Sunday, September 30, 2012

Answering the Call

With the tightening economy, increased middle class anxiety, home foreclosures and lengthening lines at soup kitchens throughout the United States, more and more and more Americans will be relying on the good will of their neighbors. This documentary examines why people decide to offer their time and money to answer the need. When and how to help people in poverty is an ancient ethical question. But in most cases, there remains a wall between the poor and everyone else. Apart from income inequality, which has grown significantly in the last two decades, a social barrier remains. There is little direct contact between the haves and have nots.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tony Gargagliano


Elif Shafak

I heard Elif Shafak on the radio. read

Henry Horenstein Photography

Henry was the best teacher. I had him for Photo One and Photo Two at Rhode Island School of Design. Because of his class I wanted to change my major from painting to photography. Check out his amazing books and if you have a chance take one of his workshops. Visit his web site here.

Soap as Travel

I don't travel for too many reasons to list. But I do travel inside. I travel through my clock (getting up early) and my nose by baking and cooking and through sniffing scented soaps, and most of all through my mind.

Jorge Luis Borges

On Exactitude in Science . . . In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.
- Suarez Miranda,Viajes de varones prudentes, Libro IV,Cap. XLV, Lerida, 1658 From Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions, Translated by Andrew Hurley Copyright Penguin 1999 .

Now We Are Six

This Urban Mermaid blog turns six years old next month. I might have to celebrate!


Why are people infatuated and admiring of wealth and power? Don't they see the deceptive and controlling cancer of cash.

Why is everyone afraid of food? Sharing home baked pie is a medium for community and conversation-communion at the round table.

Why are we in monkey-mind, in love with our robot devices, avoiding the sun and moon?

Why do people stick their noses up over Polka music?

Logo Design

view here

John Schaefer

I never understood why people would ask, “how can you like so many different types of music?” when most of them would never think of asking, “how can you like so many different types of food?”
-John Schaefer

Thursday, September 27, 2012


I have lost too many childhood friends to suicide. Glad to hear preventive measures being discussed.

Marya Hornbacher

Reposted from Marya Hornbacher's blog visit here.
When, exactly, cities sleep...

At approx. 4 a.m.

That is what I have determined this fall. In a mad dash through an insane number of cities these last few months, I’ve decided that cities fall asleep—kind of suddenly—at 4 a.m.

I’m an early riser—a cross between a night owl and a morning person—and I generally get up between 2 and 3, when most of my night owl friends are abandoning their desks or late-night walks or easels or what have you, and head for bed. That’s when I’m making coffee and sitting down to work. So I’m a counter of stars, a student of degrees of dark, and a connoisseur of sunrise details.

So it is that I happen to be awake to determine when cities sleep. And, almost across the board, it’s 4.

Sitting on a fire escape above West 4th and 6th last week, bundled in a sweatshirt and freezing my bare feet, I watched the last-gaspers stagger home from bars around 3:30. The cabs came fewer and farther between. The Papaya King on the corner stayed neon-lit, of course, in case anyone should want a hot dog for an early breakfast. The all-night shouting lost energy and eventually quieted down. And at 4, New York, the city that does not sleep, slept.

Columbus, Indianapolis, Calgary, Seattle, and various other cities fall mostly asleep earlier. But there are always those who feel it necessary to shout down hotel hallways till all hours, always a few cars running red lights on streets below, presumably in a hurry to make their 4 a.m. bedtime. And then those cities, too, go dark.

Tonight Minneapolis has just fallen heavily asleep. The lingerers in Loring Park—who were particularly raucous tonight—have headed home. The people coming and going and coming and going from various old brick buildings have disappeared, and are no longer shouting on the street outside or banging on windows and doors.

All is quiet on the northern front. And the sun won’t rise anytime soon. Winter is pressing at the edges of the city. The trees are almost all stripped bare, the last color drained from the color-mad trees of a few weeks ago. Those leaves, dry now, skitter up and down the sidewalks and swirl around your feet as you walk. The lakes are silver, the sky shifting from that same silver to an impossible blue, a blue so rich and saturated you’d think it was painted onto the inner arch of whatever arches over and around this tiny planet where we spin.

