Category Archives: Literature

Sad Times July 23rd 2014

It has not been a very happy year so far and it shows no sign of getting better any time soon. I know I’ve been off the radar for two years now and I can’t seem to get back on the horse. I am putting a link that will tell the tale for me in the hopes of getting some help. Here it is http://www.gofundme.com/bm047c
I never thought it come to this but desperate times call for desperate measures. Thanks for reading, and to any who used my work for term papers and such. I hope you got good grades.

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3rd Aniversary on WordPress – Oct 29th 2011

Well today marks the third year of my writing this blog and finds me staying at home instead of heading into New York. The nor-easter that has come out of nowhere has shut down my plans to see Rasputina tonight at the Highline Ballroom, it would have been nice to finish the year exactly the way it started back in Feb. But with snow, high winds, and a cold biting rain coming down I just can’t face the prospect of standing outside waiting for the doors to open. Tomorrow is supposed to be really nice and sunny in the fifties as well as all next week, this is a freak storm so doom on me I guess. I will make the best of it by writing and painting and later I will be making a beef stew over noodles for dinner. I have been thinking much about my writing this year and about the changes that I might want to make to it. In some ways when I look at the body of work I’ve written I am disgusted by the amateurish style of some stories. While on the other hand there are some passages that I am genuinely proud of and see as readable in magazines. I expect the best from myself and get discouraged when I don’t measure up to my expectations, but with only one college course in English to my credit I think on balance-I write well.

The tough reality is that the only way to get better is to write and study writing, and maybe also to read, but without more schooling I feel like I’m never going to make it as a writer. I need to take classes at the Gotham Writers Workshop in NY and beside the fact that I don’t have the money, I also can’t make it from my job in Suffolk all the way to Midtown by the time class starts. I would be an aggravated, sweating, stressed out mess with a headache by the time I got to class. I’m not one for taking online classes either, my brother is pursuing an online degree and I find too many distractions would keep me unfocused. Personally, I don’t know how he does it, but he is doing very well!

I am however starting to feel as though I have to change, this blog is not a blog in the usual sense, it is not a few short paragraphs written hastily each day, but a blog of short stories for readers. If you read my about me page I call it “a selfish venture” and indicate that it is at it’s core an open diary. While that is true I find myself wishing I had more fans and more comments. I see with an app added to my page that people from all over the world are visiting, some multiple times. I can even extrapolate that a few high school or college students might be hijacking my words for school papers, why else would I see people logging on from the same place over and over again sometimes a few hours or minutes apart? I don’t care as long as no one is getting paid for it, but it’s a shame that kids are so lazy these days. The change I think I have to make is to write more to an audience and less to myself, while I thought I was doing that already I think now that some stories are too cookie cutter too much the same basic story I wrote the last time. The fact is that not every trip is that interesting or noteworthy, some trips cool stuff happens and I’m cooking on all burners and others I’m too absorbed in what I’m doing to gather all the stimuli around me. It’s a tightrope but I have to try and do it better in the future, if I ever want to get published I must walk that line.

So tonight I will start writing a new piece about the city trip I took last week, and an editorial about this whole Occupy Wall St movement that’s so controversial and so confusing. I must again give thanks to the people that got me here. Thanks to Professor  Wigetow for your teaching and for believing in my potential, to W.B. Wilkins whom I owe this blog to for giving me the key to being a good writer, hopefully I will use it to unlock all the right doors, to J.R.R. Tolkien for the obvious, to Jack Kerouac for teaching me to write in the moment, to William Burroughs for showing me the way to color my words, to Anthony Bourdain for infusing my imagination with his words and especially for turning me on to Graham Greene, to Graham Greene for igniting my desire to be a better writer and for creating some of the most unforgettable characters ever, to Maureen for being my friend and my number one fan, to my mom Alyce for teaching me my A B C’s while still in the crib, sometimes it’s the little things that matter most. No matter what happens I will keep writing and keep painting and strive as I have all my life to do something with nothing, I will keep hoping, planning, wishing, praying and insisting that life can be what you want it to be with a ton of hard work and a little luck. The work is hard, it’s the luck part that I find is so much harder.

