Monday, September 16, 2019

Cleaning up the Neighborhood

My dog Romeo is very laid back but I knew he needed a walk as he does every day at least 3 times a day. So we went out and I picked up the stray bits of garbage on the walk. I ran into a man doing the same thing. We showed off our trash bags and smiled.

Shades Pulled

I woke with a headache. The venetian blinds are keeping the light out of the room. The fan is circulating air and providing white noise. Sammy cat and Romeo dog are with me. I spent the weekend searching through all of my writings over the past 14 years making piles. I did not stop to swim or bathe I have been mesmerized by the task.

Hans Augusto Reyersbach

Today is the birthday of H.A. Rey (books by this author), born Hans Augusto Reyersbach in Hamburg, Germany (1898). He grew up near the Hagenbeck Zoo, and spent many happy hours watching and drawing the animals, and learning to imitate their sounds. When he was in his 20s, he moved to Rio de Janeiro, changed his last name to “Rey” because it was easier for Brazilians to pronounce, and went to work selling bathtubs.

It was in Rio that he was reunited with Margret Waldstein, a young artist he’d met back in Hamburg, when Margret was still a girl. She convinced him to leave the bathtub trade and together they opened an advertising agency. They were married in Brazil in 1935. They went to Europe on their honeymoon and decided to move back there, but couldn’t return to Germany because they were both Jews, and by this time the Nazis were in power. The Reys settled in Paris instead, and began collaborating on children’s books, with Margret writing the copy and Hans providing the illustrations.

They were living in Paris when the Second World War broke out. “It seems ridiculous to be thinking about children’s books,” Rey wrote to a friend. “[But] life goes on, the editors edit, the artists draw, even during wartime.” One of their collaborations, Raffy and the Nine Monkeys (1939), is about a lonely giraffe who opens her home to a family of monkeys. The youngest monkey was named Fifi, and he was always getting into scrapes; the Reys liked him so much, they decided to write a book that was just about him.

The Reys were at work on their Fifi book when they found out that the Nazis were going to invade Paris. Rey hastily built two bicycles out of spare parts; he and Margret gathered up a very few belongings — including their manuscript — and left the city just two days before the Nazis invaded, funded by the advance they had received for The Adventures of Fifi. They cycled 75 miles in two days, staying in farmhouses and barns. At one point, they were stopped by an official, who thought they might be German spies. He searched their bag, found the monkey manuscript, and released them. The Reys crossed Spain and Portugal, eventually making their way to Lisbon; from there, they sailed to Brazil, where they made arrangements to move to the United States.

They finally arrived in New York City four months after they’d left Paris, and moved to Greenwich Village. Within a week, they had found a publisher for their monkey book, but the publisher thought “Fifi” was a strange name for a boy monkey, so they changed his name. Curious George was published in 1941, and the Reys wrote and illustrated six more stories about him — stories like Curious George Rides a Bike (1952) and Curious George Goes to the Hospital (1966). Each book begins the same way: “George was a good little monkey, but he was always very curious.”

Writer's Almanac

to Love: Vincent Van Gogh

“I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things.”
― Vincent Van Gogh

“It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning.”
― Vincent Van Gogh

“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too.”
― Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Jorge Luis Borges

Being with you and not being with you is the only way I have to measure time.
― Jorge Luis Borges

I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books.
― Jorge Luis Borges

Haruki Murakami

I don’t dream. Stories are stories; a dream is a dream. And for me, writing itself is like dreaming. When I write, I can dream intentionally. I can start and I can stop and I can continue the next day, as I choose. When you’re asleep and having a good dream, with a big steak or a nice beer or a beautiful girl, and you wake up, it’s all gone. But I can continue the next day!

Haruki Murakami

Art Is...

“Art is making something out of nothing, and selling it.”
― Frank Zappa


“There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.”
― Frank Zappa

“You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of football team, or some nuclear weapons, but in the very least you need a beer.”
― Frank Zappa

“Tobacco is my favorite vegetable.”
― Frank Zappa

The Slime

“I'm vile and perverted.
I'm obsessed and deranged.
I've existed for years but very little has changed.
I'm the tool of the government and industry too.
For I'm destined to rule and regulate you.
You may think I'm pernicious, but you can't look away.
I'll make you think I'm delicious with the stuff that I say.
I'm the best you can get... have you guessed me yet?
I'm the slime oozing out of your TV set....”
― Frank Zappa


“Take the Kama Sutra. How many people died from the Kama Sutra as opposed to the Bible? Who wins?”
― Frank Zappa

“My best advice to anyone who wants to raise a happy, mentally healthy child is: Keep him or her as far away from a church as you can.”
― Frank Zappa

The Illusion

“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”
― Frank Zappa

Does that make you a table?

“I never set out to be weird. It was always other people who called me weird.”
― Frank Zappa

“Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.”
― Frank Zappa, Real Frank Zappa Book

“Definition of rock journalism: People who can't write, doing interviews with people who can't think, in order to prepare articles for people who can't read.”
― Frank Zappa, The Real Frank Zappa Book

“Interviewer: 'So Frank, you have long hair. Does that make you a woman?'
Frank Zappa: 'You have a wooden leg. Does that make you a table?”
― Frank Zappa


“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open.”
― Frank Zappa

If You End Up

“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.”
― Frank Zappa


“If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.”
― Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa

“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”

― Frank Zappa

Sunday, September 15, 2019

A Cry

My entire soul is a cry, and all my work is a commentary on that cry.

Gustave Flaubert

Be regular and ordinary in your life, like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.

Tiger Eye Up Close and Personal

Do What you Love

Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it.


As a writer one doesn’t belong anywhere. Fiction writers, I think, are even more outside the pale, necessarily on the edge of society. Because society and people are our meat, one really doesn’t belong in the midst of society. The great challenge in writing is always to find the universal in the local, the parochial. And to do that, one needs distance.


Do Things

Travel, do things, learn things, embrace experiences you have not yet had, even if they’re not always good ones. Live life. So much of fiction is about filling the tanks for fiction, and so much of that is Doing Different Stuff. I don’t mean to suggest you need to have buckets of money to travel to distant lands — like, if you’ve never driven three towns over, go do it. If you’ve never gone fishing, go fishing. Eat a bug. Climb a tree. Stick an egg-beater up your — wait, no, we decided that wasn’t a thing to do. Change your perspective. Add to the list of things you truly feel comfortable writing about. No, you don’t need to always write what you know, but the things that you know — or better stated, that you have experienced — will be things you will want to write about.


Anthony Abraham Jack

But even as I write these words, I’m aware that this is exactly the kind of story that poor, black and Latinx students are conditioned to write for college application essays. In everyday life, as the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote, we “wear the mask that grins and lies” that “hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,” but when we write these all-important essays we are pushed — by teachers, counselors and anyone who gives advice — to tug the heartstrings of upper-middle-class white admissions officers. “Make them cry,” we hear. And so we pimp out our trauma for a shot at a future we want but can’t fully imagine.

Anthony Abraham Jack is an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the author of “The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students.”

Military Men Sexually Assaulted


Cozy is my favorite feeling. Not high low excited or cranked. COZY. My best childhood memories are of feeling cozy usually after swimming across a pond or after performing hours of gymnastics. Cozy can happen watching a bonfire in autumn or watching fish swim in my fish tank. Cozy can be cuddling with dogs and cats in an environment of acceptance and love. Cozy is the smell of bread baking and soup simmering. Cozy is rarely experienced with other people unless they are also smart introverts.