Latin Quarter – Paris 1995

Latin Quarter - Paris 1995

When I was in Paris in 1995, I walked around the city. I shot each day for a week. I came upon this window and inside the store were these elements: Mirror, antique statue, bedpost, etc. and behind me was a building and a bike on the street. It spoke of the medium given my being upside down in the mirror. The black and white spoke of timelessness. The age and articulation of Europe as the origins of my soul, that I could apprehend catharsis itself in an image meant that I could stop. I have never shot a better image than this. It represents me, my eye, and aesthetic capacity. I hope to continue this journey when I eventually get to London, another city with windows in an urban environment.


“Pickles and Tarts” — Chapter 2

Image by Mario Savioni

Chapter 2

Frank held up his hand and made a circle with his index finger and thumb, an “OK” sign, and enclosed Nicole’s left eye. Her long, strawberry blonde hair, wispy, fell at angles onto her faux leather jacket that covered her denim button-down blouse. Her brown eyes were fully open with the joy of childhood innocence, piercingly certain. She was aware of every movement.

There is a picture of Nicole, where she is sticking her finger in her mouth and feigning vomiting. She is slightly behind a young Asian woman, who is calm. The woman’s hair is straight and long. She has a round face. Her upper arm is slightly chubby. She’s wearing a black cocktail dress. It is sleeveless. The neckline covers her cleavage and it is made of open space in the weave about an inch across. She has a thin necklace with a diamond pendant that dips just below the top of her hem. Nicole’s left hand is on the Asian woman’s shoulder. Her hand is bright white against the Asian’s tanned skin. Nicole’s hand covers a lock of hair that goes under it and down the Asian woman’s right arm. The Asian woman is wearing a white wrist watch and is carrying a white iPhone in her left hand. She slumps slightly toward Nicole and may not be able to see Nicole’s finger in Nicole’s mouth and Nicole blinking her eye.

In another picture, she is too far away to get a good look at her. She is standing in a black and silver cocktail dress, which has a sheer neck line with small straps that rise from a small “v” at the hem of her cleavage. The hem draws across her chest to just under her armpits. The dress design is of lines and circles, but they are muted given the closeness of the colors. There is a sheen in the material. Her dress rests about five inches from her knees and she is wearing a pair of open-toed black high-heel shoes, sharply pointed, with a single thin strap wrapping high around her ankle.

Frank studied the picture even more. He liked that Nicole’s calves were long, narrow, and slightly muscular. He liked fit, petite women.

Nicole’s curvature is minimal. You could drop your hands down her figure and barely move left or right as you went down. She is jutting her hips forward a bit in the photo. Her hair is pulled back. It is straight and wispy. A woman, maybe her mother, is on her right. They all seem to possess a slightly squinting left eye when they smile. Her mother looks like she is in her late 30’s, maybe early 40’s. She is also wearing a cocktail dress, except hers is all black. The hem moves across her chest as a long arch from shoulder to shoulder. The straps on her shoulders are about an inch wide. There are two males in the photograph, Frank imagines them in their early 20’s. They have a young “future Wall Street Trader” look to them. Frat boys. Both have big smiles, while the one holding Nicole and her mother has his chest popping out of his tuxedo jacket. Nicole appears recessive between the boys and her mother, willing to allow them their feigned dominance against the person holding the camera. Perhaps the photographer is her father. She almost seems angelic, younger, and less confident than when she had her arm around her female friend in the previous picture. They are standing on a brick walkway that intersects a small, gray rock path. Green grass moves out from the walkway to a wooden fence about fifty yards. It is covered with manicured bushes that are reaching out from the fence. The backyard is lush. All the plants are deep green.

There is an arm and a fraction of the seat of a gray garden chair and table in the image. There is a piece of a barbecue. Over the fence and into the distance, there are only tall trees that fill the sky. Frank guessed that the photo was taken in Danville.