Glen

Long Island N.Y.  2011

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With A Little Help From My Friends-July 8th 2010

I have been depressed lately despite the fact that I’m on vacation, I’m just not happy. I am very concerned for a far away friend who may be having a health crisis and I can’t do anything but pray and hope. The fact that I am reaching the end of my available cash and will be back on austerity within a week or two is not helping matters any, and I am very unhappy with the state of the world in general, as I have mentioned before in my writing. The job market is again on the down turn, my brother is out of work…again! I’m going broke subsidizing the family income. But it’s the lack of culture here that I find so frustrating. In New York no matter what your into you can find something to do at almost any hour, and many things are free or cheap. I love having a garden and growing veg and flowers, but you have to drive everywhere if you want entertainment. Living in the suburbs is nice to a point , but there is just nothing to do around here day or night. Unless you want to hang round in a bar or go to the movies, there is nothing much to do but shop or eat out. The thing I am most sad about is the total lack of friends, especially friends in the arts or literary world, you get to a certain age and you don’t have the opportunity to make friends anymore. This week has been hot and humid and I spent all my energy last week on a walking tour of New York’s Chinatown on Friday and then two days of prepping the house and garden for a family Forth of July celebration on Monday. So by Tues I was completely exhausted and yet at the same time restless and just couldn’t get out of my own way.

I just finished reading Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” and my desire to be an expat in Paris reared its ugly head once again, the” lost generation” might have been lost but they lived in a time when it was good to be alive and everything was cheap and accessible. I know I’m typing on a computer that wouldn’t have been available back then, but I still feel that we lost much when we passed the age of telegrams and typewriters. It seems then it was still possible to live well on a stipend from a parent or the advance of a publisher. I think the thing I desire is a simpler life in a far away place, some sort of escape from the misery of the modern world and all its problems. I know the recent case of an Casey Anthony; the allegedly killer mother, whose daughter drowned possibly out of neglect, makes my concerns sound like the whining of a child. But guess what; that young mother who will go free. Is already receiving offers in the millions to appear on talk shows as soon as she gets that magic get out of jail free card. That kind of money could put me in the position to make my life what I want it to be. There will be no offer like that coming my way any time soon, since I will not be  committing any crimes-except of course excessive complaining and ranting.

So I have spent a few days being miserable, driving around aimlessly looking for that which I just can’t find.Finally, I realized I was wasting time. Next week when I’m back at work at that miserable hot counter listening to the sounds of air tools and screaming bosses, I will look back on this and kick myself. So I picked up my dry cleaning and even though I didn’t want to spend the money, I joined my mom and brother at an Indian restaurant nearby for an excellent buffet lunch.  Afterward I decided to go to the liquor store.

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it high time to get to the liquor store. I am quoting a bit of Melville’s “Moby Dick”, one of my favorite books and one that I used to great advantage to get an A+ on my term paper for English 101 in college. I go here as a kind of spa, not for the wearing of mud on one’s body and cucumber on the eyes, but rather for the wearing of a smile on ones face. There is an enormous cast of characters to amuse a dull spirit and chief among these is my good friend Sam.

What can I say about Sam, he is the kind of guy that can make anyone feel special, he has a good line of bull too. He has a heart of gold and every customer wants to see him. I am one of the people who is allowed in the back office to shoot the breeze and tackle some of life’s mysteries with Sam, he also respects my taste in wine and it guides his purchases for the store. Sams brother Tommy is a great guy, he has been sharing his knowledge of Sommelier school with me and has been brushing up on his studies again, I like to think I inspired that to some degree. He is married to Evelyn, who also works full-time.  My buddy Evelyn is my foodie friend and a good listener, she knows more about my life than my last therapist and never judges me, just offers what I need… positive support and friendship. I don’t know Christine too well, she is Evelyn s daughter and they fight in a quiet funny way as only mothers and daughters can, but she is interesting and a whiz with technology. The co-owner Jamie is a funny mom with great stories about her travels and the tribulations of being a mother, and some recipe advice for my foray into Greek cooking. Jamie is the kind of fun, energetic woman I would like to meet, someone who knows how to live well but not spend foolishly. Then there’s Carina, she is not around much anymore, she is going to be a teacher and is in school much of the time now. But those kids are going to get one of the nicest, bubbly, happy teachers they’ll ever see, I hope they don’t ruin all that positive energy. Lastly, there is Gene. He comes in and does the grunt work and the shelves and dusting part-time, he actually has the job I wanted. Gene is a riot, he messes with Sam and Evelyn and cracks me up with his provocation.

