Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Monday, May 31, 2010

Say Cheese

There are maybe 6 photographs extant of me that I've ever liked, so few in fact, that since the time Japan's car industry overtook ours, I've taken my Aaron's Rod cane to any of the paparazzi daring to snap me aboard my yacht, on celebrity beaches, or escorting starlets to film judgings at Cannes.

And my lawyers always win.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

What Life Feeds, Art Becomes

Mother died February 1, 2000, the morning after I had left her in the hospice room she had just got delivered to and in which I was instructed about the way bodies shut down.  

They knew she was virtually gone -- the hospital had rushed to contact me about okaying her need for hospice care (and thus covering the cost), and the director of the place ran me through a whole bunch of paperwork while mother, not conscious, was being settled into her room by orderlies, female and male, one of whom I could see partially from my glimpse down the hall, had an odd smile that -- I thought -- must indicate that the body movers inside that room must have been executing some 'work joke', the morbid humor of people working around the dead and dying.

Plague Europe, 1347, burials and burnings.  Think of the joke possibilities!

I wrote a long poem about the experience surrounding that.  Obtaining death certificates in order to establish legal death in order to validate my relationship rights.  The room like any fit for a Department of Motor Vehicles.  Shrieking kids.  Language slowdowns.  Frowning, burnt-out bureaucrats.  I must have brought a book.  I wanted zen patience, but found only 40-odd, ill-read pages.

Then I caught the flu.

Later that year, we went to Boston and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  How removed from hoi polloi.  Yet I was they (a formulation that, astoundingly, may be grammatical and socially accurate!).  There I stood imaginably plump with the ghost of Henry James and palpably thick with Renaissance reds and yellows.  A young attendant almost seized my mechanical pencil as I tried to take impressionistic notes about the place on a check deposit slip.  Soil entering the sanctum sanctorum, I.

Mother, flu, art.  Then fine crab meat.  My life had turned a corner.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Canine Woman

At the Starbucks, a woman in sweats 

And her hopping dog, trailed before me.

A red and longhaired dog and his mate.

I held the door open for her and the pup, 

And listened as she stumbled her faux-straight words

For water in a cup, in a voice estranged 

At the edge from which we caution ourselves.

The baristas gave over a slosh and Watch out!

With professional (but suspicious) cheer, 

Eyes following the pair as they left the shop.

I ordered and left, and just stepping the curb, 

I heard Sir! Would you have a dollar to spare?

I said Yes (expecting) and peeled off a bill.

Her eyes and cheeks, punchdrunk from abuse,

Held a thousand-word secret,

The thousand bad words we don't want to hear.

I gave her some good:  Take care of your dog.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Borscht Belt

They're so poor, they can't afford the water that goes into the popsicles.

He's so cheap, he chews with only one tooth.

She's so old, she gets spa treatments at a crematory.


A Din

A bowl

A spoon

A carb

A sauce

Sunday, May 23, 2010

This Song Is You

Small talk's not to be avoided.

It's its inflatable nature that's its genius.

It's the motive for the melody, the sonata's two themes,

The two parts that grow into duet.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Stage Craft

When they say no one seated after curtain

and I ask how many intermissions,

I can, after pausing, look them straight in the eye,

knit my brow, and say bladder problems.

Old enough now that they nod and say two,

but for you, three and we both get a laugh.


Friday, May 21, 2010

The Discriminator

Each morning, this college term starting a bit later than my really early morning gigs, the traffic is thicker, the light evident, no darkness keeping drivers in the house for a last few minutes of cave life.

So the roads feel denser, the cars ride higher, the bustling more assertive, the nerves more anxious to beat a clock, the competitive edge of everyone at a level fit for arrest.

Life among others. 

A seat at the Monster Truck Rally.


Thursday, May 20, 2010


Squirrel-scurry at a mound of cones, then chattering away not seen in the boughs.

They throw a language down and like what they hear or don't -- that sense in what just is.

Roof gutters brim with twigs, all sort of debris, more with each fanning of Spring 

Rain, the toss of clouds resaturating what's below.

