Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Aqua Mustang 25 - STRANGE STORY

When I got over to Littleton on the first foray across from Vermont, I was expecting to see my Cousin Lawrence, who I still considered my friend in this family, in part because he was in the arts – the theater. We had been on the phone and I knew he was up here visiting with his mother, my Aunt Alice. The only one at home when I arrived was Lawrence’s wife Maya, who had a lightness very different from Lawrence’s always carefully rehearsed and slightly sneering form of lightness. Maya had plenty to talk about whenever we met – artistic and political and also mostly silly family matters. Not so very long ago she was dancing with Merce Cunningham, so she no more than me would be a part of the world I was looking into with new eyes now. I doubted if anyone up here except Lawrence, me, and maybe my late grandmother, would ever have heard of Merce Cunningham.

Maya and I went for a drive out the woodsy Easton Road. I told her I had just had this strange memory of my grandmother telling about an important experience she had had years ago while riding with the mailman. This was the first time I had brought up anything with any relative about what I was putting together. My grandmother rode with the mailman when she did not have a regular driver since she did not learn to drive until she was 80. Aunt Alice, her daughter, still did not drive.

My grandmother had told me about the mailman one day at lunch at the long shiny table where on weekdays at midday there might be only three or four people in a place that by evening could have 12 or 20. She told me that one day long ago when they were stopped way out in countryside at someone’s mailbox the mailman had a sudden heart attack and died. What was she to do? She couldn’t just stay in the car with the dead man. And then, she told me, she saw in the sky the actual words “The U.S. mail must always be protected.”

And so since there was almost no traffic, she waited there in the car alone with a corpse for many hours. What a strange thing, I said now, the story of patriotism and words in the sky – how patriotism trumped sympathy. I saw the story aroused no apparent suspicion in Maya, who did not anyway seem to be listening. And I was now thinking of something she and Lawence had told me the previous year when I went to see a pretentious version of an opaque Brecht play Lawrence directed at McCarter Theater in Princeton. She told me that when she and Lawrence had been vesting in Littleton that year, his sister Lauryn, the one I really liked, had been there too, and Lauryn had said something about having been raped – in Maya's version maybe just once – by Lawrence’s younger brother, the one was had stayed in deep trouble with the law even after they fled New York – sawed off shotguns and kidnapping charges, a stint in the army in lieu of prison, a false identity, and then sudden death on a motorcycle. Things that everyone in this family said never happened in this family – though I was coming to see these as just the sort of things this family should expect.

Maya also talked about how she resented her mother-in-law, my Aunt Alice, giving money and trips to Lauryn’s teenage son Tom, but never to Janet’s own teenage son Eric, and even stranger, creepy actually, that when Aunt Alice spoke of Eric it was as if this now elderly woman were talking about a grown man in whom she was sexually interested.

Back at the house, I went for a walk alone on my aunt’s hilly street’s narrow sidewalk. I breathed deep in the cool mountain air that up here was always so filled with my memories. Then I had a feeling there was someone behind me. I turned. It was Aunt Alice. Aunt Alice was following me, racing after me almost, and she seemed to be looking at me almost as you would look at a lover.

And I was remembering scenes of early childhood, a time when she had been the only one around who could cut through the darkness with gaiety.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Aqua Mustang 24 - ALL TIME

I was looking at the years from 1934, when I was born, to 1986, when it felt, in a more literal than New Age way, like rebirth. As I write now, twenty-two years later, 1986 is still going, and so too is 1934, and, as also with what would come, all time periods take place in the same time.

In 1986 I had not yet heard the version of Exodus by the creative Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann, and I was listing myself as an atheist/agnostic whenever I had to commit. Brueggemann spoke of this story of the ancient Israelites’ challenge to slavery as the implementation of an alternative version of reality – alternative to the Pharaoh’s triumphant version which said it was quite right that the Pharaoh be on top, and quite right that the Israelites and most other peoples of the ancient world be slaves.

When I was a draftee in the army in the late fifties I was supposed to wear dog tags, those slabs of metal with your name and number on them that you wear on a neck chain so that when you are dead someone can put one of the slabs between your teeth and violently force your jaws together, the tags tearing into teeth, gums, bones and flesh, to remain there as identity on your body. Mine had the words "no preference," since the army did not allow the words "atheist" and "agnostic" in the place on the tags where you were supposed to have your religion (presumably so the proper holy man could bless the body). I did not wear my dog tags, for my peacetime army experience was such that I could leave them in a dresser drawer in a properly Beat-era basement place where I lived, not on an army post but in the center of Atlanta. This was the peacetime army, and dog tags on dead men seemed less real to me than something I would see in a movie – but then it seemed just as unreal to me a few year later in a bar in wartime Saigon where I was trying to get the attention of the girls but somehow got stuck in conversation with a sad, cramped American army guy who actually had that job of inserting the dog tabs and crushing the jaws together.

