side of the machine, the right side of the thing, beats like the heart of a pristine machine in a hospital or a laboratory, no maybe a government office. No, no, it doesn't beat. It doesn't pulsate either. More like the light that a lighthouse emits, predictably, arcing and diminishing in a steady, seemingly infinite pattern. You have sent the email. You sent it, and then you flinched. Your fingers were shaking. You decided to send it. You sent it. You clicked the mouse. You shaded over the word Send so that the hand, the hand with the pointing finger, the fingerpost, appeared, a secular icon, and you clicked. (Imagine getting a shiny penny for every time that fingerpost appeared?) It gave you a certain satisfaction, that click. And with it, the whooshing, fast-train aural symbol of sendedness. A certain finality. The fingers, your fingers, weren't shaking so much anymore but you couldn't sleep. You sent it. There was no plink signifying a bounce-back of the message, the one that had your fingers trembling. When you could not sleep, you angrily removed the AA battery from the tiny clock near the bed, on the bed stand, the one you bought in postwar Berlin, postwall Berlin, to shush the ticking, the insistent tock-ticking. But the light still starlighting the room. How can such a tiny pinhole of light throw so much into shadow? But you know that even shutting it off would not grant sleep at 0154 hours. It's not the light, is it, you say. No, you don't say anything. You swirl the covers over you, like a sultan in his raiment. Is raiment a word to use here? In the machine everything lives. You can't kill it, can you? The sent email. The 3095 messages in your inbox, even if deleted. Even the send box, the trash. You can't really delete them. You know enough. You know that much. They can't really be destroyed, can they? The human imprint, gone digital, can't be scrubbed away. The palimpsest seems eternal. Who can ever grant you the sort of absolution that bathed you in purity after the priest pronounced the absolution, in Latin, his right hand forming the cross, an invisible cross, in the air? The pristine squeekiness affirmed by a steaming bath, talcum powder, clean sheets still smelling of starch and the aftermath of the hot iron, the steam iron pressed into an ironing board. Despite what they tell you, you know that it's all in there, it is real, the scores, the news, the blogs, the chatter, the porn, the tracts, the history, the dictionaries, the databases, the secrets, the proclamations, the bulls, edicts, lies, truths, connections, divorces, the photo albums, the searches, the chatter, the OMGs and LOLs. It's all there. Bubbling. Its silence is so loud. How could they tell you it is not real? Who could believe that? They said they only believed what they could see, forget about faith and gods and goddesses, and now this. It's so invisible but so loud. How could anyone sleep through such racket? And it never stops, even when you unplug it, even when you press prolongingly on the button to the upper right of your keyboard, the button that looks almost like the smile of a cyclops, the thing itching to be pressed, to an off, to a status designated as off-ness. It can never be turned off now, could it? You can never escape its buzz of on-ness, could you?

Sunday, April 18, 2010


What was that that T.S. Eliot said about April?

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering 5
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

That's how he began "The Waste Land," published in 1922. It's a difficult poem, for sure, what with his and Ezra Pound's emendations.

Am I reading it wrong to say he is saying that April is cruel because it gives us life (as in "lilacs"), which will only fail us or leave us in the end?

He takes more comfort in snow and winter.

And he didn't even live in Syracuse!

Maybe he needed to watch some baseball, such as a 20-inning marathon yesterday, of nearly seven hours, the Mets somehow stumbling to victory over the better Cardinals.


You hear them more in April.

I love them, their clarion chirp, sonorous bell of insouciance, reminding me of my late brother, who also loved them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ash Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Maybe Monday and Tuesday

And we thought Lent was over. "Ashes to ashes; dust to dust." We are cavalier. We are masters and mistresses of our universe. We live in the modern age, even post-modern, if you will. "Apocalyptic" is an adjective reserved for theologians or drama queens or alarmists. Besides, it has too many syllables. Apocalyptic. All by itself, one line of a haiku about endings -- with no end in sight. We conquered nature, didn't we? Nature. She's so last century, so pre-millennial. (And who says Nature is feminine, anyway?) From ashes unseen on the ground, under a true-blue (liar!) sky, our high-tech world is insulted by dust. Fibers that upon ingestion by a jet's turbine can stall an engine or flame it out. The rudeness of these volcanic particulates to ruin our techno planet, to stall the mighty engine of progress, to flame out the fragile text of the future. We were just getting used to "global" as an adjectival cliche. If these ashes turn to fibers, is it like the angel hair we put on Christmas trees in the 1950s, causing us to scratch an invisible itch? These Icelandic (the nerve! Iceland!) ashes, this devil's hair, are the molecular patron saint of Luddites Universal. Who are we such that ashes drifting above an azure-cerulean clarion-clear sky force us to huddle, to encamp in airports, would-be Haitians in waiting, communing with not nature but each other, as if the Me Generation had no choice but to admit the potential of a We Generation. Generation Ash. Five syllables. Another line in the uncompleted haiku, the haiku with the missing seven, the missing middle, searching for the heart of the matter. Ashes.

Volcanic haiku

norwegian wood
icelandic ash
altocirrus anxiety

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hall of Fame of Delicious Ad Copy Married to Tasty Images

. . . goes to Haagen-Dazs:

photo of chocolate ice cream on a floating spoon

all we add is cold

Just five all natural ingredients. Simply perfect.

image of Haagen-Dazs container of five milk chocolate ice cream

images of five ingredients: chunks of chocolate, cubes of sugar, glass of milk, an egg, whipped cream on a stainless steel French whip (whisker, egg beater)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

3-D rewrite

give me rewrite 3-D speaking of what other dimension none other than smell oft ignored must be offal must it not or even hearing the Darwin finches peering mystically aboard the SS Meister Eckhart or as sights for sore eyes soaring the DDD of Carol Doda no not dodo there's some bird pecking along North Beach circa 1974 that was foggy beyond the pale even with City Lights a-blazing 3-D give me reright I say none of this is original my monkey fingers typing not quite Shakespeare or even much more prose than merely prosaic just a loosening up of the neurons the neural flight paths unconstrained by punctuation which was mostly missing in Latin days not Latino or Latina but Latin as in amos amas amat amamus amatis amant if Proustian memory serves me or you well a deep subject this is not writing but typing not even that to echo Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac 3-D just another letter beyond double D's there you go again Terrance this is stupid stuff not very amusing even to me or the Author how do I stop how do I bail if 3-D rewrite were to bend the 2-D flatscreenness of banality back to the drawing board I'd go collecting scents ranging from craisins to cashews ficus coins to dusty ferns lubricious mud to wafers of waffles and ice cubes crushed by my molars the trickle of metallic blood Soren Kierkegaard thrown in to drop a name give me 3-D rewrite kid boil distill burnish run simmer reserve skim this down to haiku crystal fire

3-D writing

Picture this:

A cartoon [by Kanin, on page 28] in the April 12, 2010, edition of the esteemed magazine The New Yorker [The New Yorker has traditionally termed them "drawings"]:

A bow-tied man (publisher? adman? businessman?) at a desk says (according to the caption) to a flummoxed-looking fellow sitting in a chair across the desk:

"Can you rewrite this in 3-D?"

Such is the challenge of writing that sings.

I say no more.