The cast of characters that come in to the store is as varied as the shelves of wine and spirits. I sit in a stool on the side of the counter and hold court a little and watch and listen to the stories and the antics. There’s the dog lady who is very reserved unless she has been drinking, then she is a fascinating study in unrestrained behavior. The friendly guy who is shaking hands with everyone because he’s high and buys little airport bottles of cheap Hooch to add to the buzz. The loud ba-da-bing guys who are too numerous to name whose antics with Sam include hugging, high fives, and occasional gropes. There is the bad foot lady who I also see at the food store who is always got a story to tell. The trio of lesbian fire fighters, several gay couples who are impeccably dressed. There is a cross dresser who has very bad taste in frocks and the famous “Buddy Guy Dude” who unfortunately died before I could meet him but the stories about him are legendary. I sometimes help a customer find something and most people think I’m an employee on break or perhaps security. I listen and laugh and make mental notes for future use as characters in as yet to be written plays or novels.

Today however was special, after spending an hour listening and laughing, I went home just as the rain was getting heavy and went upstairs and started to clean my room, organizing everything and putting away things that were not needed. I opened up my easel area and made it possible to paint, and continued with the change in my desk set up after getting rid of some stuff I was happy and energized. I then proceeded to take the laptop down to the kitchen and started to write this story. I haven’t wanted to write in weeks but now find myself happily drinking Pinot Grigio and writing this piece. So for tonight at least I’m out of the dark seas of depression and sailing off into the calm waters of contentment. Maybe I too could learn something from Melville’s most famous work. I think that Ahab was chasing Moby Dick to try and get his soul back from the whale who had torn it apart when it took his leg. I have been chasing dreams that I’ll never see, the Paris of the twenties is gone. I could be there right now typing this al-fresco at a cafe and still not have the experience of the lost generation. I couldn’t have the experience of the post-war generation either, only the famous St Germain cocktail can bring you closer to 1947 Paris. The thing that Sam said to me out of the blue has made all the difference, searching for your bliss starts in the moment, it’s right in front of you all the time. It’s not in Paris or Provence or even on the moon. It’s how you feel right now and what you choose to do in the moment right in front of you. That’s the secret to life. Not the Holy Grail or the fountain of youth; although those things would be nice if they existed, just making every moment your own.

So thanks guys, for all you do for me. We may only see each other at the store but you guys are my true friends

Peace

Glen

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Why I Will Never Own A Kindle-Feb 15 2011

 I remember years ago me and my brother watching “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” a series on public television based on the books by Douglas Adams, the madcap sci-fi was centered around the adventures of Arthur Dent, an Englishman from earth, and his friend from somewhere in the cosmos Ford Prefect.He (Ford) rescues his friend from the destruction of Earth in order to make way for a hyperspace bypass. The Guide itself was an electronic book that Ford used to great advantage to get them out of and also into trouble. We both thought the electronic book was fantastic and talked excitedly like kids about the prospect of owning one, wishing that it did indeed exist. But now roughly twenty-five years later it does exist at least in its early stages, and I find it deserves the label of “silicon snake oil” So as they say be careful what you wish for…

 This winter finds me staying in (despite my remarks in previous stories to the contrary) and reading voraciously instead of venturing to the wilds of New York City. The severe weather we have had and lack of finances has kept me home. I just finished reading “Life” by Keith Richards, before that it was “The Quiet American” by Graham Greene and currently I’m almost finished with “Eating The Dinosaur” by Chuck Klosterman. But recently I read with a sinking heart the news that Borders bookstores were expected to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week. I already knew they were closing about one-third of their stores nationwide but didn’t realize how grave the situation might actually be. They are considered the number 2 bookstore in the US behind I’m guessing Barnes & Noble. Borders has posted a drop in sales the past few years and a disappointing holiday season this past Xmas.

