[Editorial cartoon by Jimmy Margulies]


The plan was to leave early and head north up the Thruway. Of course, the start was late although without a plan we may never have started at all. We did finally make it up to Woodstock to break for lunch at Joshua’s Cafe, an odd mix of Middle Eastern and American Diner. Afterwards a stop at the local photo gallery that I had missed on the last visit and then up the street to The Golden Notebook.

There was an independently published book I left behind there – Woodstock Before Woodstock by David Malcolm Rose – and with The Brunette’s help found it again in the local authors bookshelf. Wonderful storytelling about a boy that grew up in a place that was a small town before it became a rock star. And here we were in Woodstock after Woodstock, which now has become a tourist and shoppers paradise – although the reminders still pass thru with graying ponytails and knapsacks.

What was, was.

Then off on our last leg up to Troy where we spent the weekend with family. We reserved a morning where the Brunette and I could go out on our own and seek out old barns to wander around and photograph. Then north a few more miles up to DogEars Books where we met the owner out in the balding parking lot in front of the barn. He asked – as always – if we were looking for anything in particular and I mentioned two poetry books I left on the shelves during our last visit. “You know where they are then,” he said.

I went straight inside to the poetry shelves picking out the two older Mary Ruefle books I leafed thru on our last trip – Memling’s Veil and  a wrapped copy of Life Without Speaking that Ruefle had signed on the title page. Both were in the same spot that I had left them.

On the way out I mentioned to the proprietor that we both had the same first names. He lit up at that sudden revelation and shook my hand with a strength that I didn’t expect from this head of gray hair and soft voice.

“Mary Ruefle,” he paused thinking about the books I picked, “she came down from Vermont, didn’t she?”

“Not sure,” I said, “but I’ll look into it.”

“She came from two poets – Mary and Steven.”

“Possibly,” I said.

He nodded and smiled again. Then as I turned and walked out thru the old wooden door I heard him say to himself “I’ll have to ask Steven the next time  I see him.”

I know he will. The man knows more than books.

gargoyle_dog ears_3_flkr The gargoyle reads…
DogEars Books, Hoosick NY
© Jeff Kopito
(*yes…the gargoyle came home with us as well…)

…let’s try not to have too many issues today, ‘k?

belle drama_flkr belle pose in repose
© Jeff Kopito

…and finally safe to come out for the weekend…

friday peekCocks/Animalia Series
photograph by Ernest Goh

Heading up the thruway this morning for a brief escape. The week ended with some deja vu and old notes echoing along the hallways. Time to pull out the playbook…

Will be taking a couple of reads with me along with the optimism that I’ll be able to scan a few passages -Sherman Alexie’s Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories and Susan Cheever’s E.E. Cummings: A Life.

I first heard about the Cumming’s book while listening to an interview with Susan Cheever – which, of course, I can’t find now. Seems more often than not, I’ve arrived at destinations with no memory of  how I got there other than out of pure curiosity. Wandering has always been my general state of being…then again, I’ve met some incredibly interesting people along the way…

The weekend is to be enjoyed…and winter has finally moved on…


Gary Gutting worries about the loss of interest in studying and supporting the humanities:

…highly gifted and relatively successful writers, artists and musicians generally are not able earn a living from their talents. The very few who become superstars are very well rewarded. But almost all the others — poets, novelists, actors, singers, artists — must either have a partner whose income supports them or a “day job” to pay the bills. Even writers who are regularly published by major houses or win major prizes cannot always live on their earnings.

…for those with humanistic and artistic life interests, our economic system has almost nothing to offer.

We are rightly concerned about the plight of the economic middle class, which finds it harder and harder to find good jobs, as wealth shifts to the upper class. But we have paid scant attention to the cultural middle class, those with strong humanist interests and abilities who can’t reach the very highest levels, which provide almost all the cultural rewards of meaningful work.

Fair treatment for writers and artists is an even more difficult matter, which will ultimately require a major change in how we think about support for the arts. Fortunately, however, we already have an excellent model, in our support of athletics…

To cite just one striking example, the Minnesota State Legislature recently appropriated over $500 million to help build the Vikings a new stadium. At the same time, the Minnesota Orchestra is close to financial disaster because it can’t erase a $6 million deficit. If the Legislature had diverted only 10 percent of its support for football, it would have covered that deficit for the next eight years.

goncharova_motherMother, 1910
Natalia Goncharova
(Russian artist, 1881-1962)

…and some Long Island High School students go cold turkey with their tech:

…the unplugging experiment was held at Carle Place High School.

Students in Ms. Melissa Mehling’s English class were studying Ray Bradbury’s dystopian futuristic novel “Fahrenheit 451,” about a bookless, hedonistic and illiterate society distracted and infatuated by mass media.

“I challenged the kids for one week not to use their cellphones and social media,” Mehling said….“I gathered the phones, I wrapped them in paper, and then I wrapped them in duct tape,” 

“At first, a lot of the kids had a hard time; the shakes – as if they were a drug addict,” Mehling said. “By the third day, by Wednesday, they said, ‘You know what? I feel relieved I don’t have my phone;’ especially the girls — they said they were released from drama.”

Among the lessons learned – one student used a house phone for the first time, another re-learned to tell time from an actual clock…

Drama…there’s an app for that?

Screen shot 2014-04-06 at 6.57.35 PM Zits
by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman

…it’s been a long few weeks…some issues reaching some resolution…we gather and carry what we can…

pere jacques_lepage Le Père Jacques (The Woodgatherer), 1881
Jules Bastien-Lepage
oil on canvas

From the Layton Art Collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum:
The Woodgatherer, painted for the Salon of 1882, is one of Jules Bastien-Lepage’s most important works. The old woodsman, a family friend, and his granddaughter represent the heavy weariness of old age and the innocence of youth, as well as the passage of time. The remarkable color and handling of paint reflect the artist’s unique ability to blend the greater luminosity and atmosphere of the Impressionists with the more conservative, precisionist technique of the Academicians. By the early 1880s, Bastien-Lepage had become the leader of the Naturalist school, and many of his contemporaries believed that he would one day succeed Manet as the leader of modern painting.

[h/t to Biblioklept for the lead-in to the image...should be a daily visit...]

time- from Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception
by Claudia Hammond [via BrainPickings...]

kondrashov_horsesHorses in mist – Kondrashov Sergey
oil/canvas, 2001
via Amsterdam Art Gallery

Spend some time,
save some time,
waste some time
take some time
pick up some time

time after time
time waits for no one
time has come today
time is on your side
(yes it is)

it’s time
it’s not time


- J.

Ahab Rules

Martin Espada, Rules for Captain Ahab’s Provincetown Poetry Workshop, from The Republic of Poetry, published by W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright © 2006 by Martin Espada [via the Poetry Foundation...]

into the seaWhaleboat and Crew Tossed into the Sea
Illustration for Moby Dick, Chapter CXXXV
Rockwell Kent
Black ink over traces of graphite on wove paper, c.1929

Ahab ‘s reason:

moby dick ahab

- excerpted from Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, chapter 36

39-17-02/68Captain Ahab
Rockwell Kent
woodblock print, 1930
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

© Bill Israel

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