Even if I had never done a compulsory class called Sacred Studies in my old fashioned boarding school I would know the Exodus story. Like everyone in the West, I came across it in many places – from modern novels to my time on the ground in Moss Point, Mississippi in 1964 – this story of a people fighting their way to freedom – the central myth in the Western world, though back then you might have thought otherwise from the works of many academics and some very correct poets who favored Greek mythology – or later from seekers who moved to Hindu myths.

Breuggerman’s interpretation – I first heard it in 1993 when things were so changed that I was a student of theology in Boston – this story of how in ancient Egypt the enslaved Israelites hit upon this alternative version of reality that exposed the Pharaoh’s triumphal slave-state version, exposed it as nothing more than clever theater. Any alternative version of reality, really any true-self version of reality, runs against some triumphal version, and so an alternative version is automatically subversive and countercultural. Like what I knew in Moss Point. Soon most Egyptians wanted the Israelites out of there, and the Pharaoh wanted to kill them.

I could not have literally known that this interpretation of Exodus would be at the heart of why I would return to writing. But in 1986, when I had fled a kind of writing that had become so predictable I did not miss it, I was in an exhilarating search for a true version of the reality into which I as born – especially reality in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where there was a triumphal version that I was finding was so important to its propagators that, like the Pharaoh, they would kill to preserve it.

And so all time right now in 1986 is coming to seem like the same time – the violence in this present that seems so rooted in what was in family law the most perfect of all dispensations. Cousin Margaret has just died after an apparent cure, her head swelled up like an oozing, about-to-burst, blue balloon, just after she had said she wanted to die because of what they had done to her. She is the first to fall in this brief time in 1986 that the chickens are coming home to roost.

And as I am apparently drifting in the New England summer I am really putting together an alternative version of reality, and I realize that this is the longest I have ever been free of depression.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Aqua Mustang 23 - THEM OR ME

Not only was I born in Beth Israel, when I was 8 and had became apparently deathly ill with what the fuzzy local doctor in Connecticut could not confirm was appendicitis, might be even worse, they drove me down the Merritt Parkway and on through Westchester, where the road signs were brown instead of green, and sped fast along the Henry Hudson Drive, and under the cars going up to the George Washington Bridge, drove me in a fury all the way down to Beth Israel, where my next memory has eight old doctors, with by Dr. Lorbar in the center, standing around my bed deep in conference. Then, that repeated story, Doctor Lorbor sent the nurses around to confiscate other patients’ flowers and bring them to the room of Ernest Poole’s grandson.

It was also here at Beth Israel that one dark night my mother told me what a trial I was to all them, what a basically bad person I was, how hopeless I was. I had thought I had nothing to worry about, since they brought tiny gifts, like little Scotty dogs on magnets, when they came to the hospital. I treasured a white button, like a large political campaign button but with no words on it, that glowed green when the lights were out. What set off her tirade was that I asked what she had brought me and she had brought me nothing and my question proved how selfish and, in all other ways too, how beyond the pale I was. I knew almost nothing of her past then, and nothing at all about the real effects of heavy drinking. I was defined in emphatic detail that night in Beth Israel in ways I thought I might never escape. For years I prayed in secret into the night to be someone other than who I was. Which was one reason that when I was 16 I became an atheist, and why that particular doctrine had such strength for me for so long.

In the hospital they would gather as if it were for drinks before dinner and talk as if I were not there. Gaga told a joke which he said was about horticulture, a word I had never heard.The joke was that you can lead a whore to culture but you can’t make her drink.They refused to tell me what was so funny, just that a whore was a bad woman. Once when I was really furious I used the word, still not knowing its exact meaning, on my mother because I wanted her to act differently. Another mistake. Another reason why silence was safest.

But that was long ago, and this is 1986, the summer I am staying in Vermont, and using the aqua Mustang as a time travel vehicle for these forays across the border to New Hampshire. And I am searching for myself, not for them. I had the started the first foray driving to familiar places, the roads Peter and I used to walk with Gaga, in his flop[y sun hat with the green isinglass in the front part of the brim. His cane form the cane rack in the big entryway to White Pines. Me with one of those canes too.