“Pickles and Tarts” — Chapter 1


Chapter 1

Frank finished the story. It was sunny in the courtyard between boutique restaurants, a bakery, and Peet’s Coffee. The weather was cooling in the shade. He was relaxed and comfortable. He could see through a screen door a woman working with flour in the back of the bakery. The woman reminded him of Nicole, who would be starting her life, working in a field that would never make her money. What made Frank think of this was working in the restaurant business and how an ex, a pastry chef, worked long hours filling measuring cups to add to pastry recipes and how beautiful she was in her white outfit. She made about $13 an hour and lived in a house in the back of another house. Her house looked like an oversized chicken coop with a shower as small as the standing area in an airplane restroom. The three women, his ex, this woman in the back of the bakery, and Nicole, were svelte and thin-faced. Their hair was straight and strawberry blonde to light brown in color. He could see the three of them with their hair pulled back in a pony tail. Nicole was young and probably starting out at work. He knew if she started a job like the pastry baker’s, she couldn’t afford it and eventually the idealism would be eroded. He knew this too coming to the end of his life, that life cost more than it seemed and that you really had to sacrifice if you wanted to make it. Sacrificing also spoke of having to pick a line of work that you didn’t particularly like. Still, it would give you an income to buy a house and then to buy another. You couldn’t stop until you had enough money for the rest of your life.

Frank contemplated his life, work, cafes, short trips to San Francisco via BART to merely walk around and perhaps buy a meal that sometimes cost over $100. He imagined how much more it would cost if he weren’t working. Plus, he never traveled anywhere beyond the three cities: Oakland, San Francisco, and Walnut Creek. He wanted to travel abroad after everything was done.

Frank had eaten, read, he had slept earlier, and now he was staring into space as various people were walking by, catching the yellow leaves that littered the ground and moving them ever so slightly. Just off the edge of the curb was moisture from the rain over the past few days. It was still gray overhead as scattered clouds blocked a sunny blue sky.

Nicole was 19 and had a smile that indicated terror and derision. Why Frank thought this was because his architecture professor said that you could read the faces of people by isolating quadrants: Each eye and each half of the mouth. When you did this you could surmise their personalities based on words that came to you. The professor said that we could have predicted Hitler and serial killers using this method. When Frank did this to Nicole’s picture, he saw terror and derision.

New Year


I once submitted an application to stay in a tree house in Scotland to be alone and do art. I didn’t get chosen. I told them I was related to a king of Scotland. I am sure they laughed. I didn’t mention that I did stand up or now play the piano. What I don’t mention is that I play the piano and it’s funny. My neighbors are restless. They cannot tell where the music is coming from. I pretend I am alone in the forest. The speakers are on the balcony, above the pool. It’s New Years. My sliding glass door is open. If I could write what it sounds like, I would. Did-e-ling-ling-ling-ling-ling or something like that. I sent my music (248 songs) to Michael Tilson Thomas’s agent, who by-the-way lives in London. It cost me $84 and that’s not including the flash drive. Now, who is going to put a flash drive from a stranger in their computer? I also sent a flash drive to the Director of the Sacramento Symphony. I did that because my mother took me to the symphony as a child, an extremely young child. The kind of child you wonder about when you are in a fancy restaurant. “When will this child start screaming?” you ask yourself. Well, I didn’t scream. I was stupefied. Red velvet, my mother, the runway model, descendent of Mary McCall, apparently cousin of Robert the Bruce, but you’d never know. The lineage is on a website with a black background. Have you ever read a webpage with a black background? The white font, which blinds you, is like seven. So forget that. I can’t tell the Kinlosses from the Kincardines at this rate, besides I am doing laundry and I don’t even have the heat on in the apartment. I know what you are thinking: “What does this have to do with anything?” Well, I am cold. And who can think when they are cold? Well, anyway, back to the story.

I submitted an application to stay in the woods and make art. It obviously didn’t happen or why else would I be here telling you this? Instead, I picked up the piano (well, the iPhone, which has a piano) and I was playing in a restaurant. Believe it or not, the restaurant is called “Small Wonder” during lunches and they were paying me in food and drink, which I never asked for, except once, because frankly, I couldn’t believe it. I was getting paid for playing music in a restaurant? How does that happen? I went from making phone calls and knowing nothing about music to playing stuff that actually “sounds good” to a music teacher, but “has no melodies,” he said, which of course is silly. I looked up “melody,” and it says: “A sweet or agreeable succession or arrangement of sounds,” that to me seems to define “Sounds nice,” but what do I know?

