xtreme weather

When it's wet outside, sometimes it's better just to hang around and renovate real estate indoors. If you have real estate that hasn't been swept away by flood waters, that is.
Today, I am going to attempt to evade the closings of I-95 in this fair state and make it to the ferry to see what the floodwaters look like in my back yard.


the mighty mighty blackstone

We went down to the river, and baby the river was wide. Down to the river we did ride. Ay yi yi!
It never rains but it pours. The firetrucks are pumping out basements and yards, people are evacuating riverside lofts and houses, the National Guard is shutting down bridges and highways. In Woonsocket we lost power, but otherwise were high enough to be relatively dry. Tomorrow, we'll see what's up on Block Island. Full moon tonight, too.


new parents

Each doing what they do best.


leprechaun, the sequel

A true story from Pell City, Ala., just in from one of our southern correspondents.
One foine day about a week ago, on the heels of St. Patty's Day, a working mother got a call in the office. "Mom! Mom!" her son exclaimed. "You won't believe it—I captured a leprechaun! A for real one, Mom!"
This son, 24, has Downs syndrome, and like many such children, loves horror movies. Leprechaun, the tale of a murderous sprite, is one he watches over and over.
"That's nice, dear," she said. "I'll see it when I get home." And she hung up.
A bit later, a neighbor rang up. "There are three police cars with lights and sirens outside your house," she told the boy's mother. "You better get back here."
When the mom got home she found that her son had indeed captured a wee someone: a midget census taker. The boy, who had never seen a little person before, had scooped up the man and put him in a hall closet, bracing the door with a wooden chair wedged beneath the doorknob.
Fortunately, the census taker had the luck o' the Irish—and a cellphone.

NOTE: This story appears to be apocryphal.
See this Snopes link.



People in every room. In younger days, I lived communally in New Hampshire, Hawaii and a big old apartment on the Upper White Side. Now the apartment is somewhat smaller, but on occasion it feels just like the green times—cooking, drinking, smoking, gossiping, worrying about money, arguing about life—only with perspective.


neanderthal niece

What a family! Yes, that's my niece in the lead role of her Los Angeles school play (they're quite competitive about acting out there near Hollywood) as a, um, cavechickie. Try to make the show! She has made us all so proud!


health care

There have been complaints that I am not current enough in this blog. Being a news junkie, I do follow the news. Obsessively. I am assuming, however, that you get your news elsewhere.

How about that health care bill!


home show

I got to see my cousin David, who had come to town to network at the Architectural Digest Home Show. He was showing ceramics, including his Seafire globe, itself a marvel of architecture—the individual tiles fired to slump in a curved shape. And check out the curved whalebones in the pic—David carved them of wood! I forgot to ask him what kind. The nautical influence from having lived for many years by the sea and on it, as a yacht captain, is pretty clear.
Aside from his booth, however, there was not much to excite at the show. Nothing that sparked my imagination, anyway. I saw fresher ideas at the neighborhood flea market.


the amazing barnes collection

Yesterday, some 15 years after our first visit, Paula and I made a pilgrimage to Bala Cynwyd, Pa., to visit the world reknowned Barnes Collection. It has more French Impressionists than any museum I've ever seen, all displayed in weird wall designs interspersed with metal hardware—hinges and brackets and decorative wrought iron. Albert Barnes collected much of this art around the turn of the 20th Century before MOMA was dreamt of, before anyone in the U.S. had heard of Picasso or Matisse. And the riches in the little Philadelphia suburb are incredible. More Cezannes and Renoirs than you knew existed. In this cursory (and illegal) scan of one small room, there are a Soutine, one very atypical Picasso and a blue period Pierrot, many Matisses, a Modigliani, a clutch of Braques. There are also Monets, Manets, Rousseaus, Van Goghs—all in the plural. And African, Asian, Native American artifacts are in the mix too. Conglomerate would be the word.
In a year, this collection, after many lawsuits and much conniving, will move to new quarters on Museum Row in Philadelphia. It will not be the same, but the paintings will still be—amazing.