But this area, our family’s base area, is not my only reason for coming over from Vermont this day. So now I drive through Franconia Village, and take the old road we always used to take on shopping expeditions – my grandmother Nana, a maid, a driver and often Mrs. Gilman and Peter and me, to Littleton, a decaying mill town of year-round people – sometimes known in White Pines as “natives.” Littleton had stores but no shade trees like Bethlehem, and there was nothing summery about it, though it was not much more than a dozen miles away through lovely woods from our family places

Gillian, in my view oozing sexuality, came across into New Hampshire with me a month later, and, l noted how very cold Littleton looked – which was different than that it was a homely town. Cold, even though now there were signs of a little more prosperity, including even a book store. But I still, on this first trip over from Vermont in this summer of ’86, this time of looking for entry points into the belly of the beast, I still could to a point take these places at face value – even though I was so glad I lived on the outside. And I was on a mission. I couldn’t forget that. This time to see the part of the family that had wound up in the mill town, where my cousin Deirdre had become the most unlikely person ever to come from this family, the most popular girl in an actual public high school – that was years back but her mother, who had been pretty too, was still in Littleton, and could still get furious, she said, that Deirdre still looked so good. They had run to Littleton when the law was after one of her brothers in the city after he had been caught with a sawed-off shotgun. She had been taken out of the Lycée, out of the ballet school too.

Deirdre, my favorite cousin, had made herself into something so different, a cheerleader, that it was not just that I liked her so much but also that she represented hope. And although I rarely saw her – she was in Minnesota now – she said something like that about me. And she’d had as many marriages as I had had countries. And I knew enough now to suspect that she was in danger.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Aqua Mustang 22 – HEBREWS ONLY

Now that I am seeing the places through Gillian’s eyes, hearing her confirm now in 1986 the harshness I knew was there as well as some warmth and stark beauty, I realized that I had never before looked at those places of my past, those family places, with any human being, except perhaps a girlfriend once long ago, any human being who was not an interested party in keeping the family story intact.

I walked in Bethlehem and saw what I had always known, that it was a gentle place, funny old boarding houses, with old porches and swings, an octagon-shaped, brown shingle building called
a casino, for summer social events, a rickety old movie theater, places for summer snack food, and small shops, selling little gift things like balsam pillows and maple sugar men, of the sort that could only be sold in very old and safe summer towns. Stores that often had “Pine” or “Maple” in the name. Occasionally there would be a street sign with a name that seemed to be from somewhere foreign, though New England had been billed in the family world us as the least foreign of all places. Not counting the White Mountains of the old Wasp summer families which was said, though only by people in those families, to be like Europe.

Bethlehem was a place perfect for nostalgia. But Bethlehem had not been talked about by our elders as gentle since to them the main thing about it seemed to have been that it was the Jewish place. I remembered from childhood my grandmother Nana, who was politically liberal and as always up to date with what was happening in the world – as up to date as most of them usually seemed mired in quagmires of the past - Nana saying once at lunch at the long dining table by the long paned glass window framing the Franconia Range, “It’s not the Jews, you know, it’s just the, you know, the kikey ones. These words from Nana who considered so many words – even such as the word stomach – to be too vulgar for polite conversation. And otherwise considered bigots too lower class to count.

I remember another time at lunch she and her friend Mrs. Gillman, credentialed as the widow of The Herald Tribune’s music critic, talking about a sign reportedly seen on a place renting rooms in Bethlehem, “Hebrews only.” It seemed to hurt them deeply, this evidence of intolerance.

I remembered my grandfather Gaga being so upset when I was 10 and challenged this whose anti-Jewish thing that he took me aside for a long talk justifying it, which made no sense to me, but I did keep quiet. In this family I had a long list of things to be quiet about.

And I remember him reading aloud at lunch articles he was writing for The Manchester Union-Leader, in response an angry statement from another writer about how he had found anti-Semitism when he tried moving to New Hampshire. No such thing, Gaga wrote.