OK, let’s get down to what really happened tonight. I was coming home from my sister’s. We had Chinese food. It’s New Year’s. We talked about my mother. God Rest Her Soul. She was a hoarder. She had Alzheimer’s and I couldn’t save her because it would have meant that I stopped living for myself because she needed that much time. I remember being worried if she got enough food, which of course she must, since she lived in an independent living arrangement, where they fed her three meals a day, but for some reason, when I saw her refrigerator, which was littered with various exposed foods, even hamburger, which I knew she simply took from the package, applied salt and pepper and ate. She did that when we lived in Honolulu in a hotel, where there were roaches running around and the refrigerator wasn’t cold enough nor completely sealed.

We talked about my mother and my sister said, as she always does, that our mother was fine. But, I am deeply saddened knowing that she never continued with what she started out being, which was a runway model and a commercial artist.

Tonight, as I was driving back, I saw a man with a blanket wrapped around his head pushing himself down the sidewalk. It was 33F degrees. I went past him and thought: “I am not going to let a man in a wheelchair freeze to death,” so I circled back and parked next to him and asked him through the open window: “Do you need anything?” And he said, “Yes, I could use some water.”

I told him to meet me at the gas station, which was up the street a bit to where he seemed to be heading and I would get it for him. He never made it that far. I gave him the water and asked him again if he needed anything…“How about a warm jacket?” To which he replied, “Well, yes. I could use that. I’ve got this old one on,” which I didn’t notice since the blanket was covering him. 

“How about a sleeping bag?” I added. 

He said, “Sure!”

“OK,” I gave him the water and said: “I will get those for you and meet you back here.”

It took me a while, but I went to Target and bought him a down jacket, nice faux fur hat that would cover his ears, thick gloves, thick socks, sandwiches, juices, fruit, and the sleeping bag, 25F degree ranked. I hooked those things onto the back of his wheel chair. He had been going up a slight hill pushing himself, facing backwards when I found him the second time near the intersection across the street from the train. One shoe was nearly off. He smelled. I tucked his blanket down his back because it was getting caught in the wheel. He thanked me, seemed excited. I didn’t know what else to do. None of this was funny. I wasn’t alone in the woods. I didn’t joke about playing the piano and getting paid in food and drink. I had a house to go home to. I have complained about work. The heater is on. I am remodeling my condo. Can you imagine being him? Can you imagine being me or even yourself? What are we doing with our lives? I read yesterday that Heidegger said Caring is the fundamental disposition of Da-Sein, which is Being-in-the-world.

I wanted to talk about The New Year in terms of Heidegger. He said, “What always is is what is constantly here.” Happy New Year!

Christmas Breakfast


It is the dining table, no hanging lamp but a track of wire upon which the lights are screwed and electrified. They are little flying saucers in brushed aluminum. My dining room and kitchen are a combination of birch wood cabinet doors, white high-gloss cabinets, and light gray-blue walls.

The window is whitened by the canvas drapes that hang a foot from the ceiling to the floor. A top sirloin steak is cooking. The oil snaps, the scent of pepper radiates. I am not supposed to be eating it. I am a heart patient. You should have seen Christmas Breakfast, the Mimosas, and the Vanilla Crown Royal, not to mention the biscuits and gravy, eggs, melon, and sausages. 

The house breathes, I guess. I let the air in through a bedroom window. It’s winter, Christmas Day, and I always leave that window open no matter how cold. I need oxygen. It is still only 11:34PM. But I am usually up until 4AM.

I don’t do taverns. I am not a drinker. I am intimidated by bars. Besides, our country is only 200 years old. I am on the West Coast. My condo changes every day almost. I am remodeling. I painted a molding white. It’s first coat. It sucks it and wants more. The steak is resting.