It’s November. And soon the snow will “come shawling down,” as Dylan Thomas wrote in A Child’s Christmas in Wales, and cover everything as far as the eye can see.


The new book I’ve written for Hazelden Publishers, Waiting: A Non-Believer’s Higher Power, is finished. Turned in almost exactly on time, now in copyediting, and lurking in that pre-publication world where it goes through whatever mysterious machinations books go through before they hit the shelves. As I’ve told you, it was the singularly weirdest writing experience I’ve ever had. One feels one’s way along through any book, but with this one I felt like I had no earthly idea what I was going to write until it was there, staring back at me from the page. But it came together, like books do, and completed itself, and will come out this spring.

Sane: Mental Illness, Addiction, and the Twelve Steps is on the shelves as well, and I want to thank all of you who’ve written to tell me how the book has affected you. It means the world to me to hear from readers at any time, but hearing that people are able to put into practice some of the ideas Sane suggests is an enormous gift, and I’m awfully grateful to you.

So on November 1, I sat down with my notebook and returned full-force to the novel. Which, of course, immediately morphed all over the place, cut vast swaths of pages from itself, in fact decided it was two novels, put one of itself in a drawer, and left me with what is actually a clear and writeable story. Despite my irritation at its willfulness, I am elated that it has decided to emerge from the murk and tell me what the hell it wants to be. The notes and new pages are piling up, the research is being done, the voices of the characters are making themselves noisy, and I can finally sit down to it every day without wanting to scream and tear out my teeth with a pliers. In fact, I’m having a very good time.

Meanwhile, I’m preparing the class I’ll teach this winter—taking a machete to the reading list I’d like to assign, dithering about which craft point to focus on when, etc, and generally behaving as I always do when I’m about to teach. I. Cannot. Wait.

Poems, as usual, come and go. I have a friend who writes something like a poem a day. I want to hit her with a pan. I take comfort in the fact that Louise Gluck goes on wild sprees of writing periodically, and then stops altogether for periods of time. Surely this is a valid way of doing a thing.

NB: Someone recently read me Jorie Graham’s work. Prior to this, I hadn’t much liked Graham. Upon hearing her read aloud, though, I fell madly in love, and am telling anyone who will listen to read her poems. Sit in a coffee shop and read them aloud. Everyone will think you odd, but you will get to revel in her marvelous way of putting together images and words.


It’s now 4:20 a.m. The city is well and truly asleep. The light won’t begin to come up for hours, and even then will come up slow. People will lie in bed, half-waking, burrowing deeper into their blankets, in no mood to throw them off and dash out into the freezing world. And it isn’t even that cold yet. Our blood slowly thickens to take on the falling temperatures. Today it is only 32 degrees. Soon the mercury will drop and drop and drop, and we’ll bustle out the door in heavy coats, 22, 12, 2 degrees, -2, -10…

Winter has barely begun.



Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Do you know a good soul who wants to live here. The Victorian house on our street--217 Rathbun Street is very pretty inside and its for sale. It's a two family but could easily become a one family as it was 1900.
Our fabulous realtor Marilyn Salzberg Bennett of Salzberg is carrying it.
It has a Woonsocket porch!!
photos here

Brave Combo

Sounds of the Hollow. Brave Combo is my inspiration and favorite band of musical omnivores. We got to hear them at the Middle East in Cambridge in August. Dance all night!! They're coming back east in November.