Spring throws us in and we find us what to do, or not -- that's, too, the 'real' of it.




Rain squalls, grey and threaded over the west islands

Soon to make us bird-naked places

Air needled with wind-driven pats and patterns

Interiorizing us, the need-to-do calmed,

Steam off the coffee, blur at the window


Erotica Shmotica

A full five minutes on shoe size


Style perusal, virtuoso singing

Centrifuge, DNA

All parties ultimately polite

'All quite natural'


Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Way Memory Gets Shabby

In moving to Florida away from the father remarried to a gold-digger, C took custody of the white cat, then 20 years old who had been part of her adolescence in California.

Now still off the Atlantic, rumor telling of her bad divorce, sour in her despair, C has taken up the misanthropic tongue her father had, in his case when he drank, in her case when she witnesses her own hurt and exercises overly-forearmed defenses against any comment designed for sympathy but which she takes as shallow patronizing.

The money lost.  The old beaux.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

3 Times Three Little Words





Randoming 2

Unless it rolls noticeably downhill, we give a tribute to heaven's 

Guardian, and for all fake outcomes we just blame ourselves, unlucky and unwise

As if we, come up to the near borders of our fortune, must cover our awful acts with sen-sen

And be figured, nevertheless, 'losers', hanging our incapacities like statue-medallions around our public neck.

What can be believed of us -- humans sweet as a lollipop by connivance of our own vanity

But wretched and raw by bare night light -- except that when we walk, we wobble


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Randoming 1

If you throw a bird out the window, it will fly back.

To pretend the world, stable for you as it is, blows up at that momentary departure, is just fear

that the loss of it, corporal at your sergeant's call, sung-out and absent from the sill,

would disturb your life, leveling its borders -- safely now above the rest.

Don't you -- manager of many moments -- want ever to break their calm and jump down?

If you badly steer, of course: the fen.  But copy chance -- the dearest dynamite.


Caught In The (Pre-)Circle

Pardon me if I seem -- and am -- in pre-Alzheimery, but in approaching this once, thinking I'd read its earlier version, I'd actually entered it twice, at least once wholly and analytically enough to have pronounced critical judgment upon't!


Good Out

Here's one to the sky:

May I not feel woe

May sleep only smooth my crease

May I just go


A Daily Life, Lived

(1) Chapter, War And Peace (Rostov rescues Maria), read

(1) Chapter, Shakespeare: Invention Of The Human (Bloom validates my negative opinion of The Merry Wives Of Windsor), read

(2) Summaries of Opera libretti, read

(20) Ounces of coffee, drunk

(2) Classes taught

(1) Short,short story written

(1) DVD episode, Mad Men, Year 3 ('The Fog'), watched

(.5) Hours Tai-Chi, British Cardio, Free Weights exercised

(.5) Hours block briskly walked

(40) Miles driven

(5.5) Hours slept


Dialogue, Overheard

His name is Hakim . . . Akeen . . . and he's got a tattoo on his leg.

Akeen. . . okay.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Saint M

Although I'd always known her qualities of humor and gentleness, it wasn't until I accompanied M on our third photographic safari that I discovered her to be a woman of courage, as well.

I'd taken ill, had something of a low-grade fever, but insisted upon jeeping into the plains that day.  Just the two of us and our driver Mbebe.

On sighting a Madagascar Squacco Heron in the near distance, we rolled to a halt and both got out to do some snapping.  M and her Nikon 34 mm f/1.8 AF-S DX lens which might have guaranteed her a prize 'shot'.

As it turned out, the bird was in distress, one leg somehow injured.  When M became aware of that, she let her camera swing down and made her way quickly to the heron.  I could hear from where I was how she placated the animal, how soothing, almost musical, her voice lullabied it.  

No doubt this kept nearby predators away while Mbebe called the rangers who came within an hour.

That evening, her face lit by the camp's fire, I tried to tell her that she created a small, but potent story that would become part of the local lore.  She brushed the notion aside with a quiet laugh, her laugh.

Later, still unsettled by the fever I'd picked up, I could see through the tent netting the guides talking low among themselves in Swahili, a language I knew next to nothing of.  I could tell by some gestures, though, that part of what they said included the tale of the 'photographer lady' who swooped down to protect her 'bird child'. 

In early morning light, I again looked out and saw herons fly above, fly across the snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro.


Marquis De Sade's Innermost Secret

Can't we just hold hands in the movie show?

I'll Show You 'Rigid' !

Great achievements don't go on forever.  They slow down, they stall, they stale.

When reaction to them rises, rebellion by the disaffected, they go on the defensive.

Thus, what has been called 'political correctness', frozen positions by a 'right-thinking' person.

Reactionaries are not wrong in witnessing it, though an accusation of being bien-pensant, originally hurled at 

self-satisfied conservatives, is ironic when applied to 60s 'radicals' who have attained some manner of power 

and rightly see any retrenchment as a subtraction of hard-fought-for reforms.

Our eyes should focus not so much on what might seem sputtering self-interest, if that can at all be the 

legitimate charge, but on the resentment of those making the charge, people who never wanted any change to 

begin with, whose 'right-thinking' is ham-fisted, frightened, angry, and often violent, authoritarianism.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Psychedelic Noir

This still has punch as an existential mystery.  You think you'll be watching a bloke f***ing his way through 'Swinging London'.  

But before he gets half way through half their Mary Quant minis, he discovers, in the deep grain of a set of photographs he casually snapped in an isolated park, a corpse in the brush.

David Hemmings, the amoral, sexy bachelor torn between the dark room and various quim, ultimately leaves us wondering whether he's been personally deceived, or whether we all continually are.


Friday, May 7, 2010

One Touch













More Moronisms

'That's just not going to happen'

'What is it about [............] that you don't understand?'


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ego Discipline

Punish what I fear most to see in myself in order to become what I don't yet -- and may never -- deserve to be.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A New, Temporary Vulgate

Moronic phrases, strawboss phrases, workplace phrases, parental commands:

'Hunker down'? 

'Suck it up'?

'Just get over it'?

'Just do it'?

'Stop whining'?

Manipulative stupidity.


Guest Of Shakespeare, Ghost Of Stevens, Geist Myself


The realization that even a master sometimes can't strike fire from a wet match.

That no one's reading.

That reading never was what it was thought to be and that only now that glancing is the skill do we see that it was all along.

That art skips from its focused impulsion to artifact at c speed, and back from shard to inspiration at the stillbirth rate of neolithic dirt men.

That stumbling and tumbling to sing every day without pain is what we want

Waking without a weight

That any idea may just be rationalization.

That the zen of it is that the world both isn't and is

That we're both here and not

Blinking and mugging and ruling it all


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Great Outdoorsman

Years of experience watching, identifying -- if eating, honoring -- the flora and fauna of restaurant menus.

Catch and release.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

House Hunters

('exploded paragraph' entry by André Comte-Sponville in his The Little Book Of Atheist Spirituality):

"Let's say I want to purchase an apartment in the United States -- in one of Manhattan's most elegant neighborhoods, for instance, with a stunning view of Central Park.  I would like the place to have at least six bedrooms, two bathrooms, a balcony facing south, and of course it must be in tip-top shape and cost no more than a hundred thousand dollars.

" 'I haven't found it yet,' I might tell you, 'but I'm still looking.  I feel confident -- I believe in it!'  You would say I was deluding myself, and of course you would be right.  That by no means proves I am wrong.  I could run into an insane real estate agent or an unusually generous patron of the arts.  It does, however, make my position very tenuous.  Deep down, all of you are convinced that my search will be fruitless.

"And now, if I tell you I believe in a God who is immortal, omniscient, all-powerful, perfectly kind and just, loving and merciful, you find that more plausible than a stunning six-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for less than a hundred thousand dollars?  Then you have either a paltry notion of God or an exalted notion of real estate."


Saturday, May 1, 2010


Predicting the future

In the present:

Past help



Two times, May Day, it rained

The suburb's local marshland held

In its nighttime water, sound

The frogs made music

Held in hundreds, music-song

Sang music, in the pond. M'aidez.