In the touching there is texture;
layers of what we are made of
to be explored.
In the speaking,
before the mind has had the chance
to assess the worth of a thought,
words can spill out like pennies.
“I love you” comes to all of
The tongue that is held
can go to a deeper place.
The signs that read “Do Not Touch”
set the stage for reticence.
Yet funny how the fingers
the pull of that which warns: “Wet Paint.”
More the belief in the touch
than in one’s very own eyes.
So touch me, hold me,
as a Madonna might her child.
A love so unspoken
that no canvas can contain it
as it takes its leave
of mother earth.
And I will in turn
to a far better place as well.
You Can Go Home Again
That “you can’t
go home again,” is an alleged truism taken directly
from the title of the posthumously published 1940 novel by
Thomas Wolfe. (Not to be confused with Tom Wolfe, best selling
author in the perpetual white suit, who is still very much
alive and kicking). We hear it often. And in that novel it
is George Webber, the protagonist, who gives voice to it this
go back home to your family, back home to your childhood…back
home to a young man’s dreams of glory and fame…back
home to places in the country, back home to the old forms
and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but
which are changing all the time—back home to the
escapes of Time and Memory.” Source:
We beg to differ with George Webber and the
Wolfe putting words in his mouth.
You can go home again if the family
and friends of childhood, those who love you and who you love
in return, are still there and ready to receive you with open
arms. And they are. And they do.
You can go home again if you’ve
already achieved those young man’s dreams of glory and
fame, as we have been fortunate to have done, at least by
our own tempered measurements of glory and fame.
You can go home again, if home is
not a place in the country, but New York City, the greatest
city on earth. Fuggedaboutit. And the gritty, grimy New York
of our youth, and then the slumping one we left behind some
30 years ago, cannot not compare to the almost magical place
it has become. “Magic” to be defined more fully
at another time and place…but it starts with its parks,
now all so beautified and accessible. The ones you once would
take your life in your hands to walk in. And all the street
is a stage. To which this YouTube video passed on
to us might attest. YouTube
- wellsfargo's Channel.
You can go home again, if in spite
of old forms and systems changing, you can adapt to those
changes. Especially when they have been for the better. (Though
they’ve got to get rid of the MetroCard.)
You can go home again, when time
and memory are seen—not as escapes George Webber—
but as guiding lights to wisdom, that can only come with having
spent a good deal of time experiencing life and remembering
the “right stuff” of which we are made. (And we
have just switched Wolfe’s in midstream, quoting the
“Tom one” now; author of The Right Stuff.)
That is what has been our experience.
And it was brought home, so to speak, in the
party we threw last month for many old friends and family;
some with whom we go back 60 years. And then there were those
with whom we go back 60 minutes; the new friends we have made
in the short time since our return. And unlike, say at a wedding,
a bar mitzvah, a milestone birthday, each of the forty guests
who were there, wanted to be. And not because they were held
hostage to some sort of obligation.
So yes, you can go home again. We’re
Finally, and while we are at it, why not take
on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous quote: “There
are no second acts in American lives.” It’s a
variation of sorts on the Thomas Wolfe theme, that there are
Maybe there was no second act for you “Scotty”
because you drank yourself to death at intermission. But we
are about to enter what is arguably “Act V” in
our life, and thrilled to be strutting our extended “hour
upon the stage.” And now it seems with that last reference,
that we have taken on The Bard himself. Best we quit here,
and not overplay our hand.
Quote of the Month
“…there are two questions
a man must ask himself: The first is ‘Where am I
going?’ and the second is ‘Who will go with
me?’ If you ever get these questions in the
wrong order you are in trouble.”
Fire In The Belly: On Being a Man
Getting Off On Angelina
We are not easily smitten. We are not the
smitten type. Especially when it comes to high profile celebrities.
They tend to turn us off rather than on. What with the hype,
the plasticity, and the over-the-top posturing that seems
to accompany every public exposure.
The last celebrity who sent us over the edge
was Ann Margaret in that opening song in Bye, Bye, Birdie.
2009 MUSE-LETTER Mad Men Mesmerized by Ann Margaret).
But that was 1963. (We were about to add an exclamation point
there, but F. Scott Fitzgerald has said: “Cut out all
these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing
at your own joke.” And while he is starting to become
a pain in the ass—see previous essay—we’ll
refrain for the moment…but we digress).
As for Angelina Jolie? She just has never
registered with us. In fact, we have come to resent her face
constantly in our face, with that sultry look staring out
from the cover of virtually every magazine on the rack; daring
us not to acknowledge her quintessential gorgeousness. And
we could do without Brad Pitt always looking so smug on her
arm. But we have held our ground. Until now. Seeing her in
a different setting, a different pose, and in different clothes,
we cry uncle.
It came upon us so unexpectedly, triggered
by a photo taken of her by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz
in Cambodia this past May, for an ad campaign by Louis Vuitton.
Accompanied by the tagline, A single journey can change
the course of a life, we caught it on the back cover
of New York magazine last month.
