What I’m Reading This Weekend (June 8th & 9th)

Kite Runner – Khaled Hossieni

Go Down, Moses – William Faulkner

A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking

Audiobook of the week:

Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison

Posted in Blog

Downtown Girl


Photographs are a moment into someone else’s life like flash fiction or a conversation on an airplane. We see a microsecond of life before it passes out of our own life, usually forever. I love street photography for the same reasons that I love great short stories. We get every packed into one little single serving without the importance and heft of a novel (or movie, TV series, whatever). I’ll go with my favorite short story writer here, Flannery O’Connor, and admit that I read and reread her stories. And every time I learn something new, like picking up a new detail in a photo, about life or the human condition or grace or whatever you want to call it. I could be stranded on the proverbial desert island and I’m certain that I could live with only two books instead of ten. Faulkner’s Light in August, which I read every year, and the complete collection of O’Connor’s stories.

But this photo reminds me a little of a short story. There is a flash of life, a moment that we think we see but underneath we acknowledge that there is more here than we know. My interpretation of her expression changes with my mood and illustrates how much of a role our own emotions play in our understanding of a piece of art.

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Posted in Blog, New York, Photography

The Muse and The Editor

So now you’ve decided to get serious about writing? Good for you. Maybe you’re thinking that you are the only one who has to deal with Crazy in their lives. Everyone has to deal with the Crazy from time to time. Writers live with it most of the time. Crazy tells you that you can’t write today because the sun is shining too brightly on the monitor. Or that the cat food is stuck to the bowl and you need to clean it off. Or that someone cut you off in traffic on your way to work and now you can’t get the creative mojo flowing. I know. My Muse is a grey Russian Blue cat named Muse. She’s skittish and shy. She hates loud noises and other people. But when she’s sitting in my lap vibrating with happiness and warmth, there is nothing I can’t write.

The problem is trying to decide how to convince Muse to come out of her secret hiding place and engage me and help with my projects. Sometimes regular attention helps. If I ignore Muse for too long, she gets pissy and doesn’t want to help. She says “You didn’t need me yesterday or the day before so I’m not coming out today.” No matter how much I whistle or pucker my lips and making kissing sounds, she doesn’t budge. Those are the worst days as a writer. You stare at the screen and count the cursor blinks and The Editor shows up and the day is not going to be a good one.

The Editor, at least mine, is a fat, balding man with rheumy eyes and a hacking smoker’s cough. I can usually smell and hear him coming before I can see him. He comes lumbering down the hallway, pissed off that I’m doing something he doesn’t like – he never likes anything – and he needs to shout at someone. I think he lives on shouting the way plants live on CO2 and sunlight. If I don’t let him shout, it builds up and becomes this pulsing noise in the room. When he shows up, Muse runs so fast it’s like she vanishes, Schrodinger’s Cat-style, out of the room. I blink and she’s gone leaving a pile of cat fur on my lap and a smell of fear or urine. I’m never sure which is which.

There are days though when The Editor is quiet. Sometimes I let him shout before I have coaxed Muse out of her kitty hiding area. That way The Editor gets his daily allotment of shouting out without simultaneously scaring Muse away. I have to arrange schedules in such a way that they both get to work but do not overlap. Muse doesn’t frighten The Editor, but he can scare her away for days. Although sometimes I get little hints of psychic shadows from him. He’s wary of not being needed. He’s afraid that I might outsource his job. He goes home at night to his wife, who has a cold beer open for him as he takes off his threadbare tie worn thin at the knot from too many washings. He tells her the business is not steady, and he’s afraid he’s going to be downsized as he lights his 50th cigarette of the day with fingers stained yellow from the smoke. It’s days like that when I feel bad for The Editor, which is why he is allowed to shout all he wants before Muse comes to work. It works out well for us all.

Now if I could just figure out where that cat went and I can get to work.

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Posted in Writing

Tom Waits reads Bukowski

Tom Waits reading Charles Bukowski’s “The Laughing Heart.” Tom’s voice is the best way to hear a Bukowski poem. I’ve never felt that Buk’s voice fit the words that he read.

From The Dish’s Poem for Saturday.

Posted in Blog