I prefer the cinema to an old drink. I would rather have catharsis than sleepiness. I know you would think that without sex, a man would prefer to eat and drink, but I intellectualize. It’s been so long without love that I see a woman as just another person. Dressed up for her own sake. What interest would she have in me? At this age, what interest would I have in her? We are like broken tanks on the battle field. Neither of us moves. We just look across at our bodies somewhat accepting of the facts. It’s over. We’ve had our campaign. I feel like a criminal for having no feelings for her and for those that I do have feelings, it feels like a crime too. Women are jail bait at every age. You feel confined to them or you seem to abuse them. Money does not break down the wall. I assume it ultimately leaves you defeated. Worthless. After all, any dominate being that takes advantage of another ends up spiritually bankrupt, because the world ultimately deals in the truth. This is the currency. Ask Donald Trump. How long he lasted? 

Yes, I am resting. I had my steak, which was mostly gristle. The smell still permeates the air. There are small specks of grease on my glasses. There are pieces of meat that get between my teeth. I am thinking about dental floss.

Currently, I am not obeying anyone, but that will change when I get to work.

I long for the coffee shop before work. It’s winter, as I said. I walked outside in my socks at a friend’s and I could feel the dampness of the cement. The chill. Even the dog would not go swimming, but she did drink the water. The sun was out. It was like she was on a movie set. The light was radiant. Oh, but I said that didn’t I? The sun radiates as does the pepper apparently. 

A “meet-up.” I remember those. Every event was a veiled desire to get laid, to find love and live happily-ever after. But, money and time always get in the way: “So, what do you do for a living?” “I am a dragon fly, I fly around and eat mosquitos.” I can’t really tell them what I actually do. I am in sanitation. I pick up garbage. Who wants to boast about a man who picks up other peoples’ trash? Besides, I smell like garbage. You can’t get it out. It’s like garlic. It sticks with you. I do have great, big brutish arms that women, who have met me in passing, admire; but I am too hairy. My whole body is covered in sprouted Chia seeds. I look like an ape. I brush a long strand of loose hair back with my glove when I am lifting the container via the arm of the garbage truck. I realize I contradict my sleeping habits. I get up at 5AM and head to the facility to get my truck.

Summer days are sweaty and smelly like sour swill. But, I have been on dates that involved strolls along the beach. When we get to that question, everything changes. I get the look of immediate disconnection. That question, that question. I am the Philistine, even though it’s obvious I am not “Guided by materialism nor disdainful of intellectual or artistic values,” (Merriam-Webster).

I don’t spend much time in the bath although I probably should. I am not feeling the situation, nor of stilling pain. I am way beyond that. I have two children who live with my divorced wife. I give them most of my paycheck. There are two options: Work or death.

So, yes, I guess you could say we are in agreement. I am on an empty train alone “In continued and deadly enmity.”

I imagine park benches, except where I live there are: “Black Crowned Night Heron, Great Blue Herons, California Brown Pelicans as well as White Pelicans, Mallard Ducks, Cormorants, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Cranes, Forester Terns, Canadian Geese, and Coots” to name a few, ( They tend to leave evidence. The city-dwellers aren’t necessarily rich. The gardens are often rugged. You hear those birds or the passing traffic. All walks of life are passing.

I feel like I have no connection to anyone. It’s not funny. There are two parts to me, the realist and the optimist. Each part gets along, like roommates in a small apartment and I have to get up by five if I want to make it to work.

Response to:

Mario Savioni Taxonomy of Sound


Ambient Music Radio DJ David Agasi will be featuring my new improvised piano music (See: The show, a four-hour program, will feature my music among others’ works and will be archived between 12/30 and 1/13. He responded with the following regarding actual playing: “Program times according to California (PST) time. 1) SUN Dec 23, 6-9pm. 2) SUN Dec 30, 6-10am. 3) SUN Dec 30, 6-9pm. Not sure when I will program your tunes. Probably on the morning show.”

