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Friday, December 19, 2014

Tech Fail and the Man

My computer -- sie ist tot. OK, not completely Dead City but she ain't happy. I woke yesterday to a keyboard who only spoke in mathematical symbols. Was this a hint? Was she patiently, (with visuals!) explaining that there are significantly higher paying gigs to be had in the numbers racket?  That and, on rebooting the poor beast -- my sad, desperate attempt at a quick fix, I got an image of the hard drive on a grey field. Yes, I could restart but at greatly reduced capabilities.

Things looked bad so I called in a miracle worker. Hopefully he was able to sort it all out last night and I'll be back in biz this morning. I was in the midst of three layout/design jobs for work and they're DUE! Can you feel it? I'm cringing and whinging under the pressue of tech fail.

In other not-really-news, Feral Boy is out of the rafters but can't be moved from on top of a heating duct high in the heavens of the basement ceiling. He's never, ever been this warm, dry and safe in December before. 
He comes down for meals and litter box breaks. That's it.

I'm starting to accept that, despite earlier promise, Rocco's never going to be a sweet, comfy indoor cat. He's not gonna be sitting on my lap while I read the paper or waking me at 3 AM with a nudge to the cheek -- I'm hungry WAKE UP, like certain other residents (Coco that is, not The Amazing Bob, just FYI and all). At least he's out of the biting winter winds. Our former wild boy is dry and unbothered by our other porch visitors -- the roving bands of frat boy-ish raccoons, the dive bombing squadron of Blue Jays, Estelle the elfin faced possum, Flower our friendly yet shy skunk, Gaston (AKA Loud Boy) and Ghost Cat.

Still, there's good news -- on one of Rocco's rare forays into the kitchen for pats, I saw that his back is completely healed now. No more seeping, raw skin. The fur's still patchy BUT he seems to be, otherwise, all better.

Who knows, maybe he'll emerge from his heating duct aerie sometime soon.

As Miss Emily says:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers - 
That perches in the soul - 
And sings the tune without the words - 
And never stops - at all -

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fashion Bairn

OK, OK, I get it. One fun thing in having a baby is getting to buy/have all the cool cute baby clothes and gear. I get that.

I saw a woman on the Red Line yesterday with a wee babe. The child, wearing a pastel pink cap, was swaddled in a soft pink fuzzy blanket, had a pale pink stuffed toy clutched in her little fist. All this while riding in a carriage that was, yes, you guessed it, the most delicate shade of PINK.

Gee, ya think the kid's a girl?

Why, please tell me WHY, anyone would go so overboard with the gender color coding? It doesn't come off as cute -- it just seems odd with a whiff or two of insecurity. I wanted to ask the lady Are you fearul that your child, who's less than a year old, will be mistaken for male? If so, why? Are you prepping her for her inevitable entree into sorority life? Are you afraid she'll grow up to have a mind of her own? Do you have lamb's blood gracing the lintel of your home? 

You know, what the fuck, babe?

Of course, it only JUST NOW occurs to me that maybe, just maybe, the mother is simply wickedly keen on Crayola Piggy Pink. Not my taste/not my kid (gee, duh). IF the ankle biter grows up hating the color, she can work it out for her ownself. Poor dear.

Me -- how would I have clothed an infant? Well goodness, you don't know? In tie dye and leopard skin prints of course! Plus she/he would've ridden in the bestest, most steam punk-ish pram. It would've been a glossy black Victorian model, sporting a big-ass pirate flag. The kid would've needed a decent sound system too. We'd play The Ride of the Valkyries and Carmina Burana as we sailed past those poor, sad, fashion impaired mother/child duos.

Yeah, we woulda seriously rocked.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day in the Life

Rainy grey days — tired of ‘em!

The pic at right is from Monday’s ride through the wood at the edge of the marsh. This is part of my commute to work. At least it is when I can break out my fab trike. Awesome, n'est-ce pas?

