October 19, 2017
The Muslim call to prayer is broadcast from every mosque five times a day. The call is identical but each mosque begins at its own stroke of the hour. It becomes a symphony of disparate electronic chants heard through every corner of the city. Motorcycles, bicycles and donkeys share space with people in the narrowest souks. The streets are filled with the fragrance of cumin, coriander, ginger and cinnamon. Men wear djellaba, women chador.
On the first day we use words like exotic, foreign, mysterious, fantastic.
By day four, this had become our every day reality and far too quickly we’ve made all of this ordinary.
October 12, 2017
It’s thrilling to come upon the Eiffel Tower from a distance and equally amazing to study it up close. This time I wondered about it at the very beginning, when it was just an idea.
This would be a dangerous and expensive structure that nobody needed and had no real purpose.
It was probably the space program of its time.
And like the space program, it came out of the totally romantic and outdated idea that man should explore, do things that were difficult and unproven just because it was going to be fantastic.
June 29, 2017
Laughing or “that’s funny”
One is an expressed emotion the other analysis
Hurt is a primary emotion but anger is often how I express it
Same with love which I can transmute into a thousand other forms.
Picasso once said that it took him a lifetime to learn to paint as a child.
As a child I was visceral, crude, instinctive, emotive.
The adult learned to battle those strong feelings with reason, intelligence and rational thought.
I now pay a fortune per week to relearn what came so naturally to that little boy.
January 26, 2017
When Donny quit the other day my reaction was quick and somewhat familiar.
“What did I do?”
I did a quick scan of our relationship
I met him once about 18 months ago, so his resignation probably wasn’t a reaction to something I said.
Must be one of my recent posts. Nothing I’m aware of but maybe one of those really insensitive blind spots like asking the fat girl when her baby is due.
An Anti-Semite? Markowitz? Not likely.
After giving this careful consideration I came to the answer that has always served me best.
“One of you guys must have fucked up”
January 5, 2017
At 5:30 AM we lost sight of land and noticed the first trace of the day to come. In the east was a blink of light breaking the horizon. In the west were storm clouds darker than the pre dawn night.
The rains came and pelted us as my daughter’s, BJ and I spoke of my mother while releasing her ashes into the Pacific. She’d lived in difficult circumstances but had worn life lightly.
As we motored toward the shore, our faces raw from the cold needles of rain, the boat was now surrounded by a school of baby porpoise escorting us to safety. Mom was home.
December 22, 2016
There could be the fiercest arguments over whether a ball bounced on this or that side of a chalk drawn line but for the game to continue kids had to holster their passions and agree to do it over. And amazingly, once the play was re done the game moved forward and the original argument was erased and never revisited.
This was enlightenment.
How many spousal, familial and political disagreements persist year after year with each side becoming increasingly entrenched in their rightness? As adults, we seem unable to erase the past, lay down our arms and call a Do Over.
Peace my brothers.
March 6, 2016
I premiered a doc that began filming over three years ago.
On the first day I brought my camera and my curiosity. I had no knowledge of the subject’s story so I shot and shot lots more. I knew that I was building a collage and at some point the material I was collecting would lead me to a narrative. Early edits were 83 and 62 minutes. I ended up showing a 40-minute film.
As I watched 430 people enter the theatre, I realized that the largest audience to see the film before that night was 3.
We got a standing ovation.
November 26, 2015
It’s the relationship I always wanted.
She tells me what she wants me to do in a clear voice without irony or scorn. She doesn’t explain why she wants it or why it’s important to her or good for us. She just tells me what she wants.
She says it one time and I’m usually happy to comply. On rare occasions due to confusion or hubris I’ve made a wrong turn that has taken us down a dark and inhospitable road. She always resists the temptation to correct, taunt, or remember other past failures. In the most neutral and supportive tone she remains focused on this moment and tells me we are… recalculating
August 27, 2015
It began with trash talk, murky memories of who won what.
Then the conversation turned to money and broken promises to pay for past events.
They moved to the start line each body carrying more attitude than muscle.
At the sound of “GO” they blasted forward churning huge white caps.
For the first 10 yards it appeared that this might be a race but the muscles of one suddenly remembered a childhood of weekend swim meets.
At the end it wasn’t the money or the glory it was the competition between adult sisters that began a long, long, time ago.
April 30, 2015
Five hours north of Big Sur, the sun is four fingers from the horizon.
Light punches through trees as we speed through an old forest that empties into a tweed like panorama of rolling green hills dotted by darker nubs of ancient oaks.