I sent him 3.03GBs of improvised piano works. 248 pieces in whole. He will be selecting from among the hundreds of works for upcoming albums. He suggested the related cover art for the album. In the meantime, I am contacting individuals, who have inspired my music. My mother, who first introduced me to music in the form of the Sacramento Symphony when I was around four years old, died on August 1. This work is dedicated to her. She was my greatest supporter. Late in life she would tell me that of every project that I started, I would finish. Who would have known that on or about August 23, 2018 I would begin improvising piano and thus far create 248 pieces? I was shooting for 300, but Agasi said he was having a show and to get him some work to present. I will keep you informed of performances and other adventures related to this music.

Shadow Dreams


I do not see you

Though I have tried.

Yesterday, I went with O-

To smell perfumes.

I kept harping on Chanel #5,

Boasting about its nuances.

“It has layers,” I told her and the clerk.

But, we surmised when I actually smelled it again,

That it was passé.

I still loved Egoiste,

But then we smelled every

Jo Malone, but not before

I got to smell perfume on O-.

Her arms are slender.

I held one.

It was warm.

Plus, it had many scents.

It’s really nothing though.

She and I are friends.

We talk about her lovers.

And that long journey she is taking

To find “The One.”

She wants a child;

Her clock is ticking.

I feel for her.

I really do.

She is like a deer,

Runs for hours uphill.

Who can do that?

She claims to have a big heart,

“Which is dangerous,” she said.

I’ll say.

My heart lumbers through the afternoon and evening

Reaching out to passing strangers.

It uses its quiet voice.

With telepathic staging.

I am listening to music I have written and recorded.

It’s tender.

I get lost and disappear.

My friend O- too says that she goes deep into herself

When she listens to it,

Which is quite a compliment

For someone who wears Egoiste.

(I am talking about me, not her.)

She wears or wore Happy,

Which pretty much explains her.

She is the delight of energy,

A positive flow, non-stop and enchanting.

Her smile is a flame.

The kind that warms you,

Not like forest fires or Halloween.

There’s no trick, only treat.

You call his breath a “whim.”

And you try to steal it.

But, apparently it does not matter.

It’s like frivolity to him.

Or an unconscious undertaking.

How do you see him breathing?

Are you in the middle states?

Has the weather changed?

I hear you.

I am sure he does too.

But, if you are doubting it,

I bet he takes you for granted.

I hear you breathing,

And I don’t even know where you are.

Anyway, I like to think that I play like Yo-Yo Ma

When he does the Cello and Bach.

I too am alone like he is

On the stage.

I am playing the piano.

Little fingerings.

I barely touch the keys.

I want to drink absinthe someday,

And pretend I am famous.

I want that yearning you project.

I know it’s completely absurd.

But, O- says I play like Keith Jarrett.

I told her I have always looked up to him.

“He plays for hours,” I told her.

“Just him and the piano.”

He plays work, like that of Mozart,

But I simply play what comes to me,

And I can do it for hours, days, and years, I suspect.

Today, for example, I wrote and recorded about 10 songs,

38 minutes, and 45 minutes yesterday.

I tell you I am on the cusp.

I have to be alone and without any distractions,

Nothing to make me nervous.

I get in the “groove,” I told the audience

At Freight and Salvage.

My hands have to be soft,

Because my fingers stick otherwise.

Sometimes, I will put myself to sleep.

I have listened to music my entire life.

First, my mother took me to the symphony.

I was very young.

People probably wondered if I was going

To cause a fuss.

Instead, I was speechless,

Completely absorbed.

I don’t think I said a word to her.

I must have shown my fascination with my eyes.

I still think of her, my run-way model mother,

The red velvet carpet and seats.

I am pretty sure she wore a long black cocktail dress.

Her hair was up and she had long black gloves.

My mother used to date a famous handsome Mayor

Of San Francisco before she met my dad, the doctor.

She did her own thing.

Anyway: “Do you hear me being here?”

I am somewhere near you and breathing too.

Every word you say.

I try to touch and keep;

Obviously, I am not being discreet.

I have no time for that nor decorum.

I believe in the truth of the heart,

To tremble in the shadows.

I lie to myself.

I like to think that if

I pay attention,

You will see.

I make a world for us.

I dream of shadows.

