Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Reading on the Lower East Side

Last night's reading at the Clement Soto Velez Cultural Center on Suffolk Street on the old Lower East Side went very well. I read with poets Iris N. Schwartz (who kindly invited me) and her best friend Madeline Artenberg. They have a new book out, Awakened, and both of them are super readers. I read "On the Road with C.T. Savage," which is slated to come out in Appalachian Heritage in the fall. Iris even sang!

It was a small crowd, as these things often are, but I was delighted to see old friends and meet new ones. My friend writer and activist Shelley from writers group came, and there were people with connections to the past-- Brant who was a close friend of the late wonderful Maureen Holm who was very supportive of many writers, including me, published my work in her 'zine BigCityLit, invited me up to the Catskills for a lecture and workshop. It was such a pleasure to think about her again with someone who knew her. Also there was Bob Heman who was part of the Print Center in the seventies where we used to produce The Spicy Meatball and other books by kids. Wow! It's like you reach a certain age, and your past is this huge field with beautiful groves of memory to visit when you lift up your head to notice.

Iris and Madeline are also good friends of Aunt Ros Rabin, who wanted to be there and couldn't be.

Also strange to be down there on the Old Lower East Side strangely mixed now Chinese take out ("The Best Fried Chicken!") next to comidas criollas next to a nameless bar tiled black with very uptown looking white young adults drinking martinis (well, I couldn't really see what they were drinking, but they looked like martini drinkers.) Open fireplace sitting in the middle of the dark space. The Williamsburg Bridge dumping onto Delancey Street. But not the old Lower East Side at all-- all of Manhattan seems to be becoming a playground and affordable housing for affluent or at least middle class young adults.

Shelley has a story online that captures one person's changing Orchard Street.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The West Virginia Encyclopedia is officially out!

Learn more here.

It's a huge, beautiful book with tons of information about history, natural history, the arts and all in my home state. Very proud to have been a part of it-- I got to write entries on "Life in the Iron Mills" by Rebecca Harding Davis and the Shinnston Tornado. I spend so much time reading on the Web or in cheap editions of books that this enormous heavy, high quality book is a real treat. It's sitting on my coffee table.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Summer Begins

June 21, 2006

We’ve got a hot day coming but less humidity, and I have NYU tonight.

I've been thinking about my political views lately-- I still am emotionally most responsive to the Wobblies (Joel gave me a great graphic novel history of them by his history teacher for my birthday) and the Port Huron Statement , but at the same time, after ten years, I am eager to see the Coalition move towards the stability of being a real nonprofit. And there really is a new generation with very little interest, unfortunately, in seeing themselves as part of the Working Class or even of fighting for Integration, if it's called Integration. Then there are the web-democracy issues that brother-in-law David Weinberger and others write about. Anyhow, I know what's right and wrong, but not exactly where I fit in.

I stayed up too late last night watching the Miami Heat win the NBA championship. I was rooting for them (after all, since they beat the Nets, one wants them to go all the way). Familiar Shaq, onetime Net Alonzo Mourning, Pat Riley who I still think of fondly in the back court with my homeboy Jerry West, and then there’s this All Star kid Dwayne Wade with the long eyelids and high eyebrows who looks just like the Williams family I knew in East Ghent, Norfolk. Well, anyhow, I stayed up late watching basketball and spent the last couple of days thinking more about teaching than writing, but want to advance my story some more today before I go on to NYU and Coalition issues.


It's feeling like real summer now, or almost-- hot in the afternoon, but today wasn't so hot that I couldn't sit on the back porch and do papers for tomorrow's advanced novel class. This evening, though, it's cooling fast, more like spring. We sleep well at this time of year.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Wobblies and Bong Shops


Last night, I was reading the graphic novel style history that Joel gave me for my birthday, Wobblies!, edited by Joel's Sixties Without Apology teacher, Paul Buhle, which I am really enjoying– it’s doing what I like a history book to do, getting things I’d read about (those Utah mine strikes) in perspective, Emma Goldman’s relationship to the Wobblies, why they liked Eugene Debs but not Samuel Gompers, and on and on. Brief life of Joe Hill. I'm starting to sing "Solidarity Forever" and "Rebel Girl," but mostly “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night.” Especially intersted in Lucy Parsons (see photo at left) and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (subject of Joe Hill's "Rebel Girl.") Ah those good old days, except for the fact that I would probably have died in infancy or childbed or the Influenza.

Some of what I have to say about politics and art and history is in my new story that's going to be published shortly in the Saranac Review, "Triangulation." I had fun with that one, plotting positions with my grandmother, Emma Goldman, and Gustav Klimt.

So last night I was reading Wobblies! in bed, and I closed the book and turned off the lights, and the phone rang, and I sat up, grabbed it, always fearing the worst from midnight phone calls. Andy picked up too from his office, and it was Joel on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco, on his way to dinner– calling to tell us there’s a Gap clothing store there!

But a bong shop a few doors down.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

First Photo Taxicab


First photo of Taxicab! Actually, I have one from the breeder, but this is mine, Taxi looking greener than yellow, a little dubious, but extremely trusting: lets us rub head, chest, steps up, eats out of your hand, still quiet, but moving ahead rapidly. I think what I like best about parakeets (probably all the birds from the parrot family) is how interested they are in everything.

This one is remarkable for how tame it was when I picked it up: eating out of human hands, excited by fast movement but happy to interact. And now, after three days, remarkably advanced. I remember poor Charley Brown, who was a typical bird-from-a-bin, refusing to do step up, flying to the tops of things, me chasing her with a broom stick until she went into the cage. This one hasn't been out of the cage, but should be willing to come to a hand at some point in her liberties. I hope I'm not being too optimistic...