I also remembered Gaga’s stories about his settlement house days when he was a Socialist early in he century, stories that always featured an apparently saintly left-wing social worker named Fred King, who had died young and for whom I had been named, and at the center of everything in the movement an expansive young Jewish doctor named Harry Lorbar – who remained so close that his advice was always sought, which explained why Peter and I had been born in Beth Israel Hospital (which was something Dad seemed to feel needed explaining – the way he tried to explain away a great aunt's findings while doing a family genealogy that there was an actual Jew in the family line). Dr. Lorbar still sometimes visited his old friend Ernest Poole in the White Mountains. When all the rooms at White Pines were filled with cousins, they put him up in a village hotel since the best and only hotel in our world – the sprawling old Sunset Hill House – would not have given him a room.

I wondered about a friendship that could survive that.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Over the years I almost forget music, then when settled somewhere – Singapore once, Hong Kong once, London once, though not Beirut – I backtrack, buy something to play tapes, and try to catch up.

Ever since I went up to the Met with a sweet woman named Bonnie one Sunday morning in this same year I am in Vermont and New Hampshire with Gillian, ever since Bonnie and I walked in a way I had almost forgotten with arms stretched down diagonally, making an X behind us as we held to each other’s waists, since then I have been immersed in music once again. And I am thinking I am Rip Van Winkle waking up to find all these things I had missed. Bonnie has earphones around her neck and a Walkman, something I had never heard of, tucked in her jeans. And on the subway we’d passed the music back and forth, and since then I had been catching up again. Mozart this time, not a time for Beethoven, and then all these songs by people I had missed, for it was as if I had been in a deep sleep through the arrival of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, and not really awake for Carly Simon or Carol King. And I was not sure how many decades in the past Ray Charles and Johnny Cash had appeared.

This music streaming through the aqua Mustang wherever I am going this summer – which seems like my first summer if not my last – though hardly seeming my last right now with Gillian, for there is too much to talk about – too much for her to talk about and me to listen to, but also sometimes the other way around, so no time for music, except at this place we are staying, this borrowed Waspy, musty, lake house, called a “camp” by it owner, a childhood friend of mine, this shaky little house on Lake Champlain. The place itself was like a parody of my life. It had been owned by one of those thin-blooded Foreign Service officers, who in retirement decorated it with cheap do-dads – each of the little bedrooms set up to remind him of places he had been in his minor assignments, one of them filled with things like the laughing Buddha’s sold to tourists in Chinatown though I think he really meant it to be something more like actual China, and in the European room, cuckoo clocks and Bavarian figurines, women in peasant dress, men in lederhosen playing tiny accordions (like what I had seen once before when I was in the army and renting a room in a house owned by the sad, boozy widow of a major).

When we were on the thruway going up, Gillian returned to the car from a rest stop with all sorts of stuff from a vending machine – nail clippers and compasses and things – and I remembered being fascinated by this kind of Americana when I had been away a long time. I had been back, except for a last go-round in martial law Manila, back from Asia for several years now, but not long back from a marriage. She was just back herself. And looking younger and happier than I gathered she could possibly have been from her stories in which no one could be young or happy. We had met, as I had met Bonnie, in a place where people found stories, and hers were more horrendous than most. She talked of a boyfriend of her awful mother’s who had fucked her, and her sister too, when she was a child, a man quite famous for whose inherited company I had once worked and whose wife had been a friend of my stately grandmother.

She also talked of appealing things I had missed, such as her time as a regular in the happy sixties scene around Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain.

Gillian spoke with an English accent, which she said she had learned during a time at Cambridge, but it was disconcerting to me, since I was from a family rife with fake English accents. That girl with the scotch bottle I flashed back to had a voice that was sugary Kentucky.

The only music in the lake house was a tape by something that sounded like a loopy version of Musak, played by an outfit called Wyndom Hill that I had never heard of, music billed as New Age, New Age being something else I had slept through. I had very recently heard of it as the name of a magazine in which there was an article about Alice Miller, whom everyone I was dealing with these days was reading because Alice Miller really had the goods on destructive, narcissistic, borderline killer families. I had come back from Asia a few years before Gillian came back from where she was living, a blonde girl who looked younger than her years, alone in a hut in an orchard in Dhamasala among the Dali Lama people. An overtly spiritual approach to Asia such as I had not taken – though she no more looked the cliché version of spiritual seeker than I did. She looked like a girl certain devious old men, and many honest good men too, would like to get their hands on.

We fill the musty little house with balloons we buy from a nearby place called Vergennes, and we dance, so help me, to Wyndom Hill elevator music. And time is all confused in my mind and I am hearing that the prettiest girl I ever saw was sipping Hoffman’s through a straw.