Suddenly we climb to a vista above the Pacific. Orange highlights reflect on curls of water. The seascape is peppered with huge boulders. A turn in the road and we are swaddled in fog that diffuses the sun-ball into a billion particulates of light.
We arrive under an endless cupola of cobalt, humbled by these many gifts.
April 23, 2015
“I can take him”
Schoolyard disagreements, the battle for a rebound or the competition for the pretty girl in the third row, we learned to measure ourselves against someone else. And the relevant question was “Who can take who?”
The venues change from locker room to boardroom and even in the bedroom, we wonder if we were better than him. The prize might be money or power, prestige, recognition or love. Some focus on one competitor others do battle with everyone.
It’s a lifelong war waged in our pre frontal cortex.
I’m waving the white flag. It’s time to drop the weapons, melt the armor.
April 9, 2015
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
Be kind. Always.”
I was exchanging email with a doctor yesterday. The quote was below her name and it hit me hard.
I don’t think it was about my recent illness as I was flooded by kindness
I think it was about my everyday behavior, my impatience with others.
The day before, I was to meet someone at 3PM. By 3:15 I could feel a tightening. By 3:20 the fuckits had entered. I was about to leave when he arrived at 3:25. I was pissed. Luckily I held my fire. His father had just passed.
March 26, 2015
I was meditating and a comet-tail from my past entered and left my head. A second later was the appearance of faces that had names I hadn’t spoken for almost 50 years.
There were a bunch of us, we would talk late into the night and I found myself back at the Cookery listening to an already ancient Alberta Hunter or at the bar at Max’s Kansas City and I realized that this time, at the beginning of what would later become a career, was when I first fell in love.
March 19, 2015
On a Sunday afternoon my wife and I decided to take our new medical marijuana cards for a test drive. Behind the dispensary counter were two guys. One might have been the winner of the Bob Marley look-alike contest the other a refugee from Brooks Brothers.
The store was packed with choices: Up, down, body, mind, laughter, introspection, the flavors of mango, cherry, pineapple, pills, beans, candy bars, cookies and cakes, There were the old tools and all kinds of new technologies.
After an hour of giddy questions we were leaving with a shopping bag of products. As we entered the revolving door I could hear Brooks Brothers say to Rasta man “Aren’t they cute?”
November 19, 2015
I inadvertently said something to piss off my wife. This is how it feels:The sun is shining on an enormous meadow of spring wildflowers. Not one telephone pole, road sign, or roof can be seen. There are cumulous cotton balls above. Given the downward pitch of the hill and the breeze on my back I feel the hand of god pushing me forward till my face tilts to the heavens and I begin skipping like a five year old. Higher and higher I leap till my right foot comes down on a landmine and my legs have been blown off.
December 11, 2015
It was July 4th 1976.
We were in a house in Bridgehampton with 20 friends who had spent the day laughing, toking and drinking. As the sun lowered I took a camera and tripod to a huge potato field behind the house and invited everyone to sit for our Bicentennial portrait.
Once everyone arrived I said “ great, now everyone take off your clothes” and instantly a small mountain of jeans, shorts, bathing suits formed. The group arranged itself as a chorus line in a very horizontal frame. I set the timer, dropped my overalls and ran into the shot, the girl in the center pulled out a small American Flag,
December 4, 2014
The negotiation between my deaf father and a hotel banquet manager for the price of my bar mitzvah
HBM “Would you like the roast beef or chicken?”
HBM “Roses or Carnations?”
HBM “Linen table cloths or Dacron?”
At the end, the banquet manager added “4 Piece Band”
HBM “It’s a union requirement. Affairs of 1 to 64 guests require a 1 piece band, 65- 78 are 2 pieces, 79-97 3 pieces, 98-114 4 pieces”
My father then put pencil marks next to some names on the guest list.
DF “38 people on the list are deaf they cant hear the band. Once they’re subtracted we have a 1-piece band.
I had a 1- piece band
November 13, 2014
The evening began with frosty martinis and warm remembrance.
We were five very close friends who once vacationed together and celebrated holidays in each other’s homes.
This dinner in Manhattan was rare now that life had tossed us to separate corners of the country. Our laughter grew louder as each round of drinks was replaced by another.
On the sidewalk we gave sloppy hugs before returning to our separate lives. As I put my hand around my wife’s waist I detected a chill.
She was angry about something I said.
For the rest of the evening it would be my vodka speaking to hers.