 While there recently I was told by a clerk (who has been there for years) that my local store is an active one and in no danger of closing, but as we all know the employees are the last to be told.  I know that many people are using the web to purchase books from Borders online,(which could explain the drop in store sales) and yet I can’t help feeling that the drop in sales is directly liked to the insidious rise of the Amazon Kindle, and the many other e-readers on the market which seen to be growing daily.  These e-reader’s has begun to chip away at book sales over the last few years, and yes I know. Borders has its own that its hawking in the stores and online too. But the thing that fills me with dread is what all this might mean for the future of books.

 We have already seen the demise of the mom and pop book shops, they just couldn’t compete with the large chain stores which does by the way include Borders. But the fact is that the small bookstores didn’t have the inventory, the cafe’s and didn’t provide the comfy chairs to sit and relax, read and in some cases sleep in. There are of course specialty book shops selling priceless sets and antiquarian volumes. But many of these are by appointment only. I’ve traipsed through a few of these shops in my time under the watchful eye of the store owner, who I’m sure – realised before I did, that I couldn’t afford to buy anything he had on the shelves. But that’s New York City-whaddya expect! My problem with e-readers is more complex than mere hatred for technology, I mean I love my computer. It brings me the world 24/7 and presents me to those who read my essays and stories. What I detest is the possibility that my local bookstores will close one by one. A sad result of the obsession with technology that grows yearly like the national debt. While I’m sure that the tree people applaud the notion of millions of trees being saved from the axe, (I’m a tree hugger too-at least to some degree) the greater problem is the millions of people employed by the publishing industry who will find themselves out of a job. This of course will take time…lots of time, but if I was in publishing I’d be worried. It’s not just about me and my selfish desire for a bookstore to lose myself in a few times a month. Think about it, very few of those people will be able to cross over to jobs producing e-books, I can’t imagine too many tree farmers being down for the sterile halls of a silicon chip factory. Many will have to go to school to start over and believe me, it’s not easy to do in your thirties or forties.

  The loss will also be the tactile feel of a book with pages instead of plastic and metal, the smell of the paper and faintly too of ink. Then also the much-loved book signing events we all enjoy attending, the chance to meet ones idols and get a book signed will also be lost! How is a signing going to work with a Kindle? Yet another distraction from the everyday that will be lost in a post book binding world. The investment in a Kindle alone is a half-a-weeks pay for some,  then the inevitable updates, crashes, re-boots and down loading of new books. Lets not forget about the battery charging that you have to add to your already full “To Do” list. It seems like too much bother when you can pick up a book for a few dollars, have a coffee and maybe even meet another human being to interact with socially.

 The makers of this product I’m sure don’t see a problem going from your computer screen to the kindle screen and back again…and again, then add the TV screen to the equation and you can almost feel the eyestrain this will cause. We have become a world of people staring at screens, hypnotically pointing and clicking at work and at home. The future generations will grow up further and further from real books as the decades roll by. I’m sure to some who may read this I sound like a paranoid over-reactionary fool who’s panicking at something that will never happen in my lifetime. To others maybe a prophet of a very real future. I don’t know but I can say with conviction that I’d rather be guilty of the former than the latter. The path for me is clear, to buy more books and to urge others to do the same. Your local bookstores need you and if your like me you need them too. Don’t take it for granted thinking they will always be there. The bookstore could easily go the way of the general store that our great grandparents knew, replaced first by the five and dime them by the chain stores like Newberry’s and McCrory’s, only to be swallowed up by K-Mart and Target. Like the drive-in movie, arcades, and soda fountains. No one notices the loss till it’s too late.

 Maybe I’m just feeling my age and wishing for a simpler time, or perhaps I’m just a tragic figure like Burgess Meredith in the Twilight Zone episode “Time Enough at Last” about a man who just wanted time to read. It ends with him stumbling around the ruins of a post apocalyptic library with broken glasses in hand saying over and over “That’s not fair, there was time to read now!”

I can safely say that I will never own an e-reader and hopefully I will find a kindred spirit and she and I will have the library together I always wanted. Of one thing I am also sure, I will definitely be buying a second pair or three of eye-glasses…just in case.

Bookishly

Glen

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