Inspired by:

Mario Savioni’s Thoughts on: Poetry, Language, Thought by Martin Heidegger

Poery Language Thought

A friend asked me what I thought of Heidegger’s book Poetry, Language, Thought. I didn’t know what to say, I was a few pages in and had to admit to myself that I wasn’t so much as paying attention to what Heidegger was saying but to how he was saying it. I have read his Being and Time, The Essence of Truth, and What is Called Thinking? Similar themes had come to me, but I really wasn’t paying attention, which was wrong since it was not about what I found in Being and Time, which is about the trillions and trillions of activities, thoughts, and so fourth going on at once in life. Imagine that. It is like there are trillions of you going through the same thoughts and feelings simultaneously and they are just as valuable as people and just as interesting and perhaps more. That’s amazing to me.

What I like to do with a book is to think about its title. He is talking about three things. Those things are equal to each other in terms of the grammatical presence of commas. Poetry comes first, language second, and thought third.

What does Heidegger mean when he talks about Poetry?

He says it “memorializes” and “responds to life.” It is “genuine thinking,” “speaks of truth,” “is the unconcealedness of beings” (which he speaks about in The Essence of Truth), “a correctness of a proposition” (also spoken of in The Essence of Truth), “what things actually are,” “that which aids in seeing the bright possibility of the world,” “an absolute connection to the actual event,” “what is spoken but what is never what is said.” Poetry that thinks, he said, “breeds perfect ideas,” “elaborates upon something much greater than reality,” a “thingly character,” “the core of something,” “words buried in its nature,” and “the real.”

What does Heidegger mean when he talks about Language?

He is talking about “where thinking is able to say what it thinks.” It is “the way something is spoken/said.” It is “an author’s vision of truth and being,” “reporting what is seen, heard,” “authentic, which equals poetry.” It is “spoken purely,” “building,” “dwelling,” “growing, as a fitness for philosophy,” “thinking,” “rethinking,” “thought into language.” It is “the truest nature of things.” It is “a use of reason,” “old-new thoughts,” “not necessarily said,” “a context within which poesy and poetry take place.” “It belongs to the closest neighborhood of man’s being.” “It is everywhere language speaks.” “It is speech, an abode for mortal being.” “An audible means of the communication of human feelings, accompanied by thoughts, expression, activity, presentation, and representation of real and unreal.” “Enunciation,” “language,” and “not man,” “speaks;” “peal of stillness,” “by camping out,” “bearing,” “endearing,” “of the world,” “ringing of bells as indicative of a change of stillness,” “able to speak in their own way in sounds.”

What does Heidegger mean by thought?

“Memorializing and responding.” “Poetry when genuine,” “voice is poetic because it is truthful, concealed,” “examining things as themselves,” “truth,” “Roman thought takes over Greek words without corresponding,” “equally authentic experience of what they say, without the Greek word.” “Questioning.” “Essential discourse equals philosophy,” “dwelling when listening to others,” “respond,” and “recall.”

What I missed completely or did not give enough credence to is that the poem in the beginning of the book is most important in that it brings all these ideas together. It amazes me that while Heidegger is such a genius as a writer of philosophy, he is also a great poet. His poem “The Thinker As Poet,” is one of the best I have read that conveys ideas of life that answer a deep question about life, which is inherently that we have nothing to worry about. The truth is always there and “The world’s darkening never reaches/to the light of Being.”

As a poet, or at least, this might be the thing I am when I am writing poetry, which is not to say that I am good at it, but I have written poems that have done to me what other poems have that I have loved. I have not written that many and love John Ashbery, T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore and others, more, for example, who have gotten great distance from themselves. When writing poetry that relates to abstraction some words and their combinations have provided “memory and response to life” [I would venture to say that poetry is life], is “genuine,” etc.

Poetry is often, as it has been said in Buddhism, that it is the space between ladder rungs. All these words are spoken, but the hard wood steps of the words are not the thing or space between them. The ladder is utility. Being on the ladder can be elevating or freeing. It is our relationship to the ladder that is about the ladder and what it means.

Let’s go into the poem at the front of the book to get a sense of what Heidegger is communicating:

Way and weighing

Stile and saying

On a single walk are found.