Contrast this with my trip into town yesterday. At top left is the view from my Red Line train. When the sun sparkles on Dorchester Bay the view has a gritty grace. On a  murky morning like yesterday? Eh, more bleak than beauty. It looks like the setting for a Raymond Carver story.

Then to Park Street Station for the seemingly endless wait for a Green Line C train. I’ve counted — two to three D, E and B trains pass through the station before a single C train shows it’s face. Sigh. At least there’s Lilli Ann Killen Rosenberg’s brill mosaic to admire even though it’s in a strange dark corner.

After my appointments and lunch with the ultra fab Holly Sears, I met Jen for hot toddies at O’Leary’s. They’ve some truly ultra talented barkeeps there.

The journey home took us down the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, past the beautifully wrapped trees and ultra expensive, posh digs with the skyscrapers of Boylston Street looming behind. This part of the city, always lovely, is utterly magical at this time of year. And then I remember the price tags — two bedroom condos go for close to two mil. You can snap up a spacious five bed/three and a half bath for just over ten and a half mil. There’s a 435 square foot pied-à-terre selling for close to four hundred large. Such a deal!

Who can afford this stuff? Is beauty only for the wealthy?

Nope. Sadly, we've got to suffer through this
in order to get home to this.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


What year was it that I was in Berlin that first time? It was before I was traveling with Jen, before my cousin Della had moved there but after the wall had come down — just after. It was well before the eastern part had been razed and replaced with posh, slick newness  I guess that’d make it somewhere around 1990. I would’ve been 32. Jesus, was I ever so young?!

This first visit came just after my Viennese art immersion and sodden stay in Krakow.

While exploring, walking off my astoundingly huge hangover, I happened on a brill retrospective of George Grosz’s paintings. My beloved college painting prof, George Innes, felt my scribbles were moving in a similar direction and wanted me to have a look. Being a callow, unenlightened, doofus-y kid, I'd never heard of the dude. Mr. Innes had studied with Grosz at the Art Students League of New York in the early 1930s and thought the radical German was hot stuff — worth checking out.

Alrighty then. If Innes says go look, I go take a solid gander.

I was intrigued but not altogether pulled into Grosz's hard, harsh, cruel scenes of the people and streets of the Weimar Republic. The lush, sensuous, seemingly less grim Austrians were more up my alley — Klimt, Kokoschka and Schiele.

Seeing their work had been the impetus for my 1990 journey.

That Berlin exhibition changed everything. Seeing his paintings and drawings live, up close, in the flesh sparked a realization — a stone knowledge. This, this man's work, was pole-zero.

Grosz's portraits of people and places aren’t conventionally pretty, they don’t soothe and comfort, his drawings aren’t gonna wonderfully complement the taupe highlights of your sofa — that’s not the idea.
My Drawings expressed my despair, hate and disillusionment, I drew drunkards; puking men; men with clenched fists cursing at the moon. . . . I drew a man, face filled with fright, washing blood from his hands. . . . I drew lonely little men fleeing madly through empty streets. I drew a cross-section of tenement house: through one window could be seen a man attacking his wife; through another, two people making love; from a third hung a suicide with body covered by swarming flies. I drew soldiers without noses; war cripples with crustacean-like steel arms; two medical soldiers putting a violent infantryman into a strait-jacket made of a horse blanket. . . I drew a skeleton dressed as a recruit being examined for military duty. I also wrote poetry.”
His paintings and drawings are visual poetry. They tell the hard, luminous, intense stories of life. There's a bitter humor to them as well. Gregory Corso, Ginsberg and Bukowski come to mind at the moment. Bleak, bitter beauty.

Why does this memory perc to the surface this morning? In my on-line word game this morning, I had the tiles to spell the artist’s last name and, waddya know, Grosz is a word, not just a name:
noun (pl) groszy (ˈɡrɔːʃɪ)
a Polish monetary unit worth one hundredth of a złoty
AND worth 32 points.