Tomorrow is the first day of spring, and my little Adam turns 40. This year he will be an uncle, and I will be a grand, when my little Hanny becomes a mother. Douglas is already a grand, thanks to Adam's two. All I have to say is—wow!



That's the spring sunlight shining through the detritus from the closet explosion. And the dust. Anybody want art? T-shirts? Old computers? Notebooks? Audiotapes of interviews with two Presidents Bush or videotapes of a nudist colony? A Christmas card from King Hussein and Queen Noor? A Willie Nelson backstage pass? No? Me neither.



One of my favorite web forwards of all time is recorded on my no-longer-maintained site "Why I Can't Stop Smoking." Since I stopped smoking some time ago, it should now be entitled "Why I Can't Stop Drinking," or maybe, since I've stopped drinking for Lent (not, as a waiter the other day thought, because I'm Christian), "Why I Can't Stop Thinking About Drinking." Today, anyway.
Many of you will find this bloomsday/doomsday saga pathetic, depressing or gross. Tough. And trust me, I'd be joining those boyos today if I could.


calling dr. freud. . .

Ever since I read The Secret Garden and the Chronicles of Narnia as a child, I have been looking for that magic portal into another world. And I've found some, too—sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll come to mind. Also visiting other continents; you get off the airplane and—wow—everything is more vivid. Later on I discovered that, LSD or not, you yourself are the same familiar creature no matter what magical world you may stray into. But there's that moment of discovery.
Over and over, when I was a teenager, I tried to draw that transcendent transition. This rendering, above, was painted in the acid-washed tropics of Hawaii 1973 using borrowed casiene (sp?) paints. Thereafter, I went for the experience rather than the rendering. Just as well, I expect.


the archives

I've been grubbing through my closet—you know, throwing out the old tax records, sneezing my head off because of the dust, rediscovering items for Claudia's Clothing Museum, restacking everything so that things are better labeled the next time somebody has to go through them, like probably when I'm dead.
One closet mainly contains photographs, pictures of me and Hannah taken by world class photographers in Uruguay, Ecuador, China, Cuba, Tibet, New York, as well as negatives of people I can't recognize saved for reasons I don't understand. There are manuscripts of the unpublished historical romance, the unreadable diskettes from a forgotten computer of Baby and Childcare for Working Parents, the audiotapes of my interviews with George W. Bush and Al Gore for an article never printed because Life magazine went down the tubes—again. There are dozens of videotapes for a reality series at a nudist colony, now defunct, that never got aired by Oxygen. Then there are the notebooks of forgotten stories, bound with disintigrating rubber bands, labeled Love and Amazon—and MO.
An old picture of my main pals from Missouri (above, taken by an ex lover) proves that I integrate past and present in daily life as well as in cardboard boxes. See you soon, Frank and Dianne!


da departure

They came, they toured, they theater-ed, they museum-ed, they remade the bed (!), they split. Sigh.


new york old and new

When people who used to live in New York a few decades ago spend any time here these days, they are pretty shocked by the changes. No muggings, car thefts, filthy streets, graffiti. Time Square has become Disneyland, the Upper White Side is Yuppie Mummy Central, Broadway is Franchise Boulevard (but for the lingering side-street storefront, above) and the outer reaches of Brooklyn and Queens have become Cool Town. Parking meters have given way to electronic ticket machines, sidewalk cafes have multiplied, and prices of everything have skyrocketed. People still wear black, though.


family bonding

If you look on the web, most people who write in say that ear candling is totally bogus and possibly even dangerous. But if you had been around here the last couple days you would have no doubts about the efficacy of the procedure. With varying degrees of trepidation we all did it, with Mason winning the productivity award (yeah, we're talking ear wax—gross, huh?). Now with hearing and balance restored, we can face the world anew.


another generation

Due to the presence of the other generation, not to mention their elders, I have been unable to really devote any attention to really anything at all today.