Louis Vuitton apparently has decided to try
to buy a soul in the goal of selling more handbags. And they
have decided to have Jolie, make that sale. And why not? And
why not in Cambodia? After all, she does have an adopted Cambodian
child, and she and Brad are dedicated travelers to the more
underdeveloped nations of the world. It would all be so believable,
So here she is…sitting in a rather shoddy
yet exotic craft, that is designed apparently to negotiate
the swamps. It looks as if it might have been built in Biblical
times. Yet she seems perfectly comfortable, as she strikes
a meaningful pose (or is it a meaning, full of pose?) with
one arm and shins and feet exposed. And while we don’t
have a foot fetish, we are thinking of working on one. For
that is ironically the first place to which we are drawn,
so long and slender are hers. The right foot apparently ending
in a perfect set of toes; the left arched just so. And the
feet give way to tapered ankles and shins that must have been
shaped on a lathe.
And then there’s the safari-ish clothing,
in which every wrinkle seems to have been prearranged, nicely
accentuating the left buttock. No wrinkle out of place—
we simply love these duds. And the pants are rolled up because
at any moment, she may have to leave that primitive craft
among the lily pads and wade to somewhere out of the frame.
You never know.
Her hand supports what we are sure would be
a gorgeous knee. We would kill for a peek. But with the pants
rolled up only so far, the caps must be left to the imagination.
But their shape against the garment suggests perfect symmetry.
Finally, there it is…the face. And yes,
immediately, one is seduced by those Angelina lips that just
won’t quit. And to think we tried for so long to ignore
them at every checkout stand. Long and perfectly accented
at the sides, with the slightest hint of upturn. And as for
the dainty heart shape of an upper lip…well you couldn’t
draw it any better. And she is staring off in the distance
with those devilish eyes. Not with that usual sultriness,
but more in contemplation. As if she sees somewhere off in
the distance, the anguish of this impoverished nation.
The jaw line. Not exactly fixed as any artist
would imagine either. For one thing it starts so soon after
the corner of the lips, and just misses coming off as too
angular. And as for the chin? It sits a tad too close beneath
the shadow of the lower lip. And yet it all works. In fact
this whole lower half of the face, seems to be the fitting
end of a declarative sentence written by the gods. Or God,
if you’re a monotheist. But why quibble about heaven
with this woman here on earth.
The hair off to the right side of her head,
cascades like a waterfall or a dangling participle. And you
knew just a wisp would find its way toward covering the corner
of an eye. We’d like to think it the work of a gentle
breeze, and not the makeup artist rushing out of an air conditioned
van who has been summoned by a nervous art director, to add
that punctuation mark. And while there they must have taken
a brush— just one more time— to her auburn hair,
so as to give added allure to this oh so casual, yet intoxicating
Neck, collar bones, forehead—pick any
feature. And what you will find is perfect proportion. And
maybe that is what makes for beauty; how everything is exactly
the right size and in the right place. Even the small mole
above the right eye, though diminished in this photo, is spot
And finally, the point of it all, we notice
a rather sizable Louis Vuitton bag across her delicate left
shoulder. Though the weight of this oversized accessory is
supported by the planks atop this funky boat, so we need not
worry. And we think… she is the only woman on the planet
who could carry this off—Louis Vuitton in the backwoods
of Cambodia. The only woman deserving of such a bag.
Here’s that thousand words. Don’t
Bursting With Pride So Gay
In the course of a Sunday walk, we found ourselves
coming off the High Line (still one more New York
project designed to bring people out into the streets), and
into the Meat Packing District; an area packed with people
who meet weekend mornings to brunch. From there it was just
a short meander into the Village.
Suddenly, we found ourselves
within a swarm of passionate bystanders craning their necks
for a glimpse of the flamboyant parade passing by. Yes, it
was annual Gay Pride Day. Which on the heels of this headline
from The New York Times that Saturday, made this
one especially euphoric and poignant within the gay community:
NEW YORK ALLOWS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE,
BECOMING LARGEST STATE TO PASS LAW
Imagine in 1969 during the Stonewall Inn
riots—when homosexuals for the first time, fought back
rather than accept being beaten—that a Gay Rights movement
would come to be born on that night. And then imagine if someone
had told you at the time, that the day would ever come when
the sacred institution of marriage (the sacredness somewhat
sullied by the more than 50% of them that end in divorce),
would be made available to those of the same sex. What would
you have said? And yet some 42 years later, it would come
Our intent here is not to debate the issue,
pro or con. Nor to take a moral ground, high or low. Rhetoric,
for us at this point, is beside the point. For what invariably
strikes us, is not the politics of change, but the
sociology of change. And then always, the irony that
is the footnote to most change. That what once could not even
be imagined, now becomes law and thereafter woven into the
social fabric—leaving at times, the jaw agape.
Whether it is people reduced to sneaking a
smoke out in the cold in dark doorways (“outlaws now”
as we once described them in a poem) or people flaunting their
sexuality in the middle of the street, the phrase, “That
This Day Would Ever Come?” —resounds as if a clock
striking twelve in our head.
And so too such thoughts must have rung in
the heads of those on the day… that the Declaration
of Independence was signed… on the day slaves were emancipated…
on the day women were given the right to vote… and yes,
on the day a black man was elected President of the United
States. Change concerning human rights. And in this country,
we glory in that. We cut our teeth on that very idea: "Life,
Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
And we could not help but smile as we always
do, when people take to the streets, not in anger—we
saw too much of that in the sixties— but in celebration.
And as we say, this one seemed especially meaningful. You
had to be there to feel it in the air. Which only by happenstance,
we were. And we—straight as the proverbial arrow—
were happy for them. And in turn for ourselves. And for our
state. And for our country.