It's gonna be an odd day — I can feel it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fast Trip

It feels as though it’s always overcast and rainy in my father’s little Western Pennsylvania burg.


But it’s not. Maybe.

This trip to see Daddy was shorter than most. Too short.  Without my usual helper elves along to 'terp (Jen or Helen), me and my sparkling deafness were flying solo. This is totes no biggy except for group social situations where I struggle mightily to stay afloat. "Group" is defined as more than one person besides myself.

Pittsburgh Airport Dino
Michal and Helen’s awesome husband John were there to help. They wrote bits down that I couldn’t lip read. Also too, Pop remembers far more sign and fingerspelling than I’d expected. Still, communication was tiring for us both. After just a few hours, I was ready for a nap and I’m not a napper!

Later, John, who was on his way south for a gig, drove me to the Hyatt at the Pittsburgh airport. I normally wouldn’t spend the bucks on such a scorchingly expensive flop joint but my morning flight was wickedly early and besides, getting a cab from a relatively cheap, nearby fleabag would’ve eaten away most if not all of what I would’ve saved on the room.

Lemme just tell you, staying at the Hyatt was a fabulous decision! Afraid that I wouldn’t wake in time for my flight (I had to be at airport check in at 6 AM) I asked the lovely front desk folk for help. At first, forgetting that I’m deaf, the nice lady suggested a wake up call.

That’d work a treat except I won’t hear the phone’s ring and I wouldn’t hear a simple knock on the door either
The Hyatt hotel art was unexpectedly fab!

 OH! Oops. She then proposed a knock and enter.

YES! Someone to just come in and nudge me awake. That’d work. We agreed that if I’d not checked out by 6, someone would come to rouse me. Okey dokey. Chill Time at the hotel’s pub was next up on my agenda. By the by, I had the Vanilla Flower (Absolut Hibiscus, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, pear and vanilla bean simple syrup) and it was exactly what I needed.

When I got to my wonderful room, high on the 11th floor, I realized that having a stranger come in for even the gentlest of reveilles would freak me clean into the next century. I don’t sleep easy in new digs. Knowing that a wonderful, professional, here-to-please Hyatt helper who I’d never met before, a STRANGER, would wake me if I overslept ensured that I emerged from Dreamland once an hour, every hour, through the night.

So yeah, I didn’t oversleep.

What'd I learn from this journey sans accompaniment?
  • I CAN do it! My independent travel days are NOT done now that I'm deaf.
  • I like having Jen and/or Helen with me and not just for their marvy-do 'terp chops either. They are big time, spectacular, tremendous fun and comfy too.
It's good to have choices. Duh-huh.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Multi-Gen -- sounds like a breakfast cereal or some miracle vitamin supplement, eh? Nope, it's Hillel's tremendous post about some dear friends.

As we all know all too well, friendships come and friendships go. Relationships might simply fade for lack of food and water, or they might catastrophically implode. The reasons that friendships endure might be harder to define than the reasons that they end. Personally, I think laughter has a lot to do with it. My good friends are the ones who enjoy life’s jokes, even when they are played on us.

There are two relationships in my life that make me wonder about nature and nurture in the realm of friendships. Both are now in their third generation, spanning something like 60 years. In one, my father and a fellow rabbi got to know each other professionally, and they and their wives then became good personal friends of many years standing. My wife and I got to know their son David and his wife Heather when we belonged to the same minyan, then they moved to the other end of town and we lost touch. When, years later, we moved to that end of town, we renewed the friendship. Now here’s the kicker: as soon as our older boys (who were about five at the time) laid eyes on each other, they were instant friends, and have remained so. Our second sons took a little longer to warm up to each other, but are now very close buddies. David and I ride and go to jazz gigs together; our wives sing in harmony. Considering how much time we spend together, we joke that the four of us are co-parenting six kids.