We drove across the border to the land of my childhood and adolescence, and by God the sky did cloud over, and the Green Mountains were still in the aqua Mustang’s rearview mirror as the black granite of New Hampshire’s White Mountains began to surround us.

She told of how her mother, a famous fucker of famous literati, from Charles Adams to S. J. Perelman, how her mother and her father when he was around used to take their kids to Waspy parts of Maine, for unlike you, she said, referring to family houses, although her people were pure Wasp, they did not, like you, she said, actually have what she called a magic kingdom of their own. I told her about Cousin Mimi’s brother’s fucking his little sister, and about further molestation and suicides of people whose childhoods had centered around my magic kingdom She told me about how her parents took their kids out on cold wet sand in Maine and made the little girl suck off her little brother while they cheered them on. I told her about how some horrible kids form those perfect summer communities in the White Mountains would shout anti-Semitic things from their cars as they drove at night through a gentle nearby town called Bethlehem, a town surrounded by orchards, not just granite, a town whose hotels, unlike those in my family’s place, welcomed Jews. Gillian said the kids in Bethlehem should drive over to the Wasp region and shout things like, “Your grandmother overcooks the vegetables.”

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Aqua Mustang 20 – FLASHBACK

I was trysting at the Henry Hudson Hotel, located way west in the fifties and used mainly, as I had used it once, as a place to spend the night before an early transatlantic sailing – something like the airport hotels that would come but no more like an airport hotel than the Queen Mary was like a Boeing 747.

I had flown in from San Francisco crisscrossing the country. It had been a cheap propeller flight that was cancelled and so I was bumped onto the now, 1963, more common jet flights in a combination that meant changes – up to the Northwest, down to the border states, up to Minnesota, down to New York, zigzagging all night across the continent, and then she was waiting there for me by the line of bedraggled passengers, summer ripe in flimsy cotton and with a smile that I had already seen make men foolish - reaching out to me over the barrier as I came in from the tarmac, reaching out with one wonderful bare arm, while waving a bottle with the other. Her last letter had said, “All we need is time in bed with a bottle of scotch.”

It was my idea to go to the Henry Hudson, the last place anyone would think to look for anyone. People who lived here never used it. Never needed to.

She had her and her husgand’s Volkswagen Beetle – everyone had them. The year before I had traveled from Athens around to Beirut when Steve and Vannie’s old roommate Berta met us in Athens after picking up a tax-free VW in Germany, and we had started on the first stage of what for me, but not Vannie, Steve and Berta, would be adventure in tropical Africa. Feats of travel in forbidden places. An actual revolution in Angola. Finally a job on freighter to get back.

And now here I was a year later with a woman in someone else’s Volkswagen. This bright hot summer day, a contrast to the unadvertised damp and chill of San Francisco, where I had gone for awhile after all the foreign adventure. From the dock she drove fast, weaving in and out of the pillars holding up the West Side Highway. So fast there was always wind whirling through in the car. Which still seemed like her husband’s car but I could forget that part. Under the elevated highway we were speeding along cobblestone, bouncing, and then in a dip away from the cobblestone we shot through a deep puddle, throwing up water so fast and far that for a moment, in my memory now, we had a rainbow. This was the way life should be, I told myself.

And although it this was one of the times in my life when I gave no thought to the music that I hardly knew was always with me, there was a little actual music on the a.m. car radio. A constantly replayed commercial that I knew would be something like the old romantic “our song” cliché in my mind though I would never tell her that for it was only a soft drink company commercial using an old music hall song called "Sipping Cider Through a Straw". It was played over and over as we shot around Manhattan and sometimes all the way to the far of ends of Long Island, Shelter Island too, in this steamy sex-filled summer time. “The prettiest girl I ever saw was sipping Hoffman’s through a straw.” One night waiting for her in the Henry Hudson I got so drunk I could remember nothing, and she was amused, she said, when I found her there in the morning. “You were so drunk,” she said, “I had to lap you like a cat .”

And now in Vermont it is more than two dozen years later, after 50 countries and so many wars and women but also long, lonely and/or desperate times, and to my amazement I am still alive and still in the game, up and over Vermont hills, along rivers of clear water moving rapidly over perfectly smooth stones, up and down and round the hills and valleys, and over, yet again to New Hampshire, never sleeping on the New Hampshire side, but some hit-and-run attacks over and back with Gillian so warm beside me.

