A young busker packs up his violin.
They play real good for free. Well, they hope you will gift them a peso or two. There is music in the air day and all night in San Miguel. (And fireworks and dogs barking and other things that make noise 24-7.) What is the relationship between busking and begging? Or selling a 5-cent bag of roasted pumpkin seeds or a little burro? None of these people would be on the streets but for tourists. And beware the seven-man mariachi band that surrounds your table and sings just for you. The novelty soon wears off, and you find yourself responsible for an unanticipated outlay.
An old busker leads his trio.


begging, the question

 To walk down the streets of any city is to be assailed with need. "Help me." "I'm hungry." "I'm homeless." "I can't afford my meds." "I can't support my family." Most of the time, we walk past, thinking, "I have my own financial problems." "He will just buy drugs or alcohol with the money." "Why can't our society find a way to take care of crazy people?" "This is not my job." "A quarter is not going to make a difference." "I give to charities for the homeless already."
And yet. These people, these desperate people, these young people, these old people, these poor people, these crazy people, these people on the edges. These people we walk past. They breathe and cry and love. They need us. Maybe we need them, too, to remind us that we are one people. #therebutforfortune



Yes, I am home yes and I say yes i am yes.


adios mexico

Leaving mama and Rosio and Max the dog to their own devices, and heading back to slushland.


at the market

 Most of you know that I love a big snow. I mostly love it from a warm indoors place through the window, like my apartment in New York. Yes, it would be preferable to have a fireplace too, but had I been on Block Island, where I have a fireplace but no heat (plus there was no electricity during the blizzard) it wouldn't have been,
 as my mother-in-law used to say, conducive. (Conducive to what? I used to wonder.) In this case, conducive to enjoying the snow.But I passed the blizzard here, at the market in San Miguel.
It is, as they say, a feast for the eyes as well as the belly, and on Saturday everyone was shopping. Well, everyone but me. I did buy
a couple bowls and a new laundry bag and some plates for my mom. But no, Johnny, I did not have a liquada or anything at the food booths, though they are fab, because Rosio is feeding me all too well at home. With stuff she buys at the market.


we all need heroes

After the parade

 Yesterday was the birthday of a hero of Mexican independence, Ignacio Allende. He would have been 247 years old. Had he not been shot and decapitated for treason by the Spanish authorities or died of other causes. Needless to say, the town named for him, San Miguel de Allende, turned out in force (literally, if the number of soldiers in uniform meant anything) to celebrate. Not that they don't celebrate everything from haircuts on up here. I missed the parade due to other commitments, but the remains of the day were to be seen around the Jardin when i took my daily promenade.
The hero Allende in the center of the Jardin



Guests! Mom had Anne, a mindfulness teacher and her doctor husband over for a delicious lunch made by Rosio (center) of shrimp and salsas and handmade tortillas and other good things. Muy rico! And the conversation was almost entirely politics. Like most of mine these days.


the blind leading the blind

There had been a gathering of the blind at the library. These two were wending their way home, but not alone. They were shadowed.


fruits of chinatown

Dragon eyes (litchee relative) and good fortune
Believe me, I don't plan to. Aand—off to Mexico tomorrow at 4 ayem.


the perfect gift

Certain young'uns got had many, many presents under the Christmas tree—books and games and trucks and toys of all descriptions. But you never know what will strike a young man's fancy, and this year it was the bucket that a bunch of plastic animals came in. The bucket, aka "helmet," (and yes, he owns several actual helmets) has proved to give lasting pleasure as nothing else quite can. Go figure!


summer dreams

Claudia's Surf City: The livin is easy
"Is it okay if I bring my therapy dog?" First time I have gotten this question in 16 years renting  houses on Block Island. Of course it's a somewhat needless inquiry since I allow all dogs, therapeutic or not. Anyway, two weeks into booking season, and Hannah's Hideaway is booked out. Claudia's Surf City still has a couple weeks left at the beginning and end of season ($4900/wk). People sometimes ask whether I drop the price as summer gets closer. Hell no! They are lucky I don't raise it! For info about costs, calendar, and more pix, check out VRBO for Claudia's  or Hannah's. A hammock at the beach is definitely therapeutic—even without the dog.
Old style Block Island


another house?

It's teenytiny and shabby, but it is on a dead end street close to the amazing waterfront park in Providence—and two doors from Hannah's. I didn't get a look inside, but according to the scouts it is eminently rentable. It's not far from Brown and RISD on the hip East Side. Providence is an up and coming town, and the prices are still low. You could probably get this for $150,000.
    I could find the energy to renovate. But collect rents and fix roofs and monitor sump pumps on a fourth property? I dunno. Anyone interested?


wrapping it up

You too can download the Everbliss app to get counseling and coaching on all matters personal and professional from a cast of—many. I asked for help with business planning and anxiety and out popped Ms. Garrison. You may also find her in the unlikely event that you seek out the music of a band with a particularly nasty name (the music is rather better). Unlikely, I expect.
In the event that you are in Southern California, you might want to take in (or be immersed in) an exhibition by several artists including the very talented Jessica Rath. "The Ocelots of Foothill Boulevard" is a weird environmental installation in a disused infirmary from Pitzer College Art Galleries.
Speaking of talented, if you haven't looked at the Donna Ferrato doc on domestic violence, here it is on The Atlantic's website. You can also watch the others honored in the "Conflict" series.
There is a site with some great long-form journalism, all by women writers from the past year. (Thus Sean Penn was not considered.) Check it out.
And here is a selection of old photographs from LIFE magazine. Many will be familiar to you, and many of them are even more so to me, having written captions for them over and over.
And lastly, if any of you has cause to be in New Orleans, you might be lucky enough to score my cousin Glenn's rental cottage. I can attest to the fact that it is totally fab.
And that's all I can deal with today. In mourning for David Bowie.


catching up

Ivy was my roommate when I moved to New York City 40-some years ago. She was a native, and could show the out-of-owner the ropes. We lived in barely acceptable apartments in marginal neighborhoods (back then there were marginal Manhattan neighborhoods) ,and then the city mouse and the country mouse switched roles. I got custody of Max's Kansas City and CBGB's and Studio 54 and People magazine, and she moved to the country to paint her mailbox blue. Four marriages and a dozen careers later (most of them hers), she is back in the city (well, Queens). And we can still gab in the kitchen like we used to.


boys are back in town

Tommy V, sometime Romance Commando
It happens about once a year. Tommy and Ed get together and inevitably there seem to be John Prine songs and glasses of Jameson (no, I know that's wine in front of him—the Jameson came later, much later).
    They aren't great football fans, which is just as well, since the get-together was the day (and night) of the Rose Bowl, aka Hannah's birthday. This was one for the record books—older doesn't seem to mean wiser—but no one seemed to be irredeemably harmed in the making of this excellent fete.
Eddy B., sometime Romance Commando fan


a new year

Girl of the Year
In the New Year, the Block Island Times is being taken over by the asshole who fronted for Sheldon Adelson in the purchase of the Las Vegas paper. Caused a national stir, as you can see in this NY Times piece. Here's the part about his Block Island purchase and a pretty good summary of the controversy.
And how about those militia assholes, huh? They've been looking for trouble for a long time. Ed turned me on to Frank Martin in the 90s, and I did a magazine story about his fight against hate groups in 2000. He agrees with this article. These hotheads are still trying to start a revolution. And the damn Republicans (I'm talking about you, Adelson) are buying them guns and feeding their racist fury. Fuck them. 

On a better note, here is the first show of Across The Blue Ridge from my childhood friend Paul Brown. He showcases a passel of Bluegrass pickers and fiddlers covering a seasonal tune.
And a very touching story from Keri Pickett about a photograph of her grandparents hugging from her book Love in the 90s.
In case you missed it, here's Jerry Seinfeld and Barack Obama hanging out in something called "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee." And speaking of Obama, here he is wiping away a tear as Aretha Franklin performs "Natural Woman" in a tribute to the overwhelmed Carole King (her version here).


happy birthday hannah!

Isaac was actually singing to himself on his second birthday, but I have put the video in service for his mom.