When we walk, we weigh the events of life, existence, how we feel when we stroll, what we are thinking. When we are advancing toward a wall and each placement of our steps toward that wall and quest to cross over and as we are saying to ourselves, in our minds, on this walk, we are in contemplation.

Go bear without halt

Question and default

On your single pathway bound.

Heidegger says to go and enjoin life and do not falter, question it, and move despite other distractions toward a single journey.

He compares the “Early morning light” as something Being-oriented, poetic, and a cause and inspiration for existential fact. He relates this experience to Man him/herself.

He does this throughout the poem and the book, where language, especially the language of poetry, makes you stop and think if you ever expect to get what he is trying to say. Poetry almost often demands that you consult the dictionary, because no one really has access to all the denotations and connotations of all words. Such a grasp of the nuances of words allows for one to cross over to the poem as it might be understood or perceived. The definitions of words and grammar limit or qualify interpretation and provide evidence for or against the author as having said something that is profound or not.

The nature of the words: Poetry, Language, Thought as provided above give you a sense of the possible elements and relationships of his ideas, and you can put them together to expand the breadth and depth of what he might have meant.

Why Did I Get a Master’s Degree in English? (I didn’t.)

Hello, nice to see everyone here being practical about our apparent delusions of grandeur. As a kid in middle school, I used to listen to T. S.  Eliot on a phonograph in a public library. On a bench as a very young child, I told my uncle, I wanted to be a writer. My mother said, I would spend long hours with books entertaining myself. My aunt said that I had the vocabulary of a doctor. My father was a doctor. I don’t know how many of you are like me. Professional parents, a disposition for beauty insulated from the real world. My father used to cut up dolls as a youngster. He kept cats in the refrigerator. There are early signs, at least for him, they were practical ambitions.

I think in the beginning we all relished the sacrifices poets made, starving, losing lovers, losing children. We loved the small hovels poets lived in, traveled by trains, hobnobbed with the literati because of their families. After my father died, I knew such dreams were no longer a reality. He left us with enough money for me to finish a BA in Speech. I thought I wanted to be an attorney, but I hated what I saw of law: Stacks of files before friends, who are so much more articulate and debonair. When I got a certificate in Paralegal Studies, I got an “A” in everything, except that when I finished my coursework all I wanted to do was read novels or philosophy, which I did and do even four years later.

At the university studying Speech, I took a Latin American Literature course instead of a second year of Spanish and Edgar C. Knowlton, the genius who he was, told me not to get a MA in Literature, but rather to write if that is what I wanted to do. I think what I relished as I did taking all the artistic photo classes at the University was the little group of labbies that had formed and who spent nights and days in the photo lab having parties and printing and processing together. Writers are less social. So, we met at writing groups and marveled at how good the writing was, and then went off to try to write like what we read in The New Yorker or literary journals because they changed our lives, made us feel.

If I look at the early lives of writers such as Eliot, I see a similarity except none of the famous names like Harvard or Oxford, “Publisher, playwright, literary and social critic and ‘arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century.'”

No, I don’t see any of that working for me and my ambitions.

I think as it is with art and artists, writers and writing, is that like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, only a few people can get to the top, where all their needs are met and the only thing left is self-actualization.

The cost is tremendous if we are not connected and financed. Even Virginia Woolf described “A Room of One’s Own.”

I’ve been working in a restaurant since I was 16, taken many a job, only to find that as a waiter, I was able to make enough money to buy a small condo and live out my life. I tried marriage; girlfriends come and go more often than not, and my financial advisor, a buss person with a million dollar house and many children said to me that my last phase should be to sell the current location in two years and then buy a duplex. When I am 65, that second unit will finance my freedom coupled with social security, if we can keep social security away from the Republicans. Meanwhile, I grow tired, mentally and physically.

Let’s face it, English/American literature is for us the cherry on top of a life that has been insulated by the lives of those who worked in the 50’s. The cost of living will rise and so will the quality of work become more menial. We’ve passed through a phase of insulated preeminence and even then writers starved and artists lived alone. We are the only ones who buy Literary Journals and novels written by the tried and true. Is there any room for the breadth of us?