Monday, September 24, 2012

Molly Ringwald

Ultimately, I believe that the true collaboration involves the audience, or in the case of the novelist, the reader. These are the people who truly make the characters live. And now, as the metaphorical curtain is about to go up on my own book, I sit in the audience, alternately anxious and elated, waiting to see how these actors will transform my words through their own personal experiences.
-Molly Ringwald, NYT

Street Guru

It's so easy to say "We don't eat meat" "We don't own a television." "We don't drive" I am much more inspired by a person who can make wise choices using all of the available tools. Any fool can make and follow a rule. A person who can make a wise choice in a varied complicated society is my 'street' guru.


by Teddi Scobi

When driving somewhere with anyone
I like to park as close as possible.
Like Kojack.
He would speed to the bustling crime scene
and effortlessly roll his Buick Century into the one spot magically available
right in front.
That's how it went on the TV show.

So, we are going to the supermarket.
Sadly my husband, not Kojack, is driving.

I'm on high alert for the prime space-
There's one! Hurry up! Shit- it's gone. Wait- right there!
But no.
He proceeds to the far reaches of the
Market Basket netherworld
and turns off the engine.

Why do you do this?!
Why the fuck do you park so far away?

As we get out of the car and begin to thread our way together through the people and carts and chaos he says-

I'd like to walk with you as long a s possible.

Marcus Barrow's Car 9

Visit here.

David Byrne

We don’t make music — it makes us.
-David Byrne, NYT

Neil Young

Writing is very convenient, has a low expense and is a great way to pass the time, he says in Waging Heavy Peace. I highly recommend it to any old rocker who is out of cash and doesn’t know what to do next.
-Neil Young, NYT

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bunny Harvey

Excellent new paintings at Newport Art Museum.

Daniel Clayman

I am in contact with my work everyday. Most days I come to the studio as the "working artist." Other days I come as an observer, to see what the "artist" is doing. The work is a continual, always evolving exploration of simple forms.

-Daniel Clayman

visit here

and here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Samuel Beckett

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

-Samuel Beckett

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

May Sarton Festival

It is only when we can believe that we are creating the soul that life has any meaning, but when we can believe it - and I do and always have - then there is nothing we do that is without meaning and nothing that we suffer that does not hold the seed of creation in it.
-May Sarton, Journal of A Solitude page 67

One must believe that private dilemmas are, if deeply examined, universal, and so, if expressed, have a human value beyond the private, and one must also believe in the vehicle for expressing them, in the talent.
-May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

Far greater risks than the risks attendant upon an uprooted, floating-free life that may at first glance appear "adventurous" and/or "dangerous"? The leap into commitment, in love, or in work, or in religion, demands far greater courage.
-May Sarton, The House by The Sea

Adventures may be for the adventurous, but home is where the real things are sown and reaped, where in the end the real things happen.
-May Sarton, At Seventy: A Journal

Begin here. It is raining. I look out on the maple, where few leaves have turned yellow, and listen to Punch, the parrot, talking to himself, and to the rain ticking gently against the windows. I am here alone for the first time in weeks, to take up my "real" life again at last. That's what is strange - that friends, even passionate love, are not my real life, unless there is time alone in which to explore and to discover what is happening or has happened. Without the interruptions, nourishing and maddening, this life would become arid. Yet I taste it fully only when I am alone here and "the house and I resume old conversations."

The ambiance here is order and beauty. This is what frightens me when I am first alone again. I feel inadequate. I have made an open place, a place for meditation. What if I cannot find myself inside it?

Now I hope to break through into the rough, rocky depths, to the matrix itself. There is violence there and anger never resolved.

My need to be alone is balanced against my fear of what will happen when suddenly I enter the huge, empty, silence if I cannot find support there. I go up to heaven and down to Hell in an hour, and keep alive only by imposing on myself inexorable routines.

-May Sarton Journal of a Solitude

I Dreamed

I dreamed of conjoined twins - a girl and a boy. The girl was two feet taller than her brother. They had two separate bodies but they shared a neck. The girl had to walk on her knees to accommodate her brother.