santa fe east

The Santa Fe crew arrived Saturday for the College Tour. That's right, Mason is old enough to look at colleges. So he'll be checking out NYU, where his grandfather used to teach, and Columbia, from which his cousin graduated (is that English?) and RISD and Brown, where a cousin by courtesy goes and so on. I always wanted him to go to MIT, but he seems to be more an arts and letters type. No surprise, I guess, given his parents.


march on

I guess there's a reason I feel antsy in March. Almost always, at the end of the month, I hit the road. And four years ago at about this time, I popped invites in the mail for Hannah and Chris's wedding and broke ground on Hannah's Beach House (now in its third rental season, see finished house in slide show at right). A year ago this week, Hannah and Chris bought their own building, and I bought the Goose.
The current plan is to go to Rhode Island to help turn over H & C's rental loft, head to Block Island to open up for a charity week and do some yard work, then see if I can squeeze in a couple weeks to open up the Goose in Missouri before going back to BI. It's morel season in the Ozarks.


signs of spring

Do you know how hard it is to think of something new to say in this space almost every day for five years?
Some days you're just plain not thinking; others you can't say what you're thinking. Then there are the days where nothing happens and the other days when everything happens and you can't tell!
So I want to thank faithful posters like CBA and others who find something to amuse in their own attics and save me from those days without inspiration. Like today.


get this dog a job

It's not only the dog, it's everybody. February=Energy Nadir, at least in the northern hemisphere. But now it's March, when everyone gets their hopes up only to have them dashed.
Today I got the call from the septic system inspectors. Block Island—it's almost time to get up there and freeze my ass off. I have to pull the weeds from around the filtering tanks before they get out there for their annual spring look-see. I find myself going to sleep thinking about the rowboat, the grass, the tools, the window casings, the paint.
Then I find myself thinking about opening up the Goose—the pump, the roof, the grass, the hedges, the paint.
And then there's New York: the plants, the paint.
Any way you look at it, paint is in the air.
I say teach that dog to paint.



People in my age group are hitting the wall in their professions, finances, health, residences and relationships. Changes in your 20s are typically ascending towards some ideal—love, marriage, children, success, but in your 40s you give up a dream or two. By their 50s and 60s, most people are forced, kicking and screaming, to change their lives entirely.
The amazing thing is that, very often, they like the new ones better. It's scary, though.
Which brings me to my friend Nape (nah-pay), the Queen of Risktaking Reinvention. Or, formerly, the King. "I spent my first 40 years as a man. I decided I wanted to spend the next 40 as a woman," she told me once.
But talk about transitions. . . She also went from being a nice Jewish boy in Westchester to embracing her grandmother's Native American identity, learning to speak Lakota and changing her name. She (mostly) overcame PTSD as a traumatized Navy medic after getting a Purple Heart in Vietnam. She became the father of a boy and girl. She divorced and built a sailing ship in Denmark and fell in love with a Danish girl. She became a woman in Amsterdam and lost her job in Denmark and sued for discrimination. She became a psychologist. She dressed in feathers and skins and toured as a Wild Indian/transsexual in Europe. She sold the boat. Her lover, who did not want a romance with a female, became a friend. Their farm burned down in Montana, and the Danish girl left. Towing her beloved horses in a trailer, Nape went to work in Hollywood, then to rescue carriage horses in the wake of a hurricane in Louisiana. She lived in her horse trailer. She became a farrier. She fell in love again.
And then, a month ago, she almost died in the OR with a ruptured colon. She had no money to pay the hospital. She has never had any money. She can't work. She can't live in her trailer.
Nape just called. She has gotten disability and Social Security. Medicaid is paying the hospital bill. Her lawyer son gave her some money. Her farrier clients say their horses' hoofs can wait. Her sweetheart is taking care of her horses—and her. Nape still has dreams. She is happy to be alive.


at the gym

This is a picture the Alabama girl took of me taking a picture. From the weight room at the gym. Trust me, Kathleen was the only female up there lifting with the guys.
Going to the gym has given me a weekend again for the first time since I retired from People nearly a decade ago. Sadly, today is Monday, and I've got to climb back into the saddle.