The other multi-generational connection comes from my mother’s side. She was in Brandeis University’s third graduating class and was friends with a couple of just-older classmates who later married. Fast forward almost twenty years and the two families found themselves living within a mile of each other. The kids were about the same age and hung out; my sister and their older daughter were particularly friendly (and remain so). Now skip another two decades to one afternoon when I went to pick up my pre-school daughter at day care. On my way in, I saw a familiar name on a truck outside. I walked in, took one look at a guy who was picking up his daughter, and said, “Adam?!” Not only had we found each other after all those years, but our girls had picked each other out of the crowd to befriend (now they’re in high school and they’re still pals).

So how does this happen? Is there something like friend genes that get passed on from generation to generation or is it simply a coincidence that each set of kids found each other without knowing anything about the previous connection? Maybe shared values and life paths brought us all to the same places at the same times and we jumped on the opportunity. In the end, I have no idea what it all means, but I take comfort in the continuity (and I know that my mother does too). There are too many things that rive people in this brief life. I’m happy to tap into something that adheres us.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


The Old Man and I eons ago when we wuz young
In some old movie The Amazing Bob was watching yesterday, there was this exchange:
Tough Guy: I'm going into the jaws of hell.
Moll: Pittsburgh?
Yes, I'm leaving for Pittsburgh shortly. The always awesome Michal (the Balm of Idaho) will pick me up at the airport. From there we'll drive through the boundless seeming countryside. You know — the one that's heavily salted with nonsensical, fact free, inflammatory Tea Party billboards and mega churches next door to porn palaces and strip joints.

The, usually side by side, churches and erotica emporiums are both housed in boxy, warehouse style buildings. Perhaps they should drop the pretenses and start sharing digs — ya know, they'd save on rent. Just thinking of the *ahem* bottom line here.

I pick, I slam Southwestern Pennsylvania. You may've noticed that before — once or twice mebbe. I'm unfair. I know. Pittsburgh has a decent art museum, a reputable ballet company, a good hospital and more. Sadly, my teen years weren't spent in the city where I could escape the bullies and find like minds. My view of that part of the universe is so heavily colored by the abusive, asswipian, flea brained yak stools of my past that I'm hard put to see anything good.

Yet it's there.

Evil of the Hellmouth
Damn, I miss this show!

Friday, December 12, 2014

When Climate Ignorance Makes News Boring: The Washington Post, Mars & Chocolate!

Global warming is effecting one of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures. From The Green Miles:

Which is a more interesting story:
  • Industry threatened for some reason, and hopefully they'll figure that whole thing out.
  • Industry threatened, identifies problem that menaces all of us, and decides to becomes leader in fighting it. Political consequences be damned!
Monday's Washington Post article on Mars, Inc. facing a looming chocolate shortage never once mentions global warming, even though the climate threats to chocolate production are clear and Mars is a leader on confronting climate change and its threats to the chocolate industry.
In case you don't feel like getting outta the boat, here's something pretty awesome that I did NOT know:
By 2040, Mars says, its offices and factories will use no fossil fuels and emit no greenhouse gases–because scientists believe that greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by 80% by 2050, and getting to zero in the offices and factories will be needed for Mars to do its share. In agriculture, where the company has its biggest impact, Mars has pledged to buy 100% of its cocoa, coffee, tea, fish and palm oil from sources certified as sustainable by third parties.
“We have been unequivocally convinced by climate science that this is a real issue,” Kevin said. “Humanity is causing it. We should be setting a CO2 reduction goal that bears a resemblance to what scientists say your CO2 reduction goal should be.”
There's more too. I'm really impressed!

I guess I can begin feeling less guilty about those occasional M&M buys now. 'Cept for those pesky calories. *sigh* But wait, chocolate is a bean...right? Beans are fruits...right? I'm supposed to have a cup and a half of fruit each day...right?

I'm gonna be so damn healthy!