Hounds Tooth

When I was in first grade the pay phone at Murray Avenue School was in a closet in the hallway opposite the principals office, with shelves painted blue. It was also the lost and found, stuffed with orphan mittens, wool hats, and scarves. I took off my black and white my hounds-tooth coat and called my mother to come get me. The coat disappeared! To this day I have not been forgiven for forgetting my hounds tooth coat in the booth. It would not fit me now or fit my dog. But the story still looms large flickering across my storyteller face.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Summer In The Country by Charles Simic

One shows me how to lie down in a field of clover.
Another how to slip my hand under her Sunday skirt.
Another how to kiss with a mouth full of blackberries.
Another how to catch fireflies in a jar after dark.

Here is a stable with a single black mare
And the proof of God's existence riding in a red nightgown.
Devil's child--or whatever she was?
Having the nerve to ask me to go get her a whip.

-Charles Simic

Friday, September 07, 2012

Charles Simic

The one-eyed woman wants to sell me a chicken, and I don't even have any clothes on.
-Charles Simic, “I am the last . . .” from The World Doesn't End: Prose Poems

Charles Simic

European cities are like operatic stage sets. New York looked like painted sets in a sideshow at a carnival where the bearded lady, sword- swallowers, snake charmers, and magicians make their appearances.
-Charles Simic

There’s no preparation for poetry. Four years of grave digging with a nice volume of poetry or a book of philosophy in one’s pocket would serve as well as any university.
-Charles Simic

INTERVIEWER:Insects feature a lot in your work. You seem to be pretty fond of ants, too, particularly in Jackstraws.

SIMIC: I know—when friends read that book they said, “Simic, are you drinking too much? All these bugs!” Actually, I’ve always been curious about these little creatures going their merry way, taking care of business—whatever that business is. Flies are neurotic, moths are crazy, but for serenity you can’t beat a butterfly. Even ants seem pretty cool. When I was little I used to step on them out of sheer nastiness or boredom. Now I can’t hurt a flea that’s biting me.

Read the full Paris Review interview here.

Charles Simic

A few things to keep in mind while sitting down to write a poem:
Don't tell the readers what they already know about life.
Don't assume you're the only one in the world who suffers.
Some of the greatest poems in the language are sonnets and poems not many lines longer than that, so don't overwrite.
The use of images, similes and metaphors make poems concise. Close your eyes, and let your imagination tell you what to do.
Say the words you are writing aloud and let your ear decide what word comes next.
What you are writing down is a draft that will need additional tinkering, perhaps many months, and even years of tinkering.
Remember, a poem is a time machine you are constructing, a vehicle that will allow someone to travel in their own mind, so don't be surprised if it takes a while to get all its engine parts properly working.
-Charles Simic

Charles Simic

When you start putting words on the page, an associative process takes over. And, all of a sudden, there are surprises. All of a sudden you say to yourself, ‘My God, how did this come into your head? Why is this on the page?’ I just simply go where it takes me.
-Charles Simic


I dreamed about a black Labrador that had green fur.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Idries Shah


A well-known Sufi was asked, 'What is invisibility?'
He said: 'I shall answer that when an opportunity for a demonstration of it occurs.'
Some time later that man and the one who had asked him the question were stopped by a band of soldiers.
The soldiers said: 'We have orders to take all dervishes into custody, for the king of this country says that they will not obey his commands, and say things which are not welcome to the tranquility of thought of the populace.'
The Sufi said: 'And so you should, for you must do your duty.'
'But are you not Sufis?' asked the solders.
'Test us,' said the Sufi.
The officer took out a Sufi book. 'What is this?' he said.
The Sufi looked at the title page. 'Something which I will burn in front of you, since you have not already done so,' he said.
He set light to the book, and the soldiers rode away, satisfied.
The Sufi's companion asked: 'What was the purpose of that action?'
'To make us invisible,' said the Sufi, 'for to the man of the world, 'visibility' means that you are looking like something or someone he expects you to resemble. If you look different your true nature becomes invisible to him.'

-Idries Shah, The Dermis Probe

Kiran Desai

Writing, for me, means humility. It's a process that involves fear and doubt, especially if you're writing honestly.
-Kiran Desai