The Thing From Bloggy Swamp

"Music is real--the rest is scenery." Fats Waller
JUNE 29, 2014 9:04PM

Basie in the Airfield

I saw Bill Basie in a moribund airfield
near Worcester, Mass. He was 70
then. I’d seen him in his younger
days on film, a frenetic pianist,
all the energy of youth, your eyes
could hardly keep up with his hands.


A half century on the road had slowed him
down, you thought at first, but af… Read full post »

JUNE 29, 2014 2:58PM

Diary of a Restaurant Hostess

Dear Diary–

What a night! Sometimes when I think I’ve seen it all, I’m shocked at the depths that diners at classy restaurants like mine, Chez (which for some reason is pronounced “shay”) Ignacio, will stoop to.

Tonight, it was the old “the-rest-of-our-party-isn&r… Read full post »

Is Rumer, the Anglo-Pakistani chanteuse with a retro-pop heart, the new Karen Carpenter?Read full post »

JUNE 28, 2014 3:55PM

A Reverence for Dexter Gordon

Dexter Gordon was one of the coolest cats ever to blow a tenor sax, which may explain why he was given multiple lives in jazz rather than just one.

Dexter Gordon

He was born in 1923 when jazz was still young, and by the age of seventeen was playing with Lionel… Read full post »

JUNE 28, 2014 10:03AM

As the Bat Cave Turns

A study has determined that in bat species noted for female monogamy male bats have small testes and big brains, while in species noted for female promiscuity males have testicles five times as big, but smaller brains.… Read full post »

WESTLAND, Mass.  Emil Scalzo is supposed to be somewhere else right now, and his frustration shows in the exasperated look on his face.  “I don’t know why it is,” he says almost bitterly to this reporter.  “Every year I tell people to get it together, and every… Read full post »

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. Bobby Florin will be released from St. Zepherin’s Hospital here tomorrow, but for a long time it was unclear whether he’d reach his seventh birthday. “He was born a month premature,” says his father, Nestor Florin. “We had just about given up on him,… Read full post »

JUNE 26, 2014 8:31AM

Summer Camp for Writers

The envelope was slim, as they all seem to be these days, and so I opened it up expecting the usual brush-off:  “Dear Poet/Playwright/Writer: Thank you very much for submitting your work to the Alice Wambsley 2014 Villanelle Competition.  We received over 2,348,092 entries for the fir… Read full post »

ITTA BENNA, Mississippi.  Here in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, you can’t throw a frisbee without hitting a legend of the blues such as A.C. “Red Dog” Johnson, who’s played bottleneck-style on the solid-body guitar he calls “Maybelle” for… Read full post »

JUNE 24, 2014 9:09PM

The Solipsistic Lady Novelist

. . . that singular anomaly,
the lady novelist—
I don’t think she’d be missed
— I’m sure she’d not be missed.

Koko, The Mikado

She thinks, and then she considers her thought;
she absorbs herself, really, more than she ought.
As soon as she’s oozed, she sucks it… Read full post »

JUNE 23, 2014 8:20PM

The Unfinished House

There was, on the street where we lived, an unfinished house–
incomplete in ways you didn’t notice at first;
no stairs up the porch to the front door,
no walkway to the porch. The type of details
that were left undone let a person know that
tradesmen, visitors and strangers were not welcome.… Read full post »

JUNE 22, 2014 8:15PM

The Snake and the Robin's Eggs

There was a snake on the stoop this morning,
my wife said, I nearly died. That had never
happened before, and we surmised it was
the robin’s nest in the holly bush out front.


We’d watched the mother build her nest,
then left her alone once she laid her eggs;
we knew she’d leave t… Read full post »

It is Saturday night in the suburbs west of Boston–no better place to view man’s inhumanity to woman. As my partner Pancho Sanza and I drift wearily from one upscale restaurant to another, we see on the looks of the husbands indifference bordering on cruelty as an endless parade of wives… Read full post »

JUNE 20, 2014 10:24PM

Sharon From Tenafly

It was orientation week, at my highbrow college
where chalky pedagogues would stuff us with knowledge–
but first, a time to get to know each other;
we’d take a bus trip, all of us together!
and ask questions about majors, sisters and brothers
then walk the dunes in the early fall weather.

%IMARead full post »

JUNE 20, 2014 4:46PM

The Circumcised Heart

“. . . if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled . . .”

Leviticus 26:41

For long years, there was no way in
to that four-chambered house
through which, we are told
(but don’t know) all emotions go.

It took something more than looks–
your wit, or carriage, or the things
y… Read full post »

The first week of summer is almost here and you can see people opening up to the season, like flowers. And then there’s my partner, the Old Curmudgeon, who makes do with his usual all-weather grumpy demeanor.

“Hey there, Bink,” I call to him as he approaches the elevator ban… Read full post »

JUNE 19, 2014 8:50PM

Jack Garner, Parsley Farmer

Jack Garner gazed out over the farm that had been in his family for three generations and gave out a sigh of exasperation. He looked down the rows of curly leaf parsley, often used as a garnish, and thought back to the lessons he had learned bouncing on his father’s lap… Read full post »

JUNE 19, 2014 8:49AM

My Notary Public Acceptance Speech

CLERK: You here for your notary?

ME: That’s right.

CLERK: Raise your right hand and repeat the three parts of the pledge on the plastic cahd there on the counter.

ME: I have a few words to say first, if I may.

CLERK: I don’t know, it’s lunchtime, we get a… Read full post »

Lately, a lot of people want to know my name. The “barista” at Starbucks. The guy behind the counter at Peet’s Coffee. “Can I have a name for that order?” he asks. I look around the place at 6:30 in the morning. I’m the only one there, but I give in… Read full post »

JUNE 18, 2014 8:07AM

Estate Planning for Cats

The Massachusetts legislature has passed a bill allowing residents to write pets into their wills and leave trust funds behind for their care.

The Boston Globe

“There–Kitzi is all provided for!”

Once a year when I take stock of my family’s financial… Read full post »

According to the US Census Bureau, most men who use online dating services are pathetic losers who exaggerate their personal net worth and physical attractiveness and couldn’t strike up a conversation with a woman in a social setting if they fell on top of one.

“This guy is such a
Read full post »

JUNE 17, 2014 11:07AM

The View From Jeremy's Butt

It’s 5 p.m., and I’m trying to decide whether to run for the 5:15 train or hang in until the 5:30 and squeeze in another three-tenths of a billable hour. I’m leaning towards the 220-yard dash to the station when my phone rings.

“Hullo,” I say and it would take… Read full post »

JUNE 16, 2014 8:56PM

Freelance Your Way to Poverty

JUNE 16, 2014 9:57AM

At the James Joyce Piggly Wiggly

VERSAILLES, Mo. Lemoyne Green’s family has been in the grocery business in this town in south central Missouri, pronounced “ver-SALES,” going back four generations. “I guess you could say food is in our blood,” Lemoyne says with a barely-detectible trace of irony. &ldquo… Read full post »

JUNE 15, 2014 8:20PM

Sonny Rollins at Paul's Mall

When he is announced he is heard (but unseen)
not from the stage but the back of the room;
he enters from the entrance, unaccompanied
for the first number, his notes tilting like
a gyroscope, whirring and yet in control.
Every now and then he plays with one hand free
in a sort of look-ma-no-hands daring.
So… Read full post »