No music in the Mustang just now, though in the months since I had bought it the car had been awash in music. But no music in the car in this time with Gillian except for what was hiding in my head. The prettiest girl I every saw was sipping Hoffman’s through a straw. Oh God, I have passed the age of fifty and I am somehow still alive.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Most of the book <> is made up of stories, but sometimes I need to shout:

There is a usually unbridgeable gap between theory and practice in writing – a gap as big as that between a vibrant Hans Hoffman painting and a monograph by a pinched art historian….

And so within this book there is the writer's story, the play within the play, the play that can surround the play. For if writing is an art on a level with other forms of art it must have life. And the only life a writer, an artist, can really know with any certain thoroughness is the writer's, the artist’s, own. And if the writer’s work is not set somehow in the context of the writer’s life, there is nothing to let it partake of reality.

I have written here about how my time in visual art – where line and form and color unfolded in ways that astounded me – how this taught me about writing. About how scenes come from places of mystery. And in the path I followed there were skeletons and cadavers as well as live nudes – really lush, live nudes.

I have written about how writing when performed on stage, in speech or in singing as raised in writing, how this, brought me, like drawing, ever closer to my stories. And freed me helped free me from the linear traps of the English language. How more flowing versions of the language, and of theater and song and visual images and movement did for me what many carefully measured English professors in their ersatz Gothic lairs can never do.

I have tried to depict some of the places of my past – bearing in mind Flannery O'Connor's dictum that writing that is not true to concrete reality, that falsifies reality, should be dismissed as pornography. And as I wrote I knew I could not breath and live in carefully constructed the versions of reality into which I was born.

I find I must, as all writers must, keep returning to the stories, always discovering something new. Entering scenes that might have been forgotten or distorted or lost in the false but triumphant versions of others if I had not written them – forgotten as if these scenes were like what does NOT come to an amnesiac wandering on a battlefield with no memory of what the battle had been about. I might not have totally forgotten the excitement of sex and knife-edge danger, but I might have lost what I had once known of love or of betrayal.

Going back into where it began for me, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the most perfect if formal summer houses in the most beautiful if scraggly landscape, inhabited by the most fine if overly correct people – it became, when moving to the page, a place of evil inhabited by monsters – then another time, when writing, becoming somehow more fine, if not so right as before – and then places of first love, and then again places that might be country for certain old men, but were NO country for young girls and boys.

And simultaneously my lake country boarding school with its Georgian buildings from long ago was changing too – because of writing – from a traditional dark place of torture to a life-saving place where I escaped the sorry fate that was supposed to be mine.

Back and forth through the scenes. These changes. The complexities and necessities of reality….

I had to, have to, find out what had happened – especially the complex story at the center of so much I have to tell – the story of my brother the good twin and me the bad twin, the two of us winding up eventually on opposites sides in actual wars – each of us having had to fight, from the womb on, for a corner of life, though at other times surfacing as actual human beings, even sometimes friends, with even hope, but then again returning to the peril we were in. And it could have led to my death, maybe my brother Peter’s too, when he was with certain U.S. government agencies and we were sometimes in the same countries, and I was sometimes underground with the opponents of America’s favorite dictators – like Marcos, like Somoza.

If I could not get to such stories and beyond them I was not practicing art, and if there was no art, only logic, then my work and life would have narrowed down so far that nothing mattered. The much dreaded disease called Writers Block, which in reality is a symptom, Writers Block would have been the least of it. Writers Block, the friend of dictators in family, church or state who will kill to save their own falsified, self-serving versions of reality.

Dictators and their allies, the demons.

The demons who tell a writer that no one is interested in what you have to say, and anyway you say it badly. The demons. And maybe your villains are better than you are, the demons say. Every veteran writer knows the demons that are so convincing about how you cannot really write, you are a fraud, you should give up on your own little versions – SHUT UP! – or at most copy the versions of your betters.

Sometimes the demons win, and sometimes writers destroy their own written stories. But the demons do not always win.

For art keeps breaking out. Demons but also art. Writing as art. This is my story.

Let the demons be fucked.

Monday, June 2, 2008


My book AUTHENTIC WRITING, A Memoir on Creating Memoir, was unveiled at the spacious and, I was pleased to see, packed Kleinert theater and gallery in Woodstock, NY on May 31 -- introduced at this signing event with a theatrical version put together and directed by Marta Szabo.

The event was sponsored by Woodstock's Golden Notebook, a much loved, long standing, independent bookstore.

A quick way to get the book wherever you are is via: