Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another Year, Another Quiet Mike Leigh Triumph

No murder.  No sinking ships.  No wise-ass teens.

No Legions, no small-town-joe-makes-good.

No court of law.  No con.  No 'bad-lieutenant' cops.

No talking dogs. No blackmail, and no hooker scenes.
No corporate conspiracy.  No royal court.  No 'hood'.

No war.  No aliens.  No capers.  No 'black-ops'.

No poor-class gal to get the handsome lead.

No 'magic' world of shallow, feel-good 'myth'.

No rape shock. No coming-of-age in a 'simpler' time.

No cowboys, no pop music.  No selling-out for greed.

No mystery to solve of someone's quirky death.

No vampires, zombies, cannibals.  No crime.

With humans, we know the fragility of bliss.

Simply, cinematically, we aren't prepared for this. 


Saturday, January 29, 2011


Miss Scarlett, 

in the library, 

with a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover.

Go Figure

Dead people.

You can't live with 'em.

You can't live without 'em.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Yo! Foodies!

It's about time.

Out of my respect for those who suffer from 'seasonal affective disorder', or as we acronymically know it -- SAD -- it being a cloudy January, there is reason to bring Spain into our lives.

And a guilty pleasure.  Spain . . . On The Road Again.

TV series.  Mario Battali.  Gwyneth Paltrow.  Mark Bittman. Claudia Bassols.  Thirteen episodes, tripping around España.  Eating.

It's true that viewers have noted the 'internal dramatic tension' of this series is less than it might be.  And that its comedy fits routinely into the casual, and for the most part limited, conversation of people waiting for a restaurant table when they're hungry and barely scripted.

But that's part of its charm:  finding an Epicurean edge to a world -- if one thinks about it too carefully -- otherwise largely hellish.

Speaking for myself, there are simply times when I want to note the placid sections of the Bruegel vision of which I am a part.  

Being a gentleman of a certain age, I can certainly appreciate Mark Bittman's flirtation with the entrancing Claudia Bassols.

Where did you say that spa is?

At any rate, food and wine, my friends.  

Oh.  And I'll try one of these.  What did you say they were?


Saturday, January 22, 2011

The 100-Dollar Poached Eggs

They were very good.  A choice was given between on the hard side or should we go softer, which is the method I prefer, the yoke being liquid and sloppy so as to give a gastronomic reason for the artisan bread with its peek-a-boo texture holes.

And there were garlic smashed potatoes, as well, your basic red potatoes not so much 'smashed' as 'distressed' so that the skin breaks like chapped hands, but with tender baby-cheek-sized white starch mingling in its fall-off separation with that very skin rubbed with herbs and kosher salt.  And garlic.

The coffee was also very good, served by a perky, shaved-head waiter with fashionably thin glasses and a good sense of humor, a great rhythm to his friendly patter, which made me open the discussion when the breath seemed right to deal with the relative social behaviors attendant on men's urinals having privacy splash-guards, versus a more trendy, 'open-minded' style of bathtub-trough, shoulder-to-shoulder presentations.

If I were a sociology teacher, I suppose I could've assigned a poll to be taken.  

It was, it really was, an 'educable moment'.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Witnessing The Dread Turn

How tenuous feeling the onset of 'bad' that's oncoming,

vulnerable in the terrible spot of never touchable before

can't deflect it, reguide its inevitability, disguise this thing.

Whereas the kiwi tastes like a grape that needs to be sweetened

nothing sweetens this, this lead slug in the mouth.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

To Think Of This Is To Be Part Of This

Sleep trembles in its throat-sound off a bear-cave wall, women

wandering in cloak-long dream coats back at the white glaze of past time

Night blackens except for the fixated speckle of TV and the township's occasional street lamp

The odd father garage opens for a last table saw

All's tinkering last minute, as in the sound of a hairbrush fluffing out a parrot's hot feathers, water being shot off into the rank fishmouth of the bay

Inside the best head of us, Mozart quietens, the intimacy works at the knees of the cellist, at the breath lips of the flute, and fingers bring order to the violin, light wondering at itself


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Right Breath

Slow is why you make it, for a separate peace

finding Buddhist ponder, Quaker quiet.

To those demanding tribute, turn the other face

slowly as you make it, at a modest pace.

You're born for a certain span and given space

to stand and hold the world and try it -- 

deep is how you feel it, in the inner place

finding Buddhist ponder, Quaker quiet.


High Aesthetics

Beauty is as ugly does.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Blank Place

When love enthralls and armies still march on

Rick and Ilsa toast with Veuve Cliquot the irony in the day.

As time goes by, it's never more or less than an island

of ripe blueberries, ample figs, and uniform boot marks.

We ironize, too, and coo our plans over wine,

hands intertwined on the escritoire in full light,

an isolate scene within the hearing of a clock,

snow melt hit by a rain barrage and a sound of horns.

The full-lit escritoire upholds the fervent hands

devoted to finding-out truth from exhilarated words --

slant rain enfilading the walkway slush,

exotic rhythm, bold piano surging a major key.

But extracting the sense from later punctured words

one stays for far too long in overcoat through drizzle

with alien beats, dismal tunes urging a minor key

as waiting rooms jam at desperate depots.

To scowl as the hat brim soaks to drooping 

losing oneself to those with larger causes

while refugees disperse like burning lanterns:

old hopes a fleet of paper, fire, and smoke.

Losing oneself becomes the cause for losses --

time proves they're never less, and more than an island

where we fire the fleet and smoke old hopes

since love enthralls and armies still keep marching on.


Friday, January 7, 2011

The Reach

Just the other week trying to transfer joy

as if it were as easy as handing out free money

and the rebuff had no drama even in itself.

The street was still, foot traffic kept to its own business

and the home, when gotten back to, gave affectless

re-welcoming, having no idea what feelings churned,

only the tabby alert enough to squeak hello

circling the kibble bowl to a few cute enervated words.

It's dead winter now.  Twig tree, corpse-cold,

slow mutual motion -- laws of gravity and all that -- to draw

smooth snow, black moods, arthritis all together.

If the mouth pronounces an end to a February

not yet come, if in its present form the voice

concludes this January now, and the mind marches

March to an end, then what's to hold but what's held

anyway -- the imaginary Spring, always, for the taker.


Cinquains Théologiques

Who Dat

gives me guidance

from a book of strong songs

histories, rules, and human goofs,

deep sin

Deep sin

in my pocket

jangles and annoys me

weighs down moves, co-opting space for

no lord

No lord

rules over me

but one whose name is nil

by his own device he's no one

who dat


Ten Things I Don't Like



1)  People walking and conversing on cell phones as if the person were actually 'there'

2)  Living off the same adolescent 'oldie' music for 20 . . . or 30 . . . or 40 . . . years

3)  Being monitored on the job in order to 'document' the 'quality' of my work

4)  Power tools on quiet mornings

5)  How -- almost anywhere, certainly in politics -- cheap words drive out the worthy ones

6)  Film titles with any of the following words: 'chocolate', 'deadly', 'hell', 'kill', or 'wedding'

7)  The violence inborn in humans that is exercised for just about any excuse

8)  Customer service being redefined as irrelevant, pre-recorded phone options -- or -- pages of FAQ

9)  Full-body tattoos executed by a needle-man who thinks cartoons are 'high art'

10)  Having to pretend I'm having fun

* Great country, very good cast,  bad idea

** One good player, vastly overrated director, worse idea


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Knowing The Reward All Along

John Cassavetes, director and actor, has a screen face whose eyes don't seem to smile even when he himself chooses to.

Yet his life reads a story of a artist dedicated to conveying the interconnectedness of human beings, heart to heart.

Connecting is impure, precipitous, and rare.  And the only real quest.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Yo! Literates!

It being a new year and all, an update of my reading habits seems called for, though I'm not sure by whom.

As a refresher of my habits, let me remind you that there is a stack of books by the bedside.  

I read a bit from each book each night.  They change over time.

Sometimes I read when I get a chance in my work life or waiting for a car lube or killing time in the car outside the mall when others are 'shopping'.

Or even when Lisa, my haircutter, has booked me into a time slot in her schedule too cramped to handle the proper perming of a lady before me who wanted a dye job, also, and conversation about the trip to the shore and how much fun the family had, and I have a choice of reading hairstyling mags, the Enquirer, or why-didn't-I-think-of-bringing-one-myself!

The current list may not represent books I will actually complete.

I don't mandate that of myself.  Sometimes enough is enough.  Sometimes it's better for the book author and me to part our ways amicably, having learned plenty about one another already.

So, the current list, alphabetical by author's last name:

1) Alain de Botton.  The Pleasures And Sorrows Of Work.

2) Northrop Frye.  Anatomy Of Criticism.

3) Amy Gerstler, editor. The Best Poetry Of 2010.

4) Henning Mankell. The White Lioness.

5) Frederic Morton. A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888/1889.

6) Jacob Neusner. Rabbinic Judaism: Structure And System.

7) L. Michael White. From Jesus To Christianity.

A smart list.  Probably too smart for me, so don't draw conclusions.

You might ask what I learn, and this general statement holds so very, very true, and I think holds true for any reader:  

To read well, adapt to style.

Writers write at their own pace, they have their own density.  

To 'get' them, you have to 'get into' them, swim in their waters, that temperature, those currents, the varying depths and dangers. 

Their content depends not so much on how it corresponds to an 'actual world of (wo)men', but on how that experienced world is conveyed.

Rotating the authors through an hour is a mental 'circuit training', running up the bleachers and down, then lying supine on the Bermuda grass to do sit-ups.  Work the parts in the interest of the whole.

I suppose a corollary for those of us blogsters (let alone poets) is:  

To write well, beget a style.