There is a certain biological aversion to the self-indulgent person, who hides behind the third person. Even you and I are a bit sensitive to the stuff that is being played. Imagine the scrutiny of the masses? None of them have any sense of self and thus they are followers. But, what can we tell them that hasn’t already been heard? I have this ominous sense that our lives travel in circles. Where our country is on top of the world today, tomorrow, like the Chinese, we will be working in manufacturing plants, sleeping on cots and not knowing our neighbors. Kurt Vonnegut said it best in Player Piano that the world would be broken up into neighborhoods: “The wealthy upper class — the engineers and managers who keep society running—and the lower class, whose skills and purpose in society have been replaced by machines.”

It makes no sense to follow a line of thought that will only cost you in the end. Social Security will have been marketed. We’ll all be working for the rest of our lives succumbing to injuries we cannot tell for fear of loosing our jobs. Teaching literature in schools gutted by all the inessentials means that nothing will be left.

I have a friend from Columbia (the country) and he says that prosecutors and doctors are making less than anyone else. The world there is turned upside down. It all began with corruption. Poverty begets a lack of freedom and a lack of freedom makes for desperation. At least, in such a country great writers like Gabriel García Márquez make some of the best stories. We forget that as writers, just as photographers, the most decadent reality makes for the most interesting views. Gabriel García Márquez said, “Life has no limits.”

I suggest that as you choose your paths, you will not be able to escape your destinies. As a waiter, I know the hardships of reality. I know that my last days will be very painful. For I have chosen my “bliss” as Campbell said. But, he also said, as I have learned lately that, “During his later years, when some students took him to be encouraging hedonism, Campbell is reported to have grumbled, ‘I should have said, “Follow your blisters.”‘” (See:

“The Active Voice”

The definition of a stone: “Mineral object, piece of rock, quarried for a purpose, a pebble, precious stone, hard seed, calculous concretion, gravestone, grindstone, millstone, hailstone, smooth surface for printing, any surface for artists, playing piece, completely, to put to death, to fortify, to sharpen or smooth, to make insensitive, he who casts the first stone, leave no stone unturned.” (Taken from

The stone represents the last possible weapon against an aggressor, who had the audacity to outlaw it. It speaks of the right of a person to wage a greater, more violent response. If a person comes to you with a baseball bat, for example, you can use a gun to shoot them. A stone, however, in a Palestinian child’s hand against a Jewish soldier? “I take all rights way. I make the laws, I make you impotent. I leave you helpless.”

To me, the Jews have become what they most feared. What Hitler did to them was unconscionable. There is no way their treatment will leave their genes. Their nervous systems are impregnated. Only the strongest win, it seems. And if you want to keep something you have to fight for it and plan and scheme.

Still, like the Nazis, they were confronted and beaten. Their attitudes remain in our communities and sour our systems. It’s like tarantulas will never leave the hillsides. Snakes will never cease to slither in the jungles, nor fall from trees to suffocate.

But, the stone with so much denotation or connotation is not a paper weight. Unfinished stone is an odd object in a house. It belongs outside. I see the scattered rocks in Gaza. I see the dry atmosphere and the future as a gated community, where every other community has been stripped of life. Even when everyone is gone, like my father, who died when I was ten, he still lives in me and forms my thoughts. He makes an outline of my sadness. He is a silhouette, like a Magritte painting, called “The Active Voice.”

The above drawing is an homage to Magritte. It is a symbol of the little boys in Gaza, who throw their lives because of something that is true. Their songs are being beaten or shot. Their families are made to hunger and suffer. One generation after the next. A monster is being created and unleashed. The air of hatred is so thin that nothing can breathe. On the Dead Sea, the bodies float upside down. Nothing sinks where the salt has been thrown or where the eyes stack up.

I throw a stone for you. I want it to skip over the glassy surface, but the turbulence grabs it. The reflection in the lake is no longer clear but murky. The depths are disturbed. No fish nor bread to share. No memory of God. No prayers for the enemy. The sky is dark with dust and pandemonium.